There is a humility that is sacred and far more valuable than any tangible thing. Then there is a humility rooted in fear. This humility is not real. It is the mask we wear when we are afraid to step outside of our comfort zones. It is the fear of being “too much.” It is the fear of being perceived as arrogant and proud. There is a pride that leads to destruction. It operates under the belief that we cannot teach it. It is that nasty arrogance they always warn us to stay away from, and for a good reason. But there is another way in which to be proud. It is the pride that gives us the courage to be who we are. It is the pride that acknowledges all the struggles we’ve endured to be where we are. It is the fulfillment that gives us the intestinal fortitude to hold our heads up and believe that we are capable despite all obstacles and impossibilities. There is a nasty and egotistic pride, and then there is a pride that is self-respect. There is sincere humility that will take us places money and status never will. Then, there is a humility that keeps us stuck because it is not humility; it is fear.
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I have been updating my website and preparing for a smooth transition into 2021. This transition includes combing through my email list and social media accounts. I am not a numbers person when it comes to social media. I don’t care how many people follow me. I care how many people follow me that are interested in my content and have exemplified this interest through engagement with me.
In the fourth quarter of the year, I usually go through my lists, and accounts that are spammy or email addresses subscribed to my newsletter that have not been active are removed.
I would also really like to put my older books back up online. Only two of my five poetry books are available, so I’d like to get the other three up. Now that I know how I want my brand to look for poetry, I want them to have similar covers. I would also like to get my first novel back up, The Aftermath (2012), which has had a new cover for years, but I have not got around to getting it edited and republished. I have too much new material I need to invest in first, but Yah willing, I will get to it.
I want to get back to publishing more Historical Fiction. Admittedly, I’ve been lazy because of the level of research required to write in this genre, but my lazy streak is over. I am ready to get back to it. I have not been feeding my #HistFic readers, and I apologize for that. Got ya’ll over there starving.
To the point:
The discovery of this review is a significant confirmation that I need to get back to it. In this browsing of accounts and books, I found the Publisher’s Weekly Editorial Review of Renaissance on Barnes and Noble. I have just added it to the Editorial section of Amazon so it should be showing up soon.
This review is two years old! Sheesh.
Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book 1)
“Ysrayl’s well-crafted historical novel—the first in a planned series—centers on 17-year-old Nora White, the child of black landowners in 1920s Mississippi. Though her parents expect her to attend college, Nora instead escapes to Harlem’s outskirts to pursue writing. She works as servant to a wealthy white woman who, while unpleasant, is benefactor to the writers and artists of the Harlem Renaissance whom Nora so deeply admires. Nora meets Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, W.E.B. Dubois, and other figures, and she finds a mentor and friend in Hurston—whose outsized personality and charisma are genuinely conveyed. Ysrayl smoothly integrates poetry and literary references into Nora’s narrative, and she writes with awareness of Jim Crow Era laws and racism in the North and South. Chapters told from Nora’s mother’s perspective focus on their turbulent family history but somewhat lack the urgency of Nora’s sections; even so, Ysrayl captures the crackling energy of the Harlem Renaissance. This first installment of Nora’s story offers little resolution, but it sets up an intriguing set of dramatic circumstances for subsequent novels. Ages 12–up. (BookLife)”
Note: Amazon has this book listed as Book 1 of 1, but please note this is book 1 of 2. I am currently trying to link the books. I thought they were linked but, whatever I’m tired lol. They will be linked soon enough.
with me that every day
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.”
– Lucille Clifton
Last week, Saturday, October 3, 2020, I buried my mother.
On Tuesday, September 22nd, we learned she might night make it. That night I spent the night in the basement on the couch watching Grey’s Anatomy episodes with a glass of wine. I couldn’t sleep, but you will inevitably fall asleep on the sofa when you are downstairs in my house. We’ve had the couch for a while, and it has claimed many victims who promised themselves it was not comfortable enough to tame them. What also happens is I lose service down there, and while I drifted, my phone rang and rang, but I couldn’t hear it.
Finally, I went upstairs, and my phone rang again. My heart dropped. There is only one reason people call that early. I accepted my sister’s call and asked, “why are you calling me so early?,” although I already knew the answer.
“It was the twenty-third of September. That day I’ll always remember, yes I will ‘Cause that was the day that my mama died”
The next day, September 24th my aunt, my late dad’s sister, also passed.
I didn’t talk about it, but my Uncle John passed earlier this year on May 28th, two days after my birthday, and on June 2nd, a dear friend and brother passed.
The world also lost Kobe Bryant, Chadwick Boseman, and Thomas Jefferson Byrd, known best for his role as Luther from Set It Off. He passed the day we buried my mother.
I need no more reminders of how fragile life is, and that’s what sticks out to me the most in my time of silence as I seek to process all this death.
I think we are all aware of this delicacy that is life, but it becomes much more real when a loved one passes. It is then that we realize how insignificant we are and precious too. The insignificance is the weakness of our flesh; how it so easily topples and breaks down. The preciousness is the breath of life, without which we are lumps of clay.
It made me think about how we treat each other. It wasn’t until Yah breathed into Adam the breath of life that he became a living being. We are nothing without this power, and yet, we treat each other as if the breath pulsing through our veins differs from someone else’s. We treat each other as if the Almighty can’t call our spirit back at any moment.
What right do I have to mistreat someone when I return to the Earth just as they will? What right do I have to judge someone’s life or mock their pain when I know that I bleed just as they do?
What right does any of us have to think we are better than anyone else when the sun rises and falls on all of us, righteous and wicked, alike?
There are so many promises we make to one another at times, such as this. We promise to be there for one another, we promise to keep in touch, and we promise to appreciate the time we have.
But these promises do not last and are only remembered at the next funeral.
Our life is like the wind, a breeze that comes and goes. How I wish we could be consciously aware of our own lives’ fragility as we live and not only in death.
Don’t forget to grab your copy of My Soul is a Witnessand leave a review as reviews help to expose the work of Independent Artists.
This post is longer than I would like, but I think the message is necessary.
If you’ve been following me online for any significant amount of time, you know I am always saying thank you or reintroducing myself to new readers. I do this because of my firm belief in the phrase, “people don’t have to support you.”
Let me tell you a story.
My husband was driving, and I was looking out the window of the passenger’s seat as we passed by the brick houses, mansions, and condos of downtown Atlanta. “This probably where most of the celebrities live,” I joked. We talked about how movies never show the city’s complete image by filming movies in less wealthy areas. Since we are both from Chicago, we talked about Chicago films where we didn’t recognize the city because it was on the side of town we have never lived.
As we drove, we passed by a fancy-looking hotel where a man stood. He leaned against his suitcase, a white sign on its top with black ink that read: “I lost everything.”
My smile faded, and my heart felt heavy as I realized he was homeless. He didn’t look like those fakes that try to scam people out of their money, either. Something about his vibe told me he was not joking. He had really lost everything.
The US economy was already bad, but since the COVID-19 Pandemic, things have gotten worse. People are out of jobs, out of money, out of homes, and out of hope. Any little they scrape together is reserved for only the most essential items. If someone spends money buying books or t-shirts, or anything that is not greatly essential (okay well, books are essential to me but I mean, like food), it means so much more to them, and they deserve a thank you.
Because they didn’t have to do it and sometimes, they couldn’t do it, but they invested in you.
Entrepreneurship has been on the rise a lot lately, and as an entrepreneur, I think that’s a good thing. I have always stood for the underdog and will still rally around the concept of Independence. There is a humility about small, independent businesses that I love. Plus, every large company started as a small business. And since the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and the countless black deaths, it has encouraged more people to support black-owned businesses and independent businesses.
This awakening means that while many people are struggling, many people are also thriving even amid this Pandemic. However, I am disappointed to see a lot of bullying among entrepreneurs, both large and small. Some people are shaming people with 9-5s when truth be told, most entrepreneurs in this economy have 9-5s, and their business is the real side hustle. That or their spouses have 9-5s. There’s nothing wrong with this, but some people think there is. People also throw shame when they try to bully people into supporting them.
Bully others into supporting them?
It means making people feel small and insignificant for not buying your services or product. It means threatening to cut people off because they didn’t support your business. It means neglecting to consider all the other things people have going on in their lives right now and that maybe they don’t have the extra money to spend or perhaps don’t have the time.
Ignore social media posts for a second and think about what someone may go through behind the scenes.
Maybe they cried their eyes out this morning.
Maybe they prayed on their knees, drowned in tears.
Maybe they were going to lose their home or apartment or children.
Maybe they lost their job, career.
Maybe a family member died.
Maybe people have other things on their mind that take precedence over buying your bar of soap.
And if you think someone’s being fake for wearing a smile through their storm, then you need not look passed the smile of Chadwick Boseman, who battled cancer while filming movies and never complained.
I watched my sister-in-law battle and eventually perished from cancer. My dad, too, so I know what Chadwick did was not easy from personal experience. And while everyone is praising his silence now, that is not how we treat the “regular everyday people,” we know in actual life who battle in private. We call them phony for not opening up as we think they should. Sometimes people don’t talk, not because they are being fake or secretive, but because it’s just none of your business. Let’s allow people to give their testimony in their own time.
My point in all of this is that no one is obligated to spend money with a business only because it exists. Anything that anyone chooses to give, including time and information, is a gift. I always say “thank you” because people don’t have to support me.
People support businesses that offer something they need, whose message or value system aligns with their own, helps them solve a problem and companies they trust. Someone might enjoy eating bread, and you may launch a bread business, but that bread lover is still not obligated to support you. Maybe over time, once you’ve gained their trust and they’ve sampled your product, they may try it and when they do, say thank you.
Because they didn’t have to do it, so show some gratitude.
To better conclude this point, I will again turn to Tyler Perry as an example.
For the record, this isn’t about Perry’s personal life. I will not comment on him dressing up as a woman, Madea, or his elite status because its none of my business. I am commenting on some basic business practices I see from him as an outsider looking in that many newer entrepreneurs can learn from. Everything else is for an entirely different conversation.
From a business perspective, you see the same stories and the same actors in Tyler Perry’s films because Perry has a good understanding of his targeted audience. He knows the persona of the people who like his stuff, and he focuses on giving them what they want. Many beginner entrepreneurs can learn from this. Instead of guilt-tripping people into supporting your business and trying to sell to everyone, find your targeted audience or that specific group of people you want to reach based on shared interests and market and direct your attention to those groups.
This means that if only five people like your post, that’s a good thing because chances are those five people are genuinely interested in what you offer. Listen, I’m a damn good writer. I know this to be true. But I also know it to be true that everyone doesn’t want to read what I write, and that’s cool because I am not for everyone and everyone is not for me. I work to serve my audience no matter how small, and I appreciate all the support and time my people invest in my writing.
That’s right. Greenwood Dist is named after the Greenwood District of North Tulsa, home of the renowned Black Wallstreet. [You can learn more about Black Wallstreet in an older version of Black History Fun Fact Friday here.]
Greenwood Dist. is passionate about “proving that a black-owned business can celebrate black excellence while still making the market’s dopest clothing.” Greenwood believes that “fashion, culture, media, and art can and SHOULD help advocate and ensure that people’s voices are heard. Black culture is the biggest determinant of what’s “cool” and popular. Our culture determines everything from the way society talks to the brands that are popular.”
And I’m here for it ya’ll!
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