Marquis Barnett: The Second Half
By Tracee Loran
If life were played in two halves like the game of basketball, Marquis Barnett’s first half was short in minutes and long in suffering. The 19-year old Queens, NY native has endured more heartache and pain than most people three times his age. Homelessness: Along with his Mom and two siblings, Marquis has lived in four shelters in four different boroughs throughout New York City. Tragedy: Marquis’ brother Tavon, who was autistic, died in a fire that the young boy accidentally started when left unsupervised. Violence: Nearly four years ago, Marquis had to rescue his Mom from the claws of an abusive boyfriend who was choking the breath and life out of her.
Fortunately, Marquis’ story does have a second half – one filled with hope, love, and redemption. And in his second half, he is surrounded by amazing people who have shown what compassion truly means such as his long-time girlfriend, Shalyce Blue; his UWANTGAME mentor, Rodrick Seay; and his Cardozo High School basketball coach, Ron Naclerio, who championed for Marquis to play ball on the collegiate level. Now a freshman at Quinnipiac University – light years away from previous strife – the 6 foot 8 forward is crashing boards for the Division-I squad on a full ride.
I caught up with Barnett at a recent QU game against St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY. What I discovered was not a young man who was scarred and angered by his harrowing past. (One might expect that and could possibly understand.) Instead, who stood before me was a mature young man with a commanding presence and a gentle spirit. His words were brief, but profound and showed that Marquis refrains from looking back and dwelling on negative circumstances. He’d much rather spend his time looking toward a more promising future. Continue reading
Tracee & Imani
Sometimes you’re fortunate enough to know your purpose in life early in the game. I have long since known that one of my main reasons for being on this planet is to make the lives of young people better. Nine years ago I was able to realize that purpose by becoming a mentor. My mentee, Imani, was the cutest little thing. She was full of life and smart as a whip. Then she hit the tumultuous teen years and also hit a wall. I hit a big fat wall right along with her and began to doubt myself as a mentor. Her teen drama seemed to go on for years and years. Was I a complete failure?
I prayed for answers and a way to continue my mission. I was really at my wits end and close to throwing in the towel. But since I’m no quitter that really wasn’t an option; I was just being a drama queen. This past July I was approached to join the leadership committee for our church’s youth ministry. Hmm? Could this be the answers that I was looking for?
Though it’s been challenging as I’ve found that Imani isn’t the only teen to run into a brick barrier (is everyone between the ages of 13 & 18 possessed?!), it’s been rewarding. Imani has actually joined in on many of the activities and I’m happy to report that she is slowly climbing over that wall and doing really well. Of course, she still has many more obstacles to overcome. But I’m hopeful for her future; I will hold steadfast to the faith that she will transition into adulthood remarkably and make great contributions to this society.
Along with my Youth Leaders of Emmanuel (YLE) team members, I’ve taken the teens to two Broadway plays, The Mountaintop and Stick Fly, both AWESOME works. We’ve implemented many programs such as SAT prep, tutoring, and my pet project Read & Flow, a book club for the new millennium. We’ve also revamped the flagship program Teen Canteen.
The great thing about doing this kind of work is meeting people with like minds and visions. I crossed paths with a super gifted Visual Artist Beau who generously devoted his time to create an incredible backdrop painting for Teen Canteen REMASTERED. The finished product (see below) is radically fabulous™ and he worked his magic less than 24 hours!
YLE has many amazing things on the horizon for the youth. I’m super excited! Stay tuned for more updates. 2012 is going to be a great year for mentoring and inspiring our future leaders, thinkers, and doers!
We have been to "The Mountaintop" & it was good!
- An evening at the theatre – Stick Fly
Girls Night Out - We loved Stick Fly!
Teen Canteen REMASTERED painting by Beau
Humans are not perfect. Won’t you agree? No one, except my Mom, is perfect. Ok, she’s not perfect either, but she IS perfect when it comes to maintaining an immaculate & beautiful home. She doesn’t even have a junk drawer. Good grief, Charlie Brown! That woman is Monk live and in person. But I digress. Continue reading
“Boxing helps me to calm myself. Not as angry as I used to be.”
-Keisher “Fire” McLeod-Wells
Hey Hey Hey! The Socialite Design is expanding! Our newest feature, “Socially Acceptable”, spotlights some of the world’s most talented artists, athletes, entrepreneurs, professionals, and humanitarians. The inaugural installment of “Socially Acceptable” is somewhat of a hybrid creation – blog post-magazine article-novel-screenplay. It’s the first time that something like this has ever been attempted in the history of blogs…we think. Though it is a hybrid, it’s not intended to be green, improve the environment, preserve petro, or anything of the sort. However, the producer(s) of this hybrid believe that after reading it you will be smarter and more conscious. There is no guarantee how much more because everyone matriculates and absorbs information at a different pace. This hybrid blog post-magazine article-novel-screenplay is pretty epic because the protagonist has a lot of profound ish to say (and none of them are swear words…we swear).
Unlike lauded Hollywood movies, e.g. The Blind Side or The Pursuit of Happyness, it’s not based on a true story, it IS a true story. If your lunch break is over before you’re able to reach the end, DVR it (yes we realize that you can’t DVR the written word, but just go with it).
Without further adieu… Continue reading
TIM WHITLEY!!!!! Congratulations, Tim! You are the winner of the The Radically Fabulous Art Snob Sweepstakes . You will receive the numbered and autographed jazz print “John Coltrane” by acclaimed artist Harold D. Smith. If you are in the Kansas City area there is still time to see Harold Smith’s outstanding exhibit at the American Jazz Museum. And if you can’t make it, you can always take a virtual trip to Harold’s website and/or the Museum’s site to view his incredible cache of work.
Thanks to all who subscribed and entered the sweepstakes. I hope you had as much fun as I did. A very very special thank you to my sponsor Harold D. Smith. And, a warm ‘thank you’ to Social Media Guru Henrietta Koffi of Fort Greene SNAP for conducting the sweepstakes drawing.
Stay tuned for The Radically Fabulous Skin Sweepstakes for a chance to win an incredible skin care products from Sonja Bernard and Sally Stewart of Arbonne International. Sorry, Tim W., you’re not eligible to win again until August. Until then enjoy your gorgeous print and blog entries on The Socialite Design!
If you didn’t win this month, try and try again. There are more radically fabulous prizes on the horizon. So don’t give up because you help make this possible. Thank you so much!
The Taste of Chicago is the greatest food festival in the world and it just so happens to be in my hometown. Yes I’m biased, but it really is the best. Every summer millions of foodies across the globe descend upon the Windy City for some good eating and radically fabulous entertainment. Rapidly securing the 2-spot as the best food fest is Queens…A Taste of the World. Continue reading