AllBlack Lives… Matter?
Just because you’re black doesn’t mean you’re dumb,
It’s more about where you’re going than where you’re from,
Never look back once you make it to the top,
But that doesn’t mean forget what is easily forgot.
You’re black and you know you’ve struggled too,
Don’t ever think that someone else is better than you,
But never say that you know you’re better than them
Because – well, six warning shots in the back.
After the battles fought, all that is left is hatred and opinions,
And people like us,
Stuck with unanswered questions
And a truth that’s forever hidden
With a white man looking down the smalls of his glasses,
“The only thing worth any worth is anything but your black asses.”
To those that have fallen victim of anti-black racism, hate crimes, and police brutality.
It’s Not You, It’s Me
Your gilded heart exudes pure intentions,
So please excuse my disposition
Etched by my realities, and
Charred by my childhood.
I am a burning flame
That burns brighter than any heaven you knew.
My warmth is inviting,
And you’ve lingered too long.
Butane seeps out of your mouth along with your sweet nothings.
You are not welcome here.
I know I may be cold and unreachable,
But with every fiber in my body,
Down to the quantum foam of my being,
I wish so dearly to be rescued.
Cut cookies leap off of the pan,
Elated by their uniqueness.
White and pink frosting plastered on their smooth surfaces
Like a bursted bubble over lips.
Blue lights stripped their decorations.
The crumbling cookies inject themselves with
Serum of sameness – In a feeble attempt
To preserve their parts like cadavers in formaldehyde.
Forbid we insult taste buds with a flavor too sweet.
I stumbled across some of my old poems that I wrote during my undergrad years (which was about 1.0007 seconds ago). None of which are about anything of imminent importance, but interesting enough. I’m publishing them for you to enjoy!
Read them, love them, hate them, start dialogue, send them to your mom for her birthday…whatever’s clever.
To start you off:
I wanted the truth to ring in your head like a siren
To shake your entire being.
I wanted the truth to unshackle the hesitations
and doubts that were bound to your chambered heart.
I extracted the most lovable parts of myself,
Spread them at your feet.
Around them like petal-shaped landmines.
I was hugging a cactus…
but what a beautiful way to bleed.
Following up from a previous post, College Athletics: Getting there… (check it out if you haven’t already – https://thasmoothedge.wordpress.com/2016/05/01/college-getting-there/), it’s time to focus on the other portion of being a college athlete – staying there!
Contrary to popular belief, remaining at a university and actually experiencing success has little to do with basketball and more to do with intangibles. Every time you hear about an athlete getting “released” or “suspended for not upholding team standards”, it’s rarely ever because they turned the ball over too many times. If that was the case, I would have been kicked out of Vanderbilt after my first practice! Regardless, some may see this concept as uncanny, but it’s all relevant. The reason I say that is because the better you are at the little things, everything else will just begin to fall into place. Some of the factors listed below have been discussed numerous times, I’m sure, but they truly are the keys to success.
- Grow, young beanstalk!
While your parents may still see you as their little baby, it’s time to grow up and mature. In the process of maturing, you will learn how to do two things: take responsibility and take initiative. Since you are a college athlete, the coaches and support staff members are going to expect you to take responsibility for your schedule, mistakes, and any other breadcrumbs that could lead back to you when the day is done. It is common to blame situations on things that are trivial and insignificant. When you are in the wrong, just admit the fact that you didn’t do what you were supposed to do, accept the consequence, and learn from it. Here’s where it gets tricky: you may have to do that even when you aren’t in the wrong! Coaches respect players more when they just accept the fact that they messed up. Always remember that mistakes are just data, and guess what – you’ll make a lot while you’re there, so take notes.
While taking initiative is similar to taking responsibility, the difference lies in the timing of events. For example, if you took the initiative to be early to a workout, you will not have to worry about taking responsibility for being late. To me, initiative is mostly about seeking clarification and having uncomfortable conversations. During my final season at Vandy, I went from the starting point guard to the starting shooting guard to the starting stretch four and then back to the point guard position, but coming off of the bench. Confusion was an understatement, but instead of becoming frustrated with my coach’s decisions, I took the initiative to schedule a meeting with her to really get a solid understanding of what she expected of me. Yes, it was uncomfortable and intimidating, but I was perfectly aware of the fact that my role as a senior on the team was to fill in wherever, whenever the team needed me to. Don’t be afraid to seek clarification or confirmation, and don’t take anything that is said, in practice or otherwise, personally. A lack of communication leaves too much room for the imagination.
- Anybody got the time?
Time management has never been more pertinent until you become both a full-time student as well as a full-time athlete. As a freshman, it took me a long time to realize that I was expected to do everything the regular students were doing while also attending morning workouts, getting up extra shots with a teammate, extra films sessions with my coaches, log all of my study hall hours each week, and wait! Am I supposed to be able to do all of this at once? Everyday? Yes. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize! What is the most important thing that I need to do right now? Start on a paper or go out with friends? Read excerpts for my quiz tomorrow or scroll down my Instagram feed?
Pack healthy, on-the-go snacks (Seriously, you haven’t experienced a real dilemma until you have to choose between a nap and a meal) and get your work done on time. Many professors do not care that you will be traveling and will possibly be missing a whole week of class. You are expected to turn in quality work on the given due date like everyone else, so excuses are invalid when ‘academic ineligibility’ enters the room.
- Extra, extra! Read all about it.
This topic pertains to two things: actually doing extra and maintaining a social media status that represents not only your own brand but the brand of your university.
As an incoming freshman, you have not achieved anything in a college uniform; therefore, you ought not to act like you have. As a freshman, you have to take control of how quickly and smoothly you adjust to being a collegiate student-athlete. In order to do that, you need to hurdle the learning curve and doing extra will help. Get up extra shots, watch extra film with your position coach, spend extra time in the gym with a teammate that may not understand the plays as well as you [or vice versa]. Doing only what is mandated of you will never be enough and it will impede your path to success if you only make time for the bare minimum.
Switching gears into the social media domain; I cannot stress the vitality of this enough. We live in a day and age where almost everything revolves around technology and the modes that we use to communicate with one another. CNN reported that teens spend at least 9 hours on social media every day, which is amazing because if you’re getting 7-8 hours of sleep, you’re only awake for 15-16 of those hours. So technically, we are using every other waking hour in a virtual world. There are a lot of videos, pictures and thoughts that we may think are funny and worth sharing, but most of the time, they’re not. Once you arrive at your respective university, you become a representative of your university. There will be fans and administrators all watching you, whether you think they are or not. What you say, show, and even retweet matters and can negatively impact not only yourself, but your fellow athletes and university too.
After you’ve woken up for a morning lift at 6am, made it to your first class that starts at 8am until your last class that ends at 1pm, went to practice that lasted from 2:30pm-5:30pm, then lollygagged to study hall from 7:00pm to 9:30/10:00pm, the first thing you want to do when you get back to your dorm is to press your face into your plush pillow. We all know your pillow is a regular cotton pillow, but it feels plush after the day you’ve had. However, you mustn’t begin the ‘rinse, wash, and repeat’ cycle. Mindfulness is the simple act of acknowledging one’s feelings and thoughts in a therapeutic manner. Slow down to smell the roses, actually taste your food when you eat, take the time to stretch, drink you water, call your mother, but before anything else, stay within yourself. These small tasks may not seem like much but can make a world of difference if done consistently.
- The Red Pill
Is everyone familiar with the blue and red pill example from the movie, The Matrix? The blue pill ends the story and the red pill keeps you in ‘Wonderland’. You are a collegiate student-athlete, so you have taken the red pill. College is all about distractions in literally every dimension of your life, whether it be your social life, personal/private life, or athletic life. Peer pressure is a real thing and everyone wants to fit in. But again, what are you willing to do to separate yourself? Yes, you want to go do activities that the regular students are doing, but you didn’t choose the ‘regular student life’. You have different obligations and different opportunities; therefore, you need to have a different type of focus.
- You can do it!
I’m ending on ‘belief in yourself’ because it is the most important piece of advice I can offer. While being in college will give you some of your most memorable moments, it will also deal out some of your most trying times. Humble yourself within the process, but never mistake modesty for dubiety. Some players become so modest that they truly begin to doubt who they are and what they are capable of. Yes, you will make mistakes and you will fail, time and time again, but remember: you were recruited for a reason.
There was a lot of information given, so if you can’t remember anything else, just know that hard work and details are always an equalizer. Keep your nose clean, literally and figuratively. Lastly, as the great Woodrow Wilson said, “You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”
** A blog made in 2015 from a previously owned blog.
“She was trapped in a maze of incomprehensible pain and heartbreak. Completely and irrevocably alone in a maze of mirrors reflecting her every shortcoming, indiscretion, sin, and inequity. Projected on every millimeter of every wall was a reminder that she would never find her way out.”
Imagine being in a glass case that is as wide as your wingspan. There is a hose that is releasing water at a neck-breaking pace. With each inhalation, water continues to rise. Higher and higher. There’s no way out and your mind is clouded because you can only think about your inevitable death.
Imagine wearing a pair of sunglasses 24/7 that you’re not allowed to take off. Not by choice, but by obligation. Your whole day is dark, even when the sun is out. Even when people are smiling.
Imagine being in a nightmare. You’re running down the street, panting and sweating profusely. You’re trying to escape something, but you can’t quite make out what it is that you’re running from. You open your mouth to scream for help, but nothing comes out. You open your mouth again – nothing. No help.
Imagine having the worse day you could possibly have. Now imagine that same day, but with the realization that this bad day is actually a good day for you and that the days you await will be worse.
Today, May 10th, concludes a week that is very near and dear to my heart – National Depression and Anxiety Week. Some individuals chose to celebrate it, some did not. However, I’m going to discuss why this week in particular should matter to everyone – not just for this week, but for everyday, hereafter.
Hi, I’m Jasmine Jenkins and I am depressed.
As a sufferer of depression, I am able fathom the immensity of the distress that all victims of anxiety and depression cope with. I was officially diagnosed with depression only about 6 months ago, but am more than positive that I have been a victim ever since I was a young teenager. Growing up, I was always told: “What goes on in this house, stays in this house”, “Be tough”, “A psychiatrist? You mean, a shrink?”. When hearing all of this, I was subliminally conditioned to believe that it was not acceptable to not be okay. I was able to master the act of a big, fake smile and passive aggression. Not knowing how to cope with my emotional baggage, I would take it out on my siblings and friends. I fought, I cursed, I smoke, I drank, and I rebelled. I assumed that if everyone saw how cool I was, then no one would see my sadness and anger. This continued throughout the course of my middle and high school career.
Wipe your tears, puff your chest, push your chin up, and keep it moving.
It wasn’t until my freshmen year in college where I could no longer hide from my emotional/mental shortcomings. As a top-tier athlete, it is literally a full-time job that requires both mental and physical stability. Your day consists of class, study hall, weightlifting, conditioning, and practices. Without focus and the will to carry out these tasks, your days were arduous. As a freshman, I had midterm deficiencies, I had been suspended for a game due to a violation of team rules, and I made my first attempt at suicide. I had nothing to live for and everything to die for. I constantly heard thousands of voices, showcasing my deficiencies as a human.
You’re nothing, you might as well just die. You’ll never be good at basketball. You’ll never pass that class. You might as well just quit. Your teeth are so ugly. No one loves you. You are so lazy. You’ll never be fit enough. Success will never come to you. You don’t deserve it.
For almost every day of my life since I was 10, I experienced flaws, imperfections, and failures being crowded at the forefront of my mind. I became numb and drew further into my shell, into my nightmare. Even the simplest tasks were difficult to do. Showering, brushing my teeth, eating, tying my shoe, answering my phone, checking my text messages, smiling – living. This state that I was living in had disturbed my whole being.
I can’t remember how many times I have attempted suicide. I don’t know which scars are from cutting anymore. I can’t remember the amount of times I reminded myself where my dad kept his hunting rifles. What I do know is that I have finally realized, after ten years, that I desperately needed help. For that, I am liberated.
Why does this matter to people without depression?
- As individuals in society, we have coupled sufferers of mental illnesses with weakness and vulnerability. We must stop advocating for the idea that asking for help or guidance is for the weak. Because of labels floating around, victims of depression and anxiety refuse to seek help because they think they are being strong by not doing so. Help is colorblind, genderless, and isn’t biased to a specific group. By eliminating the stigmas, we subconsciously allow individuals to feel better about seeking help.
- Victims of depression and anxiety are usually coined as lazy whiners who need to stop wallowing in self-pity. “How can I feel bad or help someone that doesn’t want to help themselves?” We must understand that depression is like an addiction. While we are all aware that it exists, it is almost as if we find comfort in the emptiness. While there isn’t any happiness, there also isn’t failure. There is a difference between laziness and depression. Laziness can be felt while still feeling pleasure and happiness. Depression consumes every aspect of your life, including emotions. Laziness can be fixed with discipline, while depression cannot.
Eliminate the stigma. Make it okay to not be okay.
What can you do if you think you’re suffering from depression or anxiety?
- Be not ashamed. Admit that you have depression or anxiety. As a sufferer, admitting is half of the battle. There are many different types of depressions, causes, and treatments, but none of that matters unless you are courageous enough to admit that you have it.
- Seek help. If you find yourself in a serious depressive episode and the matter is urgent, there are helplines: 630-482-9696 or 800-273-8255.
- Be gentle with yourself. You’re doing the best you can.
Pay it forward.
** A post made in 2015 from a previously owned blog
Recently, I ran into my old language teacher, and he randomly asked if I was still writing as much as I did in high school. Ashamedly, I told him that I didn’t have enough time, and that my schedule didn’t permit it. What an excuse. So here I am – trying to spark my creative juices again. Happy blogging, right?
Within the last year, I was contacted by my alma mater because they are starting a new phenomenon called, The Wall of Fame. The Wall of Fame consists of alumni that have graduated and gone off to do great things. Since I was one of the few that was able to leave the small town of Gainesville, Ga and attend a division 1 school where I also play basketball, I suppose I was one of the privileged ones to be a part of this new endeavor. In part of being on the Wall of Fame, I was directed to create a video that would be shown to the kids. It could be about anything I wanted it to be about.
When I was approached with this opportunity, I was extremely excited about it. However, I struggled with what I wanted to share with them. I wanted to share something significant, impactful, but also relatable, which I found was especially difficult. I think it’s safe to say that everyone is going through something different in their lives. In order to relate to the kids that would be watching this video, I felt as if my path to success was completely irrelevant. I even questioned – how could we even consider one specific/certain path successful? Does everyone hold the same criterion for success? Anyhow, focusing on the children more than myself, I decided to talk about the three mistakes that I unknowingly made in grade school and how they can be remedied.
- I spent too much time and energy on what other people thought of me
I was so consumed with what my friends thought of me. Was I fit enough? Was I smart enough? Was I wealthy enough? Was my hair too curly or too straight?
If someone was to tell you to jot down everything you love, how long would it take before you listed yourself?
It has taken me years, to realize that my self-worth – your self-worth, your mother’s self-worth – anyone’s self-worth is not dependent or reliant on anyone’s acceptance or approval. Along with this, I have learned that you cannot impact the world if you spend your time trying to be like it.
- I didn’t say thank you enough.
For whatever reason, I felt that anytime anyone did anything for me – I deserved it. I felt entitled, but little did I know that no one does anything out of obligation. For example, I would drop a piece of paper in the hallway because that’s their job. That’s what janitors are there for, right?
To live life without showing individuals that they are appreciated should be an abomination! Yes, people have jobs with certain tasks that they need to carry out, but by no means are they obligated to go the extra mile to make your experience comfortable without any appreciation. This concept is not limited to employees, but also to your family and peers.
- I complained way too much about things that will never matter.
Why do I have to go to school today? I hate school. Ms. Such and Such is so lame – she gives us way too much homework on the weekends. I have to go do these stupid pushups for the fitness test – I hope I pass.
One of my favorite poets, Rudy Francisco, had a verse in his poem called, “Complainers”, that said: “How blessed are we to have tragedies so small that they are able to fit on the tips of our tongues.”
How blessed are we that the only things we have to complain about is how hot it is, or how bad the tag in the back of our shirts makes our necks itch. It’s a really hard knock life we have to live, huh?
So how can we remedy these mistakes? Very simply.
- Take a pen and a sticky note (or multiple, if you insist). Write down the phrase, “I am enough”. Post this sticky note where you will see it everyday. I have a sticky note posted on the back on my phone, on my mirrors, my backpacks, and on random pages in different books I read. By reminding yourself that you are enough, it should be like an instant confidence booster. You are indeed enough, dear.
- Treat people well and remind yourself that kindness does not cost a thing. Kindness is free. Tell someone thank you and let them know that you appreciate what they do for you. The smallest gestures of appreciation can make the world a different place.
- Lastly, change your “have to’s” to “get to’s”. Instead of saying, I have to go to school today. Say, I get to go to school today. It makes all the difference to realize that the things you are doing are privileges and not obligations.
Complain less, appreciate people, and love yourself. Make the world a better place.