Last In Line: A Slide From Obama to Trump

  Read Last In Line, a thought provoking novel that tells of a young man’s accounts during President Barack Obama’s Inauguration. 

From “Preface”


An Inaugural Air: The Slide from Obama to Trump



Jamal Mtshali’s Last in Line: An American Destiny Deferred (African American Images, 2016) examines U.S. public policy’s role in reproducing racial inequality in America’s justice, education, health care, and economic systems. With Donald Trump’s inauguration, these structures are certain to be reinforced. Although anchored in data and research, Last in Line also seizes narrative to underscore the magnitude of racial disparity in America and the prevalence of the biases which drive it. This excerpt details then-18-year-old Mtshali’s attendance at Barack Obama’s first inauguration and his pensive reflection on the implications of that moment. It contrasts starkly with the ominous air surrounding Trump’s inauguration, an unequivocal confirmation of the doubt which compelled his writing of Last in Line.


I exited a cozy station and made my way through joint-stiffening, glacial treatment uncharacteristic of Maryland’s temperance. I marched Washington’s streets in throngs reminiscent of Roman legions, warming my hands with circles of merriment, singing and dancing an unprecedented episode of American communion. Ours was a 21st century Great March, not comprised of Americans calling for freedom but Americans heralding the freedom’s arrival.


As I walked the streets and lawns of Capitol Hill, I thought of my ancestors and their bondage beneath Old Glory. President Lincoln’s first inauguration was their auspice, the sign of a future in which their chains would be cast off and melted into material with which a new, free America would be cast. Paralyzing chills came not from January’s pricks and pierces, but the vision that my ancestors may have regarded Abraham Lincoln the way I on this day regarded Barack Obama.


A silhouette rose from the east; rays shone amid the multitudes along the Western front. “Not in my lifetime.” I couldn’t help recalling the words I, born a score and seven years following Freedom Summer, often spoke with a tone of practical resignation. My ancestors’ words came into my hands a truism and dissipated in inaugural air a platitude. A hurried gust brushed my 18-year-old face, bypassing it to seize and escort the falsehood elsewhere. It was persona non grata in presence of the revered utterance, “God bless the United States of America.”


A chuckle froze. It turned me. “Man—racism is finished. It is dead.” He gazed for seconds, a heavy grin complementing eyes radiating limitless optimism. He turned toward the projector in injected stiffness, freeze frame belying motion picture. I tried to mirror his effervescent smirk, but found paralysis—a pensive discomfort unbefitting, perhaps even insulting of, this moment.


For the rest of the afternoon as the world celebrated Barack Obama’s ascent to the Oval Office, I mulled that stranger’s words. Friends and family, some who witnessed the height of the Civil Rights Movement, marveled at images of the president and first lady greeting the nation. I could not marvel, for I could not help chewing that late twentysomething’s verse. It seemed to fly in the face of the dispiriting elements of American scripture I had known. Like the Book of James Byrd. Its ink dried when I was seven years old. What was that—solitary confinement? An outlying emblem of hatred long since banished from America’s heart? Given the experiences of my family members, my friends—even myself—I was reluctant to accept his prophecy. It seemed unfulfilled—his belief that race was anywhere near the finish line. I heard praises of victory but no buzzer flatlining us from scorched Earth to Eden’s divinity.


I entertained that he was perhaps right. Perhaps I’d glorified myself in some malcontent archetype, covering my eyes and ears as strange, partisan fruit of petulance. This was not James Byrd’s day—this was Barack Obama’s day. Reformation was upon us. This was America’s dawn, the day which would heal the sufferings of the multitudes—every James Byrd. America rejoiced in a new Pontifex Maximus—a man with whom I shared not only blackness but first-generation African descent—yet all I could do was groan. America saluted a black president hoisted by a variegated will, entertaining an era free of the sit-ins, bus boycotts, and freedom rides that convened about an operating table excising cancers threatening our Constitution with a threadbare fate. Many died for our sins, nailed to fiery crosses, mocked by unholy masses, blood-sacrificed unto Sodom’s devils. They rose from the dead in schools, neighborhoods, and colleges convoked in Christ’s name. The day of reckoning portended in the prophecy of resurrection dawned. I blasphemed. My wanton thoughts were libel, spilling blood upon consecrated soil.


As I walked Washington’s streets on inauguration day, disparity accosted me. Its profile was black—and in the neighborhood of a palace where, because of the discriminate acquiescence of mortgage lenders, a black man and his family would soon reside. Middle-aged black men idling on porches, frozen by January, arrested me. Children held me captive; I recoiled at clones made in my image a foot, one hundred pounds, and ten years prior taking baby steps that, with socks, shoes, and bootstraps, would be giant leaps. Young men bearing resemblance to the then-me mean-mugged—their cruel contortions perhaps originating from some intoxicant peddled by a kingpin on a far-away planet. Perhaps not so far.


Truth frisked; I had no right to resist. “These people”—my people— were not stuff of inanimate will, feral sentiment, and Petri dishes. Laziness, violence, pathology—measurements of the dark visage America struck and neglected—stared not with concrete savagery, but a graveled, dispossessed affect. Where men of titles and tailors saw feral children, I saw human sorrow. That sorrow harked to a familiar face—one of hard work, humility, and hope. I looked into those eyes, dark as my own, and saw the sorrow I, as a child, once saw slip from the eyes of my grandfather, a man born and reared in rural Georgia. It was a sorrow somewhat assuaged by his migration to Buffalo, New York, an exodus affording him, his family, and many black Southerners of the Great Migration some semblance of spirit. But no dam could contain such falls. I wondered if, on this day, the souls of black folk would at last be free.


On this day, Americans autopsied sorrow. We tested its vital signs. We placed our frozen fingers over its face, feeling no fumes. We grasped steel; its caged, rocking ribbing ceased. We declared it deceased. On the day of this great coronation, we designated ourselves licensed coroners; our degree of qualification became apparent as we declared racism’s death after determining its proper resting place. We dared to dream. Dream we can. But the dream is cruel fantasy. In this dream, there is no justice ruling against minorities and on behalf of injustice. In this dream, there is no euthanasia failing black organs, harvested both from poverty’s casualties and Jack and Jill card-carriers. In this dream, there is no birthing room denying admission to two black infants for every one white failing to thrive. In this dream, there is no executive shredding African American opportunity, shouting black credentials to double doors ex officio. In this dream, none of these figments permeate into present. Wrapping embalms King’s body from substance seeping to spoil the slumber deferring America’s awakening.

I entered a cozy station. Frostbite yielded to a sweltering wave fostering equilibrium. Its sheltering did not consummate with bodily homeostasis, but with consumption of the sacrament it bore. Spirit’s nourishment conceived Last in Line; it is sacrament for a greater body. I believed then and believe now, at the end of his presidency, what all Americans knew on that day—that President Obama’s election is both a symbol of change and a representation of our country’s potential for greatness. Where I, along with many Americans, diverge is in the belief that his election is far from a sign that America has salvaged its damaged soul, crediting its constitutional “master promissory note.” American masses have certified Barack Obama’s election a sign of long-awaited heaven on Earth. In doing so, these denominations perpetuate the strangely pernicious idea that racism is no more—and that to speak otherwise is to assume the dark mantle of the victim. On January 20, 2009, while American congregations, young and old, black and white, rejoiced in a dream, spirit commanded me to desert.


  Adapted from Jamal Mtshali’s Last in Line: An American Destiny Deferred, published by African American Images and available on Amazon. For more on the author, visit Follow Jamal on Twitter at @jtmtshali.

The Evolution of a Songtress: Stacye Branche’

 Evolution in life is usually thought of as a gradual process in which something changes in its final form. This describes Songtress and author Stacye Branche’s third disc, The Evolution of Living in Truth.

Branche started her musical career as a young child singing in school. Branche later received a recording contract right out of high school.

“I had a friend who worked at a record label and brought them (producers) to hear me,” Brance says.

She later wrote songs that received submissions to the soundtracks of such films The Brothers, Biker Boys, Blue Moon and several others as well.

Capitalizing on her silky soprano, three octaves range, this Los Angeles native channels her Alternative Soul for her music that is a blend of rhthym and blues, pop and Jazz. Life experiences have helped shaped the voice behind her 2001 album, I Believe, and the 2004 follow-up For The Man I Love. 

Branche who is a popular blogger became inspired to write books after a few hopeful requests from her fans. She has penned three books entitled, It’s All In How You Look At It(thoughts and questions about life. )

 Relationships: and the things we don’t talk about and Its All In How You Look at it(thoughts and questions about love and relationships). Which are stories to help us have better relationships with others.

We must first learn to love ourselves if we hope to have relationships with others. ” 

Branche offers some needful advice to those looking to get into the music industry.

There is no one way to get in the industry, Branche says. “You just have to create your best work, whether it’s through music or writing books. Do your best work and in time you’ll be guided to the right people or someone will notice you.”

With a vocal style borne throughh study of the emotional nuances of Minnie Ripperton, Dinah Washington and Ella Fitzgerald, Branche has combined that knowledge with the influence and inflections of her work with Stevie Wonder, Herb Alpert and The Emotions to bring her distinctive style full circle.

In essence, she has found her “truth”.

“This album embodies the time I’ve spent growing as a person, as a writer and now producer,” Branche says.

“The tracks are a kaledioscope offering my fans a true sense of myself, my evolution.”

The Evolution to Living in Truth,” the third disc from Stacye Branché is available for purchase at and for download at iTunes <; . 

Marva King, Owns The Stage

  Singing, and acting comes easy to this theatre veteran. 

Marva King is an extradioary talent most known for her starring role in the 75 plus million dollar-grossing DVD, “Diary of a Mad Black Woman”.

 In Diary, King plays the spurned, attractive, feisty and vengeful housewife Helen. King has far more to her stellar resume than just Diary. She is heard on albums by Phil Collins, Tupac Shakur, Prince, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Jimmy Cliff, Chaka Khan, and Lionel Richie, just to name a few. She co-wrote the Whispers’ single, “Innocent”, which debuted at #4 on the Billboard Hot Singles Chart. “Innocent” sold over 1 Million copies world wide. She has performed live with artists like Lenny Kravitz, Seal, and Will-I-Am, and has toured with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Prince, and The Isley Brothers, according to her accomplished bio. 

Young Urban Voices Magazine, has a chance to catch up with King and see how things are going with her in the entertainment sector. 


How did you get started in the entertainment business? 

Marva King: Both of my parents were singers. My mom was a gospel and classical singer and pianist. My dad was a gospel and secular singer. I always knew that I would be in entertainment. By age 18 I moved from Flint Michigan to Los Angeles to pursue my dream career in the entertainment industry. I was fortunate to land my first job with Stevie Wonder as a back-up singer in Wonder Love.

YUV: What motivated you to audition for the Tyler Perry, “Diary of a Mad Black Woman?”

MK: Actually I didn’t audition. I was blessed with the role that was introduced to me by an associate by the nickname of “Tanky”. I credit him for being the one that connected me to Tyler and his investors/show promoters.

YUV: How was that experience staring as the lead in the stage play, “My Husband’s Woman?” 

MK: Well, we are in the process of working on the filming production of the show as I type. 😉

YUV: When did you start getting involved in music? 

MK: I’ve been in music from the perspective of being a performer since age 8.

YUV: What is your proudest achievement in your career? 

MK: Sustainability. One, the fact that I can still work with my health and strength along with vocal skills is a true Blessing. Two, learning to produce music tracks, and three, learning the business structural side of the music industry.

YUV: What is next in your entertainment career journey? 

MK: More music, television and the launch of my culinary career.

YUV: What is your advice for anyone who wants to break into the entertainment industry? 

MK: Sharpen your recognizable skills and learn the business of the industry you choose to pursue. 

YUV: What is the hardest obstacle you’ve faced as an actress in this business? 

MK: Choosing between the love and devotion of music and acting.

YUV: Did you know you always wanted to be in the entertainment industry? 

Like did you work in other professions before this one? 

MK: I knew and verbalized that I would be in the entertainment industry by the age of 10.

YUV: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

MK: I am very excited about the diverse role that I will portray in My Husband’s Woman. A true opportunity to exhibit skill. 

YUV: Do you have a way we can follow you online? 

MK: Facebook/Marva.king.90, Twitter Marvakang, Instagram, MarvaQueenking. 

Andrea Walker Creates Noise In Publishing

and. walkerAndrea Lashon Walker has earned a Master of Science degree in Entertainment Business from Full Sail University, and a creative writing background specializing in Arts & Entertainment fiction writing, interviewing, script writing, and film production. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Media Arts with a focus in Radio/TV/Film, with a minor in History from Clark Atlanta University. Andrea has over 10 years of experience working in social service positions to compliment her constant involvement in community service.  Andrea debuted as a playwright when her project, “To Tell the truth” was selected in the 2011 NAACP theatre festival. She has written and worked on several independent shorts and feature films including winner of the 2014 film, Son Shine which won as the San Francisco festival selection and also for the best actor award in the Underground film festival.

Young Urban Voices Magazine chats with Walker about the books she’s written and her upcoming projects.

Young Urban Voices Magazine: How did your brand Create Noise come about?

Andrea Walker: The create noise brand was started because I wanted to bring diversity to entertainment and use this brand to allow young adults to illustrate their talents in all genres of the arts. In music, miming, drawing, journaling, through dance, music and performing arts. We are working to bring the arts back to public schools and bring diversity to entertainment.

I wanted to encourage young people to read and to also make it fun. I am the oldest of three, raised by a single mother and I felt I didn’t see a lot of positive images that utilize people of color in their material. I created a company that had a strong goal to encourage and motivate diverse characters and tackle social issues at the same time.

YUV: What made you start writing children’s books?

AW: I write books for everyone but I have a special interest in writing for children because they are so interesting and so loving and their minds inspire me. While raising my babies I realized how creative I had to become regarding how I educate them, how I read to them and the energy I have when I work with them and that developed my love for writing for children even more.

mama who is jesus book

YUV: What inspired the story, “Mama, Who’s Jesus?”

AW: The first project, “Mom, who is Jesus?” was inspired by my first-born son Justin. He was intrigued by the lessons that were instructed in children’s church during bible study. I found so much entertainment in the questions that he asked that I really wanted to share them.

YUV: Can you tell us about the new book coming to publication next year?

AW: The new book coming to publication is called, “Never too young to dream” and this book is for a much older audience. This is the story of a young girl named Jordan who comes from a middle class household but they lose everything and they are forced to live in the housing projects during her senior year of high school. Jordan is very talented but she is not aware of her true value. Jordan can draw and she takes all the chaos in the world and she sketches it. She allows fear to limit her gifts from being shared. As Jordan deals with the social aspects of her situation she also finds the nature of self-confidence and faith as she aims for the next journey in her future.

YUV: Briefly, explain your previous projects, “To Tell The Truth,” and “Son Shine.”

AW: To Tell the Truth is a drama and it is also my first play that I have ever written. It was selected for the NAACP theatre play festival and it was produced on stage at the LA theatre in downtown Los Angeles. This production led to being offered an opportunity for me to participate in the Robey theatre playwriting workshop and I was also selected to receive the Robey theatre Scholarship.

To tell the truth is about a nurse practitioner, Doris who is very good at her job but things take a big turn when she gets a little too personal as she cares for one of her clients.

The project Son Shine is a short film written by a friend Katrelle Kindred a USC graduate student who wrote and directed the film for her graduate thesis. This is a dated film about the 1992 riots in Los Angeles in a story that is told through the eyes of a 12 year-old child. I was the script supervisor and apart of the production of the project.

YUV: Where do you see yourself in the next ten or fifteen years?

AW: In the next ten or fifteen years I see my company being a major competitor in the literary world. My goal is o use Create Noise as a tool to allow others to use their voice by way of visual and the performing arts, with theatre arts play productions and 4-5 book series published that cater to children and young adults.

YUV: Do you feel there is a big emphasis on child literacy being held in America?

AW: There is not enough emphasis on child literacy being held in America. There are certain cultural norms such as literacy that plague African Americans far more than any other group in America. This has added to a structured system of despotism. There has been a recent breakdown in education. This system is referred to as “being in compliance,” which canceled reading intervention for a class called ELD which is equivalent to ESL classes for second language learners. Along with elective courses these necessary classes were eliminated and speech and drama were among them.

ELD is a sheltered English class that allows 140 minutes of English instead of 50 minutes so they have more time to practice reading and writing. The majority of these students are natives of the U.S. which should put them at an equal status to second language English learners but there are no programs to recognize these students. Although this new program is being afforded necessary and continued attention there has been no discussion of any particular consideration or subversive activity towards participants who meet the requirements of being in need of remedial reading resources. We now have a new curriculum that is known as “core curriculum” which targets public schools and is set to cater to the students who are in a great need of nurturing and the attention necessary to guide them to the next step in their lives. The gift of literacy is a great issue and must be tackled to broaden a broken education system.


YUV: Have you ever considered being a teacher?

AW: I have considered being a teacher and working with teens. I feel this group is often misunderstood and they don’t get sufficient life skills, business preparation and career readiness and goal setting tools to prepare them to be as great as they can be. I would like to teach business ethics and leadership courses to students ages 15 and up.

YUV: What other projects are you working on?

AW: Other projects include: A book titled, “Love, Dad” is about a father name Tim Stewart and this story is a collection of letters between him and his daughter. He is imprisoned and the distance between them forces him to look closer at himself as well as attempt to connect with his daughter who he has left behind. This story is about dealing with deep family wounds and exploring the unbreakable love between a little girl and her father.

I am also working on a feature film, “The Denise Berry story” about a Los Angeles woman who was driving and she took the time to flag down the police and inform them that she was being followed. Once this happened the man following her shot her as she provided a distraction for her 12 year-old son to get away. This is a true story but this film will allow you to see a glimpse in the life of this single mother and whom she was prior to this horrific incident that caused her to perish too soon.

Here’s a link for her vigil after the event:

YUV: Where can people reach you or your books?

AW: People can purchase the book on Amazon, or at They may also reach me online: -the site will be up by December 10th. I have the following social media links:

Instagram: createnoise1

Twitter: createnoise1

Goodreads: Andrea L Walker

Facebook. /Andrea-Walker-225465787465953/?ref=hl


essynce moore

Essynce Moore, Is A Teen Business Mogul On The Rise

essynce coutureEssynce Moore started designing clothes at the tender age of 6 with just for fun doodles in her school binder and notepads. Her passion was and still is, to find her own style and to share her creative UPSCALE clothing ideas and styles with youth around the world. Essynce is a “TWEEN” that has turned her passion into a business for 2013, with the launch of her official clothing line branded Essynce Couture, LLC with the motto “a child’s passion for fashion.” Essynce Couture also has a natural body product line for children, tweens, and teens labeled “Wynk” by Essynce Couture.

Essynce is an entrepreneur, children’s stylist, child’s fashion designer, author, actress, “local” celebrity, motivational speaker, and fashionista that brings a positive vibe to her peers and others. She’s been in numerous fashion shows, pageants, and karate tournaments. Essynce launched her first book 6th Grade Middle School Chronicles and will be in the movie King of Newark in 2015. In 2014 she has SHOWCASED at both NY Fashion Weeks and Atlanta Kids Fashion Week while also ripping the runway. In addition, in 2014 she was interviewed and featured on NBC (Channel 4 News), Jeff Foxx of WBLS FM, BuzzFeed, Yahoo, Verizon Fios Channel 1 News, NBC Channel 4 News, she was awarded “2014 Young Emerging Leader” by Alpha Kappa Alpha, she’s been featured in the 2013 TIME for Kids Magazine, Honored 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year by the Vashti School for Future Leaders, she’s been seen on the Uncle Majic Commercial (BET, VH1, Channel 11, etc), HBO (Bored to Death), and has involved herself with a host of other events and projects. In 2015 she has now launched her Essynce Couture, LLC Spa and Boutique EXCLUSIVELY for Children, Tweens, and Teens for the youth to come and be pampered, attend workshops, be styled by Essynce personally and so much more.

Essynce is also a member of the New York Youth Chamber of Commerce (NYYCC).  This young “phenomenon” is BUZZING and she can’t wait to see children wearing her Essynce Couture brand all around the world.

YUV had a moment to catch up with the new business mogul on the rise and this is what she said.


Young Urban Voices: Tell me in your words what is the “Essynce Couture” brand?


Essynce Moore: The Essynce Couture brand is everything associated with Essynce Couture, such as Essynce Couture publishing, university, LLC, and finally the Essynce Couture Spa and Boutique.


YUV: How did you get started in the business world at such a young age?

EM: I would have to say that my mom always included me in what she did at work was the start to me being brought into the world of business.


YUV: Who is your biggest inspiration?


EM: My absolute biggest inspiration is my mom. She’s the person who’s always been there to support me and what I do.


YUV: What inspired you to create the Essynce Couture clothing line?

EM: My love of fashion inspired me to create my clothing line, Essynce Couture.



YUV: How did the Essynce Couture, LLC Spa and Boutique get started?


EM: The Essynce Couture LLC Spa and Boutique started when my mother and I finally decided to open up a place in which all of my Essynce Couture products and services could be of use.


YUV: Can you tell us about your book, “6th Grade Middle School Chronicles,” published through your own division, Essynce Couture Publishing?


EM: My book 6th Grade Middle School Chronicles is about my first year in middle school and my 6th grade experiences. I wrote the book when I was 11 and it was inspired by the crazy events that occurred throughout the school year.


YUV: Are there any future publications in the works?


EM: Yes, the sequel to my first book, 6th Grade Middle School Chronicles is currently in the making… 7th Grade Middle School Chronicles.


YUV: How was appearing at NY Fashion Week?


EM: Appearing at NY Fashion Week was definitely an inspiring and memorable experience.

YUV: Do you make time to sit back and be a kid?


EM: I feel that it is very important as a kid for me to sit back and make time for me to be one. Therefore, I make occasional plans with my friends consisting of movie nights, ice-skating, and simply regular days at the park.


YUV: What are your goals for your business ventures within the the next five to ten years?


EM: Five to ten years from now I see my business, Essynce Couture going global and being a name that is familiar to society.


YUV: Have you decided on a college to attend?


EM: A particular college I have wanted to go to since I was little would have to be the performing arts university, Juilliard.


YUV: Where can people find your clothing line?


EM: My clothing line can be found on my website


YUV: How can your fans reach you?


EM: My fans can reach me through my multiple social media accounts, essyncecouturellc, and also my website. They can join me on my “ask Essynce” segment that I do monthly.


YUV: How are you handling success at such a young age?


EM: I would have to say that I am handling success pretty well at my age, it’s a part of my dream coming true.


YUV: What advice would you give to other aspiring teen entrepreneurs who would like to do the same thing?


EM: My advice to other aspiring teen entrepreneurs would have to be that your age is just a number and it isn’t something that should stop you from pursuing your dreams.


YUV: How did you win the role in the film,”King of Newark”?


EM: Like any other actor or actress, I landed my role in King of Newark by auditioning.


YUV: How does education play a role in your brand?


EM: Education allows my brand to break down the steps in becoming an entrepreneur; Essynce Couture educates kids and teens about education.


YUV: What is your ultimate goal in life?


EM: I would have to say my ultimate goal in life is to make all my dreams come true and support everyone who supported me while doing so. Oh yeah, also to inspire other children.


YUV: If you don’t mind sharing, how old are you?


EM: I am 13 years of age.


YUV: How do you handle “haters”?


EM: I handle haters by simply ignoring them, haters to me are irrelevant and I pretend as if my haters don’t even exist.





rosa veleno

Rosa Veleno, Is Hip Hop’s Hottest Newcomer

RV_epk_295 (1)Rosa Veleno, will soon become a household name who will be a force to be reckoned with. A Detroit, girl with a hip hop sound, but she’s much more than that. A model, actress, and even a Navy Veteran, Veleno is certainly one to watch out for in the hip hop scene. Veleno chats with Young Urban Voices Magazine to dish the news about her new project and YUV has all the dirt on what she said.


Young Urban Voices: What is your story told through your words?


RV: I am an American recording artist from Detroit Michigan who overcame grave obstacles and continually separates myself from statistical “norms”.


YUV: What is your passion?


RV: Music—entertainment period—is a big part of what makes me, me! I find comfort in humor and melody! Being able to express my feelings and authentically connect with others keeps me existent!


YUV: When did you start doing music?


RV: I was very shy as a kid, my mom use to cut the radio down to try and catch me singing! I started as an adolescent, the earliest recording I have of myself, is at about 11 years old rapping on a track in my big brother’s group.


YUV: When will your album be available?


RV: I don’t have a release date as of yet but I look forward to narrowing that down soon. We are definitely shooting for the first quarter of the year.


YUV: What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to deal with in life?


RV: Facing my fears of taking risks and deciding not to accept circumstance! There have been times in my life where I’ve copped out and believed I was incapable, constantly looking back to see how far I’ve gone instead of forward—towards the future. When I finally mustered up the courage to take a chance, I saw progression. Like making the decision to serve in the Armed Forces.


YUV: How did joining the Navy help create your musical sound?


RV: Well, the Navy shipped me off to my first tour in Naples, Italy! Initially, it was a huge culture shock to go from convenience being arms length, to appreciating time, new food, and different social norms. The music! Now? I love it all! I was exposed to House, Techno, Pop, and Hip Hop from a different perspective! Italians literally knew all the words to Kanye West’s music but didn’t speak a lick of English! Not to mention, a competition I won allowed me to understand how to target my audience, no matter who you are—from an Admiral to a soldier’s grandmother.


YUV: Rosa Veleno, how’d you come up with the name?


RV: It is actually Italian! I’ve gone through quite a bit of names over the years! After dropping Sheena Sheen, I wanted to choose something that had sugar and spice. I came up with Pink Venom! It worked for a while, but as I looked at marketability and the fact that Nikki Minaj surfaced with “pink” everything, I decided to Google Translate! I was taking Italian at the time, and asked my teacher about the literal translation and Rosa Veleno was born!


YUV: What is your ULTIMATE goal in life?


RV: Happiness! I realize that sounds a bit unconventional but its true! I’ve spent a lot of time trying to beat the odds and have come to the “cliché” conclusion that no amount of money sustains true joy! I want that for my family and myself.


YUV: Where do you see yourself in ten years?


RV: A flourishing career that filters outside of music into endorsement deals, licensing, acting gigs, etc. I’ll take a few Grammys, some millions, a kid, and a husband since we talking! Ha!


YUV: How do you handle “haters”?


RV: “Got a lot of haters but most of them really fans. Bet I put them in a room, they sing my lyrics like a band”! I love haters, they are also apart of my fan base! Work!


YUV: How can we learn more about you and your music?


RV: Please stay tuned and follow me on all of my social media outlets. Instagram, Twitter, Sound Cloud: @rosaveleno Facebook: @IamPinkVenom Coming Soon:


Thanks again for taking the time to chat with me Janae. I really appreciate you!! <3 RV

Misty Copeland: An Unlikely Ballerina


On June 30, 2015, Misty Copeland made history by becoming the first African American woman to be appointed principal dancer by the American Ballet Theatre Company.

Misty didn’t start dancing until she was 13 years-old, which for ballet is considered a late start, by taking a free ballet class at a local Boys and Girls Club. However, some have titled her a ‘prodigy’ in the ballet sense because she was already winning dancing awards and gaining recognition by age 15. She then went on to accept a couple full scholarships for some intensive programs, one of which was for ABT. Among 150 dancers, Misty was one of 6 girls chosen to join ABT’s Studio Company. She then went on to be chosen as soloist for Swan Lake with the company and was promoted to principal dancer after that.

There are many things that set Misty apart from your ‘average’ ballerina. For one, her late start to ballet and her ability to quickly learn the techniques. Another is what some have said to be her ‘unusually muscular and curvy’ body (for a ballerina). Also that she is African American and a ballerina, two descriptions that don’t find themselves paired too often. In a company of 80 dancers, Misty was the only African American ballerina at ABT for the first 10 years of her career. If this was not enough, Misty Copeland has also been named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine this year. Misty’s ad with Under Armour showcases her amazing dancing and has more than 8 million views on YouTube. She has danced along side Prince while he performed and accompanied a couple of his tours. She also has co-authored a children’s book, ‘Firebird’ and written a 2014 memoir, ‘Life in Motion; An Unlikely Ballerina’, which has been optioned for a movie.

Misty throws herself into every opportunity that comes her way, blurring the lines of pop-culture which can be: short lived spurts of what is the newest and hottest trends, with a classic art form such as ballet: described by Misty herself in a PBS interview; ‘(the ballet world), I don’t think is an art form that’s quick to change or to adjust and evolve’.

Misty’s next prospect is making her Broadway debut as Ivy Smith in ‘On the Town’, which includes, not only dancing but, singing as well. She hopes this new challenge will further her in her ballet career.

Her Twitter page is freckled with congratulations after the news broke about her becoming principal dancer. With tweets from Star Jones, Taye Diggs, pics of the Under Armour team delivering a truck literally FULL of flowers to her, and even tweets from Oprah!

She doesn’t let any of this go to her head however. When interviewed on CBS following the announcement of becoming principal dancer in a July 6th interview, Misty humbly stated, ‘…I’m just standing on the shoulders of so many who have set this path for me, and they may not be seen or recognized or have been given an opportunity to have a voice but I’m here representing all of those dancers…’

An interviewer then asked, ‘You know what I love about your story is, you really owned this moment. You didn’t just say I’m a ballerina who happens to be an African American. You understood the symbolism of the moment. What do you want people to see when they see you?’ to which Misty replied, ‘I wanted to set an example for what the future of dance holds. I think ABT is setting that standard now for classical ballet. You can dream big. It doesn’t matter what you look like, where you come from, what your background is…that’s the example I want to set and what I want to leave behind.’ She went on to say, ‘I think this is just the start. It doesn’t mean that the work is going to end. It doesn’t mean it’s going to get easier for the next generation…that it’s going to be a walk in the park. But I think it’s going to open up those doors for people….’

She added to this thought in another interview with E! stating that ‘Barrack Obama being president of the United States doesn’t mean racism has disappeared’. She explains how she and all of us have more work to do.

‘Being a black ballerina, definitely, is everything. My life and my path as a ballerina would be completely different if I wasn’t an African American woman. It has provided more obstacles, I think, than I knew when I discovered ballet at 13 years-old but at the same time it has made me want to persevere even more and I think it has made me a stronger person because of it. There’s so many more obstacles to overcome, but I absolutely love classical ballet’.



All retrieved on July 13, 2015:

Interview with Model and Actress Kenise Taylor


By Jessica Daniel

Young Urban Voices interviews talented model and actress Kenise Taylor for the Women in Business issue. Taylor has been modeling since she was a kid and now she is an actress, dancer, singer and songwriter working on launching her own business. Taylor was also featured in the Jet Magazine beauty of the week issue on April 2nd.

YUV: Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Kenise Taylor: Hi, I’m Kenise Taylor, I grew up in Oxford NC but currently reside in Greensboro NC. I am a model turned actress, Gogo dancer, singer and songwriter. I love to be entertained but not as much as I love entertaining. I am a nurturing Virgo who lives, loves and laughs hard. I live for fun times and really enjoy the skin I am in!

YUV: How long have you been in the modeling and acting industry?

Kenise Taylor: I have modeled since [I was] a kid. I would do local fashion and talent shows. I was mainly into cheerleading and sports growing up even though everyone I would meet and my family members would always say “you should be a model.”

YUV: What led you to go into modeling?

Kenise Taylor: I started taking modeling more serious after I had my son in 2009. I worked extra hard to get my body back in shape and with in 3 months I was being published and featured online. I have never stopped the grind since then.


YUV: Who has been your biggest inspiration?

Kenise Taylor: My baby boy, well big boy now lol. He has been so supportive and his little smile lights my heart and makes me want to be better and show him he can be whoever he wants to be, but it takes hard work and dedication. I can’t see myself telling him all those things but failing to reach for my own dreams in the process. I have to show him and mommy loves him so much.

YUV: What do you like to do in your free time?

Kenise Taylor: I am in the process of launching my very own business which takes a lot of my free time, but when I do manage, I spend time with my son, friends and family. I also find comfort in the studio writing songs and making music.

YUV: What has been your biggest challenge you had to face and how did you overcome it?

Kenise Taylor: My biggest challenge is time management. Having a career in entertainment is fun and rewarding but it limits the amount of time you have to spend with loved ones which can be very difficult. I do my best to keep those close to me informed and involved in what I have going on, that way I can work and get that much needed family bonding time as well.


YUV: What advice would you give young women who aspire to live out their dreams?

Kenise Taylor: Never give up. You only get one life, so why not spend it doing what you love! Success is not a destination it is a long, hard, fun, sad, happy, rewarding, disappointing, love, hate, journey but so is everyday life. If you work hard enough you will see results! Educate yourself every chance you get and stay up on game. And remember you decide what legacy you will leave behind when you are gone! Also sometimes opportunities will not come to you… You may have to create them.

For more info on Kenise Taylor follow her on Instagram @kenisesway or on Facebook Kenise Taylor to stay up to date on the movies she will be featured in, the HBO Movie “Proverbs” and Horror Movie “Lake House.”

Tavis Smiley Talks

tavis smileySmiley is the presenter and creative force behind America I AM: The African American Imprint. This unprecedented traveling museum exhibition, which debuted in January 2009, will tour the country for four years, celebrating the extraordinary impact of African American contributions to our nation and the world, as told through rare artifacts, memorabilia and multimedia.

Smiley’s most gratifying accomplishments are rooted in his passion to inspire the next generation of leaders. The Tavis Smiley Foundation, a nonprofit organization, was established to provide leadership training and development for youth. Since its inception, more than 6,000 young people have participated in the foundation’s Youth to Leaders training workshops and conferences.

His communications company, The Smiley Group, Inc., is dedicated to supporting human rights and related empowerment issues and serves as the holding company for various enterprises encompassing broadcast and print media, lectures, symposiums and the Internet.

Young Urban Voices had a wonderful opportunity to speak with Mr. Smiley about his career and recent events going on in America.

Young Urban Voices: What lead you to write the book, “My Journey with Maya?”

My-Journey-With-Maya-658x1024Tavis Smiley : When she passed last year, May 2014, I started seriously thinking about the role she played in my life. We had a 28 years we had a wonderful friendship. So when she passed I thought I would write this book to share with readers some of the efforts I’ve learned from her, that might be important and instructive to pass on to other people. That was the essential reason for writing the book, to celebrate her and share some of these lessons.

YUV: Is “My Journey with Maya” becoming a stage play?

TS: Yes, I’m glad you asked. They just announced it about a few weeks ago before the book came out. So we are on our way to Broadway. “We are Broadway bound!” The stage play will be directed by a wonderful director named Kenny Leon. He won a Tony award last year along with Denzel Washington for the play, “A Raisin in the Sun,” He’s worked with Denzel Washington, Roger McDonald, and Phylicia Rashad. We’ve announced the book will be turned into a stage play and we are on our way to Broadway.

YUV:  What do you think about the police brutality going on in America?

TS: It’s a tragedy and a moral disgrace. But this is what happens when you do not have the respect for the dignity of all people. {In reference to the Walter Scott murder—if you watch that video tape the cop shot him eight times in the back. He falls, he die.} He’s no threat to you. But you shoot him in the back so many times. He’s face down dead, you walk up to him and handcuff him. Why are you handcuffing a dead body? Once you’ve already shot him in the back. It just goes again to show there is a lack of respect for certain human beings in our country. I think often times black men are used as target practice. I was disgusted people are hurting and there is a way to deal with police brutality and it’s not to just give all of these cops a pass. These are isolated incidents. The question is how many isolated incidents are going to happen. Too often black men lives just don’t matter.

YUV: What lead you to write the book with Cornell West? “The Rich and the Rest of Us?”

TS: It was simple, it was a way to discuss one of the biggest issues facing our country; poverty. We believe poverty is threatening our very democracy. This country cannot afford to let poverty grow. It’s expanding. It’s not going to pass and we’ve got to do something about the raise of poverty. Income equality, economic immobility. We hope that this book can be serve as a research guide because something can and will be done about it.