Fields and Freedom: Youth sports deserve attention

August 1st is a holy day: part reunion, communion, and boot camp. The sun, peering from the sky. Waiting. Witnessing. Arms folded watching our boys march onto the barren fields, lined with bleachers and baby sisters. August 1st – the start of youth football season. I remember my son’s first summer. Sending him to the field was like seeing him off to college. His cleats, tied tightly against his chocolate skin. Helmet snug against his head. Behind the pads, this lengthy boy put down his video games to become an athlete.

I have the privilege of hovering between worlds. By day, I spend my time convincing people that the skills youth develop by practicing art extend far past what can be seen on a canvas. As a former football volunteer for the West Elmwood Intruders, I learned that sports can be just as transformative. Over the years, I’ve met many people who are responsible for this transformation. Pamela Huges, former president of the Mount Hope Cowboys, ran track for Hope Highschool and still holds multiple high school and college records, including a 38-year RI High School Girls Outdoor Long Jump Record. For her, running track was more than running fast. Track created opportunities for her to travel and compete. Pam understands that she and her Mount Hope staff create more than football teams: They create community.

Photo by Diana Perez

Nadim Robinson is one of those staff members. As a Cowboys coach and founding director of Behind The Pads – Nadim views coaching as a way to practice his most sacred values. As a member of the Nation of Gods and Earths, “One of our main duties is to teach the babies,” says Nadim. “Everyone has their form of protest; an individual’s idea of how to change the world.” Changing the world starts with our youth. Behind the Pads is a youth travel league that elevates the value of discipline, structure, and teamwork – “If you’re signing up to play football, you’re signing up to block and tackle.” Nadim’s sentiment demonstrates the way football teaches youth to be accountable to themselves and others.

Photo of Carter Perry courtesy of Gameday Fitness

It’s also about the joy, which is so connected to not only our kids’ mental health but their life force. 10-year veteran coach Zayquan “Ziggy” Gadson of the West Elmwood Intruders gets it: “My favorite part of the job are the smiles we create. Those moments when a kid scores, makes a tackle or catch. Win or lose, the feeling lasts a lifetime.” Youth sports undoubtedly cultivate life skills. So why are youth sports organizations (YSO) so under-resourced? YSOs are independent of school system support; they’re lone non-profits. They have three streams of income – registration fees, sponsorships, and grassroots fundraisings. Staff are unpaid volunteers. There are very few grant opportunities, which is different from youth arts programs, whose operations are largely grant-funded. As workers, we are paid. On the other hand, YSO’s operational expenses are at the whim of a team’s ability to hustle, which often means passing the can at busy intersections. Lorenzo Perry – Cowboys coach and founding director of Game Day Fitness, a training arena for youth athletes, says lack of funding was the reason for diversifying how he approaches his work. “There was never any money. I eventually decided to start my own gym with a privately funded model.” Lorenzo believes his kids deserve more. Waiting for funding is not an option.

Working within the arts, I’ve come to understand:

  • People fund what they know about. Lack of public visibility impacts advocacy efforts. Pam recalls news outlets affirming that they “don’t cover youth sports,” but as soon as a far-from-flattering situation occurs, the cameras show up. “Where are they,” she asks, “when our kids go to Nationals?”

  • People fund what they care about. Does a country obsessed with competition really not care about youth sports? Or do they not care about the people playing them? Demographically, art organizations are heavily non-Black and attract families that come from more affluent backgrounds. However, the football field is filled with African Americans who have grown up in PVD and are underrepresented in formal leadership roles within our community. Does the difference in racial makeup explain the difference in care/funding?

  • People fund what other people fund. People are followers. We know this… but so are philanthropists. The more funding an organization has is often tied to how much more they can get. Maybe it’s the law of attraction? What does it mean when an organization has 0 dollars? Does zero keep attracting zeros? Lack of existing grant opportunities makes it harder to attract future funding, creating a perpetual cycle of little-tono support.

The bottom line is youth sports organizations, especially inner-city youth football, deserve our attention and investment.

This is not about pitting arts against sports. We should be investing in both. As both teaching artists and coaches, we know our work is much deeper than creating rock-star athletes and celebrity artists; it’s about supporting youth in becoming the best versions of themselves – a self that has the capacity to hold the challenges and beauty of life ahead. Let’s fund our youth, period. Our kids deserve it.

Contacts: Lorenzo Perry, @gamedayfitness; Pamela Hughes, fb.com/pamela.hughes.100; Nadim Robinson, @behindthepads_btp

It’s On Us: An interview with Dewayne “Boo” Hackney

Photo by Justin Case

Dewayne “Boo” Hackney is a legendary community organizer, barber, father, husband, brother, musician, and so much more. His commitment to justice especially here in Providence cements his legacy as one of our City’s most Beloved Community heroes.

This piece is dedicated to my brother, Bucky. He paid the price of allowing me to do this work without complaining about not having time with me.

To my I.O.U. brothers: Gerard Catala, Pastor Sherrod Jones, Pastor Rah’D, Dennis Lassiter, Ray Watson aka Two Hawks, Brother Arthur Johnson, Brother Everett Muhammad, Brother Osiris Harrell, Brother Ray Smith, Terrell Osborne Jr. aka DJ Spin, Sterling Mousey Washington. And last, but certainly first, to my wife Kia Clement Hackney. I am incapable of adequately expressing the significance of your role.

Anjel Newmann (Motif): Who do you hail from?

Dewayne “Boo” Hackney: My roots are in Mississippi and Virginia. My dad is J.C. Thomas. My mother is Gloyce Hackney. They raised me as royalty and that started to permeate through the city, through the people. Everybody around me raised me. And I don’t mean “raised” me like my parents. I mean, they held me up. Kept me up. That gave me very few opportunities to fall off or be less than what I was supposed to be. There are places in PVD that we consider the “eyesores” of our city: in front of Dunkin’ on Broad Street; Central High School; McDonald’s. The people hanging outside those establishments have a history, a legacy, and played a role in protecting me. I have so many surrogate uncles that lived “that life.” A lot of my friends were some of the biggest hustlers, victims, and victimizers. I was in it, but never in it. Never smoking, never hustling, so when it came to me understanding my influence, I’m like, “I owe you.” I owe you a better and more powerful influence. Those letters (IOU) turned into, “IT’S ON US” because I want that culture to exist. I want us to be held accountable. I want us to not only take accountability, but for us not to look outside of ourselves for our solution and our salvation.

AN: What is It’s Hair?

DH: It’s Hair barbershop was always a space for everybody. We had priceless conversations there. My brother, Mike Hoston (rest in power) and I were co-owners. In many ways, It’s Hair was an extension of the Southside Boys and Girls Club. The ethics and etiquette that came out of that building came from Mr. Roosevelt “Bells” Benton, Ms. Beatrice, and all the other staff members. Ms. Doreen Dennis, we called “Auntie Dor,” and the rest of em, Kyle and Kobi Dennis came from there, Shawndell Burney-Speaks. All of us came from there. That’s what I hail from as well.

When our barbershop was on Broad Street next to Tony’s Meat Market, we had a sign that said, “No niggas in here, just brothers. “We drew the line on the term and how we would address one another. So we were either “mister” or “brother,” you know what I mean? And we weren’t elevating ourselves like we are “mister” because we’re older than you – we’re all “mister” because we are somebody and we’re going to put respectful titles on ourselves. We had mentees in there from high schools and middle schools that we would call “Mr.” whatever. Everybody was Mr. and Mrs. It became a way of life. We set the tone with “Peace.” That’s not a “hip-hop” term. That’s greetings. Like, we’re opening up with peace.

I also hail from Minister Farrakhan, The Autobiography of Malcolm X. All of that was in the barbershop. Farrakhan said the names Muslim, Christian, and Jew were just labels that separate the family of God and I saw the names South Side, East Side, and Chad Brown as labels that separated the families of Providence. That understanding allowed me to connect with my Christian family. It allowed me to put a group of accountability partners together – myself, Mr. Kev McNeil, Mr. Kev Saunder, Mr. Joey Gomez, Bold Island Troopers – using Its Hair as the home base.

I’ve given young men their first haircut and if, unfortunately, they get murdered at 18, their family asks me to give them their last haircut at the funeral parlor. Nine times outta 10, I’ve been cutting the person who killed them as well. So I have like a 20-year relationship with these young men on both sides of the gun. We used It’s Hair as a mediation center. We stopped a lot of murders. We’d have brothers who had murder beef, and we would set up a date to bring those guys there. Its Hair was the safe haven. Guys would leave their weapons outside. Sometimes we had to take drastic measures to the point where we would suspend a whole crew or a whole block. We lost a lot of money just off of responsible suspensions, but we saved a lot of lives.

AN: What was it like to move on to that next phase of your life?

DH: I ran into a brother yesterday, whom I haven’t seen in 10 years. He was like, “I’m angry with you.” I’m like, “What’s the matter?” He said, “You closed the barbershop. You guys were the Black Pillar. You left us.” But like Deion Sanders said, “I left the Black school. I didn’t leave Black people.” I had a strategic second phase of my life orchestrated. As a people, we are in such despair that any symbol of hope, we latch onto it and we hold it sacred. We think that the symbol is ours. That’s why we get so emotional when that symbol transitions when that symbol is called to do other things or more on different levels. As that “symbol,” it’s painful to be restricted when you’re supposed to be doing so much.

Photo by Justin Case

I never disconnected from my people. I wanted to be a symbol of freedom. I wanted to show everybody you can just bust a move and jump in another lane. I even went to grief counseling as part of this move. I needed a break from the 24-hour access, open-door policy. Someone could just come through the shop and be like, “Yo, my son just got shot,” or, “The cops just beat up my nephew.” Never ever tired of that work but also telling myself 20 years ago, “I’m too valuable to be unorganized.” Transitioning was about playing fair with my family. They submitted and supported all throughout my journey. They weren’t gonna ask me to stop. So I needed to be the man, make the move, and acquiesce to their interests.

When my daughter was 11, I said, “I’m gonna turn my phone off for two weeks and just be with the family.” She said, “Dad, if MLK turned his phone off, you think we’d be where we’re at right now?” I said, “Damn. She understands.” But she didn’t understand the cost that she and her brother were gonna pay. Dad might not be home at 3AM cause he might be running to the emergency room. He might be with the Nation of Islam taking shooters to DC, which we did. Southside and East Side crews. Took them to DC for the anniversary of the Million Man March. Rival members sharing seats with each other.

People also didn’t understand my paranoia. Nipsey was literally dedicated to his hood when he was killed in front of his business. People were inboxing me like, “Mr. Boo, I know that would never happen to you. The hood got too much love for you.” They don’t know that I never slept on the possibility. Maybe it’s PTSD – in this case, PRE-traumatic stress disorder; like the anticipation, because of the environment that we’re in. I would always look both ways when I came out of the barbershop. I don’t park my car nose in. All of these things were necessary steps for me to make the transition to what I’m doing right now.

AN: What are your future hopes for our Beloved Community here in Providence?

DH: I hope we end up in a better place, not heaven, but heaven on Earth. As we create and contribute to the hell on Earth, create and contribute to heaven on Earth, on a tangible, visible level. Some of the stuff I’ve been working on are the aesthetics of the city, inclusive neighborhoods, for example, the red, black, and green stripes on Ms. Rosa Parks Boulevard. We have to start seeing ourselves. You never know what’s going to turn on the “Malcolm” in you. The “Serena” in you. The extra extraordinary in you.

I definitely wanna see policy change, but we have to be a part of it. We’ve been beaten down so much, that we’ve perfected the art of complaining about organizations from the outside, so that’s why I chose to join the board of directors of the Nonviolence Institute and the NAACP, and do some things on a city level like being a member of the African American Ambassadors group. I’ve always had a super active relationship with my council people, cause I understand that they’re really the president of your daily life.

I also hope that we always remain hopeful. Never fold. And we don’t. It’s not in our DNA. I have so many pillars of my thinking. Lil Wayne said, “This is my theme park, so what should I scream for?” Like, I own this. I gotta have that mindset. I come from God. I hail from God. Nas says, “As long as I’m breathing, I’m winning.” Jay-Z says, “Never let ‘em see you frown, even smile when you’re down.” Denzel in Training Day; when it was all said and done, was found to be a dirty cop. Lost all the money. His cover – blown. All shot up. Car flipped over 30, 40 times. Dying… and he’s patting his chest, patting his body – and it looks like he’s counting how many times he’s been shot, but he’s only looking for his lighter. He burns a cigarette like, “Shit! I’m winning anyway, I can’t lose.” These are the pillars of my thinking. I can’t lose. I literally can’t lose. So it’s just that type of thing. Us knowing who we are. I hope we know who we are, you know what I mean?

Find Dewayne Boo Hackney online:
Instagram: @dewayneboohackney
Facebook: Dewayne Boo Hackney


Definition of the original man
first to ever put his foot to land
oxymoronic thoughts colliding with god’s plan
constant complaints blaming the Man
is it his fault that you lack initiative
complacently waiting for the government to give
a handout
u will quickly scream on each other 
but to the Man never shout
Jaded memories of raised fist
Alliances in all black decor yearning for equality to exist
Illusions of allusions encompassing 360° shaped hair follicles
teachings of the Koran and Torah replaced by viles and bottles

Redefinition of the original man
encouraging smiles and extended hands
yearning to conquer his lost land
Thanksgiving is more like thankstaking
History books distorted facts keep relating

Makes me wanna holla
and visit the real Marvin’s room
retrace my charcoal steps
and swim in Nefertiti’s womb
floating and coasting high high above
this melancholy world void of black love

Redefine your worth 
and do it well
pass on recipes, education and tradition
and train your mind to avoid superstition

Fathers kiss your babies
it is your relationship not the kid that was shady
embrace your path as a voluntary role model
witness all epic happenings from their first sip of the bottle

light the torch
and serve as a light seeker
their innocence do not scorch
you are their divine teacher

For in one instance you beared the power of Maker
be it YHWH, Allah or Buddah
you are serving as their Creator

The revolution will be digitized 
televised and done well
we must take off the black glove 
and extend our hand in love


Photo by Justin Case

I sit and think and imagine the pattern of things. Every year, Black History month comes around and we focus on the past. Undoubtedly, themes of the transatlantic slave trade come up, and the atrocities of it, as well as its generational impact. We speak about Jim Crow and the civil rights movement and lament how incomplete the work was. Many of us paint pictures of a still-oppressed population of Black people. Some say the only way out is the destruction of all current systems, as the outgrowth of Black anger. So much of the focus is on justice that we never received and have yet to realize. We speak of reparations that we are owed and still have not gotten. It seems that a backward focus magnifies the feelings of defeat and inferiority, a sense of “lesser than.”

This perpetual crawling and begging through the human timeline paints a posture that our children may emulate. I realize the wisdom behind the sentiment that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. But what if the past was a mention and our imagination of the future was the highlight? What if instead of focusing on what happened to us or what someone has never given to us, we focus on what we can give ourselves? The law of focus states that whatever you focus on expands. This would change our elders from bitter, battered warriors to freelance artists with a canvas of future dreams. We would have an army of young Black men and women reinvigorated by hope and believing that they have the power to recreate the story. The story you tell has the power to inspire hope and hope has empowered people to change nations. If a story can change a nation, then it can change a People. Let’s not tell history, let’s tell Ourstory.

Photo by Justin Case, Face mask by Chip Doug

When we speak of the past, tell the vantage point of our great strength to overcome such atrocities, our inventions, our love and ability to remain steadfast. Then, let’s focus the bulk of our time on our future. A future housed in the creation of the Beloved Community. Let not society tell us of an American dream that consists of the amassing of material goods and f inancial overflow as the mandatory expression of success. Originally a tribal people, we have always known that it took a village to raise or sustain anything worth having and people have always been the greatest treasure. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. espoused the Beloved Community as the framework for the future. This is the goal of the RI non-profit Nonviolence Institute, where I serve our community, and of all Kingian nonviolence practitioners around the world. It was his vision for Black Americans and the world community.

The Beloved Community is not a place where violence and conflict does not exist, but is a gathering of people who have agreed to respond to conflict with nonviolent means, so as to not multiply pain and perhaps heal the initial wrong presented. It’s a place where we educate, celebrate, console, and help one another sustain our lives. It’s the kind of community where each individual is supported by the whole in reaching their fullest potential. It’s a biological construct – a system, if you will – that produces a sense of fulfillment and works toward the general wellness of the collective. This Beloved Community could be a street, a block, a neighborhood, a school, an organization, or any border around a common people who have agreed to collectively reach its realization. We only need a People somewhere who want to embark on this journey, and it can grow from there. Hatred and death abound all around us, for many reasons, proving the need for this safe haven. It is the present day’s most pressing need. The proverbial 40 acres with no need for a mule. The antidote to our mutual destruction. The Beloved Community can be attained, the village can be rebuilt, but we all have to be in agreement that it is rightfully Ourstory.

Shane Lee is a man of faith, a Kingian nonviolence practitioner, a community builder, a singer/songwriter and a proud family man. IG @shane.a.lee401

A Black Woman’s Musings on the Beloved Community

The term “Beloved Community” first came into the American consciousness through the Californian philosopher-theologian Josiah Royce in the 19th century, but it was not until the 20th century civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that it was reignited. The Beloved Community describes a global vision of humans cooperating together in sharing the Earth’s abundance so that all people thrive and are cared for, and are absent of poverty, hunger, and hate.

The great feminist cultural critic bell hooks stated, “The Beloved Community is formed not by the eradication of difference but by its affirmation, by each of us claiming the identities and cultural legacies that shape who we are and how we live in the world. If we want a Beloved Community, we must stand for justice, have recognition for difference without attaching difference to privilege.”

As the director of the Racial Environmental Justice Committee (REJC), we come at the concept of the Beloved Community through the framework of “Buen Vivir,” or “the good life.” It is based on the belief that true well-being is only possible as part of a community. The good of the community is placed above that of the individual. Furthermore, this is community in an expanded sense; it includes nature, water, plants, animals, and the earth. It is a consciousness that seems very ancient to me, almost Indigenous. Basically, the Beloved Community can only be achieved if there is true harmony and synchronicity in every place that humanity interacts with its external experience. This is the cornerstone of our work in community engagement and environmental justice.

For me personally, there is a portion of all this philosophy that sounds like a utopian make-believe fairy tale based on an idea that equality is the goal in a syrupy concoction of the future and how we humans understand the past through a white supremacist, patriarchal, capitalistic gaze.

And then… After I calm down, take a breath, and maybe have a glass of red wine (or two), I remember a spiritual concept that I learned as a child – “That we (humans have the capacity to) must speak that that is not as though it were,” and then I remember to ask myself – what if it wasn’t?

What if we (humans) really did want to engage in a direct connection to move forward, into a future where all of this suffering was not to bring humanity towards a dystopian beauty? What if, instead we decided to concentrate on a true desire for a reality of absolute equality and a true Beloved Community. Could we handle such a prophetic future? Would we remember what our true inheritance was before we were born on this rock? Beauty, love, mercy, and equity? Can we abandon the greed, jealousy, and hate we were taught as adults? Will we?

I am a lover of science fiction from books like Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, to N.K Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, to television shows like “Buck Rogers” to “Lovecraft Country.” For me, this genre was where I saw the manifestation of possibilities. Black women in power, flying cars, spaceships, and talking phones; the smallest potential actualized into a victory. I saw myself in the future and science fiction allowed me to believe that perhaps humanity did desire a reality that looked like “Space: the final frontier” or “A time when all beings were unified as one,” or just the desire for all freedom to be the goal of every sentient being.

We are a long way off from achieving the idea of the Beloved Community; we don’t even understand how to truly love each other. But I am hopeful. I have to be, because the alternative is death, and I am not ready for that truth just yet. It has been my experience that deep healing is hard-fought and there is deep suffering that comes before the dawn of righteousness.

Needless to say, I am very interested in the future truth that leads us to a true Beloved Community.

April Brown is the Director of the Racial Environmental Justice Committee and the Co-director of the Langston Hughes Community Poetry Reading Committee.

I Know Why the Dungeon Shook

My Beautiful Amazing Loving Daughter,

I cannot tell you enough that you were conceived in love, no mistake, no “heat of the moment” indiscretion. Nothing reckless in your creation. Under a waning moon in a Boston playground your mother and I planned you, from the America in my DNA to the wanderlust coursing her veins. You are the better world we wanted to create for you to live in. I see you. I am proud of you. I love you.

I started to write this letter June 20, 2021. The first woman of color was inaugurated as vice president of the United States. A testament. Lessons I’d hope to instill about you believing in you with purpose. Self actualize! Now is your time. But that moment didn’t garner enough celebration to shake free any expression of hope I hold for your future. So I stopped. I started again, when Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in as the first Black woman US Supreme Court Justice. Again I stopped, but this time to contemplate the regression America has undergone since you were born in 2003.

You never met my great grandmother, but there was one day you and I sat up late at a friend’s kitchen table. You were six, refusing to go to sleep. As we spoke, I saw her smile, her round face and almond shaped eyes in you. I never imagined how similar the world I raised you in would be to hers.

The world being reduced to keystrokes and view screens, bigotry and racism has us (our country) tethered to a time loop of domestic terrorism based on skin color. It was never my role to teach you what to think but how to think. I hid nothing from you. Being a Black Girl Dad in America is not easy. While cognizant of my responsibility to keep you safe, you were unaware that holding your hand disarmed biases of white women who’d normally feel fright when approaching me. Sometimes I’d cradle you to deflect the white gaze when we stood out. My way of raising you was substantiated when you accompanied me to a friend’s Christmas party. A woman kept the distance of a dinner table between your Black Body and her pristine whiteness. You told me to watch as you walked around. If there is anything you inherited from me, it’s the ability to communicate with your eyes. Your face was smug in confirmation. On the way home I gave you “The Talk.”

Asha, you are the most beautiful language I ever spoke. Unfortunately there are Americans who would prefer to never speak your name. Toni Morrison is quoted as saying “I want to discourage you from doing things that are safe. Things of value rarely are.” You are a Black Woman in America and very unsafe, so you are of value, but carrying the weight of race is not yours to bear. You don’t have to produce “Black Girl Magic” upon command for a country that consistently demands you prove your worth. Being self-actualized in systemic structures makes your hair a target. Standing in your truth offends the entitled. I was exactly your age in 1991, when my great grandmother passed. The Army flew me to our family’s land in red dirt, kudzu covered, backwoods Georgia. I refused to let the white woman behind the laundry counter call me “boy.” The next day at the breakfast table my great uncle gave me his version of “The Talk.” He told me “don’t talk to these white folks down here like you do up north. You say yes sir, no mam, bite your tongue when they call you boy, and never look them in the eye.” This is the reason my mother left Georgia in the first place, in 1962.

In the book “Between the world and and me” Ta-Nehisi Coates encourages his son to continue the fight for equality while, in my opinion, he instills his fears surrounding racism by sharing the transgressions of white people he experienced. Baldwin wrote a letter to his nephew entitled, “My dungeon shook,” imparting his wisdom of educating the ignorant country men who lose their humanity when interacting with Black People. I was five at the feet of women discussing the same topics we are now experiencing. But our government is enlisting your body in rights conflicts reminiscent of slavery. I wish you could’ve heard great grandma’s stories, she would say, “I was a slave, my mother was a slave, my mother’s mother was a slave.” If only you could’ve heard her. My dearest daughter I want to tell you to hold hope that one day things will change, but history is our best teacher. You come from three generations of Army veterans. Three generations of stories of facing the same injustices even after proving ourselves patriots. We didn’t serve for you to live under oppressive systems.

I know why the dungeon shook. James Baldwin was being nice when he wrote “some countrymen have lost their humanity.” I say this country was founded on not having humanity at all. Equality is perceived oppression between two shore lines on a small landmass compared to the world. Just live. Know no boundaries other than the limits you set for yourself. You are more valuable than the imaginations classifying your rights according to sex and skin color.

I want to leave this with you. The words that when they were told to me, were told to me with love. Baby, you got to walk in this world knowing you are loved! Because you are loved.

My deepest love
Your Father.

The Creative Capital Corner

Stanley Bois, aka Mr. Hotinri, is an extremely talented, multimedia super-producer/director. He has used his camera lens to capture the city’s biggest events and film his own independent movie. Eye asked him a few questions and it went something like this: 

Reuben Tillman III (Motif): Who is your inspiration to do what you do?

Stanley Bois: My inspiration is my late brother Nelson Damoura. Hotinri is his brainchild, and I’m honored to keep his legacy alive by continuing it.

RT: What’s your favorite achievement to date?

SB: Last year, I released my first feature film, Pray For The Bear which starred Rhode Island talents. We sold out two movie theaters: CW in Lincoln and Providence Place Mall Cinema. We were excited when it got picked up by Amazon Prime, Tubi TV, Google Play, and Youtube TV to stream on any device.

RT: When you face challenges what keeps you focused? 

SB: My son, my lady Natasha, and my family. Knowing they’re supporting me helps to keep me going. 

RT: Why do you feel like you have been successful at what you do? 

SB: I give 110% in every project. I want everyone I work for and with to leave knowing that I got the job done.

RT: How has the Beloved Community supported your vision? 

SB: The community has been a blessing. I receive a lot of support from them. The best blessing they give me is word-of-mouth referrals, and they continue to be repeat customers.

Instagram: @hotinridotcom Website: hotinri.com

Remi Jones has taken the media world by storm. As CEO of Remi TV, she’s combined her down-to-earth personality with a supreme level of wit, candor, and laughter. Her drive has landed her features in Forbes, Bossip, Yahoo finance, and more. Eye got a chance to catch up with the rising mogul, and it went something like this: 

Reuben Tillman III (Motif): Who has motivated you to pursue your career? 

Remi Jones: My sister-in-law motivated me to pursue my career in media. She used to say I would be great at it, and that I should start my own show. One day, I decided to give it a shot and ended up falling in love with it. 

RT: What’s your favorite red carpet experience to date?

RJ: New York Fashion Week because I saw that I needed to step my fashion game up. It opened me to new patterns, and high fashion that I never paid attention to. I remember seeing other girls on the red carpet and remember looking at my dress, thinking it was so basic.  

RT: When you face obstacles what helps you push through? 

RJ: A lot of prayer, as well as close friendships. I have a great support system who never lets me quit. I used to go through seasonal depression. One of my friends Pilar randomly sent me a therapy light. She pulled me out of a dark place and that’s what it’s all about. 

RT: Why do you feel like you have been able to create your own lane and do it so well? 

RJ: I didn’t procrastinate. If there was something I wanted to do with my brand, I started immediately. I feel like I’m 5 -10 years ahead. 

RT: How has the beloved community supported your vision? 

RJ: By showing up to my events and sharing my content. The love is overwhelming and amazing. There have also been community leaders who helped me make new local connections. I’m looking forward to my future projects and being able to uplift the RI community.  

Instagram: @remitvofficial Website: remitvmedia.com

Agonza paints the world as she sees it. The educator, artist, and highly in-demand muralist has transformed pieces of Providence architecture into vibrant, beautiful works of art. Her ability to lead and heal our city is magical. Eye spent a few moments with Agonza and it went something like this: 

Reuben Tillman III (Motif): Who or what keeps you motivated to keep evolving as an artist?

Agonza: My love for my art and being able to break the cycle of struggle and pain my family has endured. Especially being able to break that cycle with a career that was unexpected. 

RT: What’s your favorite project that you’ve worked on so far? 

Agonza: The Garrahy Family Courthouse garage mural, as it was such a learning experience and the artists I worked with helped me learn the importance of hard work and breaking barriers. It was like mural boot camp but it feels amazing to look back on the progress. 

RT: When you are creating your art, is there any particular music you like to play in the background?

Agonza: La India, Ivy Queen, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Russ, Summer Walker, Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys, Lizzo, SZA, Bad Bunny, Los Adolescentes, Mary J. Blige, and many more. Although it’s depending on the emotion behind the art piece.

RT: Why do you feel like it’s important to inspire the youth to create?

Agonza: My community has so many disadvantages, one of them being mental health. Youth need an outlet to express themselves whether with fine arts, music, dance, etc.. Youth go through so much, especially during their hormone sprout. They NEED a form of expression to cope with transitioning to young, healthy adulthood. 

RT: How has the beloved community supported your vision?

Agonza: In so many ways. Sharing my work, tagging me in opportunities, as well as expressing the need to be able to raise a certain conversation with my art. 

Instagram: @agonzaart

Website: agonza.com

With over two decades in the industry, DJ Franchise has cemented himself in this region’s upper echelon of musical creatives. His ability to not only adapt with the times but also thrive in a constantly evolving music business is the mark of his genius acumen. As assistant program director of WBRU’s 101.1FM, co-owner of The Franchise Report, and host/DJ for a multitude of events, DJ Franchise is paving a way for his name to be remembered forever. Eye tapped in with the living legend and it went something like this:

Reuben Tillman III (Motif): Who in the industry inspires you?

DJ Franchise: Inspiration in the industry today Is DJ Khaled because he showed that being a DJ can be more than just playing music…

RT: What’s your favorite achievement to date?

DJF: Appearing on “BET Rap City” with Busta Rhymes. It was the first time I ever was on national TV.

RT: When things get challenging what keeps you motivated?

DJF: When things get challenging I think of a past situation that relates with the current and apply what worked then to get me through.

RT: Why do you feel like you’ve been able to stay relevant in the game?

DJF: Communicating with the younger generation. Applying what they like while still applying what the older generation likes. Kind of like, two birds, one stone.

RT: How has the Beloved Community supported your vision?

DJF: The community till this day still attends events that we have. Many of those that can’t come out still take a minute to share, comment, or even give feedback, which is useful when trying to grow in this entertainment business.

Instagram: @djfranchise1

Multifaceted singer/songwriter Ivan Brooks is making his imprint on the world. His hardworking ethics and resilient creative abilities have even led to a successful burgeoning career as a fashion designer. As the founder of Situated the Brand, he’s working hard to highlight not only his skills but those of the tribe around him. Eye took a moment to vibe with the young mogul and it went a little like this:

Reuben Tillman III (Motif): Who have you looked to for inspiration? 

Ivan Brooks: Half the things I come up with come when I’m praying. I asked God to provide the tools, which include the people that are going to be needed to execute my vision. Everything I do has to meet His purpose, which is being of service to inspire and be inspired! 

RT: What do you love doing more music or fashion? 

IB: I never knew nothing about being a fashion designer. I was actually the worst dressed in school, then grew up to be “that guy” who creates dope fashion. My happy place is creating music. My music is about love and life. We’re in that cycle every day, so my music is the anthem and melody to everything that I’m going through.

RT: When you have a million things going on how do you maintain focus to execute your overall vision? 

IB: I stay around the right people. Most of my circle work within my brand. They like family. We’re always working on becoming better at what we do. We laugh together, travel the world, and then we create together. I’m living out my dreams and passions 24/7. I’m never clocking out.

RT: Why do you feel like you have what it takes to be successful? 

IB: There’s a fire burning inside me to do great things. My passion to make an impact on others is everlasting. I have no choice but to continue this journey. My life relies on it. As the head of my family, their lives are dependent on my success as well. 

RT: How has the beloved community supported your vision? 

IB: It’s said that sometimes you have to work outside of your community for them to support you, but I truly feel like people see how genuine I am and [that I] take pride in my work ethic. Each person that supports our message allows us to be successful. One day this will be global. For now, we are taking baby steps each day, one person at a time. 

Instagram: @ivanbrooksmusic Website: imsituated.com

Chip Douglas is a curator, host, and entrepreneur who dedicates his time to creating spaces for creatives to create and connect. Through his various installments of art shows, musical showcases, charitable events, consultations, and merchandise he hopes to let the world know how special Divine Providence truly is. Eye sat down with the founder of Chip Douglas Enterprise and it went something like this:

Reuben Tillman III (Motif): Who inspires you to keep making your mark on the world?

Chip Douglas: Eye am inspired by my parents, Reuben Jr. and Charlene, and my children, Taliq and Reuben IV. My parents started with little but were able to provide so much. They gave me a moral compass and a strong sense of self-worth. Seeing my dad focused on helping those in need while making sure his family was provided for was essential. My children are my reason for always aspiring to be of good character. How you treat people at times trumps what you do for them. Eye want them to know that they’re worthy of happiness and joy. It’s my hope that they are able to leave the world better than it was when they arrived.

RT: What is your favorite show that you curated so far?

CD: Eye am blessed to have worked with so many creatives. We’ve been able to create amazing moments at Fete Music Hall, Culture Fest, and PVD Fest. My favorite show was my most recent installment of “When Stars Align” which is the art show/musical showcase that Eye do twice a year. What made it special was that my oldest child showcased their art for the first time. Eye was on stage hosting and almost cried tears of joy seeing them across the ballroom. That moment was truly special.

RT: When you feel frustrated, what keeps you going?

CD: Eye know that Eye was created to create moments and Eye take that seriously. Eye know that dealing with so many personalities will come with challenges, but Eye embrace them. Eye am not above having to face challenges or situations. Eye know that my Creator knows best and with that, Eye gain peace of mind through all the adversities. 

RT: Why do you feel like it is important to provide spaces for others to showcase their talent?

CD: We are all born with gifts and abilities. The moment those come to realization, it’s our duty to use them to make the world better. Some creatives have the talent but not the network. Eye have been blessed to be able to have access to various audiences. That came after years of hard work and if Eye can make another person’s path easier then Eye am doing my job. 

RT: How has the Beloved community supported your vision?

CD: Eye am a reflection of the Beloved Community in all that Eye do. Whether it be curating shows or public speaking engagements, the sole purpose is to help us all grow. Focusing on healthy forms of love as a connective theme (self-love being the most important) keeps me connected to the mission of creating the Beloved Community. Providence is truly a divine city. 

Instagram: @chip_doug
Website: chipdoug.com

Bliss Body: Struggle is a part of it

Guest Editor Anjel Newmann was recently a featured performer in Bliss Body, an experimental performance at Everett Theater and School in PVD, along with Christopher Johnson, Ari Brisbon and Grace Colonna. She talked about the piece and its impact with both makers and audience:

“Struggle is a part of it.” In some ways, this is the production. A single line that encapsulates the entirety. This line has become a sort of mantra for our cast. It comes from a longer Bliss Body poem where Christopher Johnson illustrates his journey through meditation, a practice that started 13 years ago. “Seeing Christopher finally being able to talk about his meditative practice instead of talking about his response to racism was such a beautiful growth space for me,” said April Brown, writer and co-director of the Langston Hughes Community Poetry Reading Committee. Brown was in the audience on the last Sunday of our 11-show run. As we reflected, she said that it’s evident that the cast discovered a Divine Practice. “That’s the genius of us having the arts. We actually get an opportunity to show our humanity by singing, dancing, writing, acting on a stage, and being vulnerable, and there’s something about a spiritual practice that involves those same components and pieces.”

April is right. This production is much more than a performance — it’s a journey back to who we were. The creative process is a shovel that helps us uncover and pull out pieces, limbs, fragments of ourselves that were buried deep beneath the sands of time. A cave of wonders. Every rehearsal, we practiced meditation and yoga as a way to teleport into our untapped truths; a place that resides within each of us, like an underwater garden hidden far beneath the surface. Bliss Body was created from that garden. For a year and a half, Creative Director Aaron Jungles and our cast worked to understand the meaning of Bliss.

Two years prior, Everett Company Stage and School, the creators of Bliss Body, dedicated an entire production to exploring trauma, even bringing in a therapist to work with the cast. As the newest edition, the most recent Bliss Body was meant to be a pilgrimage back, away from trauma, but as we danced, sang, meditated, remembered more — there was Christopher’s reminder, “Struggle is a part of it.”  April says that there is something about our piece that elevates the “dysfunctional aspects of who we are as people and with our bodies” and that our efforts model what it looks like to get that dysfunction out of our bodies, “like this illustration of body betrayal.”

I think the audience can relate to that summation. Night after night, they reflected back gratitude for the complex layering of not only our personal stories but the dips and pulls of emotion. The piece has a way of positioning dark melancholy memories against other bright, almost manic instances of pure elation. Some say that what we created is a microcosm of life itself – demonstrating the highs and lows of a universal human experience. Together we offer the ingredients of a storm — pressure, cold and hot air, clouds, water – all hovering, swirling above the heads of both performer and audience. 

April pointed out that the soundtrack of this production is so undeniably jazz, which she loves. And considering the juxtaposed themes of motherhood, racial disparity, celebration, spirituality, and even suicidality, who better than the likes of Coltrane and Simone to provide the backdrop for such a tumultuous ride through the past? April felt deeply connected to Ari’s pieces, many of which were crafted and performed with a jazzy, smooth-guy aesthetic. Even as he reflected on prior NA meetings, the creatively humorous nature of his presentation made his recollections relatable and digestible. 

Grace’s work carried a graceful feel. As she danced, whether with cloth, a box or a ladder, she unpacked her journey of self-love, which in some ways seems to have prepared her to be the loving mother, dance teacher, and community member she is today. 

My own pieces explored elements ranging from my hair, the origins of my name and what it means to have both love and smoke with your 16-year-old daughter, who is a living representation of all the pain in bliss in the world. My mother was also a muse for my dark and dramatic ending piece, “Night Goddess.” 

On the stage, our stories pour down and somewhere in the overlap between pain and promise, a rainbow emerges. A stand-in for Bliss. This moment can be experienced but never kept. Bliss is not ours to have, it is ours to behold and to let go. “Bliss is really about several things,” said April. “It’s about the breath but it’s also about centering my mind… it has a lot to do with being able to get my thoughts out of my head and into my body or into my mouth.” When I asked April what she thought people would take away from this show, she said, “It’s important for us to be humans that are well. What I saw were four individuals trying to be well, attempting to be well, working at being well, and having these moments where you discovered wellness and trying to keep that… and that is bliss.” 

Each cast member has evolved our understanding and relationship to “Bliss.” It’s no longer something we chase, it’s something we thank. Every time she shows herself, we inhale her, and then in one big exhale, we send her back to the universe from which she came.

Facebook Poem

This once was going to be

A Facebook status
Like the word bank of words I anticipate to use
Words I come across while reading academically and occasionally for leisure 
There is a few words I choose to never include in my everyday vernacular
See these words people think are so spectacular as to revolutionize falling 
revitalizing these lifeless words 
however these words should have 
never been resurrected let alone created


formerly known as a nigger, never an ancestor or Negus
the root deriving from insecurity of not knowing how to tame our greatness
So instead they degraded our ancestors and labeled us less than
Why today do we think it’s okay to put an attenuated clearance tag on a word that was meant to already reduce our worth?


Formerly known to describe a female canine
But somehow this word became benign yet bold 
With venomous energy to exclaim ultimate disgust and belittlement
whether to describe a woman who exerts too much power or a man who who exerts none
Has somehow become to some type of degree of honor
Oft expression of 
biiiiiiiiitch yaaaaaaas

Stop adopting atrocious words to lace lack of linguistic creativity

We are not becoming too sensitive 
We are speaking UP and demanding that you call us by our name and by not our circumstance, condition and emotions
You too should demand the same for yourself

Formerly known to describe something abnormal 
Creating chaotic stigmatism and characters
Rather getting to the root of understanding 
Labeling was easier
Now we throw around the word like F-bombs
Not understanding the trigger of the traumatic word has on those who were deemed and screamed crazy

We are not becoming too sensitive 
We are speaking UP and demanding that you call us by our name and by not our circumstance, condition and emotions
You too should demand the same for yourself

A word formerly known to describe joy
Somehow became synonymous to weakness
As affection and femininity is somehow a disease
Someone’s sexuality equates to one’s strength
Or lack thereof

We are not becoming too sensitive 
We are speaking UP and demanding that you call us by our name and by not our circumstance, condition and emotions
You too should demand the same for yourself

Proverbs 31:8-9 says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Just to think

This once was going to be

A Facebook status

an ode to glitter