*This letter is in response to a video degrading a young mother who was allegedly murdered by her partner in my hometown. She did not deserve to die.
Let's just get right to the point, shall we? I am not a hood rat.
I am not a holla back girl. I am not a b****, h**, or anything of that nature.
You can call me by my government-recognized name: Jamie I.Y. Crockett.
I was raised and attended school and my place of worship in East St. Louis, IL and its surrounding area.
I worked to do my best in a public school system that needed assistance. As a result, I was among the top in my class. And by the way, my graduating class is incredibly intelligent. So intelligent and driven, our teachers have proclaimed they haven't witnessed a class like ours.
I am a survivor. I have been through so many things as a human being and global citizen, not just an East St. Louis resident. So many things that should have killed me. Yet, I have a soft heart, and I definitely wear a tough skin.
I am a Mizzou Tiger. I am a first-generation college student. I am a self-starting, independent, highly motivated perfectionist. I operate in the spirit of excellence. Hear me roar.
I am a daughter, a friend, a sister, a student, a class president, a valedictorian, a journalist, a motivational speaker, a CEO & Founder, a runner up for an international video contest, a participant of a Harvard research project regarding youth and their positive online community building, a volunteer, a lover of people, a gentle spirit, a roaring lioness, a child of the Most High, a HUMAN BEING!
As a human being, I will not stand by and watch the defamation of another individual. I speak up!
Who are you? Who are you to stamp every individual connected to East St. Louis, IL with "Scum of the Earth?" Who are you to rank my hometown among the most dangerous cities in America?
Who are you to claim our success stories, but throw away our "troubled children?"
Who are you to hail Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Al Joyner, Dawn Harper, Katherine Dunham, Miles Davis, Terry Hawthorne, Tina and Ike Turner and more as "American All-stars," but you speak of every other resident as a nameless piece of wasted time and dust that the Good Lord could have spent creating something else.
Last I checked, we all are made of the same dust. How dare you.
How dare you belittle MY family. The village who raised me. The lives who molded me. How dare you.
You didn't help me become the activist I am today. But you sure as heck have fueled the fire.
You don't have any authority to speak on the lives of my fellow residents.
"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." Stop talking and DO SOMETHING to assist what you THINK may be failing in my hometown.
Move your family here for a year, A YEAR. Learn the people. Love the people. See the issues. Solve the problems. THEN, AND MAYBE THEN, YOU CAN GIVE YOUR INPUT.
But not a moment sooner.
Because until you do so, until you remember that you may have struggled to be where you are, until you remember that you had a silver spoon to eat from, until you remember that a life is not more valuable than another because of social and economic status, religious/nonreligious beliefs, geographic location, skin color or any other privilege you THINK you have, you will NEVER be able to speak with authority on something you know nothing about.
I am a shining light and I shine through the darkness.
My name is Jamie Crockett, a resident filled with hometown pride, and I approved this message.
I know several people, including myself, who would want nothing more than to hit that high note flawlessly. But alas, I believe Leona Lewis' voice remains unmatched in her song "Bleeding Love."
If you have not heard it before, you can listen to it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vzo-EL_62fQ
I am going to attempt to give my interpretation of her song, feel free to chime in with yours!
I remember back in high school, we would play music while working on our costumes for competition, etc. There was one specific instance I remember clearly when "Bleeding Love" came on. It was like the women in the room bonded over that one song! We thought we could relate to the pain, or maybe we thought it was just a good karaoke pick. Whatever the reason, be careful what you wish for, or in this case, feed your spirit: you just might live it.
Even though I believe Leona Lewis' performance of this song hasn't been matched vocally, she represents the voice of many women, and possibly men, who experience some type of relationship-related trauma.
For the sake of time and space, I will write this blog from the viewpoint of a woman and her "lover." I will do my best to be inclusive and gender-neutral. But I do not overlook the harrowing detail that trauma in relationships comes in many forms, as well as in many types of relationships.
With that being said, pardon the expression, but let's dig in. Here's the complete list of lyrics: http://www.metrolyrics.com/bleeding-love-lyrics-leona-lewis.html
Leona Lewis opens "Bleeding Love" with a stanza explaining how she is disconnected emotionally because of her past relationships. All they did was cause her pain and after a while, she didn't feel it anymore.
[*Closed off from love... before you know it you're frozen.*]
But there's hope! She thinks. Even after her hiatus from this emotional roller coaster, she seems to be drawn back by the presence of someone new. Her heart is no longer an ice box and this might just be what she was looking for. However, she faces opposition by other people in her life.
[*But something happened... thinking I'm going crazy.*]
She completely disregards those people because of the love she knows she has. And through their many attempts to bring her back to reality, it's not her reality. He's the truth. But not really. And she doesn't even realize that through this whole process, her emotional well-being is at stake... once again.
[*But I don't care what they say... My heart's crippled by the vein that I keep on closing.*]
She has not fully healed and for whatever reason is being thrust back into that emotional turmoil. Probably because the person she's with now is not too different from her previous suitors.
[*You cut me open and I keep bleeding, keep, keep bleeding love.*]
Leona once again shifts her focus on the people who are trying to talk her out of this unhealthy relationship. At this point it seems that she begins to acknowledge that they care for her and want to make sure she isn't being taken advantage of.
[*Trying hard not to hear but they talk so loud... Yet I know that the goal is to keep me from falling.*]
But her attention is diverted to this false love she feels because she has the presence of the one she loves and that's all she really needs. Or so she thinks. And those on the outside looking in can't understand why she won't leave. She considers that they might have a point. Maybe she is losing it.
[*But nothing's greater than the rush... Yet everyone around me thinks that I'm going crazy. Maybe. Maybe.*]
[Reread explanation: *But I don't care what they say... You cut me open...*]
Finally, she realizes how emotionally spent she has become. People might not really understand or believe that she's getting the picture: her lover isn't good for her. Now for every cut that person made, she has visible scars. This could speak to emotional, spiritual, psychological and/or even physical scars.
I can only speak from the perspective of a woman because that's how I identify. However, this is not an uncommon situation for either gender or sexual identity.
To whoever's reading this: PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, SELF CARE!! If you are being harmed by ANYONE, in ANY WAY, listen closely: YOU DON'T DESERVE IT AND THEY DON'T DESERVE TO STAY IN YOUR BLESSED PRESENCE!
KICK THEM OUT! IF YOU HAVE TO, LEAVE WITH THE CLOTHES ON YOUR BACK!
If you don't, you will keep bleeding love, and you'll never heal. And those people who were true to you through thick and thin, will be there for you regardless. Don't be ashamed to speak with them.
I've had my own experiences in which I was losing blood so fast, my head was spinning. But I made an appointment with the Master Healer, the Chief Surgeon. And as the song says, "I may have some scars, but I am HEALED!" And you can be too!
Find a support group, a best friend, a parent, a church home, a community organization, exercise/yoga partner. Find something that will help you release! And if you need someone to talk to don't hesitate to reach out to me. Your feelings are valid, and your voice is needed! And it's probably stronger than Leona Lewis' will ever be!
There are people out there who know your pain and struggle.
"Reach out and touch somebody's hand, make the world a better place, if you can."
If we do this, maybe we will all stop leaving trails of blood behind, and only our love will remain.
As a lover of learning, specifically African and African-American history upon their "arrival" to this country, I must ask, in the words of the great Harlem Renaissance writer, Langston Hughes, "What happens to a dream deferred?"
Today marks the half-century anniversary of MLK's famous I Have a Dream Speech. But did you know Dr. King had already been discussing this dream in other speeches? It is documented that someone in the audience prompted MLK to share the dream that day, which he did, revealing that this had already been a topic of conversation.
So what really happens to a dream deferred?
Deferred definition: put off until a later time; postponed
When a dream is deferred, it becomes a fleeting memory in our minds. We must often command our mental capacities to remember, let alone even consider dreaming again. The dream may not necessarily die, but it's hanging on for dear life by a single thread of one of life's necessary sentiments: hope.
The Bible says: Hope deferred maketh the heart sick.
The heart of our country is sick when dreams are continuously trampled in the mud. We're infected when those who come to this country, looking for the land of opportunity, find adversity and countless barriers to entry. We suffer from attempting to be this "melting pot," when really we should be a chopped salad. Not a black hole consuming everything and making it one big pile of mush, but to be an entity that recognizes cultural and other differences and adds that to a dish which celebrates what each component has to offer.
Upon receiving the Statue of Liberty, we now have this poetic quote:
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free; The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door."
Well, what happens when the lights are cut off, you're evicted from your house and the door to opportunity is slammed in your face?
Dr. King had his view focused on equality in America, but also extended it to the global community. He had a dream for all people, not just Americans.
I am afraid that we don't fully live out the founding principles and patriotic quotes and traditions we have claimed to be the apex of the American dream. Have we ever?
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. And to the republic, for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for ALL."
God, please, don't solely bless the dreams of Americans, bless the non-Americans' dreams too. I have a dream today.
Let us heal, not only from the pain inflicted in this land, but let's strive to better the condition of our extended global family.
I encourage you to dream again.
Leave a comment with your dreams! I'd love to read them!
...That is NOT the question! And I'll tell you why:
The past few days have been charged with mostly negative comments about Miley Cyrus' performance at the Video Music Awards.
Upon seeing a single clip from her performance, I must admit, like most viewers, I initially couldn't believe what I was watching. However, when I saw more, my focus shifted.
Among other issues, I'm specifically addressing the "twerk" session with fellow singer, Robin Thicke. Demographically speaking, Thicke is 16 years older than the twerking 20-year-old, and has been married since 2005. Red flag or raised eyebrow, anyone? No? Well, let's continue.
Thicke, who is known for his "Sex Therapy," has already quickened the feet of anti-rape activists, with what most may identify as even more notable: his "Blurred Lines." These, and other activists, have criticized the seemingly, even if subconscious, support of rape culture that is found lurking in the lyrics. But I digress on this topic, for now. Twerking… I mean, moving on.
Ah, yes. The famous "twerk" dance move. There are many who have attempted to take part in this cultural and evolutionary "phenomenon." For those who are unfamiliar, and of course I'm no expert, it seems as if twerking is similar to an earlier dance form: "grinding."
Now both entail using the pelvic area, in some form, which I'm not going to go into detail here, to make contact with the pelvic or buttocks area of another participant.
In this case, Cyrus has been the talk of the tabloids, and other conversations, when she debuted her twerking video earlier this year. But let's get into the meat of the matter, no pun intended.
I don't want to focus so much on the twerking aspect of this situation. To twerk, or not to twerk, is NOT the question here.
The question is: Why is Miley Cyrus pretty much the sole receiving party of backlash in this situation mainly from our society?
The question is: Why are we pretty much letting Robin Thicke, and many of his male counterparts "off the hook?" There are other male artists who receive lap dances from women and grind on them during a performance, amongst other things. And what do we do? We swoon, we sigh, and we hardly consider that as inappropriate. We are pimped out groupies.
The question is: So, what, if she wears an essentially skin-tone bikini during her performance? Leggings, short skirts, revealing clothing, have absolutely NOTHING to do with another person not being able to control themselves in whatever sense.
***Please note: For all of my Christians and other believers in modesty in apparel, I am not necessarily condoning or opposing her clothing, or lack thereof. I personally was raised to wear one-piece bathing suits only to the pool area, and I have continued this practice in my young adult life. But aren't bikinis simply underwear anyway? I just want us to look at things differently.
The spin-off question is: So, what about men who walk around with their shirts off in the dead of summer? (Please, people no lusting.) But think about it. What about men who sag their pants? This topic throughout the years has caught the attention of the public eye, and even legislation in some parts. But still, it would seem that men aren't, and have never really been, held to the exact same standards as women. Disagree? Let's discuss!
Yes, Miley had some very sexual dance "expressions" in her performance. Yes, Miley was once, I repeat, WAS ONCE, portrayed as the Disney character Hannah Montana. But even in the show, Miley struggled with the performing her and the "real" her.
So the question is: Why do we put so much pressure on child actors/actresses, especially when they decide to branch out into not-so-expected, but seemingly expected, means of expressing who they "truly" are? Or even in this case, they may be simply finding themselves.
Our society needs to simply consider and then DISCUSS these and similar aspects - not just conduct the typical conversation. Let's dig deep! I am by no means the know-it-all to look to for answers. I am also not endorsing shifting the blame to men, just because it's convenient. I think we ALL are at fault. I'm just expressing things that have bothered me for a long time.
"If you're not part of the solution, you are part of the problem." Let's get to problem-solving!
Leave a comment!
I find it interesting that the country's forefathers escaped the tyranny of Great Britain, just to form a tyranny of their own once in America. Oppression knows no boundaries it seems. Where there is always a larger power, there is someone holding the short end of the stick. Often said, but probably hardly truly believed, "If you don't learn from history, you're doomed to repeat it."
And have we repeated it, just in different forms. Our duty as journalists is to the citizens. We are watchdogs. We are bearers of light. We are truth seekers and truth tellers. So why are we so easily condemned when we do our jobs? Because there may just always be someone who's making deals under the table, doing hidden things under the cover of darkness, or in many cases evil, and there will probably always an entity not telling the whole truth.
And that's our calling. That's our creed. Dean Walter Williams said in the original creed that all journalists should memorize and hold near to their heart, "I believe that suppression of the news, for any consideration other than the welfare of society, is indefensible." And I would have to agree.
I would also agree with Dean Williams in believing that "the supreme test of good journalism is the measure of its public service." Wherever there is darkness, we will shine a light. Wherever there is oppression, we will give the voice back to the voiceless. That has been our calling, and it is a noble creed to follow.
This was my second Red Carpet Anchoring shift at KOMU 8. Since I was more comfortable with the format, I was able to write my own scripts this time. It taught me that newscasts can be fun and creative. I have been weary of entertainment reporting before, but I think this opportunity offered me a different outlook on life. It was fun!
Self-critique: I thought my energy was good. Some of my words ran together and/or others are not enunciated very well.
I said "legislator" when I meant "legislature." There is a difference.
Overall: This was my first time anchoring for the Around the State segment, and I think I did well. Always room for improvement!
A Quill for Q.U.I.N.N. is a branch of Shining Light© which focuses on women's issues, specifically violence against women.
It has been brought to my attention, from personal and observational experiences, that women have been subjected to violence on AT LEAST two different college/university campuses in the Columbia, Mo. area.
Violence does not discriminate. It knows no age, gender, religion, ethnicity or even social class. Violence is, and can be found, everywhere. It has many forms, and often attempts to belittle its prey by damaging their bodies, spirits, mental capacities, emotions, and faith.
It is my hope that A Quill for Q.U.I.N.N. will educate, advocate and mediate on behalf of those who are subjected to violence of many kinds.
Here is a breakdown of the flier:
Silence is indeed blind. As long as we are quiet, we will not see. As long as we do not see, we will not speak.
Will YOU support A Quill for Q.U.I.N.N.? Or will you sit by the wayside while another voice is lost closer to YOUR home? I didn't think so. Leave a comment. Ask how you can help.
Shining Light, Founder
Dec. 12, 2012
I had the opportunity of attending one of this year’s honor medal lectures. As always, I am completely inspired by these individuals to do even more effective work in the journalism field. I went to listen to John Ferrugia, an investigative journalist at Denver station. I want to dig deep. I want to be a person who unearths injustices. I want to reveal what is concealed. Investigative journalism is definitely an outlet to do so.
Ferrugia said something that really stuck with me: He’s not an advocacy journalist. He just presents the facts. Those facts just happen to be similar to the butterfly effect, in which a butterfly’s wings can cause a hurricane to occur half-way across the world. Small
breakthroughs, little tips that come into the station, can have a huge impact not only locally, but nationally and internationally as well.
Journalists have to understand that as a defender of the public trust, we have a huge responsibility. We must evaluate where our loyalties lie. If we don’t, then we will be easily turned away from learning and revealing the truth. The public trusts us to be a gatekeeper of the welfare of society. Whatever goes on in Vegas, should not stay in Vegas. If it’s illegal, if it’s infringing upon justice, then it should be addressed.
This is probably the sole purpose of being involved in “watchdog” journalism. We have to keep a watch on things that may so easily slip through the cracks because of some who are not trained to look for it. We must always be prepared to take on those in high ranks who may mistreat those who don’t have the “privilege,” or means, to ride first class.
We may not be advocates for a cause, but we are catalysts that can cause hurricanes
halfway around the world.