Gotta Love It

Deeper The Roots

As a community we are dismembered. Remembrance re-members a dismembered community. It is in remembering our past that we re-member our dismembered community. -Julius Johnson

 

Upon entering The Newberry Foundation and Research Center  (NFRC),  located in Hawkinsville, Georgia (Pulaski County),  one is immediately immersed into the beautiful story of the trials and triumphs of African Americans in the United States. From the front door, you will be greeted by the sound of African drums beckoning you to enter into this building with open eyes and a willingness to learn of oneself. As the calling of the drums draws you closer, you are then met by the most charismatic museum guide that you may ever come into contact with- Mr. Julius Johnson.

With the ability to trace his ancestry to the early 1800’s, Mr. Johnson has taken his knowledge of his history and others in the town of Hawkinsville and has implemented it into the history that is taught in public schools throughout the United States. A New Newberry FoundationYork native, Mr. Johnson speaks fondly of his many summers spent in Pulaski and Houston County, Georgia. These memories seem to be one of the many driving forces behind the success of  NFRC and the plethora of endeavors that Mr. Johnson is actively involved with.  A devoted husband and father of three sons, Mr. Johnson is a living testament of leading by example at home as well as in the community. As the founder and executive director of this wonderful museum, Mr. Johnson encourages both children and adults to delve deeper within themselves as well as their family ancestry.  By offering a dynamic summer camp program to the youth of Pulaski County, Georgia, Mr. Johnson is taking steps to ensure that the education of one’s self is a continuous process.

Receiving his Bachelor’s degree from St. Lawrence University in Government/African Studies,  a Master’s degree from Yale in African Studies and currently gaining a Mr Johnson NewberryDoctorate’s degree  from Howard University in Philosophy/African Studies; Mr. Johnson has not only given of himself to the community of Pulaski County, but also to over 30 countries throughout the Middle East, East Africa and the world abroad.  Equipped with a compelling personality, Mr. Johnson has taken this smorgasbord of experience and has transformed it into an effective change in his community.

“Change is not conceptual or abstract, it must be tangible. It must be seen.” – Julius Johnson

As the founder/executive director of NFRC, owner of an educational based community garden and real-estate investor; Mr. Johnson is now striving to add commissioner to his repertoire of greatness!

With a 5 year plan that will not only cultivate the youth of Pulaski County but redevelop the economic structure in urban communities as well, Mr. Johnson is determined to raise the frequency of awareness in his neighborhood. By implementing health programs, job training, mentorship programs, sister city programs and credit consolidation programs; Mr. Johnson’s desire to strengthen bonds and build awareness permeates throughout his campaign. Well aware that lip service and empty promises have left the urban electioncommunity stagnant in many ways, Mr. Johnson stands firm on the belief that the best change is through action and involvement.

As election time rapidly approaches, Mr. Johnson remains zealous and buoyant in his many endeavors throughout the community. A true honor to sit in his presence, FindAWay is truly overjoyed to support the campaign of Mr. Julius Johnson!

To keep up with Mr. Johnson on the campaign trail follow him on twitter.com @NewberryFoundation or click any link within this post!

 

*Images courtesy of Mr. Julius Johnson

 

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Oh No She Didn’t

“Time to heal our women, be real to our women. And if we don’t we’ll have a race of babies that will hate the ladies that make the babies.” – Tupac Shakur

One of my favorite songs is “Bag Lady” by Erykah Badu. It is a song that behooves women (young and old) to release the mental and emotional baggage that they have acquired throughout life. With the simple vamp of: “Let it go. Let it go. Let it go. Let it go.” the tune is a declaration of the freedom that comes with releasing old life luggage.

downloadThough I absolutely enjoy the song- I have come to personally overstand that not all bags are easy to let go, but it is much needed. Experiences such as molestation or sexual assault can leave one with a plethora of feelings ranging from hate to little or no self-worth. Most women, especially those in the black community, are taught to keep such sordid things in the closet and move on. From my own personal experiences I have found that what’s not dealt with ( be it emotionally or physically) can and will leave one paralyzed in pain.

Damaged women do destructive things.

Although women are trailblazers in the business world and have made great strides in the scientific and political community, they are still subject to being seen as mere sexual objects. Little girls are still molested, raped or sold into sex trafficking rings. In many countries women are not allowed to attend school or practice the right to vote. Yet, when it is all said and done, these aforementioned girls and women are told to get over traumatic experiences, raise babies and have dinner on the table ( because we all know that that is what women were placed on this planet to do, right?)

Yet, I ponder, what happens to the little girl who is molested and/or raped? What type of woman does she grow up to be? Will she grow to hate the male species? Will she become promiscuous? Will she even make it to womanhood or end up committing suicide?

“A nation can rise no higher than its woman.” – The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan

Although we are taught much differently, a woman is a powerful source of influence in bag ladythe home, her community and the world abroad. As soon as a woman is impregnated, she becomes the world to the life force developing within her. What the woman eats, thinks and feels has a major impact on her child before it takes its first breath of oxygen. Once the baby is born, he/she is nursed, pampered and cared for by the mother. The mother teaches the child the skills needed in life. The mother comforts the child when they are hurt. But, these things are negated if the mother cannot move beyond the hurts that were inflicted upon her in her formative or adult stages. Instead of pouring into the child with love, temperance, joy and peace, the mother gives the child hate, fear, limitations and defeat. The latter fills the child with the poison of life instead of a passion for life, causing the child to go into the world ready to destroy and defile- and the cycle continues.

It is time out for the “Get over it” rhetoric. It is time that we take the time to examine our wounds and realize that even if it didn’t happen to you personally there is someone close to you that has. Once we begin to not only talk about our pain but listen to another person’s agony- we will effectuate that pain can be triumphed by love.

Let us begin to open our ears, hearts and minds to one another instead of disregarding or overlooking them because of one’s outward appearance. When this is done, we will be to declare: “I’m not only my sister’s keeper, I AM my sister.”

Images found on http://www.google.com

So What? The Badonsky Method

“Approval is overrated. Approval and disapproval alike satisfy those who deliver it more than those who receive it.”  – Gregory Maguire

So I was on Facebook and my gentleman friend posted a picture of me at a New Year’s birthday bash that we attended with the caption: My WCW (Woman Crush Wednesday)No one  that I’ve dated has ever paraded me around like a beauty queen and it caught me by surprise when he posted. I was so flattered that I was the first to like the picture. Although I was excited, it was a short lived high because  my Jonesitis went into overdrive with questions such as:

2015 sexy

Ringing in the New Year

What if no one likes my picture?

What if I get no likes at all?

Now, I don’t profess to be a supermodel or even a regular model, but I did rock the dress that I wore that evening and I really wanted others to agree. I began to think about taking the picture down to save me from the embarrassment of having no likes at all. I began to think about all of the other beautiful ladies that I was friends with on Facebook and how they could post a picture of a thumbnail and get close to 200 likes- I couldn’t compete with them and now that this post was on Facebook I was free game.

Then, like a mighty wind one phrase changed my attitude: So what?

I learned the power of this sediment about a year ago at a Creativity Seminar hosted by author and artist Jill Badonsky. At this seminar Ms. Badonsky spoke on the things that blocked our creativity and personal power. One of the biggest blocks was worrying about what people thought of us as individuals, informing the seminar attendants that this hindrance paralyzed us from moving forward.

jill

Thank you Jill Badonsky

After educating the attendants on the many blocks that are presented throughout the day, Ms. Badonsky offered the remedy of so what. She encouraged us all to use this power phrase when we were bombarded with negative thoughts of not being good enough  as artists or individuals. She prompted us to keep this expression when we felt like we were being sucked into the abyss of opposition and when it began to get too ugly to bear, to say it with an even uglier face.

This utterance pulled me out of the vortex of self doubt and defeat by allowing me to see what was really important.

So what if no one else liked the picture, I liked it and so did my guy. I rocked the dress that I had on and that evening I danced all night in 6 inch heels!  So what if I only received one other like, I brought the New Year in with a man that thinks I’m simply gorgeous  and no one else had my dress on (which would have been a tragedy in itself).

When we get tied up in what others think of us, let us take a deep breath, exhale and say: SO WHAT?

 

14 Lessons 2014 Taught Me

This year has been a year of surprises for me. Though I am still growing in grace, I would like to share some of the  lessons that I have learned and a couple of the lessons that I continue to re-take. In prior years, I have spent most of my time focusing on what I would do better in the year to come, that I would make resolutions only to forget them by March. This year I would like to take time to focus on what I’ve learned that has helped to make my next year better.

 

1. R.E.E.B.O.K- Read Each and Every Book Of Knowledge. At the closing of 2013 I was encouraged to read, The Happiness Project by Mrs. Gretchen Rubin, this book paved the way to me reading other books such as- Successful Maria BWomen Think Differently by Mrs. Valorie Burton and The Ten Laws of Enduring Success by Mrs. Maria Bartiromo. Reading these books helped to prepare me for what I considered failure, and assisted me in looking at many situations differently. The books that we read can impact us is so many ways, but many times it is months after we finish them.

2. People treat you how you allow them to treat you. I am learning that if I do not tell someone the first time that  they may have  ticked  me off, I had better get prepared to be ticked off a lot. Though I may have twisted my face into knots, unless I have told them that they have licked the red off of my apple, they will continue to keep licking.

3. Some people enjoy pushing your buttons. Some folks are into the shock value of things. They will make comments about your posts, they will talk about you, they will even reject you just to see how you will react. It’s not the situation that matters,  its how I react to the situation .

4. Finger pointing ain’t cute. It’s kinda like #3 but it goes a little deeper. Instead of comparing how others are acting to how I am, I could just be the example of how to conduct myself. Not everyone has the same upbringing as I did, what I deem proper is what I have been taught, it doesn’t make it law.

5. Never quit your job without a plan, cause you are gone be praying and crying every other month. After crying for the first month of my unemployment, I quickly realized that ordering your day will help you to not spiral into too deep of a depression. Saving money wouldn’t hurt either.

6.  Music can change any situation.  If you don’t believe me, put in Holla Back Girl by Gwen Stefani after a bad day and see what happens. That shit is really B-A-N-A-N-A-S!bananas

7. The number seven is really a Divine number. I view it as the ending of one book in a trilogy and beginning another one.

8. Death is sad, but it brings new life. Though the ending of something brings pain, it can also awaken new strengths that we never knew that we had. The deaths that took place in 2014 helped me to view my life, my choices  and the direction that I wanted to take.

9. Labels are limits. We want to be apart of something to make us feel like we are not alone in this world, so we join clubs, churches or organizations. Some of these labels restrict us from learning information because of religion, race and culture that may be essential to the betterment of our communities. I’m learning that the messenger doesn’t matter, it is the message that is given and how it applies to my current situation.

10. Just do it. If I am going to nick pick about how someone fulfills a task that was mine in the beginning, I was asking to get teed off. If I did it myself I would not have to calm myself after a temper tantrum.

11. The right way is only the right way for you. A piggyback of #4.

12. Don’t talk about it. Be about it. Just because I say that #blacklivesmatter, it doesn’t mean anything if I am not gentrifyputting my time and positive energy into other members of my community. Being  active in my community has helped me to see that words without action is gentrification and death.

13. I am ever evolving, so be nice. I have to stop beating myself up about my past and focus on the things that are positive in my life. A positive and secure environment helps stimulate growth and development ( in my Alex Trebek voice).

14. Write something every day. You don’t have to be published or go to school to be a writer; writing makes you a writer. How good you are depends on the reader.

Let the countdown begin to a New Year! Blessings to all and remember….

Friends don’t let friends twerk.

*Images found on http://www.google.com.

100x Tougher

“Every man in the world is better than someone else and not as good someone else.” – William Saroyan

Competition is one reason why I refuse to go back to college. I remember sitting in my Introductory to College class and my professor asked me “Ms. Ladson what do you want to do. Why are you here?”

different world

I had been waiting for this question for a lifetime. After I saw Cree Summer and Jasmine Guy in A Different World, I knew that I wanted to be a college professor or some kind of professional. So I cleared my voice sat up straight and said, ” I want to be an educator and one day open up a charter school for children that live in urban communities.”

I was just getting ready to give myself an internal high five when he interrupted with, “Well, you’re not going to be very rich.”

I was infuriated! How dare you believe I came to college to earn more money! I thought. I am here to change the world sir! I fumed. Who the heck comes to college to make more money?

Those questions made me ponder my motives for wanting to attain a college degree.

Well, I truly thought that receiving this accolade would make me “somebody”. I would be more than a stereotypical depiction of poverty. My mother would be proud of me. I would be able to say, “Boo yaw!” to everyone that had ever said anything negative about me.

In a way, I had come to college to compete even though it had not been for money. It was me against the past. I wanted to measure up to everyone else around me. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but I was more concerned with what the people around me expected.

I have always been taught that as an African-American female I have to go harder and be braver than others. I have to be 100x stronger than anyone else on this planet. Put my guards up. Have the best weaves and cars, and above all of these things……TRUST NO ONE.

So I quit. I am truly graceful under pressure.

success

Three in a half years later that experience has started to become clearer to me.

After reading Successful Women Think Differently by Ms. Valorie Burton, I began to view competition in a new way.

In the past, I would dive into things head first without truly examining why I was doing it. Our intent is the driving force of our success.

Take my college experience for example. I did not enroll for the right reasons at all. I was not going to college to truly benefit myself. If we used a pie chart to graph the percentage it would be about 10%. The other 90 would be about pleasing others and my striving and studying would be in vain.

Since reading Ms. Burton’s work I now realize that I was viewing my success through the validation of others. True success is measured by the internal joy that comes with doing something that you love to do.

Some people are great at taking notes, writing term papers and being on time to class. I am great at blogging when the unction comes upon me, reading in a cozy chair and writing poetry.

“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be”. – May Sarton

 

Once upon a time, I was a person always craving attention (yes,more than I do now). I felt like my family didn’t understand me because I was always so different. I am the middle of three children and always felt like I had to fight to be noticed.

This prevalent thought followed me to school like Mary’s little lamb. I felt like all of my friends were….. everything that I was not. The boys loved them. They had  better grades. Prettier skin. Anything that I could find that I lacked.

One thing that I did pride myself on was my ability to make people smile. It worked with my mom when she would come home from a long day. It helped when I would give random hugs to my classmates and teachers. I would do my best daily to make someone smile.

It brought me joy until another conundrum presented itself: not everyone likes the happy girl.

Oh yes! It’s true. There are people in the world that will do anything to pop your pretty red balloon. Mrs. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, calls them “joy-killers”; people hpwho get a kick out of discouraging people from a positive path.

When I would spread sunshine and cheer, some would say that I was a phony while others would mock my enthusiastic countenance. At the time, I was unaware of  jones-itis and how severe my case was, that I began to stop being my self and began to become more solemn. (PSA: People-pleasing is one of the leading symptoms of jones-itis).

After years of battling with this disease, I began seeking help by reading self-help books. One of my favorite authors is Great Mother-Iyanla Vanzant. In her book, One Day My Soul Just Opened Up, Ms. Vanzant speaks on authenticity- loving, embracing and accepting who you are-flaws and all.

As I began to delve deep within myself to begin this process things would explode in my face. I mothercontinued to work at this principal for two years and I still felt like nothing was happening.

Fast forward to today:

While helping out at my daughter’s school, I saw some ladies that I had gone  to school with and was very elated to see them. As we talked, I encouraged them to join the PTA and sign up for after-school programs. They began to become more relaxed and more interested in what I was relaying to them. In every conversation that I had each person told me how I was still such a bubbly personality and that I had not changed one bit.

That made me feel so great about myself!

My authentic self is joyful. Yes, I have bad days, but most times I’m pretty sunny. Even though I would allow the  “joy-killers” to lick the red off of my apple, the people that I cheered up along the way still remembered  me.

When I allowed myself to be joyful and exude my happiness, others felt it and became more relaxed and excited. Our school had a great sign-up for PTA and after-school, and I was able to meet Ms. Sheri So Fine (but that’s another story).

There will always be people who criticize and ridicule you,but  they don’t mean a thang when you are true to yourself.

English 451

I see you with your babies
Mama

There is nothing more beautiful
Other than

A man
With a son
Hold on to him
Son
Fo’ he get a gun

Let that trigga finger
Run
Pow
One shot to the head
Now you know he dead
That’s what we pledge
When we pledge to
Tha game
End up dying for a city
That don’t know our name
Whether you are
Red
Or blue
Black is all our color
Killing all of the one’s
That look like us
This can’t be life
It sure ain’t love
It’s genocide
The whole world look like
Us
In God we trust
But do we believe that boo
Why you think our color comes in so many hues
You can be Polo fly
Or Wal-mart chic
Try to buy the whole world
But the price ain’t cheap
We continue to
Find and tuck
Everlasting
In this
Brave new world
1984 has began
But our eyes are still watching
God
While they continue
Lying about
Witches with nice wardrobes
Making life seem so wonderful
Down the rabbit hole
As the Red Queen wails
Off with their head

Dirty Abstract Girl

Which side would you prefer to see
A beautiful woman
Or a ratchet hag of society
I can play both sides of the field
Balancing on the tightrope
Of keeping it “hood”
And keeping it “real”
Feeling the conflagration
Of the growing pangs of life
Attracting things
That lead to
Confusion
Unresolved matters
Resulting in a multitude of resolutions
Battle of inferior destitution
Leading to an imperative revolution
Cuz
When you have no where
Else to turn
And
Somewhere else to
Be
When you lose
Someone else to
Love
Shit becomes deep.

-The poet known as Alekia Abeni

Andre Romelle Young a.k.a Dr. Dre

Andre Romelle Young a.k.a Dr. Dre

We are all entitled to our own opinions, but when I think about the greatest album it is not hard for me to say that The Chronic by  Dr.  Dre is a true classic. Released nearly 20 years ago by Death Row Records and was produced by Dr. Dre and Suge Knight.  This was the debut solo studio album from Dr. Dre after leaving his group N.W.A and their  label Ruthless Records in 1992.

After the reign of N.W.A (1986-1991), California was the impetus of hardcore or “gangsta” rap and Dr. Dre immortalized the  time in 1993 with The Chronic album. Named after a slang term for high-grade marijuana, Dr. Dre takes us on a  psychedelic gangsta  trip down  Death Row Records. With the cover art paying homage to Zig-Zag rolling papers, the daze began long before you took the  product out of the plastic.

Listening to Dre now, I would have never imagined him producing The Chronic all of those years ago.  Derived in a ghastly time period in American History- it was raunchy, it was in your face, and it was the truth of life in Compton at the time. The brutal beating of Rodney King and the infamous L.A Riots were echoing through the urban areas of California. Dre used these events as momentum to bring life to this album. It is hard to find an album that is authentic and true to what is really going on. Nowadays, mixtapes  are all that I see, although they are a

NWA

NWA

great way to bang out a few songs, I think that investing time into an album really showcases true artistry. Dr. Dre solidified his craft by showcasing his talent as an artist and a producer.  This album also introduced the world to Snoop Dogg (Lion), which was a launching pad for his solo career later in 1993.

Upon its release, The Chronic received positive reviews from most music critics and earned considerable sales success. The album peaked at number three on the Billboard 200 and had been certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America with sales of over three million copies in the United States. This success led to Dr. Dre becoming one of the top ten best-selling American performing artists of 1993.

Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg

Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg

Dr. Dre’s production has been noted for founding and popularizing the G-Funk sub-genre within gangsta rap. The Chronic has been widely regarded as one of the most important and influential albums of the 1990’s and regarded by many fans and peers to be one of the most well produced hiphop albums of all time. In 2003, the album was ranked number 138 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

 

   The Chronic still can get a head bob out of listeners and while this generation may not know anything about this dope album, I am grateful to have experienced it.

 

 

Sequaya Works a.k.a MsStreet Cred is our music editor please check her out www.facebook.com/msstreet.cred.5?fref=ts 10150527_1470433226508027_837383495_n