It’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog. Life has gotten in the way. A huge, unexpected summer project snatched all of my attention. Until now, the The Socialite Design has been reserved for articles that lean toward entertainment. I’ve shied away from politics; after all there are other platforms for that. I didn’t want to be bogged down with insidious comments from banal trolls and insipid arguments that have no resolution. But if I’m being honest, this country is at a very critical point and bystander apathy is no longer an option. In this instance, saying nothing is worst than saying something that ruffles feathers. I’m not a professional political analyst or pundit or presidential historian. I can’t quote statics or espouse a foreign policy position off the cuff. But I pay enough attention to know…enough. Again, America is at a critical juncture in our history. And I realize that many things are nagging me. Be warned, this blog post will undoubtedly take many turns and seem erratic at times. But it all points to one place – be accountable, don’t be fooled by foolishness, and embrace the American dream. Continue reading
I’m super excited to announce the latest giveaway from The Socialite Design just in time for Black History Month! The Socialite Design has partnered up with Noir A-Go Go to bring you a sweet give-away! Noir A-Go Go, an online gift store that features Black Pinup Girls on everything from Valentine’s Cards to Tee Shirts, wants to give you a taste of their catalogue. Continue reading
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
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!
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