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,