MOB #4 – Decoded

In 2010 I read a book that inspired me to make a life changing decision. Decoded was published by the best rapper alive in early November of 2010. I read Decoded like Martin Lawerence ate the ‘white only pie’ in Life. I inhaled the words on each and every page. I was thrilled to receive content from my favorite content creator in a different form. This is still a bible for the hiphop generation shedding light on the artistic impact this genre has deposited around the world. I wanted to share this review in honor of the five year anniversary of the book that inspired me to move to London and follow my dreams.

Read a book!

‘Decoded’ is a collection of culture. Not only can you find lyrics from one of the greatest rapper and poets of our time but you also unearth Shawn Carter’s (Jay Z) personal thoughts about social issues, influential people he has encountered around the world, and why he continues to carry himself in the same way he always has. A reader can anticipate visual art and lyric poetry littered throughout the pages of ‘Decoded.’ The discussion ranges in topic from his similarities to Annie, the redheaded orphan girl, to his endorsement of President Obama in the 2008 United States presidential election. ‘Decoded‘ has something for everybody.

 

“I wanted it (‘Decoded’) to do three important things. The first thing as to make the case that hip-hop lyrics-not just my lyrics, but those of every great MC-are poetry if you look at them closely enough. The second was I wanted the book to tell a little bit of the story of my generation, to show the context for the choices we made at a violent and chaotic crossroads in recent history. And the third piece was that I wanted the book to show how hip-hop created a way to take a very specific and powerful experience and turn it into a story that everyone in the world could feel and relate to.” Jay-Z ‘Decoded’

‘Decoded’ keeps it really real. Copious social issues are addressed within this book which will undoubtedly help expand the perspective of all readers regardless if you are a fan of hip-hop music. This book is not about rap, its about overcoming whatever obstacle you find in your path and exploiting that obstacle to better yourself, your family, and your community.

MOB #3: Silicon Harlem

 

MOB #3: Silicon Harlem

I was honored to attend and participate in the 2015 Silicon Harlem Tech Conference at MIST in 116th street. I don’t go to Harlem often but when I do it’s to discuss making the world a better place. And to eat Amy Ruth’s!

Silicon Harlem is a social venture that has been designed to transform Harlem in to a technology and innovation hub. This includes establishing co-working spaces, gigabit infrastructure, securing investment capital, and hosting monthly meetups. I was reminded of how essential it is for technology savvy individuals to work towards bridging the enormous digital divide.

Member of the United States House of Representatives Charlie Rangel was honored with the IP (Innovative Person) Award. Representative Charlie Rangel is a veteran of the US Army and the Civil Rights Movement. Since 1971 Congressman Rangel has represented the 13th Congressional District of New York. Harlem is his home. Representative Rangel articulated the mission flawlessly when challenging our leadership “to treat technology and science with the same urgency as health care … the more you do for a community the more you do for yourself.”

   

   
Congressman Rangel was not the only government representation at the 2nd Annual Silicon Harlem Tech Conference. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer is also fighting to make technology accessible, fast, and affordable.

  
Check out this livestream of the Monetize Digital: Next Generation Media panel where I added my opinion to the cause.

Huge shoutout and thank you to Silicon Harlem.

It’s still Brooklyn over everything though….

 

NCMAE #5 – Bennie Louise Carter

NCMAE #5 – Bennie Louise Carter

Sometimes I wonder if anyone will think about me when I’m dead. I think about my paternal grandmother Bennie Louise Carter and wonder did she ever think the same thing. I wonder if she wondered? And I wonder if she knows how much I think about her.

I ask a lot of questions, always have.

When questions about Bennie Louise went unanswered – well not unanswered, just not answered to my satisfaction I grew frustrated. My Dad and Uncle Vonzell always said “she lived a fast life” but that didn’t tell me what I wanted and needed to know. This information didn’t satisfy my curiosity about someone who has impacted the very fiber of my being. I’ve been told I look like Bennie Louise, that I smile like her and that I share her thirst for exploration.

I dug deeper.

My grandmother’s sister my Aunt Ida B. told me stories of growing up with Bennie Louise in Memphis, Tennessee. She had beautiful memories of her sister and smiled whenever she spoke of her. I hung on to Aunt Ida B’s every word as she shared stories of the two fishing in the Mississippi River and sneaking out together drinking corn liquor from a bucket with a wooden ladle. She loved her sister and I loved the stories.

I still needed more.

I couldn’t grasp my Grandmother’s character. I continued to wonder what she valued? What motivated her? It’s wild how the past can influence so many elements of the future.

What I knew hurt.

My Grandmother Bennie Louise Carter was murdered in Richmond, California in the late 1960’s.

To add insult to injury.

Before the family was able to place headstone on my grandmother’s grave the cemetery office holding the records on grave locations burned down. The location of her remains were lost forever and she rests lost to us and alone with no flowers and no visits.

I persevered in my quest for knowledge.

Here in Brooklyn a huge part of my support system is my cousin Cristala and her beautiful family. Cristala’s mom came to visit recently who I lovingly call Auntie Kay. Auntie Kay wanted an update on my life. I had visited several different countries since she and I last spoke. After the update she beamed with pride and asked me about my plans for what’s next. I continued to fill her in. Then Auntie Kay made an offhand comment that shook me to the core.  

The story as my Aunt tells it…

“You know I married your cousin Lacy (my Dad’s first cousin) too young and I’ve been around your family for a very long time. I’m not surprised by your initiative and success. You have an ability to plan and prepare that has led you on this phenomenal path that you’ve really just begun. Bennie Louise was the same way. I remember when she passed. I was there for the reading of her will. Your Grandmother was prepared. Bennie Louise set aside money for Jerry (my dad) to go to Salesian High School. She planned ahead. You are your grandmother’s child”

I finally heard insights towards what Bennie Louise Carter valued.

Her family, her sons and their future were clearly a priority. Money from his mother assisted my Dad as he attend one of the top private schools for young men in northern California Salesian High School. My dad lettered in three sports (football, basketball, and rowing) and obtained a full athletic scholarship to Southern Illinois University. My Dad played four years of division one college football and earned a BA in Speech Education. Upon leaving SIU my dad obtained a MA in Sports Administration from Grambling State University, while coaching with the legendary Coach Eddie Robinson. He went on to coach college football and became an award winning NFL scout. My Dad is an amazing father who has always loved and believed in my every dream.

I come from people who care and prepare.

Yes my grandmother ‘lived a fast life.’ She also created life and put those lives on a path to a fruitful future. She did that! I’m certain she is smiling down on what became of the lives she created.


  

  

MOB #1: Harlem Film Company + Chapter & Verse Review

As you have noticed by now, here at MsJheriWorldwide.com we continuously innovate. In efforts to encourage a spirit of entrepreneurship in the global brown community we will be spotlighting minority owned businesses from around the world!

 

M.O.B. Spotlight #1: The Harlem Film Company

I was recently blessed with the opportunity to connect with Cheryl Hill. Cheryl is an executive with The Harlem Film Company and a veteran of the film industry. I was invited to the premier of the company’s first film Chapter & Verse directed by Jamal Joseph.

No one in this world is more attractive than a proud Black man. However, that magnetic pride can also be an Achilles heel. Such was the case for Sir Lance Ingram of Harlem in Jamal Joseph’s Chapter & Verse.

Lance a former gang leader, came home from prison after ten years to find himself trapped in a halfway house and an unfulfilling job. It was a struggle to adapt until he came across a few trustworthy individuals. A kind aging grandmother Ms. Maddy (Loretta Devine), a childhood friend Jomo (Amari Hardwick), and his parole officer Mr. Morris (Gary Perez).

Ms. Maddy stole the film by instilling in Sir Lance hope, joy, and a sense of family. He smiled again after they connected and blessed her last days with smiles and other necessary vices. Waking up and living wasn’t such a chore with Ms. Maddy and her family in Lance’s life. He became a better man knowing he was working towards preventing others from taking his path in the streets. Of course outside influences made staying on the straight and narrow path damn near impossible, but Sir Lance tried his best.

In the midst of Sir Lance’s internal struggle there were seriously hilarious elements to this film. A blind man demanding to see ID, a quick-witted grandson outsmarting the lead character. By far the best line in the film was Jomo’s loaded inquiry to Yolanda (Selenis Leyva) when she offers to let Jomo inside “in your apartment or in your world?” Well Amari since you asked….

Please go see Chapter & Verse when it comes to a theater near you. This film was fantastic, well structured and super engaging. I recommend everyone watch Chapter & Verse to better understand this concept that the same village that raises a child must never disregard or alienate the individual. Just like Tupac said, “America eats its babies. No matter what y’all think about me I’m still your child.”

We have to work together to make sure no child is left to their own devices. We are responsible for our own decisions however, ‘the only difference is opportunity.’ We have to make a way for our brothers and sisters regardless of age, sexual orientation, ability or past convictions to continue to live and lead meaningful lives.

Huge shout out to The Harlem Film Company, Cheryl Hill, and Jamal Joseph! Keep holding it down.

NCMAE #3

“Hey Grandma”

“Hi baby. Took you a while huh?”

“Yea I had to take the long way, it took forever.”

“Nothing wrong with taking the long way. Sometimes that’s the best path.”

“Is it?”

“I remember growing up in Georgia. Me and my brothers and sisters would pick anything: butterbeans, turnip greens, blackberries anything. If it grew we picked it. We would bring what we picked home to momma. She knew what to make. She could make anything. But a lotta times when we were on our way home we would pass this white woman’s house. She would yell out the window or from her porch ‘What did yall pick today?’ We would try to ignore her but she would come take whatever we had anyway – or whoop us. ‘Bring em here let me see’ she would holler. So after a while … you know we ain’t dumb right?”

“Yes I know that for a fact.”

“After a while we started walking the long way home. Through the woods, past our turn just so we could make it home with what we picked. What belonged to us. There is nothing wrong with taking the long way. As long as you get where you going baby.”

Insight

Insight

Aware

Beautiful

Conscious

Different

Emerging as the new me

Focused

Go mode

Hearing more than I speak

Intention minded

Jheri

Knowledge over being noticed

Love

Moving towards peace

Never forgetting who I use to be

Optimistic

Perspective

Quality over quantity

Responsible

Sleeping

Thinking and paying attention to my thoughts

Using the past to move forward

Variety

With the willingness to try

XoxoxoxoX

You learn more+You earn more

Zeroing in on what is real.

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Figuring it all out. Watching closely the ones I respect.

One day at a time.

Got the Green Light

 

Green
Green

I feel like a green light. Nothing can impede my progress.Not traffic, not accidents, not even running out of gas.

There is no stopping a green light. Go means go, and I go hard. Harder than the car in the next lane. Faster than the fastest cars and the bigger cars hogging up multiple lanes.

I keep my oil changed, I rotate my tires, and maintain a clean interior so I can run efficiently and productively. I am the green light, controlling the traffic around me.

Even when the power is out my light still shines. I don’t see stop signs. I turn on and I’m out.

Some want to ride when they see my gleaming green light, but this is a coupe and no one rides for free.

So if you see me rolling around with the windows down in your town stay out of my lane.

Honk, honking shining in green on skinny tires, that’s me.

Vroom, vrooming past the Sunday drivers. Watch what you say and see, all the lights turn green for me!

Into the Light

Into the Light

Inside my tomorrows that run rampant in my dreams,
between my awakening and my destiny.
I rest thankfully inspired by my favorite word ‘go’
and for the knowledge and courage that help me grow.
When the fog grew thick, and I wanted to quit
I am eternally grateful for that voice in me hollering ‘NO!’
When it grew cold, and there was no place to go,
I sat still ignoring the slanderous cries of the crowd.
I knew past that place of love drowned in hate
waited the dream we all anticipate.
And until that date,
one request – let me be great.
And I promise every struggle I will appreciate.
The journey is the experience.
The destination the goal.
I am the conspirator, the engineer, the captain, the boss,
the gold miner chipping away at these boulders and rocks.

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Dreams #11

There was only one window. The darkness of the night left the room dreary and lonely. The entire space was cold because of the nights eerie sentiment. Closing her eyes she remembered a brighter time. It was just a week ago. She was free to roam. Free to live. Outside of all walls without guidance or instruction she wandered. She stopped only when she was exhausted and that moment had arrived. Resting outside of a small hut she sat next to a bush of green roses. She had never seen such a flower and was enamored by the vibrance. Pricked by a thorn upon attempting to touch she sat patiently looking onto the flowers. In that moment one began to bloom. She watched as the bud unfolded in front of her petal after petal after petal. She couldn’t help but wonder when she would bloom. Opening her eyes the darkness returned and the warmth of the roses became a distant memory. She knew pretending wouldn’t protect her and chill would never keep her mind still. So she sat alone in the dark without a hint or a clue.

NCMAE #1 – Straws, Plates and Troughs

NCMAE #1 – Straws, Plates and Troughs

We celebrate her birthday December 8th. No one is for sure when she was really born because it was never written down. It was sometime in the early 1920’s.

She tends to repeat things. I had heard the story many times before but every time she remembers a new element of the story. 

The first time I heard about the plate she was babysitting Jason and I in North Carolina. We were in the middle of our daily big brother-little sister altercation. It generally went unnoticed by my mom but she was out of town. Great-Grandma wouldn’t stand for bickering. She nipped it in the bud immediately, inquiring what we were fighting over.

The swirly straw came from a happy meal, or a kids meal at the movie theatre, I can’t really recall but at the time it was special. My brother and I both wanted to drink from it and sharing was out of the question. 

She sat us down and said something I’ve never been able to let go of. 

“When I was a little girl in Georgia my brother LC and I were fighting over a plate. It was a shiny silver plate and we both wanted to eat off it. My Great-Grandmother came and took the plate. She sat my brother and I down like I am doing you two now. She told us that when she was my age she didn’t know what a plate was. She told us as a child she was a slave-girl and she only ate after everyone else ate. She said older women slaves would put all the leftover food from the big house into a pot and stir it together. Once it was warm they would pour the scraps into the hog trough. My Great-Grandmother sat on her knees and ate from the trough with her hands.”

Neither of us drank from the straw. 

Generational perspective.

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