Tag Archives: Rising Star

Do You Still Have Your “Hoodies” On?

25 Sep

The City of Chicago has a serious problem with gun violence and the murder rate is soaring. The eyes of the nation are upon Mayor Rahm Emmanuel; however, the solution cannot be the sole responsibility of one man. We also cannot leave the expectation of raising our children to the Chicago Police Department. The time is long overdue for urban families to reflect on the infamous culture we have developed around gangsta rap, crack sales, marijuana smoke, saggy pants and fatherless children. The same culture that is directly responsible for creating this inner city war zone is killing our youth.

After the Trayvon Martin shooting, the African American Community rallied to have alleged killer George Zimmerman arrested and brought to justice. Community leaders, including Rev. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, were quick to organize the masses demanding justice be brought upon this fair-skinned, racial profiler (ironically found to be of Hispanic descent). A man hired to protect and serve a community of above-average income families. Every media avenue was abuzz with outraged citizens overwhelmed with anger over another black youth being gunned down without cause. Facebook profile pictures prolifically popped up proudly displaying photos of protesting public servants in their “hoodies”, a symbol that became synonymous with Trayvon’s case.   

But, months later, the African American community that upped its ethical antenna in response to another slain young black boy is quiet again. Quiet despite the numerous accounts of other young Trayvons having their light distinguished by the devastation of gang related gunfire filling the streets of Chicago every night; quiet when young children are confined to their porches because wandering further into their own community could easily leave their mothers to make coffins their final beds; quiet when we should still have our proverbial “hoodies” on for teenage rapper Joseph Coleman (aka Lil’ Jojo) and 14 year old Evanston Township freshman football phenom Dajae “Dae-Dae” Coleman. These two youth were recently gunned down in the Chicago area and their killers remain on the loose. Though no one has been identified, in the back of our minds we have already allowed the all-too-common story to play out. It is hard to believe it has been nearly 30 years since Simeon basketball star Ben Wilson was tragically murdered and yet we don’t seem to have learned an effective enough lesson. Reacting in outrage when a black or brown child is killed by a “fair-skinned” person is senseless if we continue on with our daily routine when the person taking lives in our community lives within our community or one just like it.

We have to do a better job of policing our own communities and stop placing the blame on others. We have to take the reins out of the hands of the Mayor and the police and take ownership of our failing culture. We have to create a new culture that promotes the talents of our people in the arts, sciences and sports, not the deficits of the community around them that allows for easy access to drugs, gangs and guns. It’s not too late to change our culture in order to save the lives of Chicago’s youth.

Many of our rising stars will remain hidden jewels who never have a chance to shine. They won’t ever get there because they are victims of a culture that is failing them. We need to keep our “hoodies” on and occupy WGCI and Power 92.3, demanding that they change their format and reject songs with messages that play to the destruction of our young people’s minds, directly affecting what we see and hear in our communities. We need to demand better from the talented artists with the ability to create as much of a positive message through their skill set as they do the negative, nonsensical, mind-numbing noise that has affected our youth. We need to keep our “hoodies” on until real change happens.

We need to keep our “hoodies” on until there are no more senseless killings of young black people in the city of Chicago and other cities of this great nation. We need to keep our “hoodies” on just as a protest to fair-skinned crimes against our people, but as symbols of a society ready for change and as activists ready to make those changes!

ELDRICK HEREFORD

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Reggie Jones & Murielle Dickens; Rising Stars of Chicago’s Austin Community

27 Aug

Move Me Soul is more than just a dance troupe; it is a movement dedicated to saving lives through hard work, dedication, education and dance. Move Me Soul is an After School Matters program dance troupe based in the Austin community on Chicago’s West Side. Reggie Jones and Murielle Dickens are two of the standout dancers in the Move Me Soul dance troupe. They share a love for all things dance and that’s not the only thing they have in common.  

Move Me Soul, in conjunction with P3, sponsored Reggie on his first college trip to Cornish College in Seattle, Washington. He is currently a senior Austin High School. Murielle Dickens is entering her senior year at George Washington Prepatory High School. Thanks to Move Me Soul Director Ayesha, Murielle visited and studied dance and culture in Ghana.

I recently had an opportunity to see Reggie and Murielle perform and interview them as well. It was Reggie’s first time on a plane when he visited Cornish College. He described his first visit to Seattle as “Beautiful, the weather was perfect!” even though he ran into some difficulties checking into to his hotel room. P3 had pre-paid for Reggie’s room, but when he arrived he was unable to check-in; P3 eventually arranged housing for Reggie at another hotel about 30 minutes away.

While visiting Cornish College, Reggie participated in the Modern, Ballet, and Pilates dance classes. Reggie thoroughly enjoyed his visit with Cornish College, saying “Their hospitality was great!” In our interview he expressed his passion for all forms of dance; when asked to describe his style of dance he said, “It’s smooth, and I can make it however the choreographer wants to see; I will take in their techniques and add my own to it.” Preparing to go on stage his energy was upbeat and confident. When asked what makes him different he stated “I bring dance to life with my own style.”

 Murielle Dickens describe her style of dance as “Versatile and like a sponge. Any type of style of dance I can learn I will. I want to master every type of style of dance.”  Murielle said that “dancing allows me to get away from the world. Dancing keeps me out of trouble. There are so many places you can go with dance!” After being nominated by Move Me Soul Director Ayesha for the Sankofa Youth Enrichment program, Murielle won a trip to Ghana to study dance for two weeks. She seemed very humbled from her experience and said “We take so much for granted here in the US.” She intends to go back and initiate a Christmas toy/clothing drive for the youth in Ghana. Her advice to anyone interested in dance is to “Stay true to yourself.”

Reggie Jones and Murielle Dickens are the Rising Stars of the Austin community. They both claim Michael Jackson as their favorite dancer but they also share their ambition and drive as well. Their plight is to escape from the violence of Chicago’s Austin community through dance. These are the names that you should know as these Rising Stars will become the Game Changers of tomorrow.

 

Eldrick Hereford

P3: The Game Changers/ Rising Stars of the Austin Community

15 Aug

One of the many problems about the news is that it can be so negative. Negativity sells papers and gets plenty of views on a website, but does it make a positive impact on our community? I don’t think so. Here at P3, our goal is to focus on the Game Changers and Rising Stars that are having a positive impact on the Austin community, our youth, and our culture. These are the hidden jewels of the Austin community.

I recently had the opportunity to see Move Me Soul, a dance troupe, perform at Austin High School. I can’t give enough praise to Diana Muhammad and Ayesha Jaco for the mentorship and choreography that they provide to over 40 students in the Austin community. Move Me Soul is a movement that is saving lives on the West Side of Chicago through discipline in the form of dance.

Move Me Soul gave an excellent performance of African, Modern and Jazz dance styles. Diana and Ayesha are shining examples of Game Changers in the Austin community and Chicago. They are helping our youth to find another way out of the ‘hood through dance and hard work toward their goals. Please stay tuned; I will be posting my interviews with two of Move Me Soul’s dancers, two Rising Stars from the Austin community, Reggie Jones and Marielle Dickens, later this week.

Eldrick Hereford