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I don’t have a lot of time on my hands today. I am preparing to hit the road (travels, yesss). It is not just any road trip though; it is to embark on an event I hope will change lives. My family and I are part of a Stage Play that will answer some of the most pressing questions to date: “Why does Racism in America still exist? “Why have black people suffered for nearly 400 years at the hands of discrimination, police brutality, etc?” “What events in our history allowed these things to take place?” “Who were we before slavery?” So forth and so on. We will be before the face of the people and I hope it is an enlightening and groundbreaking experience for all of us. The event takes place in Chicago at the Dusable Museum of African American History and chronicles the History of the Black man and woman in America. I will post pictures of our journey as soon as I can.

Note: Thursday’s Sneak Peek Episode of Stella  has been postponed until next week. I know I know but look at it this way, next week you get a double dosage of fun as we wrap up our sneak peek series. 

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#Ronovan #Writes #BeWoW Prompt – Family

Welcome back to another episode of Ronovan Writes Be Wonderful on Wednesday. As I thought about this prompt, I was led to an older post of mine. As I read it, I could not help but see the family connection. I decided then to incorporate portions of that post into this week’s prompt because it is fitting:

be-wow-bloggerFamily…

My nephew has my birthmark on his chest. My face has my mother’s nose, and my smile is etched with my father’s teeth. I interact with the world as if on my own. It never occurs to me that I swing my arms like my Aunt. Or that the decisions I make may have already been made before. After all, they say there is nothing new under the sun. I cannot swim. But maybe that’s because the Great Flood has traumatized me, for I can still taste salt water seas on my tongue. Have you ever thought about the make-up of a blood line? The reality that maybe you inherited these ways only to gift them to someone else one day. I smile at the thought. What would a little girl look like with my eyes, my words and my hands on her hips? How do I know my favorite tree in which to rest my exhausted spirit from the soles of the Earth did not bleed with the stench of my ancestors? And have I ever fathomed why Hurricanes take the exact same route as the slave ships? Can it be that suicides still burn like melted ash upon the ocean floor? Its smoke intermingled with the wind as if to intercourse themselves into one before marching out to the beat of Negro Spirituals I could have sworn I just heard on the radio last night. Or maybe that’s just the Harriet in me. Family. We bond deeper than flesh and thicker than blood. A connection of bodies strung together, we thread ourselves into mixed fabric. Family does not relegate itself to kin, but it surpasses genetics and is reflective in a close friend, a loyal co-worker, a longtime lover. Family is the strength of struggle, reaching down to scrape me off the floor, or build me up when need be. I could Webster dictionary Family, but it is of no use. A dictionary cannot page itself into the substance of what it means to treat others as you yourself would like to be treated, or ponder the reasons why deception never really could separate close friends. Among its many words a dictionary will never fully articulate the experience embodied simply by way of a bloodline. So I suppose I could seek to decipher the definitions behind the syllables but they will not fill me. How could Webster ever fathom the depth of someone who is willing to die for you? This is family.

A photographer on the Baltimore Protests

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Just thought I’d share this article as a current events type deal before heading out for today. Though I don’t really get photography as an art far as all the technicalities are concerned (I mean, there are good pictures and then there are…good pictures), I do love the camera myself and I do think photography plays an important role in the unfolding of historical events. Had it not been for photographers, we would not have the opportunity to relive some of the most profound moments in history with such intimacy. As for my thoughts on the specific events rocking the country, I will have to come back with another post when I have more time, however I am led, we will see. Till then stay in tune:

Devin Allen is a self-taught photographer and Baltimore native. His images from the protests following the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody have received thousands of likes and shares on social media. As the situation continued to unfold in his hometown, Fusion caught up with Allen to learn more about his work and the gaps in the narratives being reported on the news versus those being experienced on the ground.

Fusion: So how old are you and how long have you been doing photography?

Devin Allen: Well, I’m 26, and I started photography [about] 3 years ago, in 2013.

Fusion: What got you started?

Devin Allen: Basically, hanging in the city, we don’t have a lot to do…one of my friends actually got me into doing poetry, so I had my own poetry night. But I suck. I can write poetry but I cannot perform. So I had to find a way to give people that poetry feel, but visually, so I started making T-shirts. From there I got into photography. I would take pictures and put them on T-shirts and eventually, I fell in love with it and that became my major outlet since then.

Fusion: How long have you been in Baltimore?

Devin Allen: All my life.

Fusion: Your whole life, so you’re local?

Devin Allen: Yes.

Fusion: What stands out to you about Baltimore when you are taking pictures? What makes Baltimore so interesting to you?

Devin Allen: It’s just real. Baltimore is a real city. It don’t cut no corners. You know, when you get around certain people or certain places it don’t feel real? You know, like everything seems perfect? Baltimore is not that. It’s a beautiful place, it’s like a rose in concrete to me. It’s a beautiful place, but most people don’t see it like I see it. I was born and raised here, so I see the negative, I see the positive. I see the good and the bad. I’ve been on both sides of the fence – both the good side and the bad side. So that’s what it is for me – it’s a beautiful place, and it’s real.

Fusion: When you say you’ve been on the bad side, what do you mean? What is the bad Baltimore that you know and what is the good Baltimore that you know?

Devin Allen: Well, growing up here is very stressful. You can get caught up in a lot of things if you don’t have a strong environment [around you]. Growing up, I got caught up in a lot of foolishness because of friends, where I hung at, and umm…I was raised by my mother and her family, I was raised good, but I just had affection for the streets. I had a lot of friends in the hood who’d run the streets all day, I hung with a lot of people. I lost a lot of friends. I buried both my best friends back in 2013. Both of them were murdered. I lost both my best friends, so they’re like my inspiration. I was just doing whatever, you know, to get the day passed. I tried the school thing, didn’t work. Got a job, but you know it’s hard to stay the narrow with so much stress and negativity. Drugs everywhere, crack-infested, heroin-infested. It’s very difficult, but [an] easy city to get caught up in. As far as being on the bad side, I hung with drug dealers and I ran the streets with some bad people, you know?

Photography actually got me away from that because both my best friends were both murdered; one was murdered on a Friday, and my other best friend was murdered on a Saturday. The only reason I was not with them was because I had photo shoots both days. And that kind of bridged the gap between the streets and my art, and I chose my art over the streets.

Fusion: What would you say about your interactions with the police growing up in Baltimore?

Devin Allen: (Exhales.) Well, I have been subjected to racial profiling. You know, I have had friends beaten by police. I have had police plant drugs on me because they’ve been mad that they didn’t find any.

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Black Entrepreneurship

“Yes, let me get a beef and cheese please.”

I stood in observation as my husband passed the cashier the card to complete the purchase. It was nice and warm out yesterday and the Little Caesar’s boomed with life. The bright orange and yellows of the colors blended perfectly with the chipper atmosphere that always accompanies warm weather. The young woman in front of us bounced around, smiling and joking as she completed the purchase, buzzing around the restaurant to finish other things, like what the young man behind her (slightly older, I round him off to be eighteen) was pulling up on the laptop. Yes, the laptop. Maybe it too wanted to take part in whatever it was going on up front, eager to be cradled in the arms of its owner. As my nose preoccupied itself with fresh dough and pizza sauce, I let my eyes roam the rest of the store. The warm ovens and counter-top blocked my direct view, however the bodies spilling over the sidelines and walking back and forth did not allow for much obscurity. Plus, the cooking area that I could not see wasn’t very concealed, resounding like the halls of a high school, the chit chatter of non business conversation floated into the air. An older woman sat waiting for the remake of an order as if she’d rather be watching the news, and a young man with three small boys came in behind us. The itty bitty’s could not have been more adorable, though they looked like three little men. Two of which sported white t-shirts and blue jeans, Jordan’s, light complexion, and a head full of what we used to call bee-bees (when the naps let you know it’s time for another haircut). These boys looked to be no older than a year and appeared to be twins. The other boy was darker in complexion and a couple years older with softer hair outlining a Mohawk. He was, by far, more outspoken if you will and decided it was time to climb on top the counter and see what all the commotion was about. He even decided he’ll stand up and had plans of jumping until his father caught wind of his body in his arms. Whew, that was close.

A couple more customers came in, two young women. The sun was out and so were they. I smiled at my husband who preoccupied his eyes with his cell phone. I’ll tease him about all the booty standing in his way later. Let’s just say there were enough thighs to go around. They were there to see if such and such had come into work today and discussed this with their friends, emptying conversation over the tops of counters and over the people’s heads.

As I sat back and watched this scene play out before me, feeling more and more like this was my kitchen and my children had invited their friends to dinner,  I began to wonder: “It would be nice if the same black people who worked this store could also own it”. They are so content right now, making the hourly wage that could support Jordan and cell phone habits. But, what if we taught young people to look at their 9-5s as potential businesses? Often we ask ourselves, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” But our interest never completely change as we transition into adulthood. They are just better developed but they never completely change. So instead of the ancient “What do you wanna be when you grow up?” Is it possible to start asking the question: “What do you enjoy doing?” And, “in what way can you turn that into a business idea?'” If you work part time at a restaurant, why not see what it takes to own one like it one day? If you like doing hair, why not set out to have your own shop and list of clientele? Housekeeping at a hospital? What does it take for you to become licensed and contract yourself out to hospital chains and apartment complexes?

I could go on and on about why I think Black Entrepreneurship is important, but it is best that we look at the facts together:

“Koreans own the beauty supplies and nail shops; Arabs and Mexicans own the fast food restaurants and liquor stores; Jews / Europeans own the banks, pawn shops, and other lending institutions, and east Indians own the gas stations. The so called African American owns little to no businesses in his own community.”

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African Americans are the biggest consumers and yet they own no businesses within their own communities. To be a consumer means you are not an investor, you are not an owner, you are instead a spender. Before the collapse of one of the most prominent African American communities in the nation, the dollar in the greenwood community of Northeast Tulsa Oklahoma rotated 36-100 times before it left the community. This means, the people in that community spent money at the local stores before going outside that community. For instance: Clothes bought at Elliot & Hooker’s clothing at 124 N. Greenwood could be fitted across the street at H.L. Byars tailor shop at 105 N Greenwood, and then cleaned around the corner at Hope Watson’s cleaners at 322 E. Archer. Today, the dollar leaves the black community in less than 15mins.

Writing Tips For Self-Discipline, Motivation, Confidence

This is a continuation of the post I just posted. I split them up because I did not want to make the previous post too long (yea, I know about your attention spans). Below are some tips from Jennifer Blanchard to help Writer’s to stay disciplined, stay motivated, and hopefully, to also help to keep us confident in the areas we need it most:

Planning

When You Can’t Write, Think!

If all you can manage is semi-coherent babble on a page, it’s best to stop and think. Dream up suitable ideas and titles for projects you have to complete.

When you do some research and come up with key points, you may find that the topic invigorates you, thus providing you with additional motivation to write. Sometimes, the research is the most rewarding part of writing.

There is nothing like immersing yourself in a topic to spike productivity.

Embrace A New Environment

Good luck trying to be creative in a family environment! If you have children running around, a nagging spouse or the incessant noise of traffic to deal with, it won’t take long for motivation to dwindle.

If it’s at all possible, rent out a small office space where you can have complete control over your work environment. When you’re content, words flow far more easily on to a page.

Alternately, you could try writing at a public library or a coffee shop, where the environments are a little more controlled. Or if you have to write at home, invest in some noise-canceling headphones.

Set Your Own Deadlines

While many writers may curse a demanding client, the majority of freelancers are secretly delighted. Having someone give you a definitive deadline is an excellent way to keep you motivated.

You know that failure to finish the work on time loses you a client and brings you one step closer to that dreaded 9-5 job you left behind.

If you have relaxed clients, don’t allow yourself to slip into the comfort zone. Set yourself daily targets and meet them consistently. High quality work and productivity equals happy clients!

Rest When You Need To

This may seem counter-productive in a discussion about motivation, but working when you’re exhausted never ends well. You normally see a drop in quality and have to incur the wrath of your clients.

This in turn demotivates you as all you can think about is the hard work you put in which was not recognized.

When working on a computer, you need to take small breaks every couple of hours. Go outside and take in some fresh air for a minute or have a cup of tea/coffee and just relax. You’ll find that you return to work fresh and motivated.

Exercise Regularly

This almost seems to be a clichéd tip, but exercise releases feel-good endorphins and bumps up your energy level.

If you have a long day of work planned, break it up with some exercise. It doesn’t even have to be strenuous; a brisk 20-30 minute walk is just fine.

When your job involves sitting down all day, lack of exercise can cause severe health problems. Combine this with a propensity to feast on convenience foods all day long and you have potential issues.

Be Accountable

You need to confess your lack of productivity to a friend or partner. This isn’t as much about cleansing your soul as it is about getting a kick in the rear!

If you spent the day watching soap operas instead of earning money, you need to be held accountable. As there is no boss or co-workers to tattle on you, an accountability partner is the next best thing.

Hopefully, this person can chastise you when necessary and help you with motivation.

Join A Writing Class

Perhaps you lack the motivation because you don’t have belief in your own writing ability. One of the quickest ways to lose interest in something is the realization that you’re not good enough.

But you love writing don’t you?

If so, take a writing class and become an expert at something you love doing. There is a litany of scientific studies available which prove that people have the ability to learn anything in rapid time as long as they have a genuine interest in it.

Think of taking a class as an investment in yourself.

Get Off Your Backside!

A comfortable chair is necessary when you’re working long hours as a writer, but it can also be the very thing to stop you being productive. When you lack motivation to write, a nice soft seat is the last thing you need.

Invest in a standing desk and do some of the work standing up. Medical studies have shown that sitting down all day is very bad for your health and that standing burns far more calories.

Working from a standing desk is not easy, but it takes you out of that comfort zone and motivates you to work rather than waste time.

Set yourself targets: For example, you can’t sit down until you have completed five articles.

Also, be sure to stretch every day, which will help with the tightness in your lower back and hips from long periods of sitting.

Maintain A Laser-Like Focus

While multitasking seems to be a fantastic way to get things done, it isn’t a useful tool for writers seeking motivation. Avoiding the practice of writing by checking email and using social networking sites at the same time is only harming your work.

When you focus on a single task and follow through until it is completed, you will be infinitely more productive. When you try to work on several things at once, you’ll often find that ideas are lost along with motivation for the task.

While all of the above tips will not work for everyone because we are all unique, it’s virtually certain that at least a couple will prove useful to you. Keep motivation high and consistent top quality work and the accompanying plaudits will follow.