Category Archives: Politics

Echoing powerful voices 

I missed the BET awards on June 27 so I missed the tribute to Prince along with several other exceptional performances. Last night, my partner and I watched a video of Kendrick Lamar and Beyonce performing “Freedom”. We both were amazed and completely enthralled by their energy, the activism and the  enlightenment in the music. I did’t see any other performances or speeches on the night the show aired. I still don’t know who won for “Best Rapper” or “Best R &B” artist. I will eventually get around to getting the scoop on all of this.

Although I didn’t watch the show, I came across the social media feedback on Spike Lee’s outfit. I didn’t provide any commentary on the the purple hat deemed “Willy Wonka” like. I didn’t find any value in doing so (I understand that Lee, a genius in many respects was obviously paying tribute to Prince, plus there’s more to life than ragging someone for their wardrobe) . I also didn’t publicly comment on Kendrick and Beyonce’s performance, although it did make for good conversation in my home.

When I woke up this morning,  June 27, my partner told me that there was one speech that everyone was talking about, one recipient that social media and the world couldn’t seem to get enough of.  Jesse Williams. Jesse Williams, the actor and activist received the “Bet 2016 Humanitarian Award.”

Williams delivered a speech that resulted in him trending on social media and that was making headlines. His looks and remarks were the center of discussion for many.

My fiancee’ was the first to mention the speech to me. She urged me to watch it. I called my dad on the way to work. My father and mother instilled the importance and value of knowing our history in us throughout our childhood and continue to do so. Books on black history, pictures of Harriet Tubman, discussion about Black Panthers giving out free lunch and knowledge were just some of the ways my parents enlightened us.

When my dad speaks about leaders, he talks about Nat Turner, Malcolm X, figures from Black wall Street,  Ali, Martin Luther King. When my mom talks about leaders, she mentions many of the same names, throwing in the success of Oprah Winfrey and President Barack Obama along with others. On Monday morning when I called my dad on the way to work, another name emerged. Jesse Williams. My dad, the same way that my fiancee’ had almost an hour earlier excitedly talked about Williams’ speech.

At this point, the actor who I started following on Twitter because of his activism was becoming a “Stokely Carmichael” like figure in the minds of my loved ones.

Heavily anticipating listening to the knowledge, insight and passion that I was told Williams shared during the speech,  I read the transcript from his acceptance speech while I had a brief moment during the workday. Moved and strongly motivated by my family urging me to watch the speech and based on the way people seemed to be moved, I knew I had to watch it.  My best friend sent me an e-mail with a link of Williams’s speech. This was one more sign that watching it was a priority.

So I did. I felt the same thing that they felt. I needed to share the speech. We need to listen to Williams’ speech but we need to do more than listen to it. We need to live it. I thank him for being a wise and thought-provoking passionate individual who knows that life and living is about more than what they see us as, it’s about what and who we are: HUMAN.

 

Check out some quick thoughts I had after watching  William’s speech which I thought was extraordinarily honest, insightful and powerful.
It’s amazing to see how education and a thirst for knowledge can result in an ability to deliver eye-opening truths that need to be known.
 
Williams really hit on some major points and I identify with the majority of  what he said.
 
His passion and commitment to activism is certainly something to model. He is focused on improving conditions for other people.
 
I love that he demands that we receive better treatment and more respect as people along with fairness, justice and equality. We should not have to ask for those things, as humans we are all entitled to the essentials and beauties of life without always being shown the ugly, nasty brutalities that we are shown. We should all have access to resources, protection, education, health care, justice, food (that nourishes our mind, body and soul) and education.
 
These things are our human right. It’s ridiculous that we have had to invest so much time and energy making up for years of oppression that continue to add up as people are gunned down; that continue to add up as people fall victims to health and financial disparities.
 
There have been great strides taken by blacks who have revolted, escaped slavery and emerged to levels of success never thought to be imagined. Yet and still there is this overwhelming fear that exists in the heart of some that want to continue to perpetuate backwards stereotypes while shoving us further into poverty where black on black violence equals survival of the fittest, prison systems and letting us be buried in a world where we have to deal with issues faced by all humans while overcoming the struggles that are presented due to being black.
 
We are better than what they think we are.  Williams is an inspiring young man, activist and leader. It’s dope, peace and amazing that he uses his platform to raise awareness and speak truth. I hope that many people hear his words and take the time to explore the powerful voices of those who he echoed.
— Sharieka

Temporary empty bed

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Sometimes it takes your partner being on vacation or a work trip for you to really embrace who they are.
I spend days coming down on my beautiful, witty fiancé about not reading my articles and our shared cleaning schedules.
Even though we are engaged, she’s still my girlfriend.
Through the years we’ve both developed new interests or firmly shaped old ones. When we first started dating, family, friends, feminism, social justice, human rights, plays, theater and movies were a huge part of her interest.
All of these things still are. It was easy to love this about her and came naturally.
In the mornings as we shuffle through the hour and a half before work by filling the 90 minutes in with our beautiful and thoughtful breakfasts, Stacy occasionally listens to podcasts.
Sometimes I come I from morning runs and take my headsets out and say baby, who is that? What are you listening to?”
The replies range from Marc Maron, to Terry Gross on “Fresh Air” interviewing Toni Morrison or Lena Dunham’s talk time.
These are some of her more recently expressed interests along with a huge love for comedy. I don’t overlook them when she’s here which is how I know all this by the way, but it took her absence and returning from a morning run on Friday and not hearing her podcast and seeing her prepare oatmeal with chia seeds to remind me of how blessed I am. Sometimes being in the midst of a blessing makes it such a norm that we fail to see how extraordinary it is.
She’s an Instagram and Internet surfer constantly googling the right way to do things (whether it’s tips for me about recovering from a marathon or tips for her how to join a college class late). She uses social media to embrace and experience individuals like Cheska Lee or “something badass” the first name slips my mind but after a little bit more thinking, I think it’s Nikki.
We talk about things, the Flint water crisis, health/education disparities, grocery lists, vilolence and the stupity of taking someone’s life, or intentionally hurting another person, Amy Schumer’s comedic genius, Kobe Bryant’s excellence as basketball’s greatest ever, Kendrick Lamar and Adele’s strong song writing abilities or Trumps rants, Sander’s place in politics, my family, her family, me missing my bestfriends or the cute pictures and videos of her best friend’s baby or brothers children who she refers to as her kids in an endearing tone.
We sit perplexed about talking about what’s next while sipping on Craft beers and excitedly talking about our new found shared interest in IPAs and stouts. We note our water intake, and smile at our discovery of Bok Choy and Swiss chard while talking about delights like Duck Donuts.
We laugh at movies, cry on them too. No offense to the scripts. All respect, we do this when they are good. She listens to me talk about documentaries like Spanish Land and sits down to check out “30 for 30s” like the “Prince of Pennsylvania” she explores movies like “Blue Jasmine” and encourages me to check out things that I consider questionable like Chelsea Handler’s alleged thought provoking serious where she has a segment on race. (I remain reluctant and refuse)
Right now I am in bed, thinking about my next move, coffee, getting the paper to see if my article on Petey Pablo ran, her and what’s she’s doing, if she is making Pumpkin pancakes (Mickey mouse shaped)for her nephew and two nieces, our wedding plans, the now, what’s next. I’m blessed, sometimes an empty side of the bed serves as the best reminder about how full life is.

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Illuminating the World through Design “Temeka Jackson”

When you’re passionate about the work you do, your abilities and talent are clear. The people who receive the end result of the work you do are impressed.
Working with nails is Temeka Jackson’s thing. Whether polishing, taking care of them or coming up with innovative ways to give people a unique look, Jackson has made a business out of making peoples nails look good.
At the young age of 19 she found her interest in the health and beauty field expanding while she had an example set for her by a local woman who worked on nails. It was then that she felt a budding passion for the profession.
Three years later, Jackson earned her first spot working to hone her skills with the passion she loved. Just 24 hours after applying to the position, her work had earned her the acknowledgment that she needed to turn a hobby into a profession. It was at TJ Nails, where the young artist had anticipated being the first Black nail tech that she began to encounter discrimination from customers who thought that her being in the establishment was out of the ordinary.
Young, motivated, and with the attitude that nothing would discourage her, Jackson continued her journey. It was that attitude which has since allowed her to earn national recognition for her trend-setting nails that have depicted historical, political, and sports related messages.
In 2009 while the whole country was adjusting to the first Black president, Jackson was working on a way to translate that historical message through nail art. Her ability to do so earned her a spot in Nationally Nails Magazine. While earning magazine recognition was a great way to be acknowledged, Jackson’s Obama nails gained so much
attention that she was recognized on News Eight and CNN. The hard work and her unique design, helped her work in the world of fashion and beauty to do something that even the Mayor of the city acknowledged with a letter.
Being versatile and creative worked in the favor of the New Haven native again for the second time by receiving a letter, from the Los Angeles Lakers, a sports team known for creating a winning legacy. Putting her mind to it and taking real care in nails has earned Jackson recognition and acknowledgment on a local and national level.
It is clear that hard work and dedication has led her to be one of the hottest and most sought out nail techs in her area.
Her most recent accomplishment of being honored at Fantasias in North Haven, was bittersweet for Jackson who became the first African American to earn an award in the Nail Tech business.
For Jackson the award was a long step up from having clients second guess her talent and ability because of her color. Her attention grabbing method which is inspired by Canvas art that comes from her imagination and the inspiration she draws from remembering her Uncle Katro Strom’s work as an artist has helped her create art that conveys messages through design.
With the support of family, friends and a strong customer base, Jackson has elevated what it means to be a nail technician. Taking the nail business by storm is more than just painting nails for Jackson who aspires to be a traveling technician that spreads the message about working to succeed and overcoming discrimination. Her ambitions include working behind the scenes on television shows, traveling outside of the country with her talent and establishing a spa in LA.
The hard work and dedication along with the national acclaim earned by Jackson who is more than a technician make it clear that she will go as far as her imagination and creative thinking takes her.

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