Help a Sista Help a Sista

“Unfortunately, history has shown us that [sisterhood] must be learned, when it should be natural.” — Josephine Baker

JJ Jendayi Johnson 2

Jendayi Johnson

 

Today, my mom and I ran into a man at the mall. In conversation, he brought  up his daughter. His face lit up when he spoke of her.

My face lit up when his face lit up. I was loving this father’s love.

“She just finished up at University of Virginia and now she’s headed to New York for graduate school.” Jendayi Johnson, his daughter, is headed to Columbia in the fall to study speech-language pathology. Her studies have been inspired by her grandmother, who suffered a stroke and lost most of her speaking ability.

While the doctor was claiming defeat, alleging that Jendayi’s grandmother may never speak again, the speech pathologist was working to prove otherwise. After months of working with the speech pathologist, Jendayi’s grandmother was speaking whole sentences.

How sweet a feeling it is when we prove doubt and defeat wrong.

Unfortunately, Jendayi herself has dealt with a great deal of doubt from others and even from herself. “When I was accepted into college, I was told that I only got in because I was Black,” she explained on her Just Jobs scholarship page. She went on to talk about overheard conversations demeaning Black students and minimizing the validity of their accomplishments. After internalizing all of this, she, like many students, developed Impostor Syndrome, or an inability to accept personal success and achievement. People who experience Impostor Syndrome often fear that they should not be where they are in life and aren’t as capable as their peers.

It’s easy to feel like an impostor as a black woman in higher education. In many spaces of higher education, we are limited or even non-existent. Nonetheless, our presence in these spaces is needed and well overdue. Many black women miss opportunities for higher education, not because we are incapable, but rather, because we are unsupported.

Sisterhood.

Its when I reached out to a UVA student via Facebook when I first got accepted into my master’s program and she took time out her busy schedule to talk to me before I even got there, came over and gave me a 3 hour pep talk the night I moved to Charlottesville and afterwards, became a lifelong friend and role model.

Its when a dean at my undergraduate alma mater, University of Richmond, supported me when I was threatened and had property vandalized for the words I wrote in the school newspaper, from the moment it happened to the police hearing, which she attended with me. She continued to support me well after it was all said and done.

Its when a retired philanthropist decided to sow seeds through me and pay for me to travel in order to work with marginalized girls throughout Virginia and beyond before ever meeting me in person.

There were way more than three black women who helped pave the way for me. Now, its Jendayi’s turn. She needs way more than that to help support her vision as well.

“Receiving my degree will allow me to prove everyone that thought that I didn’t have the ability to succeed wrong. More importantly, it would be the first step of many towards achieving my goal of fortifying my clients’ abilities to communicate their thoughts, opinions, and desires and continuing on the trajectory that other Black scholars that came before me created,” Jendayi asserted.

Black people are crabs in a barrel.

Black women never support each other.

Our community is tainted by these false stereotypes.

Jendayi wants to prove the naysayers wrong by helping others do the same.

My momma and I told her daddy that he ran into the right people today. Help me follow through.

Help a sista help a sista and vote for this young queen to win a scholarship so she can go on to Columbia and really show out and show and prove.

Because sisterhood should be natural.

(Its extremely easy to vote. From what I was told, clicking the heart above the comments section counts as a vote. Also, leaving comments on the page and sharing her page on Facebook also helps to convince the judges. You have until Friday, 7/ 15/2016 to vote.)

Buy Black by Fantasia Alston

Six men of color
Killed within a week
No, not by their own
But at the hands of the police
Enough is enough
We all began to say
Then we’ll get on our knees,
Bow down, and pray
But is that enough
The peaceful protest with our folks
Poster signs waving in the air
Heartfelt Instagram posts
Social and political activism helps
But what about economic growth
Its time to hit some organizations
Where it hurts the most
Black owned businesses
Are deserving of our respect
They work as hard as anyone else
And should be treated no less
No more trying to be a black face
Of a predominantly white brand
Getting treated poorly by the masses
While throwing money in their hands
Our unemployment rates are still higher
Than any other group
We still don’t have enough funds
For our community to help the youth
We must practice black empowerment
With regard of the revolution
Word of mouth is always great
But it’s time for a permanent solution

Fantasia Alston is a guest writer for theblackertheberry.org. She is a 22 year old free spirit  and visionary who spends most of her time  writing poetry, reading (preferably mystery books), and doing whatever she can to help better the community, whether it be volunteering at the nearest homeless shelter or picking up any litter found on the solid surface of the Earth. She also enjoys painting whatever comes to mind, cooking, meditating,  and taking long walks to nowhere.  She currently resides in Columbia, SC. She is a writer for #SCHOOLGIRLHUSTLE, an organization that supports and empowers girls and women to stay in school. Learn more about her and her work here. Follow her on instagram here.

The Conversation 

Police brutality and the war on black men forces poetry out of my soul. It also forces hard conversations with the people we love.

I had to have

the conversation

with the man I love
I told him to just

Lay

Just lay on the ground

When they come around
As I spoke I felt that rope

Tied around my throat
And it hurt.
I told him to do whatever

they say

I told him to pray

While he lay

As I choked

on tears and pride
Two black men murdered 2 nights in a row in July

There’s no other option

The man I love
Has

Got

To

Survive
I had to have

the conversation
I felt him lose his patience

as fear consumed me

And there was nothing he could do about it
I felt him lose his power

While murderous thoughts devoured

my heart and my soul and my bones
Engulfed in flames

Set ablaze by the videos

On my social media page
I had to have

the conversation
“I’m gonna be alright” he said

And he held me tight

While I kissed his forehead
Then we said goodnight.
Each minute that passed while he drove home felt more like an hour
I lost my patience.
At least we had the conversation
But then I thought about

His dark skin

His boldness

His unyielding power

His smart mouth

His charisma

And his confidence
Yall know how a man is

He

Has

Got

To

Survive
There’s no other option.

 

They Can’t Even Die


Slave burial grounds and cemeteries continue to be vandalized and disrespected on a regular basis in the South. 


Ten years a slave

times 15 at least

a piece of history that never seems

to ever find its peace

severed under ground that’s leased

To the highest bidder
Can you tell that I am bitter because we’ve seen and done all of this before?

All that is left is the land over our ancestors’ heads

Like collateral for a loan we never even took out

Dejected and neglected

Like a bastard child

The world has the nerve to feel embarrassed about

A product of its own rape, pillage and evil
But here lies the sequel

Burial grounds hidden in small southern towns

Cemeteries on university grounds that

Can only be found underground

Hidden from civilization.

We go from decimation to dedication to desecration

back to decimation all over again

A murder of mind and memory each day we ignore and pretend with

Burial ground dedications and designations and celebrations

While glass shards and hate speech and skull bones and fire

Serve as party decorations…
Can you tell that I am tired?

Because my ancestors couldn’t live and

Now they can’t even die

Black Blue

Your skin, the perfect shade of

perfect

I like it

when it glistens in the sun too

But I love it

When its that dark black blue hue

but do you love your black blue too?

They called you black

and all the other kids laughed

and made you feel

inferior

but the joke is on them when

our own folk pretend that

their hate is your hate

Because they hate their own skin

To begin with

Your blue black has endured

the many evils of

this world tenfold

And yet and still, it upholds

Soft as cotton, bright as pure gold

not that bright like artificial light

but that dark and natural and brilliant type

like the best night of my life

When we fell in love

The type of night that make you wanna

sleep outside because

Only on the darkest night

Can you see all of the stars and

All of the sky

I want you

And your black blue too

But I need you

To love it

And love it fiercely

As I do.

Pills

 

PILLS

Your heart beats strong

God let it be

You are blessed and you

You

You Are loved

But to you, love is

how much of life you can miss

sleeping it all away

Sleeping on your youth

And the dawn and

The day

I pray:

Lord, may your hands put the pills

Up in a place far far away

I hate the sound they make in her purse

I hate it in the worst

Way

It’s the worse way to waste

borrowed time you can not make stay

I can not just say STOP TAKING THEM

I know God I know I know

it doesn’t work that

Way

But God, just listen

I know it may sound

twisted when

I say I’m so conflicted with

My emotions

Do you know what I mean when I say I’m

Stuck somewhere in between

being optimistic and

being realistic

about her disease and

about her need

I need answers

Please.

How did she get this?

Addicted.