Black Girls Rock! Queens Camp Apply Now!

Black Girls Rock!, the wonderful organization for teen girls led by former model and DJ, Beverly Bond will host its 2nd “Queens Camp” this summer. Black Girls Rock will hold the two-week leadership camp in Rhinebeck, NY. If you want to enhance your leadership skills, apply to this camp by May 15!

Click here for more information on the Queens Camp. And to make it easy for you, here’s the BGR_QUEENS_CAMP_Application_2012 for the camp:).

Peace,

Jen

Artist to Watch: Emile Sande

Today’s “Joint of the Day” on BET’s 106&Park video show countdown was for the song, “Next to Me” by Scottish-born singer, Emile Sande. Her video looks like it was filmed in warehouse, which featured only her playing the piano and a drummer. I think this is great because you are completely focused in on her soulful voice, which sounds great! There are many artists today who focus more on a big budget videos to support mediocre vocals and whack lyrics. Her sound is refreshing and I hope to see her continue to rise in the music industry.

-Jen Threat

Sista-2-Sista Youth Summit Rocks!

by Jen Threat

If you are a teen and you are looking for positive, uplifting events, no need to look any further. Now in its fifth year, The Sista-2-Sista Youth Summit continues to motivate and inspire more than 125 New York City teens–and it’s free!

Girls enjoying the “Get Fly” workshop with Michaela angela Davis.

On March 31, 2012 the planning committee of the Gye Nyame Empowerment Project (GNEP) presented the Sista-2-Sista Youth Summit again at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY. Founded by Akua Soadwa, GNEP is a non-profit organization providing girls and women of Pan African descent with events to boost confidence and self-esteem in underserved communities.  The theme of the 2012 summit was “Celebrating the Sista Within.” This event included a full day of workshops on topics like forgiveness, life worth living and the importance of presentation. The summit also included a real-talk, keynote discussion by Susan L. Taylor, founder of the National Cares Mentoring Movement and editor-in-chief emeritus of Essence Magazine. In her keynote address Susan discussed how she went down the wrong path in relationships early in life.

She shares, “Pain will make us allow people in our lives to hurt us. Anyone can come on this stage and have a testimony about how they’ve been slapped around or sexually abused.” She explains how we can turn our lives around, ” All we have to do is, ask for what we want. You have to remember, you are called here on purpose with a purpose.”

The summit honored women who have been strong leaders in uplifting young women like Girls for Gender Equality and Michaela angela Davis, journalist and founder of the mentoring organization, Shine. During the awards ceremony, one teen was also awarded the Andrea D. Brown Book Scholarship to use for college textbooks in the Fall.

Young girls and women tackled serious topics in a fun way and ended the day with celebration. Everyone (including my five-year-old daughter) had their fists pumped with Black Girls Rock! on the “1’s and 2’s” spinning old school and new school hip-hop tunes, featuring the MCs of Rhyme Like a Girl. It turned into a party atmosphere with the girls and “girls at heart” continuing to enjoy the evening with a powerful poetry performance of “Little Miss Rapper Girl” by Queen Godis. And last but, not least was Ms. Chrisette Michele.

Rhyme Like a Girl on the mic featuring Purple Haze, At Last and Queen Kash.
Chrisette Michele giving inspirational words to the girls.

Chrisette wowed the crowd with a black cocktail dress and red stilettos. She revealed in an interview later that she loved all kinds of fashion, including low-end brands like Old Navy and Aldo. Yes, a songstress, like Chrisette Michele can appreciate bargains, too. Chrisette, who was trained as a jazz vocalist, sang her hits, “Epiphany” and “Blame It On Me,” which had the audience doing finger snaps and mouthing the words to the songs. She sings with so much soul that one might think she was raised on gospel music, but she wasn’t. She exposed herself to many different types of music.

Before Chrisette Michele began to sing, she shared mistakes she made along the way with relationships. She overcame them with the support of her mother and aunt, and by nurturing her passion for music. She motivated girls at the summit by noting they may not know anyone personally who has their career choice, she explains, “You can look for yourself in the past and in history.” In other words, there have been women in history that have done what they would like to do and they can use their success as a blueprint for their life.

From the workshops to the entertainment, the Sista-2-Sista Summit was a fabulous day of support and empowerment for females. This summit has been one of my favorite teen events to attend and once again, it did not disappoint.

Up Close & Personal with Michaela angela Davis

Michaela angela Davis. Photo by Jen Threat

I had the wonderful opportunity to interview and observe the “Get Fly:Presentation as Power” workshop led by Michaela angela Davis as part of the 5th Annual Sista-2-Sista Youth Summit produced by Gye Nyame Empowerment Project (GNEP). Here’s what I learned about Michaela.

Michaela during the “Get Fly” workshop. Photo by Jen Theat.

Contrary to what you may see when you look at photographs or meet Michaela angela Davis in-person, she is not the product of an interracial marriage. This was surprising to me, because she looks very much like what I think my niece, who is bi-racial, may look when she’s an adult. Michaela’s mother and father are what we in the African-American community “light-skinned-ed.” She describes her mother as looking like Lena Horne and her sister like Halle Berry. She jokingly mentioned that her brother described her as “opalescent.”

Michaela had confidence in her unique look because she was surrounded by “black excellence.” Michaela angela Davis was raised in Washington, DC., and grew up loving paper dolls and reading fashion magazines, which later led her to careers in fashion. She also had confidence in her own skin because she was able to nurture her creative spirit at a high school for the arts and later, as a student of an acting conservatory at New York University. She notes that for students that are seen as different, their uniqueness is embraced in environments like arts schools, “Our currency is our creativity.”

L-R: Dawn, my assistant and daughter, Michaela and me.

Image activist, Michaela angela Davis, has been a celebrity stylist and has held fashion and beauty editorial positions at Essence, Vibe, and as editor-in-chief of the now defunct, Honey magazine. She describes the closing of Honey as “heartbreaking,” especially since it was the most successful women’s magazine for two years straight. Michaela now dedicates her time to the mentoring organization, Shine and MAD Free, an organization which facilitates conversations about beauty, image and power by women of different generations. Michaela angela Davis demonstrates to teens and young women that it’s cool to celebrates differences, because they can be an asset. Michaela has been a stylist, editor, and mentor, I can’t wait to see where her evolution will take her next.

-Jen Threat

Q&A with GNEP Founder, Akua Soadwa

Akua Soadwa, founder of GNEP

Double Dutch Magazine editor, Jen Threat, chats with Akua Soadwa, Founder of Gye Nyame Empowerment Project (GNEP). For five years, Soadwa has presented an informative and dynamic one-day Sista-2-Sista Youth Summit that positively impacts teen girls.

JT: Why do you think there’s a scarcity of programs or lack of access to programs like yours?

AK: I’m a firm believer in integrity and honoring my word. If you don’t go to work in your own life, it (the program) won’t be successful. I’m personally doing the work I’m offering. I think sometimes people want to produce programs, but they’re not really willing to do the work on themselves. It’s not sustainable. And because I do the work on myself, the money is always provided for. We haven’t had any grants in the past 5 years. All the money has been individually donated by people committed to what we do.

JT: How have you been able to attract women who are the tops in their fields, as well as, celebrities?

It’s really the team. The summit is not going to work if they’re lives are not in order. Whatever request I may make, my team is willing to move it forward because their own lives are moving. Versus hearing people ask you to do something, but you’re not feeling like you’re getting it yourself.

JT: I know you’re from Cleveland, OH and I am, too. What advice do you have for teen girls or young women who are moving to a large city? I know that can be challenging. 

I would say get to know people. Don’t be in your box. Do something you normally wouldn’t do. Tell people what you’re up to or what you’re going to create. You’ll find that people will direct people to you, because you keep talking about it. Just keep saying it.

Tips to Survive Police Encounters

The recent death of Trayvon Martin has sparked a lot of debate about racial profiling, eventhough Martin was killed by a neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman. Racial profiling often applies to African-American males. This is a great opportunity for females to also be made aware of how to conduct themselves when in the company of police officers.

I wish I had been educated about this when I was in high school. I was stopped by two different police officers in the same night after going to a party with a friend in a wealthy Cleveland suburb. I was even made to get out the car and walk a straight line as if I had been drinking. I was simply lost and was reduced to tears after my encounters. In each case, I was not given a ticket, but a healthy dose of humiliation.

Racially-motivated deaths like Trayvon Martin can often further separate minority communities from the police. Unfortunately, the police in these type of cases give the ones who are doing the right thing a bad name. Just as you want police to treat you as an individual, please do the same thing. For your own safety, don’t be so quick to have your guard up and ready to talk “sideways” with vulgar language and threatening hand gestures. It could be the difference between life and death.

Here are some tips to help keep you safe in police encounters.

Peace,

Jen

The Crazy Ladies of Reality TV

I thought that I’d seen it all with the MTV Super Sweet 16 birthday parties. That is until, I watched The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Phaedra went “coo coo for Cocoa Puffs” with her son, Ayden’s 1st birthday party. Did he really need 12 cakes for his birthday? There was one to represent 12 months in a year. Wow, I thought she was being extra when she had ballerinas perform at the baby shower. So much for going to Africa and being humble. That lasted about as long as Kim Kardashian’s marriage.

Anyhoo, The Basketball Wives in Miami are up to their usual shenanigans: drama, drama and more drama. It makes me wonder if Jen and Evelyn were ever really friends, since there recent battles have been so malicious. I think Jen’s frustration comes from seeing Evelyn go through a 10-year relationship with former NBA player, Antoine Walker, but he “didn’t put a ring on it.” When Walker was in the NBA, I remember seeing footage of a young boy crying because he had never seen his Daddy. It was Antoine Walker’s son. So can you image how he was in a relationship? Fast forward to the present, Walker is NBA D-League player and had to sell his Miami championship ring in a bankruptcy settlement, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Smh. So, Jen has a right to be skeptical about her friend entering a relationship with another athlete (Ochocinco). It is Evelyn’s life, though, so if Jen does want to be friends with Evelyn again, she’ll have to let her make her own mistakes.

Jen Threat

Cyberbullying Can Land You in Court Like Dharun Ravi

Photo: The Huffington Post

Today former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi, 20, was found guilty of invasion of privacy and bias intimidation for using a web cam to tape his rommate, Tyler Clementi during a private intimate moment with another man in the room that they shared. The guilty verdict was announced today in a New Brunswick, New Jersey courtroom.

Dharun Ravi showed the video to his friends and even publicized the second taping on his twitter account. Unfortunately, due to the embarrassment and posting of the video on twitter by Ravi, Clementi jumped to his death days later off the George Washington Bridge. Due to Dharun’s actions, he could serve up to 10 years in a state prison. Even though most of his family is here in the U.S., he may also face deportation back to his native country, India. He will be sentenced on May 21, 2012.

Ravi committed this act was he was only 18, which makes him an adult, no matter how childish his actions were. He made a choice to embarrass his gay roommate for his own amusement and maybe, even an attempt to get praise from his friends. I’m sure he didn’t know his taping would lead to the death of his roommate, but he had to know it would cause his pain and embarrassment. I also see the friends of Dharun Ravi responsible, too, because they viewed the video. Some even helped to set-up the web cam. Most importantly, they stood by and did nothing to stop the taping or to report the taping.

I hope this case serves as a cautionary tale of what not to do when using online technology and social media. Many teens and young adult try to gain popularity by “shaming” others who they perceive as different, strange or weird without considering the “legal” consequences of their actions. If you are upset with someone, think about this case before you send out that tweet, text or email.

Jen

Read more about this case on The Huffington Post:

Dharun Ravi Guilty-Huffington Post Article

Find a Mentor

People will often say you need a mentor to get to where you want to be in a certain job. Well, that doesn’t always work for everyone. What if you don’t know anyone who is a photographer, an architect or a magazine editor? Sometimes you have to improvise and make it up as you go along. What I mean is, you may not know someone personally, but if you google a topic or read an industry magazine, you may find someone who can help guide you in your career. You may not be able to meet with someone personally, but you can learn and be inspired by them from afar.

I remember reading about Cynthia Horner, who is the former editor of Right On! magazine. It was a magazine that covered music and entertainment for teens. I read it religiously in high school in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. I was so obsessed with this magazine that I collected most of the issues! I didn’t know at the time just how much the magazine would influence my career choice. Fast forward many years later, I had the opportunity to tell Cynthia Horner personally how much she influenced my career, especially launching Double Dutch magazine.

If you are unable to reach a mentor in your area, you never know what a phone call or letter may do. (I know it sounds like a throwback way to communicate.) Even though most people speak by email, many companies are unwilling to give that information, but they will give an address or phone number. As we celebrate Women’s History Month,  reach out to a female mentor to help take you to the next level.

Jen

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