Kayla Shipley-Willis, a ninth grader at PAAAS in Plainfield, NJ, is the recepient of the 2017 Gold Medalist for Short Story Writing by the NAACP ACT-SO in New Jersey.
Kayla competed in the Humanities/Short Story Category of the annual NAACP competition and won with her short story, “Illness,” a suspense story about a sister's quest to figure out the reason her younger brother committed suicide shortly after escaping a mental institution.
Written by Ny Qunaa
The ideology of Christianity is love. We are taught to love God, love our neighbors, and love our enemies. While it is easy for us to love God and love our neighbors, loving those who have opposed us is a hard act to perform. As a black person in America, it becomes difficult to love those who have oppressed us for centuries. The inequality of blacks has always existed in America - from the moment we were taken from various parts of Africa and stripped of our freedom physically and mentally. The Bible was a tool used to enslave blacks and dismantle them of liberty; it coerced slavery upon blacks through manipulation and violence.
Although slave owners and supporters used the Bible in a duplicitous manner, Christianity gave slaves hope that their righteous and mighty God would set them free. After the Emancipation, many blacks identified themselves as Christians. However, their understanding of Christianity was skewed by their enslavement; as a whole, they thought that submission to Christ meant that they had to submit to immoral authority. The accumulation of discrimination and violence toward blacks built up over time and by the 1950s, black Christians began to take action. This occurred in part as a response to the brutal murder of Emmitt Till, a black teen in Mississippi and the arrest of Rosa Parks, a black seamstress in Alabama. Boycotts, marches, protest, and sit-ins, rose to an all-time high thus starting the passive resistance movement in the Civil Rights Era.
The passive resistance movement was criticized by many, Christians and non-Christians alike. The likes of Malcolm X spoke of the mantra "By Any Means Necessary" - to do whatever is needed for blacks in America to obtain justice. Fellow Christians believed that blacks should remain silent about the injustice that they experienced so violence would not be invoked. In Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, he addressed those opposing the passive resistance movement. In the letter, he stated, "Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue."
The passive resistance movement continued beyond the post-civil rights era. In 2012, the movement reached a crossroads, when George Zimmerman was acquitted after fatally shooting Trayvon Martin. Black Christians were hurt, confused, and angry viewing countless cases of unarmed black being killed without ramifications. They sought the church for answers. Unfortunately, the church didn't provide comfort to its black members.
The church as a whole seemed to be more concerned with being orderly than demanding justice and succumbed to social neglect. Many churches have criticized the Black Lives Matter movement because of its primary and exclusive focus on blacks. The church has eluded to its black members that being a Christian and black in America is an oxymoron and that we must choose Christianity over our blackness. To be a Christian means to extend love and pray for those who afflict us. To be black and cognizant of the injustices done to us in America causes frustration and anger which the church sees as the antithesis of Christianity. How can someone be angry yet love at the same time? Contrary to popular belief, love isn't the absence of anger but the ability to speak the truth.
As the Church, issues affecting all its members must be addressed for it to be functional. How can the body fully function if the right arm is broken? Not dealing with the brokenness of the right arm would hinder its healing thus causing the body not function in its entirety. Likewise, if the Church fails to address the issues concerning black people, it can not operate properly.
Can one be black and be a Christian in America? Yes! As a black Christian, I remind myself of Ephesians 4:26 which states, "Be angry, and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your wrath." I can love and be angry. I can speak of the injustices done to blacks in America. I can challenge the church to empathize with blacks and not dismiss our feelings. I can pray. I can protest. I can be the change I want to see in America. But most important of all, I can put my faith in God alone knowing that He has the final authority in this corrupt world.
Nick Jr. has added a new show to their preschool lineup that showcases a female lead who is true to herself. Nella the Princess Knight, is a biracial princess who wears a gown in the palace but morphs into a beautiful knight when she's outside helping people in her Kingdom.
Nickelodeon execs wanted to create a character that wasn't stereotypical. Nella is a mix of traditional "boy" and "girl" characteristics. She wears a gown and a tiara but she also wears armor and carries a sword. She is also biracial, highlighting that love isn't just black or white. She is complex and multifaceted, like most progressive kids today.
Kudos to Nickelodeon for showing how complex the world is and for showing kids that they can be true to themselves and not fit into a box.
Written by Ny Qunaa
Since the days of slavery, America has caused many Blacks to have psychological issues. One of these issues involves the state of Black women's hair. Having straight hair was deem acceptable socially and professionally after the Emancipation, so many Blacks began to straighten and process their hair. All that changed when "Black Power" emerged in the 1960s which encouraged many Blacks to wear their hair in its natural state.
Throughout the years, many people have debated on the way Black women should wear their hair. While these debates have sparked national attention, the conversation lacked the discussion of the health of black hair. Whether processed or unprocessed, Black women want their hair to look beautiful. While hair can be alluring in any state, some Black women will sacrifice the health of their hair for beauty. I used to ignore the health of my hair until a tragic accident occurred in 2009 caused me to focus on the state of my hair and make decisions that liberated me from society's standard of beauty.
The Brown Women in Media Brunch is Providing Women of Color 'A Seat at the Table' in the Media Industry
Written by Ny Qunaa
Makeba Green grew tired of the lack of representation of brown women in the media field. Hence, at the tender age of 19, she launched the Brown Women in Media Brunch. Her goal was to bolster the confidence of women of color in media so they could be successful in the industry. Three years later, the Brunch has now become a recognition and educational event that provides attendees with the tools to be successful.
Makeba Green, now 22, is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, author, speaker, educator, and mentor who is breaking the mold for brown women in media. The objective of the Brown Women in Media Brunch is to create a space for attendees to learn about the ins and outs of the media industry and offer opportunities to network with leaders of color in the industry. Attendees are encouraged to break negative stigma and stereotypes of women of color in media.
During this year's brunch, attendees will have the opportunity to get free headshots, learn about public relations, and get free resume critique services. They will also meet with people of color who are making an impact in all segments in media and get an opportunity to learn from them through workshops and panel discussion.
BET posted a video of the Beautiful Black Blogger giving her option regarding last week's shootings and ways she thinks the African American community can show society how valuable Blacks are!#RecycleTheBlackDollar #BlackSpendingPower #BlackLivesMatter
If you could choose to be any race or gender, would you still be a Black Woman?
This was a question that I saw in a Facebook group that I am a member.
The short answer to this question is YES!
While society can barely "Say Her Name" (Sandra Bland and the countless other black female victims of police brutality), refer to us as "nappy headed hos" if we don't fit society's standard of femininity and beauty (comment from Don Imus stated on April 4, 2007 about the Rutgers University Women's Basketball Team), and deny us opportunities and overlook us for jobs that we are beyond capable of executing (Zoe Saldana being cast as the legendary Nina Simone and having to put on black face and a prosthetic nose to "fit" the role), there is no other race or gender that I would rather be than a black woman.
As a whole, we are seen as having two strikes against us: being black and being a women, both regarded as less than quintessential. For centuries, we have gone through a plethora of struggles; however, these struggles have made us adaptable and strengthen us to overcome any obstacle that we may face. Racism, sexism, and colorism are issues that black women face but we continue to break through the glass "-ism" ceiling and forge a way to be successful. To me, being a black women means to be tenacious, passionate, sassy, talented, beautiful, intelligent, enterprising, stylistic, witty, astute, and so much more and there is no one that I'd rather be than a black woman.
Written by Ny Qunaa
A spectrum of brown
From soft sand to dark mocha
Brown is beautiful
Written by Ny Qunaa