#TTSLDMV Weekend

I was terrified driving up from Richmond to DC. I had no idea what to expect or who I would meet. Would they understand the movement? Do I do it justice? I tend to do that: second guess my work which is a frustrating trait I'm actively work on. I walked in the space and immediately felt the energy. It's a dance studio - bodies project every emotion in the space I'm standing.  I took all of that in and proceeded to touch nearly every surface in the studio, speaking life, good vibes and affirmations. I proclaimed every soul who crossed the threshold would bring their own light, be exalted and feel affirmed. If they came in down, they would be lifted. New friendships would be forged, laughs had. Safe to say, .my expectations were met sevenfold. Every last queen fell through and blessed the mission and the cameras. It was the most beautiful experience. 

Check out the rest of the shots on the TTSLRVA page.

The Visit to the Den

I went home to Legacy Internet Radio last Monday, Apr 17, 2017. I hadn't touched a mic in months, especially within Ain't No Half Steppin with Marcus J and I had a blast. As one would. It felt so good to speak freely. I truly didn't know my voice was as missed or as impactful while walking back into the den. I didn't know I missed it so much.

Check out his page and give a listen to the segments below.

The Killing In Cleveland

Why Do We Celebrate Negativity On Social Media?

Did Barkley Go Too Far? Are We Going To WW3? Spicer on Hitler!? Trumps Taxes

History, Missing Child and an Epic Rant and Closing

 

Sober High - Meet My Illustrator

I've known Malik in passing for years. We go to the same church but different campuses. And he is a gifted artist who has indulged me in multiple commissions.

In preparation for my next work of poetry, Sober High, I knew the only person who could accurately capture the tone of this most personal work would be him.

Get into Malik Radford and his work below.

Richmond, VA native, Malik Radford's work invites viewers to see the world through his eyes. Born in 1996, Radford has had a passion for art since he learned how to hold a pencil. From portraiture work to illustrations to graphic design, Malik Radford is a well-rounded artist. Primarily focusing on illustration and cartooning, Radford's inspiration stems from pop culture and music and the influence that it has on him. While currently enrolled as a Kinetic Imaging major at Virginia Commonwealth University, Malik is also a freelance illustrator and graphic designer. Aside from his illustrative work, Radford creates music and dabbles in video work and animation.

http://malikradford.weebly.com/illustrations.html

Masterpost of things I've done, created and sites where I've been featured *frequent updates*

Where I ask for lunch money and funds to help catapult my handiwork: https://www.patreon.com/joiunspeakable

Where you can find my work outside of my trunk: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00B7CQCGG

Where I stepped clear out of my comfort zone, mic pops and all: https://joiunspeakable.bandcamp.com/

Where TTSLRVA went global (or national. I dream big.): https://www.buzzfeed.com/joiu/when-your-magics-black-and-your-thighs-thick-qtxt

Where #TTSLRVA met the Queenhood: http://thequeenhood.com/thick-thighs-the-hard-way

My first freelance article for Richmond Magazine http://richmondmagazine.com/arts-entertainment/a-canari-dances-in-dogtown/

Where my dope friends thought I was cool enough to be featured: http://www.notoriousstyles.org/2016/06/most-notorious-talent-joi-unspeakable.html

Where my natural hair made a statement: http://naturalpowerofher.com/power-woman-joi-donaldson-deserve-see-name-life-lit-start-writing-plan-make-things-happen/

Where I was interviewed about Safe Spaces and the Healing Properties of Writing: “Women of Wednesday: Joi Donaldson on Safe Spaces and the Healing Properties of Writing” @RantingOwl https://medium.com/@OliviaCole/women-of-wednesday-joi-donaldson-on-safe-spaces-and-the-healing-properties-of-writing-33c856b3c1a1

When I woke up crying and where we made a statement: http://wric.com/2016/07/07/police-shootings-spark-solidarity-rally-in-richmond/

Where a VCU student reached out and wrote about it: http://www.commonwealthtimes.org/2016/07/08/sterling-castile-vigil-spawns-impromptu-march-through-rva/

Where tensions ran high and truth was spoken: http://www.nbc12.com/story/32404984/local-demonstrators-react-to-dallas-attacks-on-police

Where I was asked to give my personal narrative about first meeting racism: http://richmondmagazine.com/news/recap-unmaskingrva-part-i/

2015 Almost Wrap Up: My Truth

As customary as the falling of snow, the drop in temperature and the erecting of festive things which seem to show up earlier every year, this time also presents a time for reflection. As I look back at what 2015 has given, I can’t miss what it has also taken away. Of the things I’ve lost this year, the most disheartening have been friendships.

 

In entrepreneurship, the heads tell you that everyone who starts out with you will not all make it to the Promised Land. I’m a bit of a loner by default so that fact wasn’t that scary to me. It’s when I began to notice the higher I climbed, those I hadn’t dreamed would leave my side had grown more faint. At times you just trudge through knowing that the road isn’t always easy while other times you sit in it and wonder who dropped the ball. Being a black woman business owner who also is a mother carries a bevy of guilt trips: being labeled selfish, taking on too much, the tired anecdotes of “you’re too busy for me” and “your fingers broke?”

 

It’s exhausting chasing and catching dreams not just due to the hustle but also dodging the hurdles of people who don’t want to go with you but also don’t want to be left behind. How is that balanced? Can it be?

Since taking on new ventures and meeting new faces, old faces have grown distant and it seems, resentful. Could it be my life changing has little to do with yours? That love is still present even if my face and time aren't? The heart of it is…I’m just tired. Tired of needing to be at the beck and call of friends who have not purchased a book, shared a link, read a blog post, liked a photo, recommended services or requested a shoot without the free.99 tagline. I’ve worked so hard for this and I shouldn’t have to shirk it – set myself ablaze to keep warm those who want to drop every detail of their lives on me while their eyes glaze over when I talk about my things. My life has grown, my connections have grown, my name and brand have grown while my circle has gotten smaller. While some may never feel that pang of guilt, I feel it intensely. Yet, I won’t give back what God has given because I didn’t request permission from some to move forward. I’m one who knows when life changes: a new baby, new relationships, new career, new responsibilities, life and friendships change as well. And I’m perfectly fine with that. I just want the people in my life who still reside under that friend moniker to do that same. And if that can’t be, I wish you all the best without me. Not in anger or bitterness, but in the knowledge that we have hit our fork and now we must part. Wish me well, not bad mojo.

 

Joi "Unspeakable" Donaldson

Naked on a Saturday Afternoon

I haven't moved on hours
Curled up in shorts and a tight tee
I'm comfortable yet constricted 
as I scroll through Tumblr
As I lay
Needing release
Hot with ceiling fan on high
I break through my covers 
And strip of everything 
Last night's pain
Today's headache 
Tomorrow's potential sadness
And just lay here
With all my clothing
Shorts 
Tee
Bra
Strewn on the wood floor
Naked
The feeling I've come to love most

Please

Please
Will someone do poetry with me?
Break themselves over sharp pages 
Bracing themselves for quiet stages
With me
Feel your heartbeat through pens and sheets laid flat on my back to touch frequencies
Will he go down on me?
With me?
Leave me sweaty, light and heavy enough to P-Pop on a handstand of plans to take back control of this land
Kill the ideologies of that one damn Man
With the most grandiose of slams even Serena can't stand
Will somebody do poetry with me!
I want to feel weightless 
Now face this
Being cornered with false thoughts and cruels drops as the world flies by 
Being your own mind's concubine 
Slave to the matters a brain can splatter across the screen of the mind's eye
It ain't gotta make sense
Anxiety proves it
That my sensitive ass
Chronically overthinking ass
Yet seemingly always poignant ass
Needs to do some poetry
Will somebody please do poetry with me
Because it's knocking me over in waves, you see...

Fine

I'll buy the Def Poetry set and commit every word to memory
So I'll never utter another word aimlessly
When I'm famous with all the pageantry
Then you'll want to do poetry with me

The Makings of Superheroes

Paper Storms began as the need to get out the thoughts I had about no one really knowing the backstory of Storm, the Marvel superhero who's only real claim to fame is Halle Berry bearing her likeness. She's black with white hair, glowing eyes and holds the ability to manipulate the weather. That's about it. We can fanboy it and say there have been revelations on her real name and origin, but still, there is not much to go on other than her box-office bankability. That need to know more about her expanded to the need to know more about myself and what would happen if I knew my own backstory - not the one that is written for me. Those thoughts became paragraphs which morphed into a lesson plan and curriculum to a class I had no idea how to teach. A lesson plan geared towards adults until I was told by three separate persons that I need to teach this to -wait for it - teenage girls. I have to admit: I did not know what I was getting myself into. Me. In a room with a handful of teenage girls. Attempting to talk to them unlike the mother that I am. And have them listen.

Even on paper, for me, made no sense.

Then, on June 20th, 2015, I conducted the first Paper Storms class, hearing some of these girls speak uninhibited for the first time. Now, my mindset has shifted. There is nothing else I'd rather be doing on a Saturday morning during summer break.

I have yet to hear more honesty, vulnerability, bravery and courage as when these girls speak. They relay the actual struggles and frustrations of growing up a black girl in this day and age with so much wisdom, the type of wisdom we petty adults tell them they can't possibly be privy to. Yet, they haven't ceased to amaze me. My cousin and partner in all things #PaperStorms Dei Stevenson and I leave each class with a renewed sense of identity, wishing we had this type of forum when we were in our angst years. The thought that one of them will begin to look at life - herself, her voice, her walk - differently is enough to make us get out of bed and shuffle the pens and notebooks together on a Saturday morning to divvy out across a library table.

If they all were to jump and fly in class, scraping the ceiling with their Jordans and sandals, it wouldn't be enough to call them superheroes. Continuing to be brave enough to speak her own truth to power is the real sign in the sky. 

 

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