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].”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or polishedbricks.com. Also, like her facebook page: PolishedBricks.
Keep polishing those bricks and stay FIERCE!
The 2015 Black Girls Rock! annual ceremony commemorating women of color premiered last night (April 5) and proved once again why such a platform is important and so necessary. From our ever so gorgeous FLOTUS declaring that Black women rock to Mother Cicely Tyson planting seeds of wisdom to everyone in the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and to those, like myself, who watched at home.
It’s a change of scene. On this night we see the movers and shakers that are really rocking the boat, the women that constantly run under the radar. For about two hours, the negative stereotypes being portrayed about Black women take a backseat and you see the Black women who are full of strength, hope, love, vulnerability, FIERCEness and just all around happiness.
Black Girls’ Rock isn’t just a show. It really is a movement, and it’s helping young sistahs come to realize nothing is impossible. The word itself says, I’m possible. The message that Beverly Bond spreads with this organization is the reason why I will forever support and declare that Black Girls Rock!
Last night was indeed a game changer for me, here are my top five reasons why:
Black Love Still Reigns
“Black women ‘go hard’ for the Black man. But do they do the same for us?” YES! YES, THEY DO! The one and only Fresh Prince presented his wife of 20 years with the Star Power award. Will Smith officially smashed all rumors about the couple getting divorced saying, he couldn’t imagine a life without her. Reflecting on their relationship, he not only let the world know he encourages her dreams and ambitions but wouldn’t want it any other way, “For living your dreams, out loud, baby, for modeling an alternative way of being in the world, I present to you, along with BET, the Black Girls Star Power Award. Baby, come and get it!”
It was a beautiful declaration of love, respect and humility. Black Girls Rock!, but so does Black Love.
Erykah Badu Gave Us Life
Ms. Badu, goddess of all things light, love, and groovy vibes, blessed everyone with her presence as she was awarded the RockStar Award, presented by none other than The Electric Lady herself, Janelle Monae. Dedicating the award to her five mothers: her mother Queenie, grandmothers Viola and Thelma, godmother Gwen and Mother Nature she gave “little Black girls all over the world” some very intuitive wisdom of her own. “The thing that keeps us going is our vitality,” the 44- year old songstress said. She also admitted that she has five doctors that she sees on a regular.
Dr. Sun – Makes sure you get the necessary vitamins your body needs
Dr. Nutrition – Makes sure that the vital body is clean and healthy, “performing to its highest ability”
Dr. Exercise – At least 15 minutes a day
Dr. Spirit – Makes certain that we are communicating with the highest part of ourselves
Dr. You – Makes certain that YOU are taking care of YOU
Later that evening, the songbird rocked the crowd with a beautiful performance of “Soldier” and “Master Teacher” proving to everyone in the room why she was much deserving of the award.
We Are Conquerors
Estelle gave an outstanding performance of “Conqueror”, off her latest album True Romance. It was a great choice, as she sang the inspirational song with her impressive vocal skills. Representing the resiliency of Black women with lyrics like, “We all make mistakes/we may fall on our face/but don’t ever give up,” she stole the show declaring that she is a conqueror. Her performance along with the words to listen to was definitely one of the most memorable moments of the night.
Lights, Camera & Action
Ava DuVernay, director of the Academy nominated film Selma, accepted the ShotCaller’s Award, and she did something tremendously beautiful with it. “I really feel strongly that you don’t have to be actress or director or singer or famous to be a star. You can be a star in our own eyes my sisters, right where you are,” DuVernay said.
She also gave acknowledgement to the many Black women filmmakers that have not only been trailblazers in her own life but don’t get the appreciation they deserve. “The films that [filmmakers] make for you, the stories that we make for you, they’re truly for you,” the director said. Due to time restrictions all the filmmakers that the inspiring director named were not added to the final production of the show for Sunday, night, but on her Twitter (@AVAETC) she made sure to acknowledge all of those trailblazers.
Queen Floetic & T-Murda Killed It!
As always the incomparable Regina King and Tracee Ellis Ross were amazing as hosts. However, this time, the duo took a break from their hosting duties to allow a couple of new artists a time to shine.
Queen Floetic (an alter ego of Regina King) and T-Murda (a hilarious alter-ego of Tracee Ellis Ross, who is the genius behind decoding some of Young Thug’s lyrics) for the first time took the Black Girls Rock stage. They moved the audience with lines like, “Don’t be fooled/Black girls are precious jewels/Don’t take our kindness for weakness/You can’t just come through and freak this,” from Queen Floetic. Even T-Murda, who was slightly nervous, dropped some #BARS for us. “Bright, gifted, beautiful, there’s nobody cleaner/Black girls smashing Hollywood like Venus and Serena.”
The only question you can really ask after their performance is: When that mixtape dropping doe?
Bonus*** My Sisters Are Black Girls Who Rock Too!! ***Bonus
This year, I watched the show with my three sisters, cousins and my step-mom. We “oohed” and “awe’d” all night long, trying not to shed a tear. As I watched Change Agent award winner, Nadia Lopez, ask the question, “What are you doing with God’s gift,” and Michelle Obama tell us we are beautiful, I looked at the expressions on my siblings’ and cousins’ faces. I saw expressions of joy and hope, and I smiled when they said, “Don’t worry y’all. We are going to be up [on the Black Girls Rock! Stage] too.”
Keep an eye out Beverly Bond.
What were your favorite moments of the night? Let me know in the comments!!!