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

Chicago’s Pain.

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

Send this poem to a Black Woman 🖤

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.

—Sincerely, Tyra

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.

—Sincerely, Tyra 🖤

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.

🎙Our Clubhouse Debut

🎙🎙UH… HELLO!!! …IS THIS THING ON?!

The talented Jackie Eadie, Executive Director of Project Increase and yours truly are hosting a Clubhouse talk on all things youth development TONIGHT @ 7:00!

Join us and a few other dope youth practitioners from across the Chicagoland area, if you want to add to the conversation, network, or just gain perspective!

See you at 7:00 PM CST!

—Sincerely, Tyra

Prayer of Preparation

Dear God,

Your mercy amazes me. We have such little time on this plane and yet we consume ourselves with trivial things + mere minuscule seconds compared to the glorious permanence we’ll find at home with You. Why do we use our time so frivolously? Why do we have so many temporary lapses of judgment when it comes to what is pure, noble—just even?

And yet, while we put You on the back burner as a people, allowing culture to overturn our very hearts from what is right… You still care about us. How are You so loving + so kind; so forgiving + so slow to anger when it comes to us?

God, my only petition is that You would show us how to become content with the cross you’ve assigned me to carry. Create in me a heart that desires what You desire, Oh God. Prepare me for the days ahead, Father. Make obedience + repentance my breakfast + lunch. Help me eat Your word for dinner, Dear Lord. For we know the day is coming that You would return—make us ready, Heavenly Father.

In Your Son’s Most Loving Name,
Amen.

*Tonight, I’m reading Philippians 4.

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