Song of the day: 12.38 by Childish Gambino
Around March 11th, I watched a news segment on Instagram about the Corona virus. This was around the time I was preparing to mail my graduation announcements to friends and family so they could make arrangements to see me walk the stage. Four years of long nights, short days, and endless assignments that amount to a short stroll, handshakes, and a picture before I took my seat again. My graduation was slated for May 1st at 2 P.M. in the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center. On March 19th, I received an email stating that all graduation ceremonies were canceled to ensure the safety of students, their family, and friends. Days before receiving this email, I couldn’t understand why I’d been hesitant to mail my announcements-- I guess it was only a matter of time to find out why.
Unlike many students, I didn’t go anywhere before and after spring break. The furthest I went was Jackson View Landing, which is about 15 minutes away from the center of Tallahassee. I looked out at Lake Jackson, brown-green marshes tinted with insects and young fishermen. Not my typical break but with my dear Nelle, it was more than worthwhile. All of my classes have transferred to zoom but only two actually use the software. I’m figuring how to navigate the switch considering that all of my classes were on campus while applying for jobs, writing poems for NaPoMo ( t-minus two days), and finishing the rest of my semester without losing peace of mind.
Corona. Spanish for crown. Noun.
I’ve never seen so many people panic and disregard a disease before:
“I’ll be fine.”
“I’m staying away from everyone.”
“Young people don’t get it anyway.”
Meanwhile, all over the world, Corona disregards age, background, and location. It takes lives. It ends birthdays. It cancels baby showers. It economically disables people that specialize in fields that require them to be around people-- theatres, museums, tourism. A few of many entities that have been halted or shut down because they don’t have emergency funding or aren’t “essential” to the livelihood of individuals.
California. Texas. New York.
All major states that have enacted a mandated curfew/lock-down of some sort. Though they are not the only states, these are the few states I may be living in after my virtual graduation ends. As a budding professional artist, this pandemic has shown me a few things.
As of today, I have 26 days left as an undergraduate student. Though the Coronavirus has taken so much from the world, my peers, and some many others, it has not taken my joy. It has not taken my drive to succeed. It has not taken the pride I have in my great city, Jacksonville, FL.
To all of the people working endless shifts in hospitals, I pray that you are protected from the disease as the frontline soldiers protecting the future of the world.
To all of the people that are blessed to work with pay and even not work yet still be paid, do understand that you are blessed and many, many people want to be just like you.
To all of the people that do not know where your next meal, rent, or utility money is coming from, I pray that your community uplift and equip you with the tools you need to at least be happy at home.
This too shall pass. For though there are things that are beyond our understanding, disarray doesn’t make the dilemma go away. Be still, remain in good graces, and never, ever let the destruction of today determine the peace that will come tomorrow. Corona’s days are numbered and I’m ready for brunch once this pandemic has come to a close. It’s only a matter of time. Protect yourself by staying home and away from as many people as possible.
All the best is yet to come,
Song of the Day: Slide by H.E.R.
Charlamagne Tha God's take on Black Tech Representation at AfroTech 2019 curated and created by Blavity Inc.
Since middle school, I've traveled from coast to coast and abroad for moderate to no cost. Through being intentional, committed, and curious, I've been able to have some experiences that some folks can only imagine having. Traveling can either be very expensive or cheap depending on how much time you take to prior plan. Here are some ways I financed/paid my trips throughout college.
This seems basic and minute but it’s a key principal in traveling. You obviously can’t spend money you don’t have but in order to make traveling more cost effective is to save at least 40% of your income. Even if you don’t make much, this can at least cover meals and travel per day. Every place in the world has an affordable means of transportation and food.
There’s a scholarship/fellowship for everything as we all know but there are some scholarships that will give you funding for traveling around the country and abroad. Scholarships like Boren, Benjamin A. Gilman, and Critical Language are usually highly competitive so in order to have a competitive application, you need a few things:
i. A specific purpose/intention
ii. A story worth reading (this is subjective but do your absolute best to sound like yourself in a way that’s easy to understand)
iii. Specific and measurable outcome/impact as well as why the experience is essential to your personal development
iv. Gather necessary materials
v. Turn it in!
If you have these qualities then you’re in the ranks to get that scholarship. There are also fellowships and programs to apply for that will partially or fully fund your experience.
(Pro tip: if you want to learn/master a specific skill, language, etc., do service, or research then look into fellowships/scholarships. Again, these are very competitive so you have to be as distinguished and specific as possible. Click here to see databases with a list of fellowships and scholarships. Some opportunities are not limited to undergraduate students too! Here's a list for post graduates/ professionals)
Some Institutions offer grants to students in order for them to further their study and exploration of a specific issue/topic. The amount varies depending on the institution offering the grant. Similar to a scholarship/fellowship, grants are highly competitive but if you follow the guideline stated earlier then you'll be well ahead of the curve. I don't have a list of grants to apply for, however, click here for an example of a grant that I applied for through the United Negro College Fund.
I hope that you gained something from this advice. Comment or email me if you have questions, comments, or concerns. If there's anything I can do to help you find more opportunities then don't hesitate to ask!
Beyond The Lights,
Song of the day: Anytime by Jean Deaux
Today, I decided to invite my wonderful girlfriend, Renelle to the Running Water since we’ve noticed that young folks (and even older folks) have some trouble getting through the puppy love phase of their relation/situationship. By no means are we perfect nor do we want to make it seem like we are. We’re learning and growing with one another so this is simply some of our observations. You may agree, you may not, you may be confused but pay attention and take what you need.
This isn’t a one stop shop for young couples. We’re just showing the world what works for us. Please comment and give your take on our tips. What would you add? What would you take away? What was missing and should be added? Thank you for your time and be on the lookout for next week’s post on The Running Water.
Beyond The Lights,
DJ3 and Nelle
Song of the day: And The Beat Goes On by The Whispers
I believe that when you do, present, or create something that isn’t quite fully yours, you give credit where it’s due. In Alpha, the Jewels acknowledged one another’s contributions and explicitly gave one another credit as a way respecting each other’s work towards the future of the fraternity. A writer’s biggest fear is being called a plagiarizer and being denied of their “truth”, whatever it may be. Honor and gratitude to the people that invested in you, no matter what stage in life you are at, is essential to any field. Most people know me as a poet first so once I started doing photography, I began to understand why so many photographers were mad when people wouldn’t tag them in their photos. I didn’t make an instagram for a while because I felt like it was the go-to way to promote my work. When I finally gave in and made a creative/photography page on May 2nd, it was good at first. I had two clients-- one of my brothers and a friend of a friend. They were very pleased with my work and tagged me in every post (to my knowledge). Now, I don’t post everything I shoot because there’s some work that just isn’t for the gram. But there was one shoot that I altered (package wise) and though it went well, it was a prime example of allowing my kindness diminish my value. I didn’t get tagged in any photos I took and it hit me differently. The internet is an electronic sea that loses and manipulates information in the blink of an eye so all I could think about was the possibility that someone could steal the photos I shot and edited. I didn’t say anything because I had already sent the photos to the client and they posted them for the world to see. I say that to say, whether its a photo, quote from a poem, or anything that isn’t yours-- give credit where it’s due. Originality, authenticity, difference is what makes us a mosaic of people and not giving someone the recognition they deserve (no matter the size of the deed or manner) is actually an insult to the person or people that put in the work to create that thing(s). With that, share and comment on the posts that you like, your thoughts help not only photographers but anyone that’s putting themselves on the front lines. Also, I want to shout out to Renelle S.T. Williams, Auntie Dory, Corey Wheeler, Charles PDF, Tre Crews, Artman Pat, Sky, and Yanté for supporting me as a photographer. I wouldn’t be here if you all didn’t believe and invest in me throughout my journey. I am because you are.
Beyond The Lights,
Song of the Day: 2nd Childhood by Nas
My father died when I was five years old. When father’s day comes, I don’t post him to talk about how much I miss him nor do I write I about him. Sometimes, I just cry. I try to blame him for the difficulties I encounter and get placed in but it’s hard to blame someone I didn’t get to know. My father is the piece of my identity that keeps changing because everyone has a different story about him. He was a great man that was always on the go. He couldn’t sit still. You act just like him. You look just like him. You and your brother look like twins. I can’t see what other people are looking at so it can be hard to differentiate between the tales I’m told about my father. He’s like a myth to me. I can sense him around me depending on where I go as if he’s walked wherever I’m going. I have deja vu more often than I expect. I look through my gallery and find that I take pictures of the same things but at different points in time. I can remember when I took a picture at FSU for the first time near the integration statue not knowing that I’d take a million more till this day. There are also times where I find myself in the shadow of some of my friends when we hang out. I don’t have a lot of father figures but the few that I do have, I do my best to remind them that I appreciate them as much as often. Some include:
Pastor Lewis and Dr. B, my spiritual elders that keep my morals in check as I move up in life. No matter where I go, I keep my bible with me because of them. I wouldn’t have crazy faith if they didn’t help me believe that I had any.
Dr. Bowden (Pops) and Dr. Danford (Doc), my super educated dads. They both have PhD’s and I like the sound of Dr. James. They’ve been around the world and live life because they made it that way (not saying my spiritual elders haven’t. They live comfortably lavish too.). Their drive to innovate and be open to new things encourages me to be boundless in my endeavors but also focus on what I’m good at. They keep it real with me through their actions and not just a speech of what I should and shouldn’t do.
Then there’s my step dad, Will. He’s been around since middle school and though we’ve had our fall outs, he’s shown me what grit and focus can get you if you put in the time. I didn’t like his method at first because I could tell there was some things he had to work through internally. He taught that my past doesn’t define me since I can define the future. He’s stubborn but he has a big heart if he opens up to you. He taught me how to protect myself-- my heart, money, relationship(s) (romantic and platonic), art, and name. He knows that some days my name is all I have so we joke about the irony of my last name being his middle name. I guess he’s the “filler” my dad sent (LOL). But in all seriousness, I wouldn’t be where I am had he not been persistent. What’s even crazier is that both of our dad’s were murdered and it took our stepfather’s to fill in the cracks that can’t quite be filled. It’s not the sunshine that keeps a car clean-- it’s the rain as he’d say. He’s the epitome of a screw up turned household protector. I’m happy that he stayed not just for my mom but to help my siblings and I in anyway he could-- if we asked. Will is a special case and life really wouldn’t be the same without him. At least he understands me when I feel like no one does some days.
I’m thinking about the last time I visited my father’s grave and it’s been a while since I’ve cleaned it. I’ll dust it off once I get back home. Save me a seat in heaven Dad.
Beyond the Lights,
A work in parts about my observations of the District.
Song of the day: Rap N*****s by Nipsey Hussle
While walking towards the Foggy Bottom-GWU train station, I stopped on my trek to work and looked around me: there's a catholic church to my left and some building owned by GWU to my right (in the distance I think). There's a silver 2007 BMW with a pink and white ticket in its windshield wipers. The District is infamous for giving tickets for anything from parking to jaywalking, you name it. Thankfully, I haven't received a ticket and I don't plan on it either. Watching a cop car break through the post morning rush hour is unsettling-- he seems rather desperate to get somewhere or to someone. Some of the people I've encountered in passing walk around people that need help and have a one-up attitude. Class and status truly ruins the lives of so many people here simply from the fact that everyone wants to get to the next location fast. Men and women clutch their bags and walk briskly like they're about to miss the train. The escalator descends me into the cavernous subway as the light from outside is replaced by yellow-white tungsten lights. The brick clacks against my dress shoes and echoes throughout the cinder block roof of the subway. As I hop from one train to the next to get to work, people come on and off the carts finding a seat where they can. Not many people sit next to each other-- I guess that means some people are more paranoid than others. To be in a transient city like the District, you see every kind of person there is: tall Asian, short-haired Afro-caribbean, paraplegic caucasian. Some things about people can be seen but others, you have to find out through conversation. Walking off my cart to my stop, I strolled up the escalator and into the natural light. Today’s work wouldn’t be long since I’d completed most of it ahead of time. So I did research and made notes until it was time to go back to GW.
On the way back home, I went to the mailbox to get a care package I received from my girlfriend (shout out to bae for always looking out for me, you are loved my dear), to find that it was way heavier than expected. I weigh 125.6 lbs. Guess how much the box weighed? 60 lbs! Imagine wearing a long sleeved jean shirt and fitted pants in 86 degree weather carrying a box that's 60 lbs! Boy did I feel the love in that box while I was carrying it. I carried the box every 10 steps and stopped for a break. With almost every break I took, no one stopped to even acknowledge me except a pair of construction workers and a summer intern that helped me get inside of Shenkman Hall when I finally made it to the double doors. The mandarin I got from my co-worker was crushed in my pants pocket, my arms were sore from carrying the box, and it looked like I'd been hit by an intermediate Florida shower. Fatigued and shaking while pushing the box through the doors and into the elevator, I was so tired that I got off on the wrong floor but knocked on the right room number (or so I thought). I apologized to the person that I didn't mean to disturb and found my way back onto the elevator to head to the ninth floor. I fell asleep after clearing out the box and cleaning up the mess I made.
(Did I mention that I'm almost done and I’m absolutely enjoying myself? The Canady Foundation for the Arts was definitely the perfect place for me to be and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.) I knew the night would be long once I woke up so I dragged around the house until I was ready to write, listen to beats, or get distracted by whatever was going on with my phone. I’ve been here for three weeks and from what I’ve seen so far, I don’t think there’s a place like the District. It has the immediacy of New York. The hominess of Jacksonville. The funk of Philly. The clout of L.A. Maybe this is the buttercup phase of a new relationship but I like the District so far. I’m excited for everything that it has in store for me.
Beyond the Lights,