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Be Inspired

Boy …

In the wake of the murder of Alston Sterling and not even a full 24 hours later Philando Castille, the world is shook. Oh, no, that’s wrong. Black America is shook and no one else seems to understand why. The same sympathies and support that were given to the victims in the devastating tragedy tragedy in Orlando, Florida are little to none in the case  of our Black men, our Black boys.

It hurts and irritates the hell out of my soul knowing that the country that my little brother is out here protecting, won’t protect him when he comes back dressed in regular civilian clothes. I look at my baby brother who is only eight and doesn’t even understand the target he has on his back. I think of my own father and what I would do (not what I might do) if he was laid there out in the street, body not even cold before I have to start hearing some made up bullshit about how he lived his life.

My mother when she’d come home from work after a long day, she’d say, “I’m tired. And I’m tired of being tired.” She’d laugh then, with her high pitched chuckle I often miss. But we’re not laughing. And we really are sick and tired of seeing our people lay slaughtered in streets without any regards to the life that they lived and could have lived.

I’ve been up half the night because I haven’t been able to sleep. I’m tired. I’m afraid. I’m disgusted. I’m mad as hell. I’m confused and don’t what to do. What can I do?

I can write. I can use my voice.

This here poem is something that I’ve been working on for almost five years, very well not be completely finished. But I feel the need to share. Inspired by Jamaica Kincaid and the countless of lives being taken away from here far too soon (Tamir Rice just missed his 14th birthday!). I don’t have children, so I can only imagine the instruction that a mother today gives her Black son. I imagine that the discipline and guidance she gives may seem overbearing, overprotective and erratic but only because of her underlying fear of one day seeing her black boy in the street. The question I ask is, how do you talk to your young boys about the value of life, when their’s gets taken away?

***

Iron your clothes Sunday night;  brush yo teeth before going to school; don’t be talking to no teachers with no stank breath; this is how you keep a nice and sharp crease in your pants; a balanced breakfast is the most important meal of the day; be careful not to spill any orange juice on yo clothes; don’t you go out there giving these people any reason to look at you differently; I heard you been trying to skip school with that boy from across the street; this is how ya walk with dignity; I hope you not out here skipping school; don’t look so menacing; stay away from some of these females; but I don’t be skippin school; keep that beautiful smile on your face; I ain’t one of ya lil friends; be careful how you look at these people; this how you tie a tie appropriately and so prevents you on the thug you trying to be; where are yo books; I wish I could of taught you how to fish; don’t you be talking back to no one; I love you; read those books yo daddy gave you; don’t be bringing no babies up in this house; don’t be smack talking none of these people and maybe they won’t see the thug that you think you are; don’t be out at all hours of the night; go out and find yourself a nice decent job and don’t be out here on these streets; keep these dishes and this house cleaned; if you just got to be out – yo curfew is 9:00 pm; do you know how to fish; when taking out the garbage make sure you don’t arch your back; don’t lose your temper around these people; you sound like your father; don’t give these people no attitude; your voice so deep and heavy; don’t speak so loud; listen closely to those of your elders and to these people; you don’t know everything; some things in this world just don’t make sense; you think you all that with that basketball, huh; don’t be so money-hungry; idle hands are the devil’s background; don’t be in such a hurry to understand these people; they barely understand themselves;  don’t be a walking contradiction; your eyes are always full of such wonder of this world;  don’t keep your hands in your pockets for too long while talking to these people out here; turn down that riff-raff you call music giving these people a reason to pull you over;  you so damn beautiful boy; don’t be out here staring these people down; I heard you bought a gun; pull up your pants and tuck in your shirt; keep yo hands where their eyes can see that you are a young boy and not the thug they believe you to be; be honest; keep your fists unclenched being careful about how you defend yourself because these people are quick to see you as the aggressor; having a gun will make you the thug I have instructed you not to be; no, you cannot go over yo lil friend’s house, the people always up over there; you gotta stay out of places like that; these people always disrespecting us; don’t let petty things get you so riled up; I see it in your eyes the thug you are soon to become; don’t walk too quickly in neighborhoods where there’s not a lot of us; what you doing giving these people reason to treat you like the thug I’ve instructed you not to be; what if I stand up for myself and demand the respect I deserve; you mean after all I’ve told you, you’re still going to end up murdered by these people like your father?

When Your Kobe Year, Ain’t So Kobe

I can’t believe it. Another year is almost gone. 2016 is already peaking behind the shadows, ready to make its grand entrance. Time for everyone to start their New Year resolutions (some of them being from the ones they didn’t finish this year). It’s time for everyone to start doing that thing where they announce that it’s time to cut some people off because “it’s just going to be them in [enter year here]”. I’ve already seen a couple posts talking about new year, new me.

It’s time for people to start reflecting on how great the year has been to them. Well, I don’t make New Year resolutions. I don’t make intend to cut anybody off in the near future. I definitely can’t reflect on how good 2015 has been to me.

I’m tired. I’m dog tired of pretending to everyone (my family, my friends, co-workers) that I’m fine. I’m not fine and everything is not going great. This year, I have been depressed. I’ve tried to hide it from everyone that cares for me. I was afraid to tell anyone because I feared what people would say.

I’ve been living 2015 in so much fear. I took a few chances but all those chances had negative effects. Twenty-four was anything but my Kobe year. I’ve been heartbroken, I’ve gotten into an accident (less than a week of getting my new car), the damages and insurance are about to drain my already thirsty pockets, I’m living with my parents (under their Wi-Fi as I write this), still abiding by their rules.

My best friend is miles away from me and it sucks I can only talk to her through the screen on my phone. I have two half-finished novels sitting on my desktop because I’m afraid that by finishing them means I have to turn them in. By turning them in, that means I have to mentally prepare myself for a rejection that may or may not come. If I’ve ever talked to one of you long enough or you know me well, then you know rejection gets very hard for me.

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I’ve doubted my purpose so long this year. I’ve not touched my laptop since May. Call it writer’s block if you want, but it’s been hard for me. I’ve been living in a huge slump. This year has not been LIT.

I’ve been living to paycheck to paycheck. I save a little bit, but  when things need to be taken care of, it needs to be taken care of. (Bills were something created by the Devil himself to reassure we don’t get to far ahead, or what that the government?)

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I have to make sure everything and everyone else is good first. But I’ve not been taking care of myself. I haven’t made time for myself. I honestly don’t know where DayJonnae is.
I’m trying to find her. I’m have to find the me I used to be. The me that at one point I was in love with and not this shell of a human being that I’ve become. I’m not happy with myself and I’m trying to get to happy. That starts now. I’m done with trying to please people if that means putting myself last.

I care for everyone around me and I would put my life for every single one of them multiple times if I could, that won’t ever stop. But I can’t keep telling you all that I love you, if I don’t love myself, and I need so strongly to get back to that.
That’s why I cut my hair a few weeks ago. Symbolically (and literally) I’m starting all over. My best friend has been asking me for weeks why. Well now you have your answer Shawnique. With each section that I cut I was attempting to cut off a layer of fear. (Cutting my hair was just something I would have never done.)
I do love the new look. I am hoping to love the inner look too. Hope you all do too.

If you rocked with me throughout this post, and understood where I was coming from (because I don’t want it to look like I was complaining), then thanks for listening.

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Peace & Blessings,

Jonnae Chantele
Live Abundantly,
Laugh Some More &
Love w/All Your Heart
(AND MEAN IT TO YOU & YOURSELF)

Spotlight: Kelah McKee is Polishing Some Bricks

Kelah McKee (Photo Credit: http://www.facebook.com/polishedbricks)

A college junior, an entrepreneur, and creator and founder of her own non-profit organization at 19 years young is definitely a feat. But for this young lady, it is just the beginning.

Majoring in communication with emphasis in Public Relations and a minor in African American studies, Kelah Chanice McKee has a bright future ahead of her, with aspirations to become an advice columnist for Essence magazine and turning her non-profit organization, PolishedBricks into a Fortune 500 company.
PolishedBricks is an exclusive platform that gives African Americans the opportunity to share their stories, highlight the work being done in their communities and provides an overall positive light on the lives of African American.
When asked how PolishedBricks came to be Ms. McKee remembers being asked a simple question, one that made her think clearly about what direction she wanted to go with her life.
“On July 18th, 2014, I asked myself how I was being accredit to my race and [that is when] I found that African Americans needed to be heard and showed in a positive light,” McKee said.
“PolishedBricks is targeted towards African Americans who have an interest in building the African American community in a positive way by sharing the stories, networking to work with one another, and [being] heard,” she said.
In creating this type of space it was important to McKee that the organization be exclusive to African Americans. “Many organizations are diverse, but their primary focus is to incorporate all races,” she said, “[and often times] the needs of African Americans [are left hanging in the balance].”

Polished Bricks Logo  (Photo Credit: www.facebook.com/polishedbricks)
Polished Bricks Logo
(Photo Credit: http://www.facebook.com/polishedbricks)

As for the name she credits a friend for giving her the idea. “A friend took a picture of me behind a brick building and [ever since then] I have been fascinated by the solid foundation that it gives,” she said. “Finally, I figured that if anyone could make a brick shine, it was [the individual] themselves.”
Mckee plans to continue the evolving of PolishedBricks and hopes to see many African Americans share their “bricks” with the world. She’s also expecting PolishedBricks to spread throughout the United Sates.
Accomplishing so many things at such a young age, she remains humble by divine power as well the obstacles that strengthen her and gives her the authority to walk through doors unbothered.
“I would like to thank the Heavenly Father up above for allowing me to do all things under his rule. Secondly, I would like thank the experiences that showed me I could grow beyond my comfort zone.”
However, it is a dear family member that she holds dear to her heart. “I thank my Aunt Alice for believ[ing] in me, even when I was of broken faith. [I also thank] the African American community [at my university], who inspires me to see beyond the media’s view of us and the ones who have a passion about building the African American community.”
Anyone wanting to share their experiences or ‘polished bricks’ can contact Kelah McKee by email at polishedb@gmail.com or polishedbricks.com. Also, like her facebook page: PolishedBricks.
Keep polishing those bricks and stay FIERCE!

Being Black: Knowing Beauty

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Photo Credit: Jonnae Chantele (Me!)

I dig the skin I’m in. I love how my face glistens when I wash my face. I love how (some days) I wake up and feel like I don’t need make-up on to enhance my beauty. I love my wide nose, and high cheek bones. The melanin that runs through my veins gives me the confidence to walk with my head held high, gradually proving to everyone just how ba-ad* I am and cannot be limited to the negative portrayals of me on a daily basis.

I enjoy seeing my brothers and sisters, all shades of brown, walk with such pride as they come to realize who they are, whose they are, and where they are going. I love the resiliency of my people. I can see the impact we have (and are having) on the world. We have the most emulated culture there is (I don’t have to prove this**, history does).

We are creative. We are talented. (And no we aren’t just athletes, singers and dancers, though we exceed greatly at each of these.) We are innovators. We are the matriarchs and the patriarchs of our households. We are royalty, Kings & Queens, as one of my dear friends says.

When we learn our history, when we find out things about ourselves that we didn’t know before, we begin to act accordingly. When we begin to see how rich our culture is, we can’t help look in the mirror and see that in our own selves.

Speak with some authority. Speak as if all that you want to accomplish is already written out in plain view…because it is.

My Black skin is what give me the confidence to go after opportunities that I know I deserve just as much as my White counterparts. That light shines within me because I have firm knowledge of who I come from and my purpose while I’m here on this beautiful earth.

“I Am Black

I Am Beautiful…

& Even in My Errors

I Am Hip”

– Nikki Giovanni

*Ba-ad: (adj.) as in being hella dope, not just good, but great; FIERCE

**At a later date, I will be, what some say, “dropping that knowledge” on that history/herstory.

Live Abudantly,

Laugh Some More & (if You Can Stand It…)

Love With ALL of Your Heart

 

 

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