Announcing the Winners of Yecheilyah’s 4th Annual Poetry Contest 2021: 2-4

Introducing the winners of Yecheilyah’s 4th Annual Poetry Contest 2021: 2-4

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Before we introduce winners two through four, I want to send a BIG thank you to everyone who participated in our fourth annual poetry contest, either by submitting a poem or showing support via social media.

I judged this year’s entries based partly on how well they exemplified the entry requirements and partly on the willingness of the poets to dig deep in creative and unique ways. Each winning poet brought something different to the table while staying on topic.

CONGRATULATIONS Y’ALL!

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Jasmina Jammison

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I am from Savannah, Ga. I’ve written poetry since the beginning of my college career. Poetry has become a therapy for me over the years. It has been great healing for me.

Instagram: @JillRxse
Twitter: @_Dezdez
Facebook: Jasmina Jammison

Dondi A. Springer

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My name is Dondi A Springer, from Florida. Beyond being a husband, father, son, brother, uncle, and blue-collar worker, I am a writer, poet, and modern-day jack of all trades. I love to inspire, motivate, and let people know it’s not too late to elevate in life.
 
Instagram: @napalmjax / Mr. Runthatback
Twitter: Mr. Dondi A. Springer
Facebook @DSpringer76

Zerahyah Ysrayl

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My name is ZerahYah Ysrayl. Native New Yorker and raised in Atlantic City, New Jersey. When I was younger, my best friend’s mother used to make us read the dictionary. That gave birth to my love of words, along with being raised in the hip-hop era. I learned to convey my feelings through the rhyme and rhythm of words. Whatever was going on around me or in me, I learned to put it in writing. Words and poetry help me to make sense of it all. Poetry is the most beautiful form of expression, and I’m honored to share my gift as a piece of my struggles, pains, and triumphs. Each one reaches one, bringing healing to one through poetic form.

Instagram: @shining_of_yah
Facebook: Zerahyah Ysrayl
 

We aren’t revealing our number one winner until Monday, 9/6 so be sure to stick around!

Over the next few weeks we’ll be spotlighting each of these poets individually here on the blog and social media. We’ll get to dig deeper into what inspired their poems and their writing process in general.

New Film Documents Mamie Till-Mobley’s Fight for Justice for Her 14-Year-Old Son, Emmett Louis Till

I remember learning about Emmett Till as early as third grade and then again, in about sixth grade.

Now, Whoopi Goldberg and Danielle Deadwyler will star in Chinonye Chukwu’s upcoming film “Till,” about Mamie Till-Mobley’s fight for justice for her 14-year-old son, Emmett Louis Till. All American star Jayln Hall has been cast to play the role of Emmett.

“Till” chronicles Mamie’s decision to have an open casket at Emmett’s funeral and to allow Jet magazine publish David Jackson’s funeral photos, in order to ensure people everywhere saw the true horrors of her son’s murder. The decision from the grieving mother was a galvanizing moment that led to the creation of the civil rights movement.”

https://variety.com/2021/film/news/whoopi-goldberg-emmett-till-movie-danielle-deadwyler-1235026380/

Emmett Till was brutally murdered early on August 28, 1955, one month and three days after his 14th birthday, after being falsely accused of whistling at a white woman. His mother, Mamie Elizabeth Till-Mobley, showed his body in an open casket so the whole world could see what they did to her son. “Let the world see what I’ve seen,” she said, which became a call-to-action after Jet Magazine published the photos.

Emmett Till was in Money, Mississippi, visiting his relatives when he encountered Mrs. Bryant at a store for the summer. There are multiple variations of what supposedly took place. I’ve been following the story of Emmett for a long time, and I’ve seen pretty much every documentary made of him.

Some people say he showed his cousins a picture of his school in Chicago, an integrated class, and bragged about how he would speak to that white woman. Other accounts claim he grabbed Bryant’s hand while she was stocking candy. “What’s the matter, baby,” he allegedly said, “can’t you take it?” The most infamous accusation is that he whistled at her.

None of these accusations are true, and in “The Blood of Emmett Till,” a book by Timothy Tyson, Carolyn Bryant admits she lied.

Days after the alleged incident, Roy Bryant and his brother-in-law, J.W. Milam, kidnapped Emmett from his great uncle’s home and brutally murdered him. They then tied a cotton gin fan blade to his body with barbed wire and dumped him in the Tallahatchie River.

If you are familiar with the show, All American, you know Hall has a lisp, which could explain why he’s a good fit for the role outside of his acting skills. According to Mamie, Emmett had a speech impediment that made it impossible for him to have whistled at Carolyn.

Black Trauma

Whenever I post this kind of content, I get feedback from people saying I shouldn’t be talking about it. Some have even said they should not make the film.

I get it.

I understand the perpetuation of black trauma by the media, and I empathize with the fed-upness of black death.

I also want to acknowledge people who experience high sensitivity to these sorts of things. This post is in no way dismissive of that, and I understand if you can’t view these sorts of things.

But aside from this, consider the proverb, “Until the lion learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter.”

If we do not tell our side of the story, our children will continue to receive a watered-down version of their history.

Memphis, TN, Wither’s Collection Museum. Photo by Yecheilyah Ysrayl, 2021. Used with permission.

Three months after his death, Rosa Parks communicated with Mamie Till that she thought about Emmett as she sat on that bus and refused to move. This resistance led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the opening of the floodgates for what we now know as The Civil Rights Movement.

But that is not the full story.

Rosa Parks was not some feeble old lady our childhood textbooks make her out to be, and she was not the only black woman who refused to give up her seat in defiance of segregation. Parks was 41 years young and was already working with Dr. King and served as secretary for the NAACP, where her husband, Raymond Parks, was already an active member.

Parks’ cemented her place in history, and I am sure she thought of Emmett, but she wasn’t an old lady. She was tired alright, but not physically.

“Parks wasn’t physically tired and was able to leave her seat. She refused, on principle, to surrender her seat because of her race.”

https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/rosa-parks-journey-as-a-civil-rights-icon

The NAACP was already organizing and looking for a test case about segregation on Montgomery’s bus system, but their first potential test case was pregnant and did not fit the image they wanted to represent the movement. The whole thing was carefully orchestrated in a campaign to end segregation on buses.

“They said they didn’t want to use a pregnant teenager because it would be controversial and the people would talk about the pregnancy more than the boycott.” – Colvin

This in no way dismisses Park’s historical actions (because planned or not, she didn’t have to do it) but seeks to shine a light on the other “Rosa’s” who also refused to give up their seat to support integration. We have forgotten the Claudette Colvin’s, Aurelia Browder’s, and Irene Morgan’s of the world because the writers of his-story never told their stories.

There is an entirely new generation of children who do not know the racist history of this (America) nation and how it is relatable to our current times. They can’t compare Trayvon Martin to Emmett Till because they don’t know who Emmett Till was. They can’t connect housing discrimination with Red Lining because they don’t know what Red Lining is. They can’t connect the crack epidemic of the 1980s with the Iran-Contra Affair because they don’t know history.

How did crack cocaine end up in black communities? How did it destroy black families?

As Furious Styles says in Boyz N The Hood, “How you think the crack rock gets into the country? We don’t own any planes. We don’t own no ships. We are not the people who are flyin’ and floatin’ that shit in here.”

Yes, he’s a fictional character, but a real black man (John Daniel Singleton) wrote the script.

“Why do you think there’s a liquor store on every corner? The same reason there’s a gun store on every corner. They want us to kill ourselves.” (Boyz N The Hood, 1991)

Do I think black people should be inundated with negativity and brutality, constantly subjected to the image of black men and women dying in the streets? Of course not. Black history is not only black trauma.

But no one tells the Jews to stop talking about the holocaust or Americans to stop talking about 9/11.

I believe that we encourage them to be forgotten by not retelling these stories. We can do this in various ways, not only through the display of horrific images on television.

Black women are putting this film together because they understand what it means to lose black sons, not only in 1955 but also in 2021.

I know black mothers don’t raise their sons to be murderers just as much as I know they don’t raise them to be murdered.

Jasmine Mans

About That Last Post

Hey Family, 

So, every now and again, I will accidentally publish a post from my phone. This is because the preview and publish buttons are right next to each other in the WordPress app. I always preview my posts at least a thousand times before posting. 

I removed the last post with the title “Why Are People So Hard on Self-Publishers,” because I published it by mistake. I would let it slide, but it’s not even halfway finished. 

I realize these posts are going to your emails, and it can be frustrating to get that error message. If you tried clicking on the link and you received an error message, I apologize for the inconvenience. Those links are broken because I have removed the posts. 

That author post will be ready soon, and I appreciate your patience.

No Whining Wednesday – The Power Within

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Welcome back to another episode of No Whining Wednesday! Today, you cannot whine, criticize, or complain.

If you are new to this blog or new to this segment please visit the NWW page here for past episodes.

Today’s inspiring word is from Alice Walker.

 

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I used to try to save the world until I matured enough to understand I can only save myself. By realizing the power I have to make changes to my personal and spiritual well-being, I, therefore, had the power to impact everything and everyone else around me.

I no longer use my energy to force people to live and think and be a certain way. Instead, I am simply being and my being itself does the work for me. What freedom!

I am who I am, and I live as I live, and it inspires people without much effort. This is much more freeing than pointing fingers and dragging people to wells to drink water. Nowadays, people see me at the well, and they arrive on their own. 

What did you think it meant to let your light shine?

Photo by Fuu J on Unsplash

We change the world by changing ourselves. Cliche as that may be, it is not always easy to put these words into practice. We spend a lot of time complaining and worrying about the lives of others to the extent that we don’t always see ourselves, which is where the power is.

In the words of Marianne Williamson, we have all at one point asked, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?”

If we all worked toward being better people, the power of that collective energy could shift the earth. To add value to the lives of others, we must value others, but we cannot value others if we do not first value ourselves.

We cannot change the outer world with no revolution of self because while the outside can look good, you are still you inside. If the you inside is unhappy and nasty and corrupt, it will only leak out into the world. 

An African proverb says, “When there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do you no harm.”

When you refuse to allow self-limiting beliefs to live in your mind, the doubts and naysays from people outside of yourself won’t hinder you.

The question is, do you believe you are that powerful?

No Whining Wednesday – A Time to Speak and a Time Not to Speak

NWW(1)

Welcome back to another episode of No Whining Wednesday! Today, you cannot whine, criticize, or complain.

If you are new to this blog or new to this segment please visit the NWW page here for past episodes.

Today’s inspiring word comes from a powerful word from an amazing poet I follow on Instagram named Obbie West:

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I give these NWW’s a lot of thought, but I ain’t have it in me this week. I couldn’t discern what to write, and I decided I was not going to force it. I am just going to post an inspirational quote and remind everyone not to complain today. But then, I heard a poem with these words.

A common saying I’ve used is, “only speak when it improves on the silence.” I might have even put it in a poem. It means to speak when you have something of value to add to the conversation. I’ve used this saying as my personal barometer on whether I should say something or not for years, so when I heard West say, “speaking just to be accepted is the same as being silent,” it instantly resonated with me, and brought me back to the first quote. We can also say, “speaking just for the sake of speaking is the same as being silent.”

This quote also brought me back to writing. Writing is speaking, too, and I am not just talking about writing books or blog posts. Posting something to Facebook, Instagram, Linked In, and Twitter is also speaking. This is where I think we take much for granted. When you post something on the internet, you talk just like you uttered the words out loud. Here is where we come back to the topic at hand: whining, criticizing, and complaining.

The ease of posting and instant gratification can make us think that what we have to say is important even when not. Everyone has an amen corner, and sometimes they be doing too much, and you have to be careful not to let the hype go to your head.

Confused about The Amen Corner? Come with me to Mt. Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church of Zion, of Mt. Calvary.

In the black Church, especially Baptists, there are always “mothers” huddled together on one side of the room. They are usually older women, mothers, and grandmothers, wearing white with larger-than-life hats in the front pew. They are the ones with the candy and gum, the shawl to throw over your shoulder, or the blanket to drape over your knees if your dress is too short. Chances are they grew up in said Church, know everyone’s business, were the secret originator of church gossip, and serve as the church elders. In short, they are not to be played with. Their facial expressions will kill you, resurrect you, and kill you again.

You can expect them to rock back and forth during the sermon, shake their heads, and wave fans in their faces as they grunt their agreements with the pastor. Every few minutes, you can hear them shout, “Amen!” This starts a trail of amens from the rest of the congregation.

But, after a while, it starts to get annoying because black baptists churches are an all-day affair. After the sweat has crawled its way down the pastor’s neck and he has finished his run down the aisle and lost his breath, he finally declares, “Hold on for a little bit longer. We almost there.” The sigh of relief in your heart brings a smile to your face. It’s finally over.

But not really.

At this moment, the amen corner says, “Take ya, time, pastor!” This is followed by a waving of the handkerchief or hand in the direction of the pulpit. Thanks to these mothers, we will be here for another two hours.

You see, the amen corner means well, and their support is appreciated, but they do too much.

Many people will cosign what you say even if it doesn’t make sense, primarily online. Because of this instant feedback, we complain a whole lot on this here innanet, and, to be clear, I am not saying complaints don’t have their place, but just because it’s on our mind doesn’t mean we should say it.

Social media is not your diary, journal, or therapist, and these people following you on these free apps are not your counselors. Most of them aren’t even your friends.

I find it sad I know people more by looking at their most recent Facebook post than I do in person because people seem to confide in social media in ways they don’t do offline. We don’t have time to get into that, but people just be talking to hear themselves talk, or as we say in the black community, “talking out the side of their neck.”

All to be accepted, verified, or gain the approval of the amen corner.

“Speaking just to be accepted is the same as being silent.”

Obbie West

People often say I have this joyous energy, but I am not always joyful or motivational. I show up excited because I genuinely enjoy what I do. It wakes me up in the morning and gets my blood pumping. I complain and criticize like the rest of us humans. I try not to let it spill out into the public without a purpose.

What I practice is typing things into the notepad of my phone. When sporadic thoughts come, I type them in that notepad to get it down. It may be beneficial later on, or I may delete it. I know myself enough to know I should not post everything that’s on my mind.

I also journal when I feel sad, depressed, angry, or just in deep thought, meditative space. I write a lot of poems this way, by hand in my journal. These things help me to cut down on complaining publicly in ways that aren’t always healthy. When I do complain online, it’s to serve a purpose or bring attention to a situation.

I understand the power of words and choose to use them carefully. I am not a small talk kind of person. I don’t even like to talk on the phone. I speak much more passionately when the conversation serves a purpose. Otherwise, I find it best to keep silent.

Speaking / Writing is a responsibility. Let’s use it wisely.


Update: Missed this? Check out the replay @writepath247 on Instagram.

No Whining Wednesday – The Way You Carry It

NWW(1)

Welcome back to another episode of No Whining Wednesday! Today, you cannot whine, criticize, or complain.

If you are new to this blog or new to this segment please visit the NWW page here for past episodes.

Today’s inspiring word comes from a powerful word from Lena Horne:

When you think about physically carrying something, you know that how you carry it makes a big difference. The proper way to lift heavy items is to bend your hips and knees to squat down, keep them close to your body, and straighten your legs to lift. If you do this wrong, you could hurt your back. It is also recommended never to lift a heavy object above shoulder level and avoid turning or twisting your body while lifting or holding a heavy object.

“Lift with your legs, not with your back.” That old saying is true for a reason: “The muscles in the legs and buttocks are bigger and more power­ful than the tiny back muscles,” notes Clare Safran-Norton, clinical supervisor of rehabilitation services at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.”

-https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/boost-your-ability-to-lift-and-carry-heavy-loads

You also have to determine what it is you are lifting. Is it a box with liquid in it? Is it fragile? Can you even carry it by yourself? And even if you have people to help you, is it better to use a vehicle or crane or something to help carry it?

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Raise your hand if you’ve ever tried to balance something on your head like the women in Africa?

The women carry large loads on their heads. Although it looks strenuous, “a study found that African women can carry up to 20% of their body weight on their heads without increasing their rate of energy consumption.” (LA Times)

“In Ghana, women glide through Accra’s central market with such improbable burdens on their heads as a cage full of live chickens, a card table piled with glassware, a 100-pair-high stack of blue jeans. In southern Sudan, Dinka women walk for miles with only a ring of palm fronds padding their shaved skulls from the weight of 80-pound clay pots brimming with sorghum beer. Here in Nairobi, girls skip home from school, holding hands with each other, bundles of books on their heads.”

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1986-12-07-mn-1243-story.html

Now, let’s remove the physical aspect of carrying large loads and think of it mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Because no one can see the heaviness we carry, we sometimes overestimate the importance of asking for help or putting the burden down (letting go). Sometimes, we might even need to break a situation down into parts we can manage.

A quick story.

Detergent in the storage closet of my basement

I am always doing laundry. I don’t know what it is, but clothes seem to come out of nowhere. Mind you, there are only two people in this house. Because I wash a lot, I purchase detergent in bulk. It comes in these giant buckets (see image) from a black-owned general store in Marietta, Georgia. This place is better than the dollar tree. Anytime I need something in bulk, I go there first, from paper plates to detergent, and it’s very affordable.

The smaller containers we use

Because the buckets are so heavy, we pour the detergent into the smaller containers we have left over. I don’t usually do this because even to pour it into the containers requires lifting the bucket, so this is hubby’s job. Until one day, I tried to be a superwoman…

Chile, it was a mess. I ended up wasting detergent everywhere. I got the job done, but it would have been so much easier to ask for help. All I had to do was walk upstairs and ask the man to pour more detergent, but I wanted to do it myself.

Ya’ll see where I’m going with this, right? Of course, you do.

Another quick story

Several months ago we got a new TV for the basement. The thing was huge and could not fit into the car. Ya’ll, people were literally laughing at us trying to figure out how to make it work in that Walmart parking lot. We turned it every which way, took it out of the box, everything. What in the world were we thinking of getting a TV that big without a truck? A mess. Thankfully, a friend of my husband’s walked up, and guess what he was driving? A truck.

Sometimes what we are carrying is not the problem; it’s how we carry it that breaks us down. Occasionally, we don’t have to carry it at all.

“Bag lady you goin’ hurt yo back
Draggin all them bags like that
I guess nobody ever told you
All you must hold on to
Is you, is you, is you.” – Erykah Badu