WVON Interview | “Uplifting Our Youth During the Pandemic”

WVON Interview | “Uplifting Our Youth During the Pandemic”

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/

To view more on Dr. Doriane Miller of Urban Health Initiative: https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/find-a-physician/physician/doriane-miller

To view more on Dr. Sonya Dunizulu of UChicago Med: https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/find-a-physician/physician/sonya-dinizulu

To view more on Ernest Sanders of @ssworkschgo: https://www.southshoreworks.org/

To learn more about Gary Comer Youth Center’s work with 6-12 grade youth: http://www.comereducationcampus.org

What “Turned It Around for Me?”

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!

FOR TICKETS: https://artoftransparency.org/…/turned-it-around-for-me…

Remember to bring your mask or stay home if you’re feeling under the weather! We will be socially-distanced. See link above for full details!

Sincerely, Tyra

HerStory | Connecting Her Past to Her Future

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.

To view the show, visit Quinn’s YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/lOrkJWG592k or their Facebook page: https://fb.watch/4AqNgvykrX/

Quinn Chapel is always hosting relevant ways to fellowship, network and share community resources! So remember to like, comment, and share Quinn’s video and get connected to other events!

Visit: https://quinnchicago.org/ for all the tea! 😊

YouTube: https://youtube.com/user/QuinnChapel

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/QuinnAMEChicago/

Instagram: https://instagram.com/quinnchicago?igshid=18qv3ez6ukq5a

I Have An Announcement! 🎉

I Have An Announcement! 🎉

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?! 😏

—Sincerely, Tyra

The Announcement on Facebook.

The Announcement on Facebook.

Oh, But After This!

Oh, But After This!

I stayed up a little late last night finalizing my monologue for this weekend while on the Art of Transparency Tour stop in Memphis.

It’s a gritty take on my life story.

Raw, real… and I hope I don’t ugly cry at the end… 🥴😂

For tickets: bit.ly/aotmemphis

—Sincerely, Tyra

**COVID protocol will be followed during each show/activity. See link for full details.

In-Person or Remote Learning? A Solution-Focused Conversation

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.

New Quarter = New Goals Accomplished

New Quarter = New Goals Accomplished

You know, I think I’ve always wanted to start a clothing line. I vividly remember sketching designs for our cheerleading uniforms in grammar school and re-designing all the hottest Nikes I couldn’t afford. I was customizing Nike’s before it was ever an option on a website.
So earlier this year when I decided that I would design and make a few t-shirts, I knew I wanted them to be innovative. Like any entrepreneur, I’m pretty particular about what I put my name on. So the excitement that comes with putting the EbonySun logo on these designs is next level.

We* officially debuted two original designs last week at our very FIRST pop-event (pictured below). That means we officially slayed two goals this month! We already had the “Distinguish Yourself” design and the “#ProtectUs” shirt which made its debut on Juneteenth. So releasing the “Don’t Fold” and “Mind Your Business(es)” shirts next felt like a step in the right direction.

Our warehouse is small but mighty.

The catalyst for all of these designs are, of course, centered around personal lessons or and social issues—many of which I’ve written about on the Sincerely, Tyra blog or our social media platforms. So there is an intentional level of brand connectivity happening between the writing that we feature and these designs. Even the EbonySun logo and motto looks like something we would don on the Sincerely, Tyra side of the house. 

image.png
EbonySun logo and motto.

Our next goal is to facilitate a collaborative of women-owned small businesses in the creation of a scholarship fund focused on teen mothers. The “#ProtectUs” shirt (originally titled the Rekia shirt) is a not-for-profit sale item for this very reason. Until the collaborative group is formed, this shirt is our healthy reminder to protect every facet of Black womanhood. This design will likely become the flagship for funding the scholarship fund. If you know of any organizations or small businesses that we should partner with for this endeavor, please email details to info@sincerelytyra.com


Each shirt can be found on our Etsy shop  (https://www.etsy.com/shop/EbonySun) and custom orders can be placed using the following Google Form. Of course, we’d love our subscribers’ feedback on the designs! So hit reply and tell us what you think! Or let us congratulate YOU by sharing any goals you’ve accomplished this year with us!

—Sincerely, Tyra 

*Right now, “we’re” a design team of one (perhaps, one and a half if you count assistance from my five-year old daughter). But prayerfully EbonySun and Sincerely, Tyra will be able to hire an administrative assistant and a design assistant before Quarter 2 of 2021. The best way you can support us with this next goal is through prayer. Thanks in advance!

**We = trusted team members are being spoken into existence. 

Last Sunday’s POP-UP event display.
EbonySun’s Creative Director, TyraShange, wearing the “Mind Your Business(es)” shirt.
Prepping the “Mind Your Business(es)” shirts for the Pop-up event.
The “#ProtectUs” shirt gets a new colorway!
Getting the “Don’t Fold” Shirt prepped for special delivery.

ISSA POP-UP EVENT!

We’re excited to announce that our mother company, EbonySun Chicago, is partnering with this dynamic group of Black-owned businesses next week to offer you all NEW merch (like new NEW… not even on our website… exclusive NEW) and of course, boxes of Sincerely, Tyra-authored books!

Join us and share the good news! Happy Sunday!

—Sincerely, Tyra

EbonySun is a lifestyle brand created to showcase positive images of Black life.

Love: A New Inquiry

Yes, I’m that mom that sings to the babies in their sleep! 🥰 Judge ya mama 😂

So I’ve been listening to a lot of Drake and Anita lately. But somehow in between them, I was able to come across this song, Sacred Space, by India.Arie. Honestly, between her and Anita’s Tidal playlists, I’m rethinking the type of love that I need and want in my life.

There’s a lyric in this song that India sings: “When this life becomes a fight. You are where I put my gloves down.”

…Honey, that hit my spirit in different way. Those lyrics expressed a type of love that exudes peace, comfort, and sanctuary.

Listening to it made me think about whether those things could exist naturally between two people or whether a couple would have to work toward finding and maintaining that type of love.

There are so many ideas and suggestions about love within our culture. An obvious example can be found in love songs. Anita’s and India’s repertoires are even better examples. I’d like to say that Drake might have one or two ideas about love that are actually solid. Maybe…

But it’s difficult to determine what to require from love these days. The dominant theory of our culture doesn’t even seem to value love much. So it’s definitely not effectively teaching us what to REQUIRE from love for it to be long lasting and beautiful.

Are there prerequisites or demands of love for it to be one’s sacred space? What are some things that you require from love for it to feel right and good? Share in the comments! I’m learning! So help me out! 🥰😩

—Sincerely, Tyra

What About Self-Awareness?

What About Self-Awareness?

I want to hide… Literally just want to get under the covers, ball up like a baby and hide. Why? Because of this feeling of rejection—and how I chose to respond to it. Disclaimer: This post is going to share my flawed reactions to a recent male friend’s choice to be in a relationship with someone else. No details about his identity will be revealed because, well, that just wouldn’t be fair.

If you’ve been following the blog for awhile, you probably remember the following quote:

Posted in January of this year, the photo reached just shy of 2,600 individuals and sparked 41 profile visits on Instagram. Cool, right?

Well, it probably would’ve been dope—if I actually would’ve taken my own advice. You see, I entangled myself intimately again (this time, building what I thought was a stronger friendship) with the same man this post was about just three months AFTER I wrote about being content with us not being in a relationship.

Now, let me be honest this time around, I have not really been self-aware these past few months. I thought that I could be intimate with him and not catch feelings. Honey, I had it mapped out so clearly in my head.

…Until, we started acting like real friends toward each other. Because of this new pattern of interactions, my feelings grew exponentially faster than his did. When I realized he had become interested in someone else, again lacking self-awareness, I thought “okay, cool, we can still just be friends.”

Big pause here: Show of hands. How many of you think I was ready for us to just be friends?!

Seriously, what was I thinking?! Deep down, I knew I wanted more from the beginning and should have been honest with myself enough to create boundaries to let him know that as well.

But that wasn’t the choice I made. So when he decided that he did NOT want a relationship with me again—one would likely think: Oh, she knew it could end this way. She’ll be fine.

I did know that it could end this way and yes, because I’m an adult who made the choices I made, I SHOULDA been fine with his decision. But, for the sake of my own personal growth, let me tell you why I wasn’t:

I do not handle rejection well.

…There I said it.

I’m honestly just not used to it. I was one of the top students in school all throughout my life. Got rewarded left and right for my intelligence, work ethic, and ability to help others. I was popular in college and am still very much the person everyone has a good time around. Other guys are vying for my attention. So why wouldn’t he want to be in a relationship with me?

That was the million dollar question that I didn’t realize I was even struggling with this time around. When I say struggle… it took TWO good friends to sit me down on TWO separate occasions over the course of this past week for me to realize that I have been giving this man hell over a choice he FULLY has the right to make. (Note: 🥴🤦🏾‍♀️ is how I feel admitting to this and realizing I’ve been acting like crazy person. I’m supposed to be cooler than this.🙄)

Last Friday, without knowing about my situation, one of my best guy friends was venting to me about a woman he’s been involved with recently. Hearing his feelings about her actions confirmed that I had been irrational with my expectations of the man I was only intimately involved with. So, it was then that I decided that I was over it. At least, that’s what I thought.

Then, yesterday, after sending a text to the man that explained how I felt—about him not choosing me—I called another good friend for validation when he told me I was wrong. How could he say my feelings were wrong? But, because my circle keeps it very real with me: she told me I was DEADASS WRONG for some of the things I said to him. Ultimately, I apologized to him because of that conversation and her ability to help me see a different perspective.

So this morning when I get another like on the Instagram post above, I realized that this feels terrible because I’m not used to feeling “rejected.” I wanted something from him that he didn’t want from me. Hence, the REJECTION.

If I was more self-aware or problem-solving this for one if my own friends, my advice would be that:

1) I could have chosen to not fool around with this man.

2) I could have been real with myself—and chosen to correct my attitude toward our time together.

3) We were just two people making decisions about what we wanted in the heat of each moment.

4) Despite how much you disagree with their choices, you don’t always deserve an apology.

5) Sex and friendship does not equal a relationship.

Everyone has choices to make in life and we’re not always going to like what other people decide. These past few weeks have helped me to become more aware of my own choices and although I still feel bad for how I was treated and how I decided to react toward the man, I’m thankful that this experience has granted me insight. Next time, I know to be more upfront with myself.

How do you know when you’re not acting like yourself? Have you had an experience that caused you to act differently than you normally would act? What lessons did you learn about self-awareness? Full disclosure: I’m still learning and your comments may help me grow!

Sincerely, Tyra

Self-awareness? How do you know when you’re not acting like yourself?