It’s amazing the way God orchestrates things. I say God, some of y’all might call it “the universe” or attribute it to the laws of attraction. Whatever you call it, sometimes, through a series of seemingly unrelated events, the things we need to see, hear or experience, land right at our feet.
Last year, we told you about the incredible opportunity the people at Walt Disney World, Steve Harvey, and Essence Magazine provide for high school students called the Disney Dreamers Academy. A weekend long event, the Disney Dreamers Academy hosts high school students who attend workshops in their field of interest, engage with celebrity and motivational speakers and network. The weekend is meant to inspire them to nourish their talents and ferociously pursue the dreams they have for themselves.
It’s all about the kids. But there’s another piece of the puzzle. Each child comes to Disney with a chaperone, typically one of their parents. And yesterday, while the children were off enjoying free time in one of the theme parks, Dr. Steve Perry, founder and principal of Capital Prep, spoke specifically to the parents about their dreams.
He told the parents that in many of the essays they had to submit in order to be accepted into the program, their children wrote about them. Whether they detailed their struggles or described them as an inspiration, or both, he said, “the children wear your issues.”
Perry acknowledged that most good parents have doubts about the way they’re raising their children. He admitted that even as a principal of a school, dealing with other people’s children for a living, raising his own sons can still present a challenge. But he told the parents that despite their faults, they were doing something right and it was evidenced by the fact that their children had been chosen to participate in this program. He asked, “Those circumstances that you passed on to the next generation, did you imagine that they would be this?” In other words, the darkest moments in the parents’ lives ultimately afforded their children an opportunity of a lifetime. He told the parents, “You’re here because you taught your child to turn tragedy into triumph.”
I hope my paraphrasing of his words do the moment justice. It was powerful and I don’t even have kids yet. After he said it, I scanned the room to see if the other parents were as moved as I was and that’s when I noticed a woman silently crying, wiping away the heavy tears that were streaming down her face. Once Dr. Perry had finished speaking, I went up to her and introduced myself. She told me her name: Jamilah. I asked her why she was so moved by Perry’s words.
She said, “My daughter, so far, is having a very powerful experience here. She was interviewed by Mr. Harvey on his radio show this morning, they’re following her with cameras, a lot’s happening for her. A big part of her essay that she submitted was discussing one of the most challenging experiences that she felt she’s gone through in her life, which was a really difficult thing in my life and some things that I had to overcome…”
I interrupted her to ask if she’d mind sharing some of those challenges.
What she said floored me.
“I guess there’s no point in not talking about it. Five years ago, I tried to take my own life. And it took a lot to work my way through that and fight back. And as a parent, her wanting to write that in an essay was like ‘wow, is that what I want out in the world?’ “
Her voice cracked and shook as the tears flowed again, “But if that’s what it is, if that’s how it affected you, it made you know that you needed to chase every dream you have, then I know that everything I went through had a reason and a purpose and that I’m still here for her because there was a bigger plan.”
By Lauren R.D. Fox
Recently, Lupita Nyong’o has caught our attention with her stunning looks and chilling performance in 12 Years A Slave. Although she has become the new fashion icon of our time, Nyong’o revealed there was a time she didn’t always feel beautiful.
On Thursday, Essence Magazine honored Nyong’o at their Black Women in Hollywood luncheon. Upon her accepting Essence’s Best Breakthrough Performance Award, Nyong’o moved the audience to tears. In her speech, Nyong’o spoke about her self-esteem. Lupita admitted, as a child she prayed that God would lighten her skin.
In her speech, Lupita shared:
“I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful. I put on the TV and only saw pale skin, I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin. And my one prayer to God, the miracle worker, was that I would wake up lighter-skinned. I tried to negotiate with God, I told him I would stop stealing sugar cubes at night if he gave me what I wanted, I would listen to my mother’s every word and never lose my school sweater again if he just made me a little lighter. But I guess God was unimpressed with my bargaining chips because He never listened.”
Nyong’o continued to unveil how her mother and images of Sudanese supermodel, Alek Wek helped increased her confidence.
Yesterday, author and activist, dream hampton tweeted that she was disappointed by Pharell’s album cover for his new project, G I R L. hampton was displeased because, from her perspective, there appeared to be no black women represented. hampton referenced the decades-long practice of black artists white washing their covers to appeal to mainstream audiences and spoke about how album art sends messages about to whom the artist and culture assign value.
Some agreed with her and wondered when black women were going to be represented by black artists and others felt the criticism was unwarranted.
But what does Pharrell have to say about this? Turns out the woman in the middle, the one he’s standing the closest to, is a black woman. Pharrell called into “The Breakfast Club” this morning to speak about the mini controversy. Here’s what he had to say:
What really disappointed me is they jumped the gun, because the one I’m standing closest to is black. She’s a black girl from Wisconsin that I used to date over ten years ago or maybe like twelve years ago. That just must suck man for people to look at something and to assume they know what’s going on. If they just bothered to listen to my album, they would know that my album was an ode to women, period. And the one thing that I’m trying to kill…well I can’t kill anything…but the one thing I was just trying to help and aid in changing the crazy statuesque standard of you gotta be white, waif, and thin for you to be beautiful.