Last weekend, I was invited to for an interview on WVON 1690AM – The Talk of Chicago’s Community Health Focus segment for “Uplifting Our Youth During the Pandemic!”
It was a dope experience to have someone I respect asking about my work alongside some exceptional co-guests whose work I follow. Shout out to host Dr. Doriane Miller, Dr. Sonya Dinizulu and Ernest Sanders!
To hear the entire interview about ways we are uplifting youth and parents in our every day work, click the following link: https://fb.watch/4Q2mAlBSNK/
There was a time when I was so fed up with myself and my surroundings that I actually considered…
…It’s a “turning point” story in all of us! To hear how it turned around for me and each of the speakers on the 2021 Art of Transparency Tour, grab your tickets and meet us in Milwaukee, Wisconsin this weekend on Saturday, April 10th!
After a long night of filming, I realized I should say thank you! So, I went live on Facebook… at 12:00 a.m. …Yep! That’s how much you meant to me! In this video: 🎥 • I say THANK YOU to you! 🥰 • I talk about why I started my blog! 💻 • I share the meaning behind Shange! 🦁 • I say THANKS some more 🙏🏾! —Sincerely, Tyra 🖤
We prided ourselves on productivity until “produce despite a pandemic” became our reality. Into the dawn like bird songs, now pangs of insomnia beckon us. Mistaking insanity for invincibility causing us to be more reckless during the day.
“Black folk the new robots.”
All the while paving the way, for heavier workloads. They’re writing the code on our souls. Imputing and uploading mixed messages in our minds making it hard to surmise whether I should pick up a pen and write when all I really wanna do is fall asleep before sunrise.
“They’ll kill themselves off.”
Programmed to hate each other too easily. Stench of every fatal attraction still seeps deep into our psyche. Secretly wishing we could reek less havoc sitting on the public safety ad hoc. But ain’t enough committees for mother’s too tired to cope with white sheets laid in the streets or cops protesting our presence on every sidewalk touching our feet and choppers riot overhead searing the bluest sky. Somebody must’ve died. Today, CPD searches the perimeter for the shooters despite hiding a few in plain sight and screaming Blues Lives… While grandmamas and sirens cry, we bleed out laid out on a cracked and wholly pavement and not even an ambulance ride can save him so an older woman screams “Help him, Holy Savior!” How do we sleep in a time such as this?
“They say sleep is the cousin of death.”
Fold the map on Vincennes and Lawrence. Tell us just another way to keep Black people opulently oppressed and outta Lori’s downtown long enough to forget the riots that came before us. We are the descendants of Red Summers and MLK-motivated marches in Marquette and Trumball Parks and— well, who fights for poor people’s rights now, huh?
“City been on fire. COVID, just carjacked the flames.”
Chicago, the city built on a hill— not to be hidden, but driven into history as too separate and too ready to kill. Kill our joy, kill our peace, kill our boys as they fight for fame and recognition —for anything but being looted slaves.
—Sincerely, Tyra 🖤
I guess it’s National Poetry Month… I started this almost a year ago. Back in May 2020… tried to finish it today. In fact, it feels more abandoned than finish. #poetry #nationalpoetrymonth
On this last day of Women’s History Month, it thrills me to share an event hosted by my church Quinn Chapel AME Church to celebrate five dynamic women in our community. I was honored to be one of them (🥰) and got to learn so much about a few women I greatly respect!
The Paul Quinn Women’s Missionary Society of Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church presents: HerStory | Connecting Her Past to Her Future featuring: Sis. Carolyn Thomas, Sis. Monique Williams, Sis. Tyra Owens, Sis. Melanie Boyd, Sis. Judy Williams, and Sis. Zelma Jarvis.
I live a pretty private life. So making public business moves is really something foreign to me. It’s been a learning process!
So, of course, when I was looking at a friend’s social media page and saw their title for their brand/company underneath their photo, I thought… “Why have I never added that to my Facebook profile?” (Insert a 🤦🏾♀️+ a 🙄) But, I’m thankful for the people (family, friends + complete strangers) that have supported me all this time despite this slip!
What’s something that seems intuitive but people forget to do for their business? If you have another “simple-enough” tip that could help someone, please share in the comments. We like supporting each other on this site. So, don’t be shy!
…Guessing now this means, at some point, I need to do a proper launch party, huh?! 😏
Is there someone in your life you who could use a reminder about how strong/creative/blessed they are? If you are a Black woman reading this, what are you speaking over yourself this morning, Queen?
Here’s a poem I wrote years ago to speak over myself when I needed an extra bit of encouragement. My only request:
If you share this at all, share it with a Black woman—first.
Dear Queen, Look in the mirror and repeat: You are beautiful. You are Black. You are woman. Divinely created to bring peace to a world of chaos; perfectly molded to solve any problem with your intelligent mind. Go forth and give rise to the day you wish to experience.
I like to call my full-time job, the “not-so-9-to-5-9-to-5.” I know it’s a bit clunky, but it’s true since I work in the out-of-school time/youth organizing realm. As the Community Resource Manager for Gary Comer Youth Center on the Southside of Chicago, I have been able to plan, organize and facilitate some dynamic events focused on the safety and wellness of our community’s youth. Yet, also serving as a parent in this field, I have a unique vantage point of gaps and growth areas.
I realized a few months ago that our city leaders, Dr. Janice Jackson CEO of Chicago Public Schools and Mayor Lori Lightfoot, had not designed adequate parent engagement before making decisions about when to send our children and teens back into neighborhood schools. So, I decided to ask my colleagues from other community organizations to to help me plan another event. “In-Person or Remote?: A Solution-Focused Conversation” was an event held this past Tuesday with parents and caregivers in mind as our target audience.
In April of 2020, the Gary Comer Youth Center hosted the first COVID & the Community discussion with several community partners, our neighbors, and a few young adults. It was a powerful conversation and generated many ideas for new and enhanced mutual aid projects, resources, and youth opportunities to help sustain often forgotten communities like Grand Crossing, South Shore and Woodlawn. In hindsight, none of us could have predicted that almost a year later we would need to have a follow-up event.
As organizers, our ultimate goal is to help our community’s youth and families stay safe, healthy, and thrive. One way we do this is by making sure parents have adequate information and support from other trusted adults. So this year, our focus was assisting parents with finding solutions to their in-person and remote learning struggles.
We know that the Chicago Board of Education held a week of community forums earlier this school year that were widely attended by concerned parents. In late fall 2020, CPS distributed a district-wide survey to gauge how many parents would send their students back to schools for in-person learning. Despite serving 330, 000 children and teens, CPS reported that only 77, 000 kindergarten through eighth grade parents selected in-person learning. Chicago Teachers’ Union leadership argues that Chicago Public Schools created an inequitable process for parents to participate in the survey and obtain information throughout this process. Months later, we can see that neither in-person or remote learning has equitably served our community’s youth. We also realized that the majority of our parents’ voices (those who do not represent CPS or CTU) have simply been absent from the conversation. So, we decided to create a safe space for parents to not only voice their concerns with both options, but to generate solutions as well.
As service providers and community organizers, we plan to use what’s shared in Tuesday’s solution-focused conversations to inform our out-of-school time programs so that we can better support the families that rely on us. Next week, I’ll be reporting back with the notes and data that the parents in attendance shared with us.
Do you have solutions for making either in-person or remote learning better at your children’s school? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments and share them with my colleagues, community partners, and other parents! Overall, my greatest hope is that we are able to bridge the gap and create an atmosphere of unity for our community’s youth.
Crazy quilts are unique and innovative quilts created from scraps of material. They're crafted from odd pieces that don't always match or fit together without the work of an artist. My hope is for a world that values this unique artwork. I blog to make IPOC authors and their works more accessible, to make all the pieces fit together.