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[Article] "#DividedTogether, we fall..." (Racial Climate in the U.S) 

#DividedTogether, we fall...

Written By Melissa Ashby of Allison Images

It’s Independence Day in America 244 years after its inception and it’s clear that we are anything but what we stand for. The United States is an ironic facade built on the bloody backs of beaten slaves yet proudly known as the land of the free.. I'm a white conservative evangelical and former die-hard Trump supporter and I've recently  had a literal “Coming To Jesus” moment. I now realize that digging my heels in where I stand and refusing to budge only hastens the irreparable collapse of the country I love.  

Over the last few weeks, I have come to the conclusion that America does not offer the same experience for all its people. It's taboo to talk about politics so we're left to assume that which we don't know about people who don't think and live like us. Therein lies the problem. How can you understand something you've never experienced? How can you empathize when you wont listen?  

In the weeks since the knee felt round the world, racism in America has become undeniable. Prior to the horrific murder of George Floyd at the hands of Officer Chauvin, I could easily write off systemic racism, white supremacy, and white privilege as left wing talking points. It's what a good conservative does after all. However,  Floyd’s tragic fate forced me to see the world in a way I'd never seen it before. 

As a result of my “Awakening”, I set out on a journey to find the truth, whatever it might be. Among other methods of research, I watched 13th, Just Mercy, and read Dr. King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail and I took an honest look at the world around me. The truth I found is ugly and uncomfortable but it's important that we accept, embrace and understand it if we really believe we care about people.  

In his letter MLK states, “I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.” 

He wrote these words 60 years ago and the same mindset in much of White America still exists in 2020. Until we realize that we have a role in ensuring our brothers and sisters of every race are heard, until we care about justice for all, there can be no real peace in this land. Unless we recognize that our indifference defines white privilege, unless we fight for the rights of all Americans, unless we are willing to walk a mile in our neighbor’s shoes, we will reap what has been sown for the last 400 years. We must begin to see our fellow citizens as family. It is not us against them, it is WE THE PEOPLE against the tyrant! We must have one another's backs as if our own lives depend on it because they do.  

We pride ourselves on standing against a tyrannical government. Though tyranny may look different for different communities, if we do not take up the cause of the oppressed, tyranny wins. We must recognize the importance of caring about injustice that does not directly affect our lives and understand the devastating consequences of doing nothing.  

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” Our indifference will be our demise. It not only perpetuates the reality for the black community in America, but it creates a space for men of ill will to thrive. It's time to wake up and get to work!  

Whatever we may do this day, let us reflect on the condition of our country and recognize our responsibility to actively participate in the direction of our future since our future depends on it. 

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil if for good men to do nothing” Edmund Burke

This photo is from a creative collaboration photoshoot by ShySpeaks & Melissa A.  The rest of the photos will debut as an Editorial Feature in Urban Magazine's July Issue.

BLOG: Why I "#WalkedTheStage for my M.B.A 23 Hrs Ago  

Prior to yesterday, I'd already graduated from college...twice!  Once with my Bachelors and the other for a Master's in Supply Chain Management. So when I decided to pursue my MBA (of which I was only a couple semester shy of considering I already had an MA), I didn't think that I would actually participate in the graduation ceremony.  This MBA was a personal endeavor for my development, growth, and future entrepreneurial & strategic leadership goals.  I didn't feel that I needed a public celebration for that.  BUT THEN I REMEMBERED.... 

1. Before I was born, the doctors saw that I would be born with a mental & physical disability due to being carried by a mother who was on drugs.   
NEWSFLASH - This milestone is a miracle.  I was not supposed to be able to learn on this level or probably even walk normally for that matter...let alone across a stage for learning! So yes I took the stroll!   

2. I wanted to afford my husband (of 6 months) the opportunity to see his wife graduate for all of the inspiration that is packed in him hearing, "Shy Amos-Powell" announced for an honorable reason.  Powell is his namesake. My hope is that he hearing it attached to a noble cause produces more faith in him for our journey & legacy.  

DISCLAIMER - I didn’t invite people because I was not intending on walking originally PLUS I was only given a couple of tickets.  It turned out that my husband was my only support system in the audience & that is just perfect in my book! He captured all of the footage below. Enjoy! :-) 

    As of yesterday, 5/12/17, I am officially, considered a Master of Business. I pursued the MBA through the University of Texas at Dallas with an emphasis on Entrepreneurship. If you are reading this now, you know me as a Hip Hop & Spoken Word artist, speaker, and host, so you are probably wondering how I plan to use my degree.  I could list out all the ways, but just know that I have a very strong business acumen & entrepreneurial I'll say...STAY TUNED! :-)

Vision is like Vision: See Diagram 

I was shown an illustration of “VISION” during my devotion & meditation time.  When I got up, I was prompted to hand draw this diagram and consider the parameters of how WE envision life. I took to the Evernote app without hesitation! In my observation, I came to the conclusions below: 

1. We have a 360 degree view of life at all times. 

From our current position, we can see to the left, right, in front, and behind us. 
Our sight allows us to believe that we can VEAR to the left or right a bit while still advancing into territories of life where we are not “out-of-focus” from our true vision. 
A step behind us is “in-focus”, hence the reason we feel comfortable going backwards. 
Notice, the area that we can safely navigate behind us WITH vision is not very plentiful. 

2. There is an area, just outside of our vision points where we cannot CLEARLY see. 

On the diagram, the “Outside of Vision” section represents where we are unable to envision or imagine what our experiences would be like if we entered those areas. 

The consequences of our actions & decision remain “out-of-focus” 
The potential people, problems, and opportunities remain “out-of-focus”. 

3. Although we recognize that the shortest and often safest distance between where we are and where we are heading is a STRAIGHT line, we are bent toward VEERING along the path because we find safety in the fact that we can SEE all the parameters of our position. What we often fail to factor in is the time that SWERVING takes vs advancing straight ahead. 

4. If you get close enough to the edge, you can see, but notice how far away from the CENTER you’ll be.  The center is equivalent to the CORE, the place you should live from. 

5. In urban vernacular, if someone offers you something that you do not want, you reply, “nah, I’m straight”.  In other words, from what I can see, I believe that I am good given my current position and the direction that I am moving in. What you are trying to offer me may cause me to drift away from that. So no thank you! 

6. What if… 

…we all navigated life with a “Nah, I’m straight” attitude? What would our aptitude be? 
…we stayed focus on what’s within our focus? 

This diagram is not a stationary box.  It is a scope of vision. As you move, so does the scope.  Even with eyesight, the person with the most perfect and superb vision can only see so far. There is a place in all of us that wants to believe that we are “out of the box”.  We don’t want to be afraid to chart new territory, explore the unknown, & discover new things.  This diagram is not in conflict with that desire.  In fact, if we live our lives from the Center, our Core will be our guide, navigating by giving us vision for our days, weeks, months, lives. We should not mistake the “Outside-of-Vision” area as the “faith & brave heart zone”. Instead we should recognize it as the area and space where we wander around aimlessly, which takes far less discipline and FOCUS, than staying the course STRAIGHT IN FRONT of us. 

Correlating Scriptures: 
Proverbs 4:27 – Do not turn to the right or to the left, turn yourself away from evil. 
Isaiah 30:21 – Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it.” 
Proverbs 3:6 – In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your path.

#InvitedEPAnniversay: Blog & GiveAway Info 

One year ago this week, I extended an official invitation to everybody, with my project, the "Invited" EP! We hosted an official release concert on 6/01/15 and made the music available on 6/03/15!  There's no greater feeling, than getting what's in you....out! And that's exacty what I felt and still do feel about this product offering.  The concepts, songs, ideas, melodies, metaphors, business plans, collaborations and emotions that I wanted to display were officially written, recorded, rehearsed and executed.  So I'm celebrating ALL WEEK with special announcements about new videos, giveaways, merch, and more.

First of all, the release concert was a Live Stream Online Concert via  Who does that as an upcoming independent artist, they said? Ha! Me...and all of my #Addicts who tuned in from the comforts of their laptop, phones, tablets, etc all over the world! It was a huge success.  I was able to capture some live footage from the event courtesty of Shaw Solutions, led by Matthew Shaw who happens to be my good friend!  Which leades me to Special Announcement #1 - New Video Release! ​Check out the Live Performance Video of Invited below! Second of all...

...we aso released new merchandise along with the new music.  The unisex, V-Neck SPEAK Tee!  To date we've sold about 100 of these shirts! So if you have one, you are officially rocking custom gear! Well that leads me to Special Announcement #2 - New Merch Available!  
.That's right, the SPEAK logo has a new TANK edition that is available for PreOrder and coupled with a Giveaway! When you pre-order your tank between now & July 3, 2015, you will automatically become eligible to WIN a pair of Chuck Taylor's in a drawing happening on July 12. The winners will be notified via email and announced online immediately after the drawing.  Purchasing multiple TANKS gives you more chances to win.  Although there will be one drawing per color style, Contestants can only win once! Excited about rocking the new gear & possibly winning some new shoes....head over to the STORE now! Meanwhile, I'm going to finish writing this blog, lol! 

Back to the release concert! There was an In-Room VIP audience of about 125 people who were either press/media personalities, family, close friends, artist, or industry personnel (shoutout to TenthChild, Inc. for sending out THOSE invitations)! These individuals had the court-side seat advantage, but the online viewers made the night special! They had a blast talking in the chat room and having tipping wars! Tipping wars! Now that is what you call #support!

That night marked a new milestone in my life, business, career, and faith! Please pardon me while I kick a few shot outs to a few notable people who commemorated the evening with me. Thank you to Adrion Butler, Christen O'Neal, Ethan & Audrey Kent, Meosha Jones, Colette Presley, Jaurdane Ivory, Mattie Michelle, Faith Anderson, Deborah Jones,  Serena Watkins, Tracie Hamilton-Jones, Joycelyn Brackens, Christopher Marshall, Jared "J.Paul" Foster, Eshon Burgundy, Sean C. Johnson, Semaj Langston, Matthew Shaw, Jovon Burrell, Kardal Coleman, Jontue Turner, and of course, my grandmother, Goldie Shaw (who made a cameo appearance in the Heaven Video lol)! Well, I had to stop before I just flat out named EVERYONE who was in the room. :-)

But that leads me to Special Message # 3 - Behind the Scenes Video Footage of myself & the band backstage immediately after the show as well as reviews from super producer Asaph Ward and musician extrodinaire, Thad Tribbet & Family. 

Anyway, beyond that night, I carried my message and music with me to over 50 shows, in several states, several schools, won two awards, was the cover girl of a magazine, sold over 1000 CDs/Digital Sales, recieved tons of positive feedback from my peers and even record lables, I mounted the platform with everyone from the Mayor of Dallas, Nicole Binion, Dr. Tony Evans, Scarface, and Lecrae of Reach Records, with no major label, contract, deals, or budgets. Just me, God, a message, a mission and a ton of advid supporters!  
Happy 1-Year #InvitedEPAnniversary!

Help Us Promote #Heaven 

#Addicts, we want you IN ON THIS! We're promoting the release of Shy's 1st official LIVE music video, #Heaven for six days straight of 2/18 - 2/23. Then on 2/24/15 the visual will premiere on & Subscribe to the ShySpeaks YouTube Channel now, to be notified when this and other new videos are released. Meanwhile, if you want in on this promo/campaign action, we've provided a download link to the official #Heaven Social Media Kit. Just click the picture below and it will take you to a link to download ALL of the official content! Just like that, they're all yours! Be sure to use the hashtag #Heaven & #Up  

RANDOM: Top 10 Reason Why You Are NOT Bored 

One of my pet peeves is hearing people say the phrase, "Im bored". Let's be clear, you are NOT bored if the following productive task remain incomplete:
1. CLEAN - Have you tidied up your room, closet, and all other uncommon areas and spots that you don't normally clean but could use a touch up?
2. EXERCISE - Where are you on your health & fitness goals?  Have you did 30 mins of cardio today? Hit the gym for some weight training? Or did some at home exercises like sit-ups, push-ups, stretching?
3. ORGANIZE - The bookshelf, your key ring, your collection, your storage closet, etc.
4. READ - What books, articles, or blogs are you currently reading? Have you finished every single one of them? Any new knowledge, information, or insight that you could use? If so, identify it and find something to read pertaining to it. 
5. PRACTICE - What gifts, skills, talents, trades, or other languages do you know? Spend time rehearsing & exercising those.
6. STUDY - The Industry that you are in & the others directly effected by your industry, study your craft for things you can practice next time. I highly recommend studying the Bible. Always be studious, to show yourself approved, having no need to be ashamed because knowledge is confidence. The more you glean in study, the closer you are to becoming an 'expert'. Plus learners are earners.
7. PLAN - "If we fail to plan, we planned NOT our time wisely but wasted it being bored." Do you see how I just rearranged that quote in my spare time? :-) Take some time to write out your 1 year, 2 year, 5 year goals. Go as far as 10 year goals. Be sure that you are charting out measurable goals not your "wildest dreams". Plan out the steps that it would take to reach each goal. Write it down, or type it up! Save it. Refer to it often to ensure you are on track and Revise it (as needed) when the vision & purpose for your life becomes clearer.
8. SOCIALIZE - We are suppose to cherish every moment with our loved ones. Did you spend quality time with or talking to any of your family, mentor, friends, mentee, clients, partners for the sake of bonding and relationship building? 
9. PRAY/MEDITATE - There's peace & tranquility available to us when we draw away from this temporal world that's constantly appealing to our 5 senses. It is in those times that we can revive the inner man through stillness and communication with our creator.
10. CREATE - We were intelligently designed in the image of our creator, which makes us inherently creative. Use your down time to Write, Draw/Paint, Be Crafty, Cook, or decorate. Let your imagination design a masterpiece.

Now, If you have done all of that, then you indeed, just might be bored. :-) If not you are likely just another "L" word that rhymes with crazy. Lol. Seriously, time is the most valuable commodity known to mankind, let's take dominion through productivity with the portion we have been allotted. Hopefully this helps! 

P.S. - If you don't see any other tips that aren't listed above, feel free to share with us, leave a comment below. 

EVENTS: My East Coast Weekend Experience 7/25-7/28 2014 

Special, Awesome, and Refreshing are a few words that describe the experience I had on my mini East Coast Weekend tour! New Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia! I had the opportunity to present new music and poetry from my Invited EP in each state! We were also able to grab a bite to eat from a signature restaurant in each spot. Jerrod (my cousin) was my roadie on this trip! He's a "foodie" by his own admission and wouldn't have had it any other way. Many of you have asked "how was the east coast trip" so, here's a Day-by-Day Recap of the trip:

Fri - 7/25/14 - New Jersey - I performed at a Youth Conference! The kids were HYPE! The crowd had a spirit of expectation! It was so much fun! 
Restaurant: SABRINA's - (Brunch)

Sat - 7/26/14 - New York - I hit the stage at a Hip Hop Outreach Event in Brooklyn, sponsored by Kingdom Time Ent. I also met the CEO Marcus Hall who invited me back to Brooklyn to be a performer at the Kingdom Choice Awards that will take place on 9/27/14! Peep the Tweet below! #Nominated 
Restaurant: John's Pizzaria - (Gotta have Pizza in New York Right?)

Sun - 7/27/14 - Philadelphia - I was privileged to be the musical guest for Master Builder's Church morning Worship Service! It's always an honor to encourage the Body of Christ to continue growing! S/O to MBC's leader, Christian Winters and the entire church for their hospitality! 
Restaurant: Warmdaddy's - (Soul Food & Live Music is always a winner!)

AWARDS: Homegrown Honors 2014 - Top 5 Reasons why Dallas' HHA's Matters + my 2 Noms 

The Homegrown Honors is an award ceremony hosted annually by Dallas' KHVN Radio Station. The awards exist to honor those leaders, be it, musicians, artist, or trailblazers who contribute to Dallas' Christian Arts scene. This year, I'm a Top 5 Nominee for TWO categories, Rap & Spoken Word. I've been nominated in one or both categories for the past 3 years.  I'm completely honored by that! But this year, I am all the more humbled because I have been extended an invitation to be a performer at this years Homegrown Honors Award Ceremony at the Black Academy of Arts and Letters on 7/19/2014 (see events section for details later). For now, let's look at my Top 5 Reason why Dallas' Homegrown Honors Matter...

1. The HHA's are for the people by the people. 
Most award shows are ticketed and voting is mysterious. In this case, the artists are nominated by votes from the community and thus the ceremony is a community event, open to the public free of charge! Often times those who should win are never even nominated. But that's another blog. Side Note: 1x for India Arie & Kendrick Lamar who've both been snubbed by the Grammy's. 

2. The HHA's honor God as the ultimate Gift-Giver. 
People are God's "workmanship", his artistic masterpiece if you will. How marvelous are you when your art creates art?! 
By acknowledging people for the gifts they possess and thanking them for offering that talent back to their community is really praise to God.  

3. The HHA's reminds us to appreciate those who we co-labor with and receive from on a regular basis. 

4. The HHA's are a WIN for Independent Artist. 
Let's face it, the major labels OWN the mainstream. Indie Artist often work hard, to consistently fill what would be an artistic void locally, in venues, churches, and community events if these leaders did not give of themselves.

5. The HHA's can foster creative collaboration among artist who may not have known of each other otherwise. 
The Homegrown Honors raises the awareness of artist about other artist outside of their niche. Dallas is a BIG city and even if you have a broad reach, not everyone knows everyone. When the Top 5 Nominees for each category is announced every year, I've seen it on more than one occasion, the nominees are being introduced to one another for the first time, resulting in new fellowship that would have never emerged. Also, as an artist/musician/leader, when you see the Top 5 Nominees in another category, it gives you a name reference of other individuals you can collaborate with for future songs or events. 

I'd like to say congrats to ALL of the nominees! A special shout out to some of my friends who are nominated in the categories you see below: Phea Kennedy (Poet), Mark Ayers (Musician), Eva Mcculler (Singer), Adrion Butler (Rap), and Dana Hemphill who also has 2 Noms!!! 


New Website - 10 Reasons Why I Switched 

As an independent artist, proficiency is key!  There's so much to do, communicate, and manage in order to maintain an effective online web presence.  Because after all, people need to be able to connect with you and you need to be able to ensure that connection with as few "log ins" as possible.  Yes, "Log ins"!  Because when it comes to the internet, there is a log-in requirement for every service. Just imagine what this is like for an artist who has a website, a web-store, sends an email newsletter,  has a blog, uses social media, and the list goes on...! So I've listed 10 Reasons Why I Switched web host before I launched my re-branded and revised website!  I now have a ONE stop shop with the following:
  1. Flexible Design Options including Mobile Friendly Layouts
  2. Promotion Tools - I can send out professional email blasts and track their effectiveness. (Text blast coming soon)
  3. Store - Allows me to sell music and merch directly from my website
  4. Inventory Assistance - I can manage order fulfillment & delivery tracking
  5. Interactive Reports - Full breakdown of site traffic to know how to engage fans geographically
  6. Fan Community - Allows fans to contribute & create a community, right on the website
  7. Blogs - I can build a full feature blog with RSS feeds, commenting, and categories
  8. Social Network Integration - I can post news and gigs instantly in sync across multiple social platforms
  9. Fewer Log-Ins - Items 2 thru 8 are services that would have otherwise come with 7 separate Log-Ins
  10. Did I mention fewer log-ins equals increased proficiency and more time to CREATE ART
Hello Bandzoogle, goodbye Hostbaby! :-) Welcome to! 

RANDOM: 20 Desires of my Heart 

 DESIRES of my HEART: To purchase a new car with cash.

DESIRES of my HEART: A husband who initiates prayer & devotion time with me.

DESIRES of my HEART: To see India Arie live in concert from an upclose & personal seat.

DESIRES of my HEART: A man who I find equally attractive, physically & spiritually.

DESIRES of my HEART: To lead someone else to Christ, disciple them, and help them start their new life.

DESIRES of my HEART: : A husband who’s priorities look like this: 1. God 2. Wife (Family) 3. Work/Ministry 4. Everything Else. ;-)

DESIRES of my HEART: To visit, Paris, Jerusalem, Iceland, Cuba, and more.

DESIRES of my HEART: To have friends, genuine friends who see me as peer, sister, and accountability.

DESIRES of my HEART: To be refreshing artistically.

DESIRES of my HEART: A husband who leadership makes submitting to him feels like a privilege.

Go the remaining 10.....

DESIRES of my HEART: To ALWAYS be connected to LaQueata, @I’Shanique , Ebony F. #GoldenGirls

DESIRES of my HEART: To affect change.

DESIRES of my HEART: To have character worthy of being a role model.

DESIRES of my HEART: To be an Entrepreneur, Venture Capitalist, and Philanthropist

DESIRES of my HEART: Be the type of woman who is a…mother to many. (Not literally)

DESIRES of my HEART: To be an ambassador and translator of the Kingdom of God

DESIRES of my HEART: Someone who is never content with NOT growing in godliness & wisdom.

DESIRES of my HEART: Create a scholarship fund.

DESIRES of my HEART: To make it to heaven.

DESIRES of my HEART: For the desires of my heart to ALWAYS be in alignment with HIS WILL.