See Me As I Am

***This was written on July 22, 2013***
***Delivered at YEPAW 2013***

“I have a dream where my four little children will be judged, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character!”
–Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

A dream that was envisioned nearly 50 years ago.
How close are we ‘til that dream becomes reality? I don’t know.
In a world where I’m constantly judged, constantly profiled,
The thought of complete equality makes my mind run wild.
Is it really that hard for you to accept me as your brother?
But since your mother didn’t cover me, you just treat me as another –
Another ordinary guy, no one special to discover.
God, I’m so grateful You’re not like man:
People look at the surface only, but You see me just as I am.
Not as a statistic, or one who’s attention craving,
But You see me as a soul in need of saving.
You didn’t let me wander off, but You captured me.
You’re changing me, rearranging me, and I’ll be in the Rapture with The.
You don’t see my outward appearance, You look at my heart
While others try so hard to keep me apart.
Thanks for hearing this art.

(c) July 2013, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.

YEPAW

YEPAW
Hello family!

In reading my past poems and journal entries, you saw I mentioned an organization called YEPAW (Youth Excellence Performing Arts Workshop). My family and I just got done participating in the 25th year of YEPAW last week! So, what is YEPAW? Is it really that great that I would keep mentioning it? Well, I’ll tell you…

LPB
Over twenty-five years ago, a wonderful woman, Minister Leslie Parker Barnes, became tired and frustrated hearing people tell her “The youth are a hopeless generation.” She knew this statement was false, and thus she set out to prove it. For one week in the summer of 1990, Min. Barnes gathered some teenagers in the basement of the Arlington Church of God (in Akron, Ohio) and taught them a number of songs that they’d perform in a concert at the end of the week. This group became known as the Youth Excellence Gospel Choir. The idea behind this was if young people can learn how to discipline themselves and learn a number of songs in a short amount of time, they could do anything they set their minds to. In 1998, the Youth Excellence Gospel Choir became the Youth Excellence Performing Arts Workshop, or YEPAW (pronounced “yee-paw”). They weren’t just limited to the basement of the Arlington Church of God anymore – they moved to the campus of the University of Akron. The young participants weren’t just learning songs anymore, either. Now there were classes being offered: drama, creative writing, vocal clinic, orchestra, mime, visual art, video, photography, standard and advanced dance, standard and advanced step, standard and advanced drumline, piano, newsletter, banner praise, extemporaneous speaking, song writing, etc. In 2005, YEPAW began recording all of their songs onto CDs. The young participants were given the challenge of learning 10-14 songs in 3 or 4 days, ready to record them on a CD in the middle of the week! Over the years, YEPAW received more and more participants; in 2006, over 500 young people had registered for YEPAW!
YEPAW - CD

YEPAW 365
Oh, but it didn’t stop there! The participants voiced their thoughts and feelings about YEPAW lasting longer than a week. Because of this, YEPAW created it year-round leadership program, YEPAW 365, in the fall of 2007. This program, that accepts 50 young people from the 7th to the 12th grades, meets every Monday and listen to speakers talk to them about excellence and living out their dreams. YEPAW has held many fundraisers, hosting concerts and performances by the Dance Theater of Harlem, the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, a production of God’s Trombones, and they performed The Wiz twice! In the fall of 2010, YEPAW launched a new program, the YEPAW Institute. The YEPAW Institute, which, sadly, I wasn’t able to be apart of, helps trains those who want to be artists. Singers, musicians, dancers, visual artists – it helps them all. And in the summer of 2013, YEPAW launched its new program, WEPAW, “YEPAW for the ‘wittle’ ones.” This program aids young people between the ages of 4-11. They take drum/rhythm class, choir, and dance class.

YEPAW - DREAM
YEPAW wants young people to know that they can achieve anything and everything, no matter what it is. In 2003, YEPAW introduced the DREAM. YEPAW wanted young people to live out and apply the DREAM:
D – Dare to be your best. Anybody can be mediocre, but challenge yourself to be the best you can be in everything you do!
R – Respect others, Respect yourself. I can tell how much you respect yourself based on how well you respect other people.
E - Make Excellence the center of your character.
A – Attitude is everything. You can be the cutest, most talented person in the room, and your sorry attitude will close the doors of opportunities.
And finally,
M – It’s a Double M! Make sure you Master at least one thing. Maybe you can’t sing, but you are so quick to figure out a math problem. Master one thing, and do it so well that you can Minister it, give it away and teach it to someone else.
Since then, we’ve strived to live out the DREAM in so many ways: in 2004, we set out to BELIEVE the DREAM; in 2005 we wanted to PURSUE the DREAM. Then we had to CATCH the DREAM, CHERISH the DREAM, CHOOSE the DREAM, Live the DREAM, Know the DREAM, Experience the DREAM, Discover the DREAM, Capture the DREAM, and this year we wanted to Love the DREAM.

24- Closing Concert, July 2010
My older brother Bryon and I began YEPAW together in 2004, YEPAW’s 15th year. I was 12 years old. I had no idea what to expect – I didn’t know what YEPAW was or what it stood for. This organization taught me what excellence is, to outdo and surpass, to always be your best. I never thought about being excellent before. I had a dream, but I didn’t consider being excellent with it. YEPAW taught me what that meant and how to do it. YEPAW also taught me that I can do whatever I set my mind to. It let me know that I can make a difference; I can be excellent for God and give Him my everything; I can have a positive effect on the people around me; I can be a leader. YEPAW has poured so much into me and my family over the years, and it is so very special to me! If it weren’t for YEPAW, I wouldn’t be the man I am today. I would have stopped dreaming years ago. I’d be working just enough to get by, but I wouldn’t be working as hard as I could. My family and I owe a great debt to YEPAW, as do all of the participants, instructors, volunteers, guests, staff, and board members who have ever been apart of YEPAW.

If this seems interesting to you at all, even the slightest, I strongly encourage you to look up YEPAW. Log on to their website, http://www.yepaw.org, and get more information. If you know a young person between the ages of 12-21 who you think would benefit greatly from this incredible and life changing ministry, sign them up for next year! You don’t have to live in Akron, Ohio to participate in YEPAW – folks from Chicago, Milwaukee, Washington D.C., and even Texas have come to YEPAW. They can spend the week in the dorms at the University of Akron. Trust me, it is worth it! Min. Barnes has gone on the record of saying many times, “Send me your young people, and I’ll send them back to you better!” Why? Because YEPAW challenges young people. There are no games and tricks or tactics of deceit. YEPAW goes out of its way to prove, not only that it cares about all young people and it wants to celebrate them and save their lives, but also that they are not hopeless! Log on to the website, do a Google search of YEPAW, watch some videos on YouTube – make yourself aware of what it is! As time passes, YEPAW only gets bigger and better, and you and your young people need to be apart of it now! I guarantee you’ll be blessed! God bless you all, and I love you! BOOYIKA!
YEPAW Concert

I Haven’t Thanked You Yet!

Hello family!

I’m almost caught up posting my poems and creative writings onto this site, and so I wanted to stop for a moment and say thank you! There was a period earlier this summer when I began questioning my purpose and my talents. I was concerned about the future, and I didn’t think I was very good at my craft. My brother Bryon had experienced great success with his site and posts, and so I thought I’d create one to provide an outlet for me as well. Of course, it went very slow at first. No one was reading anything, and, again, I started wondering if I was a good writer and artist. I did get a bit discouraged. One day, however, the thought came to my mind, Upload your poems. I did, and suddenly I had an audience. The more I uploaded, the more my work was being read. I will admit, I am insecure, but this did give me hope.

I didn’t want to become cocky or prideful over this. My hope and prayer is that you not only enjoyed my works, but that you were blessed by them and God spoke to you through these pieces. I do have to thank you, though, for letting me know that my writings are being enjoyed. At the beginning of the month, I had maybe 2 people reading my work; now, I have over 50. I just want you all to know that I appreciate it – I appreciate you so very much! Thank you for reading, thank you for liking, thank you for commenting, and thank you for supporting. Thank you for letting me know that I can pursue this gift and talent God has given me. I can’t tell you how much it means to me!

Know that more posts and poems are coming, and I can’t wait for you all to see them. And know that I look forward to reading what you all have posted on your sites as well; I haven’t had time yet, but I will look at your work! We are family, and we will support one another. Thank you are two words I can never say enough. It’s not that I have a lot of people reading my work (although, that is nice) – it’s that you’re encouraging me to keep writing, and that I am good at this talent God gave me. Thank you for the encouragement and the support! I love you all so much, and you mean a lot to me! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Teach Me How to Love Me Like You Do

***This was written on July 16, 2014***

You knew me even before I was born
In my mother’s womb, I was formed
Before I spake, You knew my name
I know You created me for a purpose, not in vain

You knew what I’d be like, You knew what I’d become
You knew how I’d grow in my days of young
From my head to my feet, You formed my design
And so, if I may ask You a question so Divine…

Teach me how to love me like You do
Teach me how to love me like You do
If I’m Your child, Your creature,
Help me adore all of my features
Jesus, teach me how to love me like You do

My skin, the fabric of body, its texture and its color
My feet, whatever the size, they’re mine – You didn’t give them to any other
You coiled each individual piece of my hair
And with these beautiful eyes You gave me, I can look and gaze and stare

You love how I look, and You love all my quirks
You knew how I should appear, You did the design work
You don’t make mistakes; there are no flaws in Your plans
So I ask You to do this one thing, if You can…

Teach me how to love me like You do
Teach me how to love me like You do
If I’m Your child, Your creature,
Help me adore all of my features
Jesus, teach me how to love me like You do

My teeth, my lips, they help me to form such a pretty smile
The way I talk, the way I walk, they both contribute to my unique style
My voice, my size, my height all help my individuality
You knew what You were doing when You made me, Lord; You helped develop my personality

You love the way I look, and You love all my quirks
You knew how I should appear, You did the design work
You don’t make mistakes, there are no flaws in Your plans
So I ask You to do one thing, if You can…

Teach me how to love me like You do
Teach me how to love me like You do
If I’m Your child, Your creature,
Help me adore all of my features
Jesus, teach me how to love me like You do

(c) July 2014, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.

The Meeting

***This was written on May 27, 2014***

I was there, thinking Where
could he be?

Half past one. No, I’m done.
I’ll just flee.

But right at that time, he arrive
with no shame.
Yes he appeared. And Fear
was his name.
He was blunt. “What do you want?
What’s this about?”
We locked eyes. I replied,
“I’m kicking you out.
“I’ve had enough. Get your stuff.
Sir, we are through.
“Get out now – no more bowing down
to the likes of you.”

After all you put me through, I can’t afford to be with you.
It’s like having a rope tight around me, and pleading and fighting to be free.
Go on and leave me alone; this place is not you home.
Since I have God right here, I do not need you, Fear.

Fear said “Now, tell me how
you think you’ll get rid of me.
“You said this before, yet you opened the door
for me so easily.
“There’s not a number – all we can do is wonder
how many times I’ve been dismissed.
“What makes you think this moment is new?
What’s so special about this?”
I said, “Fear, lookie here,
you’ve got to get out!
“You will not confuse me or abuse me
with your doubts!
“Your games with me and your shaming me –
I can’t take it anymore!
“Get out of my way! You’re yesterday!
You won’t hurt me like before!”

After all you put me through, I cannot afford to be with you.
It’s like having a rope tight around me, and pleading and fighting to be free.
Go on and leave me alone; this place is not your home.
Since I have God right here, I do not need you, Fear.

“I was wrong all along
for letting you stay.
“You’re no good ‘cause you would
suppress me each day.
“To think I took your lies
as advice?!
“No more fun! You are done
wasting my life!”
Fear said “Black, I’ll be back.
this isn’t the end.
“Knowing you, I’ll be back soon;
I’ll see you again.”
“You have no control over my soul,”
I replied.
“My spirit has Love, sent from Above,
Power, and a sound mind.”

After all you put me through, I cannot afford to be with you.
It’s like having a rope tight around me, and I’m pleading and fighting to be free.
Go on and leave me alone; this place is not your home.
Since I have God right here, I do not need you, Fear.

(c) May 2014, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.

Words

***This was written on April 3, 2014***

What happens when you just can’t find the words
To truly express yourself and make your feeling heard?
You know what you want to say, you know how you feel,
But the words escape you, they’re non-existent, they don’t seem real.

Either the words you know are understatements, they temporarily leave your brain,
Or you just don’t know what they are, and they drive you insane.
That’s where I am, searching for words like long- or latitude
As I try to properly declare my gratitude.

How do I say thank you for what you’ve done for me?
How do I start to say how much you mean to me?
For all the hours – all the time you dedicated sweat, overcoming fears,
The passion you put in on my behalf could move me to tears.

Do I have to tell you how wonderful and special you are,
Or that your spirit shines brighter than a nighttime star?
Don’t think I’ve taken you for granted or that I ignored you.
Your talents and energy have been noticed, I assure you.

Please know that, while words may often drift away,
It comes from the heart whenever I say
“I love you.” “God bless you.” “I thank you, so much!”
May God bless you and strengthen you with His Anointing Touch.

I wish I knew what else to say, I really do,
To tell you exactly the gratitude I have for you.
Until I find those words to express how I feel,
You’ll have this poem, which comes from a place that’s real.

Thank you.

(c) April 2014, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.

Thank You

***This was written on February 1, 2014***

“History ain’t important. It don’t mean nothin’.”
They say,
“What they did lives in the past, but now we’re doin’ somethin’.”
So they claim.
“Why wine and dine about the events from long behind? Stop the clatter, they don’t matter. Move on.”
They exclaim.
But if I may,
I’d like to offer a counter argument.
Take a look around, tell me what you see.
How does the world look staring back at thee?
“Thee?”
Yeah, you heard me.
F.Y.I., everything here exists because a long time ago, someone put in work.
Whether it be scientific discoveries, inventions so we could live more comfortably, diverse relations, artistic creations, or changes in our communities,
Someone put in work.
No matter what’s in front of you, you see our modern culture.
You think we woke up one day with these changes at our door,
Or that we’ve had these in our hands forever?
No.
Someone put in work.
Whether it was a father or mother, a sister or brother,
Someone contributed sweat and tears in all the years of the struggle –
All the years, dark years…
They were discouraged from dreaming,
Blocked from advancing,
Denied opportunities,
Even their joy was stolen – there was no singing or dancing.
But there was marching and protesting.
There were demonstrations and movements
And riots and boycotts
And sit-ins and sit downs
And whatever else was necessary to bring about
Change.
That 6-letter C-word. Change.
In a world so strange when a group of people felt estranged from a culture and society that preferred a wide range between them and opportunity, this group of people found the strength and power to rearrange their situation, and command and demand for change.
And now we’re living their change.
Today their legacy exists through us.
So to history, and to those who fought for us,
I offer up, not “forget you,” but “thank you.”
Thank you for the long nights of marches instead of dreaming.
Thank you for the long fights, which brought about your fears, tears, and screamings.
Thank you for continuing to work so we could live better.
Thank you for the stories of your struggle, your addressed love letter.
You are not forgotten, but appreciated.
To our sisters and brothers in the struggle,
Thank you.

(c) February 2014, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.

Jesus, Tell Me You Love Me

***This was written on January 26, 2014***

Jesus, tell me You love me. That’s all I need to hear.
Tell me that You love me. That’ll calm my every fear.
I sometimes struggle to believe You could love someone like me.
Jesus, tell me You love me.

Jesus, tell me You love me. Please don’t deny Your Grace.
Tell me that You love me. It’ll bring a smile to my face.
You are everything I need, which is why I’m making this plead.
Jesus, tell me You love me.

Jesus, tell me You love me. Lighten my heavy heart.
Tell me that You love me. Reassure that from me You are nor far apart.
Lord, I can’t make it without You. Without You, God, what will I do?
Jesus, tell me You love me.

Jesus, tell me You love me. Tell me all of my days.
Tell me that You love me. I will give You praise.
Help me give You all of me, just as You did on Calvary.
Jesus, tell me You love me.

Jesus, tell me You love me. Father, I love to know.
Tell me that You love me, and in You, Love, I’ll grow.
Please don’t pass me by; tell me these words, and I’ll lift Your Name on high.
Jesus, tell me You love me.

Jesus, tell me You love me. That’s all I need to hear.
Tell me that You love me. That’ll calm my every fear.
I sometimes struggle to believe You could love someone like me.
Jesus, tell me You love me.

(c) January 2014, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.

Like a Seed

***This was written on January 19, 2014***

Like a seed, I need to be more than I am
I wanna grow – I gotta grow and be a better man
I need a change to take place, I’ve been here too long
I’ve got to become better, wise, and strong

Like a seed, I’m taken away from these people I’ve known
I’m taken out of the surroundings I call home
And instead I’m placed somewhere that is dark and cold
I look all around, I’m all alone

Like a seed, I’m pushed down and covered in dirt
Folks walk over me, I’m ignored and hurt
I can’t…No, wait. Please don’t press me down further in this mess!
There’s no way I can handle it here. I can’t take on the stress!

Like a seed, I feel rain from up above falling
I’m crying for some sort of deliverance, but no one hears my calling
I’m ready for this storm to be over, send the storm away
I can’t bear this anymore; make it end, I pray

Like a seed, I can finally see the sun breaking its way through
After experiencing so much darkness, the light feels brand new
Somehow I know everything will work out
I don’t have to be afraid, I don’t have to doubt

Like a seed, I feel this change beginning to take place
I don’t feel the same, and neither does this dark space
I’m breaking past my shell, and I’m beginning to grow
I’m literally rising above this hell I’ve come to know

Like a tree, I’ve grown into something mighty and proud
I’m not what I used to be, look at me now
And everyone else stops, takes notice to see
I’m not the creature I used to be

Like a seed, I’m a process, not an overnight sensation
It wasn’t easy getting here, it took dirt and salvation
So if you’re like me, wondering when you’ll become that strong tree
I’m here to tell you it’ll happen. You, too, are a seed.

(c) January 2014, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.

What Happens When 2 Souls Come Together?

***This was written on July 15, 2013***

What happens when 2 souls come together?
What happens when they join as one, and remain as one forever?
What happens when these souls vow to never part, never?
What happens next, you may fantasize?

When he stands in awe of your beauty, gazing in your eyes,
You stare into his, and as you look you realize
That he loves you so much that he will publicize
To the world how much he loves you.

And now you see in her eyes she cannot wait to say “I do.”
You send up a prayer thanking God for all He’s brought you through;
He allowed turmoils to make you stronger – He challenged you two,
And so you look up and smile towards the sky.

God looks back at you, and His smile grows wide.
He sees each teardrop of Joy you cried.
You can’t help but shed another when you hear your God up high
Say, “My son, I am so proud!”

In Heaven, a trumpet sounds.
The angels are celebrating, their cheers are loud.
They praise God that your love for her is greatly abound –
Listen to their great joyful noise!

You kiss, and hear your close and loved ones rejoice.
They clap, they stand, their cheers join as a unified voice.
So much celebration and joy, all because you made the choice
To join your 2 souls together.

(c) July 2013, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.