Yeah I said it, now what? I was the portal that dopeness chose to enter this world and I ain’t ashamed to say so. Lol. No, but for real. Have you ever looked at your child and been like, “you’ve been here before,” or “if you’re this dope, then I must be like the supreme Goddess of dopeness because I actually grew you,” or “you’re going to be the most awesome adult ever”? I do it every day, with both of my girls. But my oldest, my first born, my Mango, she’s BY FAR, the most awesome person I’ve met… and that says a lot because I know a LOT of super awesome people! I mean, like famous and almost famous, and even local celebrity type people. But my daughter is one of my favorite people in the world to be around, hands down.
The funny thing is that this is the time when most mothers are wanting to strangle their teens. I invite mine into my room, we sit up and listen to music and write and talk for hours, she tells me almost everything and I am SO open with her, too. My momma told me recently that I was so lucky because by 15, she was ready to buy my headstone and dig me a hole. I was a mess. And I’ll admit it. Then, she did the worst thing a Southern mother can do to her child… she cursed me. Told me that Phoenix was gonna be the one to get her payback for her. Like, really momma? Dang. Lol. So, I’m just telling y’all right now, ten years from now, don’t be coming back over here looking for another “my teenager is dope” post. It’ll probably be more like, “5 ways to maintain your sanity when raising a diva who can’t even drive…” Lol. But I digress. Back to the one I got it right with the first time.
I know… I know, y’all probably think that I’m biased because she’s my daughter. Well, let me nip that in the bud. I’m gonna give you just the 3 MAIN reasons that my 15-year-old is dope and I bet you’ll be agreeing with me by the end of this post.
She’s an artist
Ok, let me clarify. I’m a poet/novelist/publisher/editor. I can do ANYTHING that involves words. But Mango… she can do that and then some. Like, she’s a writer/poet/photographer/videographer/editor/painter/graphics designer. Yes, she does all of those things. And does them all WELL. She writes better than I do, and I ain’t even jealous. I mean, we want our children to be better than us, right? She’s on my mixtape as a poet. She hosted the open mic at my Sowing Seeds event back in August featuring world-renown Poet Sunni Patterson, the only teen in a room full of adults and she kilt that shit! Yeah, I said kilt. Lol. She’s reclusive in real life but a powerhouse onstage, man… for real.
She’s a 9th Grader at Ramsay IB High School, and was voted VP of her school’s Creative Writing group. She wrote an essay to get them funding for their newsletter. She wrote a poem about me, comparing me to a flower in a vase whose nourishing water was her own tears. Yeah… that one there, gets me every time. She got her first poem published in the 8th Grade. (Thanks DISCO.) She’s writing her first novel.
I mean, I could go on and on with this one alone. But I’ll just share the song that we did together for my upcoming mixtape, also featuring my sister Poetic Puff, as evidence. Ya know, so you don’t think I’m making it all up. Lol.
Mind of Mango is a private exclusive, only being shared here. Enjoy! (Feel free to download.)
She fed the homeless for her birthday
I’ll forever remember this as one of the many moments that meant so much to me. My daughter came to me and told me that she wanted to feed the homeless people around her school (5 Points South in Birmingham) for her birthday. Now, most teenagers want their learner’s permit. They want a part-time job. They want gifts, but she wanted to feed others. She was going to use her allowance to do it, but, come on… what mother wouldn’t want to make this wish come true for her child?
Well, it snowed on her birthday, January 7th. That was dope because she loves the snow and y’all know we barely get that mess here in Alabama. But the next weekend, we were up at 7 in the morning. Well, they were, I was asleep but they came and got me and were dressed and excited. By 9am, we had bought Wal-Mart out of all of their toothbrush travel packs, bought a couple cases of water, juice, oranges, boxes of chips, granola, gloves and skulleys. So… a Facebook post, that got the help of several of my dear friends and fans of both myself and my baby girl, and a couple hundred dollars later, we were ready to feed the homeless.
Phoenix was the official hand sanitizer distributor, happy to help her big sister make her dream come true. My dear friends AJ and Rob (soon-to-be Mrs. And Mr. Danner II) and their children came up from Prattville with more water (and fussed me out for not asking them to help more). Poet Brint Story and the beautiful Jasmine Enriquez were also there to help distribute the food and supplies. It was a MONUMENTAL day, man. Like, worth every dollar, second, and smile. Check out the slideshow below. Photos courtesy of Mr. Danner.
Still not convinced of her dopeness yet??? No worries, there’s more. Lol.
She pitched and landed her own teen open mic to give herself and her peers a judgment free zone of expression
Mango is an artist, beyond the shadow of a doubt. But, as you can see, she’s also a very caring person. She approached me last year, after she hosted the open mic at my event, and said that she wanted to create one of her own for the teens in the area. She said she feels like they have nowhere that they can express themselves and their voices be heard. Of course, as always, I was all for it. She wanted to start in the Spring and have it at Avondale Park.
Well, the way the Universe is set-up, things happened a little differently than planned. In November, I spoke to the students at Putnam Middle School at the invitation of my dear poet friend, Mojo Mama. There, I met Liz Hughey, who owns DISCO (Desert Island Supply Company). I thanked her for having me, and told her that they’d published my daughter’s first poem. She asked who my daughter was. I told her Mango Miner. She nodded, smiled, and said, “that makes sense.” That, by far, is one of the most flattering compliments that I’ve received to date. Lol. I told her about Mango’s desire to start a teen open mic and she was all ears.
The next morning, I received an email offering the venue to Dira for her open mic. I just want you to read that part again… I’ll wait.
Ok, now I’ll proceed. Now, because I’m a teacher and mother first, I didn’t take it upon myself to do anything else but thank Mrs. Liz and tell Mango about the opportunity. Then, I emailed Mango a pitch that I’d done in the past and she emulated it and… her first teen open mic is on Friday, February 17, 2017. I did nothing. She did it all. On her own, with a little coaching from her entrepreneur mom. Even now, the meetings, the planning, the FB Fan Page, the promotions. All her. She’s fifteen. Hell, when I was 15, I was still trying to figure out why boys were so stupid. (Still haven’t figured that one out by the way. So, anyone with the answer, please feel free to share.)
But it gets better. (I feel like I’m on an infomercial… “But wait, there’s more.” Lol.)
Soooo, she wanted to call it “Mic Check.” But there’s already a popular event here by that name hosted by an awesome married couple, G.I. Magus and Jacqueline Jones. So, on the pitch, by the name of the event, I told her to put “TBD” and explained to her that it meant To Be Determined. Well, she chose to keep that name because she said that, as teens maturing into adults, their lives, their destinies, their everything is still being determined. Pretty cool, huh? (I will take a moment to say that she was heartbroken that “Mic Check” was taken, but she respected the reason that she couldn’t use it. She’s a better bad news taker than most adults I know. Lolbvs.)
I reached out to a few friends and they agreed to sponsor the event through the provision of chaperones every 1st and 3rd Friday night. She was excited about the sponsorships, but livid with me for bringing adults into the mix. See, Mango wants her event to be “by teens for teens.” Of course, all of my adult friends want to come show support, but she ain’t having it. Like, she even told me I could just drop her off. *insert hurt face with pearls clutched here*
Nahhhh, not for real, I don’t even wear pearls, but I was kinda hurt. But then, she explained it to me… she said, and I quote, “Umi, people, especially teens who are unsure of themselves, are less likely to open up and be true to themselves when they are in the presence of someone that they feel is superior to them.” Well… what could I say after that but, “ok, what time do I need to drop you off”?
So, as any proud mom would do, I’m blogging and posting all over social media about my daughter’s first ever artistic endeavor. That’s she’s doing with little to no assistance from grown-ups. Well, her dad did design the flyer… and I coached her… a little… and adults are providing the venue, but you know what the hell I’m trying to say. Sheesh!
See, I have an issue with bragging on myself, but I have no qualms whatsoever when it comes to bragging on my children. You know why? Because they are my Magnum Opuses. They are the greatest achievements I will ever have in my life and, books and performances and accolades aside… THEY are my legacy.
Now, are you ready to admit my teenager is doper than yours yet? If not, ‘tis cool. I wouldn’t expect a good parent like you to sell your baby short like that anyway. But… you’ve gotta admit, she is REALLY dope. Grown-ups wanna be her… Hell, I wanna be her! I WAS her one year for Halloween, actually. I told her that on my birthday, I could be anyone or anything I wanted to be (yes, I’m a spook baby), but I chose to be her. That did wonders on her self-esteem, man. She even styled me to make sure I got her swag right… do people still say swag? I can’t even keep up with the slanguage nowadays.
But I will say that when it comes to dope teens doing dope things, I truly believe I have the dopest of the dope.