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Posts tagged “tatiana johnson

divaFeature: Compassion For Thy Self

We’ve got another divaFeature from the lovely Tatiana Johnson.  Take notes and enjoy, divas!:

I remember talking to one of my friends about crying.  She stated that she rarely cries. My friend, like me, is a black college student. She has just about all the stresses that any other college student has, if not more. Yet, I have always seen her composed. She has never been erratically emotional, yet she has been the one that many of her friends, who aren’t of color, come to as a shoulder to cry on. Learning about this friend made me think about myself and the last time I cried. I also came to the conclusion that I rarely cry. I began to talk more and more to my black friends and noticed the same thing. I do not think there is anything wrong with not crying, but I do know that sometimes being that shoulder to cry on or that rock can be draining.

Many of my black friends do not have what my counselor calls “compassion for themselves”. In an attempt to not generalize, I am finding that a great deal of black women suffer from “too much compassion for others”. Yes, we want to seem humble, strong, and able to take on the world, but sometimes we just need to stop…and be okay with stopping.

This can be extremely hard for someone like myself who never says no, lets other people take the lead, and although I know damn well that I am tired, will talk on the phone with that ailing friend. The conclusion is this: “black women are superheroes”… but even a superhero needs to take a moment for self care. After speaking with this amazing counselor, I’ve come up with five tips to build compassion for ourselves:

1.  Remember that you are human. This means that you only have two hands, arms, eyes and ears. Know where you are. If you have just worked all day, and are tired, be tired. Rest. Whether this is turning off the cell phone, not logging onto the Internet at all or placing your bag full of work to the furthest corner of the room, have some time to yourself. Revel in yourself. And for all you busy women, it does not have to be long; take five minutes and be ‘unobligated’.

2.  Get up and move; having compassion for yourself also means having compassion for your body. You do not have to go running a 56 mile run, but dance. Dance or walk or move in some way. Wake your body up and let it know that you’re listening.

3.  Sleep. Get the sleep you need, even if you have to take a nap. Just sleep and don’t feel bad about it.

4.  Sometimes without compassion, we can doubt ourselves. We can also put ourselves down. With this negativity, we are damaging ourselves. If you find yourself wallowing in negativity, make some challenges to yourself. Challenge yourself to be positive, and then see how positive you can get daily. There’s nothing wrong with a little positive reinforcement.

5.  Do something once in awhile, or as much as needed, that makes you feel good. I grew up being told “just because it feels good, doesn’t mean you should do it”.  I think anything that makes you feel good, can be good. Anything in excess can be bad. Do something that makes you feel good. Whether that is going on vacation, eating a cheeseburger, watching hours of television or having sex! Do it! Your body will thank you, and you’ll be on your way to being more compassionate to you and only you.

 

Tatiana M.R. Johnson is a senior at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts. She is an English major with a minor in Cinema and Media Studies. She also writes poetry and has performed around the U.S. She hopes to create films that honor the art of filmmaking as well as provoke discussion. She accepts emails at tatiana.johnson@simmons.edu.

If you’re interested in submitting a divaFeature, email divamission@gmail.com.

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divaFeature: “Run this Motha…”

A guest feature from former “Diva of the Week” Tatiana Johnson:


I first heard Beyonce’s “Girls (Who Run the World)” courtesy of divaMissioN and was okay with it. I then saw the video and my like for the song exponentially increased. Next, I saw Beyonce perform the song at the Billboard Music Awards and then later on one of the farewell episodes of Oprah. I suddenly found myself saying “HOLD UP!” (Luda voice) and smiling. This song has revealed to me an overwhelming feeling of that Girlfriends popular phrase: “Oh Hell Yes!” I know a lot of women who are also on that train, loving Beyonce’s new jam and blasting it like “Single Ladies” and “Diva”. Yet, there are some women who are not smitten by the song and could care less. There are also women writing about how this song is a representation of feminism and some who RESENT THAT STATEMENT.

So, where can one stand on this song that seems to be celebrating women? In my opinion, this song represents something so powerful that may need a little clarification…
LET ME CLEAR MY THROAT!

I remember speaking with a friend who stated some famous words of another friend. The saying goes “Black women’s lives are not tragic”. Being an aspiring filmmaker and someone who cares a lot for popular culture, I cannot agree more with that statement. I’ve watched Precious and every Tyler Perry film under the sun. I’ve heard about little girls who are being called “Precious” in their middle schools, and I have also seen YouTube videos of young black girls being exploited sexually and I must say I have been saddened, disappointed, angry and frustrated. I’ve never wanted to be a mother/father so much, or in some sort of role whereas to teach girls what kind of power they have and how their lives are not tragic. It seems to be ingrained since the age old doll experiment that “black is bad” and this negative reinforcement has evolved into “black is poor”, “black is dirty” and the most recent comment “black is ugly”.

Where is the positive reinforcement?

The media is not the sole proponent of these beliefs, but the continuation of society embracing these beliefs helps keep the cycle going and evolving. Where will this evolution of negative perceptions of blackness lead?  As I speak to my aunt and other women in my life about their struggles and achievements as black women and then look at my own generation, I can see that there is a need for a revolutionary shift. As I sat in awe of my aunt’s ability to engage me in her college community in the late 80’s and 90’s full of so much black pride and desire to make their presence, I longed for that to be my generation. During this time there was a dire need to show society that blackness should not be invisible and that black people can and will demand their presence. We’ve seen this with Spike Lee, Louis Farrakhan, the explosive continuation of Hip Hop that embraced Afro-Centricism which was revolutionary in its own respect and the list continues. Hearing about this concrete representation of revolution, change and identity in my aunt’s stories, led me to ask where my generation stands.
Yes, I thought about all of this after watching Beyonce perform “Girls (Who Run the World).” I saw the opportunity for the redefinition of the “tragic black woman”, the “hyper sexualized black woman”, “the caretaker ‘mammy’ black woman” and so many other boxes society has given black women. Seeing Beyonce’s silhouette hold the globe in her hands as a black woman means something. Seeing the many, many women dancing and singing the song means something. It means there is the opportunity to shift our thinking of our black girls who soon become black women from being sad, impoverished and powerless. There is the opportunity to take our power and use it. Not only does this empower black women; it stands as an inclusive voice as it shouts “Who are we? / What we run? /The world!” The song stands for girls everywhere.
This article does not discount the atrocities that happen to girls everywhere, nor does it discount their pain. What it does is provide an analysis of this song and how it can stand for a way of helping girls heal. This song serves as the opportunity for women everywhere to take back their power. Beyonce showed in her performance her ability to be sexy, playful, hardworking, and serious and we can look at this and see her as she is. She maintains so many different dispositions, while not telling us what to be. She allows us to be our own woman, womyn and etc. She embraces us and empowers us. How many songs “raise a glass to the college grads”? This is positive, especially in light of the images of women seen lately.
I hope this article can shift some opinions or at least provide another perception of what this song could mean and can do. I am ECSTATIC to hear the verse “My persuasion can build a nation.” I believe it and maybe we can instill this in our daughters, nieces, friends, mentees and anyone else. Our girls need to know that they can run the world, not be beaten up by it.

Tatiana M.R. Johnson is a senior at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts. She is an English major with a minor in Cinema and Media Studies. She also writes poetry and has performed around the U.S. She hopes to create films that honor the art of filmmaking as well as provoke discussion. She accepts emails at tatiana.johnson@simmons.edu.


divaFeature: "Run this Motha…"

A guest feature from former “Diva of the Week” Tatiana Johnson:


I first heard Beyonce’s “Girls (Who Run the World)” courtesy of divaMissioN and was okay with it. I then saw the video and my like for the song exponentially increased. Next, I saw Beyonce perform the song at the Billboard Music Awards and then later on one of the farewell episodes of Oprah. I suddenly found myself saying “HOLD UP!” (Luda voice) and smiling. This song has revealed to me an overwhelming feeling of that Girlfriends popular phrase: “Oh Hell Yes!” I know a lot of women who are also on that train, loving Beyonce’s new jam and blasting it like “Single Ladies” and “Diva”. Yet, there are some women who are not smitten by the song and could care less. There are also women writing about how this song is a representation of feminism and some who RESENT THAT STATEMENT.

So, where can one stand on this song that seems to be celebrating women? In my opinion, this song represents something so powerful that may need a little clarification…
LET ME CLEAR MY THROAT!

I remember speaking with a friend who stated some famous words of another friend. The saying goes “Black women’s lives are not tragic”. Being an aspiring filmmaker and someone who cares a lot for popular culture, I cannot agree more with that statement. I’ve watched Precious and every Tyler Perry film under the sun. I’ve heard about little girls who are being called “Precious” in their middle schools, and I have also seen YouTube videos of young black girls being exploited sexually and I must say I have been saddened, disappointed, angry and frustrated. I’ve never wanted to be a mother/father so much, or in some sort of role whereas to teach girls what kind of power they have and how their lives are not tragic. It seems to be ingrained since the age old doll experiment that “black is bad” and this negative reinforcement has evolved into “black is poor”, “black is dirty” and the most recent comment “black is ugly”.

Where is the positive reinforcement?

The media is not the sole proponent of these beliefs, but the continuation of society embracing these beliefs helps keep the cycle going and evolving. Where will this evolution of negative perceptions of blackness lead?  As I speak to my aunt and other women in my life about their struggles and achievements as black women and then look at my own generation, I can see that there is a need for a revolutionary shift. As I sat in awe of my aunt’s ability to engage me in her college community in the late 80’s and 90’s full of so much black pride and desire to make their presence, I longed for that to be my generation. During this time there was a dire need to show society that blackness should not be invisible and that black people can and will demand their presence. We’ve seen this with Spike Lee, Louis Farrakhan, the explosive continuation of Hip Hop that embraced Afro-Centricism which was revolutionary in its own respect and the list continues. Hearing about this concrete representation of revolution, change and identity in my aunt’s stories, led me to ask where my generation stands.
Yes, I thought about all of this after watching Beyonce perform “Girls (Who Run the World).” I saw the opportunity for the redefinition of the “tragic black woman”, the “hyper sexualized black woman”, “the caretaker ‘mammy’ black woman” and so many other boxes society has given black women. Seeing Beyonce’s silhouette hold the globe in her hands as a black woman means something. Seeing the many, many women dancing and singing the song means something. It means there is the opportunity to shift our thinking of our black girls who soon become black women from being sad, impoverished and powerless. There is the opportunity to take our power and use it. Not only does this empower black women; it stands as an inclusive voice as it shouts “Who are we? / What we run? /The world!” The song stands for girls everywhere.
This article does not discount the atrocities that happen to girls everywhere, nor does it discount their pain. What it does is provide an analysis of this song and how it can stand for a way of helping girls heal. This song serves as the opportunity for women everywhere to take back their power. Beyonce showed in her performance her ability to be sexy, playful, hardworking, and serious and we can look at this and see her as she is. She maintains so many different dispositions, while not telling us what to be. She allows us to be our own woman, womyn and etc. She embraces us and empowers us. How many songs “raise a glass to the college grads”? This is positive, especially in light of the images of women seen lately.
I hope this article can shift some opinions or at least provide another perception of what this song could mean and can do. I am ECSTATIC to hear the verse “My persuasion can build a nation.” I believe it and maybe we can instill this in our daughters, nieces, friends, mentees and anyone else. Our girls need to know that they can run the world, not be beaten up by it.

Tatiana M.R. Johnson is a senior at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts. She is an English major with a minor in Cinema and Media Studies. She also writes poetry and has performed around the U.S. She hopes to create films that honor the art of filmmaking as well as provoke discussion. She accepts emails at tatiana.johnson@simmons.edu.


Former 'Diva of the Week' Gets Published

As you know, our “Divas of the Week” are all about spreading positivity, making moves, and all having all around “diva behavior” (the good kind!).  One of our former Divas, Tatiana Johnson, is one of the most talented poet/spoken artists in New England and she’s just had one of her works published in Simmons College’s Sidelines Magazine.  Werk!

Tatiana on what the poem is about:

“I wrote this poem a while ago after I heard someone I know was bleaching her skin. It made me think of ancestry and what it means to be a woman in brown skin, no matter the shade. I wrote this for her, and for women who were born from some amazing, strong, enduring women. This poem is a dedication to them, and is a representation of something way bigger than words and myself. I want people to feel connected to something significant when they read this. It’s simply a reminder of being connected to a past that’s unfathomable”

Read her beautiful words below.  We’re proud of you Tati!!!

She speaks like the wrinkles congregating in my knuckles
Like her mouth sits in grins like my nail beds
They call her the mule of this world
She left her mark on my belly to say we were once connected
There is no silence in her birthing
Her becoming is strength wrapped around moments that break backs who’ve never felt pain
Finger prints dusted with soil from digging graves for children that were left in seas before 
Her body knew emancipation
Trauma steadily rocking her children and her childrens children in ships from
Passages that brought money to everyone but her
Will God not have mercy on her suicide that for her only meant freedom
She speaks when they call her exotic
Afraid that she may just be beautiful that the coarseness in her hair
Is a metaphor for her complexity
The forbidding of reading does not mean she contains no intelligence
Selling her down river will not quiet the voices in her stride
Taking the men that marry her will never change the truth in her matrimony 
With us
Her daughters
She is speaking
Behind 
Male dominance that never treasured the plight of her brown skin
Or hands that raped the beauty of her smile 
They searched the crevices of her 
Hoping to leave her vacant
They call her the mule of the world
Wrestling in the winter of her own darkness
When will God kiss her dark skin and remind the world that she is beautiful 
So she hopes that swimming in liquids will make her blackness fade 
Her mermaid Africa fins being compartmentalized
Like a chemist she disrupts her melanin maybe the skin in the mirror 
Won’t be so chalkboard looking
Its no longer in her smile
Its in the way she loves her face with the white foaming cleanser covering it
She is speaking
No one seems to be absorbing her cries
To notice her
As something more than that dark corner in the room
They tell her to stop talking about herself
Racism happened years ago
Racism happened years
Racism happened
Racism
Where did it go then?
Somehow its been affecting her
Reminding her that she’s stunted sometimes not trusted
Often times overlooked as nothing
But its gone
Someone define this term 
Of making her skin less worthy
She speaks
She wants us to hear her
And her daughters
She speaks to me some nights when 
I listen to the music she created while I laid rumbling in her womb
sounds of rope burning, spiritual lullabying, courage
its sung in the key of c
seas
she always knows the sound of oceans
it’s the inner seashell like sound that rocked her to sleep while crossing rivers
she’s speaking
they tell us we are just angry 
that we should get over it
but these our mothers 
these are our stomachs 
she left marks on us
calls us hers
sounds like whispering
she spoke
we listened
and we never sit silent


Former ‘Diva of the Week’ Gets Published

As you know, our “Divas of the Week” are all about spreading positivity, making moves, and all having all around “diva behavior” (the good kind!).  One of our former Divas, Tatiana Johnson, is one of the most talented poet/spoken artists in New England and she’s just had one of her works published in Simmons College’s Sidelines Magazine.  Werk!

Tatiana on what the poem is about:

“I wrote this poem a while ago after I heard someone I know was bleaching her skin. It made me think of ancestry and what it means to be a woman in brown skin, no matter the shade. I wrote this for her, and for women who were born from some amazing, strong, enduring women. This poem is a dedication to them, and is a representation of something way bigger than words and myself. I want people to feel connected to something significant when they read this. It’s simply a reminder of being connected to a past that’s unfathomable”

Read her beautiful words below.  We’re proud of you Tati!!!

She speaks like the wrinkles congregating in my knuckles
Like her mouth sits in grins like my nail beds
They call her the mule of this world
She left her mark on my belly to say we were once connected
There is no silence in her birthing
Her becoming is strength wrapped around moments that break backs who’ve never felt pain
Finger prints dusted with soil from digging graves for children that were left in seas before 
Her body knew emancipation
Trauma steadily rocking her children and her childrens children in ships from
Passages that brought money to everyone but her
Will God not have mercy on her suicide that for her only meant freedom
She speaks when they call her exotic
Afraid that she may just be beautiful that the coarseness in her hair
Is a metaphor for her complexity
The forbidding of reading does not mean she contains no intelligence
Selling her down river will not quiet the voices in her stride
Taking the men that marry her will never change the truth in her matrimony 
With us
Her daughters
She is speaking
Behind 
Male dominance that never treasured the plight of her brown skin
Or hands that raped the beauty of her smile 
They searched the crevices of her 
Hoping to leave her vacant
They call her the mule of the world
Wrestling in the winter of her own darkness
When will God kiss her dark skin and remind the world that she is beautiful 
So she hopes that swimming in liquids will make her blackness fade 
Her mermaid Africa fins being compartmentalized
Like a chemist she disrupts her melanin maybe the skin in the mirror 
Won’t be so chalkboard looking
Its no longer in her smile
Its in the way she loves her face with the white foaming cleanser covering it
She is speaking
No one seems to be absorbing her cries
To notice her
As something more than that dark corner in the room
They tell her to stop talking about herself
Racism happened years ago
Racism happened years
Racism happened
Racism
Where did it go then?
Somehow its been affecting her
Reminding her that she’s stunted sometimes not trusted
Often times overlooked as nothing
But its gone
Someone define this term 
Of making her skin less worthy
She speaks
She wants us to hear her
And her daughters
She speaks to me some nights when 
I listen to the music she created while I laid rumbling in her womb
sounds of rope burning, spiritual lullabying, courage
its sung in the key of c
seas
she always knows the sound of oceans
it’s the inner seashell like sound that rocked her to sleep while crossing rivers
she’s speaking
they tell us we are just angry 
that we should get over it
but these our mothers 
these are our stomachs 
she left marks on us
calls us hers
sounds like whispering
she spoke
we listened
and we never sit silent


Diva of the Week: Tatiana Johnson

Meet our next “Diva of the Week” Tatiana Johnson. Born and raised in Boston, this 20-year old is finishing her third year at Simmons College in her hometown where she is majoring in English and minoring in Cinema/Media Studies. In addition to her studies, Tatiana is Student Affairs Officer for the Student Government Association, Vice President of the Black Student Organization, and a Student Assistant at the Office of Student Leadership and Activities. She also holds down a job with Lush Cosmetics. Between her time in high school and college, she has traveled to Peru, Bolivia, and California.

When she’s not hard at work academically, Miss Johnson is also a poet/spoken word artist. She has performed all over Boston as well as various poetry slams/events in New York, Connecticut, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Tatiana recently opened for Def Jam poet Andrea Gibson…werk!!!!

As far as the future is concerned, Tatiana has BIG dreams. She plans to be a filmmaker, director, and producer. She wants her work to focus on the black woman’s experience that will create a revolution in the film industry. Tatiana feels that it’s crucial for the black woman to “tell (her) own story, create (her) own space, and be present in film.”

In her spare time, she likes to travel to different places, especially New York; she also loves to dance, go out with friends, and have a good time in general.

Here’s what Tatiana has to say about her personal style:

“I see myself as an artist. So I like to be trendy, but I like to make it my own. I like to use old stuff I find from my grandmother and aunt and match it with more modern clothing. I dress like my personality. Sometimes I’m feeling really 90’s and then I’m feeling really 70’s and revolutionary so I take a lot of risks in my outfits. I am a poet and say whatever I want, and sometimes I dress like my words. I want to be bold, and I want other people to not feel like they have to dress a certain way, but to express themselves as they are.”

You are an inspiration, Tatiana. We’ll see you at the Oscars one day!!