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Social Media and the Spread of Black History

Image Copyright©2019 Fiza Pathan | insaneowl.com

If you have not already, please be sure to head on over to this post and check out Fiza Pathan’s touching review of I am Soul. I’ll be quoting her review throughout this post but reading it in full will help you add context to what I say here (there is also an audio version of the review on her blog).


“I have read many books and articles about the way a woman of color is treated in society, especially in Indian society. I have studied History and Sociology throughout my college career which gave me a lot of material to study about the situation of colored people in Indian society. But to be frank, I’m not that well equipped to talk or speak about Black American History or the Black American contemporary views on life, culture, society, history, politics, education, et al.” (Pathan, 2019)

Pathan is not the only reader to have confided she is not well versed in Black American History. People have told me on more than one occasion of their lack of extensive knowledge in this area. This does not surprise me. It is why writing on the experiences of Blacks in America is important to me. Like Paul of the bible, I am sent to the nations (Acts 22:21) to bring light to what America has tried to keep hidden for too long.

Americans underestimate how information is disseminated across the world. The news and the information we are exposed to in America is not necessarily the same information that is exposed to people in other parts of the world. Historically, news traveled through radios, television, books, and newspapers. What mainstream media wanted you to know is what you knew. If America didn’t want other countries to see how it treated Black Americans, those countries didn’t see it.

Image Copyright©2019 Fiza Pathan | insaneowl.com

“I have started reading Black American literature in general after I turned 28 years of age in 2017, because of the poems and writings of Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Alice Walker, James Baldwin and Dorothy West. Yes, you’d wonder where I was and what I was doing with my life, but the fact is that, all said and done, I have just begun to realize the richness and depth of the Black-American experience. ‘I Am Soul’ by Yecheilyah Ysrayl is one book among many that are educating women of color like me from far off countries like India, especially recluses like me, and I’m glad I am being educated.”

– Pathan, 2019

Today, Social Media is a significant catalyst for uncovering the truth about what Blacks have endured and the many businesses and products blacks have invented and how those inventions have been credited to other people. While we must be cautious not to spread disinformation (See this post here), there is still a lot of good that has resulted from the social media revolution. Information is coming out at a rapid speed of both the good and bad historical facts so that there is a desperate need of keen discernment. One such example is the testimony from notable black writers that Blacks could not eat vanilla ice cream in the Jim Crow south, and that they only allowed us to eat it on Independence Day.

“People in Stamps used to say that the whites in our town were so prejudiced that a Negro couldn’t buy vanilla ice cream. Except on July Fourth. Other days he had to be satisfied with chocolate.”

– Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

While visiting Washington D.C. with her parents around Independence Day, poet Audre Lorde’s mom wanted to treat her to some vanilla ice cream, but they refused the family:

“The waitress was white, the counter was white, and the ice cream I never ate in Washington DC that summer I left childhood was white, and the white heat and white pavement and white stone monuments of my first Washington summer made me sick to my stomach for the rest of the trip.” – Audre Lorde, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name

The “White Ice Cream,” rule is said to be more folklore than truth. But why? This is an example of a history hidden and then revealed because of the widespread use of Social Media. Prohibiting blacks from eating vanilla ice cream is not far-fetched, considering the pettiness of Jim Crow law. If blacks couldn’t swim in the same water as whites, it’s not so hard to believe they couldn’t eat white ice cream.

Fun Fact: The vanilla bean is brown and was cultivated and improved by an enslaved black man named Edmund Albuius. In ice cream, a small amount of vanilla is used compared to the other ingredients so that it still looks white (from the milk, cream, white sugar). If a larger quantity of vanilla is used, it would probably be more colored. Take these bars of soap.

“The soap above is scented with Vanilla Sandalwood Fragrance Oil, which discolors dark brown. The tan color will continue to darken over time.” – Bramble Berry, Soap Queen (3 days later, the vanilla in the soap turned it even darker…)

But let’s not digress. The point is, vanilla bean is brown, not white. Joke was on Jim Crow…

“While Jim Crow laws, extensively documented in print and historical record, are fairly well known, less well known are the unspoken etiquette rules for Black people, largely forgotten by anyone who didn’t have to live under them. During Jim Crow, Black people could pick up food at establishments that served white people, but they often could not eat in them. When custom demanded that Black people be served separately from whites, they were often required to have their own utensils, serving dishes, and condiments. So it was customary for Black families who were traveling to carry everything they might possibly need so that (with the help of the Green Book, the guide that helped Black travelers eat, sleep, and move as safely as possible) they could navigate America in relative comfort.”

– Mikki Kendall, Hot Sauce in her Bag, 2016

Black history has been just as raped and stolen and manipulated as her people. Black American History is more than slavery and Civil Rights, but slavery and Civil Rights is still part of that history and must never be forgotten. Black history is the birth of a nation, its upbringing, its captivity, and its overcoming. It is all of it. The good, the bad, and the ugly. We were not only slaves but also soldiers. Not only captives but also captains. We were/are a wealthy people, royal, smart, salt. We are seasoning and soil. But where were we born? How did we begin? What happened once we got here? These are the questions I seek to answer in my literature and articles so that the voices unheard in mainstream media can speak through me and prophesy the truth.

“‘I Am Soul’ to me is a book about being a part of a history that none can forget, but that slowly is changing the way we look at this race of people past, present and to a bright future, God willing.”

– Pathan, 2019

There is something special about the plight of the so-called Black American. What is to be revealed about these people stolen and transported to foreign lands in the bowels of slave ships? These people once stripped of their nationality and culture and are now returning to their natural heritage? Because of Social Media, this truth is easier to disseminate and verify. We have eBooks we can download in an instant, online journals and periodicals, and scholarly material at our fingertips. And we have Independent Publishing whereby artists can write and publish these truths without prejudice.

Image Copyright©2019 Fiza Pathan | insaneowl.com

“Lastly, I would like to recommend this lovely and enriching book to everyone, irrespective of race, community, religion, caste and gender. I hope to review more books by Yecheilyah Ysrayl soon and hopefully, when I do so, I will be more capable of giving a more enlightened review as I will be reading more books about Black American history and literature in the future.” – Fiza Pathan


References:

Why Did My Soap Turn Brown

Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Audre Lorde, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name

Hot Sauce in her Bag: Southern Black identity, Beyoncé, Jim Crow, and the pleasure of well-seasoned food


Purchase your copy of I am Soul below!

and be sure to preorder my newest spiritual handbook

Keep Yourself Full, releasing 8/6 (free with KU)

5 Ways to Self-Edit Your Blog Post

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash
It’s been a hot minute since I’ve done a blog tips post. As fun as writing is, there is one thing that’s not so fun: The English language. As writers, though, writing and grammar go hand in hand. Usage of the wrong word or incorrect homophone use can change the meaning of a sentence or an entire poem! Accept/Except are different words with different meanings. Misuse them, and it changes everything. The same with Ad/Add, To/Two/Too, There/Their/They’re. If you are like me, you can’t afford to have an editor to proofread every blog post, but there are free resources we can use to help. Not only can you use these programs to clean up your blog, but you can use them to edit typos on your website or revise a finished manuscript.

1. Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is a powerful tool the more we learn to use it. Writers can use Word to create book covers, format books for print and so much more. My tip here is to draft your post in Microsoft Word before posting to the WordPress editor. Word will alert you to basic misspellings or grammatical errors as you are writing. You will notice spelling errors by the red wiggly lines and grammatical errors by the blue wiggly lines.

But Word has a bad reputation for not giving the right corrections…

2. Grammarly

Once you’ve written your post in a Word Document, you can then copy and paste it into the Grammarly editor to double-check for what Word may have missed. Grammarly is a software program that corrects spelling, detects plagiarism, and checks against over 250 grammar rules. There is a free version, but I recommend the premium version for more advanced features. Premium will alert you to more advanced grammatical errors to include overused words or misused words. My school gave us a free premium version of Grammarly, and I love it! There is such a significant difference between the free and paid version. The free version works fine, though and I use both.

3. ProWriting Aid

After you have made corrections in Grammarly, you can copy and paste the post into ProWriting Aid as a final run-through. ProWriting Aid is such an excellent program! Like Word and Grammarly, the program is another self-editing tool. ProWriting Aid will pick up even more errors and recommend changes. It also has a plagiarism detection tool for premium users. What I love about PWA is they are not stingy with the free version. The free version checks for repeats, structure, readability, fiction, and consistency. Yes, I said fiction! If you are using it to revise a novel, it will help track pacing and dialogue use.

4. Hemingway Editor

 I can’t say too much about Hemingway because I just started using it and I don’t use it often. The program is okay, and it’s not my favorite, but it’s still an excellent program to use to self-edit. Hemingway does an excellent job at detecting wordy sentences, and overused adverbs. While I prefer the other two programs, Hemingway is still a valuable tool (mainly when used with one of the other applications).

5. Save Post as Draft and Preview as Final Proofread

After you have run your post through Word, Grammarly, ProWriting Aid, Hemingway (or all four) proofreading the post is another great way to self-edit your post. Once I have drafted a post, I save it as a draft and then preview it on the computer and my phone. I find lots of typos this way. Sometimes reading over the post in this way helps to catch even more errors before clicking the publish button.

None of these programs will replace a human editor. ProWriting Aid once tried to correct the word “to” for “two,” but I did not mean the number two. I intended to write “to.” But at least you know you’ve cleaned up the basics enough to ensure your post is clear and reads the way you intended. When I publish blog posts, these are some programs I used to proofread my work and now, so can you. It will take more time, but it’s time well spent.


Want more tips? Be sure to check out the Blog Tips Page! Click Here.

Lessons from a Book Signing

It’s time for another edition of “Lessons from a Book Signing.” If you have been following, I am coming off two book signings one week apart, and I always write something about what I learned from my signings. I am a believer that everything must teach me something. Everything I do or am a part of must serve a purpose; every relationship and every experience must have value.

Instagram

Book Models 🙂 lol

You wouldn’t believe the number of times I was asked at both signings (especially at the mall) if I was on IG. This question told me that if you’re a writer, Instagram is one platform you want to be on right now (especially if you’re a black writer, a lot of black readers on the gram). What I loved about both signings is that I gained something even if people didn’t buy a book. Those who didn’t purchase stood by my table and looked up my IG handle and followed me. Not once did someone ask me if I was on Facebook. Facebook is still an excellent platform, don’t misunderstand me, it just didn’t come up much except among the older crowd of authors at the Festival who wasn’t on Instagram. All I know is, I won’t be ignoring this real-time data. If IG is where readers are, that is where I want to be. (Follow me @yecheilyah 🙂 )

Cash App

Ladies and gents, brothers and sisters, I believe we have hit a technology shift in the way people do business. I have a card reader, but I didn’t have to use it, and I rarely had to give change. Instead, money passed through the air through Cash App. If you’ve been living under a rock, Financial apps like Cash App and Zelle allow people to connect their bank account to an app and send and receive money in an instant. No swiping and no chips. Many businesses are using these apps as currency. “You got Cash App?” was a constant question, and I am wondering how much longer I will need to carry my card reader (I didn’t use it at all). Are you hosting an author/business event? Consider having a Zelle or Cash App account just in case!

Keep Working: The right people are watching

aanndd we are off to a great start!

I posted to my SM early Saturday morning stating that a young woman approached me at the venue to meet me. I was setting my table, and someone tapped my shoulder. She said she follows me on SM and wanted to come over and meet me. We hugged, chatted, and took a pic for the gram. She also gifted me a copy of her book. It was an exciting start to the day and caught me by surprise. But even more surprising, this kept happening!

I didn’t post every occasion to SM, but this kept happening throughout the night. Other young women came up to me and said they came to the event because of me, that my face popped up first in Google, and that they had been to my author website.

She caught me before I left. Yayy!

Even as I was packing up to leave someone ran up to me and bought a copy of I am Soul. She was so excited to have caught me before I was gone. Another young woman went further. She said that she had messaged me through Facebook (which I saw last week but went back to look, and it was gone so I forgot about it), because she wanted me to headline an event next month featuring Renaissance. (I will talk more about this later and how you can support it.)

Stuff like this happened to me all night, and filled me with gratitude. I don’t look for outside validation or anything like that, but I would be lying if I said it didn’t feel good to be appreciated.

Your book is always new to the people who have never read it

There is a widespread belief that I am Soul (which I just noticed spiked again and is #28 on Amazon’s Best Seller’s List) is a new book, but it’s going on almost two years now since its release in December of 2017. My Stella series has been out since 2016 and Renaissance just passed its two-year mark 7/15. The only new new book is my short story series; Even Salt Looks Like Sugar.

I did not order enough books to cover both my signings. After I sold my copies of, I am Soul at Greenbriar Mall I had to leave an additional four copies with Nia to restock on the shelf, leaving me with only four copies of I am Soul. I also only had two copies of Renaissance, so I put in an order for more of these books. But they told me my books wouldn’t arrive until July 23-24th.

I. Was. Livid.

The Festival was on the 20th; I didn’t need them after the fact. (insert eye-ball roll)

After getting out of my feelings, I stepped back and looked at my inventory. I grabbed the four Soul, two Renaissance, five copies of Beyond the Colored Line, and five copies of The Road to Freedom. These are books two and three of The Stella Trilogy series, but they can also be read as standalone novellas. I also grabbed a handful of Even Salt Looks Like Sugar (which I had plenty of).

To make a long story short, Stella showed out! Beyond the Colored Line sold more than I am Soul. It surprised me because Stella didn’t do very well at last year’s Festival and I intended on leaving it out of this one. Renaissance did sell out as I predicted it would (I only had two copies) but bringing some of my backlist books helped carry me. I guess Stella said shoo, don’t forget about me! (This mix also gave Renaissance, and I am Soul value being they were in limited supply. One reader was excited to have grabbed up the last copy.)

And as for those extra books I bought that will be arriving this week? They will go toward my reading event next month which will save me money.

Lights, Camera, Action

Be ready to talk about your book on the spot, just in case someone sticks a mic and a camera in your face! This is what I walked into returning from the bathroom. The ladies were hilarious and we talked for a good while.

 


Be sure to check out the photos of both signings HERE.

Don’t forget to preorder
Keep Yourself Full in ebook.
>Free with Kindle Unlimited<
*It is #126 in Personal Transformation and Spirituality.
Help me make it #1 by preordering today! *


The Poetry Contest is ending! Get involved before August 1st!

CLICK HERE for the original post with all the important information on rules, guidelines, and prizes.

Why Writers Should Keep Writing

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

You cannot know for sure every one your writing helps. Not everyone will leave reviews, emails, or broadcast to the world how your vulnerability saved their life. Some people silently depend on the wisdom of your words, like pieces of salvation scribbled in ink. Some people are thirsty to hear your voice, and they wait for you to gather the courage to wrap them in that red cape we call writing. They are waiting for you to make them heroes to whatever suffering led them here. Not everyone is looking for words that are pretty either, cute, cuddly, and attractive looking. Some people need not be coddled but scorned out of comfort zones and disciplined out of negligence. Writers should keep writing because they are saviors to people they may never know.

A Poem is Born

Photo by Marc Schulte on Unsplash

Not all poems are conceived in light

Some of them are buried in darkness

Surrounded by dirt and soil

gritted teeth

and clenched fists.

Sometimes the lyric is a resurrection of rage

a fire that is only quenched through spilled ink

on blank pages.

Sometimes poems are tears

because not all compositions are conceived

in well-lit rooms

some poems are seeds that only grow in darkness

or did you not know that is how seeds grow?

Hidden, covered and planted in the dirt

the sun coming in from someplace outside of itself

water pouring in from someplace outside of itself.

Some sonnets are crushed grapes

crumpled and left for dead

or did you not know that is how wine is made?

Something fermenting

festered and developing into something worse.

Some poems are nearly dead

before they reach the light.

Or did you not know that is how Messiah rose?

from the grave

from the pit

from the earth.

When you feel that you cannot write

that your life is a laughing contradiction

thrown back into your face

a joke everyone gets but you

when your hands tremble with uncertainty

too weak to hold the pen

too fragile to unvirgin the page

Write anyway.

Because not all poems are conceived in light

some of them, the best of them

are buried in darkness

and covered in dirt.

until suddenly, like a sprouting seed

a poem is born.


REMINDER: Don’t forget to preorder Keep Yourself Full in ebook below. Free with Kindle Unlimited.

Keep Yourself Full is a spiritual handbook that focuses on our return to self-love. It is a reminder that self-care nourishes the quality of our lives and makes us fit to be of service to others. Through my testimony, I give examples of how we self-abuse and how that differs from self-love, why it is essential not to take things so personally, why we must establish and enforce healthy boundaries, and how assumptions kill relationships. We learn that by investing in our well-being spiritually, physically, mentally, and professionally, we can be of service fully to others. It cannot be ignored that we treat others how we feel about ourselves. When we realize that what we do to others, we are equally doing to ourselves, we can use this awareness to heal. By treating ourselves better, we treat others better. Keep Yourself Full is about keeping ourselves filled with love and all that is good so that we are overflowing with enough to share with everyone else.

CLICK HERE TO PREORDER

CLICK HERE TO MARK AS WANT TO READ ON GOODREADS

The Most Important Lesson I Learned in 11 Years of Publishing my Books

The little girl licked the wooden spoon that came with her ice cream.

“Bet you don’t know my mama name,” said Zoey, the five-year-old daughter of my husband’s client. We were relaxing on the couch, watching Netflix, and eating ice cream. Mine was gone, but she was still eating hers in that gross way children do, ice cream residue around her mouth and dripping from her fingers. I hoped she’d hurry and eat the thing before it melted all the way. It was a hot Sunday.

“Krissy,” I said proudly.

“Krissy what?”

Ole snap. What is the woman’s full name EC? Kristina? Kristy? Kristy Anne? Dang. I forgot the woman’s name. I’ve just been calling her Krissy or Kris like everyone else.

“You tell me,” I said playing it off.

Did I just reverse a question on a five-year-old? Yes. Yes, I did.

“Her name is…her name is…hmmm.”

Zoey seemed confused. I should have felt bad. I didn’t.

“My mommy’s name is—-”

“You don’t know it either,” I teased.

“I know she’s mommy but… just call her Krissy,” waved Zoey, licking the wooden spoon.

“Works for me,” I laughed.

This is what I was doing all day. Watching Netflix and talking to five-year-old Zoey and one-year-old Ziggy. Well, Ziggy and I did not exactly speak. There was something about he had to boo-boo and then he took a nap.

This was my weekend a few months ago. I went on a call with my husband. My husband is an HVAC (Heating, Air Conditioning, Refrigeration) and Maintenance Tech. As a Universally Certified technician, this means he can pretty much work on anything from a home AC system to a restaurant’s refrigeration system. This day, he was installing three toilets for this family, which meant that I would hang out with the wife. I rarely tag along with him on his calls, but he asked me to, so I went. I wasn’t doing anything, anyway.

We were there all day, and the family even made dinner for us. I learned the wife is from Chicago, my hometown, and the husband is originally from Jamaica. I enjoyed the Tilapia and Rice dishes served and had never had a whole fish before! Like, they fried the entire thing, one big slab. Boom. On your plate, ha!

My husband and his client spoke extensively about several things. Somewhere along the line, my book came up, and my husband gave him the link to my website along with links to other things they discussed. (I can assure you I was not an important part of the conversation.)

But when we got home later that evening, the husband sent my husband a text saying that he had purchased a copy of I am Soul.

“Aww,” I crooned. “That’s sweet. Tell him I said thank you.”

Now, for the most important part of the story….

How many times did I ask them to buy my book? Zero.

How many times did I discuss the book with the wife? Zero.

I did not bring up my work at all. What I did was play with the children, watch Netflix, and converse with the wife about food. We talked about why I couldn’t be a vegetarian and other things.

The most important lesson I’ve learned in my 11-year journey of publishing books is the importance of connecting with others and building genuine relationships.

People buy from people they have a connection with. This may be an already formed relationship/friendship, similar interests, personality, hobby, belief system, faith, passions, membership in the same groups, clubs, or similar spirits or vibes. These are the people who will support you. You don’t even have to force it, manipulate or chase. This means that relationships (directly or indirectly) is a major factor in selling books.

Just be yourself and let the vibe of that authenticity light the path, drawing the people to you who are meant to be in your presence.

Personal Examples

(because I am really not just talking out the side of my neck)

I met TV Personality Tinzley Bradford through my connection with Lisa W. Tetting. I turned around and sponsored, attended, and performed at Tinzley’s mixer last year and met TV One and Talk show host Chere Turner, CEO of Behind the Beauti Tenisha Bibbs, Singer, and CEO of Advudcate Arts LLC Cami Tippin, and 2x Best Selling Author Oliver T Reid. Then, I attended Oliver T Reid’s writer’s masterclass and met publisher Kelly Cole, also a 2x Best Selling Author and owner of one of the fastest growing Black-Owned Book Publishing companies in the U.S. I met Indie Bookstore owner Nia Damali through Indie Bookstore owner Marcus and through Nia I met Vivica A. Fox. A recent example is my meeting of Founder and Owner of B Infused Natural Detox Waters Brianna Arceneaux. Brianna is more like a niece as she is the sister of my brother-in-laws daughter. She is also the founder of a women’s organization Sagacious Women of Business, dedicated to mentoring young women in business and victims of sexual assault. She has been mad supportive of my work, and we intend to do much business together.

The point here is I have bought books by authors I didn’t know and have had my books purchased by people I didn’t know all due to the power of a single connection.

If you remember nothing else, remember:

Lifting others is how we lift ourselves.

p.s. The mother’s name was Kristina.


Don’t forget to preorder

Keep Yourself Full in ebook below!

Free with Kindle Unlimited

****

CLICK HERE TO PREORDER.

CLICK HERE TO MARK AS

WANT TO READ ON GOODREADS

(This book will be available in ebook and paperback
when it releases on August 6th)

About.

 

Keep Yourself Full is a spiritual handbook that focuses on our return to self-love. It is a reminder that self-care nourishes the quality of our lives and makes us fit to be of service to others. Through my testimony, I give examples of how we self-abuse and how that differs from self-love, why it is essential not to take things so personally, why we must establish and enforce healthy boundaries, and how assumptions kill relationships. We learn that by investing in our well-being spiritually, physically, mentally, and professionally, we can be of service fully to others. It cannot be ignored that we treat others how we feel about ourselves. When we realize that what we do to others, we are equally doing to ourselves, we can use this awareness to heal. By treating ourselves better, we treat others better. Keep Yourself Full is about keeping ourselves filled with love and all that is good so that we are overflowing with enough to share with everyone else.

CLICK HERE TO PREORDER.