After the successful release of his hit single “Slangin Knowledge” in February of this year, acclaimed Baltimore rapper Sullee J has once again linked up with fellow musician Don Streat to release a brand new track in the past week. Their latest collaboration, “Who Am I” also features the talents of Vietnam & Alyson Blaire. The music video was produced by Profitt Productions Films. It features the rappers in a tough and gritty urban scene of dereliction, interspersed with footage of children labouring in a Congolese mine and news footage of the recent riots in the US and disturbances in Italy. The song talks about the harsh realities of life and of those who went to make it big, only to get dragged deep under in a world of crime, drugs and destitution. Each of the artists comes forward to tell a story in powerful words to make you think about life’s struggles and blessings, while getting you to be awake and conscious, while Alyson Blaire provided the backing chorus, asking the inevitable question that every individual facing the struggle asks…. who am I?
Sullee J (a.k.a Sullee Justice) has announced that he and Don Streat are also commencing work on a new project called The Reprogram, and have been actively recruiting other musicians from the Baltimore hip-hop/rap scene to produce music with a greater purpose. Who Am I is one of the first fruits of the new project’s labour, and has given a platform for upcoming artists like Vietnam and Alyson Blaire to show the world about themselves in their respective verses while displaying several realities across the globe that cover famine, police brutality, corruption and more. The Reprogram is now opening more opportunities for local artists to become involved with Sullee J and Don Streat and bring out meaningful messages in their bars.
A Facebook post I shared five years ago. It reads “When people ask me to share the candy I’m eating, I give them the flavor I don’t like” and comes with a forever alone type meme. Truth be told, I just share the sweeties regardless of flavour, unless I’m eating Quality Street, and they’re someone I don’t like, then in that case, they get all the toffees!
Two children ride along on a beige-coloured horse, the same colour as the sands on the pathway. Three more kids, excited and full of activity run after the steed towards what appears to be a cow farm. A photo captures their exuberance. This photo, and many others, forms part of an online gallery by web magazine Mashable. More famed for their millennial-angled technology journalism, Mashable instead travelled back in time to a simpler age, showcasing a series of photos taken on various Native American reservations and nearby towns in 1972.
In 1972, the United States federal government, which was looking into the conditions of the (currently) 1.4 million people living on lands set aside for the First Nations, employed the services of photographer Terry Eiler to visit the south-west of the country and give an outsiders view into the lives of some of the most disadvantaged of Americans, many of whom had their lands seized by white settlers during the ‘Wild West‘ days of the 19th century and were herded onto the reservations, often poor-quality and non-arable land allocated by the federal government and administered by the nations themselves under the auspices of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Nowadays many Native American communities struggle with lack of employment and amenities, as well as social ills such as extreme poverty, alcoholism and drug abuse.
Back in 1972, as the Native American rights movement was in its earliest days, Eiler visited three reservations belonging to the Navajo, Hopi and Havasupai reservations. The Navajo nation‘s reservation was the largest, about the same size as the US state of West Virginia. The photographer also visited the village of Supai, nestled in the Grand Canyon of Colorado, said to be the most remote human habitation in the southern ’48 states’ region and accessible only by an eight-mile hike through rocky terrain or via helicopter.
Eiler’s photo project provides an snapshot into a part of America few outside the First Nations have even seen, let alone understood. He shows a world that was becoming modernised and similar to mainstream America but at the same time, was still clinging tenaciously to their traditions, forged over millennia. His subjects are natural and act as themselves, a stark contrast to the wooden and forced appearances of Native Americans made to pose in the sepia photographs from the ‘pioneer days’.
His photos cover a wide range of subjects, from a sheep paddock in the desert sands of the Navajo reservation in Arizona, a retinue of cute lambs staring back at the camera, their white wool contrasting strongly with the ochre ground underneath their hooves, to a Navajo woman in a bright red blouse standing for a quick snap near the Arizonan town of Shiprock.
Others show Native American families and men out and about, gardening, horse riding and being at home. While clearly getting on with life, it is obvious that the living conditions were at times very different from most American communities, but also shows the industriousness of the Navajo and other peoples, whether cramming into a truck to get to work, training as teachers, or selling bead necklaces to tourists visiting the reservations. Local scenery, especially the Havasu Falls of Arizona, also makes a frequent appearance in Eiler’s collection.
The Eiler collection is now part of the U.S. National Archives. You can view all the pictures by clicking HERE.
“Kindness should become the natural way of life, not the exception.”
Kindness is one of the most beautiful aspects of humanity. Doing good things for each other, helping others and being there as a shoulder to cry or rest on. However there are a lot of dark things happening in this world, and at times, it well seems kindness is in short supply.
Let’s move from hatred, discrimination, warmongering and violence and learn to treat each other more with kindness and understanding. Let’s make it our natural way of life, not just something to be unwrapped only for special occasions.
Life is a journey. It can be a smooth dual carriageway with no traffic, or it can be a decrepid country lane full of potholes. Ultimately it has to move on and you have to be prepared to move on with it. Things can be tough at times, and you may have had a difficult life or have gone through some turbulent events, but there is always the future to look forward to. Sometimes chances and opportunities may present themselves in your life, and it is up to you to exploit them and turn things around. Each of these golden chances is a chance to make things fresh.
I have seen people get divorced, get hurt, lose important things and people in their lives. I have seen people suddenly witness their health go into decline, or fall helplessly into a dark and soulless pit of despair. For them, I can try and say to them with reassurance that life still can have its good moments, its positives, that there is still something to live for, while being extremely sympathetic to their current or past situation, of course.
The past can hurt. Believe me, more than most people out there, I can tell you that. Even the present can drag on and on, leaving you feeling perhaps a bit despondent. But you can never entirely predict the future. Or what is around the corner. Nevertheless you must keep on living life if you want to solve the mystery of what your life plans to bring your way. Don’t give up hope.
The past is another place and of course, another time. Dwelling on it will not get you anywhere. It can, and does, teach you some important lessons, but do not let the past define you. Always look towards the future and always keep the faith.
Life goes on….
Whether you choose to move on and
take a chance in the unknown.
Or stay behind, locked in the past,
thinking of what could’ve been.
This inspirational quote and image was made available by Will Thompson. He is an affiliate marketer living in the Western United States.
For her English lessons at school, my youngest sister Anjali was asked to do an assessment task of her story-writing skills. This involved penning a short piece of prose using writing with ‘conventions and composition’ and the teacher required it to be written in the first person. Her Unit 3 Writing Assessment won critical acclaim from her English class teacher, who described it as ‘very reflective’ and a ‘compelling piece’. I recently invited her to contribute this short story to the Half-Eaten Mind and after finally managing to get the original sheets from her teacher, I now present Anjali’s short story here, for all to see.
It is the emotional and profound recollection of a woman remembering her past, the decision she made in finally coming to terms with a horrible event that took place when she was younger. Confiding in the one person she trusted most, it was a decision to escape from a traumatic event, from which she rose stronger, wishing for a better and happier future.
My sister was marked as a Grade B+ and a Level 6 for this assignment, and I can see she is a born fiction writer.
It was a split second decision. I knew almost immediately it was the wrong thing to do. Reflecting back on this made me think….wonder….how can I be so stupid? Fall for such a thing. Maybe I just liked having the attention for a while, as I hardly ever had it upon me. When I do, I feel special, cared for,….loved. But after the situation was over, I didn’t feel that sort of vibe anymore. It was the complete opposite, hate, being despised by many. I felt like killing myself to get out of the pain inside me. But I couldn’t do that. People will wonder why? Ask questions. The memories I leave behind won’t be pleasant at all, I think. The whole town would look down at my family, even on my silent deadly soul, if I died. I wouldn’t rest in peace (R.I.P.) in my coffin, I’ll rest in trauma…shame….feeling like I belong here, in the dark. By myself.
I share this pain with nobody. At all. I’ve tried once to someone who was my so-called “ex best friend”, but she couldn’t give a flying toss. She just acted like if she cared. I saw it in her eyes. She didn’t care…just wanted to walk away…expects me to be all fine after she “tried” to make me feel better… Who are your real friends, eh!?
My whole life just changed. I don’t think I’ll be able to tell anybody yet. Ever. Maybe when I’m a few years older and get all my exams out of the way. Telling someone who might make a big fuss over it, will just apply more stress on me. I mean, I can’t even write it down on a piece of scrappy paper…No. I can’t. I wouldn’t.
There are some experiences you would live to forget but somehow just can’t…probably never would. I don’t know… Will I ever be happy? I try…life is too short, so I hope I lead a good life, despite my horrid mistakes. God, please forgive me. Hoping I get a good job, a great husband and kids, a house….just be normal and lead a regular life like everybody else.
I reached breaking point. I sat down and talked with my boyfriend. Explained EVERYTHING that’s happened in my past life. He at least deserves to know. I can’t hide this from him. It’s tearing us apart.
I tell him about how I was sexually abused as a teenager. I explain how I was raped in my own house. How I’ve always felt like I wasn’t worthy of living. I explained it all. Finally.
In front of somebody who is very special and important to me. I broke down, screamed, cried, in pain, whilst recapping my terrible childhood, upbringing and social life.
I felt a waft of relief. Finally, I’m letting it all out. He understood. I couldn’t believe it.
He hugged me hard, held my hands, listened to EVERYTHING I had to say. He looked directly into my eyes as if he was searching into my soul, reliving my story with me. I was as shocked as he was.
But he helped me. He really has. I was so, so, so glad to have him in my life. I trust him and he knows it. I’m extremely lucky to have him in my life. He’s supported me from day one, ever since that time I told him. Most people out there in society nowadays will laugh it off, thinking that I’m lying or they simply don’t care. That’s how messed up some people are. But not him. And I’m forever grateful each day. He’s encouraged me to carry on living again, made me join support groups, the lot.
I’m 27 right now. My boyfriend and I decided to get married a few months after I told him it all. The best decision I ever made. We now have two children, a boy and a girl. They’re perfect. Looking back on this (not that I actually do, thanks to my husband!), I’m glad I finally let it out. What happened to me was NOT my fault. Yes, I was stupid not to fight back, but now I know that I’m the VICTIM. Not them….me.
Written by Anjali Shah.
Editing by Ms. Raen and Vijay Shah.
“camsunsetlake_copy.jpg” – anitapeppers, morgueFile LINK
Every once in a while, I get forwarded email on my Google Mail account from a good friend who used to live at my houseshare. They always make light-hearted reading, amusing and sometimes shocking. Today I would like to share one such email with my Brainiacs, which I received almost a couple of days ago.
This message was about how life can be stressful and difficult, but that you should not let challenging situations make those precious days of your life too unbearable. There is a way to handle stress, and to detoxify the mind and body, by taking each of your burdens and putting them in a ‘box’ so that not only you can deal with them piece-by-piece but also giving you the means to regain control of your destiny.
Above all, and this is something I should be saying to myself more often, do not let stress and worries dominate your life and existence. Be grateful for and never forget the good things and occasions that have happened in your life and will always continue to happen. As for the bad things, be strong, steely and clear-minded in your approach to them. Do not let a bad situation, worry or negative individual get you down. The best kind of strength does not come from muscles and six-packs, nor from faddy diets, but the one that lies within – internally – deep within your psyche.
“A young lady confidently walked around the room while leading and explaining stress management to an audience; with a raised glass of water, and everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, ‘half empty or half full?’….. She fooled them all… “How heavy is this glass of water?” she inquired with a smile. Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. To 20 oz.
She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance. In each case it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “and that’s the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on.”
“As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we’re refreshed, we can carry on with the burden – holding stress longer and better each time practiced. So, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night… Pick them up tomorrow. Whatever burdens you’re carrying now, let them down for a moment. Relax, pick them up later after you’ve rested. Life is short. Enjoy it and the now ‘supposed’ stress that you’ve conquered!”
Here are some extra tips that came appended to the above. A list of 20 nuggets to help you live a better life, and a dash of common sense too….
1 * Accept the fact that some days you’re the pigeon, and some days you’re the statue! 2 * Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them. 3 * Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it. 4 * Drive carefully… It’s not only cars that can be recalled by their Maker. 5 * If you can’t be kind, at least have the decency to be vague. 6 * If you lend someone £20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.. 7 * It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others. 8 * Never buy a car you can’t push. 9 * Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won’t have a leg to stand on. 10 * Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance. 11 * Since it’s the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late. 12 * The second mouse gets the cheese. 13 * When everything’s coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane. 14 * Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live. 15 * You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person. 16 * Some mistakes are too much fun to make only once. 17 * We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box. 18 * A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour. 19 * Have an awesome day and know that someone has thought about you today. 20 * It was I, your friend!
“Dealing with people stress-4 types of stress part 4” – Julie Warburton, Aim 4 Life LINK
“Silent Sunday: Glass of Water” – JupiterCity LINK