Stacey Abrams warns voter suppression threatens our democracy.

by Carjamin Scott on March 25, 2019, at 10:05 p.m. CST

I had the pleasure of attending a lecture featuring politician, author, and attorney Stacey Abrams. Abrams is best known for a complicated loss to the Governor’s race in Georgia where incumbent, Brian Kemp was accused of manipulating the votes since he served as Secretary of State during the race with Abrams. The Secretary of State position gave him oversight of the election of which he was a candidate.

Abrams, began the lecture saying, “I am here because I am not the Governor of Georgia.” Unlike most candidates, Abrams was contracted to write a book about the campaign while campaigning. Her book, ‘Lead from the Outside’ is a memoir on how to get power, access to resources, and overcome failure.

Abrams said, “People like us, (outsiders) are afraid of opportunity because we don’t want to mess it up. When we mess up, we fear that there is no recovery because we are so limited in many spaces. Oftentimes we are unwillingly representing an entire culture and community which brings upon unwanted pressure.”

When Abrams told her family and friends that she wanted to run for the Governor seat she faced much criticism. “I can’t invest in you because I don’t believe in you enough,” some alluded. “You’re qualified Stacey, but do you realize that you are a woman and you are black?” others said to her.

Abrams still ran and although her loss was controversial, she said, “My moment of darkness wasn’t for me. My book, ‘Lead from the Outside’ is important because that’s where a lot of folks are.”

As mentioned during the lecture and reported by the New York Times, Abrams received 25% of votes from whites and 38% of votes from republicans. Additionally, she was able to triple Latino voter turnout and increase youth and black voter turnout. She got more votes than any other democrat seeking the Governor position. “On Election Day, we knew we had done something unprecedented. Then, as the final counts were tallied scenario Z happened. There was a concern about the election; so, I had the every vote should count speech.”

At that moment, before the final results were tallied, Abrams believed that it was her responsibility to rally voters, especially those who felt the system failed them and the republican voters who believed in her enough to vote against their own party.

Then, Brian Kemp was announced as governor. She admitted that she was angry and sometimes still is. “Revenge is cathartic, I had to make sure this doesn’t happen again. I had to work towards changing the infrastructure that allowed this to happen.” Abrams continued. “You fix problems, you don’t wallow in them.”

Now, Abrams is working to change the voting system and has launched Fair Fight Action. Her organization works to end the systematic repression of voter access and to bring awareness to the public on necessary election reform.

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Carjamin Scott can be reached at carjamin.scott@gmail.com and you can follow her on twitter @scottcarjie.

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Great mentors don’t ‘give fish,’ they create relationships: Dr. Noble discusses mentorship.

by Carjamin Scott on March 9, 2019, at 4:05 a.m. CST

Many authors are credited for the old proverb, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” This simple phrase describes the importance of an experienced fisherman sharing his wisdom with a man who wants to catch a fish.

If the experienced fisherman simply gives his fish to the man who is fishing, he is not serving his neighbor at the fishing dock. The neighbor may be grateful for the fish given to him; however, every time he takes the fish from the fisherman he becomes more dependent on the fisherman and less likely to learn to fish on his own.

Great mentors do not ‘give fish,’ they create relationships. I had a conversation with Dr. Rosevelt Noble, a married father with many hats and a mentor to a number of students.

When asked to describe mentorship, he said, “Mentorship is providing advice, guidance, counsel, and support to help people through the development process. The development process can include becoming a man, becoming a CEO, or parenting a son.”

He believes that mentors can serve in different purposes. “They can be cheerleaders, fact checkers, or critics. What limits people is their narrow perception of what mentorship looks like.”

I asked Dr. Noble to share who his mentor is. “My closest mentor is a 70-year-old white female, I have been in contact with her for over 20 years. She was one of my favorite professors in college. We talk weekly about pressing issues.” Dr. Noble, a black man from a neighborhood outside of Chicago, and his mentor grew up in extreme poverty.

He said, “Although you may not be able to tell from appearances, our backgrounds lined up and she was just a good person.” I asked Dr. Noble, “How would you suggest that students find good mentors?” He responded, “You have to put yourself in places and in positions to be developed.” He continued. “You have to develop a relationship with the person and often times you have to ask them to be your mentor.”

I said to Dr. Noble, “What about the students who do not put themselves in a position to be developed?” I continued. “There are many students who need mentorship but are not aware of how to ask for it.” He replied, “There was a time when I made myself someone’s mentor.”

He shared the story of a male student who was basically written off by a ton of people. Dr. Noble was able to build a rapport with the student. He quickly learned that the student was dealing with depression. His mom had even lost contact with her son.

While cultivating a relationship with the student Dr. Noble was able to build a relationship with his mom. In conversations, they both began calling him, “Dr. Rosie.” Soon, he had influence over the student and was able to become a mentor to him. The student was able to overcome his situation and get back on the right track.

From my conversation with Dr. Noble, I learned a number of lessons.

  1. Dig deep, below the surface, when choosing a mentor.
  2. If someone chooses you to be their mentor, be prepared to develop others instead of just giving to others.
  3. Mentors have mentors too. In fact, you should have multiple mentors and each should serve a different purpose.
  4. If you have found a potential mentor, don’t be afraid to ask the person to be your mentor.
  5. If you want to be someone’s mentor that hasn’t asked for your help, that’s okay. When you have something to offer, you can and should make a difference in a person’s life.

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Carjamin Scott can be reached at carjamin.scott@gmail.com and you can follow her on twitter @scottcarjie.

Nobody’s Relationship Should Be Your Relationship Goals

by Carjamin Scott on March 6, 2019, at 4:05 a.m. CST

It’s 4:00 am and I’m having trouble sleeping. I look to my left and my husband is knocked out cold, I hear the sound of the heater and the rattle of the wind. I’m thinking about next week, our singles mixer, and trying to picture the event in my mind.

What will people expect? Since I was able to feature a ton of women, will that attract some men to come out? What kind of music will they play that night?

I hope that the singles mix and mingle is worth it. If nothing else, I hope that new networks and friendships begin. I hope the attendees recognize that this is their time to meet new people while celebrating their singleness.

I’m thinking about all of the comments I’ve received from singles saying, “Y’all are goals,” “I can’t wait to get married,” or “I’m tired of being single.” I’m thinking that I need to make sure they know the truth.

Marriage is definitely worthwhile and I’m grateful for mine. However, the truth is marriage isn’t glamorous. It is not a prize or an accomplishment. It’s literally a commitment to love someone in spite of differences, flaws, and broken promises. It is accepting someone as they are even when they don’t deserve it.

The best advice I can give a person wishing to no longer be single is to love yourself and recognize your value. Because marriage is work, and everyone’s relationship is different.

That’s what being single is all about, right? It is the best practice for marriage. It is being committed to yourself, learning from mistakes, forgiving yourself, healing, and growth. I mean, if you are unable to love yourself fully, how can you honestly love someone else, right? Perhaps, but that’s easier said than done.

If you get nothing else from this 4:00 am rant, please understand that your future partner isn’t going to rescue you from yourself. The same struggles, fears, and anxieties you had before you got married will resurface.

The only difference is you have someone witnessing it all. Hopefully that person is encouraging you, helping you get through your issues, and instructing you to get expert assistance when needed.

So when people say, “couple goals” or “relationship goals,” I’m going to continue to respond “nobody’s relationship should be your relationship goals.” It’s not a jab at my marriage because I think I have a great one; but, it’s an honest response to a compliment that no one deserves.

Until then, love yourself and love one another. I hope to see you at Minerva next week.

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Carjamin Scott can be reached at carjamin.scott@gmail.com and you can follow her on twitter @scottcarjie.

Nashville’s Most Eligible Black Graduate Students

by Carjamin Scott on March 2, 2019, at 8:05 p.m. CST

Last week, I read an article which listed some of Nashville’s most eligible singles. I shared this article with a few friends, primarily graduate students, to prove that their love interest is closer than they think.

To summarize our conversation, we gathered that finding love is a bit of luck, timing, and making the decision to put yourself out there. Consequently, these singles have decided to do just that, they are testing their luck and creating the time to meet a potential partner.

And they have asked me to help them, “shoot their shot” and “get their Mrs. Degree.” 🙂

We will honor our singles during a Meet and Greet event at Minerva Avenue on Thursday, March 14 from 8 – 11p. The event will be a casual mix and mingle, no arranged dating, no planned agenda, and no forced conversations. We hope to see you there.

Click through the photos to learn more about these promising young graduate students.

Photos above are in the order that the submission was received.

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Carjamin Scott can be reached at carjamin.scott@gmail.com and you can follow her on twitter @scottcarjie.

Angie Thomas, author of ‘The Hate U Give’ says we can all be like Starr.

by Carjamin Scott on February, 15, 2019, at 8:05 p.m. CST

I learned about The Hate U Give novel from a dear co-worker who is someone that I have been very honest with about my feelings as one of the few women of color in my office.

Before I came to Nashville, which was nearly four years ago, I worked in Memphis at a career college. To provide context, I went from working at a trade school in a strip mall to one of the most prestigious colleges in the country.

Let me be clear, I’m not throwing shade at that institution. I worked my rear off to make a difference in the lives of our students and to protect the team that I managed. However, you can only imagine how difficult it was to prove myself at my new job.

I had to figure out how to fit in with colleagues who did not look or sound like me, who did not live in the community I live in, and who did not have the same kind of education I did. I had to understand the needs of students who had a very different upbringing than the trade school students that I loved and mentored.

It was tough to be authentic in a space where I felt that being authentic was a handicap. It took some time to understand why I was here and how I could truly make a difference. I thought that I had to look, sound, and live like my coworkers to be valued. And, as the child of parents who met in a GED class, whose mom and grandmother attended college in strip malls, I couldn’t figure out how I could be a resource to the privileged students at my new job or my very polished colleagues.

However, this was four years ago and now, I do not feel like that anymore. Times have changed and I have created opportunities to go beyond the surface to learn that I actually have a lot in common with my co-workers. It feels good to admit that I have created relationships with our students and added value to our team.

I also learned that my colleagues are intrigued by my willingness to share how I feel about issues. Most of them even encourage me to give my opinion on the things that matter to me. It’s people like my co-worker, or I should say, friend, who remind me that I deserve to be here and I am valuable.

When I read The Hate U Give, I immediately fell in love with Starr. Starr is a teenage girl who must navigate between two worlds. She witnessed Khalil, her childhood friend, get killed by a police officer. The crime garners different responses from her Williamson Prep classmates and the Garden Heights community.

Starr is forced to merge her two worlds together and express how the murder impacts her life. And, although she didn’t sign up for it, she becomes a spokesperson for her community. So when I learned that Angie Thomas, best-selling author of The Hate U Give was delivering a keynote lecture at my job, I had to attend.

Friends, it was so raw and unapologetic! There were times that I felt like she was talking directly to me. I snapped my fingers, clapped, and laughed. Her lecture resonated with me and I had a great time. She spoke about everything from seeing color, to black lives matter, and why we should recognize that we have power.

Thomas mentioned, “We should use our artistry to become activists. We should look at what’s going on in the world and use our power to create change. Empathy is our cure to equity.”

Thomas’s artistry is her writing ability. The Hate U Give has remained on the New York Times young adult best seller list for over 50 weeks, has been translated into a number of languages for world-wide distribution, and was made into a motion feature film.

On seeing color, Thomas addressed the crowd saying, “I need you to see color. I need you to understand that some people do not value us simply because of the color of our skin.” Thomas continued. “As a black woman in America, I feel that my existence is political, if I say my life matters, then I’m making a political statement. But politics are often personal and there is power in making it personal.”

Whether we like it or not, it’s true. The death of Khalil was personal and Starr was forced to explain that Khalil’s life mattered. She didn’t want it to be political but it became political. One of my favorite quotes from the book is, “Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”

This is the theme that motivated her to write The Hate U Give. She wanted readers to fall in love with the characters so that we could have the courage to become like Starr.

However, the book is deemed controversial by some. The American Library Association, considered it ‘pervasively vulgar’ because of drug use, profanity, and offensive language. Some police districts have publicly condemned the book and some school districts have banned the book completely.

This has not stopped Thomas, who is currently on a book tour for her latest book, On the Come Up. She addressed the crowd, “Ask yourself, do I know what it’s like to be someone who is not from this campus?” Thomas continued. “If you change the world around you then you will find yourself changing the world,” and “I need you to care enough to make change.”

She ended the keynote with a call to action, “Everyone has the power to do even greater, you must be active. Be Starrs in the world.”

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Carjamin Scott can be reached at carjamin.scott@gmail.com and you can follow her on twitter @scottcarjie.

Meet Dr. Kemi Elufiede, President of Carnegie Writers, Inc.

by Carjamin Scott on January, 26 at 9:00 p.m. CST

Dr. Kemi Elufiede is the President of Carnegie Writers, Inc. Since 2010, Dr. Elufiede started writing groups in Huntsville, Savannah, Atlanta, and Nashville. She has always been passionate about education because of the learning struggles she experienced. These experiences helped her grow personally and professionally.

“Initially, writing was a hobby and my passion for writing helped to start Carnegie Writers,” said Elufiede. It started as a writers group that met in the library and there was no intention of creating a non-profit. However, the group did more than write together. The group hosted writers workshops, book fairs, conferences, and guidance on book publications. Elufiede continued, “Our events made money and benefited the community, we felt that it would be best to designate ourselves as a non-profit.”

Dr. Elufiede during a writing meeting. (2018)

Today, the groups are continuing their events and maintaining membership diversity. “When I say diverse, I mean, ethnicity, writing genres, backgrounds, experiences, age, and writing ability,” mentioned Elufiede. The groups attract people from different walks of life. “Our writing groups spark rich conversations.”

Some of the goals of the writing group members are:

  • improve writing
  • learn how to publish a book
  • market a blog
  • build relationships
  • connect with established authors

“Our writing group members are never permanent. Anyone can join and we are always looking to grow and reach new people.”

Carnegie Writers’ Group (CWG) Nashville meets every 2nd and 4th Saturday of month at Green Hills Branch Library at 3 pm. Meetings include guest speaker presentations and writers workshops. Check this out for upcoming meeting dates.

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Carjamin Scott can be reached at carjamin.scott@gmail.com and you can follow her on twitter @scottcarjie.