Before 2017 started, I thought I had those twelve months planned out perfectly. I had post it notes of motivational quotes everywhere, a lengthy checklist of what I planned to accomplish and an even longer list of how I was going to get it all done. Here we are into the seven month of the year and it’s time for a mid-year check in! I like to give myself personal assessments from time to time just to make sure I’m on the right track.
We sing our pain, joy, struggle and resistance. There is something universal about music, and yet, when heard through the black experience, incredibly illuminating. We are a people of resilience and perseverance and this rises up in our music with a kind of arresting beauty. Thinker, writer and professor Cornel West talks often about the complexity of these melodies – the blues, hip-hop, gospel. Creatives offerings pushing through a world determined to erase us.
“I'm a bluesman moving through a blues-soaked America, a blues-soaked world, a planet where catastrophe and celebration- joy and pain sit side by side. The blues started off in some field, some plantation, in some mind, in some imagination, in some heart. The blues blew over to the next plantation, and then the next state.
Sam I am.
At least that’s how I felt watching the Netflix Original series, Dear White People ¾ a spin-off of the 2014, critically acclaimed satirical movie that bears the same name. With a mixture of hard-hitting puns and a play on stereotypes, while addressing recurring issues among yt and Black folk, it reflects our current cultural climate.
Sam White, a militant radio host on the campus of a fictitious Ivy League University, battles with the duality of being a biracial woman. Even though I’m not biracial, I understood Sam’s struggle with identity and love. I grew up a military brat who could’ve easily used that “I don’t see color” excuse folks use now, because honestly, I didn’t know the difference between Black and white until I moved to an all-Black neighborhood. Itwas then I realized how different I am. How Aerosmith and Wham! weren’t the songs of choice for my classmates, or how much I enjoyed Star Trek Deep Space Nine and conversely, how I knew all the words to NWA songs, found solace in the Native Tongues, and wanted so desperately to attend an HBCU, in which later I got my wish.
Like many authors and persons of the arts, I'm a person who has been through a lot in my life—from adolescence all the way up to adulthood. It's an ongoing process that a lot of times, pours out into my stories. One of the main things I hear from my readers is that they can see and feel me in the story that I write, so it has in essence, been a lot of writing fact into fiction. For the longest time I feared transparency because there were areas of my life that I had not yet confronted, and I wasn’t comfortable with letting the world see me so candidly. Ironically, the writing provided me with an outlet allowing me to transfer . . . hide behind . . . live through . . . my characters.
In honor of my 27th birthday last month, I wanted to share 10 lessons that life has taught me over the years. Starting with:
1. You Are Your Brand.
Whether you’re an aspiring fashion stylist, you run a nonprofit organization out of the goodness of your heart, sell weight loss pills, starting out as an unlicensed nail tech, you’re a freelance writer or blogger, YOU ARE YOUR BRAND. Only you can define yourself and what you bring to the table. Make a statement in your own life and own it!