My good friend, talented writer, producer, and recording artist, Glen Jones, reached out to me about an event going on that his mother was hosting their 8th Annual Awareness Program and Fundraiser for Sickle Cell Disease.
The Chocolate Chips Association is a non-profit organization for minority girls to learn skills which empower them to become women of distinction. Following the same premise as Girl Scouts, Karen Jones, a retired scientist in the Lake County Community, knows that the issues that our Black girls face are unique and require support specific to those needs, so she founded this organization in an effort to address these issues and give girls a real chance at building a solid foundation for the future. The Chocolate Chips Association is already making an incredible impact on our community and the lives of the families blessed to be a part of it. This event was two-fold: helping the girls to understand the importance of giving back and advocacy. Also, this benefit fundraiser was put together to help children with Sickle Cell go to camp.
I must admit that I didn’t know a lot about Sickle Cell, other than that T-Boz from TLC had it and that it’s a disease most prevalent in people of color.
Upon entering the school, we were greeted by the sweetest little voices. The little angel girls were eager, standing at the ready to fulfill their hostess duties, with a proud Chocolate Chip mom nearby for moral support.
When we got to the gym, where the event was being held, we made a beeline to the baked goods.
Because…you know…Coco luh tah eat.
Some of the baked goods were made by the Chocolate Chip girls (with the help of their moms) and they were so proud to share with everyone.
We made it a point to tell the girls how delicious their treats were and to thank them. My heart still warms at the sight of these little angels squirming and rocking, smiling and saying, “Thank you,” in their sweet, soft voices.
The program began and it was excellent!
Shelby Overton did an original song and another piece that stirred our souls.
Maya Gibson played the violin in a beautifully haunting way, making me feel like I was being serenaded by the orchestra’s very best. Her focus and passion bled through with each stroke of her bow.
Everyone did such an incredible job! I felt honored to be in attendance.
(I sang a little bit, too )
Representatives from the YWCA were in attendance and discussed their partnership with the Chocolate Chips Association to help bring more services to underserved families.
Two chefs, Mario and Ralph, were in attendance and talked about their recent cupcake war event. I was thrilled at the ideas Mario shared with me about hosting events for young kids to learn an important life skill: cooking. Just thinking of the incredible world that would open up to these girls, exposing them to new experiences, is exciting!
But, the most impactful part of the event was hearing from Blanche, a representative of the Sickle Cell Association of Illinois. She shared about how she started working with the organization as a volunteer, largely because of her own circumstances. She has a daughter who suffers with Sickle Cell disease. She was a wealth of knowledge. One of the most impactful things that she mentioned was how many babies are tested for Sickle Cell disease at birth, told that their child has the treat, they freak out, then are told that they do not have the illness, and the parents toss the information out of their mind, concerned with everything else that’s happening when the baby is born.
It was at that moment that I realized that that was exactly what had happened with me! And it wasn’t until I was sitting there listening to her that I even remembered! It’s not “important” information to know now, but between now and the time my son, Phoenix, becomes of age to have children, would I remember? And if there are more parents out there like me who won’t remember, the odds of children being born to suffer from this terrible disease will increase.
This event made me realize exactly how ignorant to Sickle Cell that I was.
Maybe not as ignorant as my daughter, who turns to me during the presentation and informs me, “I thought Sickle Cell was a fruit!”
As funny as that was, there is nothing funny about what the children who have Sickle Cell disease experience. They have incredible bouts of pain. Blanche became very emotional (and I did, too) when she shared that she asked her daughter what it feels like to have Sickle Cell and she said, “It feels like I’m being stabbed over and over again in the eyes with knives.”
When you experience being in unbearable pain, you understand how debilitating it can be. I can only imagine what a young child who experiences this as part of every day life would go through.
This is another reason why I was glad that Karen Jones put together this event. The proceeds from the fundraiser will help children with Sickle Cell go to camp. Blanche excitedly shared her daughter’s story of going to camp and said that it was life-changing. It makes sense because being around other children who can sympathize and empathize, stand in the gap with you, make you know that, yes, life can be hard, but it can still be enjoyable, is truly beautiful.
In a world where people only care about things reaching their own doorstep, it did my heart good to know that Karen Jones and the Chocolate Chips Association are taking a stand against this disease and making strides toward helping to find a cure.
It was disheartening to learn that Sickle Cell research does not have ONE single line in the Federal budget.
Yet, a disease like hemophilia, a disease which touches significantly less people than does Sickle Cell, has several lines in the Federal budget. I would hate to think that in 2017, in a country that boasts of equal rights for all, that the color of the skin of most affected by these issues is a deciding factor between whether it gets addressed or if it’s tossed by the wayside like yesterday’s trash.
This birthed in me the desire, no NEED, to get answers.
Someone is going to have to tell me why this issue is not being given the priority that it deserves.
Share this article with everyone so that more people become aware. And you know that they say about the squeaky wheel. Maybe if we squeak loud enough, Black lives will begin to matter.
And who knows? If funding is the issue, maybe doing more events like these where the community steps up to support will allow us to resolve these issues ourselves or, at the very least, fund research that can help us get more information on how to help those with Sickle Cell disease to better cope.
I was really impressed with the patient guidance of Karen Jones as she helped the girls to feel a part of this event. He made everything look so effortless and, with the help of the girls and their moms, the event was a success. I hope that this organization expands and continues to receive loving support within our community. We need organizations like this, ones that empower our girls and help them grow their wings as they approach womanhood and prepare to take flight.
Be sure to follow the Chocolate Chips Association on Facebook: CLICK HERE
I am truly your sister in this journey and we are going to get there together.
If you’ve ever missed a goal,
Then you know how devastating it can be
To feel like you’ve sold yourself a hope and a dream
On how good you thought it’d all be.
The derisive laughter from undisclosed places,
The inability to look at yourself in the mirror,
Too scared to face the faces.
The self-satisfied smiles from finger-waggers nearby,
Saying, “I told you it wasn’t worth the effort to try.
You should just lay here alongside me and just wait til we die.
There’s only misery for people like you and I.”
You may be tempted to relinquish said goal,
To the naysayers, the skeptics, the ignorant, and “hell nos”,
To crawl away and retreat, putting your dreams out of your mind,
Saying, “It’s just not for me” or “It’s just not my time”.
But I implore you to reconsider why you even began
Dreaming the dream that you did,
Why you devised the master plan.
Was it to end the maddening cycles uprooting your family tree?
Was it to show your kids, spouse, and friends what life could truly be?
Was it to make a real impact in your community?
Was it to prove to yourself that you could still chase your dreams?
To fail to plan is to plan to fail
So go back and see where the train derailed.
Did you lose sight of your goal because others bailed?
Did you lead from the front, following success’ trail?
If Edison took an idea that was already in existence
Failed over a thousand times, but with clever persistence
He stayed the course and went the distance
Gave us light so that you could even read this sentence.
It’s true what they say about success leaving clues
And though falling short of a goal can leave you lost and confused,
Scream, “I WILL NOT BE DENIED!” and refuse to lose.
Let nothing deter you from your goal
To thine own heart be true.
Along my journey though the Underground Railroad 2.0, I learned about the Law of Association, which states that you will become the average of the five people with whom you spend the most time. So, when I was blessed to meet and get to know makeup artist, Kim King, I knew that I was on the right path.
She surfaced as the cream of the crop above many self-proclaimed makeup artists because of her dedication to her craft and confidence in her abilities by keeping a consistent and valuable presence on social media and within the community.
When we connected, I found that, not only was she a skilled professional, she was easy to talk to, extremely intelligent, and genuinely down-to-earth.
She specializes in glamour makeup, but also does special effects makeup.
I was able to work with her on a short film for Halloween where I was able to witness her expertise up close and personal and it was nothing short of inspiring!
She says that the bulk of her clientele come from ladies wanting flawless lashes and brows, which she delivers every time.
Largely self-taught, Kim knows the importance of constantly reinventing herself and staying on the cutting edge of industry technology. In keeping with this principle, she expanded her suite of services to include microblading, which she describes as “a cosmetic tattoo that adds pigment to the skin using tiny needles with semi-permanent makeup”.
Hailing from Indiana, Kim has taken Lake County by storm, solidifying her seat at the table as an entrepreneur worth knowing. She did something that most don’t: made a decision to pursue her passion full-time and jumped in head first.
I had to know what made her take this leap among a world of people content with playing small.
“At first, I did it because I had to do SOMETHING, so I just did what I liked.”
But, what about the challenges? How did she overcome them?
“I just push though,” she states. “Is it easy? No. Can depression set in? Sure. But, is it worth it? Absolutely! One thing that has helped me, too, is looking at things from my clients’ perspective. I ask myself, ‘What would make someone choose me over the many talented makeup artists in the area? How can I get better at what I do? And when the answer comes to me, I take action.”
She is always learning, networking with other industry professionals, and pouring into those wanting to pursue their passion.
I am elated to call her my friend and am convinced that her name will be one rolling off of tongues of industry heavy hitters and celebrities alike in the very near future.
Be sure to follow her Facebook page.
And be sure to congratulate her on winning the award of Best Makeup Artist in Lake County in the Lake County Awards hosted by Boy Los Crazy!
Freedom is not free, but success leaves clues.
All you have to do is follow the trail.
With all the love that I can muster,
Even though I have always had many incredible skills, I only dreamed of being something great. I never thought that I would actually BE great.
I heard a story about Oprah, how she would watch her mother hanging clothes up on the line and say, “Oprah, gal. You watch me closely. You gone learn to do what I’m doing and, if you’re lucky, you a find you some good white folk to work for.”
Oprah said that something deep inside of her knew that her mother was wrong.
I didn’t KNOW.
In fact, even my dreams couldn’t keep up! I remember having a reoccurring dream about a mansion. It was a BEAUTIFUL home equipped with all the decadence that I could have ever imagined. And as soon as I would walk through the house, taking in every breath-taking delight, the owner would rush around the corner, quick to show me to the door.
Even my dreams were conspiring against me, I thought.
It was until I started to think differently that things began to change.
Seven years ago, I free fell into the world of entrepreneurship.
I say “free fell” because I was fired from the job and was left to figure it out.
And it was the scariest time of my life.
It was very strange because I had always known that I could earn money working a job. I didn’t think that I could really earn money any other way.
For years, I struggled.
I couldn’t wrap my brain around things that other entrepreneurs simply knew.
Like… why does it seem that I have to always be spending money? On websites, business cards, everything?
And I kept hearing, “You have to invest in yourself.”
Hell, feeding and clothing myself WAS an investment for me!
Why would I spend money if I wasn’t making money??
I was like everyone I knew: afraid to be taken advantage of in business, but not educated on business enough to know what criteria I should be considering when making a good business decision.
Then, one of my wealthy mentors, Brian Caruthers, a helper along my trek through the Underground Railroad 2.0, suggested that I read a book that helped him to change his mind called Making the My First 10 Million. This book opened up my eyes! He recommended a slew of other books that helped me to develop my mindset such as Think and Grow Rich, The Magic of Thinking Big, and Making the Shift.
I eagerly studied the millionaire mind and was determined to make it my own.
This simple decision helped me go from…
I could NEVER do it…
To I wish I could do it…
To I’m going to try to do it…
To I AM DOING IT!!!
I still have a way to go on this journey, but the air is SO much clearer up here!
Now, I understand why I need to invest in myself: because no one else will see and follow my vision the way that I will, so to wait for success to be handed to me will mean that I will be waiting for an eternity.
I am truly your sister in this journey.
I couldn’t believe that this is what my day was.
I don’t like to fight.
And I surely don’t like the thought that the almost fight was with someone old enough to be my grandma.
I felt like I’d gone back in time.
You ever seen someone who came from nothing get a little bit of authority and then feel like nobody can tell them anything?
Those who are familiar with social service agencies know what I’m talking about.
It had to be like slave drivers used to be back in the day.
Talking about, “Hurry up and pick MY crops”, whooping folks extra hard, just being all-around mean to show that they deserve their position.
This is what I was looking at today.
In fact, I’d seen this lady belittle people that the agency that she worked for claimed to want to help, saying things like, “This is why Black people will never get ahead”, calling people criminals to their faces, loudly proclaiming how she takes care of herself and doesn’t rely on anyone.
But, it’s one of those things that you just kind of let be.
People will be people, so who am I to stop them?
Until she turned it on ME.
When it was my turn, she accused me of fondling things by her desk and went ALLLLLLL the way in.
Like… All. The. Way.
“Don’t be over here touching stuff! You are so ungrateful! You should be grateful for anything anyone gives you!”
I had that moment, y’all.
That moment of… “Wait… Is she talking to me?”
It came out of nowhere!
I told her that I wasn’t fondling anything.
I was trying to see what it was (I mean, it was food available for the public) to see if my kids would eat it and, if not, leave it for someone who would eat it.
She called me a liar.
And I was like, why I gotta lie for?
But, then the word avalanche came.
I told her about herself.
I told her how she talks down to people, belittles them, and said she might be lightweight racist.
Of course, she denied it all, but the smiles and nods around me told me that I was dead on.
“Do you want my job??”
“Nah, if I wanted it, I would have it. But, obviously, you derive some deep satisfaction in beating people down.”
Then, it happened.
The words that will go down in history.
“DON’T MAKE ME COME AROUND THIS DESK!”
How did I get here??
On my way home, I started thinking.
What made me so upset that I fed into her crap?
And it hit me like a ton of bricks: she reminds me of my grandmother.
My grandmother, a woman that I still felt hurt by and hadn’t even realized it.
This whole scenario could have been avoided if I’d forgiven my grandmother.
Maybe I would have been able to keep my mouth shut and just let her do all the talking like she’s used to.
But, then, another side of me thought about the emotional toll that it takes on someone’s self-esteem to be told that all they are worthy of is scraps at someone else’s table, to be kicked down by someone who should be imparting wisdom to people, and I feel like she needed to hear my words.
No one else would ever say those words to her because they felt that they needed the services of the agency and she played on every bit of it.
Then, she met me.
And I’m all like, “Hiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeee! Eff you very much!”
Looking back, I remember her talking to a married couple who were ahead of me and thinking, “WOW! She acts like she’s so far above everyone, but it seems like, even though she’s talking down to them, she sees herself in them.”
This was the couple that she accused of being sneaky and criminals.
But, that’s a whole ‘nother story.
In the end, I felt very sorry about the whole situation.
I mostly felt sorry that we let our own feelings about ourselves manifest in this way, a way that could have landed one or both of us in jail.
It taught me about how we process emotions as Black women.
We often process hurt and sadness and turn it into anger.
She came from a time when it was nothing to fist fight in the streets.
And truth be told, she probably would have whooped my ass.
But, I guess the lessons that I got out of this is:
1)You don’t have to respond to everything you hear,
2)Forgiving ourselves and others and leaving it in the past is key or else it could pop up when least expected, and
3)never let someone else’s opinion of you become your reality.
If I could go back and do it again, I’d have walked away and let her be in her madness by herself.
But, I’m still on my journey.
Freedom is right around the corner.