Editor & Contributor | Jessica Franklin, 22 | Arkansas
Middle Level Education Major at the University of Central Arkansas
Hello! I’m horrible with bios, so let’s try this:
College senior. Jesus Stan. Pop culture enthusiast. Bath & Body Works obsessed. Bad selfie taker. Feeler of feelings. Queen of both awkwardness and clumsiness.
Probably at the house wishing I had gone out or vice versa.
That pretty much covers the basics, now on to the art. I have loved writing for as long as I can remember! I used to finish books in elementary school, get on the computer at home, and basically rewrite them in my own words. Real original, right? That’s how dedicated I was to the craft! I promise I’ve grown out of that, though. Anyway, I’ve always been a writer. I started college as a journalism major, but changed my mind and eventually decided to become an English teacher. Writing was always the motive behind both of these decisions. I decided to join Black&Gifted because I absolutely love all art forms! I think this is a great way to share my talent while supporting and helping share the talents of others. This is the perfect place to do just that!
Instagram: jessicafranklin16 | Twitter: @soulnot4sale_ | Website blackgirlswhouseurbandictionary.wordpress.com
Adrian Nelson, 23 | Arkansas | Marketing major at Arkansas Tech University
Writing has been my preferred vehicle of expression for quite some time now. It started when I was a child, religiously writing in a journal that no one knew about. I would write about the day’s activities, the people I came in contact with, and how each situation made me feel. At 23, I’m still not into verbally expressing my thoughts, but I have moved up and created a blog that I publish to my followers. An invitation into my world, on terms I’m most comfortable with.
I joined B&GBlog because it’s another avenue for my words to be shared on. This particular avenue speaks to people like me, who go through the things I go through. My writing knows no boundaries. Based and built on liberation. I talk about the struggles of the LGBTQ community, life as an African American, Feminism, Politics, Music, and at times, myself. Collaboration is a beautiful thing, and I love that this is a platform representative of US, to share, inspire, and support. I look forward to being a part of this special team.
Twitter: @Whose_NELSON | Website loveadrian.wordpress.com
Timber Heard, 26 | Mississippi | Journalism major at the University of Mississippi
I am a biracial 26 year old trying to get enough money to finish her bachelor’s degree, but that’s a long story. I’ve been somewhat of an artist since I can remember. I draw, act, collage, sew (though rarely anymore) and make jewelry. I’m a Christian (first and foremost) and thank Jesus for everything he has done for me. I have an associates degree in Liberal Arts. I’ve done stand up comedy (though the second time didn’t go so well).
In my spare time, I’m an avid reader and I love to watch YouTube documentaries on Asia, African culture, and fashion and beauty makeup routines. I just opened what I like to consider a small business on my website Culture Shock. I have a vivid personality and try to look to enjoy things in my everyday life. I am also looking for ways to support myself, so this may be a great start. Thank you for your interest in my writing!
I want to be a part of Black&Gifted Blog because, well, I’m young, black, and gifted! But seriously folks, I love to write about whatever crosses my mind. Hair, culture, fashion, being a young 20-something in today’s modern world, everything!
Avery Ware, 24 | Ohio | Graduate of the University of Akron – Sociology
So, I have a confession. I’m terrible at writing bios. Ironic that a writer can’t write a bio, right? In summation, I’m the Black guy with the beard and thrifted clothes. I’m the reserved guy who doesn’t say much, but it is always thinking. I’m the gay that occasionally enjoys a Sunday morning service. I’m the friend that has your back in every way. I’m the writer who writes the things you’re probably thinking, but in a much more hostile fashion. I’m the entrepreneur that’s always hustling. All in all, I’m a pure soul just trying to figure out life.
The written discourse has always been my favored form of communication; transparency is my tone of choice. Many people use the internet has a space to present their highest self, but I elect to be sincere in my delivery and in content in hopes of connecting, healing, and entertaining those that choose to read.
Collaborating, supporting, and uplifting each other is imperative in our current climate. This is why I joined Black&Gifted Blog. I look forward to virtual fellowship with my peers and readers. Please follow me as I discuss the struggles of being a Black, queer male, religion misogyny, music, love and relationships, and more.
Twitter: @averylondon_| Website alotonmymindblog.com/
Ameil Brown, 18 | Arkansas | Art Education major at Arkansas Tech University
Wow, what an honor to want to be a writer and the first task you’re given is to talk about yourself! If you knew me you’d know I love to be the topic of discussion in a positive light. I am Ameil Brown, an Arkansas Tech sophomore. I am currently majoring in art education.
I enjoy all things art, from drawing, to fashion, poetry, photography, modeling, and of course writing! However, I plan to switch back to a psychology major with art as a minor. I was born in Forrest City, AR but was raised and live in Dardanelle, AR. I am 18 years of age with a birthday right around the corner in September! And most of all I am a mom!
I want to be apart of the Black&Gifted Blog team because writing has always been a love of mine. I’m slightly shy when it comes to big groups of people. Writing allows me to have a voice even in the presence of a big audiences. I love giving an opinion that can be heard and respected. Being apart of the team will also allow me to be surrounded by amazing people with some of the same interests as myself. And hey, that sounds like a good time to me!
Makalani Na’im Mack,22 | Georgia | Graduate of Brandeis University with a degree in Anthropology
The first sentence is always the hardest for me. But, there it is now. Out of the way. So with that, hello beautiful people. My name is Makalani, an Egyptian name that describes a person that is expressive and creative, skilled in writing and performance. So ask my mama and she’ll take full credit for the expressive, creative, musically inclined writing person that I became to be. I love her to pieces though. I’ve always lived life in my head. However, I also fell in love with both music and writing at very young age and hence, it’s always been the smoothest, and honestly the easiest, way for me to express myself. I’ve learned so much of myself through my writing. My passions, what I love versus what I despise, my tendencies, my preferences, my fears. Ya’ll, writing for me has always felt like this portal that I could turn to at my disposal, and just dip. Writing is me leaping through that portal and finding myself in this boundless place where besides the margins on the physical paper itself, there are none. There are no limits, there are no hesitations, no anxiety, no rush. Just good feels, intricate thinking, and slow, steady breathing.
I’m currently a middle school teaching fellow at The Epiphany School in Boston, Massachusetts. Writing is my outlet at the end of some long days. I’m actually ecstatic to join the Black&Gifted Blog because I’ve simply been yearning for a space to both share my thoughts, and also take part in upholding a platform for Black Magic to thrive and be observed and supported. I look forward to collaborating with the other talented writers, as well as showcasing all the many other Black artists out here carving their paths in this world. Expect to hear some personal reflections and revelations. I’ll ramble about my relationship with the woman I never cease to be in awe of. And I’m also going to talk about blackness and Feminism a lot since, as a cis Black man, I’m always doing a lot of internal deconstructing. And with that, Peace and Love folks.
Facebook: www.facebook.com/makalanimack | Instagram: imakalani
Brionna Jenkins, 23 | New York | Graduate of St. John’s University with a degree in Broadcast Journalism
To know Brionna Renée Jenkins is to know the 3 P’s: passion, purpose and personality. I like to consider myself the gift of a vibrant personality wrapped in a stylish box sent from the Big Apple.
Holding a degree in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in International Studies from St. John’s University, its always been my goal to use my given voice and earned perspective to inform my audience in the most engaging way possible. As both a writer and an actor it is my passion to tell stories that need to be told. Whether controversial, heartwarming or just plain juicy my work is carried out with me ultimate goal and life purpose in mind – to impact change one viewer or reader at a time.
I write for Black&Gifted because I am just that. We are just that. This is our space to manifest our culture and uplift contributions. Believing strongly that one must stand for something or fall for anything I find it imperative to have a platform that connects us to our culture & gives us a safe outlet to learn, express ourselves and grow.
Instagram: TheBrionnaRenee | Website: www.TheBrionnaRenee.com
Jessica Miller, 21 | Arkansas | Health Education Major at the University of Central Arkansas
Never in million years did I think I would be a writer. Ironically, I grew up disliking writing. But as time changes you grow, and you blossom into a flower. No more being stuck in a box. Thinking outside the box is a major key!
Let me introduce myself, my name is Jessica Miller and I’m currently a Junior at the University of Central Arkansas and I’m majoring in Health education to pursue a career in Health journalism and have my own business as a holistic health specialist.
I was born and raised in this small town, Dumas, Arkansas. I also just had a birthday on March 22 and I finally hit that 21 mark!
When it comes to my free time, I love to do natural hair and vibe to music. Not just music, but 90s music, just some neo-soul type of music. I’m definitely a old soul. When it comes to art, it’s something I have a passion for. Whether it’s poetry, music, painting, drawing, dancing, fashion, etc.
Why do I want to be apart of Black&Gifted Blog team? First of all, I feel like it was time to get out of my shell and network with others. My focus is to uplift Kings and Queens and opening up the mind to embrace the knowledge we share. So why not Black&Gifted? Black&Gifted is an uplifting environment that focuses on uplifting as well and very open to many ideas, which attracted me the most. I feel like as a first time blogger, that I will grow as an individual and be able to meet outstanding people with the same interests as me.
Facebook: Jessica Nicole Miller | Instagram: jessica_n14 | Website: https://royaltybyrootsblog.wordpress.com/blog/
Stephanie Williams, 35 | Maryland | Administrative Professional
Wow, why is this so hard? How can I be a person who loves to write but am having a hard time writing a bio? It just doesn’t add up. Well, here it goes:
Single, 35, Loves Jesus and his people (even those ashy hoteps), no kids and no time for drama. Oh wait…this isn’t a dating site LOL.
I have come to learn that the more living I do, the more I learn about myself and God’s plan for me. I have been an administrative professional ever since I left college and I have grown in leap and bounds since then. I am someone who loves to read and most definitely write.
As long as I can remember, I have loved to write. It is my escape from a world where things have been so ugly and so cruel. I spent my twenties being unsure, self-conscious and hiding from the world. Now that I am in my thirties, I won’t do that anymore. I am ready to live and step out of my comfort zone to do what I love…which is writing.
I am a lover, want to be a light and like the great Viola Davis and President Barack Obama, I am a LEO. I have learned in the past few years that being a lion (which is what a leo is) has its advantages and responsibilities. I am ready to stand tall and walk with my head held high. I know it sounds cliché or “pie in the sky” but if you only knew how long it took me to get to this point, you would understand.
Why did I decide to join the Black&Gifted team? I wanted to find a way to use my voice and network with others who are Black and Gifted. Our culture is so full of melanated magic, that I feel like it is straight up criminal that more of us don’t use our voices and platforms to be lights in our community. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, the decedents of kings, queens and the builders of this great country. We shouldn’t let society or the system hold us back or tell us we aren’t good enough.
Looking forward to using my voice and also collaborating with other voices.
Instagram: sunshinesnw | Twitter: @msstephsunshine | Website: pocketsofsunshineblog.wordpress.com
Social Media Assistant | Regina Beckles, 23 | Arkansas| Graphic Designer
I wanted to join the BAGBlog team because I love a group that uplifts each other, especially since our race seems to be put down. I believe that motivating each other builds confidence. The encouragement from people other than family is very helpful. Whether its constructive criticism, or just a plain “You did a great job!”, helps the artist! & I believe this group will do just that!
Art comes in many forms (fashion, baking, poetry, etc.) & I absolutely LOVE seeing different artist’s creations/works, as well as sharing their work so others can see them too. Not everyone is blessed with a huge support system, so why not get that support with BAG as well as give the support that someone may need for that extra push to be well on their way to success!
Maya Washington, 21 | Texas
Hey! My name is Maya Washington and I am a 21 year old college Senior. I have always been somewhat of an introvert when it came to talking to people or being in front of a group. But, I have always found it easy to express myself on paper.
I used to have so many emotions and ideas cramped in my mind and I would feel overwhelmed. Writing helped me release my ideas and form them into poems. Poetry has always been my passion! I would read and write poetry at any given moment. I knew I wanted to be a writer for my career, and people would always assure me that I was talented. I just had to believe it!
This year I said I would make those dreams come true. I am excited to be a part of the Black&Gifted team because I want to be apart of something greater that influences people like me. People who are Black and Gifted.
Gerard Waller, 19 | Tennessee | Spanish Education Major at Arkansas Tech University
Hola Mundo! I am a Sophomore at Arkansas Tech and I’m working on becoming a Spanish Teacher and writer. I love to write reviews, and express my opinions on certain entertainment topics. Whether it’s a TV show, movie or music, etc.
In my spare time, I play video games, listen to R&B music, write, draw, and watch a lot of movies and sitcoms.
Website: https://blackcriticsite.wordpress.com/ | Facebook: Gerard Waller
Nicole Eggebraaten, 26 | Illinois | Graduate of Waldorf College – Online Writing Center Specialist/Freelance Writer
I’m Nicole Eggebraaten, a simple woman in love with Chicago, my husband, and my cat. I work full time and squeeze writing in-between yoga, gaming, and Bible reading. I like to run and expect to crush the Chicago Marathon by age 30. You can always find me with a mug of Earl Grey tea. I often drink it while making my own hair creams and body oils.
I’ve loved reading since I was a little girl and knew I wanted to be a writer from a young age. I studied English and Creative Writing with a little Theatre and Music on the side; I enjoy story telling no matter the medium. I joined the Black&Gifted team to continue my love of story telling through pieces that highlight the amazing things happening in my community and black communities around the world. I want to add my voice to conversations on carefree black people and racial injustice alike. The crazier our world becomes, the more it is important for us to keep those conversations alive; this is what I am here to do.
Kem Smith, 40 | Missouri | High School English Teacher
I am a recovering radical independent. If there was a rule, I’d find a way to break it. I couldn’t stand the idea that my ancestors had been slaves and I wanted to fight ‘The Man’ every way I could. Unfortunatly, my revolutionary ways turned me into an every day statistic.
I had to overcome being a single mom, a college dropout, and a job hopper. Through my turbulent twenties, recovering thirties and now my forties, one thing I’ve held on to and loved has been BOOKS! I’ve always loved reading. It took me one Bachelor’s degree, two Masters degrees, nearly two decades of teaching to figure out I was a writer. I’ve been writing ever since. I am a self-published author, a poet and a painter. For work, I teach high school English. In the past, I ran a fitness business called Keep It Sexy Sistas Fitness. My new favorite hobby is traveling. I’ve been to over twenty-five states in the U.S. and seven countries abroad.
Although I am considerably older than the other contributors, I believe Black&Gifted is not only what we are as a people. Black&Gifted is who we are. It’s a universal message and I enjoy being a part of grassroots movements that uplift and celebrate people of color.
Kyra Donahoo, 20 | New York | Public Relations Major at St. John’s University
I am a limitless woman who has interests in the fashion and entertainment world but with a focus in public relations and writing. Throughout my college career, I have interned with senator’s, non-profit organizations, luxury shoe lines, casting directors, and doing freelance photography during my free time.
I joined Black&Gifted because I wanted to continue and spread my words and knowledge to my fellow brothers and sisters. Being able to showcase my work would also allow me to expand as an artist — ultimately making moves that would help me achieve my dream of becoming an editor of a magazine.
“Listen to my words and read me” — a phrase that I utilize in my life and creative work in order for people to get to know who I really am. My words serve a purpose of uplifting others and providing guidance and/or reassure to one’s life through commonalities of life experiences. I want my listeners to understand that my words are dear to me and are not constructed for just entertainment or buzz for myself.
The words I speak, the words I feel, the words that rain from me are sincere and from the heart — no embellishments or exaggerations, these words are me.
Instagram: srymae | Twitter: @srymae
Becky Watts, 23 | Arkansas | Graduate of John Brown University
Hey, I’m Becky! I am person who loves to read and write, when Youtube is not distracting me from my life. I’m lowkey becoming a makeup junkie because of Jackie Aina. I love Beyonce Giselle Knowles Carter and am very serious about my standing for her.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing from John Brown University. It was definitely surprising to me when I settled on pursuing an English degree. When I started college, I entered as a Biblical Studies major, then I considered Art, Business, and then for a brief second Psychology. I finally settled on English when a professor pointed out to me how well I could write. Before then, I wrote for my private entertainment and never considered it turning into a career until that professor opened my eyes to a new possibility.
Along with trying to start my writing career, I am working towards going to graduate school for an MS in Library Science. That’s right I want to be a librarian! I believe encouraging young people to read and learn about the world around them opens up a multitude of doors for them in life. If it wasn’t for my mother encouraging me to read and buying me a diversity of books, I would have never developed a love for writing. But, for right now I work as a substitute teacher who writes fictional stories at night.
I write for Black&Gifted because I believe it is important for us as black people, especially young black people, to embrace and support each other’s talents and gifts. Black&Gifted creates a space for us to do just that, but to also interact with our culture in a positive and uplifting way.
Dominic Boyd, 25 | South Carolina |Bachelors in English/Creative Writing
Alright, so let’s get this poppin! My name is Dominic, but most people call me Dom, Domi, Zad. Either-or will work perfectly fine with me. I’m an Aquarius (get with the winning team). I like long naps on the beach, spending my free time surrounded by open water, greenery, and tequila. I also like getting tattoos of the same thing but in different locations on the body. I wanna retire by 30 so I have 5 years to get this handled! All jokes aside (even though I was serious), I’m completely in love with being an Aquarius. We are truly one of a kind. We get a lot of flack for being “emotionless” but when you’re a creative, you don’t need to exude emotions unless it’s in your art. Also, I’m a huge “Avatar: Last Airbender” fan and truly believe I was meant to be an air bender/nomad. One day, young grasshopper.
I’d like to believe that I’ve been a writer since I was conceived and let the universe tell it, I have been. I’m one of those writers that dibble and dabble into everything; short stories, ratchet tv scripts, poems/songs, etc. Writing, music, and photography have always been passions of mine. There’s always a phone in hand with multiple writing, music, and photography apps using up more than the 16gb of space Apple used to allow in their iPhone’s (thank God for the 256gb now. Bless). My writing style is one that aims to connect to people on an emotional and spiritual level. I don’t write for just myself, I write for people to relate to. I write for the people that aren’t too fond of vocalizing how they feel, for the misunderstood, for the ones that have always felt like they have never had a voice.
I wanted to join Black&Gifted because I want to be apart of something that can help bring people together through writing, especially people of color. I do believe 110% that we are all here to benefit each other and to coexist in a way that doesn’t bring harm but love and happiness. Plus, I’m black and gifted and want to share these gifts with the world in hopes of inspiring others to just simply be themselves, unapologetically.