I have a confession: I am jealous of poet and educator Ashley M. Jones.
I don’t envy Jones because last year, at the ripe old age of 25, she was one of only six winners of the 2015 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, a prestigious award given annually to support emerging women writers with exceptional talent. I don’t envy her because she landed a dream creative writing teaching job at the Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA) as soon as she finished her graduate work at Florida International University. I’m not jealous of Jones’s book deal (her first full-length poetry collection will hit bookshelves in November) and I don’t envy her because last yearB-Metro gave Jones their Fusion Award, an honor given to Birmingham residents who champion diversity, inclusion, and acceptance.
I am jealous of Jones because she is in love—with poetry.
Read complete article at B-Metro.com.
Tonight the 10th anniversary celebration of Black Girls Rock awards will debut on BET at 7 p.m. CDT. In honor of the ceremony I revisit an article I wrote for the November 2014 issue of B-Metro magazine.
You see an African-American girl bouncing through the aisles of your local supermarket donning a T-shirt that reads “Black Girls Rock,” and you’re offended. You want to approach her parents and ask how they would feel if your daughter wore a shirt declaring “White Girls Rock.” But you decide against it.
You believe that if your daughter did wear a “White Girls Rock” T-shirt, both she and you would be declared racists and you don’t think that’s fair. You think it’s a double standard.
You’re right. And double standards suck.
But you know what else sucks?
Sometimes I feel as if I’m caught in a love triangle—writing and teaching both tugging at my heart. I was born to teach, but I didn’t realize this until after working in education for seven years. When I was a girl, I named all my dolls and other toys, arranged them in nice, neat rows in alphabetical order, and then launched into a lecture on whatever struck my fancy at the time. The classroom called me early in life, but I didn’t know it.
But I was also born to write. This I’ve known since the day I wrote my first poem. I was only 7 or 8 years old, so it was terrible, and I’m sure it included the line “Roses are red, violets are blue.” But it was the beginning of a lifelong love affair with the written word. And it was this love that led me to study journalism. I had dreams of working for Essence magazine and one day starting a print magazine of my own.
But a career in education was still whispering in my ear, flirting with my future plans. In graduate school at UC Berkeley, I was a graduate student instructor, or GSI, and taught a communications class for undergraduate students. I was charged with breaking down the complicated concepts and theories the professor discussed in her lectures. I did such a good job that students assigned to other GSIs would ask to come to my class, willing to sit on the floor or stand in the back if there weren’t enough desks.
I applied for Teach for America. I was accepted by Teach for America. I turned down Teach for America. I had also been offered a job as a features reporter in a city that I loved with the man whom I love. Writing won my heart again…
Read the entire article at B-Metro.com.
When you turn 35, you must celebrate all month long. When you turn 35, you must celebrate first with a look back. You will discover that 34 was quite the year.
Thirty-four was the year you built your labor of love—See Jane Write—into a business and learned that if you take yourself seriously as an entrepreneur, other people will, too. Your 2015 “Top 40 Under 40” award from the Birmingham Business Journal is proof.
Thirty-four was the year you and your husband bought a house, something you never thought you could do. When you were younger, you saw homeownership as something reserved for folks from wealthy families. Your family never had much money. Even though your parents worked very, very hard, they always struggled to make ends meet. They weren’t able to purchase a house and you saw your fair share of eviction notices taped to the front door. But 34 was the year you declared you would go after all those things you once believed were beyond your reach—and it worked.
Thirty-four was the year you were deemed “inspirational.” Because of your work with See Jane Write, Girls on the Run Birmingham recognized you among other local “Women Who Inspire,” such as legendary TV news anchor Brenda Ladun. At the awards ceremony, you felt like a fraud because that night you didn’t feel “inspirational,” you felt like a mess. You were in the midst of one of your most stressful times of the year, a time when you were ready to quit everything. You spent most of the evening in tears. Then several women came to you sharing how you had changed their lives simply by inspiring them to share their stories and write their truth. Thirty-four was the year you realized you could be a mess and still be inspirational…
Read this entire article at B-Metro.com.