MOB #8 : Birth of a Nation Review

 

screen-shot-2016-10-08-at-9-09-20-amAll history matters, especially suppressed Black history. The story of Nat Turner is one that America needs to digest as a microcosm of the lies history has told about slavery and the Black experience.

I recently attended a New York premier of Nate Parker’s Birth Of A Nation and it’s about time someone addressed these truths. It’s interesting Solange Knowles dropped A Seat At The Table in the same week because Birth Of A Nation left me feeling a lot like her song “F.U.B.U.” finally our stories are being told, our heros are being acknowledged. 

Not at the expense of anyone else but because we’ve suffered and we overcame. There is more to American history than Christopher Columbus, John Smith, and Abraham Lincoln. No one can change history and the atrocities humans have committed against one another but we can acknowledge, accept, learn, and move forward.

 

 

Many individuals opposing the Black Lives Matter movement fail to realize, we’ve come along way but we suffer from the residuals and aftershocks of our 400 years of oppression. This movie helps define the plight and pain that many continue to deny and it highlights the strength and dignity a group of people maintained when even their bodies were not their own.

In 1712, Willie Lynch wrote a letter outlining his guaranteed methods to oppress Black people he stated, “I have a foolproof method for controlling your black slaves. I guarantee everyone of you that if installed correctly it will control the slaves for at least 300 years …. you must pitch the old Black vs. the young Black male, and the young Black male against the old Black male. You must use the dark skinned slaves vs the light skinned slaves, and the light skinned slaves vs. the dark skinned slaves. You must use the female vs. the male, and the male vs. the female. You must also have your servants and overseers distrust all Blacks, but it is necessary that your slaves trust and depend on us. They must love, respect, and trust only us.”

300 years later the offspring of the individuals forced to work for free yell ‘Black Lives Matter’ attempting to break the promise of Lynch to many deaf ears with full mouths who wish the Lynch legacy would continue. All live matter, which we know and accept. Nat Turner knew and accepted this truth when he agreed to baptize a white man because that man in the eyes of Turner was a child of God. But even this was an act unthinkable to Turner’s master who allowed him to preach the gospel when it was profitable but believed selectively in the word of the lord like so many others then and now.

 

In addition, to the strange fruit scene in Birth Of A Nation, the scene that struck me the most was Gabrielle Union’s character leaving the master’s house and reluctantly falling into the arms of her husband after being forced to give her soul to a stranger. The fact that this was as regular as fetching water from the well alone made the rebellion make sense. A man watching the violation of his wife, and Nat watching the physical recovery of his. This is the story of our Grandmothers. How can black men and women not hurt and weep for our sons and daughters in a world that turns a blind eye to how the state of black America came to be? How can America attempt to overlook generations of sexual abuse evident in the light hues of black skin and the exotic hair textures that some beg to touch and others attempt to imitate.

 

Open your eyes America!

 

Nate Parker rewrote history correctly, this is the real Birth Of A Nation. This film will undoubtedly birth a colorless society of aware revolutionaries that are unified by a consciousness our nation has never known because it hid and denied the history. The Americans that acknowledge and learn from Nat Turner will be the ones to make America great for the first time. How can we claim greatness when we deny the suffering of an entire group of people that picked the cotton, laid the bricks, birthed and nursed the babies, kept the home, and laid down their lives to give future generations a chance and freedom and a shot at the American dream?

 

It’s time to shine. Nate Parker’s film Birth Of A Nation, is fantastic from the historical accuracy, to the quality of the costumes and set, to the thought provoking lines in the script. This is a must see for every American 15 years old and up. I love to say, only great art comes from suffering and this film is a testament to that statement. Let’s allow the past be our professor and learn. Let’s open up the next chapter of love, respect, understanding, and freedom in our book of American history and life.

RIP Nat Turner.

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You Can’t Hide Heart


You Can’t Hide Heart

Will I ever write a poem as beautiful as Maya’s?

Will I ever hit a note as high as Mariah’s?

Will I ever love a King like Empress Menen?

If I hold my head high past the flying fruit like Ruby will I ever get in?

Must I continue to sail the high seas like Ida B to tell my horrific story?

Or should I swing a racket next to my sister to earn power and glory?

Maybe I should pick out my crown like Kathleen and ball up my fists?

Or rock a beret like Queen B at the half and stunt on the risk?

So many questions but for me the answer is this.

All the spirits whisper, grab a pen and work your wrist.

Seafoam Black

New York makes me feel so seafoam black in the wintertime.

In this climate no matter what you choose you lose.

So I wander the world seeking various forms of warmth and empty spaces.

Here I am.

Who wouldn’t want to escape? Oh the prices one pays to follow a dream.

What would it cost to skip a step, or two?

Leaving memories right where they are when they hurt.

Learning by backtracking like The Almanac.

Now, I’m looking back on moments I couldn’t wait to complete with nostalgia and mental screenshots of how you looked at me. ‘Faded pictures in a broken glass’ or something like it.

Here we are. 

Next to you I sit, breathing in harsh realities exhaling my own interpretations of the truth with glitter sprinkled on top like greatness.

What a rush when you win.

What a rush when you have the opportunity to begin again.

What’s the rush?

Next To Me
Jheri Hardaway, Next To Me

What You Won’t Do, Do For Love

What you won’t do, do for love. In today’s world we encounter countless forms of violence, negativity, and hardship. I was inspired to take a minute to celebrate compassion and togetherness.

 

Firefighter, husband, son, brother and living organ donor Ryan went the extra mile for his beautiful wife Lucrecia. Full disclosure and shameless brag, Ryan is my first cousin. Our fathers are brothers. We have always been very close because we think alike. Recently I caught up with Ryan’s wife who he affectionately calls ‘Cre’ and discussed how her life has evolved since she met and fell in love with Ryan.

 

“I met Ryan at work in 2007. We were working the third shift at a technology company. The office would be empty. We were sitting at work emailing each other all night. He would send extra long emails trying to sound all smart. I would reply with a few sentences and he was like ‘really that’s all you got?’ We started dating in 2008 and things were going really really well. ”

 

It’s amazing talking to someone about the person they love. I could tell Cre would talk about Ryan all day if I let her and he is the exact same way. However, love like life rarely goes according to plan and the couple broke up for a year. Lucrecia explained that Ryan had some maturing to do. She was forced to swerve him until he was ready.

 

“A year later I saw him at the club on his birthday. So cliche.”

 

We shared a serious giggle.

 

“He told me ‘I promise you if you just give me one chance I’m gonna marry you.’ I was like yeah whatever, but I guess it was destined to happen.”

 

At this point, I realized the love story had distracted me from the purpose of our conversation and I asked Cre to tell me about the issues she was experiencing with her kidneys. She explained that she suffered from Nephrotic Syndrome also known as Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis since December of 1998. There is no known cause or cure.

 

According to the Mayo Clinic, Nephrotic syndrome is a kidney disorder usually caused by damage to the clusters of small blood vessels in your kidneys that filter waste and excess water from your blood. Cre knew something was wrong when she was experiencing extreme swelling in her face. She learned the swelling was from the scarring in her kidneys. The disease naturally increases the risk of other health problems, luckily her case was treated early and remained controlled. Cre was told in 1998 upon diagnosis, she would need a transplant in a few years. She elected not to worry and to keep living her life! She took medication to remain stable. Despite the disease she graduated from college, joined Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., and continued to be bright and beautiful.

“I got pregnant on my birthday in 2011. I wasn’t suppose to get pregnant. I was already warned not to because it was going to deteriorate my kidneys. But we went through with it anyway.”

It was beautiful hearing her hash out this painful memory with Zoey playing in the background. Their baby is extremely creative and independent. Blissfully unbothered our conversation she chilled conversing with herself not too far from her Mommy. I asked Lucrecia about her pregnancy.

“We ended up having her eight weeks early because of the deterioration. It was a great pregnancy. I didn’t have all of the swelling and spreading of the nose and other stuff. They were just concerned about the levels in my kidneys. I went to the doctor on a Thursday and was told to come in for delivery the following Tuesday. I had her in March 2012. By July the doctor was prepping me for the donor  transplant list.”

We went on to talk about our family and how much we both love and admire Ryan’s strength and determination. We talked about Memphis and the visits we had over the years. All along I never realized Cre was sick. I was distracted by barbecue and sneaking onto Beale street. Which was an obstacle at the time because I wasn’t 21 yet. We laughed at these memories and began to discuss the next steps in the transplant process. So many people wait years for organs, I wondered how she came to receive the new kidney.

 

“Ryan told me the moment I found out I was pregnant that he was going to give me his kidney. I really thought I was gonna be fine. But he knew. And he always stands by his word. A Lot of people were telling him ‘you never know… you might need your kidney down the line… that’s too much to give up’ but he knew that’s what he wanted to do.”

 

The decision to be a living organ donor is a mirror reflection of Ryan’s extraordinary character. Being strong willed is an element of our genetic makeup.

 

Ryan began to workout regularly once he made the decision to give Cre a kidney. I remember vividly because we would be on the phone for hours while he was in the gym. He posted countless pictures on Facebook with captions like ‘ab game on point.’

 

“A lot of people got tested. My mom, some of my sorority sisters, even my half-brother tried – none were matches. A few people were matches and had to do blood pressure tests. The issue was a lot of times African Americans have high blood pressure, this ruled out a lot of candidates as well. Ryan was at one point disqualified for this reason but he had his doctor send an authorization saying they approve of his blood pressure levels. This narrowed the pool down to Ryan and another girl friend of mine. We were advised that she could have trouble getting pregnant down the line. So Ryan stood by me and did everything he could to make sure we would both be fine. He even put me on a diet to make sure I would be in the best position I could for healing!”

 

Cre shared that the procedure took about eight hours. The removal, the preparation, and the insertion. The couple was in the hospital for about a week. My Aunt Dottie (Ryan’s mom) kept me updated and prayed with me over the phone. Ryan recovered quickly. The doctors tried to discharge him. But Ryan continued to pretend things were wrong so he wouldn’t have to leave Cre in the hospital alone. Insurance covered both of the surgeries however, there were lots of out of pocket expenses. Hardships came about during healing time for the couple. Being young homeowners with a baby did make for a financial strain but they made it work.

 

“I feel like our whole situation changed Ryan’s outlook on life.”

 

I agree with Cre wholeheartedly. Ryan has always been a standup individual. Loving and taking care of his family and friend to the full extent of his capabilities but now he is next level. Ryan is a pillar of his community and a phenomenal role model. He recently graduated with a degree in psychology, became a firefighter and is studying for nursing school.

 

“I don’t think we would have got to this point if everything was normal. He has always been a caring person. I’ve seen a great change in him. I love him so much. He is the love of my life.”
My hope is that this story inspires you to hold onto love and faith in humanity. Kindness counts. Sharing is caring. I hope one day when it’s time for someone to love me that I’m loved the way Ryan loves Lucrecia. I’m glad they decided to email back and forth during the third shift.

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 #4 – School and Jobs

NCMAE #4 – School and Jobs

“I never sent my kids to school. Nope not one day. I never believed in sending them to school. I sent them to work. I told them education was their job. You’re being trained. You go there and you arrive on time. You do your job until it’s time for your break, then you keep going until the day is done. After that, you come home and you take care of home.”

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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.