gabriel-14k-white-gold-diamond-round-halo-engagement-ring-with-pave-shanker6872w44jj-1Several months ago, Mother’s Day weekend to be exact, I went to the mall to purchase a mother’s day gift for myself. I had recently lost the big pearl ring I had been wearing on my left ring finger. Yeah, it’s the marriage ring finger, and for that reason, I’d always worn a ring that was obviously not a wedding ring. I somehow felt that I didn’t have the right, as a single woman, to wear a diamond ring on that finger; I thought it would be a deceitful thing to do. So, as I said, I was in Macy’s, trying on rings and looking at jewelry. I then went to look at purses, my favorite thing, and selected a bag. I went back to a pretty ring I’d noticed. It resembled a wedding ring. I bought it anyway.

And I started wearing it… on my left ring finger. Here’s what happened:

  1. People were nicer to me. It seemed that people, women and men, went out of their way to hold doors for me, to accommodate me (in stores, in the airport), and to “take care of me.”
  2. More men flirted with me. I can only assume that based on the adage that people who are perceived to be taken or “wanted” have more people wanting them. But yes, it happened. Now, I don’t mean that no men ever flirted with me or that men didn’t ever approach me, but during my little experiment, I noticed the percentage increase.
  3. I acted differently. So, here’s the most telling result. I am not married, but I’m also not single. However, when I put on the ring, I felt good. I did it as an affirmation of my love for myself, of God’s love for me, and that yes, I do belong to someone. I like the idea of being wed to God, the ultimate protector, the ultimate mate, the ultimate love. On a more visceral level, it made me feel special.

What do rings symbolize to those in your world, society? Without investigating any further, without asking you or examining the quality of your relationship, a ring simply says, someone wanted me enough to “put a ring on it.” It says that I am loved and that I am not alone, that someone has my back, and that, in theory, I have a protector.

My epiphany makes me think single women of a certain age should start wearing rings, and yes, on the left hand ring finger, and that they should smile more and feel protected, and feel loved, and feel wanted. Before I get a deluge of pro-single positive woman feedback, let me say that I am the poster of the independent woman. So, don’t come for me!🙂 But as a woman, and a lady, and a little girl who like many, deep down always thought that I would be married and looked forward to it, I acknowledge that this experiment revealed a lot about society’s views of singleness. What it affirmed for me was that if a man never gets on his knee for me, I know I’m worthy, and I don’t have to wait for validation. Is this something all single women need do to feel special?  no. But I say try it, you might be surprised.

Question: Is it wrong to wear a ring if you’re not married? Is it the same as pretending NOT to be married?

Toni Morrison On Focus in the Midst of Chaos

“The function, the very serious function of racism, is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being.” -Toni Morrison

Toni MorrisonOne of my mentors, Toni Blackmon (Free, posted this on Facebook just as I found myself stopping to read and respond to every post about Ferguson, MO and Michael Brown. With so many deaths being reported weekly, including Robin Williams, and then the death of a high school classmate, Monday morning I was feeling overwhelmed with work and purpose and my growing “to-do” list. But what I was reminded was that in the need to feel useful, sometimes the best thing we can do is accomplish our goals, finish what we started so that we can move on to the next meaningful step in our success, toward our dreams — fulfill our destiny.

What is destiny? If you are inclined to reach beyond a weekly paycheck, then you know that the burning desire inside is more than just about money or fame, it is about achieving something that will contribute to the greater good. And so, I was reminded that I am not the only being affected, that I, along with countless others, have created some of my best work during times of stress, oppression and grief. To deal with our own personal challenges, horrors, emergencies, families, circumstances in concert with the chaotic crescendo circling us can feel like insanity. But we have the power and ability to focus and choose. We can choose to ignore that which we cannot change, we can prioritize and contribute where we will be most effective. We can rise above the din and allow a peaceful energy, a productive energy, a positive energy abound.

We can set the tone for more than this. We can be more than tools reacting to a social injustice that goes far deeper than recent incidents, and we can go to the foundation, making far reaching change more possible.

That’s my soapbox for today. I just refuse to be angry and sad and depressed. Action will help keep us motivated and keep our Eyes on the Prize!  – Joy

Videos: What’s Being Done in Ferguson, What We Have to Say

Video: NAACP President Cornell Wm. Brooks in Ferguson

What to Say About Michael Brown? – Ferguson, MO

by Joy W. Simone

Tcourtesy Facebookhis is not a roll call of the senseless deaths that occurred over the last month or year, the unjust acts that have left numerous, nameless young African American boys in graves. This is not a roll call of the senseless beatings, attacks and abuse suffered by African American girls across the country who have suffered in silence. Our missing children go without a searchlight, without nationwide acknowledgement, without fair treatment. Yet, parents, neighbors, friends, classmates, and families grieve. There’s a poem by Langston Hughes called Democracy that has special meaning to me because I once won an oratorical contest based on my delivery. At the age of 15, however, I did not fully comprehend its meaning, its weight, its implications.

Democracy

Democracy will not comeWSJ.com
Today, this year
  Nor ever
Through compromise and fear.

I have as much right
As the other fellow has
 To stand
On my two feet
And own the land.

I tire so of hearing people say,
Let things take their course.
Tomorrow is another day.
I do not need my freedom when I’m dead.
I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread.

     Freedom
     Is a strong seed
     Planted
     In a great need.

     I live here, too.
     I want freedom
     Just as you. – Langston Hughes

(See more at: http://allpoetry.com/poem/8495453-Democracy-by-Langston-Hughes#sthash.PXlSzoLO.dpuf)

In the last stanza, Hughes says:

I live here, too. I want freedom. Just as you.

Michael Brown, undoubtedly, horrifically discovered the meaning of these words. 

If our country and constitution are based on the words stated in the Declaration of Independence…

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

…then why do we not see this reflected in our society and culture at this time? Who among us deserves less than this?

The President’s official comment about the murder of Michael Brown reflects the sentiments.

“I know emotions are raw right now in Ferguson and there are certainly passionate differences about what has happened, but let’s remember that we’re all part of one American family, we are united in common values and that includes the belief in equality under the law, respect for public order and the right to peaceful public protests.” – President Obama

Today versus 1950s – 1960s

It is disheartening to see such parallels between what occurred nearly a century ago – African American lives being threatened, snuffed out on the brink of overcoming, achieving, excelling. And still it should be no less disheartening to have any life taken too soon in an unjust manner at the whim of someone’s prerogative, sense of fear, personal sense of justice, or an incomprehensible justification. 

Perhaps a renewed focus on the past would help bring things into perspective. Yet, images of cruelty and protest could fuel opposing forces and bring more peril. One-on-one, individually, neighbor to neighbor, we’ve got to share some collective responsibility for change. 

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

#ferguson #nmos14

Read more on Michael Brown #ferguson:

Essence.com – http://www.essence.com/2014/08/15/ferguson-police-release-officer-name-michael-brown-shooting

Poem – http://blogthisrock.blogspot.com/2014/08/poem-of-week-danez-smith.html?m=1

WSJ.com – http://online.wsj.com/articles/joseph-epstein-whats-missing-in-ferguson-mo-1407885042

Washingtonpost.com – http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/08/15/ferguson-police-releasing-name-of-officer-who-shot-michael-brown/

Let Your Light Shine Anyway – On Robin Williams’ Death

Before I got up the gumption to call myself author and to pursue my dreams wholeheartedly, I was the queen bee of helpers. I was always encouraging others, and I admired people who were unapologetically themselves. Sometimes, as a writer, you quietly live out loud. You can bury your beliefs behind characters and sentiments, and if you’re really careful, you can avoid confrontation altogether. And rejection.

Robin Williams
Photo: howoldarethey.com

Robin Williams was that kindred spirit to all. – Author Joy W. Simone

He was a living, breathing example of being yourself fully, and simply in that, we loved him. We love him. His skill and work ethic were proof that gifts blossom based on our commitment to bring them out. Robin was an artist’s artist. I’ve never seen him in a role that he did not deliver and do it well, and with nuance. I loved him. He made it okay to be your quirky self, your goofy self, your nerdy, nonconformist self, your dance to the beat of your own drummer self.

Robin-Williams-robin-williams-32089725-2798-1999

And yet, we knew that he was somehow suffering, even if we couldn’t put our fingers on it. I am saddened and also angry because it was him, not his works, that I felt connected to. When he sat down for an interview, you felt that he was talking to you, sharing his deepest self with you, a voyeur and friend. Was there something we missed? Could we have “saved” Robin Williams? In these times, we see so much strife and conflict, senseless deaths, wars, and competition for mere survival.

Letting your light shine is serious business. . And so we honor those who dare to wholly… Be.

Do we accept the charge to take up the gauntlet? Or would we say those who shined brightest were living in vain?

Shine on, Robin! Peace to your soul.

 

 

More on Robin Williams:

CNN.com – Robin Williams was in early stages of Parkinson’s disease, wife reveals

 

 

Book Bites: Read excerpt of ‘Beauty’

I’m currently working on the novel inspired by the short story ‘Beauty’ from The Wedding Plan stories. I’ve added a new page to the site called ‘Book Bites’, and you can check out an excerpt of the story there. 

Beauty

Celia looked at Rob and thought for a moment. Then she said, “Why would you say that to me? You know what I’ve been dealing with at the job. I’m not a slacker, but these folks play games, and if you go in charging, you have to be prepared for all or nothing. I’m trying to hang in there and figure out how to handle Victoria. She’s got it in for me. I need an exit strategy first.”

“Nobody respects a *…ing writer anyway. I told you to get a real profession, go to law school, figure out something that will help give us enough money to start a family.”

Celia could have cringed at Rob’s hurtful words, but three years of marriage had made her numb to his abrasive style of speaking. Read More

Artists Are My Muse – #BlackStarFest14

#BlackStarFest14

by Joy Simone–

The BlackStar Film Festival was an awesome experience. First of all, it’s grown tremendously in three years. The level of attendees and the turnout was impressive. Most of all, however, it was such a nurturing environment for artists (filmmakers, writers, singers, etal.). I am reminded that these events, in their best moments, are a wonderful way to network and find inspiration, delve deeper and remember why you wanted to express yourself… and most importantly what you wanted to say.

Abstract analysis aside, I saw two films, Little White Lie and Stay Cold, Stay Hungry. White lie is a documentary about a woman who grew up believing she was Jewish, and was not made aware of her African American ancestry until she was a college student. It was gritty and raw, healing, and it approached the topic of race in a unique way, one that illuminated all sides of the issue, including an intense realness from the subject’s mother — through the course of the film, she admits to an affair and the reasons for her betrayal. Lacey Schwartz, the film’s writer, director, and main character, provides fodder for a wealth of race related discussions.

Lacey Schwartz
Lacey Schwartz and panel discuss “Little White Lie”

There was a packed house for this film, which debuted in San Francisco’s Jewish Film Festival two days later. There’s more in this New York Times review . I see in this film an opportunity to discuss skin color and “black hair issues”, class issues, race and ethnicity vs. skin color, parenting issues, and family secrets. Family secrets is a universal issue that obviously affects all cultures and races. In the African American community, secrets about heritage and upbringing are often harmful because they prevent children from learning their history as well as breaking harmful traditions that no longer serve us.

Festival Highlights

Some of my favorite moments were getting to know Marla Harris (BlackStar Film Festival Operations Manager and Volunteer Coordinator) – But I don’t have any pics with her😦 – and meeting and discussing Black film with Reelblack.com CEO Michael Dennis (Mike D.). Dennis also heads ReelblackTV. (Reelblack TV is currently in its fifth season on PhillyCAM and Youtube.com.  It features interviews with up-and-coming filmmakers, musicians and living legends. Our goal is to capture and document the New Black Film Revolution.) 

Reelblack.com founder Mike Dennis
Selfie with Mike. D of Reelblack.com

I also met Tanya Wright of Orange is the New Black and True Blood fame. She was there to promote her new book, I Found God in My Hair – 98 spiritual principles I learned from…my hair! I couldn’t resist purchasing. The hair journey is such a profound one for many black women.

Author Tanya Wright
Selfie with actress Tanya Wright #OISNB #Trueblood

 

#BlackStarFest14
Volunteer selfie

The Black Star Film Festival 2014 announced its winners Sunday night at a closing ceremony at the World Cafe Live. A complete list of winners is here.

Definitely looking forward to being involved next year. Who knows, I might enter the competition myself.

 

Cheers!

BlackStar Film Festival 2014 – Philly’s Finest Deliver “Music is the Weapon”

BSFF Citypaper credit Mark Stehle

by Joy Simone

For the third year, the annual BlackStar Film Festival has emerged on the campus of Univ. of Penn and the surrounding Philadelphia area. I had the pleasure of participating last year, and I’m excited to be involved again. This year’s theme, “Music is the Weapon,” brings together filmmakers and musicians to highlight the ways these mediums converge to create and powerfully impact lives. Two industry panels will take place, “The Crossover: Film and Music Industries” and “Composing for Film.” They will both explore the “intersections of the two creative industries with participation from composers, producers, directors, and executives.

Two film shorts, Til Infinity: Souls of Mischief and Time is Illmatic will premiere during at the festival. 

Time Is Illmatic is a feature-length documentary that delves deep into the making of Nas’ 1994 debut album, Illmatic, and the social conditions that influenced its creation. Twenty years after its release,Illmatic has become a hip-hop benchmark that encapsulates the socio-political outlook, enduring spirit, and collective angst of a generation of young black men searching for their voice in America.

The BlackStar Film Festival was created to provide a platform for independent black filmmakers. Founder and Producing Artistic Director Maori Karmael Holmes says, “We are super excited about the third installment of the festival. We now know that the festival is an intimate
space where filmmakers get to interact with one another, dream, connect, and foster
new ideas and new projects, and we expect that family reunion vibe again this year.”

I will have more on the festival and topics covered tomorrow. In the meantime, you can check the schedule and get more info here: http://blackstarfest.org/schedule/

BlackStar opens Thursday, July 31 and runs through Sunday, August 3. The festival will primarily take place at International House (3701 Chestnut Street). Other venues include: Scribe Video Center (4212 Chestnut Street), Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia (118 South 26th Street), the Annenberg School for Communication (3620 Walnut Street), and World Café
Live (3025 Walnut Street).

CNN IReport Spotlight – Author Joy Simone: A Woman Addressing Challenges, Offers Solutions

book signing

book signingPlaywright, Songwriter, Journalist Charron Monaye’s interview highlights my passions and purpose, my writing process and inspiration.

Here’s a bit below. Visit the site to see more. 

Joy Simone is an author, SEO Analyst, and Adjunct English Lit. Professor at Rowan College. She has a B.A. in Journalism from Howard University and a Master’s of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California. Ms. Simone blogs about relationships, dating, family, careers, and current events. She serves as Director of Communications for Women’s EDGE Mentoring Program, and conducts creative writing and self-publishing workshops locally.

She is passionate about writing, history, literature, education and family. The proliferation of single-parent households and the stereotypes of African American women led to her debut work, The Wedding Plan: A Collection of Short Stories. Through these stories, Simone highlights the challenges faced by African American women in relationships, marriage, careers and life, while exposing the diversity within the African American community, including male characters who are unique and offer a different perspective.

….

Your book “The Wedding Plan: A Collection of Short Stories” discusses the challenges faced by African American women in relationships, marriage, careers and life. What challenges do you feel we as African American women face the most, and what ideas do you have to help eliminate those challenges.

Some of the challenges African American women face is glass ceilings in the workplace, income disparities, joblessness, being among the “working poor”, and so on. One of the statistics that disturbed me most was the lower average of children born to the most educated women in our population. It seemed that by fighting to defy the “baby mama” stereotype, we were forfeiting motherhood. I know not all women want to be mothers, but there a lot who, rightfully, delay childbirth until marriage, but end up never marrying or marrying past the key childbearing years.

Other issues I see that are prevalent… Read More