Moments in 2016

I got to meet poet, educator, and activist Sister Sonia Sanchez. I also got to meet Matthew Vines, writer of God and the Gay Christian, and founder of the Reformation Project.

I participated in the #ECUWithoutMe Campaign, speaking out about visibility of multiracial identity.

I got to compete in the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational for the second time in Austin, Texas with fellow Word of Mouth Slam team members. I saw Rudy Francisco and Neil Hilborn again–seeing Neil was great especially before opening for him in a spoken word performance at our university–and I met Sierra DeMulder for the first time.

My interfaith organization, Interfaith Pirates Better Together, organized East Carolina University’s fist Interfaith Leadership Summit as a space for people to discuss and put into action social justice through interfaith dialogue. It will now become an annual conference.

Interfaith Pirates has been recognized in local and national nominations and awards for our hard work.

My InterVarsity staff worker left his position to work at Third Street Community Center in Greenville, NC, and he left someone just as awesome as him in his place.

I became a contributor and editorial fellow for The Tempest, where diverse millennial women take media by storm. I later became the Race Section editor for The Tempest.

Another sister of mine graduated high school.

I was invited to share my work at the Mixed Remixed Festival, and was on the Mixed Millenials Panel at the Festival in Los Angeles, California. I also got to meet Taye Diggs at the Mixed Remixed Festival.

I interned with Hillside Missions for the whole summer serving refugees in the Richmond Area and learning more about cross cultural missions work, and how to change the narrative of missions work, which has inspired me to go to South Asia in June 2017: https://www.gofundme.com/mayas-trip-to-south-asia.

I was accepted into the Interfaith Youth Core’s Better Together Coach Program, helping facilitating different students’ learning in campus interfaith work all from around the United States. I also had the honor to read a speech at the annual Interfaith Leadership Institute in Chicago, Illinois about my growth as an interfaith leader.

I got to meet activists Angela Davis and Kate Bornstein. A friend and I got to open for Angela Davis through spoken word performance.

I saw Zootopia and Moana in theaters and I loved it!!

I having been blogging for over two years.

Resolutions from 2016:

Score well on the GRE when I take it in February. [Achieved!]

Intern over the summer with Hillside Missions in Richmond, Virginia. [Achieved!]

Be accepted to at least one out-of-state graduate school. [Achieved! I will be attending the University of New England in Portland, Maine in August. I will be in their Advanced Standing Master’s in Social Work Program along with their certificate program for Applied Arts and Social Justice]

Find new ways to to take time for myself while also finding new ways to use this blogging space. [There were moments when I haven’t blogged in a long time, however, this was still able to be accomplished. Achieved!]

Meditate more along with writing prayers and being more active in prayer. [Achieved in being active in prayer. Not Achieved in writing prayers as often as I used to, or in meditating. Could have been better]

Read my great grandpa’s work on the missions he did in Africa. [Not Achieved]

Continue learning how to be more honest. [Gradually Achieving]

Audition and perform in a play. [Auditioned, yes. However, the performance for The Vagina Monologues won’t be until February of 2017. Achieved?]

Resolutions for 2017 (trying to stay as realistic as possible):

Have the concept of a book set, in order to start writing a draft.

Read Scripture every day, along with writing prayers every day.

Have a car for grad school.

Expand topics in the Race Section of The Tempest.

Outline an interfaith-related form of programming for Hillside Missions.

Work out twice a week starting January 9th, when school starts again.

This is the first time I actually post this the day of the New Year. This past year has been rough in our global climate, and this year may be even more rough, but it’s still going to be great. Here’s to a Happy New Year!

What I’m Doing and What I Want to Do

I am so excited for this summer.

Starting next week, I will be taking an online course for about a month in contemporary British literature.

Next Saturday, once a week for three weeks, I will be teaching spoken word to active elder adults under the Creative Aging Network in Greensboro, North Carolina. I have interned with them before, and taught classes with them before, it will be great to see my supervisor and everyone else again.

On June 11th, I will be part of the Mixed Millennials panel at the Mixed Remixed Festival in Los Angeles, California. It has been amazing, being in contact with their platform on Twitter for a while, sharing my pieces with them there, and now I’ll be able to share my pieces in person!

Starting June 17th, I will be interning with World Horizons’ USA chapter Hillside Missions working in ministry for refugees at their nonprofit. My goal is to work on their art team so that I can do arts ministry.

In early August, I will be training under the Interfaith Youth Core to become a Better Together Coach, where I will learn more about interfaith leadership and help students at the Interfaith Leadership Institute in Chicago, Illinois. The Interfaith Youth Core has helped a great deal in getting ECU’s interfaith organization up and running, so it will be great working with them more closely!

After this summer, I will be a senior in my undergraduate programs at East Carolina University.

I will be graduating in the Spring of 2017 with a Bachelor’s in Social Work and English. I will be applying to the University of California in Los Angeles, the University of New England, Appalachian State University, and ECU for graduate school.

My goal is to attend a graduate program to obtain my Master’s in Social Work with a certificate in a field of expressive arts therapy and/or social justice.

Let’s see how it all goes.

Moments in 2015

2015:

I have been wearing glasses for the first time in five years. I still wear contacts, but it’s cool to switch things up every now and then.

I flew on a plane for the first time in seven years to Atlanta, Georgia in January. I took a second plane to Chicago, Illinois in August; it was my first time in Chicago.

I have competed in the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI) at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, Virginia for the first time along with two other slam teammates out of the five of us. We made it to the semifinals and placed 17th out of 68 teams! We met fabulous poets such as Neil Hilborn, Rudy Francisco, and Aja Monet at CUPSI.

I went to the Interfaith Youth Core Conference in Atlanta, Georgia and Chicago, Illinois to receive interfaith training to being East Carolina University’s first interfaith campus group. So much has been done this year in interfaith work! I’m so proud!

I started working at the cultural center on my campus, and then started working as a tutor for student athletes on campus.

I participated in a Faculty Forward protest for the first time, and I went to an LGBTQIA Pride Parade in Durham, North Carolina for the first time.

I saw the first season of Daredevil on Netflix and enjoyed it along with the third season of Orange is the New Black!

I chopped my hair into a pixie cut, and I am loving it when it’s natural and when it’s straightened. It’s been growing out, so I’m now going to let it grow out.

My sister graduated high school.

I constantly questioned what I was going to do for graduate school.

I have been published in ECU campus media and online media.

I became an intern for The Black Sheep Articles @ ECU, first as a staff writer, then as a paid intern as chief campus editor.

I met Jamie Tworkowski, founder of To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA), a non-profit that invests in recovery and hope for those struggling with suicidal thoughts, addiction, and self-injury. I purchased a TWLOHA t-shirt and a poster that has a quote from Tworkowski’s If You Feel Too Much.

I attended the Urbana ’15 Missions Conference in St. Louis Missouri with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. We talked about faith, social justice, cross-cultural efforts, and we worshipped in variety of cultural music in different languages all the way into the New Year!

I have been blogging for over a year.

Resolutions from 2015:

More writing on this blog, but include short stories, not just prose, poetry, and rants. [Achieved!]

Express genuine joy, not force joy or happiness out of me. [Getting better.Achieved!]

Attend a missions trip for the first time. [CHAT Program for Spring Break. Achieved!]

Participate in more interfaith events. [Dude, yes!! Interfaith Pirates Better Together at ECU is doing such great work. Gonna keep it going! Achieved!]

More praying. [Yes and no. Fluctuates. Mostly yes, I believe. Achieved!]

Try painting over the summer. [No. Didn’t get the materials as intended. Unachieved.]

Complete the Star Wars series and the Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit series before the year is out. [Completed Star Wars; including The Force Awakens. Not Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit. Achieved?]

Do more research as I read the Bible. [Achieved!]

Resolutions for 2016 (trying to stay as realistic as possible):

Score well on the GRE when I take it in February.

Intern over the summer with World Horizons in Richmond, Virginia.

Be accepted to at least one out-of-state graduate school.

Find new ways to to take time for myself while also finding new ways to use this blogging space.

Meditate more along with writing prayers and being more active in prayer.

Read my great grandpa’s work on the missions he did in Africa.

Continue learning how to be more honest.

Audition and perform in a play.

A day late, I know, but here’s to a Happy New Year! Whoo hoo!!

The Black Sheep Articles @ ECU

Back in June, I received an email about a new internship opportunity.

It was described to me as “like the Onion, but for college campuses.”

I would receive internship credit for turning in articles and attending content meetings every week for The Black Sheep Articles @ ECU. I received my first two assignments yesterday.

I’m actually pretty excited about it! It gives me the chance to write more than I usually do, it’s an opportunity to reach out to my campus, and it gets me further along in my English degree. What is there to lose? Also, it will push me to want to write in other mediums when I’m not working on an article, that way my creative juices can still flow properly.

Here’s to a good year with The Black Sheep.

Moments in 2014

2014:

I met three lovely and groundbreaking artists: Andrea Gibson, Mayda del Valle, and Indira Allegra.

I participated in my first protest against racism and injustice towards people of color.

I received my very own “Gay? Fine By Me” t-shirt around the same time gay marriage was officially legalized in North Carolina.

Friend and fellow poet Mia Willis was my partner in crime and a fantastic group piece and while hosting an open mic for the first time.

I lost a friend to suicide.

I got to see The Fault in our Stars and Guardians of the Galaxy in theaters and loved it!!!

I saw the second season of Orange is the New Black, and enjoyed it like the first season in 2013.

My family and I moved into a new place.

I met Laverne Cox, the first transsexual actress to win an Emmy for her role in Orange is the New Black. Fun fact: she first studied Creative Writing in college before studying Dance and pursuing acting.

I began teaching poetry at Third Street Community Center in February, which led to more workshops with different schools and non profits. I even got to intern at the Creative Aging Network to teach a poetry workshop and participate in community outreach. I was asked to come back in 2015 to teach a two-day workshop, and I did.

I made the Dean’s List in school.

I donated nine inches of my hair for the first time in March, which led me to cut my hair even shorter after a couple of months. I love my hair short.

I went to InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s retreat in Rockbridge for the first time. I took the Identity Track where we talked about race, family, sexuality, and gender in terms of identity with the Lord. It was fantastic!!!

I got to perform spoken word for events and competition.

I created this blog.

Resolutions (not the cliché kind I don’t think) for 2015:

More writing on this blog, but include short stories, not just prose, poetry, and rants.

Express genuine joy, not force joy or happiness out of me.

Attend a missions trip for the first time.

Participate in more interfaith events.

More praying.

Try painting over the summer.

Complete the Star Wars series and the Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit series before the year is out.

Do more research as I read the Bible.

Happy New Year everyone! I’m eleven days late, however, I still hope and pray that this year is a good one.

Social Media and Injustices

Today from 11 am to 2:15 pm at East Carolina University, many students, staff, and I participated in a protest in response to the injustice displayed in the media as well as the injustice not displayed in the media. We chanted fiery chants such as “injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere, we won’t stop until you care,” and “black, white, woman, or man, divided we fall, united we stand.” Posters had “Black Lives Matter,” “All Lives Matter,” “I’m Protesting for Those Who Can’t,” and a list of many black and brown individuals who were killed and/or missing and didn’t make the news in North Carolina. A variety of us stood in staggered lines with signs and loud voices that made people join, take their phones out to record us to share on social media, and the local news do a story. Our throats hurt, and it was well worth it. I received a majority of positive responses on my Instagram and Facebook.

However, my roommate has an app called Yik Yak, a more anonymous version of Twitter. She had said that throughout today, from the beginning of the protest, to the time it ended, the majority of that app went into stages.

First, it was “What are they protesting about?” “Why are they protesting?” “Don’t they have class?”

Then, it transitioned to “Why won’t they move out of the way?” “Black people being the victim again.”

Afterwards, it became complete ignorance with debates about welfare (seriously?), minorities causing all of the crime, and the need for white protestors for white issues.

She responded to as many comments as she could to have constructive discussion, only to have them drowned out by hatred and lack of information.

East Carolina University, although it does have a mandate for diversity, it has such a long way to go. It is majority white school, and on Yik Yak, many of the undermined comments disappear after a few times by majority comments.

I go to school with these people, and yet many believe that racism or other forms of discrimination no longer exist. It is not until moments such as these protests that people uncomfortably realize that it will continue to exist if we are not properly educated on all that is around us. Moreover, there are those who said that this protest won’t solve anything. Well, it is a start, and that is all that matters. Many areas displayed protests before we did, and hopefully others will after we did, which will lead to more awareness, which will lead to contacting those in charge, which will lead to gaining positions in charge for good, which WILL produce effective change.

Click the link below to continue spreading the movement. Bless you.

Thanks to all who stood with us today.

A post shared by Maya Williams (@emmdubb16) on

Poem: For Michael Boyles

Note: This past Wednesday, I was told that my friend Michael hung himself. We were friends in intermediate school (5th-6th grade, I met him in the 6th grade), then we lost touch in the 7th grade, kept ever so slightly in touch from 8th grade to high school, and then we finally caught up with one another again. We’ve been chatting on Facebook and Skype for the past two months and I was so happy to catch up with him. I was going to invite him to Greenville and we were supposed to catch up earlier last week. I’ve been on a rollercoaster with my emotions and I’ve been up and down in my spirituality as well. Would I be this emotional if I didn’t catch up with him? I’m still not sure. On Thursday, I submitted one of his narratives to East Carolina’s Rebel for a chance for him to be published. Rebel is an arts/literary magazine they have published every year in the spring semester. They ask for submissions every fall. He was going to change the world with his words, and he is going to do that because I want that to happen. This poem is for Michael.

When one asks how you are doing,

The imminent way to please him or her

Is to say that you’re fine.

You make it appear as casual,

But you know it’s a crisp, soldier’s statement

In times of tribulation.

Your fellow citizens need affirmation that thing at least will be fine

Even if they aren’t right now.

Hardly anyone answers

“I’m pretty crappy today.

The sun is nowhere near my mental forecast,

But how are you?”

No one would ever say

“Oh peachy,

The plan to end my life is coming into fruition.

It’s ripe and ready to be plucked from.”

You told me you were going to counseling.

You said that things were just starting to get better.

I told him to talk to me whenever he needed to.

This is not going to be wrapped in ribbons

Or perfumed with roses for your family or friends,

That’s who the prayers are for,

This is strictly for you.

You’ve always enjoyed theater and films, Michael.

Was this your way to display a final performance?

You were supposed to be remembered by talent you had

With words that created pictures on a stage,

Not the talent of a dark disappearing act.

You’re not coming back anytime soon.

I’m not writing this to pity you.

I’m writing this to grieve over you.

It wasn’t enough to stuff the world into your back pocket

When it got too hard to wear it on your

Shoulders and sleeves.

That sucks so much!

We were just talking again.

We were announcing prophecies to change the world

As we ranted about blasphemies

That held them back from coming.

You were suppose to open the door

To finally let change come in.

You weren’t giving up on everyone you cared for,

You were giving up on yourself,

And that’s why it hurts.

Those who dare to call my friend selfish…

I can’t find the appropriate euphemism for

“Screw you!”

Well, maybe I can.

They don’t understand how selfless he was trying to be

In the oddest way possible.

To those who lie to post a show on social media

About how great his smile was

When you were the people who spewed enough fire

To obliterate that expression from his face while he was still alive

You’re no good Samaritans.

Unfortunately, you are twisted Pharisees.

To those honest about it,

Thank you.

To those who didn’t know him

And wanted to get to know him more,

You’re so sweet.

But where was that thought when he was still here?

I swore at God and had the intent of doing so

Quite a few times.

But my tea kettle for prayers

Have been left on the stove much longer than usual.

My inner steam and screams from boiling water proves

How much the infuriating questions I have

Condense for answers that hardly come.

Michael, I didn’t lose my faith,

You’re just making me question it.

We were just talking again.

It’s amazing how irony become a joker

From a Jack in the Box

When it comes to our psychology.

Five years ago,

I went to a counselor because I wanted to kill myself.

Now,

I’ll be crying to a new one once a week about how

You actually carried out that dark deed for yourself.

You were a fantastic writer.

Did you think about leaving a note before leaving us?

Thank you for the emails of your pieces.

More people need to see the scribbles

From the beautiful scroll you had in your mind.

I’m not sure if I should keep writing this.

I don’t want tears to drown me,

Nor do I want my heart to become a desert

Regarding the mark you had in this temporary

Realm.

I’m not sure if you can read this,

Or hear me read it,

But I hope my intent is still validated.

Thank you for catching up with me.

I miss you.

Note: He sang and performed so well on his YouTube channel. Here is a link: https://www.youtube.com/user/allisondontexist/videos I only have two other pieces of his, I believe, if anyone wants to read them. I believe they should be read. If you ever feel alone, please talk to someone. If you don’t feel comfortable to talking to someone you know, there is a free hotline, 1-800-273-8255, completely anonymous, and they are available 24/7. Also, go to a counselor near you, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. There’s no judgment in the room, you can say, cry, yell, and more of whatever you want. Hugs are good when going to counseling too. Please know how valuable you truly are. That is not a phrase to patronize you, You Are VALUABLE.