What’s Good? 

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What’s Good? 

Am I, “Good Enough”
By, Ascellia M. Arenas

Have you been paying attention to popular media, music, television, film, and social media? Well, according to what I’ve been seeing and hearing there a lot of negative opinions out here about black women: what makes us good, and what makes us bad. We watch talk shows where black women are dragged for filth as their children’s images are placed on a television monitor and a man screams, “there’s no way I could be that baby’s father, she’s a hoe.” And we laugh…

Women are shamed for having an opinion, embracing and celebrating sexuality, for how we choose to wear our hair, for whatever our bodies look like, and whether or not we are worthy enough to be treated like “Queens.” The music we dance to often refers to women as bitches and hoes. Well dressed beautiful women with ample resources to purchase expensive clothing, luxury items, cars, homes, and other visible trappings of success are fodder for amusement on reality television. Women are frequently placed in hostile situations/environments where they have to show dominance by physically fighting or cursing each other. We are constantly debating about and measuring our worth. We are being informed by unhealthy stereotypes that if unchecked, will seep deeper into the psyche of the next generation of men and women. It has already taken root in more people than we are willing to admit.

There have been many times where I have faced judgment, speculation, been treated unfairly, and treated poorly even by men of my own race. There comes a time when a black woman faces herself in the mirror and asks the question, why am I still not considered to be good enough? I thought I had “Black Girl Magic” pumping through my veins…Ahhh, yes, of course I do, and YES I am good enough, AS IS!
I am a mother of two intelligent, healthy, handsome, male children. I don’t know if I will ever conceive another child, male or female. I often wonder how I would raise a female child. I do have a step-daughter from my previous marriage, I am an educator, I was a cheerleading coach; so, I have been able to mentor and nurture female children in my lifetime. But what if…If I gave birth to a female child, what could I instill in her psyche, from birth, to help her compartmentalize all of the aforementioned stereotypes? How can I help her know the difference between who she knows she is and who people try to tell her she is.  This is important. This is a real thing. My beloved grandmother Eunice used to say, “it ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to…”

If I had a female child, at this time in my life, I’d tell her…

1. I love you. Your father loves you. You are beautiful.

2. Your very best effort is all I will accept.

3. You are capable of doing anything you want to do. Just be sure you can live with the consequences.

4. If you get in trouble, if you make a mistake, as long as you are honest and face the repercussions, I will be there for you, and yes…you are grounded.

5. Help people, for free, at first…

6. Popularity is a gift and a curse. The same pedestal they put you on, they will kick you off of. Take what you need and move on. 

7. Don’t drink/eat anything you didn’t make yourself, watch being prepared, or buy. If you go on a date, make sure you call me or your father if you feel the least bit uncomfortable. You aren’t going to date until you go to college, so, there’s that…

8. If you post it, it was seen, by someone, and they saved it, and it will reappear when you least expect it. So, stand up for your own point of view and don’t be ashamed. If you will regret it, don’t post it.

9. Dance…in the rain, on tables, on planes, on trains, in fields, on stage, at parties, at home in your mirror…never let anybody tell you that you are wrong for it, ever. Your body, your rules. If you are rhythmically challenged, you may need some lessons. I got you, thank me later. 

10. If someone decides that they don’t like you, that your hair doesn’t meet their standards, your body doesn’t meet their approval, your skin is too light/dark, your teeth are crooked/gapped/chipped, that your voice sounds funny, that your fingers or toes are too long, short, crooked, fat; that your style/look is too different (with a negative tone), that you need to be different in any way to gain their acceptance, or that you aren’t “good enough,” as is, their loss. Get to steppin…

11. If you want to change anything about your looks because you feel like it, because you know who you are and you want to switch it up a little, and you can afford to pay for it with your own money, cool. I’m down, we can share accessories. 

12. Your brothers are a little weird…In a good way though. I know, trust me, they are good people and will protect you with every bit of strength they have in them. I know because they did the same for me…I’ll tell you about it when you’re 20. 

13. Your legacy is amazing, you family history is remarkable, most people think it’s a bunch of lies but I have receipts. We good, baby girl. Know that.

14. You can be whoever you want to be! Have courage, be fair, don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal, don’t let anybody make you feel like you can’t have what you want if you don’t. Never ever be afraid to fly.

Yes, 14 is my favorite number …I digress…

My darling, you are a princess because your Mama is a Queen. One day you will wear the crown and share these truths with our next generation.

“Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.”- Maya Angelou 

You Good or Nah? 

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You Good or Nah? 

Are You A “Good Black Man” or Nah?

By, Ascellia M. Arenas

It seems that’s the million-dollar question. In the age of “being woke,” increased interest in family involvement, interest in developing community, desire for increased achievement in academia, there is this ideal of what a “good black man” is or should be. How do we define and identify a “good black man?” Well, here are some traits that help us construct an idea about what a “good black man is.”

Community Involvement

A “good black man” understands the important role he plays in the development of our communities. He is present, active, showing leadership with compassion, and is vocal about how he and his community is perceived.

Fame & Popularity

A “good black man” does not have to be famous to be popular. Who he is as an individual is unique and remarkable; hence, worthy of respect. A man who is visible in the community, making a difference, and helping to bring about positive change can have remarkable popularity without necessarily being “famous.” He can be highly regarded, and respected by his family and friends in such a way that he is considered to be dependable and commendable.

 Activism and Ideology

His morals and values are what help to shape him into the “good black man,” he is. Whether he was raised in a traditional family setting, mentored by great men, raised by an incredibly strong single parent  (female or male),  his intrinsic core values are evident and he walks in his purpose to help promote such ideologies. His “woke” walk matches his “woke” talk.  He educates the younger generation, he is a mentor, and his plan is to continually uplift.

Physical Features

Physical attractiveness is not what makes a “good black man” good. How he takes care of his physical form is what makes him a role model for others. We can praise genetics and DNA as the reason why the black male is considered dominant in regard to attractiveness and athleticism : but he does not need to be an athlete, a model, or even a health fanatic to be considered attractive. His physical features are accentuated by good hygiene and proper nutrition. He is aware of what he is ingesting and he also is conscious of what he needs to do to maintain good health.

Education & Intellect

A “good black man” does not necessarily need to have a college education. Although, the number of “good black men” who do pursue higher education are increasing every year. And, we are definitely here for it! He can be and avid reader, he can conduct research on his own regarding his legacy, heritage, and other cultures. He can educate himself through kinesthetic learning; meaning he can learn through action. His instinct to survive is part of what we appreciate about the “good black man,” it is in his nature to comprehend his surroundings and execute what needs to be done in order to sustain his life and the people he holds himself responsible for.

Sexuality and Virility 

A black man’s sexuality is often used as  content for stereotype. The references to his ability to perform and to achieve the ultimate sexually pleasing experiences with anyone whom he comes in contact with is a tall order. Clearly, for the purpose of reproduction, the black man has not disappointed with regard to continuing the race. Sometimes men carry the stereotypes into physical relationships and are disappointed if they do not meet the benchmark of what a virile black man should be able to accomplish. However, a “good black man” is not only driven to be a passionate, seductive, and satisfying sexual partner: he is interested in learning what pleases his partner and creating intimacy that goes beyond the act of sex.

Faith and Religious Practice 

As leader of the community and the household the “good black man” is expected to understand that there is a higher power in our universe. Religion not withstanding, as long as a black man understands that he is the manifestation of a higher power placed here on earth with the purpose of guiding, protecting, leading and supporting his family and his community, he can be considered “a good black man.” For those who are in practice of any form of religion; it is his responsibility to lead his family to their respective place of worship. He leads the prayer. He provides the foundation of faith on which his family is built.

Business Savvy

Who doesn’t appreciate a good BMW? Black man working… A “good black man” understands that it is part of his responsibility to provide for himself first and also for his family as an extension of who he is. He can be an employee or intern that shows up to work on time, properly dressed with a good attitude of providing excellent service, and willing to learn his craft in preparation to lead. He can have a great idea and then put forth the action it takes to make that idea come to fruition. He can make things with his hands, repair things, build things, nurture and care for things. He can design through drawing and  create models of his concepts. He can create technological advances in industry that have yet to be seen. A man who understands that technology is a tool and it is not always an electronic venture has business savvy. A “good black man” sees opportunity and capitalizes on it.

There are so many things that make a man a “good black man,” it cannot be summarized in a quick article. It takes sincere dedication to the observation of him in his element, understanding how he works, understanding what motivates him, and seeing the fruit of his labor to really be able to pinpoint what makes a “good black man” good.  It’s also a matter of opinion, there are some traits of good black men that may not have even been mentioned here. The other question is when we know we are in the midst of “good black men,” how do we treat them? Do we treat them like they are “good black men” or do we fail to recognize them when we see them?

DCA Jazz Ensemble Gets Hometown Love 

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By, Ascellia M. Arenas
 
About Last Night…The nationally renowned DCA Jazz Ensemble of Dillard High School,
Ft.Lauderdale, FL, directed by Mr. Christopher Dorsey was completely phenomenal. The youngsters play as if they were alive during the Harlem Renaissance, absorbed all of the soul of the Big Band Era while demonstrating high levels of music theory, elocution and shimmering melodic tones that would make Duke Ellington proud. The DCA Jazz Ensemble will be performing at the #FIU Jazz Festival this spring. Discover more about the program, future shows, and ways to support the DCA Jazz Ensemble here:
http://www.dillardhs.com/dca-jazz-ensemble 
#bands #bigbandbeat #jazzband #swingmusic #talented #youthgroup #cellibrationpublishing

Writing Like A P.R.O

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Writing Like A “P.R.O”By, Ascellia M. Arenas

I’ve been copy editing and providing consultant services, on a professional level, since I was a college student at FAMU. I started out by editing my classmates work and now I have my own publishing company. I currently provide project management, consultation, and facilitation services for my clients. I have published two books and several articles. I have been an educator for 20 years, taught AP Rhetorical Writing, and I worked for College Board as a teacher/trainer of Argumentative/Rhetorical Writing. 

If you want to be noticed, you need to create written work that is Profound, Outstanding, and Relevant. 

Here are a few tips that I offer my clients that you may benefit from, as well. 

1. Great sentences matter. 

Sentences are like building blocks. You can stack them together to build a monument to your eloquence. Most writers benefit from making their longest sentences into shorter, more effective ones. You need a subject and a predicate, a noun and a verb, a sentence subject and object. Seems simple enough. Right?
2. Paragraphs can only be as good as you make them. 

Good sentences support your ideas. Each idea should be represented in an elaborately written paragraph. Construct complex arguments by combining simple ideas that logically follow one idea. 

Every time you address a new idea, add a line break. Long paragraphs are almost always the most difficult to read. Shorter paragraphs the most readable. Your paragraphs should contain at least three to five sentences. 

3. Edit and revise, then do it again. 

You have heard this since elementary school, but you don’t like to do it because it’s redundant. It’s very necessary. Strike out superfluous words to enhance your writing and highlight your strengths. 

Here are some examples of editing notes: 

Summer months

Regional level

The entire country

On a daily basis (usually best rewritten to “every day”)

She knew that it was good

four-year-old little girl

Improve your sentences by rewriting them using fewer words.

4. Use spell-check. Spell check is your friend. 

There’s no excuse for making common spelling errors anymore. 

Writing that contains spelling errors are frowned upon and not taken seriously. Trust me, I’m an editor.

5. Share your writing sample with someone who can help you improve. 

Peer editing is often more effective than teachers like to admit. Your peers love pulling out their “red pens” to check you. Sharing your work with at least two other people can give you a different perspective and let you know if you are conveying the message you want to share. 

Final thoughts…

Don’t be afraid to read constructive criticism about your writing. Think of it as business, not personal. Pay attention to details and don’t be so hard on yourself. Your writing is as unique as your fingerprints. Your personal style is conveyed through your writing. Do you want to write like a “P.R.O”? 

Good, then take your time and do it right. 

Stop Tripping & GO SEE Birth of a Nation

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By, 

Ascellia Arenas

Go see it…for no other reason than Parker produced a slave narrative that reveals the pluck and gall of a man defending the honor of his father, mother, wife, daughter and self, against the power that belittled and enslaved him in the name of God. If you believe boycotting this film is just and fair, why didn’t you boycott “Beyond The Lights,” (2014)? The woman who accused him of rape committed suicide in 2012. In no way am I excusing rape culture, nor am I defending it. However, if you watch the film you will see that the woman is  symbolic and highly  revered in so many ways. 

In the film, Nat encourages Sam to purchase Cherri because he wanted to prevent her from being defiled/raped by slave owners.

Nate Parker was acquitted of rape in 2001, “in a swift” criminal trial, according to several articles. Parker has since been in 24 films. He has participated in over 100 interviews. I find it odd that when he takes on the charge to finally depict the story of The Nat Turner revolt, here comes some “well informed” person to roll out his criminal past and then, low and behold, he and his film are buried under the newspaper clippings of something sent specifically to distract from the message​.

Nat Turner was supporting his slave masters’ farm by preaching the Bible to neighboring slaves. The slave masters paid Sam Turner to bring his slave, Nat, to use the bible and religion to justify slavery and to keep the slaves in compliance.

The film never had the chance to thrive. Before you pass judgement on this man, because you want to go with the flow and join the bandwagon; GO SEE THIS FILM.
  

  

Folks, don’t fall for the banana in the tailpipe. THEY  don’t want you to see this movie for the same reason why we used to get out of school for “Columbus Day”.  Historical depiction of the atrocities levied by one race against the other is uncomfortable for folks to accept and acknowledge. 

Shall I bring up another uncomfortable comparison??? What about …..

How many people boycotted Woody Allen for crimes he was actually found guilty of?

Woody Allen…and he was actually found guilty of the crime he was accused of…Im just saying…stop tripping.

Hi, Mr. Fenner 

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“Hi, Mr. Fenner 😏😏😏”

By, Ascellia M. Arenas
Earlier this week the amen corner got together to body shame Patrice Brown, #techerbae; but, nobody seems to be irate about the buff, tattooed NY elementary school teacher, Jamel Fenner. Women are salivating, sending him meals, and hoping their child gets in hot water at school just so they will have a reason to have a private conversation with him.  Fenner is also a semi-pro boxer and, according to his social media accounts, a single father.  
Get this, his Instagram, name is “imwhygirlscheat” and has almost 12,000 followers. He appreciates the marijuana and partakes of a toke right on his public Instagram page along with pictures of his well chiseled shirtless body. Interestingly, he is applauded for doing the job that most refuse. He’s even considered to be a “father figure” to his young students. 

  
Why can we see him as being a happy, healthy human being with a full and rich life in addition to being an educator as his profession? Why aren’t we wagging our fingers at him for having his shirt off on social media? Why do we condemn Patrice Brown for wearing a body flattering dresses? She even wears them with a cardigan and boots, for crying out loud?  
I’m calling a flag on the play here. This is another example of the double standards that are overlooked or considered acceptable in our society. If a man does it, it’s okay, but a woman can not. Pure BS… But Jamel is fine as frog hair though 😜

 

Celli Arenas

    
Mother, writer, teacher, and bonvivant. Follow me everywhere @Cellibration 

#WIP #WordCount #WriteChat #WriteGoal #WriteMotivation #WritersLIfe #WriterWednesday #Writing #WritingBlitz #WritingPrompt #WritersBlock #WroteToday #WW #storystarter #bloggers #blogging

“Teachin’ Ain’t Easy”

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“Teachin’ Ain’t Easy”

By, Ascellia M. Arenas

9/15/16

Alabama State Grad, Brown, Is Being Body Shamed

It wasn’t even two months ago when the world was salivating over, “Mr. Steal Your Grandma”, Irvine Randle, a veteran educator from Texas. He was plenty sexy. Did his suit and tie make you feel uncomfortable or judgemental? Now we want to criticize and sexualize “Teacher Bae”, Patrice Brown? You see, Patrice Brown, is a young woman with shapely hips and ample breasts, long legs, and a very pretty face (that isn’t pancaked with excessive makeup). According to recent news, Ms. Brown has been reprimanded by the state of Georgia, for the use of social media, and dress code. In an interview on the Daily Dot, Brown shared her frustration about the situation and how she deserves to be acknowledged for her work as an educator. Brown says, “I just wish they would respect me and focus on the positive and what truly matters—which is educating the children of the future generations and providing and caring for them”. 

 

Brown is wearing boots and a dress with a hemline below her knees

 
The reality is that teachers are grossly underpaid, are given mandates and responsibilities that go above and beyond the expectation of many careers and professions that pay much better. This young lady is a college graduate and made the conscious choice and decision to be an educator. All the empty teacher positions in schools all across the US shows us that fact. For that reason alone Brown should be given accolades. 

 

Brown is shown here in a dress with long sleeves

 
 I did see some comparison photos of her dress (pink one) on “less shapely” models and it considered modest on them. After looking at other photos she posted, I really feel that she is being body shamed here. We can not continue to shame women about what they choose to wear. 

Brown compared to other women wearing the same dress. Photo from Hot 97 Instagram Account

While I agree, some things are obvious in regard to appropriate attire. We do have to encourage our young women to be professional and well dressed. Modesty is an important skill to develop and refine at any age. I really despise seeing bright, beautiful, vibrant young ladies dressed up like little old ladies. 

  
 

A young lady in her twenties does not look inappropriate in a form fitting dress with a sweater, cardigan, blazer, or scarf. She may consider “professionalizing” her look with tights/pantyhose and shoes that are conducive for a busy work day with 8/9 year olds. 
A reprimand isn’t really appropriate in this case. Had she been warned about her choice of clothing? If so, how often? Was there an opportunity to provide due process or for her to correct any legal matter she may or may not have violated? Now, can we also get a reprimand for teachers coming to work in stained and soiled clothing, tee shirts, jeans, (dirty) flip flops, hats, dirty/unkept hair, and body odor ? I think that it would be fair and unbiased to discuss attire and appropriate fashion for them too,  don’t you?

I say Ms. Brown has a few years before she starts wearing comfortable shoes and ugly sweaters. Leave #teacherbae alone! All of this attention may prematurely scoop her out of the classroom and into a career where she is better appreciated and paid for her talents. 

 

Celli Arenas


Mother, writer, teacher, and bonvivant. Follow me everywhere @Cellibration