Jamie Mayes, AOE

Posts Tagged ‘american culture’

Black Crime, Black Self Hate

In Culture, justice, life, media, News, prison, Race, reality, Uncategorized on April 14, 2016 at 7:38 pm

wpid-20150828_191001.jpgLast weekend was filled with tragedy in Louisiana. At least 3 African Americans lost their lives due to violence. Emotions were charged as people took to social media to voice their frustration over such unfortunate events in such a short period of time. However, it was not the reply of my white counterparts that made me cringe and grit my teeth. My people pulled out a phrase that burns my ears worse than nails on an old school chalkboard, “How can we keep crying about racism when black people kill each other every day?” Several thoughts ran through my head every time I saw a status update, tweet or post implying that racism in America is excusable because a certain portion of a population’s race is involved in violent acts. I suppose these are the same type of people who say that slavery could not have been that bad because black people sold other black people and there were black overseers and slave owners throughout history. Their justification for injustice is justifying the acts of the unjustified against an unjustly subjugated people. Read it twice. Read it slowly.

I guess what frustrates me the most is the alarming amount of evidence we have which dispels the myth that black on black crime is the biggest crime problem in America. Yet, people fail to research information for self and, instead, believe the skewed information presented by the news and media. According to the FBI website (link below), in 2013 white people accounted for 3799 manslaughter and non-negligent crimes, while black people accounted for 4,379 of the same crime. However, that gap widened as I continued to research. White people accounted for 8,946 rape crimes, while black people only accounted for less than half of that number at 4,229. White people accounted for 183,092 arrests for aggravated assault arrests, while black people accounted for 98, 748. As matter of a fact, white people exceed black people in criminal arrests in nearly every single category, sometimes with double or trouble the number of criminal acts committed. The total criminal arrests for white people were over six million, while black people had 2.5 million total arrests. Yet, the news and media outlets and society places primary focus on incidents by black people in black neighborhoods. We, then, ostracize and criticize our own people without being properly informed. Do not worry; the link for the website is below. Let your jaw drop a little; the numbers might shock you.

Do not fully rely on statistics for a full justice report, though. One astounding lesson I have learned over the years is that there is huge number of unreported crimes within the white community. Time after time, I have gotten vicarious information or heard stories about violent incidents within my community that were “taken care of” financially or through some other type of agreement. Within my professional experience, I had been told stories by individuals who committed offenses, but were “let off” several times because of family connections or racial advantage. I know I am not the only one who is privy this information; however, many who know this information ignore it and deny its relevance to the inaccurate portrayal of blacks in America.

Instead of treating the unfortunate incidents of last weekend like two isolated cases in two different cities, many people passed judgment on a race. They pulled a race card, but not a king or queen; it seems more like the joker. As much as individuals claim to hate being judged and stereotyped, so many fellow black Americans did both as soon as news of these fatalities was released. What used to create a sense of compassion in me now causes me to seethe with frustration and anger. I keep wondering when the black population will stop believing the labels and stereotypes that have been attached to our people by people who feel threatened by us. We have such a lack of self love individually that we are willing to accept what others say about us collectively. The truth is that we can never expect to see justice from the system if we do not see the value of our own race and culture. We have to start having a better attitude towards and about our people. We must make an important realization: when we support stereotypes and negative assumptions about our people, we as individuals are included the number. Agreeing with the derogatory statements made about our race does not make us an exception. Speaking against these misrepresentations of our people is the only way to combat the problem.

For many, the argument that black people are America’s biggest problem and that the black race is violent angry race that is destroying the country with crime seems small. However, it is this belief that has contributed to the alarming number of hate crimes against black people, prejudiced attitudes and biases, lack of cultural empathy and respect, and discrimination in work places. In essence, supporting a negative view of our culture has prohibited all of our people from receiving fair and equal treatment more often. One clichéd quote is true; we cannot expect others to respect us if we do not respect ourselves. We must change our perspective of our own people, research and information others of the truth and become positive advocates for changes in policies and attitudes.

There is an important lesson I have learned over the years, and it’s that numbers don’t lie. Educate yourself, people.

FBI Website:

https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/crime-in-the-u.s.-2013/tables/table-43

 

 

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Learning to Live an Unbothered Life

In Culture, life, media, News, reality on September 11, 2015 at 10:15 pm

I will be the first to admit that I spent most of my life concerned about others’ opinions of me. I was insecure for manywpid-20150828_191001.jpg reasons; I was a dark-skinned, pudgy, kinky-haired little girl in Creole South Louisiana with a list of visible and invisible problems. Childhood insecurities became teen insecurities which led to adult insecurities that were multiplied with each failed relationship or broken friendship. By the time I was 23, I was swimming in a pool of emotional misery, yearning to feel a true love for myself so that I could truly love everyone who loved me.

At the tender age of 29, life began to transform and at 32 I am finally on a journey to live life unbothered. Unbothered is such a funny word to me; when the popularity of the word soared I found myself laughing at the memes depicting women in bubble baths with wine or little babies with carefree faces laying on plush pillows. However, eventually, I wanted to be a true depiction of the snapshots; I wanted to truly be unbothered.

The demands of being a grown-up places an immense amount of pressure on us to play certain roles, to behave a certain way, and in my case, to try to live as close to perfection as possible- all the while, I had been killing my soul softly. Striving to make others happy and keep the peace while living in misery blocked my ability to think clearly and inhibited my ability to be “real.” For a while, I have falsely attributed the adoption of my new attitude to motherhood, but the truth is that I started to evolve before the possibility of my son was imaginable. My search to become unbothered began when I realized all the things I had missed by living inside of a mental box, and the urgency of being unbothered was escalated when I realized the pressures of single motherhood, work, entrepreneurship and trying to get closer to God.

Thoughts of the best advice ever given to me by my 8th grade Art teacher and my 11th grade English teacher bombarded my brain repeatedly, forcing me to revisit the quote “to thine own self be true.” In essence, being true and honest with me about who I am and what my feelings were was essential to becoming unbothered. Becoming unbothered meant that I had to let go of many things and cling closer to some others. Becoming unbothered meant directing my energy to causes that matter and staying away from things that are not for my well-being or for the betterment of mankind.

In essence, I had to live my life, love myself and focus on the lifestyle my son and I deserve. In realizing who and what matters most, I was able to release myself of unfair obligations and mistreatment by others. I learned to focus on things and people who focus on me. I have chosen to find the beauty in everyday by remaining unbothered.

God & Poetry Saved Me from Suicide

In Culture, life, media, modeling, News, Race, reality on May 24, 2015 at 12:51 pm

For years I have been asked what motivated me to start writing. I have only been able to give part of the truth when I told people that I used writing to help me cope with issues. The other part, the most important part of this answer, has been an uncomfortable story to tell. I have hinted at the truth, only alluding to the answer because I was afraid to give full disclosure and worried about how the answer would reflect on me. This is not an easy explanation; it is the hardest story I have ever had to tell. However, what I experienced is all too common and not talked about enough.

I have never danced around the fact that I suffered from depression most of my teen, preteen years, and some of my early adult years. Unfortunately, the illness was pervasive in my household throughout my childhood. My mother was a serious sufferer of depression and I silently fell into the same pattern, as I struggled to understand what was wrong with our family and how I could solve the problem. In our apartment in the projects, there was a broken woman in a dark room on one side of the wall, a sad little girl crying everyday on the other side of the wall, and a boy I could not understand down the hall. This scene went on for years. In addition, self-esteem problems, the absence of my father, and poverty were all issues that I understood too well too young. Though I understood the issues, I did not understand why they were a part of my life or how to escape the problems associated with them and the emotions I experienced as a result.

My depression became even darker when I was about twelve years old. There are many things I cannot remember, but of those I can recall, I remember hating everything about myself and my life and believing that no one loved me, not even God. I believed that my dark brown skin was jet-black and ugly and that I was the sole source of problems in our home. I hated waking up in the morning; each day seemed to drag on and I could not see a reason for my existence. I began to pray for God to kill me in my sleep at night. I had convinced myself that no one would miss me if I was gone, not even my family, who was doing the best they could to help our family while trying not to upset our situation even more. I thought that if I died in my sleep it would be quick and painless. I was convinced that death would be my only peace, but a few more years would pass before I would actually get the courage to consider killing myself. Yet, when the moment arrived, I stood in the kitchen with the lights off and a knife to my wrist. I had never felt more desperate and ready. With tears running down my face, I stood ready to relieve myself of all pain. As I stood in the kitchen, I prayed one last desperate prayer, If you will give me one reason to live, just one God, I won’t do this. But I just cannot take it anymore. It was the last prayer I felt I had the energy to pray, and I had given up on God. I had wondered why I had seen my mother pray so much, but it seemed that nothing about our lives had changed. I had witnessed her praying through the crack of her door and reading her bible multiple times a day when I was child; yet, she was still so unhappy. I could not understand what prayer was supposed to do, but I knew it had to do something. I wondered why I felt the need to mimic her example, but still could not see the benefits of praying. Just as I finished my ultimate plea for a reason to save my own life, God spoke to me so clearly it was as if He was in the kitchen with me. He said three simple words, Write about it. It was such an unfamiliar experience and voice that I doubted myself when I first heard the words. He repeated, Jamie, write about it. It took me a minute to compose myself, but I dried my face, put the knife in the sink and went to my bedroom. I found my school notebook and starting writing words on paper.

I began writing paragraphs about my feelings and the anger with my life and my situation. I wrote when I was happy, angry, frustrated and depressed. Some of my writings were dark and filled with rage, but the more I wrote the more I was able to release the pain that I felt. I frequently heard God speaking to me as I wrote. Sometimes I wrote multiple times a day, and sometimes I would go days without writing. Yet, I knew that my pen was my savior and it was helping me to escape my pain. Though nothing was changing at home yet, things were changing within me. I started to feel hope and my motivation to become successful drove me to excel in everything I did. Mediocrity was never acceptable; my performance always had to be exceptional. I believed that my exceptional performance would help to change so many things about my life, and though I did not see much progress, writing continued to give me hope.

After my ninth grade year of high school Mrs. Sylvia Smith (formerly Hawkes) encouraged me to enter the public speaking contest at 4-H Short Course. Given my talkative history, she thought it would be the perfect competition for a girl in an agriculture club who could not have farm animals in the projects. I loved all famous black orators, and I secretly wanted to be like Dr. King one day, though I never thought it was truly possible. I thought the writing I had been doing for the past few years might help me write a speech for a contest. My paragraphs became poems, and my poems became my first essays. I became a competitive speaker who was more enthused by sharing a positive speech than by winning; though, I went on to win and place in most of my competitions. Speaking validated my calling to share hope with others.

The irony of my life was that most people never knew my living situation or that I lived every day for many years in depression. They had no idea that the outspoken honor student who was a member and leader in almost every school organization was smiling on the outside and praying for a reason to live inside. School gave me validation, and education gave me liberation. Seeing the success of others gave me hope on wpid-11221215_852934968112718_1626851941_o.jpgthe day that I almost gave in. I am thankful that God saved me and I am living in every single moment of this life. As I hold my son, I am reminded of why I am so blessed to see every day and I frequently think to myself that I almost missed this wonderful life. Each night when I talk to my mama, I am thankful that God created such a beautiful masterpiece out of the shattered vessels that we were. When I stand on stages and talk to audiences, I think about how I almost missed the chance to share such important moments with others. All of the pain I experienced equipped me to be as strong as I am today. All of the hurt I felt gave me the compassion that I share with others. All of the depression I experienced made me appreciate true joy. All of the brokenness in my home was to bring my family even closer together in God. My friends and family frequently make jokes about how much I cry when I get emotional, but when I think of all the years I spent crying tears of pain, I want to make up for them by crying tears of joy. I am not perfect, and neither is my life, but God’s will for my life is being perfected each day. I have been freed because God and poetry saved me from suicide.

Favor Ain’t Fair…Or is It?

In Culture, justice, life, News on March 17, 2015 at 4:51 am

It is a line that drives me absolutely crazy. So much so that sometimes, I imagine myself jumping up and down on a table in a room full of “favor ain’t fair” quotees (yes, I made that up) chanting, “Yes, it is! Favor is fair!” If I could find the first person who made this statement, I would smack them on the back of the head and say, “No! Don’t start it! It’s not even true!”

However, nearly every black church across America chants this line an average of 455 times per Sunday service or Wednesday night bible study. (Do not mock my fictional statistics.)  I have disagreed with this statement from the first day it slipped from the lips of the anointed. The implication that favor is not fair makes it seem as if God is not just in His dealings with us when the bible states the contrary.            Psalm 5: 12 states, “For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as a shield.” Psalm 84: 11 states, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.” As a matter of fact, the bible provides several scriptures that tell the benefits of living according to His will with Psalm 21 reminding us that God will bless us when we seek His face and His will. He makes promises of overflows, ten folds, open doors and foot stools. Yet, we continue to insist that the favor granted by living a righteous life is not fair.

To this concept I mupoet4st contest. For what is the point of joining a specialty club if one does not expect to receive exclusive benefits? The benefit of serving a mighty God, honoring His commandments, getting in line with His will, and repenting of errs and sins is favor. I beg to differ- favor is fair! For who does not enjoy reaping the benefits of being a saved child of God?

I think I have targeted the problem- we think favor applies solely to material things. Visual blessings tend to qualify higher on the “favored” list than non-visual blessings. However, peace in the midst of the storm can only be achieved when one has favor. An increase in finances or special connections will not buy peace, but a solid relationship with God and obedience will make one steadfast and joyful in the worst situations. There are many non-physical blessings that are purely the result of favor due to obedience. But the obsession with materialist things has caused us to misunderstand the true blessings of favor. This is not to decrease the value of material blessings, but to clarify that they do not determine whether one is experiencing favor. Material things come and go but a spiritual connection that brings for supernatural blessings is favor that cannot be explained.

There is one aspect of God’s dealings with us that is not “fair.” That aspect is grace and mercy. This twosome is given to nearly everyone on a daily basis- saved or unsaved, Baptist, Muslim, and even Atheist. Psalm 145:9 reads, “The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made.” God gives us a new chance every morning that our feet hit the floor. He gives us another opportunity to seek His face no matter how often we mess up. He loves us relentlessly, not because of favor, but because of grace and mercy.

Some preachers and teachers may disagree when they read this, but as the old gospel says, “like a tree planted by the water, I shall be moved.” There is nothing unfair about favor. The most amazing part of being saved is knowing your relationship with Christ connects you to favored blessings like no other. For committing your whole heart to Christ, He promises to never leave or forsake you and that He will supply all of your needs. The word declared that He is rich with houses and land and He holds the power of the world in His hand; so, why would he not want to give His children who are after His heart access to these amazing blessings? God’s desire is for His children to live in joy and peace that can only be found when individuals know Him. God honors His promise when we honor our commitment. Yes, it is absolutely favor, and despite what you have heard, it is fair.

Keeping a Child in a Child’s Place

In Culture, justice, life, media, News on February 23, 2015 at 11:01 pm

There was a time when people used to say “A child needs to stay in a child’s place.” However, with changinchildreng times came a change in philosophies on how to properly rear children. In the process of adopting new parenting strategies, children have been allowed to enter the realm of adulthood seemingly all too soon. The damages of such changes are unfortunately more far reaching than current society seems to believe. Exposing children to adult situations and environments before they are mature enough to understand them is a danger to their futures.

My friend and I were discussing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the affair accusations that have come to the public eye over recent years. While she contends that exposing the flaws of Dr. King and other leaders makes them seem more human  and realistic, I object to the concept, arguing that the preservation of black culture is essential especially considering that society has done so much in attempts to negate the role of black people in the development of this country. There is no denial that the truth about people deserves to be known; however, bringing forth this type of information to children who are not mature enough to separate the mission from the imperfection is what has caused so many young people to show a lack of respect for our ancestors. The end result is no preservation of black culture and history, a lack of identity for the forthcoming generation, inability to recognize systems of injustice and disorder, making a mockery of important history, allowing others to disrespect our culture and history and destroying the morals of our people. Though Dr. King may have had imperfections, what is most important is that he was willing to die for a cause that changed the face of this country. The internal moral conflicts he faced are far more difficult for a child to understand than for adults. Therefore, we must be cautious about how and when we expose children to the more complicated aspects of life.

A bigger concern is that it seems as we if thrive on discovering disheartening things about black world and community leaders. We often use these flaws to justify our own shortcomings.  Finding imperfections in others will not validate self, and this is an unhealthy trait to pass to the next generation. The dishonorable choices of one individual does lessen the effects of mistakes made by another. Therefore, we must focus on showing our children all the things that were done correctly and tell them of people who recovered resiliently despite mistakes and imperfections.  We must protect their innocence, for exposing them to too much too soon forces them into an arena of life for which they may not be prepared. It also creates a distorted perception that reckless behavior is acceptable because even the most admired people have secrets, instead of teaching them that in the journey of life we will experience obstacles which we must strive to conquer and if one should err, their mistakes do not cancel their calling.

As I have grown in age and wisdom, I have gained an understanding of why it is important for a child to be in a child’s place. Placing them in the midst of topics and sharing information with them that they are not mature enough to understand is a threat to their potential success. Children are not equipped to understand and handle situations in the same manner that adults should be. They are fragile vessels who absorb as much information as possible and use it to determine their actions and views on life. Most of them are not experienced enough to sift the negative and positives in a situation. Thus, we must do this for them and teach the basics before life becomes complicated. Besides, the struggles of the adult world will come soon enough; let us protect their minds while we can.

Why Black History Should Never Make Black People Bitter

In Culture, life, media, News, Race on February 22, 2015 at 8:44 am

The images in Selma made me cringe as I watched the dramatic images of black people being abused and murdered as they struggled for the right to vote. It was hurtful to know that black people alone were not valued enough to be granted the right to vote. The thought that they had to unite forces with their white counterparts in order to actually be considered reminded me of the struggles black people still face today. For a few days, my black power personality was mellowed down and I was seething anger with I have seen, heard and read so many times. While the images in this box office hit were nothing new, my feelings seemed to be even more intense as I considered the recent troubling race relations in America. As I drove home from the movie, I had a hard time trying to regain composure and think about what has always made me feel so much love for my culture. My admiration for civil rights workers, abolitionists, revolt leaders and everyday survivors of slavery and the Jim Crow Era was far deeper than black pride; I felt obligated use writing as a tool reach the masses as a sign of reverence for my predecessors. However the movie momentarily reminded me of the brutality of being black in America. I temporarily forgot a much more important lesson: black history should never make me bitter.

The gruesome images that replayed in my mind temporarily overshadowed the most important point of black history. Black people suffered for hundreds of years, but were always resilient, finding ways to make something out of nothing and smile in the worse conditions. They lived optimistically in a society that designed a system to block any opportunity for advance or freedom. Yet, despite these manmade barriers, Frederick Douglass and many others were determined to learn to read. He went on to become an abolitionist and author during a time when black people were killed for such “atrocities.” Though Harriet Tubman could not read and had no maps, she found the road to freedom and help over 300 others find the same pablack-history-monthth. And though death threatened hundreds of thousands, even millions, of slaves and black people, they fought, ran, and spoke up for freedom. As I recounted the numerous stories I had read and the stories that were told to by my elders, I was disappointed that I let emotions override my logic when understanding how profound my ancestors were despite their situation.

Black history should never make black people bitter. It should, however, arouse a sense of moral obligation to salute those who will never receive the accolades deserved. Through actions of gratitude, like supporting movements that continuously elevate black progress and unity, the work of my ancestors is respected. The fact that black people who died while fighting for civil rights and accepted the monstrous task before them with the understanding that they may die should be given even more respect that the constantly marveled story of the Holocaust. But, it is not. Perhaps the irony of this is that those who died for the cause probably knew they would never be American heroes and they never tried to be. They only tried to fight and live. With this in consideration, one should not be angered but instead, inspired. It is rare that individuals are willing to sacrifice life for the sake of people they may never know and for a cause that may never yield the results desired.

The movie Selma forced me to revisit my history books and take the time to reflect on what my black ancestors mean to the development of this country, their descendants and me. My displeasure melted as I re-read about the talented writing ability of Phyllis Wheatley, the innumerous inventions of Dr. George Washington Carver, and the accomplishments of Dr. Maya Angelou. I have committed myself to being more like my ancestors who gave selflessly for the benefit of the future. I have obligated myself to be a better mother to my son, teacher to my students and citizen in my community. For the mission of my predecessors was not for their descendants to live in anger, but to be socially and culturally cognizant of the sacrifices made for equality and freedom. They wanted their losses and legacies to pave the way for a race that is better, not bitter.

American Injustice for Black Men: Part II

In Uncategorized on December 30, 2014 at 8:26 am

Lady-LibertyIt’s funny how a young white male killed 14 people and wounded 50 in a Colorado movie theater and there was more focus on his mental illness than the dead and harmed. It’s funny how a young white male killed 20 children and 6 adults at an elementary school and repeated stories about his mental illness struggles were the main headlines for many news websites and stations. However, when black male Ismaaiyl Brinsley went on a spree killing his ex-girlfriend and two NYPD police officers, it was hardly mentioned that he too had suffered from mental illness. Brinsley had a history of suicide attempts as recently as last year. Yet, he has been tattooed as a cop killer and murder, and little focus has been given to the unfortunate loss of his estranged girlfriend. Instead, media and society have used this incident to claim that the protests in New York and across the country have sparked this unfortunate situation. Brinkley’s mental illness issues and history have been used as ammunition to make it seem that black Americans are unruly and uncontrollable. Henceforth, the deaths of black men are justifiable in attempts to hurt them before they hurt others. I laugh, but not in a comical way. I laugh in a sick, demented, this-joke-is-too-dark, darker-than-my-too-black-for-America-skin way.

I have struggled for the past two years to control the anxiety and anger I feel towards America as it allows its racist face to show. It has been hard to accept that America has made no progress at all. Yes, laws were created following the death of Dr. King. However, what I have learned is that these laws were written on paper in attempts to pacify blacks, not to actually correct a problem or force American society to change. For that is a much bigger issue. One cannot unteach systematic racism or force individuals to stop making their offspring feel that they must remain separate to be superior. Therefore, the result of individuals teaching racism at home is the development of an unjust neighborhood which leads to a biased community which creates partial leaders which infiltrates an unfair country thus creating a divided society leading to a broken world.

Brinsley’s case has not justified police actions across the country; it has confirmed what I suspected. Black men who commit the same crimes as their white counterparts are presented in different manner and portrayed as beasts, thus creating an automatic sense of fear in society. Purse clutching and unwarranted deaths will be at an all-time high as America continues to paint images of Trayvon Martin dressed as a hoodlum who created fear in his own neighborhood, Mike Brown as an overly beastified pit bull who could not even fall at the shot of a bullet, Eric Garner being so large that his very voice overpowered a cop, and Tamir Rice needed no questions asked because 12 year-old black kids should not play with toy guns. Our own community leaders will continue to turn their backs on the youth who are ready and radical enough to fight by using the weak excuse that “blacks kill blacks every day” as if whites do not kill whites also. My fear has become that those who hold the real power will not work to make impactful changes.

Writing these posts has become painful to me, for it seems that this is an issue which has no beginning or ending. I struggle to find a solution for a problem that has existed for so long. I do not think America truly wants a resolution because to destroy the image of the black man is to destroy the black family. It is not a point of pride to draw this conclusion. It is disheartening to know that the struggle of a black man in America is so serious and scary to realize that I have no answer to change it. The only power I truly hold is to pray and train my son to be a fighter, because one day he will be a black man in
America.

Magnified Levels of Greatness for 2015

In Uncategorized on December 29, 2014 at 9:22 am

IMG_2356Wow…how do I begin to talk about 2014? The first image that comes to mind is a roller coaster. No, not one of the kiddie ones you see at a local fair. I’m talking about a Texas-size Six Flags, blow-your-mind, scare-you-to-death, hold-on-tightly-for-the-ride-of-your-life roller coaster. I was up and down. Some moments passed fast and others seemed to drag on forever. Now, I find myself at the end of the roller coaster, glancing back at 2014.

I started the year with a prediction of chasing book sales across the country and speaking any and everywhere. I was putting the wheels into motion for my dream and making plans to finally be free. My first stage play had been produced. My name was moving across the state faster than my Altima could travel, and my hands were itching for a new writing project. A return to school was calling my name and financial stability was finally within my grasp. But 2014 would take a turn I could have never, ever…everevereverever predicted. My plans were paused when I learned that I was soon to be a mother. I won’t repeat a story that has been shared at least twice on my blog site. Yes, it was unexpected. Yes, it was a long and strange nine months. However, it was a nine month period that forever changed my life. It could not have happened at a better time or in a better situation. It was a necessary transition to a part of life, that had it been according to my planning or timing, may have never happened.

As I look back at 2014, I had nearly forgotten the life that existed before my son arrived. All of my accomplishments seemed so far gone; the possibility of returning to the same state of success seemed impossible. And to a certain extent, it is. 2014 has been the most serious year of transformation that will probably ever occur in my life. This year forced me into a zone that I was blessed to experience but afraid to embrace. This year pushed me to live life differently and to take control of situations that the old Jamie would have simply ignored. My life is no longer about me; it is about whom I want my son to see and who I want him to become.  I have realized that my role can no longer be taken casually. My responsibility is to live in the image of the person I would like for him to be. With this in consideration, 2014 has given me five things I will aim to engrain in my son:

  • Be true to yourself. I first heard this phrase from my junior high school art teacher and then again from my eleventh grade English teacher. Never did the clarity of such a phrase matter until this year. I had spent years aiming to please and impress others, whether it was friends, family, my boss or even strangers in an audience. What I did, thought, and spoke was often manipulated in aims to not offend or dishearten others. The struggle with aiming to please others was that I was usually displeased with self. Failing to be true to myself made me feel like a fraud. I would frequently hide my true emotions and perpetrate an image of perfection when I felt like a train wreck on the inside. I often denied myself the right to be angry and sad, telling myself that I had to keep my head up, remain focused and always be the person with the level head. My true emotions were reserved for the privacy of my bedroom at late hours of the night or when I was alone. I was living an unfair life that was unreal. When I learned that I was pregnant, the fear of hoarding stress and miscarrying loomed over my head like a storm cloud. I knew I could no longer live falsely by lying to myself in order to maintain an image of happiness and perfection for others. There were times when I deserved to be sad. It was understandable when I was angry. I had to keep it real with myself. I learned a lesson that was years late; being true to myself meant I felt less stress and others (whether they were close friends or not) respected my opinion more. Though this has been a gradual lesson in progress for several years, the changes of 2014 forced me to learn more quickly.
  • Establish boundaries. Stick to your boundaries. As an entrepreneur, I struggled for years to be solid in my demands. I would often make sacrifices that cost me more than those I was servicing. Time taught me to be more consistent in boundary setting, but motherhood taught me to be abrupt with establishing boundaries. I have always valued my word and, thus, expected others to value theirs. My expectation for others to value commitments often caused me to be lenient, thinking that leniency demonstrated my loyalty. This mistake often left me depleted of energy and full of disappointment. I quickly learned that my energy had to be reserved for the one who deserved it, my son. Establishing boundaries and sticking to them helped me focus my energy where it was needed most.
  • Fall in love with yourself. I have always believed that love and hearts are to be treated gently and handled in a serious manner. Unsuccessful attempts at relationships left me prone to avoid relationships and dating as I struggled to understand love and men. My post-pregnancy self-esteem struggled to find my pre-pregnancy attitude- which loved my age, my body and my life. Recitation of a few of my favorite pieces from my book Pennies In My Pocket helped me remember what had put me in such a state of elation at the beginning of 2014 when I was head over heels in love with…me. Falling in love with me had allowed me to be vulnerably open to loving someone else, which led to…well, you know. I learned that when I was not in love with me I felt insecure and scared of the feeling of love. Undoubtedly, I felt nervous when I finally opened myself up, but I also felt ready. The most important thing an individual can do is focus on being a better self for self; everything else will fall into place at the right time.  Falling in love with me helped me embrace my imperfections as part of my authenticity that is to be treasured by Mr. Right.
  • Live in the moment.  If I could count the number of times I tried and failed to predict my future I’d be a millionaire. After spending years trying to always have the perfect plan and perfect execution, I finally learned that there is no perfect way for either. I let years pass by trying to plan for the future while failing to enjoy the moment, but when my son was born it seemed as if the world briefly came to a stop. Moments passed that I would never get back and fresh out of my womb was something my son would never be again- a newborn. I had let so many other things pass me by, but the moments with him were ones I never wanted to miss. My worries about superficial things became secondary, and my primary concern was to make sure I never missed a special moment of his life. The moments of our life together are priceless treasures that can be remembered through pictures but can never be relived.
  • Remember God is in control.  The ultimate lesson of 2014 that I hope my son will carry for a lifetime is to remember that God is in control. Never have I relied more heavily on God than this past year. I have witnessed my faith growing over the past few years, but never in the manner that it grew this year. As I struggled with medical issues early in my pregnancy, financial woes in the end, and family life, I reached a place where I finally came to peace with the idea that there is only one option: trust God.  I was a believer in Christ, regular worshipper, and dedicated woman of prayer, but as I have stated in times past, my faith in God was often tested and I came dangerously close to failing. Though it is an uncomfortable statement to make, it is a true one. However, pregnancy was a day-to-day journey where both my life and that of my unborn child were at risk. I nearly worried myself to death during the first four months of pregnancy as I agonized about eating the right foods, getting enough rest, taking care of my body and avoiding stress…I was actually stressing about avoiding stress. At last, I prayed earnestly to God and remembered the timeless biblical quote from Sister Bradford, “God is in control.” He was not just in control of my pregnancy, but He was in control of everything that seemed to out of control in my life. When I truly embraced that God was in control and that He would never leave nor forsake me, my blessings started overflow and my cup was running over. At times I still worry, but when I notice my overwhelming feelings, I breathe deeply and remind myself that God is in control.

It is not only my son that I thank God for, but the growing experience that has come through the birth of my son. As I continue to grow, I eagerly anticipate the life lessons I shall share with him. It is my hope that the path before will lead him to have the morals of an upstanding man and the dignity of one that fears and respects Christ. May I be a constant work in progress with the ambition of evolving into greatness before the eyes of my offspring. I am thankful for the changes that have begun in 2014, and I look forward to magnified levels of greatness in 2015.

 

Check out why my 2014 year was so amazing! Click the link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSv1gJuCgE4

American Injustice for Black Men: Part I

In Culture, justice, life, media, News, prison, Race, reality on December 5, 2014 at 2:07 am

There is nothing new about the injustice of the American justice system. Black people have been fighting for rights in America since we arrived in America. However, after such a dramatic impact from some of history’s strongest leaders during the Civil Rights era, our race became complacent, assuming that we had finally “arrived.” Yet, the past six years have been some of the most turbulent this country has ever seen. I have found myself frequently wishing I had lived during the Civil Rights era, at least I would be openly aware of injustices and knowledgeable about how to handle them. I would be surrounded by a group of power house black

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culturists who would train me to be a smart fighter in the midst of an unchanging society, but such is not the case. I am an eighties baby, born to a generation of entitled individuals who are satisfied with times that seem to be better than. Better than the Jim Crow Era. Better that the roaring twenties. Better than slavery. And for a while this pacified us; for, we were able to convince ourselves that the work of our ancestors was enough for us to function in a balanced and equal society and that all we had to do was enjoy the benefits and play our conforming role. This attitude has caused me many struggles because for many years I have seen America through different eyes and have understood the dangers of what seemed to be minor race issues. I kept wondering when we would have a cultural awakening and see the big picture- that several minor issues equal a big problem. A string of deaths that began long before Trayvon Martin was brutally murdered finally led to an eruption of emotions that have black people realizing that America has not progressed as much as many thought it had.

The devastation behind the deaths of several black men who were supposedly innocent until proven guilty is only the flip side of what has been wrong with the justice system for years. Attorney General Eric Holder addressed the situation and received much backlash from his white counterparts months ago. The alarming rate in which black males have received long prison sentences for minor crimes and for crimes that their white counterparts have received small sentences has placed a negative stigma on the black community and greatly stinted the progress of the black community. It is the flip side of black murders committed by white cops; yet, it is just as damaging to black race as the unfortunate deaths of black men. It is ridiculous that it has taken the deaths of several men to address a problem that is not about incidents, but about a flawed system.

Our black men are moving targets, set out to be destroyed emotionally and physically, too, if necessary. For years, it has been enough to imprison them for extended periods of time. This was enough to break their spirits and place a permanent blemish in their background that would limit and, in many cases, eliminate the possibility of true recovery and true success. However, the election of a black President and a surge of the confidence and achievement in the black male community have made America take immediate action in attempt to degrade and demolish the strong black man thus weakening the black community as a whole. To justify the attacks, the justice system is manipulated by those who created it and misused to justify the crimes of those who react based on ego instead of behaving according to their occupational responsibility. What is scariest about this situation is the audacity our country’s leaders to try and defend these horrendous acts which directly violate laws and human rights. The repeated slaying of black men has finally taken a toll on the black community and we are on the heels of a serious movement in America. There are two major questions I have been unable to shake from my mind: What do we do to change a system that has been doing what it was put in place to do for so many years? Is the problem that we must change a system or we must force people to change their mentality? Unfortunately, I do not have the answer to either one and I fear that we as a collective unit do not either. As I grow older, I have begun to doubt that this system is fixable and that hatred and racism will always be passed to generations in efforts to maintain control.

It does not seem that it will ever matter how much motivation a black man has; there will always be an attempt to emasculate and dehumanize him. While we are in control of our individual actions and behaviors, this does not justify the justice system’s abuse of power and mistreatment of black men. Black men have been tortured in America since they were brought to America as slaves hundreds of years ago. They struggled for their rights to be treated as humans and men back then and it is an unfortunate fight that continues now. It is devastating that black men continue to lose whether to the penitentiary or to the casket.

What I Will Tell My Black Son

In Uncategorized on December 4, 2014 at 2:13 am

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I will tell him of all the things he must do
To maintain in a society that insists he is not civilized
He has to keep his pants up and his temper down
Keep his grade average high but the volume of his voice low
Not because he needs to be quiet
But because a man who can hear your plan will also try
To guess the power you hold in your hand.

I will teach him about the lineage of strong black men
Who brought this country to be
And that in this America there are two versions of history.
There is the one that crooks wrote in textbooks
But one that involves him but can only be found
In the back corners of libraries and on the lips of ancestors-
Some here, some gone, some unknown.

I will tell him that society will always feel threatened by him
Because he is a black man who has the strength of ten thousand
And the courage of ten million
He must know when, where, and how to fight
And don’t ever let anybody make him believe he must back down.

I will tell him that true love has no color
But no woman will love and respect him like
The sister who is cut from his rib, has walked his struggle
And holds the world on her shoulders every day.
For it is only her who can understand the call of a black man
To be something great in a world that often denies his value.

I will teach him that he is guilty until proven innocent in America
That if he gets stopped by the cops, no matter how he feels
He must handle the situation like he is wrong to stay alive.
My son must understand that arriving in my arms at the front door
Is much more important than trying to stand his ground
Because that works in all states but only for certain people.

Most importantly, I will teach him that I am his mother
The giver of his life who will love him despite his flaws
I will wipe his tears and kiss his boo-boos
I will give him everything that was never given to me
And will spoil him but try my best not to ruin him
So he understands the value of fine things
But respects the hard work that comes from them

I will teach him that no matter how tough life gets
He must remember the strength he was given
And the courage he already possesses
But be wise in his actions
Slow with his tongue
And quick with this thoughts
Because he is a black son
His journey will be different
But different makes him unique
And uniqueness makes him chosen
To overcome difficulties
To share his lessons with others
And to change the world around him
Yes, yes, that is what I will tell my black son.

©Copyright 2014 by Motivational Inspirations

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