Black History Fun Fact Friday – Juneteenth

Many Black Americans are replacing their fourth of July celebrations with Juneteenth. I don’t celebrate holidays, and as much as I love my people, this includes Kwanzaa and Juneteenth. But I think it’s important to talk about Juneteenth, and why it is celebrated. For some, this day is a celebration of freedom, but even after Juneteenth, many blacks were still enslaved and suffering.

According to the Emancipation Proclamation issued by Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, the proclamation declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.”

By rebellious states, it was referring to those states that had seceded or withdrawn from the United States, leaving slavery untouched in the loyal border states. It also exempted parts of the Confederacy (the Southern secessionist states) that had already come under Northern control. The freedom it promised also depended upon United States military victory. In brief, emancipation only applied to those slaves who lived near Union lines.

Sound like a bunch of excuses to me.

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News of the supposed emancipation did not spread as quickly as the movies would have us to believe. Many slave-owners packed up their belongings and their slaves and moved to Texas in mass.

“Since the capture of New Orleans in 1862, slave owners in Mississippi, Louisiana and other points east had been migrating to Texas to escape the Union Army’s reach.” (Henry Louis Gates Jr.)

In a hurried re-enactment of the original Middle Passage, more than 150,000 enslaved people had made the trek west, according to historian Leon Litwack in his book Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of SlaveryAs one former slave recalled, “it looked like everybody in the world was going to Texas.” For the next two years, the enslaved would live removed from the updates of the war, and slavery would go on, business as usual.

And so, when General Gordon Granger entered Galveston, Texas, on June 19th to lead the Union occupation force, he had to deal with ongoing slavery in defiance of the Emancipation Proclamation. To fix this, he issued the following order:

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property, between former masters and slaves and the connection heretofore existing between them, becomes that between employer and hired labor. The Freedmen are advised to remain at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts; and they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

Wait, what?

 “The Freedmen are advised to remain at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts; and they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

Idleness? Mmkay.

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I Just Want My 40 Acres

 

Long story short, this proclamation, specifying “all slaves were free,” is the foundation for Juneteenth’s celebration, combining June and the nineteenth when they issued the order, commemorating the freedom of the enslaved and allegedly ending slavery in the US.

But, this order did not free all enslaved persons.

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“There is much evidence to suggest that southern whites—especially Confederate parolees—perpetrated more acts of violence against newly freed bondspeople in Texas than in other states,” writes historian Elizabeth Hayes Turner in an essay titled “Juneteenth: Emancipation and Memory.”

“Between the Neches and Sabine rivers and north to Henderson,” she continues, “reports showed that blacks continued in a form of slavery, intimidated by former Confederate soldiers still in uniform and bearing arms.” Murder, lynching, and harassment were common. “You could see lots of Negroes hanging from trees in Sabine bottom right after freedom,” reported one freed slave, “They would catch them swimming across Sabine River and shoot them.”

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Blacks celebrated their freedom with the first official Juneteenth event in 1866, where they read the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 and, oddly, praised Abraham Lincoln as the great liberator.

The celebrations continued until coming to a halt with the institution of Black Codes and, eventually, Jim Crow. These laws essentially put Blacks back into a form of slavery where they were fully disenfranchised. After the Civil War and the end of slavery, Southern states, which had amassed great wealth from slavery, found their economy in shambles. They had to figure out how to keep a slave-like system going.

Black Codes and Pig Laws unfairly penalized poor African Americans for crimes such as stealing a pig. It was also a crime to be unemployed.

So that’s what they meant by “they will not be supported in idleness.”

These laws could be imposed on Black men easily, sending them to jail, and thus, former slave owners turned “entrepreneurs” could lease them to various companies that would work them to death and treat them like they were slaves. This made the states tons of money.

In 1883, about ten percent of Alabama’s total revenue was derived from convict leasing. In 1898, nearly 73 percent of total revenue came from this same source. Death rates among leased convicts were approximately ten times higher than the death rates of prisoners in non-lease states. In 1873, for example, 25 percent of all black leased convicts died.

The laws passed in Texas were similar to those passed in every other Confederate state. Modern-day politicians often make comparisons to Jim Crow as one of the worst periods in African American life. Jim Crow didn’t have shit on the Black Codes, which was the South’s attempt to recreate enslavement and go back to business as usual. Mass incarceration isn’t a recent invention; during the Black Codes, Black people could do little without running afoul of the law with the penalty being sent back to the fields if they weren’t already there.

William Spivey, Why Celebrate Juneteenth and What Did It Accomplish

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Texas Juneteenth Day Celebration, 1900 (Austin History Center, Austin Public Library)

Juneteenth didn’t make a full resurgence until The Civil Rights Movement, when Blacks began to celebrate it in full again. And while many Blacks have celebrated it for centuries, it still did not become an official Holiday until 1980, when it was made a Texas State Holiday. Still, it wasn’t until 1997 that Congress recognized June 19 as “Juneteenth Independence Day,” after pressure from a collection of groups like the National Association of Juneteenth Lineage and the National Juneteenth Celebration Foundation.

UPDATE:

This post was originally published three years ago, in June of 2018. As of today, June of 2021, Juneteenth is now being turned into a National Federal Holiday.

But the question remains, what exactly did Juneteenth accomplish for the black man, woman, and child? What freedom did it bring about? Some sum it up this way:

“Today Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a day, a week, and in some areas a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics and family gatherings. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing. It is a time for assessment, self-improvement and for planning the future. Its growing popularity signifies a level of maturity and dignity in America long over due. In cities across the country, people of all races, nationalities and religions are joining hands to truthfully acknowledge a period in our history that shaped and continues to influence our society today. Sensitized to the conditions and experiences of others, only then can we make significant and lasting improvements in our society.” – https://juneteenth.com/

But, Spivey brings out another good point worth considering:

“Texas after Juneteenth wasn’t an anomaly. Slavery continued to go on in states in the South, North, and West. In some cases, for several years. Slavery still existed in other parts of the United States and did so until the ratification of the 13th Amendment on December 6, 1865, and beyond.

Slavery still existed in Delaware and Kentucky, which resisted all Union attempts to end slavery and refused to ratify the 13th Amendment. In California, slavery was sort of outlawed in 1850 as a condition for statehood. The exception was slaves who had been brought to California and where the possibility they might return one day to their original home existed, even if that state had voted to ratify the 13th Amendment.

New Jersey had as many as 400 people remain slaves long after Juneteenth. Oregon’s provisional government banned slavery in 1844 but forbade free black people from settling in the territory. Settlers continued to bring slaves with them. General Joseph Lane, a former territorial governor, kept at least one slave on his farm until 1878, 13 years after the passage of the 13th Amendment.”

It is true Blacks were not free on July 4, 1776. But it is also true many Blacks were not free on June 19, 1865, either.

As many African Americans celebrate and reflect this weekend on what this day means to them, there is certainly much to think about.


Click HERE for more Black History Fun Facts!

Speaking of Freedom, this is a great time to dive into The Stella Trilogy if you have not already! Below is the link to book one. Enjoy!

About.

In book one, Cynthia McNair and her boyfriend, Alex, express some racists’ feelings toward blacks. They visit Cynthia’s Grandmother Sidney McNair, who recounts the story of her ancestor, a slave named Stella Mae. Cynthia has no idea of her African ancestry or how deep this rabbit hole goes.

Overcoming the Anxiety to Show Up: A Message to Introverted Indie Authors

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I am from Chicago, where kids paid close attention to the shoes you were wearing after winter break.

Everybody was checking to see who was wearing something new. See, in the hood where money is scarce, you got your best clothes and shoes around Christmas, so when kids come back from break, everybody is looking to see what you got on.

I walked into my eighth-grade classroom with my all-blue suede Timbs (what we called Timberland boots), and I didn’t like the way everyone’s eyes noticed them.

The same thing happened in High School.

I grew up poor and didn’t start wearing name-brand shoes until the second round of sixth grade. While I loved Air Force Ones, I had never owned a pair of Jordans.

It wasn’t until High School I owned a pair and joined the other “cool” kids and experienced what it was like to sit on the pedestal of those who wore Jordans.

And I didn’t like it.

I wished I hadn’t worn those shoes. I liked them a lot, but I didn’t like the attention they garnered. I also didn’t like being like everyone else. I quickly realized I wasn’t a Jordan-wearing type of person. As I got older, I learned I am not all that into gym shoes (sneakers if you are not from the Chi) in general. I wear them, and I have them (and I like looking at the different styles), but my personal style is more casual.

But anyway, those Jordans were my first and only pair.

Here’s the truth:

I don’t like the spotlight. Despite what I do for a living, I am not an “out there in front” kind of person, and I get embarrassed easily because I’m shy.

Just as Moses did not want to go to the Pharaoh and tell him to let his people go at first, I do not always want to show up.

But at some point, Moses had to obey the voice that spoke to him and fulfill his purpose which is why I show up despite the quiver in my chest.

Maya Angelou said courage is the most important of all virtues because, without courage, you cannot practice any other virtue consistently.

You can’t be consistently kind or loving, or generous. You can be these things for a time, but not consistently because there is no endurance without courage.

When the threat is too much, you will quit if not for courage. So, while everyone is afraid, those who are courageous go on despite the fear.

“I do what I hate to do, but I do it like I love it. That’s discipline.”  Mike Tyson

What Tyson isn’t saying:

Settle for a life that does not bring you joy.

What Tyson is saying:

Even while doing what you love, there will be moments where you have to be disciplined to accomplish a goal, and this won’t be fun, but it will be worth it.

Quick Tips.

Stop Predicting What Other People Are Thinking

I am pretty sure we are all guilty of this!

The biggest stumbling block to showing up is thinking about what other people would think of you. We make up these stories in our head about what we expect to happen and what we think other people are thinking.

Tell yourself a different story than the one in your head.

People do love you and think about you often.

Readers do want to read your book, and they do care about your story.

People want to hear from you more than you think.

You do matter.

I mean, I know you’re a genius and all that, but you can’t predict what people are thinking. You just cannot do that to yourself.

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“But I don’t want people to think…”

This is a phrase we should all work to eliminate from our vocabulary, and I admit, I have work to do myself. When we say things like this, we are expecting a response that may or may not even be real.

“I don’t want to post about my book because I don’t want people to think ________.”

If you don’t tell people about it, how are they supposed to know it exists? What about this instead:

“I am so excited to tell people about my new book!”

I notice the more I am excited about something, the more excited the people around me are. Take the smile test for example.

Look at someone and smile. I bet you they are going to smile back. If they are extra silly like me, they might even laugh. Then you will laugh, and neither of us knows what’s funny.

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One of my favorite quotes is:

“What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”

Anticipate the best possible outcome instead of the worst.

Release the Need to Know.

Trying to control the outcome is like trying to catch the wind. Get excited about what you don’t know and all the possibilities of a new experience. You don’t need to know the outcome to start.

You Don’t Have to Say Yes to Everything.

You don’t have to drink from every cup handed to you. That’s how you get poisoned. You are only required to accept those things that speak to your soul, nothing more and nothing less. If it does not set your soul on fire, you don’t have to do it.

This, saying no, is more than turning down offers, although that’s important too. Saying no is also about not feeling obligated to do what everyone else is doing, think as everyone else is thinking, or move how everyone else moves.

Saying no is not wearing Jordans if you really don’t like them.

Another quick story.

In my early teens, fifteen-sixteen-ish, my brother spray-painted hats and t-shirts for the neighborhood. He did stuff like this all the time because he’s an amazing artist. He even designed clothing for the entire cheerleading team. Anywho, my brother spray-painted my and my sisters’ and cousin hats to match our shirts. That’s how I got into wearing hats that summer. Eventually, my sisters and cousin let go of the hat thing, but I would still wear mine even at school. My twin thought I looked like a boy, but I wasn’t a tomboy. I just liked the hat.

My High School Pen Pal Program. Me in front, rocking my spray-painted hat and a blue long-sleeve underneath my short sleeve because I was cold, lol.

Saying no is also about not denying a part of yourself because of what other people think.

This means knowing ourselves well enough to know what we want and don’t want.

Sometimes, we accept things we don’t like, things that are not inherently us, and things we are not comfortable with because we don’t know ourselves, and that’s another discussion altogether.

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It can be hard to show up when you are naturally more laid back and reserved, but I challenge you to push yourself. The best way to get used to doing something is to get out there and do it, and the more you do that thing, the easier it’ll be.

And being an introvert doesn’t necessarily mean that you are shy, although many shy people are introverted. 

I took an online quiz before posting this. My results say I am an introvert (not surprised) with the following traits:

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  • You crave alone time. Having time to think, private space, and quiet time helps you feel rested and whole.
  • People can drain you. Even the most well-meaning people can pull a lot out of you. You can absolutely do social situations; they just take a lot of energy.
  • When socializing, you like to observe before partaking. You like to think before you speak and have one-on-one conversations rather than speaking in groups.

You can take your own quiz at: https://www.scienceofpeople.com/introvert/  (And it’s free)


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“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

– Marianne Williamson


The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen is here! CLICK HERE TO GRAB YOUR COPY!

The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen is LIVE

The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen is live!

About.

When Tina’s nephew, Ronnie is killed, she is left to care for his siblings and to solve a series of mysterious murders involving only black men. Investigating each murder thrusts her and her team into a world of deities, demons, and fallen angels, leading Tina to battle a serial killer beyond this realm.


“Paschar walked with confidence and held her head high as she moved her hips from side to side. Red was her most favorite color to wear with this skin. Something about the hue against this dark body is so different from her true form and more comfortable to navigate the Earth. Who wanted to be invisible to humans when it was easier to seduce them in the skin of a beautiful black woman? Passersby, men and women alike, looked, and Paschar smiled. They always stared. Humans were fascinated by blue, crystal pupils against such brown, creamy skin. In real life, Pas thought human bodies were disgusting. She hated the soft, gooeyness of the flesh, how it bruised and bled so quickly, how it fell apart and crumbled with each passing day. She hated the rotting meat on the bone, but she did come to love dark skin tones. Other pigments didn’t make her heart beat like melanin.”

– From Chapter 7, The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen

“Tina walked out of the door as her body trembled. She knew Big Sam had blue eyes, and Ronnie’s death was no accident. They had murdered her nephew, were back, and killing again.”

– From Chapter 3, The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen

We sold out of signed paperbacks on the site, but no worries! You can still order a paperback from Amazon. The next round of signed copies will be restocked soon! Be sure to bookmark my website below so you don’t miss it!

Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author Amanda Boyd

Please help me extend a warm welcome to Amanda Boyd.

Welcome to the PBS Blog!


What is your name and where are you from?

My name is Amanda Boyd, and I am a lover of erotic literature. I’m a passionate reader of this genre as well as an Indie author and blogger. I spent my childhood in California and then had the opportunity to spend my 20’s in Europe. This was an awesome experience and taught me a lot about different cultures and the way we as a society can live our lives. However, as the United States was and will ever be my home country, I came back some years ago, and I’m now living with my family again in California. So I would say I’m an American Girl with a global background.

What state or country do you never want to go back to?

I was once on holiday in Sharm-El-Sheik, Egypt after an exam session during my time at the University. So I was young, single and a little short of money and therefore went to a rather cheap hotel. The whole week was pure stress: as soon as I left my hotel room, people started to either pitch some cheap stuff to me or tried to flirt with me in a really cheap way. I felt really uncomfortable the whole week and after about two days, I didn’t leave my room anymore.

So my association with Egypt is unfortunately really bad. But I want to be clear here: I really think that there are awesome places and people also in Egypt. I know people who love to go there and always had a great time. Maybe I had just bad luck or that some aspects of the culture there does not fit to my personal values

I would love to visit Egypt one day. Amanda, does blogging help you to write?

Blogging does really help me writing my own stories. The section of my blog where I write about my favorite books helps me as those authors are clearly role models for me. On the other hand, I also do interviews with other authors. These interviews range from debut authors like Kuristien Elizabeth to already established and successful authors like H.L. Swan. The interviews provide inspiration in the sense that I can exchange with other authors and share thoughts about their sources of inspiration, their challenges as authors, and how they stay motivated.

Let’s talk about writing. When did you publish your first book? What was that like?

I published my first short story in September 2020. It was a huge relief and experience. The journey to publishing my first story was long and challenging. I wrote stories for years for myself and really close friends, but to overcome self-doubts that people won’t like your work or maybe ignore it was a long process. To be honest, it takes courage to publish your work! If you fail, you also fail publicly, so I have great respect for every author who accepts all the challenges in order to become a published author! 

The story is about a young woman named Veronica, who is the daughter of a business founder and owner. The men around her are nothing but oversized boys, without serious thoughts yet toward their futures. Their pick-up lines and cheesy attempts at romance do nothing for her, so singlehood is a constant in her world. That is until she is touring her father’s company and meets Mark Grier. Her father’s successful, gorgeous right hand is older than her, but there is something obvious between them from the first handshake.

Why is writing important to you?

First of all, writing is a passion. I just love to do it. That’s why I wrote a lot before starting to publish. Writing fiction always gives you the opportunity to create something. You can shape your own world, develop characters and when you’re really into the writing process, you can more or less just let these characters act in scenarios you design for them. This process is most fascinating for me.

Secondly, sometimes when writing you enter into a writing flow. In this state, a story just evolves in front of you. It’s a state in which you are fully focused on your story and nothing else can disturb you. It’s kind of a meditative condition.

Meditative condition. I’ve never heard of it said that way before. Good stuff. 

Can you tell us more about the genre you write?

I write steamy and erotic romance. I’m a sensual as well as sensitive person, so human interaction and attraction always fascinated me and still does. At least, in my opinion, there is no better feeling than those moments in your love life, when you lose control and just let your love and attraction for your partner flow. I’m not a sex addict, but these moments are pure freedom as you don’t care about any norms or rules and just let your emotions carry you. To put it short, love stories and the sensual parts of a love story between two people fascinate me.

What takes up too much of your time?

I think if I’m honest, it’s procrastination. I think we all suffer from this phenomenon. However, I tried to implement some routines which help me overcome internal barriers. But to be honest with you they don’t always work as efficiently as I wish.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Stay true and pursue your goals, but do it in a clever way. This means focusing on the most important things, trying to do them as good as you can, and listening to the advice of people who already solved similar challenges in their lives. And believe me, almost every problem one can have in life has been solved before. So it is crucial to try to connect to the right people, people who motivate you and do not tear you down.

Life is not always pretty. We all experience hardship every now and again. What is your best advice for reducing stress?

I don’t want to compare my « sort of stress » to those other people in the world have to handle. If one lives in a nice house or flat and has everything in one’s hand for daily life, you can be happy. Especially if you then have a bunch of lovely family members and really good friends too.

What if someone has a nice home/flat and  friends and everything at their fingertips, but they still aren’t happy? What advice would you give this person for finding that sense of fulfillment?

I would go with Monthy Python😊: “Always look on the bright side!” Sometimes we as human beings forget to look at the really good things in life and tend to just focus on the problems. I would suggest that they go on a walk and think about all the good things that have happened to them. And think about the hardships they had to overcome in order to achieve what they now have. So every time I have a hard time or a lot to do, I try to see these things. I have everything I truly need in my life! Everything else is just the icing on the cake.

I love that answer, an attitude of gratitude.

What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

Oh, you mean besides buying some lottery tickets😊?

You right, Hahaha

I think I would do the same as I do today. There is a saying in Europe, “the route is the goal.” I can only be proud of an achievement if I had to overcome some challenges and hardships. Of course, if I knew I could not fail, it would make it easier to gain confidence in a challenging moment. But isn’t it a great feeling when you achieve something, and you know how much work and dedication it has cost you?

This is true.

These are the moments when you can be really proud of yourself. So I think I wouldn’t want to miss that. And furthermore, I think that everybody should fail from time to time to stay humble and empathetic. And humble and empathetic people are, in almost every case, valuable members of our society. But hey, that does not mean that I like failing. Of course, I would really love if my stories finally become a success!

Speaking of which, what does success mean to you?

I always have great respect for people who can live off their passion. I give you an example: a friend of mine is a baker and confectioner. And he is it from the bottom of his heart! When he talks about a new cake or dessert creation, he tells you a story about it in a way that you feel the love and passion he has for his profession. So he does not go to «work» in the morning; he does what he loves. Isn’t that pure freedom and true success?

Achieving freedom in what you are, for me, is a good definition of success. How much does freedom mean to me? I would say a lot. However, I already enjoy the pursuit of my goals as it is. In my view, it’s a privilege to have the opportunity to focus your energy on your personal goals.

Thank you, Amanda, for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!


Amanda Boyd

Amanda Boyd was born in 1986 and raised in Mountain View, California. She spent her 20’s in Europe and then came back in 2013 to the United States to build her family. She now lives on the West Coast with her partner and two lovely dogs. 

Amanda writes erotic short stories and describes herself as a passionate lover of erotic literature who understands the importance of high-quality romance books. 

“The days of hiding away our romance novels under the couch cushions or feeling embarrassed to admit that we enjoy sex that goes along with steamy romance are over.”

– Amanda Boyd

That is why Amanda started her classy Erotic Romance Blog www.filthybooks.com as a place for readers to learn more about erotica. 

In addition to getting access to Amanda’s latest work, Filthybooks provides access to all kinds of information about the steamy romance genre. You can find lists and reviews of the latest online and print erotic literature, and no subject matter is off the table. So if you are in the mood of embracing your naughty side, you can find some exciting reading ideas from Amanda. 

Be Sure You Are Following Amanda on Social Media

Website: www.filthybooks.com/

Facebook: facebook.com/Amanda-Boyd-116011026919625

Instagram: instagram.com/aboydbooks/

Tumblr: amandaboyd.tumblr.com/

…and if you are a Erotica / Romance fan, check out her books!

You can download the first short story, Forbidden Complication, for free on www.filthybooks.com and find the link to the second story, Forbidden Fingers at www.filthybooks.com/news


Are you an author? Looking for more exposure? Learn more about my Introduce Yourself Feature HERE. 

Give Me My Flowers Today

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

I don’t usually post on Saturdays but on discovering a dear blogger friend’s death at the same time the world is mourning Earl “DMX” Simmons, a thought struck me.

“I just wish we could love people when they live the way we do when they die.”

As I scrolled through my LinkedIn page (and I am rarely on LinkedIn), I came across this post and was surprised to learn of Sue Vincent’s passing. 

I know Sue from her promotional posts for authors and her generosity in opening up her space to give others time to shine. I’ve been featured on her blog a few times, and each time that we emailed, she was always welcoming to have me. 

I feel sadness about Sue because I have not been as immersed in the blogging community as I used to be. My schedule is crazy these days, and I have not had the time to dedicate myself to my own blog, much less engage with others. On searching her name, I found tons of posts dedicated to her and posts she wrote about her illness. I am so very sorry for missing it all. 

I also want to note that Sue was a poet, and with it being National Poetry Month, I dedicate this post to her honor.

As per the title of this post, I want to remind us to give people their flowers while they live.

If there is someone you appreciate or someone you love, or someone who has added value to your life in any way, I encourage you to make it known to them now.

Why now? 

Why not now?

Photo by Mel on Unsplash

Last June 2020 was the last time I saw my mother alive. I had taken a quick trip to Chicago to celebrate the life of another person I knew who had passed and stopped by my mom’s place. I was literally only passing through. My husband had to make a run, so I ended up staying with my mother for longer than I had anticipated.

At the time, I was irritated Moshe was taking so long to come back. I did not see how much of a blessing it was he took this run.

Before I left, I put a necklace on her neck that I had meant to ship but never got the chance to. As I snapped it on her, I kissed her cheek and left. This wasn’t out of the ordinary. It is something I did all the time, kiss her cheek and tell her I loved her. The difference this time is I didn’t know this would be the last time I would do it, as she would pass on in September.

I have been away from home since 2009, when we moved to Louisiana. I now live in Georgia, but most of my family still lives in Chicago. That said, I didn’t see my mom daily because we did not live in the same city. If I had not come to Chicago that June, the last memory I would have of her would have been December of 2019 when we celebrated her 60th, and unknown to us, her last birthday.

Photo by Jeremy Yap on Unsplash

We never know when will be the last time we see or speak to someone, but we still take it for granted. We still treat each other like every day is promised. We still love people more in death than we do in life. We see this every time a celebrity passes.

I hope that one day this will change.

I hope that one day we will live with such immense gratitude that hindsight is no longer 20/20 because we will see things clearly at the moment.

I’ll leave you with this excerpt from If My Books Shall Die:

“Give me my flowers today

and accept the life I offer you

in the form of metaphors on silver platters,

for I am feeding you with silver spoons

and all you’ve got to do is eat.

I offer you the best of me.

And when I am dead

no longer among the living

crack open a book written by me

and feel my breath on your skin.

Hear my voice resurrect

from inside an ancient pen,

Watch my tongue dance.

See my lips move

and witness passion soar 

from beyond the grave.

If my books shall die

then my words did not really contain life.

But if my books shall live

What are you waiting for?

Go to your bookshelf,

resurrect me

and carry

my bones.”


Read the full poem in I am Soul

Don’t Forget to Enter this Year’s Poetry Contest. Click Here to Learn How.


PS. I am not a fan of the new WordPress editor. I like the ease of embedding tweets, but I think the blocks are unnecessarily complicated.

Yecheilyah’s 4th Annual Poetry Contest 2021: Rules, Guidelines, and Prizes


Yecheilyah’s 4th Annual Poetry Contest 2021

Theme: LOVE

This year’s theme is love. The difference between this year and our first year is this is not only about self-love or romantic love. You can certainly talk about self-love or the love of your life, but you can also talk about the love for family, the love for a hobby or career path, truth, history, and so on.

The grand prize this year is HUGE, so I am looking for some dopeness. If the poem doesn’t move me, I’m not accepting it, so bring your A-game. This is year four, and we are not accepting anything less than our best so let’s goooo!!

Here is a snippet of a poem from author and poet Jayla John on love. Let it inspire you!

“What love touches heals. What love reaches feels. What love bows to kneels. Love glances at sewage and turns it sacred. Love turns slander into praise. Love is a sacred storyteller. Love destroys all castles, drains all moats, rubbles royalty and thrones. Love answers. Prayers. Poetry. Passion fires. Love revolts. Love constantly births. Lets go. Remembers. Wakes your embers. Love is not romantic blindness. It is searing vision. Love sees. Love kills what is already dying, diseased, polluted, corrupted. Love makes all things new. Love is not in you. You are in love. And all of this is love.” –  Jalya John, Author of Freedom.

Submissions Accepted:

Thursday, April 1st – Tuesday, June 1, 2021 

*If your poem is ready, go ahead and submit it!*

Winners Announced: Wednesday, September 1st and 6th 2021*

*The 2nd-4th Place Winners are announced 9/1 with the Grand Prize Winner announced on 9/6.

Guidelines

  • The poems submitted must be original work. This means that the poems must be written by you. If we find a poem that resembles any previously published poem in any way that poet will be disqualified from the competition. Please send the poem as a Word Doc attachment, 12p font with your name on the document.
  • The poem must not be previously published in a book or anywhere online (including your blog)
  • The contest will be judged based on writing, style and how closely the poem adheres to the theme. This year’s theme is LOVE. Keep in mind this isn’t limited to romantic type love. You can also write about love for family, love for the creator, love for a passion or hobby, self-love, e.g.
  • All poets are welcomed to enter regardless of race, religion, political views or location. All poems must be written in English and there will be no shipments of books outside of the U.S. If a poet wins this competition and their residence is outside of the U.S., any prize requiring shipping (if any) will be awarded in digital form. Ex. Ebooks instead of paperbacks.
  • All poets must be at least 18 years of age to enter.
  • There is a $5 Entry Fee to enter the competition. This will help go toward the sponsoring of the prizes for the winners (See Below). If you are a member of the email list your fee is waived. If you would like your fee waived, sign up  HERE and email your poem to enter. Anyone who subscribes only to unsubscribe before the competition is complete (any time before the winners are announced) will be disqualified for the win. Any subscription that has not been made before 11:59pm EST on June 1st will  be disqualified.
  • Authors of the winning poems grant Yecheilyah of Yecheilyah Books LLC and Literary Korner Publishing the right to publish their winning poem on her blog located at www.thepbsblog.com. Permission is granted upon entry of the contest for publishing to The PBS Blog. The poets retain all rights and copyrights of their own work.
  • Multiple entries to this contest are allowed. If submitting multiple poems there is a 2-poem max.
  • Entry is taken as acceptance of ALL of these guidelines.

Submission Instructions:

Click THIS link to pay the entry fee.

Or Click on THIS link and subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list.

This will automatically give your name and email address.

*If you are already subscribed to my list you are halfway there! Just email me your poem*

Once you’ve paid the entry fee OR subscribed to the list, please send your poem(s) to yecheilyah@yecheilyahysrayl.com.

Submissions are accepted NOW through June 1st 2021.

Winners are announced September 1st and 6th, 2021 on The PBS Blog and across social media.

Video submissions are welcomed! This is a chance for you to get creative.

Prizes:

2nd, 3rd, 4th Place Prizes

  • $25 Amazon Giftcard nested inside a specialty gift box. The card has no fees and no expiration date and is redeemable towards millions of items storewide at Amazon.com (ecards for International Winners)
  • Signed Copy of I am Soul + My Soul is a Witness + Matching Bookmarks (ecopies for International Winners)
  • Writing Journal and Diamond Pen
  • Poem Published to The PBS Blog at thepbsblog.com (exposure to over 3100 subscribers)
  • Interview on The PBS Blog at thepbsblog.com (exposure to over 3100 subscribers)
  • Social Media Promotion Across All Platforms (IG, Twitter, FB)

1st Place Winner / The Grand Prize

The first-place winner receives everything under 2-4th place with an exclusive publishing package courtesy of Yecheilyah Books LLC’s publishing arm Literary Korner Publishing. Yes, you heard me right! I will finance the publishing of your next (or first!) poetry ebook. As the grand prize winner, you get the following (in addition to everything else):

  • Book Cover Design (ebook only)
  • Copyediting
  • ISBN Assignment
  • Digital Format for e-readers such as Kindle
  • KDP Set-Up
  • PreOrder Set-Up (Optional)

The most exciting thing about this prize is I will work with you one-on-one every step of the way so you can know what to do the next time you want to publish a book. I am not here to fish for you. I am here to teach you how to fish so you can keep eating.


Let’s GOOO!!

Deadline to Submit is 6/1/2021

Yecheilyah’s 1st Annual Poetry Contest Winners 2017

Yecheilyah’s 2nd Annual Poetry Contest Winners 2018

Yecheilyah’s 3rd Annual Poetry Contest Winners 2019

Black History through Poetry

I hope you are all doing well and all that good stuff. I have not blogged much lately because I am working on The Women with Blue Eyes and tons of other projects, including our 4th Annual Poetry Contest I want to get underway next month.

If you are new here, welcome to The PBS Blog! This is a great time for you to learn more about who I am through my most recent interview

Below is a snippet of the interview and links with WRDE-TV, an affiliate of CBS. Also find links to Fox 34 and WBOC, affiliate of NBC. (If you read one, you’ve read the others cause it’s the same article, just on different platforms.)

Interview Snippet:

What’s your best piece of advice for readers who desire to find success in their life?

Y: Faith without works is dead, so my best advice is to do your work. Get on your knees and pray and then get on your feet and work. I hate to sound so overly simplistic, but sometimes things are a lot simpler than we make them out to be. We must be willing to do the work necessary to manifest all that we believe we can achieve. Belief is good, but alone it is not enough so I cannot tell you to just believe in yourself. You must prove this belief with action. What you say you believe is one thing, but what you do exposes who you really are. Whatever it is you say you want, you must act on it for it to become a reality.

Not only must we love ourselves and believe in our ability, but we must also be prepared to do the work necessary to turn the unseen into the seen. Consistency is also key because while actions speak louder than words, consistency speaks louder than both. These skills Yah has blessed us with are not intended to serve only us. They are meant for us to multiply. This is possible when we combine a steadfast belief with a compelling work ethic.

Speaking of success, what does the word mean to you?

Success to me means to genuinely enjoy what you do with your life without sacrificing your authenticity. It means to multiply your gifts to serve as many people as is destined for as long as the breath of life is in your body and you are walking this earth. To do so with as much grit and love as possible, and to do it all while staying true to your integrity.

Read more at one of these links:

FOX 34: https://www.wdfxfox34.com/story/43500189/author-and-poet-yecheilyah-ysrayl-teaches-black-history-through-powerful-poetry

WRDE: https://www.wrde.com/story/43500189/author-and-poet-yecheilyah-ysrayl-teaches-black-history-through-powerful-poetry

WBOC: https://www.wboc.com/story/43500189/author-and-poet-yecheilyah-ysrayl-teaches-black-history-through-powerful-poetry


Read I am Soul or My Soul is a Witness? Don’t forget to leave an honest review! Links below.

Click here to review (or buy for 99cents!) I am Soul

Click here to review (or buy) My Soul is a Witness