Our Children’s Story

Dealing with a family member or child with special needs can be a challenge, which is why having a support system is critical. Libra J. Hicks is the founder and president of Our Children’s Story, an organization that assists families in finding resources for their loved ones with special needs.

I recently interviewed Libra J. where she chatted more about her organization and inspiration behind starting it. Check out the interview below:

Can you tell myself and the readers about yourself and your upbringing?

I am a social introvert (if that makes any sense lmao). I love being social; however, I also love my alone time. I grew up in a very loud house. If we weren’t arguing, we were laughing or listening to either my dad’s music or LP’s when my mom cleaned. I have two very strong willed parents that made nothing into something. They took the knowledge they had and did their best with me.

Growing up and still to this day who are your inspirations/mentors?

This is an easy question. I didn’t have inspirations. No one around me was doing anything worth me idolizing. I didn’t have mentors. Life was my mentor, my parents (both good and bad) were my mentors.

When did you know you had a passion for entrepreneurship and social advocacy?

My oldest son Anthony Jr. is my reason and my youngest son, Lyric is my how! I never knew I had a passion for this. I just knew that I wanted something more for my son and that would require me to thing big. There isn’t anything worth leaving him to here in the state of Georgia. All the services here are not to my standards and because of that I need to create an entity that will stand in my place, his dads place when we are no longer. My love for him and his quality of life is what drove this movement. My desire to honor him while he’s here and gift him with my very best is why I am here. Other’s get a chance to benefit from the love I have for my boys.

How did you first get involved in social advocacy field?

I started out as a small support group in Dekalb County Library. Moms would come together and exchange ideas, vent etc. It morphed from there.

What gave you the motivation to start your organization “Our Children’s Story”?

My oldest is the reason and my youngest is the how. My oldest Anthony Jr. is 100% dependent for all needs. He has Cerebral Palsy and Epilepsy. He relys on his family to care for him. He’s the reason I am here. My youngest son, Lyric Ja’Dore has Autism and has shown me how to let go and live free so that Our Children’s Story can manifest into something unimaginable.

Can you tell us about your organization and what are some goals and expectations you have for it?

Our Children’s Story is a 501c3 organization that strives to serve families who care for loved one’s with disabilities. We assist in finding resources, waiver application assistance, inclusive events etc. We desire in the near future to offer grant opportunities, support for North Metro GNETS in Atlanta, GA. We need money to help us continue our efforts.

You’re also a motivational speaker, how did you get into motivational speaking field?

It comes with the territory. In order to heal my people I have to educate them and speak life into them. Otherwise I wouldn’t be fully obeying GOD. You can’t serve the community partially. You have to be fully involved and that requires speaking. Speaking comes naturally for me, I enjoy using my words, inflections in my tone, etc. to drive a message to those I am supposed to reach.

How does motivational speaking bring a spark to your life?

It doesn’t bring a spark to my life, it brings a spark to someone else. I’ve traveled and still traveling roads so that I can educate and help others. Knowing that I am able to plant a seed fuels me because I know if nothing else my words stuck.

The 3rd annual Purple and Green Gala just past last month September 28th, how was the event and how much did the event raise?

The event was PHENOMENAL. It was better than I expected. The stories, love, inspiration that was in that room was insane. I am very pleased with how the Gala turned out. I am looking forward to next year 2020. We raised a total of $500 which was low; however, I am confident that will change.

What influenced you to start a fundraising Gala on behalf of your foundation?

When I felt the need to bring awareness to Cerebral Palsy and Epilepsy. I also know how important it was / Is to honor those who are in the fight. Those who don’t get the acknowledge for their efforts have a chance to be seen and heard. Through the Gala, my son is being heard and educating others.

What great words of wisdom and advice can you offer our readers and youth advocates everywhere?

Everything you do MUST align with your vision for your life. It’s achievable if you fully stop caring about the thoughts and opinions of others and fully let go and live. Every desire will begin to manifest.

A Dream Deferred

Since birth we’re thrust into the fight of our lives that can get you arrested and ultimately the loss of your life but the price of the righteous.

Oppressed for centuries beyond extreme measures over insecurities and fears of our hidden treasures nothing could suffice the plight.

Everything stolen the land claimed from the natives, the builders and laborers stolen from Africa and other countries, most of their inventions, music, and fashion more thefts from our culture likeness.

Before this generation the dream was assassinated on a balcony nothing but darkness loomed no hope until Obama and now I shed the light freedom only thing left in sight!

Sense 2 Cents Financial Literacy

A recent article on Forbes.com states that too many young people don’t understand money. Growing up, the generations before us, as well as society, as shown as that “it is okay to live in debt”. From college loans, auto loans, and credit cards—-we as millennials MUST change the narrative so that the generations under us are able to be financially free.

Debt a’int cute and it prevents us from enjoying the things that we really want to do in life. Financial freedom first starts with financial literacy. And this is what Sense 2 Cents is teaching our youth. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the founder of the organization where she chatted more on money matters and our youth.

Check the interview out below:

Can you tell myself and the readers about yourself and your upbringing?

I was born and raised in Savannah, Georgia by my parents with my older sister. As the baby of the family, I am my parent’s pleasant surprise. My parents were both involved in my day to day activities and exposure. My parents stressed the importance of possessing a solid character, intelligence and a great personality. My mom taught me to smile and laugh daily. My dad taught me the importance of doing what you love by his involvement in his hobby of cars. 

Growing up and still to this day who are your inspirations/mentors? How did they impact your life?

My family is close knit and has a major impact in my life. 
My mentor is and always will be my mother. I have fortunately witnessed her entrepreneurial spirit since birth. I’m amazed that I have the opportunity to utilize her business savvy and expertise in my own business. I account my work ethic to my father. My father has always been a hard worker and provider. My father’s grind along with my mother’s ability to see beyond the normal income sources has provided a great foundation for who I am as a business woman. 

My sister was my first best friend and still is. She is my go to when I have an idea or am feeling unsure. She always seems to know how to walk through the process of bringing my ideas to reality while reminding me of exactly who I am and what I’m capable of. Having her opinion is very important to me. 

My inspiration comes from a very supportive husband and my children. My husband believes I’m the best at everything and reminds me often. My daughter and my son believe that their Mama can do anything. They motivate me daily. 

I received a major push from two of my best friends for Sense 2 Cents. When I told my long time friend, Candace, I wanted to start this business, she purchased a desk for my home office and said, “Go for it”. My friends are the BEST accountability partners. 
A few years ago, my friend Jowona came to me frustrated with her finances. Helping her create a better financial position for herself and her family came naturally to me. As I helped her, I realized many of the basic financial fundamentals that many people aren’t aware  of. Jowona encouraged me to help others professionally.

When did you realize you had a passion for finance and teaching?

As a child, I loved numbers and money. I can remember being thrilled when my Dad came home with a roll of dimes just for me. I was also an enthusiastic collector of state quarters as they were released. In a tenth grade economics class, I discovered a love for Finance. I became enamored with studying the origins and exchange of money.  

I know that educating others about finances is one of the reasons I’m on Earth. I also know that I have a special knack for teaching children currency basics. As I work with children, I am often amazed me by how eager they are to learn. My students and I have fun which makes the job even more satisfying. When I operate as a financial teacher, it’s as if life keeps affording me the awesome feeling of being that happy little girl who just received a roll of dimes from her father. 

What was your first position in the Financial Field?

My mother had a mortgage office when I was in college. I helped there. My first position in banking which became my passion was as a Teller. 

Do you believe that financial literacy is circumstantial in the foundation of equality?

Absolutely. Money availability it’s possesses the freedom to purchase goods and experience life in whichever way that brings them joy. Financial freedom aids in solidifying individual and collective equality. 

How did you make the decision to transition into children’s financial literary?

While sharing myself equipping my children with financial literacy on social media, others took notice.  Many asked for products and classes to help them the same for the children in their lives.

What influenced you to start your brand Sense 2 Cents?

My best friend, Candace, and I were talking about how much people do not talk about money, although it’s a huge part of our lives. We talked about how much further we all would be if we simply talked about money. Sharing information that we have learned over the years with friends, family and our children can have a huge impact. That conversation made me realize that I needed to be the change. 

As I said my mother is my mentor so when I presented the idea to her, she said GO FOR IT! That’s is all it took for me to start planning on launching. 

Can you tell us about your brand Sense 2 Cents? What are some of your short term & long term goals and expectations?

As of today,  Sense 2 Cents offer classes, flash cards and activity books. The short term goals are to create more resources for a wider age range of children. The long term goals are to make Sense 2 Cents the go to brand for financial education for children. That will include touring and hosting classes, domestically and internationally. It will also include an online portal and school curriculum. 

How do you come up with the finance material and curriculum?

Simply put, I think of lessons that I want my children to know and/or that I wish I would have known sooner. As a banking professional, I often hear questions repeatedly asked. I write those questions down, see how I can simplify its answer and incorporate it in a lesson. 

Your classes/courses include the side of your very own learning tools to help make it fun, what are the tools that you provide?

LEARNING is optimal when it’s fun.  We have fun! Our classes are always high energy. We play games that teach. One of our students favorites are our life size flash cards. We use those cards for races, matching games, live board games, etc. 
The resources provided by Sense 2 Cents assist parents and teachers in deliberately fostering fun learning environments wherever the class my be.

What you’re doing is immensely important and will the change the culture for generations to come, how does that make you feel being a culture shifter?

Wow. A culture shifter. I’m appreciative to have  decided to live in my calling and on purpose. I am certain we can make sure our children have an even playing field when faced with financial situations. I am open to changing as many lives that will allow me to be a part of their experience. There are no limits.

What great words of wisdom and advice can you offer our readers and educators?

“When you help other people reach their goals, you will in turn, reach all of yours.”-Zig Ziglar

Love Me Nina

Underrated some of the most hated niggas arrived to early just ahead of the conscious curve, this is our plight just wanting more than a acknowledgement we’re gifted and black mastering crafts investing in ourselves our only stock.

We just want to be black and legendary only expressing the real raw us in a class such as Malcolm, Kanye, Wale, Me, and You some of the most outspoken words full of emotions the most potent so we’ll never be alone.

Shoot from the same guns but you get a different perspective if you’re the semi-automatic I must be the Glock, they refuse to accept what’s uniquely different but if everyone got sprayed it would be to much of a culture shock.

Our personalities complicated but the only ones seeking resolution surpassed by no other civilization descendants of kings and queens, as you desensitize as they’re killing our children we pledge to use our words to disarm the the stigma by any means necessary until we get called where we get praised more after we physically fade home only realizing to the world we’re a loan.

My Sister’s Circle of Christ

The statement, “Women go through a lot”, would be an understatement. With the world on their shoulders, sometimes all they need is a good support system. From relationships to children to work life, it can be quite draining when you are trying to balance them all, especially when one of the elements is not as healthy as it should be.

Life Coach, Ana, helps women by teaching them how to connect, create and crown within themselves. Ana is the founder of Ana The Life Coach, LLC and the Co-Founder of My Sister’s Circle of Christ (MSCOC). She seeks to assist like-minded sisters to feel esteemed and have peace through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

“I have a special place in my heart for women who are in toxic relationships with incarcerated men,” Ana states.
Ana obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Forensic Psychology at Trinity Washington University in Washington, DC. She later received her Master of Arts degree in Clinical Counseling from Eastern University in St. Davids, PA. With her degrees she is a Life Coach and specializes in resume development, cover letter development, interview coaching, goal setting sessions and time management sessions. She also works as a therapist with people in substance abuse recovery. 
I recently interviewed Ms. Ana where she chatted more on her God-given mission and purpose in life. Check out the interview below:

Growing up and still to this day who are your inspirations/mentors? How did they impact your life?

This is a tough question. Several people inspired me to write. My mother Venus was a poet and songwriter. She also wrote a book before she passed away that I hope to publish someday. My father Robert Ax is also a phenomenal song writer and guitarist. I remember when I was in kindergarten, I had to retell a classic fairy tale. I retold Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I verbalized it while my father transcribed it like a perfect stenographer. I was ridiculously long-winded. Then my father made me handwrite the entire story. My hand was hurting right up until bedtime. In this moment I knew that I would be a storyteller for life.  I also want to give a shout out to my current mentors; Nia Sade` Akinyemi (author coach) and Emily McKnight (business coach). I had clinical supervisors that helped me become a licensed therapist, as well. I even have my own therapist/life coach.  Additionally, I really look up to Dr. TK who is a licensed psychologist.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention Sister Souljah. She writes about real issues occurring in the Black community. I admire how Sister Souljah can write about relationships, violence and spirituality in urban areas, but her writing never comes across as ‘hood’. Sister Souljah helps people to transform with her writing and I hope that my book “Dweller In The Valley” can do the same. I especially want to help women transform who are in toxic relationships with incarcerated men. (No shade to my brothers who get out of prison and positively change their lives). 

When did you realize you had a passion for therapy?

I come from a family that has a history or alcoholism and depression. I saw this problem early in my life and knew that I wanted to be part of the solution.

What influenced you to take a liking to and get into the therapy field?

I love people and I love helping people. God saw me fit to position me to be a therapist. I believe that being a therapist is my calling and I answered the call. Seeing people take control of their own lives motivates me to continue serving others.

After you graduated with a degree what was your first job in the field? Was the job everything you expected or more difficult than imagined?

After I got my master’s degree in clinical counseling I worked as a housing specialist for state parolees. I spearheaded the kickoff of this program at a previous organization where I worked. The program I worked for helped state parolees by finding them permanent housing. We paid their security deposit, first and last rent. We paid six months of rent in total for each individual to help them get on their feet after being released from prison. I personally went to see the homes, negotiated leases with landlords and facilitated home plans with parole officers. I loved it but it was A LOT OF WORK.  This position was not what I expected. I worked a lot of long days and nights. Sometimes I cried my eyes out due to the stress, but I knew that I was helping people to change their lives. It was very a rewarding role. I felt at peace when my season shifted, and I moved on to a therapist position. Often when I told people that I worked with state parolees for a living they were judgmental of those who have been incarcerated. However, the individuals that I worked with were good people who wanted to change their lives and avoid returning to prison. These people are parents, spouses, spiritual leaders, entrepreneurs, authors, artists, musicians and so much more. They are not JUST state parolees.

In society and our culture today mental health awareness is becoming more popular, how important is therapy to the neutralization of mental illness?

It is important for us to take note that there is a difference between mental health and mental illness. Everyone has mental health which is one’s overall psychological wellbeing. Everyone does not have mental illness, however which indicates a psychological diagnosis or disorder. Therapy can help those with disorders to manage their challenges and live happy and productive lives. You do not have to have a disorder to seek therapy. Anyone can benefit from therapy. Therapy provides a safe and non-judgmental space to process life’s problems. A therapist is a third-party who will not give you advice like a family member or friend will. A therapist can provide unbiased feedback, but a therapist cannot “fix” a person. A person who seeks therapy can be empowered to take control of their own life and improve it.  
One day do you see yourself ever starting your own practice?

One day I may start my own practice. I would feel so empowered to start a group practice with other women who are wellness professionals. What I know for sure is that I will spend my life serving others. If God calls me to a purpose, I want to be obedient to His will.

Aside from being a therapist you’re also a writer, what inspired the process of becoming a writer?

My mother was a writer but passed away before she published a book. I wanted to continue her legacy with her work.
 I also felt compelled to write to serve women in need. When I was in graduate school, I noticed that a lot of my girlfriends were dating abusive partners, unemployed partners, spiritually dead partners and/or cheating partners. As for me I dated an emotionally abusive man for about 3 years. He was in an out of jail. He was narcissistic. I went back and forth visiting him in jail and putting money on his books. Eventually he got out of jail but got shot and found himself hospitalized. By the grace of God, he lived through this trial. During this time, I found out that he had several ‘baby mommas’ behind my back. This knowledge broke my heart. Through spiritual cleansing I was able to find healing. I am no longer in that toxic relationship. Despite living through these circumstances, I am a survivor. I am now happily married to a man who loves God and treats me with love and respect. We are currently planning various business endeavors. By writing about such complex issues, I hope to show women that they can overcome pain and live fruitful lives.

Your book is titled Dweller in the Valley, what’s the message you’re trying to relay to the reader?

I did not write about a valley between hills and mountains. I chose to write about the valley that can exist in our own minds. “Dweller in the Valley” is for women who have gone through some stuff! Have you ever begged your man to act right? He still acted a fool. Have you ever written letters to jail? You received demands in return. Have you been cheated on and lied to? You kept going back to the same old relationship. Have you acted as a mother to a grown man? He didn’t grow up. “Dweller in the Valley” depicts Sussudio’s world.
Sussudio is a college graduate trying to establish herself in her career. She is reaching high heights but something or someone has a stronghold in her life. Sussudio’s world gets overtaken with new things she has never experienced before. Suddenly, Sussudio’s world is filled with guns, drugs, incarceration, infidelity and everything else on the spectrum with her boyfriend Slade.
Writing my book about the fictional Sussudio was one of the most important things I could have done to further my mission to help women heal from poisonous connections with men, and I’m so glad to have you join me on the ride.

Can you tell us the impact you want your book to have on society? 

My book “Dweller In The Valley” is a novel with fictional characters. Despite the book being fiction, I bring up many real issues that can arise in toxic romantic relationships. Many of us have been through relationship trauma making this story is so relatable. The main character Sussudio needs catharsis. Sussudio wants a voice but her vocal cords are constricted. She wants to walk into her God-given purpose, but her legs feel stuck. Buckle your seatbelt for a tumultuous ride of trauma, sex, pain, exhilaration, spirituality and reconciliation. This is a sinister love story, but I hope that it can be part of your healing to become a better you.

What great words of wisdom and advice can you offer our readers and aspiring therapists? 

For my aspiring authors out there; If you have a testimony, then you have a book inside of you. Your testimony can help someone heal. Birth the book! If you want to be a licensed therapist, find a helpful mentor/clinical supervisor. Beware that applying for licensure is a paperwork-heavy process but worth it.
No matter what your goal is; Nothing is impossible. Many of us experience some form of oppression or discrimination, however we have the power to control our own lives. We may not be responsible for systemic oppression; however, we are responsible for our own healing. We can choose to change our lives at any moment. We all can reach ANY goal with consistency, tenacity, perseverance and grit. So, get out there! Connect, create and crown yourself! 

Glory

Growth I knew my story wasn’t finished I use to beat the pavement my home and solace was the corner, the place we ate broke bread with all our meals no matter how frigid the temperature made us feel all we wanted to do was post up and chill blunt after blunt we became stoners.

I turned to my ancestors for strength and guidance surviving lashing, lynching, hosing, and sit ins irony we stood up to adversity battling underhanded government tricks to my mentor the revolution will not be hidden.

Like all other leaders we suffer peacefully alone the things you don’t see the stress, the ware and tare on our mental health, the establishment’s persistence of resistance, and the supporters chants no time for compromise but I lay bare on the cross a loner.

I write, speak, and fight for the best culture, history, and poetry that has not yet been written.

K.H. Creates Marketing Savant

The term “Jack of all Trades” is widely used; however, today women of been proving to do it all and have become a “Jill of all Trades”. Ms. Kris LeAnn is a creative genius who has made her mark in a variety of different industries—-from the medical field to the music industry to marketing. What can’t this woman do!
I was highly impressed by this dynamic young woman that I had to do a spotlight on her for the magazine. Check out the interview below.

Can you tell myself and the readers about yourself and your upbringing?

I grew up in a small Texas town where creativity wasn’t always welcomed. The big industry was oil and gas and I felt like somewhat of an outcast because I loved music, creative writing, and inventing silly things around the house. I left that community after high school and started college still clueless as to what my passion was (I started off as a chemistry major, lol). I took a mandatory public speaking course and have been hooked on Communication ever since.

I immediately changed my major and included marketing into it because I was always into commercials and advertising. I obtained a Communication and Marketing degree, as well as a biology degree because I had so many science credits. I became an Account Executive in the Medical Diagnostics industry, but still felt unfulfilled. This inspired me to start a marketing company that focused on telling the stories of cultures that often go unheard.I also left the medical industry and feel better holistically.

Growing up and still to this day who are your mentors and inspirations? How did they impact your life?

My biggest influence was my brother. When born, he had Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, and three holes in his heart. My mom was told he wouldn’t make it past 14 days. With her resilience and family support, my brother celebrated his 30th birthday in 2005. He did pass that March when I was 16, but he lived such a huge life when he was expected to fail. I look at life from the perspective of, ‘If my brother was able to thrive on doubt and minimal hope, surely I can overcome my small obstacles.’ Also HUGE shout out to my mother who had the strength to have my sister and I after receiving such news about my brother (he was the oldest).
Business wise, I love Spectacular Smith, Haim Saban, and Rihanna (that woman knows how to sell a product!)

When did you realize your passion to be an entrepreneur?

I can’t say that I have to this day. I didn’t grow up in a household that focused on owning your own business. It wasn’t until around 25 where I stepped out on faith and decided to build a business and lead a different life. So, entrepreneurship may not be my passion in the definition of the word. What I do know is that I’m great at what I do, and I want to share it with others, so if that lane hasn’t already been created in the way I see fit. I’ll create it myself.

You’re a woman of many talents having worked in the music industry, photography, medical field, and marketing industry, where do you see your career going next?

I don’t want to limit myself by saying I’ll be doing “XYZ”. I never thought I’d be doing video shoots with Lil’ Flip, interviewing Biggs Burke, or selling cardiology tests to the industries top physicians. So who knows. Maybe I’ll do the the first live interview on Mars while promoting my own debut clarinet jazz album, lol jk. My point is, I’m more go with the flow, and I believe our stories are already written, so who am I to predict the future.My career will go in the direction that has already been planned for my life and I’m just enjoying the journey.

As stated earlier you’re also a photographer as well, how does that add another dimension to your arsenal?

Great question! It allows me another perspective and medium to create with. I can see the image a business may want to personify in my head and bring it to life. It’s also a hobby and allows me release built up creative angst, which allows me to keep pushing out ideas.

What ultimately drew you to the innovative network marketing field?

Telling the story of those who did or still don’t have a voice. My brother wasn’t able to speak for himself, and as a black woman in corporate America, I too feel left out of the conversation. Knowing this, I found my passion in using my gift to help those how aren’t able clearly state their desires, frustrations, and ideas.

How does having a degree in communications and marketing help you articulate your creative passion?

Honestly, my degree just gave me the framework on taught me how to read non-verbals, and different communication theories. It’s the icing on a cake that has been baking in the oven since I was a child. I think if anything it gives me the credentials to state that, “Yes, I do know what I’m talking about and I love this so much, I spent thousands of dollars to learn about it”.

Recently you launched your marketing company K.H. Creates, what was your driving influence and inspiration behind this achievement?

I had a company before this that was heavily influenced on the opinion of others. I failed it. It wasn’t mine and it lost it’s visions and passion. Failure is so key in entrepreneurship, though.I took those lessons and decided to create my own persona. K.H. Kreates is all me. From the logo to the color palette. I’m doing this and I’m honestly proud that I’m stepping out again to do what I love. This brand is influenced by my life and how I got here. It’ll be my greatest creation, please quote me.

Can you tell us some of the goals and accomplishments you have your eyes and expectations set on with your business?

I want to become a household name and have a network of fellow creatives. I want to be completely behind the scenes pulling puppet strings and doing interviews to influence the next generation of creatives. Those that are in small town and don’t quite fit in. I want to talk to them and give back in ways that I’m able to. Oh and I want to interview Michelle Obama #BigGoals!

How important is it to you to have a company of your own, as well as for the female gender and culture?

Extremely. Culture is a running theme in my business. As a first-generation college student, black, female, etc. there was a lot I had to discover on my own. If I can help someone out there know that there’s so much more out there to reach for, then I’ve accomplished something you can’t put a price on.

What are some great words of wisdom and advice you can offer our millennial females and readers?

Remain true to your values and morals. This world will try to change you and everything you stand for. You’ll meet people along the way who have your best interest. It’s almost inevitable. Just remember why you started on the journey and everything will be fine. Also coconut oil. Use it and embrace it.

Follow K.H. Creates

Chi-Raq

Violence begets more violence it has never solved anything just the foundation of hate use your weapons let’s show our real strength with a good progressive intellectual debate.

Is it beyond our belief to value our lives as of now our worth seems less than slaves with tattered rags getting beat with cow hyde, the ghetto a place we now subside darkness and frigid love what’s necessary is light and knowledge from above to bring prominence back.

Before gentrification brought along the mass murder escalation we had a strong connection didn’t need a gun and to kill for certification or a colored rag for verification confused rebels of an oppressed nation eternally stuck in the house nigga mind state.

Can we put the guns down aren’t you tired of seeing your children sad face with a frown watching his or her friend lay lifeless on the ground? We can take it back before crack restore conviction in our faith and pride when we defined and represented black.

Fresh Professor Gives Back by Teaching Youth Chemistry

Can you tell myself and the readers about yourself and your upbringing?

My full name is Jonathan Tyson, though most call me just by my last name, Tyson. I was born in Trinidad and Tobago in 1994 and moved to the United States the next year with my parents and two older siblings. My family are my best friends. I grew up in Vineland, NJ in an interesting house. It was “the biggest house in the hood” for all of my boys around the block, but “still a house in the hood” to all of the rich white friends I would meet in high school. One thing that both my friends in the hood and my rich white friends agreed on though is that I was the “smart kid”. I was in LEAP, Learning’s with Exceptional Abilities Program, from K-8 and I took a bunch of Honors and AP in high school. Despite all this, I got in trouble ALL THE TIME. I was super talented, but never applied myself. I was much more concerned with being the class clown than I was with being the teacher’s pet. One time in 8th grade, one of my teacher’s nominated me for student of the month, and I was highly offended. I figured it would ruin my reputation.
So, I always had the highest test scores in all of my classes, but I never ever applied myself. I was “all potential and no progress”. Going into senior year, a lot of people figured I would be valedictorian, because all through our childhood, they saw me ace every test and answer every question in class. Little did they know that all of the homework and assignments I missed really added up. By the time I graduated high school, I had a 2 point something. I couldn’t tell you what the actual number was, because I’ve blocked it out of my memory, apparently. My only saving grace was that, I tried the SAT once and happened to ace it. I got a perfect score on the math section and did better than all of my friends on the other two. This persuaded Rider University in New Jersey to take a chance on me–eventually. The school had rolling admission and I was only officially admitted by August, a week or so before classes started. I made it in by the skin of my teeth.
Once I got to college, I eventually turned it around–kinda. The kid who barely got in was recently invited back to give a lecture to the Science department on his research, as well as talk to the students about the process of applying to graduate school. This is a new program they’re starting and I was chosen as the inaugural speaker.

Growing up and still to this day who are your inspirations/mentors? How did they impact your life?

I think that, to this day, my father is still my biggest inspiration. When I was growing up, my father consistently worked countless hours to ensure that there was always food on the table, and when I say countless hours–I mean countless. I have still never met anyone else who works as hard as my dad. It’s due to this constant sacrifice on his part that I have been able to achieve the things that I have been able to achieve thus far. I try my best to never take that for granted. It really means a tremendous amount to me. It also serves as a constant reminder that I can always work harder, because I know that If my dad had the opportunity and resources that I have been blessed to gain access to, nothing would ever be able to stop him from taking over the world. I owe it to him to do the same. He was super disappointed to see me waste my talent and graduate high school with nothing. I now make it a priority to make sure that I can keep making him proud.

When did you you realize you had a passion to be a teacher/educator?

High school, for sure. Beginning sophomore year, but really taking off junior and senior year, I became THE tutor for all of my friends. I specifically remember everyone coming to my house. We would sit around the table and I would help everyone with our math and chemistry assignments. Black, white, Indian, etc.–they all knew who to come to if they needed to get busy with the math!
Once I got to college, this was even further solidified. I had a big role in the Science Learning Community and I tutored for basically every class that was offered—chemistry, math, biology, physics–you name it, I tutored/TA’ed it. It would sometimes get me in trouble, because I would always be much more interesting in helping the younger students with their assignments than I would be with doing my own. I often say that the only thing you can wake me up at 3am for, is to ask me explain something to you. It’s by far my favorite thing to do.

You’ve chosen a unique name for yourself the fresh professor, can you explain the name & it’s coming of existence?

I’m glad you asked. I think that name embodies a lot of what I try to do. It’s primarily about this concept of having “Will Smith’s style with Uncle Phil’s resume” or “What if you had Will and Carlton put together?” It is super important for me to bring who I am to what I do. Deep inside, I’m a hip hop head and no amount of education can change that about me. My dream is to be “Hip Hop’s professor”. Whereas I’m always striving to improve in every way possible, at heart, I want to make sure that I remain the same kid from South Jersey. The class clown may be the teacher’s pet now, but he’s still very much a clown. I really have Will’s outlook, but I value education as much as Carlton or Uncle Phil. My goal is to let kids know that being a scholar is not about wearing a suit and saying a bunch of fancy words–fundamentally its about your passion for learning and maintaining your intellectual curiosity.

I hope that through my work, I’ll be able to help many more “Wills” gain “Uncle Phil” resumes. I hope Fresh Professor helps to make scholarship a normal part of Hip Hop culture.

How did you take up and find love in the chemistry field?

They say that a good teacher makes all of the difference and its really true. When I was in high school, chemistry was nowhere in my plans. I didn’t really know about it. It was just another class. My AP Chemistry teacher senior year, Ms. Volpe, noticed that I showed a lot of potential for it and told me that I should consider it as a career. She told me about all the money that moves around in the pharmaceutical industry to try to entice me. I shrugged it off. I got to college as a math major. I had to take a non-major science class, and remembering what Ms. Volpe told me a few months earlier, I chose chemistry. After the first class, I stayed back and asked the professor what I would have to do if I wanted to maybe go to graduate school for chemistry after college. I had no idea what that meant at the time, but I think I heard it somewhere. He told me I should declare a chemistry major. So, I did. I was math and chemistry for two years, but then I realized I was also interested in biology and switched to Biochemistry with the math minor.
Sophomore year I took organic chemistry and that was it. I was never more fascinated than I was when I took that class. It became my favorite subject over night. I started working in the lab of my organic chemistry professor. Fast forward 6 or so years, and I’m pursuing my PhD in organic chemistry.

You could have selected any illustrious school/university to attend, what influenced you to choose Yale University?

I like the color blue. That’s obviously a joke, but I do think that somehow subconsciously affected my decision. Graduate school places a large emphasis on research. You take 6 classes within your first year of study, and then after that, you spend the entire duration of the program, usually 5-6 years, in lab conducting innovative research. For this reason, the professor you choose as your mentor is of critical importance. The main reason I chose Yale is because there were several professors in the chemistry department that I could see myself working with–more than there were at any other school, so statistically, I was more likely to end up in a fitting lab if I chose Yale.
There were some other small influences. I was primarily between Yale and Princeton at the end. Princeton, being in Jersey, was reasonably close to home and I was ready to move out to a new state and try something new. Another big one is that around the time I was applying to graduate school, Yale declared that it wanted to begin utilizing its resources to become “the best teaching Ivy”–and well, we’ve already established how highly I value teaching.

A small percentage of minorities attend Ivy League Schools even though is has increased over the last 30 years, but how much of an honor and achievement it is to you?

It’s a big deal. The name recognition helps a lot. Even while beginning this Fresh Professor venture, being able to say “I’m a 4th year graduate student in chemistry at Yale University” grabs a lot of attention. It’s a tremendous privilege and honor to be here. As you’ve mentioned, not many minorities have had the opportunity and so, I take it upon myself to share the resources. I think its super important for we, as minorities, to try to use what we are given access to through these schools to help our communities. I like to think that using the name recognition to help bring attention to Fresh Professor and then using Fresh Professor to excite my young brothers and sisters within minority communities is a step in the right direction.
As a final note, I think it is equally as important that we big up our brothers and sisters who are attending prestigious HBCU’s. Whereas I am aware of Yale’s legacy and I certainly use it to my advantage, as a black man, I think it is equally important that we incentivize our elite to attend HBCUs. It would be an honor for me to become a professor at an HBCU once I’ve completed my doctoral work.

As a future chemistry professor what are some of your goals you want to achieve?

I’m particularly interested in the interface between chemistry, biology and medicine. My current research involves the design and synthesis of chemical tools for advanced biological imaging. Following the completion of my PhD, I intend to pursue post-doctoral studies in medicinal chemistry. As a professor, I would want to put this all together to evolve our understanding of health and disease. My hope is to help us achieve true molecular understanding of cell biology.
Alongside this work, I intend to continue my pedagogical pursuits. As I’ve mentioned a few times, teaching is my favorite thing to do. I hope to become a leader in chemical education. One of my goals is to write a best selling text book in organic chemistry. In addition to this, I hope to reach my desired status as “Hip Hop’s professor”–frequenting destinations like Power 105.1 The Breakfast Club and HOT 97, where I would be able to break down some of the latest in chemical education.

In the near future you’re going to be starting a YouTube channel, what kind of content will you be creating & sharing?

That’s correct; Fresh Professor–make sure you subscribe! The goal of the channel is to motivate our audience towards careers in science. Current research in pedagogy suggests that in order for students to be motivated, two things are required: 1) for students to see subjective value in the material and 2) for students to see the material as attainable. So basically, “why should I care about this?” and “will I be able to achieve this?”
Fresh Professor works to seamlessly address both of these things via what I refer to as “hilariously educational urban academics”. I think I have a unique approach to science communication. I make careful use of analogies to help my viewers understand concepts in science. The unique angle is that instead of using an analogy to help you understand something that I want you to care about in science, I flip the analogy on its head: I take something you already care about and make the video about that, adding the science in to help explain something that’s already important to you. For example, my first video (which is out now!), is called “Scientific Dating Advice…?” The video is about dating–something basically everyone is familiar with and interested in. I take the opportunity to explain concepts in molecular bonding, because it turns out that there’s a lot we can learn about successful dating from this simple chemistry. It may sound a little confusing here, but I promise its dope!

With the S.T.E.M program becoming a lot more relevant & prevalent in the inner cities will you ever start or be heavily involved in them?

I will 100% be involved in the inner cities. I would love to have the opportunity to go to inner city schools and talk to kids as part of the Fresh Professor platform. I’ve got to start somewhere, but down the road, I intend to use profits generated through Fresh Professor to help provide resources for inner city schools. The mission of Fresh Professor really revolves around the often forgotten, but extremely gifted and talented students in our inner city schools.

What great words of wisdom and advice can you offer our readers & students?

Curiosity is everything! In today’s day and age, that’s really all you need. All of the information is at your fingertips–all you have to do is be curious enough to look into it. I’ve realized that so much of my “being smart” stems from my interests and curiosities. Really and truly, I’m just lucky to be very, very interested in things that society values. Am I really good in math and chemistry or am I just lucky enough to be more curious about how molecules work than which celebrities are dating? Who knows. The moral of the story though is that for me, curiosity has been the key. When I would get detention back in high school, I would pass the time by trying to disprove equations I learned in my math classes. Is a^2 + b^2 really c^2 for every right triangle? Are there any integers for which a^3 + b^3 = c^3? This type of thing. Again, is this being smart or this just being curious? I don’t know.
Curiosity has led to me wanting to understand things in the most fundamental way possible. What really is it? Like at the heart of the thing, how does it really work? Having spent time doing this, I can be a much more effective teacher and tutor. I can often explain things so well, because I’ve spent so much time trying to figure out what it all really means. I understand it way past surface level.

Liberty or Death

People in blue believed we can trust to protect and serve but every other day a death because of bad nerves, is the future doomed liked the past allowing the so called law to run a muck?

Dry your eyes don’t weep for me my life is fulfilled with the life of my nephew a true blessing, if for any shed a tear for those who knock at death’s door and intentions were never pure.

This poem paints pictures of visions so listen closely don’t approach me, anxiety of a revolutionary unforgettable legacy one those people in blue couldn’t ignore or destruct.

Let’s change this sad song, start with our tone followed by the rhythm, we must infiltrate and reconstruct the system because only equality and justice can be the cure!

New Life CA

The War on Drugs has been a huge conversation and debate in recent news and it has a significant impact on the African-American community. For those who may be unfamiliar, the war on drugs is a campaign led by the U.S. federal government with the stated aim being to reduce the illegal drug trade in the United States.

The initiative includes a set of drug policies that are intended to discourage the production, distribution, and consumption of psychoactive drugs that the participating governments and the UN have made illegal. Today, the Drug Policy Alliance, which advocates for an end to the War on Drugs, estimates that the United States spends $51 billion annually on these initiatives.
Now that Cannabis is legal in most States, not all but a lot, the government is definitely trying to have a play in the revenue streams which impacts the urban community. However, there are brands and movements out there that are on our side, such as New Life CA.

New Life CA was founded by Carlton Williams and it is a socially conscious cannabis brand focused on uplifting local urban communities that have been negatively impacted by the war on drugs. The company is based out of Oakland, California and they hold three with the State of California—-which include cultivation, distribution and non storefront retail. Mr. Williams is an Oakland native and is considered an equity applicant.
I recently interviewed Carlton to learn more about his movement and brand. Check out the interview below.

Growing up and still to this day who are your inspirations? How did they impact your life?

Growing up as a ward of the state and moving from place to place, I’ve always had to stay inspired through my own resilience and determination to survive. I guess I’ve drawn most of my inspiration from figures such as Malcom X, Huey P Newton and Nat Turner. Business wise, I would say I’m inspired by the folks that I’ve watched grow over the years like Diddy, 50 cent, E-40, Master P, and Obama.

What age did you know that you were going to be an entrepreneur?

I was a late bloomer, although all the signs through out life pointed towards entrepreneurship for me, I lacked the confidence and knowledge to believe. The change came about a year into starting my company. One day I looked around and said to myself, “This is really happening,” at that point I really believed in myself as an entrepreneur.

How did you first get involved in the cannabis industry?

I first started under Prop 215 (the medical model) in 2014 as new life medical collective. Once the laws went recreational, my city was the first in California to create regs and release applications. Oakland was also the first city to create an Equity program.
In 2017 I saw a news article that explained the criteria for equity and I found that I fit that criteria, so I applied and received my permits from the city of Oakland to operate.

Can you tell us about your company New Life CA and what it does?

New Life CA is a socially conscious cannabis brand focused on uplifting local urban communities that have been negatively impacted by the war on drugs.
We started in 2014 as a Medical Marijuana Delivery Service that operated under the collective model. We began operations in Oakland and Fresno, CA. During our delivery journey we encountered the inconsistencies of cultivation; ranging from spotty lab testing, poor bud structures to poorly controlled grow environments. These experiences ignited our passion for becoming honest farmers that saw cannabis as a conduit for change.

We hire the people from the communities affected by the war on drugs. We also support the arts where each featured artist receives royalties! Your purchase has power!
We work like a village by collaborating with home grown businesses through events and cross branding.

Your company did a fundraiser this year called Smokein Salsa, can you tell us about the event and its cause?

Smokein Salsa was a fundraiser we put together for a Black girls Youth group called the Kanju Girls. We raffle off some baskets and art work. Also we gave 100 percent of the tickets sales to the group. The event included an open cannabis bar food and salsa lessons.

Also in July you were involved in a Canna-Wellness Series on the 5 senses, what are some things you can tell us about the connection between cannabis and the 5 senses?

The five senses workshops are coordinated by our COO, NP Monifa Willis. She combines the 5 Senses with cannabis and therapeutic practices to exercise mindfulness with in the community. These our super dope workshops. NP Monifa brings evidence based research and practice and combines it with cannabis and wellness.

New Life CA has now been linked to cannabis delivery, what are the guidelines and how does it work?

All you have to do is be 21 years of age and have a valid California ID. Go to www.newlifeca.com, go to shop with us and place an order.

We know you’re involved in the community and host so many events, what are some upcoming events/dates we should be looking out for?

Every last Friday of the month we host a 420 community movie night. Also, every 420 weekend, we fundraise for a local youth group. There’s a sister that runs a rap and roll event that we stay in tune with. Look on our website for those events.

You’ve experienced some push back and sabotage by local eco-cannabis group, why do you think you’ve been targeted?

I believe it’s the all so common issue of systematic racism and white supremacy.

What great words of wisdom and advice can you offer to fellow entrepreneurs and the readers?

Know exactly what you want, plan and execute. Be patient with yourself, learn from your mistakes. Another Thing have passion for what you choose, so you can endure the marathon.

Origin of The Revolution X

We aren’t American just because we’re birthed here, until we handle the pain within we’ll never subside always looking outside for acceptance that won’t mend a soul divided.

No need to be a coon because in the end you’ll find yourself alone, the attention you’re seeking is just for the moment you don’t really own it.

The victims of the American nightmare to us it was hardly a dream descendants of 22 million enslaved Kings & Queens, imported on ships sorted by color and distorted for wanting to live free in nature sooner to be brained washed & last name provided.

Endlessly looking for freedom & justice to the uneducated beliefs are reparations would bridge the separation but fools gold is the deception, our reception should have always been the perception rape & police brutality reported and ignored but 21st century white cops getting off with murder clearly recorded.

See You Yesterday

See You Yesterday

Chasing the vision & dream of perfection the angelic touch from above almost like love, nothing else to describe it better than archetype.

The person with the eye to see true beauty like the beholder, you’re divine gazing into the unforeseeable beyond.

You can grade the produce before you pick it by the look, the sound, how it feels, and the rite taste lets you know it’s perfectly ripe.

A time when things were smooth, the vibe was essentially to sooth, art, music, poetry, and photography the creativity we use to collaborate feels like the Harlem Renaissance.

Losing Me

This thing we have can only be labeled as something of the essence, the world has it at an endless possession so don’t waste time.
It seems like forever this feeling that we’ll be able to talk, touch, and forever be together take this serious we’re not a game you can play.
Would’ve never expected it to be so hard to call you mine, but look deeper emotionally paying the toll of others previous crimes.
So comfortable in our ways not seeing & understanding the distance growing in between, before you even notice I’ll already be walking away.

Prolific

We suffer from gun violence and police brutality,
So PTSD and prescription drugs are the government’s therapy for our reality.
Born and raised in the ghetto,
The struggle is a blessing,
Humbly building yourself up,
Becoming something more than their label of nothing.
Against all odds the outlier becoming a success,
Despite all the stress seeing everyone and everything around you look a mess,
You are a rare commodity.
Nightmares of failure makes the dream stellar,
To your surprise all it takes is focus and drive,
Biological make up of a king not that ole derogatory ‘N’ word synonym.