6 Awesome Kids Making a Difference in Their Communities

Here are some real examples of children giving back to their communities in big ways!

Let’s face it, sometimes it’s difficult to even get our kids to share. As parents, empathy and altruism are some of the hardest lessons to teach.  However, those traits are essential to becoming a well-rounded adult. Here are some real examples of children giving back to their communities in big ways! Good job, Moms and Dads!

1. Khloe Thompson

Khloe

At just 9 years old, Khloe Thompson launched, Khloe Kares, a charity initiative to hand out bags filled with important items to give to homeless women.

“I would pass the same homeless people all the time on my way to school,” Khloe explained to Upworthy. “And I would ask my mom, ‘What can I do to help?'” 

According to her website, “Khloe’s Kare Bags… are made and designed by Khloe and her grandma. The purpose of the Kare bags is to fill the bags up with items we use on a daily basis and give them to homeless women on the streets. Items include; soap, lotion, tooth brush and tooth paste, feminine products, socks etc. Instead of giving these items in a large plastic bag Khloe thought every women should have a nice sturdy bag to put their stuff in.”

Kudos to Khloe and her mom to putting a plan into action!

2. Jahkil Naeem Jackson 

Jahkil

Like Khloe, 8 year old Jahkil Jackson also felt a need to do something about his town’s homeless population.

“It just made me feel sad, sad to see other people on the street just lying down and not having a home or a bed,” the now 8-year-old said. “Homeless people need to have more people helping them.”

With the help of his family, Jahkil set a goal to hand out 1,000 “Blessing Bags” to the homeless before the end of summer. As of August, Jahkil had passed out 735 bags filled with toothbrushes, toothpaste, socks, combs, shampoo, water, sanitary napkins, towels and other items donated to him by others in the community and organizations.

Great work, Jahkil!

3. Robbie Novak

Robbie

Also known as Kid President, Robbie Novack, now 12 years old, is the adorable little powerhouse actor behind a series of YouTube videos and in a television show, produced by Soul Pancake. Robbie delivers positive and inspirational messages to his viewers that are sure to brighten your day. Though you would’t know it by his positive attitude, according to Wikipedia, Robbie “suffers from osteogenesis imperfecta, which makes him susceptible to bone damage. He has experienced over 70 fractures and has been a victim of bullying.”

Way to go, Robbie, for succeeding in spite of immeasurable setbacks!

4. Egypt “Ify” Ufele

Ify
According to her website, at a young age, Ify was diagnosed with a critical asthmatic health condition that impacted her weight and appearance.  Although she overcame the illness, when she returned to school, she was bullied mercilessly by some of her peers.  In response, Ify and her amazing mom began Bully Chasers, an organization that supports youth who have been bullied and gives them a platform to speak out against it.  Ify didn’t just stop there! With the help of her grandmother, Ify launched her own line of clothing, called Chubiiline, and has since become a trailblazer as possibly the only child designer to dress plus-size models at one of the world’s most prestigious fashion shows.
Amazing work, Ify.

5. Quenten McGee

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Quentin made a seemingly simple decision to mow lawns of people in need.

“I feel good about helping people out that really can’t help themselves,” Quentin said.

In just two months, he’s mowed 36 lawns. Quentin’s small act of kindness gained the attention of the Marion, Ohio Police Department, the mayor, and people across the country.

Keep up the great work, Quentin!

6. Morgan McCane

Morgan

Morgan McCane was just an average teenager girl who was tired of seeing teenage boys with their pants hanging down.  But Morgan decided to do something about it! The 15-year-old teenager started Girls Against Boys Sagging (GABS).

According to the GABS Facebook page, “the founders and supports of GABS are dedicated to educating, encouraging, and inspiring girls and women of all ages, all over the country, to use their voices to challenge their friends and family members that “sag,” to pull up their pants.”

“I feel like women are the biggest influence on our young boys. If women could get voting rights, why can’t they help make boys pull up their pants? I met some girls that do like the boys sagging, but some of the other girls I met say, they’re too scared to take a stand.”

Awesome job, Morgan!

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About The Author

Faye McCray is anMcCray_AuthorPhoto (1) attorney by day and writer all the time. Her work has been featured on My Brown Baby, AfroPunk, AfroNews, For HarrietMadame NoireBlack Girl NerdsBlack and Married with Kids, and other popular publications.  Faye also has a number of short stories and a full length novel available for purchase on Amazon.  Most importantly, Faye is a proud wife and mother to three beautiful and talented young boys who she is fiercely passionate about raising.

7 Ways to Teach Your Children to See Their Beauty

How to encourage your children to love and appreciate their inner and outer beauty.

by Faye McCray

It’s summertime and if your children are anything like mine, they have been browning like little turkeys in the sun. Each day, my children come inside a shade darker, and I can’t resist kissing their sweaty sun-kissed faces and marveling at how breathtakingly beautiful they are.  As the school year resumes and they are thrust back into a regimented routine, I want to be sure they are armed with the tools necessary to counteract any negativity they may feel from the outside world.

Here are a few tips on teaching your children to see their own beauty:

1. Surround them with positive images of themselves.

Whether it is artwork, television shows, books, action figures or dolls, make sure the images your introduce your child to are healthy and positive. Whether it’s reality shows or the evening news, our children see enough negative versions of themselves.  Counteract the negativity by surrounding them with positivity.  Find books that feature heroes and heroines of color. Buy them dolls that look like them.  Allow them the opportunity to see themselves for that they can be.

2. Celebrate what is unique about them.

As a woman, I stand a little over 6ft tall.  I was always tall for my age and at certain points in my life, I wanted desperately to blend in with everyone else. The kindest thing someone ever said to me was “When you grow up, you will love being tall. You will command every room you walk into.” I didn’t know if was true then but I stood a little taller and prouder just in case it was. Whether freckles, chubby cheeks or big feet, find the positive in things that are unique about your child.  Celebrate it and they will too.

3. Celebrate your own beauty.

I had a childhood friend whose father used to drill into our heads to “Do as I say, not as I do.”  Even as a kid, I didn’t buy it.  The thing is, children are always watching you. They watch more than they listen.  If they see you gazing at yourself in the mirror and criticizing your broad nose or tightly curled hair, what do you think they will think about themselves when they look in the mirror and see those same features? It may not always be easy, but celebrate your own beauty and allow your child to witness it.

4. Teach them the history of their people.

The history of people of color in this country is rich and diverse.  Teach them about our scientists, inventors, artists, musicians, athletes, businessmen and others who changed the landscape of the world. It’s easy to look back at dark places like slavery and segregation and feel burden and shame. However, even in the dark places we can find tremendous strength.  Let them know they have royal blood running through their veins and because of that, they can accomplish anything. Never make them feel burdened by the color of their skin.

5. Don’t stifle their curiosity.

This has never been an easy one for me. As a self-proclaimed helicopter mom of three boys, I am inclined to hover over my sons. I want them to remain safe and protected. However, I have learned the more I stifle their curiosity, the more withdrawn they will become.  They will be afraid to speak up in class, speak up for themselves and speak up for others. Within reason, allow your children to explore the world around them. Indulge their interests. Allow them to try new things and find answers for their questions.  Allow them to see the beauty in their growing minds.

6. Be discriminating with who you allow into their lives.

The truth is, like in any community, some members of our community aren’t as enlightened as others. They are unable to find beauty in certain skin tones and features and unfortunately, they are not so good at hiding it.  If possible, limit contact or keep these people away from your children. If you can’t, be sure to let your child know that you do not condone that persons comments or behavior. I have found that nothing has made me braver than being a mother. It’s not necessary to be insulting. However, I have shut down many a negative comment by saying, “Please do not say that to or around my child.”

7. Compliment, Praise, and Encourage.

In the early nineties, Toni Morrison was on Oprah discussing “The Bluest Eye.” She asked a simple question, “Does your face light up when your children walk into the room?” I was a teenager at the time but even then something about that moment touched me.  It is important to feel loved, appreciated and valued.  In this age of handheld devices, it is so easy to become distracted. I am guilty of having to be told to put down my electronic device by my own children when I am not giving them the attention they deserve.  At the back, front, side and middle of our brain, we should all hold ourselves accountable for how we receive our children when they walk into a room.  How we respond to them when they do something to make us proud.  How we react when they want to feel handsome or pretty.  Tell them they are beautiful, tell them they matter, tell them they are smart and they are loved.  Whether we want the burden or not, it is us who will teach them their value.

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About The Author

Faye McCray is anMcCray_AuthorPhoto (1) attorney by day and writer all the time. Her work has been featured on My Brown Baby, AfroPunk, AfroNews, For HarrietMadame NoireBlack Girl NerdsBlack and Married with Kids, and other popular publications.  Faye also has a number of short stories and a full length novel available for purchase on Amazon.  Most importantly, Faye is a proud wife and mother to three beautiful and talented young boys who she is fiercely passionate about raising.

Teaching Your Children About The Nat Turner Rebellion

185 years later, here are some important lessons children can learn from the Nat Turner Rebellion.

by Rick McCray

With all the recent news on the upcoming film, Birth of Nation, many are revisiting a complex time in American History.  The film, expected to be released on October 7, 2016, is a period drama about enslaved American Nate Turner, who led a rebellion in South Hampton, Virginia beginning August 21, 1831.  On that day, Turner, a gifted orator and preacher, led a band of about 70 enslaved men on a journey that resulted in the death of over 50 white men, women, and children.  The band was stopped on August 22 and over the next few months all of them were either executed or resold back into slavery.  Nat Turner was hanged on November 11, 1831 and his body was skinned and mutilated.  This rebellion resulted in the South imposing harsher slave codes as well as laws restricting the liberty of free Blacks.  It also resulted in continued savagery inflicted upon our people in this country.

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We all learned about the rebellion at some point in our educational career.  However, when this event is discussed, it is usually in the context of how brutal Nat Turner and his compatriots were in killing white men, women and children. The discussion rarely includes what these men saw or personally endured that brought them to the point where they were willing to take lives without any thought of repercussions.  That context is very important, and it is something you should discuss with your children.  Here are some important lessons children can learn from the Nat Turner Rebellion:

Surviving American slavery proved the African people were strong.  Africans were incredibly strong to survive the constant horrors of slavery. Slavery is a dark part of American History that existed for centuries. Jim Crow and government sanctioned discrimination impacted our communities for decades after that.  Despite all of this, our people are still here and thriving.

Sometimes you have to fight and that is okay.  I know, I know.  In a world where we are forced to have conversations with our children about the different set of rules they must follow when interacting with authority figures, fighting is never the answer.  Yet, the reality is that at some point in life you will have to fight back.  Your fight may not be physical; it might be as simple as standing up for yourself by telling someone to stop treating you poorly.  Telling your children that at certain times you can and must fight in order to protect lives may be unavoidable.  As parents, we never want to think of our little ones having to defend their lives.  However, sometimes we have to let them know that their lives are of utmost importance and must be protected at all costs.  

No one that they read about in a history book was an angel.  If you want to discuss the violence that Nat Turner and his compatriots leveled in a negative manner, that is your choice.  However, make sure you also teach about the violent time Nat Turner was living in.  Slavery was a legal institution that involved torture, murder, molestation, rape, mutilation, and countless other horrors without consequence.  American history is complicated, and there are no one size fits all interpretations of any event.  It is important to make sure our children are aware of different perspectives and interpretations outside of their school’s history books.  

Every action has a reaction.  Treating people wrong repeatedly without correcting your behavior will always result in a negative outcome.  There are always consequences.  Always treat others the way you want to be treated.

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About The Author

Rick McCray is a maRAMrried father of three amazing sons. He is also a proud graduate of Duke University where he holds a BA in History and African/African American History, and Howard University School of Law. He is a regular commentator on the In The Black podcast.  Rick is passionate about our history and helping to educate our community concerning the great contributions of people of color to the world. You can find Rick on Twitter @RealRickMcCray.

Confronting My Fear: Lessons from Ta-Nehisi Coates

One Mom’s thoughts on Bestselling Author Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book “Between The World and Me.”

by Faye McCray

When my first son was born, I nicknamed him pickle.  Not for any real reason.  He wasn’t green or lumpy.  In fact, he was a beautiful golden boy with a mound of dark, curly hair and the pinkest little lips.  He was the spitting image of my husband so I fell in love with him instantly and with ease.  I already trusted that smile, memorized those lips and I felt myself melt wrapped in those arms.  He was born with his eyes open.  The physical trait he most inherited from me.  Big, dark, oval eyes looking at us with razor-sharp focus, as if he was thinking, already, about who he would become and how we would fit into his life.

When my second son was born, I nicknamed him peanut.  Odd really, because he would be the only one of us to develop an allergy to them.  He was born bright red and wrinkly, screaming so loudly, his voice echoed throughout the delivery room.  Unlike his brother, his eyes were squeezed shut, we joke he wasn’t ready to be born.  My sweet, kind boy clung closely to me for his first year of life. He, who I affectionately joked would prefer I had a pouch, like a mama kangaroo.  He was perfectly content burrowed in a wrap, tight against the warmth of my body, only peeking out with a toothless smile when he saw fit.

Born three years apart, I fell hard and deeply for my guys.  Their beauty.  Their energy.  Their curiosity.  Now five and almost eight, they still squeal with glee at a chocolate chip pancake or a butterfly that lands unexpectedly on the car’s passenger side door.  I am proud I was chosen to be their mother.  Every single day.

I recently finished Ta-Nehisi Coates’s book Between The World and Me.  In it, Coates writes to his son about race, humanity and navigating this life in a black body.  When I knew the book would adopt the narrative of a father speaking to his son, I knew I had to read it.  I listened to it on audio with the spouse and then read it in print to linger a little longer in the language.

There are so many themes in the book that stopped me.  Halted me really.  Left me sitting in my chair short of breath.  He ran a highlighter along things I had been reluctant to see.  The most profound of which was Coates hard-hitting words on fear.  Fear growing up amidst the sickness of the inner city and the fear he felt from the adults around him who loved him so hard, it hurt, and most significantly to me, his fear as a father of a black son.

I identified with the fear.  From growing up as a black girl in New York City, to loving my beautiful black sons. Reading his words forced me to confront how deeply I feel afraid.  In some ways, I think it was the universe’s way of toughening me up to give me two black boys to love.  To make me a heterosexual female who fell in love with a black man.  I am sensitive.  My mother crowned me with that label as a child. Emotional wounds have always felt deeper for me and the pain felt by people I love always struck me as deeply as my own. The people I love the most walk this life in black bodies. A fact that, as of late, has been nothing sort of torturous to my sensitive soul.

In his book, Coates speaks of an experience taking his son on a visit to a preschool with his wife. His son jumped right in with the other children.  His first instinct, was to grab his arm, pull him back and say, “We don’t know these folks! Be cool!” He didn’t.  “I was growing,” he wrote.  “…and if I could not name my anguish precisely I still knew there was nothing noble in it.  But now I understand the gravity of what I was proposing – that a four-year-old child be watchful, prudent, and shrewd, that I curtail your happiness, that you submit to a loss of time.  And now when I measure this fear against the boldness that the masters of the galaxy imparted to their own children, I am ashamed.”

I read this and cried.  I saw myself in this passage.  Governing my own children’s moves and reactions.  Curtailing their happiness in favor of my wariness.   “Don’t get too close to that child.” “Don’t be the loudest at the party.” “Don’t touch another child’s toys at the playground.” “Don’t dance to wildly at the school picnic.” I am so very afraid and reading his words, I felt so very ashamed.

Truth is, I am afraid for my beautiful boys.  I am afraid of the looks my taller than average eight-year old gets when he moves with too much eagerness in public.  The excitement that bubbles in him animating every long limb he is not quite accustomed to navigating. I am afraid of his sensitivity.  The tears he cries when his feeling are hurt.  The frustration he releases when he doesn’t feel heard.  I am afraid for his fearless intelligence.  His insistence on questioning everything.  His cleverness and keen ear, picking apart questions so well, adults forget the answers.  I am afraid of the grown-up teeth squeezing their way into my five-year old’s mouth.  The changing contours of his baby face.  His burgeoning athletic frame, broad like my husband.  I am afraid for his charm.  His beautiful smile.  His ease with and adoration of little girls.  I am afraid for my boys.  Their huge spirits moving in black bodies with little knowledge of the hurt that awaits them.  The limits people will place on them.  And the ill-will strangers will project on them.  Or the dangers that arise in policing them.

Reading Coates’s words, I felt damaged by my own wounds. I was only ten when a person with white skin first made me feel inferior because of my black skin.  She called me “black” on a school bus.  Hissed it.  Because I took a seat she thought rightfully belonged to her.  I still remember her icy eyes, staring at me in hate, as if any triumph I could ever feel would always be marred by the body I was in.  I knew what it felt like to be judged before I said a word.  To be presumed guilty and have to prove my innocence.  To be presumed ignorant and have to prove my intelligence.  I am hard on my boys because I want to protect them but the reality is my protection can be suffocating. I am chipping away at their beautiful spirits.  The parts of their humanity that introduced themselves even as infants, as their skin first parted the air in this new world.  I’ve become so consumed with how this world will react to them, I almost forgot to nurture and respect how they will react to the world. How they might even change it.

I want my children to be free. In order to do that, I may have to be one of the ones to step out of their way.

Thank you for your words, Mr. Coates.

This post has also appeared on FayeMcCray.com and MyBrownBaby.

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About The Author

Faye McCray is anMcCray_AuthorPhoto (1) attorney by day and writer all the time. Her work has been featured on My Brown Baby, AfroPunk, AfroNews, For HarrietMadame NoireBlack Girl NerdsBlack and Married with Kids, and other popular publications.  Faye also has a number of short stories and a full length novel available for purchase on Amazon.  Most importantly, Faye is a proud wife and mother to three beautiful and talented young boys who she is fiercely passionate about raising. You can find Faye on Twitter @fayewrites and on the web at fayemccray.com.

15 Must-Have Children’s Books

It isn’t always easy finding diverse representation in children’s books. Here are 15 of our favorite picks for the little boy or girl in your life!

It isn’t always easy finding diverse representation in children’s books. Here are 15 of our favorite picks for the little boy or girl in your life!

1. Snowy Day by Ezra Keats

From the publisher: Universal in its appeal, the story has become a favorite of millions, as it reveals a child’s wonder at a new world, and the hope of capturing and keeping that wonder forever. The adventures of a little boy in the city on a very snowy day.

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2. The Zero Degree Zombie Zone by Patrik Henry Bass

From the School Library Journal: Bakari and his easy-going best friend, Wardell, must save the world from the evil ice king, Zenon, who has lost his ring and is looking for revenge. It seems that popular but cocky Tariq and Keisha may have the ring. How will the two boys solve the problem of returning the ring and standing up to the pushy pair all in one day? Refreshingly, this tale stars an African American cast. This colorful, well-illustrated story contains friendship, magic, zombies, and plenty of adventure. Readers will surely clamor for further installments from this talented duo.

3. Ellray Jakes is Not a Chicken by Sally Warner

From the publisher: EllRay Jakes is tired of being bullied by fellow classmate Jared Matthews. But when EllRay tries to defend himself, he winds up in trouble. Then his dad offers him a deal: If he stays out of trouble for one week, they’ll go to Disneyland! EllRay says he can do it. But saying it and doing it are two very different things.

4. Bippity Bop Barbershop by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley

From the publisher: In this companion book to the bestselling I Love My Hair, a young boy, Miles, makes his first trip to the barbershop with his father. Like most little boys, he is afraid of the sharp scissors, the buzzing razor, and the prospect of picking a new hairstyle. But with the support of his dad, the barber, and the other men in the barbershop, Miles bravely sits through his first haircut. Written in a reassuring tone with a jazzy beat and illustrated with graceful, realistic watercolors, this book captures an important rite of passage for boys and celebrates African-American identity.

5. Whose Knees Are These? by Jabari Asim

From the publisher: Takes a loving look at knees from the vantage point of a mother’s lap.

6. Please, Baby, Please by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee

From the publisher: Academy-Award nominated filmmaker Spike Lee and his wife, producer Tonya Lewis Lee, preset a behind-the-scenes look at the chills, spills, and unequivocal thrills of bringing up baby!

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7. Big Hair, Don’t Care by Crystal Swain-Bates

From the publisher: Lola has really really REALLY big hair, much bigger than the other kids at her school. Despite her hair blocking the view of anyone that dares sit behind her and causing her to lose at hide and seek, she sings the praises of her big hair throughout this rhyming picture book. Designed to boost self-esteem and build confidence, this beautifully illustrated book is perfect for any girl or boy who has ever felt a bit self-conscious about their hair and may need a reminder from time to time that it’s okay to look different from the other kids at their school.

8. Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora

From the publisher: A toddler plays a game of peekaboo, and you’re invited to play too. First there’s Mommy to find, with Daddy not far behind. Then Puppy comes peeking around the corner, and a favorite toy train brings the toddler to Grandma and Grandpa. Isadora’s brilliant, joyful pastel illustrations capture the familiar and cozy people, toys and animals that will delight babies.

9. Daddy Calls Me Man by Richard Jackson

From the publisher: Inspired by his family experiences and his parents’ paintings, a young boy creates four poems.

10. I Love My Hair! by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley

From the publisher: This whimsical, evocative story about a girl named Keyana encourages African-American children to feel good about their special hair and be proud of their heritage. A BlackBoard Children’s Book of the Year. Full-color illustrations.

11. Not Norman: A Goldfish Story by Kelly Bennett

From the publisher: Norman the goldfish isn’t what this little boy had in mind. He wanted a different kind of pet — one that could run and catch, or chase string and climb trees, a soft furry pet to sleep on his bed at night. Definitely not Norman. But when he tries to trade Norman for a “good pet,” things don’t go as he planned. Could it be that Norman is a better pet than he thought? With wry humor and lighthearted affection, author Kelly Bennett and illustrator Noah Z. Jones tell an unexpected — and positively fishy — tale about finding the good in something you didn’t know
you wanted.

12. If I Ran For President by Catherine Stier

From the publisher: If you ran for president, you would have to do a lot of hard work. You would study the nation’s problems, tell the American people about your platform, select a running mate, and debate your opponents on live television.

13. You Can Do It! by Tony Dungy

From the publisher: Tony Dungy’s little brother, Linden, is a third grader who is having a bad day at school. Linden is the youngest of the Dungy family and the least motivated because he hasn’t found “it.” In a family where everyone seems to have found their special talent, all Linden knows is that he wants to make people happy.

With encouragement from his parents, a helping hand from his older brother Tony, and inspiration from God, Linden learns that if he dreams big and has faith, he can do anything!

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14. Little Shaq by Shaquille O’Neal

From the publisher: The start of a brand new series by Shaquille O’Neal and illustrated by 2014 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent award winner Theodore Taylor III, Little Shaq is sure to be a hit with young readers.

When Little Shaq and his cousin Barry accidentally break their favorite video game, they need to find a way to replace it. That’s when Little Shaq’s science project inspires a solution: a gardening business. They can water their neighbors’ gardens to raise money for a new game! Little Shaq and Barry make a great team both on and off the basketball court, but will their business be as successful as they hoped?

Showing kids that anything is possible with the support of friends and family, Little Shaq will inspire them to love reading, play fair, and have fun!

15. Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen

From the publisher: Sassy is a long-legged girl who always has something to say. She wants to be a ballerina more than anything, but she worries that her too-large feet, too-long legs, and even her big mouth will keep her from her dream. When a famous director comes to visit her class, Sassy does her best to get his attention with her high jumps and bright leotard. Her first attempts are definitely not appreciated, but with Sassy’s persistence, she just might be able to win him over. Dancing in the Wings is loosely based on actress/choreographer Debbie Allen’s own experiences as a young dancer.

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About The Author

Faye McCray is anMcCray_AuthorPhoto (1) attorney by day and writer all the time. Her work has been featured on My Brown Baby, AfroPunk, AfroNews, For HarrietMadame NoireBlack Girl NerdsBlack and Married with Kids, and other popular publications.  Faye also has a number of short stories and a full length novel available for purchase on Amazon.  Most importantly, Faye is a proud wife and mother to three beautiful and talented young boys who she is fiercely passionate about raising. You can find Faye on Twitter @fayewrites and on the web at fayemccray.com.

 

20 Quotes to Inspire Young Men

Let these 20 quotes from inspiring leaders, thinkers and innovators push you forward in your journey to greatness.

Check out these great quotes to inspire you or the young men in your life!

1.”One and God make a majority.” – Frederick Douglass, Renowned American Abolitionist

2. “The privileges of being an American belong to those brave enough to fight for them.” – Benjamin O. Davis Jr., Leader of the Tuskegee Airmen Flight Squadron and First Black Air Force General

3. “Men who are in earnest are not afraid of consequences.” – Marcus Garvey, Black Nationalist and Pan-Africanist

4. “The first need of a free people is to define their own terms.” – Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael), Revolutionary

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5. “Kwanzaa was conceived, created and introduced to the African community as an audacious act of self-determination.” – Maulana Karenga, Black Nationalist and Creator of Kwanzaa

6. “I’m in business to make money. You can do well and do good. But at first, you have to focus on the blocking and tackling of running a good business.” – Robert Johnson, Co-founder of BET

7. “Keep going no matter what.” – Reginald F. Lewis, Philanthropist, Attorney, Businessman

8. “Money had never been the main thing for me.  It’s the legacy that was important.” – Berry Gordy, Founder of Motown Records

9. “I am a man, I count nothing human foreign to me.” – Publius Terentius Afer (Terence), Greatest Roman Comic Dramatist

10. “We will either find a way or make one.” – Hannibal Barca, Greatest Carthaginian General

11. “The best way to boycott is to build your own.” – Chuck D, Rap Pioneer

12. “Never abandon your vision.  Keep reaching to further your dreams.” – Benjamin Banneker, Inventor, Author, Architect

13. “Our children may learn about heroes of the past.  Our task is to make ourselves architects of the future.” – Jomo Kenyatta (Kamau Ngengi), Pan-Africanist and First President of an Independent Kenya

14. “Either you deal with what is the reality, or you can be sure that the reality is going to deal with you.” – Alex Haley, Historian

15. “I resolve it is better to die than be a white man’s slave.” – Sengbe Pieh (Joseph Cinque), Leader of Amistad Slave Revolt

16. “Hate is a wasteful emotion, most of the people you hate don’t know you hate them and the rest don’t care.” – Medgar Evers, Civil Rights Activist

17. “I think that the good and the great are only separated by the willingness to sacrifice.” – Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Most Prolific Scorer in NBA History

18. “Find a need and fill it. Successful businesses are founded on the needs of the people. Once in business, keep good books. Also, hire the best people you can find.” – Arthur G. Gaston, Businessman/Civil Rights Activist

19. “I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.” – Booker T. Washington, Educator, Businessman, Founder of the Tuskegee Institute

20. “To achieve greatness, start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe, World Renowned Tennis Player

Motivated Meme

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About The Author

Rick McCray is a maRAMrried father of three amazing sons. He is also a proud graduate of Duke University where he holds a BA in History and African/African American History, and Howard University School of Law. He is also a regular commentator on the In The Black podcast.  Rick is passionate about our history and helping to educate our community concerning the great contributions of people of color to the world. You can find Rick on Twitter @RealRickMcCray.

Minute Mentor: Attorney and Author Faye McCray

Minute Mentor is a series of posts profiling real people achieving their dreams.

Minute Mentor is a series of posts profiling real people achieving their dreams. It began with the simple idea that “seeing is being.”  When cofounders Rick and Faye’s oldest son was born, it was clear he was musically inclined. He was playing piano by ear at age 4 and neither of them ever even picked up an instrument! When Faye remembered an old neighbor who had gone on to become a Julliard trained musician, she immediately reached out to him and said, “What do we do?”  He patiently answered all of her questions on how best to nurture her budding musician.

Minute Mentor provides a space for real people to tell their stories so if you or your little one is in search of mentorship on how to achieve their dreams, you can look no further than right here! Sometimes the best inspiration comes from seeing someone that looks like you achieving similar goals.

If you have any questions or comments for the featured guest, leave a comment, and we will do our best to bring it to their attention! Happy imagining!

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Name: Faye

Age Range: 35

Occupation: Attorney/Writer

Education: Bachelor’s Degree in English, Juris Doctor Degree (Law Degree)

Career Level:

  • Entry
  • Mid-level
  • Executive
  • Entrepreneur
  • Retired

How hard do you work? 

  • Lots of Leisure Time
  • Typical 40-50hr Workweek
  • More than Average
  • I never stop working

Lifestyle/Income: 

  • Side Hustle/Didn’t Quit My Day Job
  • Getting By
  • My bills are Paid with Some Room for Fun
  • You get a car! You get a car!

Describe your job:

By day, I am a government attorney working in public service.  I am also a traditionally published and self-published author.  I teach writing courses. I also blog and write articles online.  In addition, I manage this lovely website.

What education level is required for your job? Tests? Certificates? Years of school?

In order to be an attorney, I had to graduate high school, get my college degree (4 years), and go to law school (3 years).  I had to take the SAT to get into college, the LSAT to get into law school, and after I graduated law school, I had to take a state bar to practice law in the state I live in.

Writing is different. I have been writing since I was six years old! Technically, you don’t need a particular degree to be a writer.  My major in college was in English so that was extremely helpful because I was able to practice my writing, have it graded, and receive feedback from my peers.  That made me a better writer.  Some people go on to get their Master’s degree in Fine Arts which enables them to specialize in a particular kind of writing like screenwriting or playwriting.  It also gives them the option to teach!

Take it one step at a time.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you look at the big picture and not all the small steps it takes to get there.  It is not insurmountable.  I would also say surround your children with people who are goal-oriented.  Laziness is contagious! I make it a habit to never be the smartest person in the room. If I am, I work to get out as soon as possible. I want people around me who will elevate me and not drag me down.

What kind of student were you?

I was an A & B student for most of my education. I struggled more in math and science because I am more creative by nature.  Law school was more challenging for me but I don’t think anyone finds law school easy!

Did you have a mentor? How did you meet?

I have had a number of mentors throughout my career.  My legal mentors were mostly professors and employers.  My most impactful mentor relationships happened organically with people I genuinely liked.  I didn’t have to try too hard.  As I have grown in my career, many of those relationships have turned into friendships.

In writing, some of my mentors were professors. Others were people I met along the way at writing groups and meet-ups.  Being a writer can be isolating! If you are an introvert (like me), you have to constantly push yourself to go out and meet other writers.  I live in the DMV, so I have taken workshops at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda which have been wonderful for meeting other writers and honing the craft!

How did you get your current job?

I applied for my day (legal) job through a notice that went out through my law school’s alumni network.

As a writer, I work on my own schedule.

Is your job family-friendly?

My day job is very family-friendly. I am an attorney with the government, so usually I am able to get off work by 5pm.  I also work from home a great deal which is awesome.

Writing is different. It’s easy to get caught up when you’re writing. I have a husband and 3 kids, so I have to constantly check myself to make sure I am giving them enough quality time.  Often, I write after everyone goes to bed.  I don’t get enough sleep.

Do you find your work fulfilling?

Yes. Especially the writing.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer/lawyer?

As far as the writing goes, I have always felt like a writer so the answer is YES.

As far as law, I decided I wanted to be a lawyer when I was probably about 11 or 12.  I used to love the television show A Different World.  There was this amazing character named Freddie Brooks who was this poet/granola-eating/hippie with this wild curly hair.  She had a hot boyfriend with locs. I adored her, and I saw my adult self being something like her.  In one of the last seasons, she decided to go to law school.  It was this kind of natural choice for her because she cared so passionately about social justice issues.  She was still very much herself but in her day job, she was about the business of healing her community through the legal system.  I wanted to be JUST like her. I truly believe sometimes goals and dreams don’t feel attainable until you see someone who looks like you achieving them.  That’s why I created this site! Freddie may not have actually been real but watching her each week on A Different World made me feel like if she could do it, I could too.

Freddie

 

What advice would you give a parent of a child/young adult interested in pursuing a job in your field?

For law, I’d say take it one step at a time.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you look at the big picture and not all the small steps it takes to get there.  It is not insurmountable.  I would also say surround them with people who are goal-oriented.  Laziness is contagious! I make it a habit to never be the smartest person in the room. If I am, I work to get out as soon as possible. I want people around me who will elevate me and not drag me down.

For writing, I would encourage you to travel, go to shows, concerts and readings.  It doesn’t have to cost a ton of money.  There are always free things to do! Expose your child to the arts. My best writing has been inspired.  I think it’s important to see different perspectives and meet different types of people.  I think in order for fiction to feel real you have to be able to empathize with different people and perspectives.  Exposure is key! I would also get a library card and/or a B&N membership. Encourage your child to read and be comfortable with silence.  There are so many distractions. Pursuing a career in writing is an exercise in discipline.

Of course for all careers, be encouraging! Your child may want to pursue a career you never even heard of.  Focus on the steps to get there and not all the things that can hold them back.