sister-2-sister

His Story: Queen Be Like… ( A tribute to Black Women)

His Story: Queen Be Like… ( A tribute to Black Women)

His Story

Written by Ryan Carson: Twitter- @sebastiancarson — IG- @iamsebastiancarson

We have seen the different memes and saying that use derogatory terms (“B*tches be like” “H*es be like”) to explain a certain group of people’s actions or characteristics. This poem was written by Poet Sebastian Carson to challenge the trendy “Be Like” sayings and give light to what real women of our generation “Be Like”. Media often times forget to display a positive image of women in our society, leaving the derogatory terms and identifications to get the attention.

With the help of T-Shirt company “Educated Queens” and “Becoming Queens” (which is a Memphis mentoring organization), as well as insight from an Instagram Media Campaign asking “How would you define a real woman?” on @iamsebastiancarson ‘s Instagram, as well as Gabrielle Washington, Angelia Lomax, and Paris Gathwright, this poetry production was brought to life to support positive images of women in our society.

Contact Imperial Lighthouse Productions for any video inquires and follow Ryan Carson and Tilmon Keaton for motivational, inspirational, and liberating messages through their creative journey of spreading consciousness, evolution and light.

Email: imperial.lighthouse@gmail.com

Ryan Carson:
IG: @iamsebastiancarson
Twitter: @sebastiancarson

Tilmon Keaton:
IG: @tilmonkeaton
Twitter: @tilmonkeaton

“Educated Queens” Shirts are by Educated Queens (T-shirt Company)
IG: educatedqueens
www.educatedqueens.com

Becoming Queens is a Organization for youth girls ages 11-17, “we mentor them about self love, honor, integrity and self respect.”
Website: www.becominqueens.com
Email: becomingqueens@yahoo.com
Instagram: becomingqueens
Facebook: Facebook/BecomingQueens
Contact Becoming Queens if you’re interested in donating, learning more, or simply know of a young girl that wants to become a “Queen”

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His Story: The Reasons I Did Not Want My Wife to Be Natural

His Story: The Reasons I Did Not Want My Wife to Be Natural

His Story

beforenatural

When I met her

When I met my wife, she was everything I wanted in a woman. She was educated, Black, took great care of herself, and had long flowy hair. As a youngster, I was always encouraged by older men, my peers, and even some women to find a woman who had “good hair”. Equipped with this advice, my wife’s hair was the icing on the cake to complement her other wonderful qualities.

After dating for a while, my world got turned upside down as my wife uttered these dreadful words…”I am thinking about going natural”. At this point I thought, what is a man to do when his wife is thinking about getting rid of the icing on the cake? Now, I had seen tons of women who were natural and I admired their look (one of those women being my mother), but for some reason I did not feel natural was for my woman.

As the days went by, I progressively started researching as much as I could about the entire natural process to figure out what in the heck my wife was about to do to herself. As I learned more and more about the process, my mind started playing tricks on me. The questions in my mind began to transform from being about why my wife would want to be natural to why did I want to keep her from being natural. This is the point I started evaluating myself instead of my wife.

So the million dollar question is why did I want to keep my wife from embracing her natural hair?

Insecure

The truth is that I was insecure. I was insecure in the fact that my wife had to cut her hair. I was insecure in the fact that she would have a TWA (Tiny Weeny Afro).  And I was insecure in the fact that she could possibly look different. The underlying issue was that I was not comfortable in my own manhood, because subconsciously, I felt I would be less of a man if my wife did not have long flowy hair. It was not about her, it was about me and my insecurities.

Blinded

I was blinded by so many things including Eurocentric values, the media, and my own people.

  • Growing up in a country where the standards are based on Eurocentric values, I fell into the trap of thinking that my definition of beauty was supposed to be the same as their definition of beauty. This false sense of understanding lead to me having the spirit of oppression towards my beautiful Black sistas, including my wife. Sadly, I tried to place those Eurocentric values on my Afrocentric queens.
  • I was also blinded by the numerous images of “beauty” that were portrayed in the media. Anytime I would see a Black woman who was in movies, music videos, pageants, or on any day time television, she had long flowy hair. This played into my psyche and caused me to think that these women were the definition of beauty.
  • Finally, I was blinded by my own people (including myself) who constantly displayed self-hate. The men constantly spoke about how women with short hair or non-straight hair were nappy headed and sistas put tons of weave in their head for the purposes of “increasing their beauty”. We created the thought that we were not beautiful the way God created us.

    Cut-again

    My Wife Today

 The Reality

I am blessed to have a wife who challenged me by not giving in to my insecurities. Her journey of rediscovering herself was a pivotal point in my life because I also discovered myself through the process. I broke free of oppression and am now one of the biggest advocates for my beautiful sistas returning to their natural roots. Since the blinders are off, I would not want my wife to be any way other than natural.

Moral of the article is brothers support our beautiful natural queens and sistas embrace your natural beauty!

If you know a man who could benefit from advice about supporting our natural queens, please download and send him my free e-book Supporting Your Queen on Her Journey of Returning to Being Natural.

About the Author: Dr. Corey Guyton, “The Genuine Scholar” is dedicated to providing positive and inspirational commentary about the topics he is most passionate about. More specifically, he is very committed to giving advice about and reporting on current events, relationships, natural hair, academics, and life.

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Exquisite Women: Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche

Exquisite Women: Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche

Exquisite Women

TA1TheBlackManCan is back in New York City to bring you another Exquisite Woman. We bring to you a woman is empoweringpeople and communites through financial literacy. We proudly present Best selling author and finance guru Tiffany “The Bugetnista” Aliche . Tiffany sits down with TheBlackManCan to discuss being frugal and fabulous, The One Week Budget, and advice for young people. 

TheBlackManCan: Tiffany, what is a “Budgetnista” and how did you develop the name?

TA: A Budgetnista is a woman who has learned the art of managing her daily finances without the usual hassle, self deprivation and FEAR. A Budgetnista knows that her finances CAN be simple and easy! Most importantly, a Budgetnista is a woman determined to Live Richer (purposely and passionately pursing her ideal life).

Three years ago when I was registering my business, I was looking for a name to call myself. I Googled a number of names: The Budget Queen, The Budget Diva etc… Luckily, all of those names were taken. Desperate, I asked my youngest sister Lisa, who was 19 at the time, for a suggestion. She said, “What about Budgetnista? The ‘Nista’ thing is really popular now.” So I Googled Budgenista and found that it wasn’t taken. Soon after, I bought the domain name and trademarked the word. The rest as they say is history…

TheBlackManCan: When did you develop the idea that one can make frugal, fabulous and do more with less?

TA: Being frugal and fabulous and learning to do more with less began out of necessity. My father (now retired) was an accountant and he taught my sisters and I early on how to properly manage our money. One of the ways he taught us, was by telling us NO, we asked for non-essential items that were out of his budget. He and my mother knew that raising 5 daughters meant that a dollar had to go a looong way. As a result of hearing many no’s, I quickly learned how to make the necessities they consented to buy, both fabulous and functional.

TheBlackManCan: You facilitate Financial Fun Parties!! Tell us more about what goes on at these events?

TA: Financial Fun Parties (usually for women), are for groups that are looking for a fun way to get financially empowered. These parties can be held for as little as 20 people. Financial Fun Parties aim to educate clients about their money, and teach them how they can continue to live fabulously while being frugal via games, open discussion, vision boarding, clothing swaps, food, folks and a WHOLE lot of fun!

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TheBlackManCan: You often visit schools and nonprofit organizations and present REAL Life (a game of choices). Why is it important to educate youth on financial literacy?

TA: I believe that successful financial education begins when we’re young. As soon as a child is able to ask you to buy them a particular item, is when they are capable of learning where the money for that items comes from.

I was a school teacher for 10 years and taught children as young as 3yrs old the basics of money. My financial literacy game, REAL LIFE (a game of choices), was born out of my frustration at the lack of fun financial education tools for teachers, schools, parents and organizations.

TheBlackManCan: What ignited you to write “The One Week Budget”? What kind of content can readers expect to find inside?

TA: I wrote The One Week Budget in response to all the phone calls, emails and questions I got about how I was able to afford my lifestyle on my salary. At age 21 I was making $12/hr as a teacher’s assistant and saved $10,800 in one year. When I first started writing my book, I was a preschool teacher making $35,000 a year, I saved $40,000 in two years, bought my first car in cash, and bought a condo on my on. I accomplished all of this between ages 23-25.

I’ve was always good with my money, but the credit of my financial prowess belongs to my parents, especially my dad. He was an accountant with an MBA in finance. He spoke openly and honestly with my sisters and I about money, and while at college I quickly realized how rare that was.

I wrote The One Week Budget to teach readers what my dad taught me; that you can have more with less. I’ve broken down my money management system into 12 steps that can be completed over a 7 day span (hence, The One WEEK Budget). The beauty of my book is, after you complete the necessary work that week, you’ll be home free. The time you spent managing your money should be reduced to less than 30 minutes a MONTH!

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TheBlackManCan: You forwent a career in corporate America to teach underserved youth. Why did you make this decision?

TA: Marian Wright Edelman, the founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund, was the first African American woman admitted to the Mississippi state bar said,

“Service is the rent we pay for living”

I truly believe this and decided to live my life by these words after a transformative trip to Africa after graduating college.

Before I left to visit my motherland, Nigeria, I was offered a well paying job in corporate America. I was already an intern for the company that offered me the job and I knew that I’d hate to work for them fulltime. The problem was that the money they offered me was a lot to turn down.

I left for Africa, knowing I had to make a decision when I returned. While in Nigeria, I stayed in my father’s village and got to know the people there, my people. From them I learned the importance of life outside of money. By American standards they were poor, but I’ve never met people more rich in spirit, joy and community. When I returned home to the States, I decided that I would never make a decision about life based solely on money, and I haven’t since. It was then I decided to become a teacher. Although I’m no longer in a traditional classroom, I continue to teach via The Budgetnista.

TheBlackManCan: What is the mission and vision of your financial consulting firm CLD Financial Life LLC.

TA: The Budgetnista brand is more than about money

The mission and vision of my firm CLD/The Budgetnista is to teach all of my clients how to Live Richer (to purposely and passionately pursue your ideal life).

True riches are measured in more than money. They are found in joy, generosity, laughter, freedom, adventure and love. It is my personal goal and the goal of the company to help clients learn how to design every aspect of their lives so that they can experience all of the purpose, passion and abundance that life has to offer. Money and basic finance are just tools that I use to persue that goal.

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TheBlackManCan: What can Black people do to make their money turn over seven and even eight times before it leaves the community?

TA: The best thing that the Black Community can do to ensure that money stays in our community longer, is to provide quality goods and services. Unfortunately Black businesses are notoriously known for underwhelming their customers.

People want value for their money and to be treated well as they spend it, no matter the color of the person behind the counter. I know many Black businesses that are thriving because they understand that no one is going to patronize them solely out of loyalty to race. Products, services, value and relationships are really what draw return customers. 

TheBlackManCan: Who have been some of your mentors that have helped you reach success in life?

TA: My biggest mentors of success have been my parents, especially my father. My father did not come from financial means, but what he lacked in money he made up for it in courage, enthusiasm, hard work and vision. He made his way from humble beginnings in Africa to an MBA and retired as Executive Director of a non-profit based in New Jersey.

From him I learned that there is no aspiration to big. He also taught me that the journey and the dream are one and the same; one cannot be had without the other. His wisdom as allowed me to welcome challenges and mistakes as tools for improvement, and to see the unknown future as the ultimate adventure.

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TheBlackManCan: Where do you see yourself and your firm in the next five years? 

TA: I see myself…

-  Continuing to facilitate workshops, seminars and financial fun parties, writing curriculum and teaching financial literacy

-  With several different versions of The One Week Budget (like a college edition)

-  With at least 2 children’s book

- Continuing to write for several magazines and blogs

-  I’d love to do regular segments on a television / news show (claiming it)

-  I want my book to be picked up by a larger publisher and distributed nationwide (claiming it)

TheBlackManCan: What words of advice would you like to share with readers?

TA: Practice lifestyle design and purposely and passionately pursue your ideal life (Live Richer). You are in control of your fate. Everything that you are and will be is because of you, solely and wholly YOU!

Here my 6 Live Richer steps to help you begin to design that ideal life of yours…

Live Richer Steps:

1: Recognize that ALL of your (financial) choices matter.

2: Identify your passion

3: Prioritize

4: Make a plan

5: Act NOW!

6: Keep Some, Give Some

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Exquisite Women: Sophia Domeville

Exquisite Women: Sophia Domeville

Exquisite Women

sdTheBlackManCan is making its way into the state of New Jersey to bring you another Exquisite Woman who is bringing people of all ages’ life through art. We proudly present abstract expressionist artist Sophia Domeville. Sophia sits down with TheBlackManCan to talk about her love of Haitian culture, what an abstract expressionist artist is and words of advice for girls of African descent. 

TheBlackManCanSophia, at what point in your life did you realize that art was your talent?

SD: The point in my life when I realized that art was my talent, at the age of five, I created my first landscape with drips of water color paint. I remember sitting there, mixing greens with yellows to find the right blend of leaves I pictured in my mind. I remember feeling a sense of calmness over the story I created through shapes but importantly I realized how different my painting was compared to the other kids.

Art then became my passion when I entered my first year within The College of New Rochelle, School of Arts & Science. Being away from my parents, having the room to just be myself without any restrictions, being advised by one of the best art department I know and just create into wee hours of the morning, helped carve out my craft immensely. I actually still remember drawing on 6ft by 6ft parchment within the halls of my dorm, feverishly creating the images that were in my head.  The title of my piece was, “Black Skin, White Mask”, at 18 I was discussing racism, sexism and the masks we as a people wore on a daily

I knew right then as I know now, art could be used as a tool for change within the world and I as at the tender age of 18 was ready to face the world armed with a paint brush.

TheBlackManCan: What is an abstract expressionist artist?

SD: Abstract Expressionist is an artist whose work is both nonrepresentational and mostly improvisational. An artist whose sole passion is to create work without any boundaries, formats, rules or order;  expression of self for the sole purpose to create change within the world through the power of paint to canvas.

TheBlackManCan: Can you share with some of your art work and the meaning behind it?

SD: One of my most powerful pieces titled, “Andrew”, was created in memory of close friend who passed away last year of a heart attack at the age of 32. He is never too far from my thoughts and I felt it was only right to remember him. A percentage of the proceeds from the purchase of this piece will be donated to American Heart Association in his memory.

The piece represents the fragility of life.  We take so much for granted.  When my dear friend passed, it gave me pause and then redirection.   More awareness is needed within our community about importance of taking better care of our health.

The death rates within my generation between the ages of 25-35 are at its highest due to poor health choices, lack of knowledge and miscommunication. I hope through my piece, I can continue spreading information about heart disease and one day hopefully save the life of someone within my community.

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TheBlackManCan: Tell us about your organization herDIVASpot. Why is it important to give back by lifting as you climb?

SD: I am one of the founding members and mentor for a non-profit organization called, herDIVASpot– a non-profit organization that promotes the value and self-development of school aged young ladies. Through mentoring, educational and cultural exposure, we aim to produce civic and socially minded, financially literate, and spiritually grounded young women.

My passion to change the world through use of art and mentoring the next generation of future leaders is a driving force behind my outreach efforts.

Maya Angelou is quoted as saying, “Dare to let your dreams reach beyond you” This quote has always been a mantra with everything and everyone I meet on a daily basis. Through my work, I hope to inspire everyone to do what they love in whatever field they may choose and live with passion, purpose, faith and drive.

Recently, I was appointed as the Vice President of another wonderful organization, Halls That Inspire

Halls that Inspire Inc. is a service-based non-profit organization seeking to provide assistance & guidance in the incorporation of our beautification & mentoring program within the school environment.

It utilizes the Arts to enhance, inform, inspire, create self-pride and motivate a sense of responsibility and to provide an understanding and highlight the importance of giving back to our communities through high impact, colorful, reinforced positive messages, graphics and slogans. All of this is accomplished with the full participation and support of the students, faculty and community.

Through our dedication and service, we seek to establish a scholarship fund to recognize and reward our youth who dedicate themselves, their time and resources to give back to others in their communities less fortunate and to continue to resonate these traits with their actions the true gift of giving back and share their understanding of this wonderful experience with their peers, neighborhood friends, family and community.

I have always said, if I can inspire one person to pursue their dreams then I have fulfilled my mission. I challenge myself to nurture the next generation and become a shining example as to what living with pure purpose means through the use of art.

TheBlackManCan: You are also the CEO and Founder of Ms. Phia Presents a small special events planning boutique. What ignited the spark to start this organization? What are some recent events you have thrown?

SD: What sparked my organization, Ms. Phia Presents, I wanted to create creative fundraisers centered around Art made by orphaned Haitian children to bring awareness on ART and how it will change the world. This in turn was my way of bridging the gap between finding aid in Haiti and Haitian relief through the Arts.

Last year I created, “Cocktails & Canvases”, the first of many summer events that sought to bring  young professionals, art enthusiasts and up & coming artists together.  My event was sponsored by Amour Creole Magazine, Barbancourt Rhum & Prestige Beer which held over 100 guests and was the closing Gala for, “I am Haiti” art exhibition. This exhibition was commissioned by creator of FilmOnArtists.com and photographer, Kevin O’Hanlon who joined the Haiti relief organization, Life for the World, in Haiti. The exhibition included over 200 pieces of art produced by the children from Maranatha School & Orphanage and paid tribute to the children’s creative spirit, strength and resilience in supporting their community through art. My event garnered so much support that I am in the planning stages of creating a larger Cocktails & Canvas event simultaneously to be held in Haiti and the States for summer 2013.

My 2nd event was a part of “My Soliloquy of Chaos” Showcase which was seen throughout the tri-state and Philadelphia. To keep the theme of showcasing the beauty of my Haitian Culture, I held a very special Haitian Jazz Brunch at La Caye, Haitian Restaurant in Brooklyn. My new works were displayed, I spotlighted all of the organizations I was affiliated with, gave copies of my feature in Amour Creole Magazine Fall issue and celebrated such a huge milestone in my life as a Haitian American Artist.

My Third Project, I am the co-creator of, “The Artist Recession”, a social networking exhibition where  I showcase my work alongside  up-in-coming artists from various genres such as photography, hip-hop, spoken word, acting, writing and more!  This event promotes the message of artists supporting artists located in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

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TheBlackManCan: You have a deep love for your Haitian culture. How has your culture helped shaped you into the woman you are today?

SD: I come from a long line of very strong, proud, passionate, hardworking, resilient, powerful and beautiful people. I learned early the essence on how to survive with minimal, have a strong family base and be proud as to where I come from. . Being a Female Haitian American Artist, with such a strong willed background,  working with a male dominated field makes me not only erase the lines that women don’t have an abstractive voice, but historically within my culture, I am becoming a trailblazer, independent from the convention thought and traditional notions

Because of my Haitian culture, I became a woman who faces adversity, champions change within her community and driven by passion to consistently pursue her dreams.

TheBlackManCan: You recently returned from a trip to Haiti where you were sponsored as teaching artist for “Arts Day Celebration”.  What it Arts Day Celebration? Why where you selected? How was the experience?

SD: In July I returned from my trip to Haiti sponsored as a Teaching Artist for Art Day Celebration, a program which cultivate and empower impoverished and underprivileged children through the Arts in Haiti. There we taught 150 children from three different orphanages on the power of Art. My work was so well received by Art Day Celebration, I’ve been asked to continue working with the organization on various projects and redevelop the artwork shop in Haiti.

As a Teaching Artist for Art Day Celebration in Haiti, I had firsthand experience on how the power of Art can change the lives of children whose environment have been devastated by natural disasters. These children whom I view as my own children have such a powerful light, spirit and energy when given tools such as a paint brush, tiny tubes of paint and paper just so they can express themselves.  I wholeheartedly feel, ART as a tool will help a nation, can make a child understand their value of self, and acknowledge that pursuing their dreams is possible. Being a part of this program reminded me of my mission and how I have the power to change the world through ART.

I was chosen because of my deep love for the Arts and the importance of art needed for a child’s full development. My passion allowed me to fully grasp my purpose in life to change the world, create a connection with my work and inspire others that they too can reach their dreams by just believing. I mean I am no Oprah Winfrey but I think one day I will come close.

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TheBlackManCan: You have a tumblr titled “The Black Venus.” Where inspired this name?

SD: The Black Venus derives from an idea I had years ago, playing with the words and definition behind “Black” and “Venus”.  Facing the media’s exploitation of minorities as to what we as women should exemplify.

The Black Venus celebrates everything that I am as a Woman, Brown, Beautiful, Natural and Genuine.

TheBlackManCan: Where do you see yourself and your endeavors in the next five years?

SD: In 5 years, I will continue overseeing my projects with affiliate organizations, challenging myself as an Artist and create and implement a comprehensive Art Residency Program for students ranging the age of 8-18. This program will cover Newark, DC, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami, London, Paris, Haiti and South Africa. I want to show that no matter what race, religion or culture ART connects us and has the ability to change the world.

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TheBlackManCan: Why is it important for Black Men and Boys to see positive images of themselves?

SD: The importance in seeing a strong and positive image of our Black men and Boys makes a huge impact to not just our communities but the world. Our men and young boys need to see they are supported, strong, intelligent, and powerful and can achieve anything through Faith.

TheBlackManCan: What words of advice do you have for young girls of African descent?

SD: My words of advice to all of our young girls, stay true to you, believe in the impossible and never ever stop dreaming!

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Exquisite Women: Tiffany Bender and Alize Beal

Exquisite Women: Tiffany Bender and Alize Beal

Exquisite Women

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In order to restore community integrity we must first begin with restoring personal integrity amongst the younger generations.

TheBlackManCan is making its way back to New York City to bring you two Exquisite Women who are making a difference in the Harlem Community. We proudly present to you Tiffany Bender and Alize Beal Co-Founders of Y.U.N.G. Harlem. Tiffany and Alize sit down to speak with TheBlackManCan about Y.U.N.G Harlem, issues facing women and girls, advice for the youth. 

TheBlackManCan: What inspired you to create Y.U.N.G. Harlem? What is the meaning behind the name? 

YH: Y.U.N.G. Harlem is actually an acronym for ‘ youth under new guidance’. The name was actually suggested to us from friend of the organization Stephen Robertson. Through our name we hope to not only empower the youth within our communities to become change agents for any negative circumstances that surround them. Equally important, we also reach far beyond that demographic to remind young professionals that no matter where they are in life it’s important to bring their younger peers along the ride with us; through tragedy and triumph so that understand while there are no shortcuts in life – there are rewards to be unleashed only through passion, hard work, and dedication.

TheBlackManCan: Why is it important to restore community integrity among the youth of communities across the country?

YH: Something went missing in the past few generations – between the new aged millennial who’s entered the working world hungry to make their first million and the young kid who would rather video tape a fight for the internet, than stand up and say something.

The generation behind us is angry.  They are frustrated. And saddest of all, they have fewer and fewer monitored outlets to release this frustration and anger. They turn to social media to embarrass one another, namely the person or people who have “angered” them. What we don’t understand is with the introduction of social media – children think they have this pseudo reputation to over compensate for. Combine that with the innate anger and frustration they already have and we have a new breed of teens who will do anything to protect his clique, neighborhood, or “rep.”

In order to restore community integrity we must first begin with restoring personal integrity amongst the younger generations.

TheBlackManCan: What are three major issues facing the youth of today? What are some solutions?

YH: Lack of both self and community integrity, the absence of the spirit of elders within the lives of youth, and deeply embedded anger are the three main issues that are affect the youth today – and as a result are the root of the gun violence epidemic in our country.

The only solution is to remind our youth that they are much greater than their negative circumstances. From there, we can ignite their innate individual talents and truly change not just our communities – but quite possibly the world.

TheBlackManCan: Can you tell us about the upcoming events Y.U.N.G. Harlem has coming up this spring and summer?

YH: First up this spring is our Big Hat Brunch, The event is based around the theme “If I knew then what I know now”: Reflecting on our past, present and future as a female. The Big Hat Brunch is set to highlight the importance of entrepreneurial ventures, leadership development, building powerful friendship and strengthening   our self-love as women. With both panel and round table discussions, we seek to facilitate encouraging and enlightening conversations amongst seasoned professionals and aspiring youth.

Following that we will host Ball Like A Boss, a social event geared towards local male entrepreneurs who also have an interest in the improvement of their community; specifically through networking and mentoring younger males in the area. We will recruit a small number of at risk teens to participate on teams sponsored by small businesses and young professionals in the community.

To close out the spring and jump full swing into summer we will be launching the Greater Than Campaign, as an effort to teach the community that they can rise above the violence that hinders our immediate success. By harnessing our energies to create more artistic, political, and intellectual players with deep commitments to their hometown, we have the power to rid cities of this tragic epidemic that plagues our nation. The campaign’s goal is to encourage the youth to glamorize the positive influences that not only surround them; but can also be found within their own spirits. By rediscovering these talents, they will tap in to a keen sense of self-awareness and the very powerful impact they hold in the development of greater New York.

The Greater Than Campaign is a two part movement, both retail production and viral video featuring some of New York City’s most powerful players in politics, fashion, education, and entertainment. High quality T-Shirts featuring the campaign’s various logos be available for pre-sale on popular high-end street wear ecommerce sites as well as specialty boutiques in New York City. All proceeds raised from shirts will be donated Y.U.N.G. Harlem University, a six-week intensive college preparatory program for Harlem teens.

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The only solution is to remind our youth that they are much greater than their negative circumstances.

TheBlackManCan: Why did you choose the Harlem Renaissance as an era to model your organization after?

YH: After spending a few months in Paris where she studied the Harlem Renaissance and African Diaspora through Europe, co-founder Tiffany Bender penned an open letter to her hometown entitled “Dear Harlem”. In the letter she urged the return to this time of greatness for the community as Harlem is and will always be the mecca of Black culture.  Furthermore, we cannot continue to tear down this legacy with gun violence.

TheBlackManCan: Why is it important for young professionals to develop the mindset to lift as they climb?

YH: YH finds that the most effective change happens when people can use leveled communication. This is especially important when it comes to talking to at-risk teens in Harlem. It’s hard enough getting through to teens who aren’t affected by the circumstances of their environment – it has continuously proven even more difficult when you bring someone in to mediate a community issue who looks nothing like the people of that community. Oddly enough, it has little to do with the color of your skin or the money in your bank account; its about building with them from the ground up and being consistent. Let the know your hardships as their happens and allow them to celebrate alongside you with your triumphs. That way, we are transparent about the fact that our successes are obtainable through hard work and dedication.

TheBlackManCan: Y.U.N.G. Harlem has six pillars. What are those six pillars and which ones means the most to you?

YH: The Arts, Politics, Education, Health, Community Safety, and Entrepreneurship are the pillars in which YH has stood. It would be unfair to even begin trying to prioritize them as they all work in tandem to create a strong community of people.

TheBlackManCan: What can men do to be better advocates for the issues facing women and girls?

YH: Stand up! Women for so long have been the front-runners for many causes, from gay rights to equal pay in the workplace – and now we are on the frontlines again trying to save our children. However most of the children we lose are young Black and Latino men, so why not stand beside us on this fight? The children we lose aren’t just the ones in front of the gun, but also the young man behind the trigger – men have an unparalleled yet under utilized advantage where gun violence prevention is concerned and need to be held accountable.

TheBlackManCan: Where do you see yourself and Y.U.N.G. Harlem within the next five years?

YH: In the next five years we hope to have expanded not to just greater New York, but also our brother city Philadelphia and into Washington DC where can truly start affecting the policies of our torn communities.

YH3

We must take care of ourselves and one another. Listen to our elders. And be bold in the face of adversity – even if it looks just like you.

TheBlackManCan: Why is it important for men and women to see positive images of Black Boys and Men?

YH: For so long, the Black man has been emasculated and humiliated in our society. They have a very vague identity in our society and it important that we redefine what it means to be a Black man not just for Black men and women – but for the entire world to see.

TheBlackManCan: What words of advice do you have for the youth of today?

YH: We must take care of ourselves and one another. Listen to our elders. And be bold in the face of adversity – even if it looks just like you.

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