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….

 

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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Another Declaration of Independence

Another Declaration of Independence

There were fireworks but the show eventually ended. The more adamant he grew the more I knew it would never really be. He forever had a plan but no execution, no money and no way of making things happen. He was an idea man. A true mad man that could talk a new hole in the head of anyone willing to listen, then leave you there leaking. As he incessantly rambled I knew better. Not this time. Not me. I was willing to crop him out of the picture before allowing him to tarnish my portrait and in that moment I knew I had grown. Naive no more the new me had emerged. I put my foot down. No more being pushed around. I had made up my mind.    

The Reality of it

Global warming is real however, my life experiences keep proving the world grows colder every single day. People lose focus and worry about all the wrong things. People make poor decisions that impact society with little regard for their actions. Over the course of my 25 years I’ve visited 20 countries. I have made it a point to watch television in every single one. I have never seen a production like the one I witnessed Tuesday in any other country. I have never seen people encouraged to embarrass themselves, their family and their culture on a national stage. The fact that this behavior is glorified horrifies and troubles me to my core. What’s worse is the sheer disregard for tomorrow. It’s disturbing seeing people so caught up in right now that living in the moment is all they can fathom, and their behavior reflects their narrow mindedness. All in the name of entertainment.

Recently, I had an experience with a group of right now thinkers that I will never forget. This group of egotistical, superficial, materialistic, shallow, morally bankrupt characters made me physically sick. The topics of their conversations/arguments made it apparent that nothing fruitful grows in the gardens of their collective minds. They bickered about money, bragged about their sexual encounters with each other and bashed the misfortunes of their cast members. At one point two women literally laughed at each other, one for having a miscarriage the other for being beaten by a man. The nature of the subjects addressed cause me to be concerned about where we are going as a collective generation. They were so lost in trivial disagreements that whole families have been dragged in. I watched a mother mediate between the mother of her grandchild, the current girlfriend of her son and another woman her son is involved with. It was sheer ridiculousness. 

Never in life have I seen such behavior glorified and praised by applause and compensation. It was as if the powers were encouraging the cast to embarrass themselves. Whomever was the most shameless received the most camera time. This tasteless experience was topped off with a brawl, more like a riot involving almost everyone on stage. Wigs, cell phones and shoes were thrown; the beautiful set was destroyed! As the fight spilled over into the audience the handle on my hand bag broke as I grabbed it attempting to move out of the way. Camera men, tech guys and photographers packed up and left after the fighting continued for 15 to 20 minutes. The executive producer hid behind the DJ booth with the host of the show who was nearly caught in the crossfire. There was nervous laughter in the midst of the apparent embarrassment. 

I know many will say if you don’t like what you see change the channel. Or why would I even attend such an event? Well, like many others I thought this behavior was just for television. I am here to tell you based on the arguments between takes and the pending legal cases discussed on set this their real reality! It is sad. This experience was truly eye opening for me, and I would be wasting my God given voice if I didn’t say something. This type of programing is wrong! We are exploiting and embarrassing hip hop! My motivation for attending the taping of the reunion was principally because I want to work in production and learn more about the process. I learned more than I could have ever imagined as I watched this cast of characters shame themselves and tarnish their public reputations forever. I still will work in production but I WILL NOT work with people who exploit themselves for the lowest pay rates of all of reality television shows. 

As the fighting continued and security scrambled, I had enough. I left prior to the recording of the second segment and decided then and there not to attend recording the following day. Outside I watched the rain drops throw themselves at the concrete. I couldn’t help but imagine these drops as tears from our ashamed ancestors. As painful as the experience was for me I’m sure watching their sacrifices evolve into the ‘hip hop’ culture that this show attempts to perpetuate hurt much worse. The sheer humiliation of real life stories played out on television for a profit is such a joke. 

None of what I witnessed was respectable. Not one moment of the show will make anybody who watches it better. No one involved will grow or prosper in a positive direction based on the behavior displayed. It hurts, it hurts, it hurts to know that many deem this entertaining. This television show is dragging us further and further behind and back in time. I pray children don’t watch or look up to these characters or the creators of this madness. I hope the children of the characters on this show don’t watch and that the parents don’t display the same behaviors in their homes. 

Being on television use to be an opportunity to change the culture and show the world something meaningful. Programs like the Cosby Show, Sister Sister, and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air showed positive progression of a generation. This group of alleged ‘reality stars’ is a waste of a real opportunity and I hope it ends soon. 

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New Book: M.E.E.T. me for Tea in London link to iTunes!

 

 

Check out Ms Jheri Worldwide Presents:

M.E.E.T. me for Tea in London

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Too Worn Out

Too Worn Out

 

Incessantly insisting ‘keep the peace’

and dry my useless tears,

forgetting that I bear

a pain beyond my years.

 

‘Wake up and smell the weeds’

tomorrow isn’t promised

nor is later,

to be honest.

 

Holding hope in my hand

until it escapes through these fingers

like sand.

Simply a shell lingers.

 

Cardinals chirp atop trees.

Brown twigs,

without leaves sway

in a dry rainforest.

 

I’d rather be blind

than watch a leman break,

coming away a lifeless

grey soul to take.

 

Regardless of the glory,

despite the sweet taste of the sun,

Another victim of the system.

Simply a lesson learned.

 

For Paul Lawrence Dunbar

Call me Crazy

 CALL ME CRaZY

I’ve been called crazy more than I’ve been called my name. The latinos call me loco!

I don’t mind being mental.

 

If my name was Crazy what would be my middle name? It’s questions like this that cause people to think I’m crazy in the first place. But that’s just the way crazy people like me think. Is this what crazy looks like to you? You can’t keep up with crazy. Is this what crazy talks like?

 

I’m cool with crazy.

 

There are worse things to be than crazy. I would rather be crazy than ignorant. I would rather be crazy than loud. I rather be crazy than evil. I would rather be crazy than ugly – on the inside and/or out. Believe it or not I would rather be crazy than regular because then I would be the person calling other people crazy when I know nothing about the origins of their distinction.

 

I might be nuts you know?

 

For a while I thought crazy was my name. I never took offense to crazy or cray-cray. I never knew crazy was a issue until the world made me feel that way. I never realized the negative connotations with crazy till I heard an old lady talkin about me in the street. She whispered with her  friends, “Momma should be shamed. Out here lookin crazy!” I kept swangin up the street and stopped in front of a store gazing into the window looking for the crazy. I cocked my head to the side where was the crazy, was it my hair, my teeth, my skin? I peered into my own eyes and searched for crazy from within.

 

I couldn’t find the crazy.

So I stopped searchin.

 

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Dream #9

Dream #9

 

Here goes nothing.

 

I sojourn until I discover a worthy reason to stop.

In the heat and in the cold.

 

I was on my way in a hurry no where

when she stopped me and we sat,

on a bench by the beach. The sea was still.

 

The world just the same rotates,

leaves continue to fall as prices rise.

I told her the truth about heaven and

I told her at the end of the day I’m me.

 

What’s left when the truth is free?

You won’t know till it happens to you.

I sat and searched for a message in the bottom of the bottle,

until it was time to fallback.

It’s November again and I aim higher.

 

“What are you worried about?”

She asked over and over.

I still had no answer.

“Your guess is as good as mine”

Unsatisfied with the statement she stared into responding.

I stuttered “It’s the world.”

 

Excuses, excuses, EXCUSES!

“Spare me the hurt,” she insisted.

I tried to look out my dirty glasses.

Secretive, strange, and salty.

“Don’t worry, it’s a waste of time” she hissed as she walked on by.

 

Regrets are hard to forget.

Time will tell and pass, as time does.

Don’t expect anyone to save you.

All alone at the end of the day I’m me!

 

They sky was red.

She practiced her violin by the water’s edge.

I wish someone would have told me it’d be like this.

 

You learn, you’ll learn, you will learn.

Wondering and wandering.

 

I tried to open my eyes but I realized I didn’t know me very well.

 

 

November
November

This Woman’s Work

December 10, 2012

London, England

Names have been changed to protect the ignorant and guilty.

Facts Only

I will admit, I was late for work. Around 6:00PM I arrived at Gate 50 at the Football Club. No we’re not talking real American football we are talking soccer. After speaking with Sam I was instructed to walk to the school to get a uniform. I arrived at the school I saw bags with everyones belongings unattended in the cafeteria area. There was no one around watching the employee’s bags, and there was no one to give me a uniform. Once I reported back to Sam he apologized for sending me on a dummy mission and informed me that I would be working with the food hawkers refilling insulated hotdog caddies since I didn’t have a uniform. I was like cool.

We walked to the refilling area on the eastside of the stadium and I met a short guy with no teeth. I asked Sam what his name was, and although I truly enjoy working with Sam I often can’t understand his thick Indian accent. At this point the toothless man had no name. He asked me for mine and I told him. His response, “I’m just gonna call you trouble because you look like trouble.” After all the hawkers were given their hotdogs the man with no teeth, two other food hawkers, and I walked through the still empty stadium to the westside. As we walked through the stadium the man with no teeth told any and everybody that would listen that I was with him, and that I was his girlfriend.

Once we got to the westside I asked the toothless man what his name was, his response, “call me boss.” I asked a colleague and found out the toothless man is called Kyle. Then the whole mess with the hotdogs began. The buns were frozen. Unable to hold his temper Kyle began to yell at the two workers in the westside station, then he started calling people on the walkie talkie to come help him sort out the problem. Over the next 10 to 15 minutes about five guys showed up that I recognized from working previous matches. The conclusion came when the person with the most authority arrived and said to Kyle, “the buns need to be heated, isn’t this something you can sort out yourself?”

Kyle’s frustration and embarrassment was apparent. He told us to stuff all the hotdogs in buns, then to stuff them in the selling bags, and to stack them in the oven. Around this time Kyle gave me his clipboard and instructed me to keep track of how many hotdogs I gave to each hawker. He also told me that when they came for refills I needed to switch out any left overs with fresh ones from the oven. The final instruction at that point was to box up the hotdogs once they were warm and to bring them to the refill station on the eastside. “This is my job so don’t it mess up” Kyle informed me before he departed, and I didn’t see him again until before half time.

As I digested all of the instructions given in my new role as station manager, I began to smell smoke. I asked the other employees if we should take the hotdogs out of the oven. Neither of the employees working in the station had worked with this oven before. They looked to me for answers that I did not have. I opened the door of the refill station looking for help but football fans crowded the hallways. Finally, I tracked down somebody who immediately took all of the hotdogs off the botRon shelf. Not long after the fire warden arrived. I explained to him the situation and had him sign the clipboard from Kyle to cover my bases. I also noted the wastage of seven burnt hotdogs on the clipboard.

Time went on and I decided to take a load of hotdogs to the refill station on the eastside. Once I got there two hawkers were waiting with empty insulated hotdog caddies. They had been looking for Kyle and ran out of hotdogs 30 minutes before my arrival with the refill. While walking back to the westside I ran into Kyle. As we walked he put his arm in mine. We walked arm in arm and again he told everybody that would listen that I was with him, I shook my head discretely and tried to unhook my arm. As I pulled away from him he asked, “You don’t love me anymore?” That’s when I knew this toothless man was absolutely bonkers.

When we arrived at the westside station a lot more people were inside bagging hotdogs and dealing with the cold hotdog bun situation. Kyle barked at everyone for a little while then he informed another catering employee that I recognized from the previous match, “I’m taking the pretty one with me … I’m not leaving her here.” Reluctantly, I followed Kyle to the other side of the stadium. I could not wear my coat because it was grey and black was the only permitted color. I was very cold since I had no uniform and the air off the Thames River is brutal. Kyle noticed and he gave me his jacket, I tried to give it back to him incessantly but he wouldn’t take it. While I was wearing his jacket he continuously put his hands in the pockets touching me, claiming to be looking for random things. Once we arrived at the refilling station I gave him the jacket back. None of the hawkers were there. I immediately suggested we go back and help the others and I walked out of the empty room.

As we walked through the empty corridor Kyle put his arm around my waist and kept tickling me. I pushed him away twice. Then we walked to another concession stand not far from where Sam my supervisor is usually set up. Of course on this evening he is missing in action. Kyle got a coffee and a tea. He gave me the tea and told me to put six sugars and three creams in his coffee. I had no idea making coffee was in my job description but I figured it was a price I was willing to pay for a free cup of tea on a freezing cold London evening. Afterwards we walked back around the stadium which was now full, I believe it was after halftime. Kyle tried to hold on to me because it was crowded but I moved behind him and let him lead the way through the crowd. As we attempted to make our way through Kyle yelled all kinds of ignorant things, “watch your backs … ugly guy and a pretty lady walking through …” he was even yelling “hotdogs … beer” even though neither one of us were selling either item at that time. Walking around with this loud toothless man was mortifying.

Once we got back to westside I tried to force my way into the work station but it was too crowded. I was stuck with Kyle on the outside. He was enjoying the game as though he was a paying customer. Chanting and joking loudly with the rowdy British fans. Telling them “the American is with me” and a bunch of other ignorant things that I tried not to pay attention to. I decided taking another load of hotdogs to the eastside would be the perfect get away and luckily when I arrived there were two hawkers waiting. I still had the clipboard. At this point the hawkers I inherited responsibility for had sold 80 hotdogs between themselves and the game was coming to an end.

I got back to the westside and had a few minutes of peace before Kyle came banging on the door telling me to come with him. As we walked out I asked if I could go checkin with Sam (my supervisor) and Kyle told me flat out, “No.” He then informed me we needed to find all the hawkers and count the money. After rounding up a few hawkers we made it back to the eastside where the rest were waiting. Kyle then began to tell us all his business. He told us that he is paid hourly until the game starts then he is on salary. He told us that since we started a fire he would have to stay until 12AM to do an incident report. He informed us, “I can’t count good, so I’m gonna radio for someone to come count the tills.” This didn’t go over well with the other staff. Someone on the walkie talkie told him to do it himself. Then he told me to sit next to him, hold out my hands and to count behind him. About midway through this process the boss arrived. I’m sure he remembers me. I was the one smiling in the beginning of my shift and by the end I looked pissed from dealing with Kyle all evening. I stopped counting when Ron arrived. I want to see what Kyle would say, he said nothing.

After Ron left to get movie tickets for Valerie our hotdog selling champion of the evening, Kyle asked for everyones job card. He said he was signing them but that was some bull. I don’t know what he was really doing since signing job cards was Sam’s job. I noticed he put mine in his pocket. He wrote something on all the cards and had me hand them back to the hawkers since he couldn’t remember anyones name. I asked several times for my job card and he kept telling me “hold on.” As we were waiting for security to come and take the money Kyle asked me to lead all the hawkers back to the school to get their belongings.

Before I could escape Kyle attempted to kiss me goodbye. I was so disgusted I mushed his face away from me as hard as I could. It ended up being an awkward one sided hug. I am not the only female he attempted to kiss, I think the other girls name was Jessie. It was nasty. Slime from the front of his mouth got on my shirt. As I walked away he yelled to me, “Hey make sure you come back I’m gonna tell your supervisor you did a really good job, get here earlier next time.” Little did he know I had already made up my mind to never come back.

I took the group to Sam and he signed our job cards. He asked me how my shift was and I asked him jokingly why he had me work with Kyle. Sam was not amused, he then inquired about what occurred. I did not elaborate, I told him “I never ever want to work with Kyle again.” He told me he would have to write a report and that’s how I ended up sharing this tale of the toothless man.

That was the last time I worked at the football club and I do not miss it. It is never my goal to get anyone in trouble but when people cross the line I’m not one to sit around silent. Plus Kyle’s actions had repercussions on hotdog sales and the amount of wastage. If he wouldn’t have instructed us to overstuff the hotdogs into the oven hotdogs wouldn’t have been burning on the bottom shelf. If hawkers were able to locate him during the match they would have received refills in decent timing and sold more hotdogs! Cause and effect.

But whatever, now I know how to lead a team of food hawkers under any circumstances fire, lack of training, or harassment! There will always be a pot of gold at the end of my rainbows.

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