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TUV Editors



Exclusive Interview with Actor, Writer and Entrepreneur

DR. NAKIA GRAYSON “Caring for the Least of These”


He’s funny and taking social media by STORM

An Empowering Conversation with TUV Editor



Be part of TUV Magazine’s Next Issue MAY | JUNE 2020

Send all stories and articles to: info@tuvmag.com Advertising inquiries: ads@tuvmag.com Deadline for ALL ADS: April 15, 2020


Page 06 | Editor’s Letter Gwendolyn D. Clemons

Page 07 | Special Contributor Eddie Wiley

Page 8 | Relationship Corner Journee Littlejohn

Pages 15 | Entertainment Buwtye | Making Moves in Music


Page 16 | Spirituality Beth Trouy | I Choose You

Pages 18 | Health & Wellness Monika M. Pickett | The Blessings of Surviving A Stroke

Pages 19 | Community News Joia Erin Thornton | Making Moves

PAGE 21 | Community News Memphis Siblings Making Moves

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Page 23 | Community News Jonathan Ealy




10 Dred Carpenter

Actor, Writer, Entreprenuer

14 Gabe Lincoln

Social Media Sensation

20 Dr. Nakia Grayson Public Health Advocate


Tim Green

Making Moves in Education

a g a z i n





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Shawn M. Clemons Administration/ Fashion Director

Gregory Graphics Layout / Design

Eddie Wiley MSM | ATL Correspondent

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Project Manager

Chief Editor






Imposter Syndrome


by Eddie Wiley


can remember when there were days when I wanted to turn and walk away from my businesses but that would mean I gave up. Giving up is not an option when you’ve invested so much of your time and money on yourself! So, for the last five years I’ve betted on myself by investing in myself.


For the last 20 + years I’ve worked for the local government and by my calculation I’ve invested over 46,080 hours of my life into a system that was never created for me to thrive in. At what point and time do you “reclaim your time” and invest the same level of commitment into building your own? When you take a chance on you, you’re taking a chance on God because we were all created in God’s image and God is inside of us. Although you may not have a close relationship to God or always do the right things, God is still inside of you. The good that you see in you, that’s God. When you care about somebody, that’s God. When you feel sympathy for somebody, that’s God. When you help somebody, that’s God. Everybody on this earth has a piece of God in them. Everybody. The cool thing about God is he gave us all a gift and didn’t hide it from us to find. Many people reading this article will never execute the advice I just shared because they have too many toxic energy draining people in their lives. It’s important to know that making an investment in you means clearing yourself from these types

of relationships and connecting with mentors. Muhammad Ali once said “I’m the greatest but he never won a boxing title without his trainer Angelo Dundee. Michael Jordan arguably the G.O.A. T. never won a championship without Coach Phil Jackson. It’s important to have someone who can see in you what you can’t see, that can take you to a place within yourself that you can’t go by yourself. That’s the ultimate investment you can ever make in yourself. You have to refuse to accept the limitations placed on you by others! We live in a dominate culture that is designed to destroy your sense of self and belief in self. We have to stop living in false agreement with the notions of who “THEY” said you are. You get to decide if you are going to invest in living a life by design or continue to live a life by default. Your Move! On the Cover: Actor, model, screenwriter Dred Carpenter is our exclusive Cover Feature for The Empowerment Issue. Dred’s character “Miller” in the webseries “Between Women” catapulted her to stardom and she’s become a fan favorite. We caught up with Dred to find out what moves she’s in making in her career. In this issue we proudly feature individuals from around the U.S. who are “The Making Moves” in their respective fields to provide an example of what an investment in self looks like. Be Well Gwendolyn D. Clemons, MBA, MSM, Editor-in-Chief,


ave you ever questioned your success? Ever felt like even though you are “succeeding,” people will find out that you are a “fraud?” Have you ever felt like your success was based on luck, charm or some circumstance out of your control? Well you might be experiencing Imposter Syndrome. For years, I questioned my own success. I thought it was just luck that I got into grad school or that it was my charm that really landed me that gig. Imposter Syndrome is real and some of our favorite celebrities have actually admitted that they have experienced moments in their life where they felt like an imposter. People like Maya Angelou, Albert Einstein and Viola Davis have all admitted feelings of their success as being “not important” or “fraudulent.” Maya Angelou even said, “I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.”

So what is the Imposter Syndrome? Imposter Syndrome is the idea that you have only achieved your success due to chance/luck and not actually because of the talents or qualifications that you possess. Psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes first identified the syndrome in 1978. Thoughts like “I must not fail.” “I feel like a fake,” “It’s all down to luck” and “Success is no big deal” can be indicators that you’re experiencing Imposter Syndrome.

How Do you get Imposter Syndrome? Keep in mind that it is not restricted to highly skilled individuals. Imposter Syndrome can affect anyone and is not directly tied to depression, anxiety or self-esteem. It can affect underrepresented or disadvantaged groups like the LGBTQ community, Black folks, people with disabilities and others at a higher rate. How do you get Imposter Syndrome? Some researchers believe that it actually stems from the labels that our parents place on us. Labels such as “the smart one,” “the athletic one” or “the mean one” have been tied to causes of Imposter Syndrome. Psychologist Audrey Ervin argues, Imposter Syndrome can apply to anyone “who isn’t able to internalize and own their successes.” The syndrome can also come from a sense of belonging. When you’re the only female in a male-dominated industry, you might feel the sense of longing to fit in. This could also trigger a feeling of being an imposter. According to the International Journal of Behavioral Science, it is estimated that 70% of people have experienced Imposter Syndrome in their lifetime. Dr. Valerie Young categorizes Imposter Syndrome into five subgroups: Perfectionists, Experts, Natural Geniuses, Soloists and Supermen/ women. Each of these subgroups have

their own way of experiencing the Imposter Syndrome.

So what can you do to combat Imposter Syndrome? There are a few ways to get over that feeling of being a fraud/fake and being “found out” by your colleagues or friends. One way is to simply be kind to yourself. You can acknowledge the fact that you actually deserve to be in the place that you are. You must also reprogram your thoughts. It’s all in your thoughts. Dr. Ervin suggests asking yourself “does this thought help or hinder me?” Also, among the remedies is talking about your feelings. Sometimes you may have to seek professional help or speak openly with your friends/supervisor. Asking for feedback can actually offer better insight into the things that are working well in your life. Lastly, I’d suggest that you visualize a successful life. If you can think it, then you can be it. Remember that you deserve success. You deserve that seat at the table. You’re capable of achieving success. It’s easy to slip back into Imposter Syndrome but remember you should only make a moment of it and not a lifetime.




Motivation after Heartbreak:

T h e Road to Truly Heal in g

By Journee Littlejohn


ow many of us have loved so hard that you couldn’t fathom the thought of living life without the one you love? Many of us right? What if I told you that there is life after heartbreak, would you believe me? Well I am living proof that yes your heart will and can be mended, repaired, and restored! How? Well that’s the hard part, but I’m here to tell you that the road to truly healing requires first and foremost one word, “MOTIVATION!” According to Webster’s the definition of motivation is “the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.” Generally when our hearts are broken it leaves


us feeling unloved, unworthy, hurt, angry, lost and frustrated. How can we possibly be motivated by those feelings? We can’t because we are in such a state that it impairs us mentally, physically, and spiritually. The first step to healing is the willingness to heal, the moment I realized that my life became brighter. But what was my motivation behind this epiphany? One word, ME! I can remember it like yesterday the day my heart was shattered and left for dead. My love promised me the world but instead she made me constantly question my self-esteem and self-worth. For nine consecutive months it was hell to pay living with someone where there was

no communication, no remorse, just abusive pain! I must say I can’t believe I lived to tell this story. I did lived and today I get to share my story. I don’t want the focus of my message to be about the weeks, days, hours, and minutes I sat in that pain. I want my message to be about how I literally worked hard to cultivate the changes in my life to get better and live again! During my recovery I woke up daily dealing with the devastating challenge to get my body to connect with my brain. My spirit knew I couldn’t allow myself to stay in this state no matter how difficult it was. I had to begin the healing process because I

had my whole life ahead of me. I had There would be no more puff y eyes projects, business endeavors that I and tear stained faces gazing back at was invested in and most importantly me from my bathroom mirror. I begin my last two semesters of grad school. to apply sticky notes with inspirational These commitments could not sustain quotes from that same mirror that I themselves without me breathing life used to watch myself cry in! Day after into them as well as myself, I needed day I watched as the reflection of a to live! I needed to find some sort of Queen quietly began to appear. motivation to forge resilience and fight! So, I did just that! It began with Once my outward appearance had the smallest of tasks like prayer and changed my confidence began to meditation. I knew that if I reconnected increase and I began to see myself myself to a higher power I wouldn’t feel differently. As the days passed I got so defenseless towards my hurt. As I stronger and my hate turned into began to pray more, I began to open up love. I began to change my thought to the idea that peace could exist again processes, my perception on my life in my life and maybe just maybe love and my breakup read differently. It would too. Each day in my pain I would didn’t hurt as bad, my smile was wider, pray and ask God to not only heal me my stride longer, my passion for me but also heal the person who hurt me was returning. My heart compelled because I honestly believe that hurt people hurt people. Now some would ask why in the world you would pray “Pain makes you Stronger, for the person who caused you pain. Fear makes you Braver, I would answer by saying, praying a pray for those who have harmed Heartbreak makes you Wiser” you is a form of power. In order to be fully restored or at least on the path of restoration. Praying can become the ultimately means to guide you to FORGIVE them! Once you’ve forgiven me to delve deeper into my spirituality you open yourself up to the idea of as it has been ordained by God & my moving forward without the weight of ancestors. anger and bitterness. The next step was to forgive me for allowing myself The hardest part about recovering to be hurt (that was huge for me). I my spirituality was the idea of being achieved this by motivating myself able to do what had once easy for to not see myself in the light of the me, the ability to TRUST! Prior to my negative environment I had just been heartbreak trusting came easy for released from. But to see myself for me. My trust wasn’t solely in man the powerful being I was praying to because man has and will fail you. My become. trust rested in God and my ancestors. Although my life was built around As I began to work on myself, the first trust at times I felt let down by them step was addressing my physical because I didn’t get what or whom appearance (I had gained a lot of I wanted! Little did I know the all my weight through emotional eating) trails were tied up in the LESSONS I I elected to have gastric sleeve would be embarking on. I had lost my surgery, with that came a host of self- ability to trust and I blamed God and care rituals, a Queen must recharge. ancestors for allowing this to happen. Getting back to me! Getting back to Did they? Or did I? me meant doing whatever it took by any means necessary. I was forced I spent months in solitude where I to get up off the couch and begin the sat and replayed over and over the WORK! I remember a friend of mine hurt I endured. Then one day out of telling me after the breakup “Girl never nowhere a little voice from inside said let anyone especially her see you as “ENOUGH you’re killing yourself this anything but fabulous.” I immediately too shall pass!” I got up and put on got rid of the bathrobe, tattered hair, some gospel music and began taking fluff y slippers, from my daily wardrobe. back my life! From that day on I no

longer replayed the horrible images from my life scripts. God and my ancestors wanted me to instead focus on a new screenplay in my spirits. I had to focus on getting to the core of my childhood trauma and adult triggers. I needed to see that my relationship was toxic and there was no way I could save it. This forced me to take off my cape and make a parachute so that I could save myself. It was in those moments when I began to realize that they hadn’t let me down, they didn’t fail me, they were showing me all along I just didn’t listen! So they took matters into their own hands in order to save me but I had to do the work. A year later I am still going through my healing. I am not where I was a year ago, my heart and soul has been restored! I now have the strength to share my story and my inspiration to others. I want to empower other women to reach inside themselves -Drake to find their greatness, purpose, and power. Had it not been for God, my ancestors, family, friends, self-love and motivation I don’t know where my path would’ve led. I am truly grateful for my pain and the process! I hope you can use my testimony as the catalyst to begin to explore roads to your own healing. Just know that might mean paving a roadmap on your own. Do you believe you can do it? In closing I’ll leave you with some Words of Wisdom when faced with heartbreak: Pray, trust the process, believe in yourself, trust the solitude, practice daily self-care, and honor the God of your understanding and ancestors. Grab a journal, light a white candle in your quiet space, and brew some tea or light herbs. I recommend praying and reading Psalms 9:9, Psalms 23, Psalms 121: 1-2 for healing and motivation. I recommend writing and posting daily affirmations beginning with the phrase “I AM.”







Dred Carpenter is an actor, screenwriter, and owner of a hair care system designed for people with natural hair. She adopted the name “Dred” about 16 years ago during the early stages of her loc journey. A friend at the time always referred to her as “Dred” and the name just stuck. Dred currently resides in Atlanta, GA and credits her endless imagination and possibilities as a child to setting the foundation for her acting career.

Q: What roles or ventures are you currently involved with? A: I am currently acting in a role on

Steven Spielberg’s “AMAZING STORIES” which airs March 2020. This role granted me eligibility for membership into the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-Aftra). I have written five screenplays and the first entitled “Cycles Unbroken” is slated for production Summer of 2020. I am in the process of developing a natural hair-care line for people who wish to grow and maintain long healthy Locs. My hair-care line is set to be released in the Fall of 2020. I decided to start my own product line because people are always asking about my hair journey. There isn’t a day that goes by where I’m asked about how long did it take for my hair to reach its length and how do I keep it healthy.

Q: How has your Acting work contributed to the betterment of the community, particularly the LGBTQ+ Community? A: My love for acting grew in 2011 when I auditioned for a lead role in a web series called Between Women which ran from 2012-2017. This audition would ultimately change my life. I played the role of Miller Harris, a well-dressed, educated, business-person. My role on the show allowed me to hone in on my craft as an actor and build a solid following on

social media. The show itself sparked an anticipated wave among the LGBTQ community. I believe that my work as an actor has been an inspiration to the community in that we rarely get the opportunity to see black, gay, masculine identified women in film and television. It gives people who look like me hope. It reminds them that they can be what their heart desires to be without feeling bound by their sexuality or their appearance. When I’m unbound the feeling brings me an overall sense of relief. I’ve had people email me or stop me in public to thank me for motivating and inspiring them to chase their dreams with no fear. Between Women was airing during a time when gays and lesbians wanted to turn on the television and see people who looked like them and watch stories that related to their own stories. Myself, along with my co-stars, brought life to these stories and changed peoples lives forever. I can’t tell you how many times that I have been approached at dinner, in the mall, in the airport, at the gym etc. and told, “Your story saved my relationship” or “Your story saved my life” or “Because of you, I was able to come out of the closet” or “Because of you, I want to be an actor.” It’s the warmest feeling. In those moments, you know that you’ve contributed in a positive way. The entire production knew that we were doing something that had never been done before and that this small flicker would spread like wildfire and it did. It was the beginning of a movement that put myself and my co-stars on the radar. I had never experienced anything like it before. It gave me and the other fan favorites an opportunity to travel the country meeting LGBTQ promoters and people who loved the show and who were ultimately responsible for how wildly viral and successful it had become. My role gained the attention of other Filmmakers within the community and outside of the community which led to several awesome opportunities in front of the camera; Amazing Stories, We Need A Little Christmas, Standpoint, Shattered Serenity to name a few. Once I finally had the full acting experience as an adult, I didn’t want to do anything else. I consider it phenomenal to be able to leave reality, step into a whole new world as an entirely new person with the goal of bringing a story to life, and then return to your reality. It’s what I’d done since I was a kid, but now I have found a way to get paid to do what I love.

Q: What are some fun facts about you & favorite things to do?

A: I love making movies but when it

comes to watching them, I love historical and scientific documentaries, dramas, and any comedy that will make me laugh out loud. My favorite movies of all time are Boomerang, Malcom X, and Terms of Endearment which I would always watch with my mother before she passed away. Some of my favorite books include The Great Cosmic Mother, The Alchemist and Rule By Secrecy. I am currently reading--Living With Purpose and Sacred Woman My favorite place to be is near the Ocean. My favorite foods include Seafood, Caribbean food, Indian food and Southern Home-Cooked Meals. I don’t indulge in sweets very often, but when I do... Banana Pudding is my favorite I can’t say that I have a favorite genre of music. I like music that feels good. Music that speaks to my soul and makes me move, that makes me happy and nostalgic-- I love music that takes me back to different eras of my life sparking memories of where I was, what I was doing, what I was feeling ya know. Feelgood music! Follow Dred Carpenter on all social media outlets @dredcarpenter



This is only a brief summary of important information about BIKTARVY and does not replace talking to your healthcare provider about your condition and your treatment.




BIKTARVY may cause serious side effects, including:

BIKTARVY may cause serious side effects, including: } Those in the “Most Important Information About BIKTARVY” section. } Changes in your immune system. Your immune system may get stronger and begin to fight infections. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any new symptoms after you start taking BIKTARVY. } Kidney problems, including kidney failure. Your healthcare provider should do blood and urine tests to check your kidneys. If you develop new or worse kidney problems, they may tell you to stop taking BIKTARVY. } Too much lactic acid in your blood (lactic acidosis), which is a serious but rare medical emergency that can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get these symptoms: weakness or being more tired than usual, unusual muscle pain, being short of breath or fast breathing, stomach pain with nausea and vomiting, cold or blue hands and feet, feel dizzy or lightheaded, or a fast or abnormal heartbeat. } Severe liver problems, which in rare cases can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get these symptoms: skin or the white part of your eyes turns yellow, dark “tea-colored” urine, light-colored stools, loss of appetite for several days or longer, nausea, or stomach-area pain. } The most common side effects of BIKTARVY in clinical studies were diarrhea (6%), nausea (6%), and headache (5%).

} Worsening of Hepatitis B (HBV) infection. If you

have both HIV-1 and HBV, your HBV may suddenly get worse if you stop taking BIKTARVY. Do not stop taking BIKTARVY without first talking to your healthcare provider, as they will need to check your health regularly for several months.

ABOUT BIKTARVY BIKTARVY is a complete, 1-pill, once-a-day prescription medicine used to treat HIV-1 in adults. It can either be used in people who have never taken HIV-1 medicines before, or people who are replacing their current HIV-1 medicines and whose healthcare provider determines they meet certain requirements. BIKTARVY does not cure HIV-1 or AIDS. HIV-1 is the virus that causes AIDS. Do NOT take BIKTARVY if you also take a medicine that contains: } dofetilide } rifampin } any other medicines to treat HIV-1

BEFORE TAKING BIKTARVY Tell your healthcare provider if you: } Have or have had any kidney or liver problems,

These are not all the possible side effects of BIKTARVY. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any new symptoms while taking BIKTARVY.

including hepatitis infection. } Have any other health problems. } Are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if BIKTARVY can harm your unborn baby. Tell your healthcare provider if you become pregnant while taking BIKTARVY. } Are breastfeeding (nursing) or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed. HIV-1 can be passed to the baby in breast milk.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.FDA.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088. Your healthcare provider will need to do tests to monitor your health before and during treatment with BIKTARVY.


Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take:

Take BIKTARVY 1 time each day with or without food.

} Keep a list that includes all prescription and over-the-

counter medicines, antacids, laxatives, vitamins, and herbal supplements, and show it to your healthcare provider and pharmacist.

} This is only a brief summary of important information

} BIKTARVY and other medicines may affect each other.

Ask your healthcare provider and pharmacist about medicines that interact with BIKTARVY, and ask if it is safe to take BIKTARVY with all your other medicines.

Get HIV support by downloading a free app at


GET MORE INFORMATION about BIKTARVY. Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist to learn more.

} Go to BIKTARVY.com or call 1-800-GILEAD-5. } If you need help paying for your medicine,

visit BIKTARVY.com for program information.

BIKTARVY, the BIKTARVY Logo, DAILY CHARGE, the DAILY CHARGE Logo, KEEP PUSHING, LOVE WHAT’S INSIDE, GILEAD, and the GILEAD Logo are trademarks of Gilead Sciences, Inc., or its related companies. Version date: December 2018 © 2019 Gilead Sciences, Inc. All rights reserved. BVYC0102 01/19


Because HIV doesn’t change who you are. BIKTARVY® is a complete, 1-pill, once-a-day prescription medicine used to treat HIV-1 in certain adults. BIKTARVY does not cure HIV-1 or AIDS.

Ask your healthcare provider if BIKTARVY is right for you. To learn more, visit BIKTARVY.com.

Please see Important Facts about BIKTARVY, including important warnings, on the previous page and visit BIKTARVY.com.




eet Gabe Lincoln, born Gabriel Amadeo Ornelas. Gabe is vastly growing and becoming an Internet Sensation, Influencer, Comedian, and YouTuber. Gabe currently lives in Albany Georgia. Gabe has been seen across all social media platforms with his over-the-top personality. He is never shy to voice his opinion on how he feels and the world has embraced him for who he is. When asked who his biggest influences are, he replied, “I love Cardi B. I watched her grow into this big mega superstar. I’ve been a fan from day one when she only had 5,000 followers on Instagram. She is my motivation.� When asked what he wants the world to know about him, he replied, “I am a gay man who just wants to be known for making people laugh and inspire them to live life with no regrets. I want the world to know that I will never stop or give up my dreams of being an international entertainer. I know that if I stay consistent, my time will come.�


Gabe believes that if it wasn’t for his supporters keeping him uplifted he would have stopped a long time ago. Gabe thanks everyone for their support and love! The future is bright for Gabe and he believes that “It’s only up from here!� Contact Gabe at bookgabelincoln@gmail.com


uwtye is an American singer, composer, and songwriter from Memphis, TN by way of Columbia SC. Through the years she quickly learned that true success and dedication was earned and not given. Mistaken and always considered to be the fragile underdog due to her small stature, she swiftly commanded her presence through various forms of music. Buwtye became known as the little girl with a big voice. She continues to diligently invest in her passion for music through performances, traveling, and meeting like-minded individuals in her pursuit to become one of the greatest artists of all time. Her latest single is a rap record entitled, “Hell Naw�! It was released January 12, 2020. The motivation behind the single “Hell Naw� is to dismantle the belief that everyone’s goal is about always “leveling up�. She explains that “leveling up� is considered an equal position. However, she feels that she doesn’t have to settle for being equal to anyone, she can be greater! Buwtye said, “I don’t have to lie about what I have or where I’ve been. I can just be myself and show my truth without flexing. My life is not for show or to prove my accolades to anyone because my work will speak for itself.� Additionally, “Mystha Buwtye� was previously released January 12, 2018 and is set to be re-released on a date to be determined in 2020. You can find Buwtye music on all digital musical platforms. The pride of her work is her versatility as an artist by allowing her music crosses all genres. Her recent single is a Hip-Hop track, but “Mystha Buwtye� is listed as a R&B song.

President and Director of the chorus, and gospel choir, a member of the dance team, step team, church step team, mime team, and drum major of the band. She held the distinct honor of serving as Minister of Music in Kattarbach, Germany for 7 years. She has performed and entertained the United States Army Soldier Show, while touring various parts of the world to include but not limited to Paris, Korea, and Germany. She prides herself with a long history as a performer, and entertainer who reads music, plays various instruments, composes, writer her songs, and perform musically on all of my own songs.


Buwtye musical background is diverse through her formal training in the theater, music, and dance at Eau Claire High School of the Arts, located in Columbia, SC. She served as

15 15



By Beth Trouy


recently had the opportunity to snorkel in the Virgin Islands. For anyone who has never snorkeled, it is a magical journey into another world where one’s perspective changes dramatically simply by sinking a few inches beneath the water’s surface. Once you adapt to freely breathing underwater, your eyes adjust to the otherworldly life of color and beauty just inches from your mask. Rainbow fish, squid, and schools of color lazily swim past you while flora of purples, greens and oranges in shapes and formations as you’ve never seen before cover the landscape. Time is suspended and you are a child again in awe of the wonderment of exploration. It is exciting and yet mesmerizingly peaceful, serene, magical. The saltwater holds your body in buoyant suspension while you float effortlessly. Your body relaxes. It’s as if you’ve left the earth and have entered another universe, perhaps even heaven itself. Raise your mask just a few inches above the surface and the blue-gray world returns with a cold wind and muted colors, waves and human voices nearby. Such a stark contrast to the silent paradise


just inches below. A mere shifting of perspective transports you instantly from turmoil to serenity, from the mundane to the exotic. This month’s issue is all about empowerment and who motivates us to be better, do better and live more purposefully. Empowerment is defined as “the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights.” (Oxford Dictionary). This month, we were asked to consider selecting a person who represented empowerment in the community. My pick that feels most fitting for today? I choose you. I choose all of us. Empowerment grows in us when we choose to fill our minds and hearts with the desire to improve ourselves, our community and our world in spite of the obstacles. Surviving, and thriving in our world today can be a lot like snorkeling; we have to focus on the beautiful and magical people and things that fill us with hope and move us forward to a better place. The more we practice this skill, the better we get at owning

our future. Positive thinking, like snorkeling, takes practice to perfect. Sometimes we need someone to guide us in learning to relax our bodies, breathe in deeply and trust the process to carry us forward. Each of us has opportunity and influence to encourage hope and unity and love for each other. We can choose to tweet and post words of empowerment to lift each other up daily and float on the current of positivity. We can decide to focus our gaze on the things that raise our hearts, moods and voices to be better do better and live better. We can influence positive thinking by opting to see the goodness in our world and learn to breathe in deeply the air of hope. We can instill confidence by reminding each other of the qualities of love, truth and justice for all that we hold dear. Just a few inches and the dreary world passes away and there is the serenity of an underwater paradise. Look for the good, the uplifting and claim your path. Empower someone else to do likewise. Where we choose to focus our gaze….




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y legs gave way and I crumbled to the floor. I felt hopeless as I struggled to my knees. I could no longer hold it together. My muffled cries became sobs as I realized I was on the verge of a relapse. I thanked God for His Grace and Mercy. I asked Him for the strength and guidance to endure. Surely, He did not bring me this far to leave me. I finally surrendered to His will and acknowledged to myself that I have a disability. At that moment, a sense of calm came over me. At a young age, I refused to allow society, the church, family, or friends to label me ... to put me in a box. Coming out at the age of 13 was daunting. And yet, I prevailed. But this time was different. Surviving a stroke after the diagnosis of a rare brain disease for which there is no cure is life-changing. This is my new normal. For so long, I refused to accept that reality. I am a fighter ... I am survivor! This could not be my life. But it is. It saddens me to realize that I will never be the same person I was before my stroke. Perhaps, the blessing and the lesson is I’m not supposed to be the person I was before my stroke. I reminisce about dancing freely: the music moving through me, taking the day’s stress away. Due to the permanent nerve damage on one side of my body, all I can manage is a graceless two-step. I laugh to keep from crying when I refer to it as “the old lady” dance. Yet,

I am grateful to be able to do a two-step shuffle. I wipe my tears and realize how blessed I am to be alive. Some people don’t survive a stroke. I am ashamed as pity sets in. I will never again be able to do simple things. I cannot run at a natural pace. I am off-balance whenever I try but then God whispers, But you can walk. I feel defeated when I experience short-term memory loss, then God whispers, But you can write. I rise to my knees and heed God’s message. I focus on the things I can do versus what I cannot. Those are the gifts I will hone every second, every minute, every hour, step by step, and day by day. My life is completely different than what I thought it would be. And yet, God has restored everything I thought I lost with something greater. I can no longer function in my chosen career of sales. The stress of meeting deadlines and monetary goals could cause a relapse. And yet, I am a two-time published author, determined to become a bestselling author. I cannot run but I can walk and sit behind a microphone as I host a live LGBTQ radio show. I am living my authentic life … out loud and proud.


Moves in Community by Joia Erin Thornton

I grieved and healed from a devastating divorce. And yet, being a grandmother to my grandchildren brings me a level of joy I never imagined.

to building community support for TADP and Just City; Joia has built and sustains Just City’s Court Watch program and the newly launched Youth Justice Hub in Memphis. Joia serves as a bridge between TADP, The 8th Amendment Project and Just City in a joint effort of educating the community about the importance of the criminal legal system locally, statewide and nationally.

The Blessings of Surviving a


By Monika M. Pickett

Q: What is your current role at Just City-Memphis?

Q: How has your work contributed to the betterment of the community or others?


A: Joia leads an innovative collaboration between Just CityMemphis and Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (TADP) in Shelby County. In addition

A: Joia identifies and recruits local leaders, particularly within communities of color and advocacy groups aligned with TADP & Just City, while educating Memphians about the connections between the death penalty and the history of racial violence in Memphis. In 2019, Joia curated and hosted the Faith and Justice Experience in Memphis which brought 40 faith and community leaders together to break bread, share stories and learn about the cause and effects of the criminal legal system.

Just City was founded in 2015 to advance policies, programs, and solutions that strengthen the right to counsel and mitigate the damage caused to families and communities as a result of negative contact with the criminal legal system. Joia joined the Just City team in 2018 to strengthen the pursuit of a smaller, fairer, and more humane criminal justice system. Joia works with Just City’s executive director to advocate for reform that will eliminate wealthbased, race-based and other disparities within the criminal legal system.

Q: What Moves Are You Making? A: I am a City of Memphis, MPLOY Program Speaker (2019) NAACP, Legal Defense Fund, Capital Punishment Panelist (2019) AAUW Memphis Shero (2019) TN Representative - 8th Amendment Funding Workshop (2019)


| COMMUNITY NEWS Dr. Nikia Grayson is a public health advocate, anthropologist and nursemidwife who have devoted her life to serving and empowering people in underserved and marginalized communities. Nikia has more than 10 years’ experience working in public health, with her more recent work focusing on reproductive justice, birth justice, and midwifery. She is passionate about ensuring all persons have the rights and means to make informed decisions regarding their sexual and reproductive health. She is presently the Director of Perinatal Services at CHOICES Memphis Center for Reproductive Health, where she is working on opening the first birth center in the city.

"Caring for The Least of These"

Q: What’s your current occupation? A: Dr. Grayson is a family nurse midwife who is currently the Director of Perinatal Services at CHOICES. She is one of two black midwives in the city and she is the only black midwife who offers home births in the city. She also provides transinclusive care to 200 + transpersons in the Mid-South. Q: How has Dr. Grayson’s work contributed to the betterment of others in her community? A: Dr. Grayson is working hard to help reduce the barriers to access to high quality, non-judgmental care for those who are underserved, underinsured and uninsured. Presently she provides transinclusive care to over 200 persons in the Mid-South and provides prenatal/ 20

birth care and postpartum care to families in Shelby County. Her desire to become a nurse-midwife was fueled by the disproportionate number of black pregnant people and babies who were dying at higher rates compared to their white counterpart. She saw the pregnancy related deaths and infant mortality issues plaguing the black community as a community crisis that needed to be addressed immediately. She saw midwifery care as a possible solution to addressing the black maternal and infant mortality crisis in the South. She has worked hard to provide support, resources, education and midwifery care (which was missing in the community) to families in need. Dr. Grayson works daily to help families have healthy full term babies and good pregnancy and birth experiences. Nikia takes the time to listen and advocate for the people she cares for. She believes that their lives, lived experiences, and their families are important. She believes that they matter. And works hard to let them know they matter.

Memphis Siblings

Making Moves Jakiera Stewart 23, Jeremy Bowers 19, and Jerissa Bowers 17, began making major moves in the Memphis community when they became the youngest youth sexual health ambassadors for one of the local AIDS service organizations in Memphis, Partnership to End AIDS Status. Following in the footsteps of their mother local activist, ally, and community leader Dr. Orisha Bowers. Jerissa, the youngest of the siblings

Q: What moves is Dr. Grayson making in the health care field? A: Nikia is a trailblazer. She has made it her life’s work to address the sexual and reproductive needs of all persons in Mid-South. Presently she is working to tackle the black maternal health crisis in the south and to make pathways for more black and brown birth workers of color. She is working diligently to help open the first nonprofit comprehensive reproductive health care clinic in the country. This clinic will provide non-judgmental care and address all aspects of a person’s reproductive needs. Also this will be the first birth center in the city of Memphis. This center will allow pregnant people to have the option of having an out of hospital birth. Dr. Grayson is also working diligently to create a training center for midwives and doulas to help increase the number of birth workers in the south. Her work is helping to create a new model of care in the United States.


The oldest sibling, Jakiera, has many accolades to tilt her hat to starting with being honored by the National Civil Rights Museum with the Keeper of the Dream Award for Civic Engagement. Jakiera also curated a local weekend girls retreat funded by Disney for Change and National Association of Children where 18 girls ages 13-18 received a weekend of sexual, mental, physical, and spiritual health training from local and regional experts. Jakiera is now the Operations Administrative Assistant at a national transgender led organization where she is a key staff member. Jakiera is also currently a nursing school student at the University of Memphis.

Jeremy, second oldest sibling

follows behind serving for two years as the Vice President of the SisterReach Youth Ambassador program. Jeremy was a part of a game changing youth canvass and youth education campaign under the masterful leadership of internationally known Reproductive Justice Icon and leader Cherisse Scott and his very own sister Jakiera Stewart. Jeremy now is pursuing a career as a professional dancer at New Ballet Ensemble and School in Memphis. Jeremy recently danced a special dance at the Memphis Heritage Trail award ceremony in honor of the honorees. He is never far from his social justice roots and still volunteers for local advocacy groups in Memphis.

is a force to be reckoned with. Jerissa served as President of the SisterReach Youth Ambassadors also under the leadership of her sibling Jakiera and co-led a cohort of youth to the state capital in Nashville to speak to legislators about the importance of comprehensive sexual health education with her other sibling Jeremy. Concurrently, she represented the student body of Hollis F Price Early Middle College High School at Youth Storm the Hill to advocate for comprehensive sex ed. Jerissa is an active member of the Shelby County Mayor’s Youth Council going before county commissioners to advocate for issues impacting youth, a Juvenile Court Youth Court Attorney helping youth in juvenile justice to receive restorative justice, and most recently was awarded a grant from ETR for their youth innovation project for youth led projects that educate youth on HIV prevention. Jerissa will curate two youth events to provide peer education sessions. Jakiera and Jeremy will be a part of the faculty for these events. Jerissa will also be convening a group of youth at the 2020 TriState Pride Convention to have a listening session on sexual health led by youth. Jerissa currently attends Memphis Virtual School where she is working towards completion of her high school diploma. She aspires to go to culinary school at the University of Memphis. This sibling group has been changing the lives of youth for a number of years in an effort to ensure that their peers have access to educational tools and resources to help them make informed and sexually responsible choices.






im is a native Memphian from the Whitehaven/Westwood area that is committed to the hearts and minds of the youth in our city. Tim is passionate about seeing youth develop into successful, grounded adults. With this focus, all his endeavors have centered on mentoring young men and male educators of color. He is a proud graduate of Whitehaven High School. Afterwards, he obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from UT-Knoxville and a Masters’ degree in Education from Bethel University. He considers it his life’s calling to give back to the community that shaped his life.

TIM GREEN is Making Moves in the Nonprofit Sector! Q: How has your work contributed to the betterment of the community or others?

Q: What is your current occupation and or business? A: Tim serves as Director of Boys Programs for the Tarik Black Foundation, Memphis Impact Leader for Profound Gentlemen, and he is an education consultant. He also run two programs to support youth and educators around restorative justice and social emotional learning. One is The Dividend and the other is Memphis Restorative Justice Coalition.


A: Through my work, I have been able to talk with students, teachers, school admin, parents and community leaders about the state of education and the need for a commitment to be unified in the fight to strengthen our schools and communities they serve. Q: What are some of your recent accomplishments? A: I am a 2019 40 Under 40 Memphis Black Urban Elite Professionals Awardee, 2019 Profound Gentlemen Unity Award recipient, 2019 E.S.P.N. Academy Nurture Award recipient and 2019 Keynote Speaker at the 2019 Sport Tech International Summit in Tel Aviv, Israel.

MOVES in Advocacy

Jonathan M. Ealy is a proud native Memphian and graduate of LeMoyne-Owen College, majoring in Political Science. Jonathan recently served as Interim Executive Director of OUTMemphis a LGBTQ+ Center for the Mid-South (formerly known as the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center) where he is also Chairman of the Board of Directors. Jonathan is the first African American to hold both positions in the organization’s 31 year history. In October 2019, Jonathan married his longtime partner David and they, along with their three dogs Luke, Paige and Figaro live in the Raleigh area.

Q: What is your current occupation and or business? A: I am the Director of Special Events for Opera Memphis and Venue Director of The Clark Opera Memphis Center, the company’s 18,000 sq. ft. rehearsal and administrate offices headquartered in East Memphis. In positions he has held since 2009, Jonathan has brought in an estimated $2 Million in gross facility rental revenue for the nonprofit organization.

Q: How has your work contributed to the betterment of others? A: I truly love my hometown Memphis. I

advocate about Memphis wherever I go. I credit my experience with the many local programs and initiatives that helped shape my passion for diversity, inclusion and community action across artistic, social and political platforms. As Chairman of the Board of Directors, I have worked in conjunction with the OUTMemphis team to speak out on issues involving the LGBTQIA+ community, while also partnering with the Tennessee Equality Project in their Advancing Equality Days on the Hill to meet with legislators and discuss bills being presented during the legislative session. Additionally, I have participated annually in the Tennesseans for the Arts Advocacy Day on the Hill, advocating for the importance of retaining arts funding in the current structure in Tennessee, funding which benefits nonprofit organizations in 95 Tennessee counties, including Shelby County. I have participated on numerous panels sharing my experiences as a gay

African-American man navigating life in a still racially divided southern city in order to shed light on the issues plaguing our community.

Q: What kind of moves are you making? A: I am a graduate of the Leadership Memphis Fall 2016 FastTrack Program, which equips and empowers emerging, high-potential leaders with game changing tools and inspirational opportunities to help take Memphis to the next level. I was also a recipient of the 2016 inaugural Top 40 Under Forty Urban Elite Professionals Award, produced by Cynthia Daniels & Co, creator of Memphis Black Restaurant Week. I was nominated for the 2018 Visionary Award presented by Focus Magazine and the Focus Foundation, which honors LGBTQ + persons working to enhance the landscape of the Mid-South. I was a finalist for the 2018 Bridge Builder’s 30th Anniversary Alumni Award, sponsored by Bridges, Inc. I was named in 2018 to the Memphis Business Journal’s 40 Under Forty list. Additionally, I have served on the Shelby County Census 2020 Undercounted and Hard-to-Count Groups Subcommittee. In 2019, I was appointed by Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris to the Shelby County Mayor’s Young Professional Council. In September 2019, I was honored by Mid-South Pride by being named Grand Marshal of the 2019 Memphis PrideFest LGBTQ+ Festival and Parade. The festival reported the largest Pride parade on Beale Street in Memphis

history with over 30,000 attendees and participants. On October 11, 2019, National Coming Out Day, The Memphis Business Journal profiled Jonathan as one of their inaugural “The Business of Pride: Outstanding LGBTQ+ Leaders in Memphis” cover story. Jonathan M. Ealy was recognized as a member of the 2019 Connect Corporate Magazine’s “40 Under 40.” The honor highlights the top young professionals in the events industry. Connect Corporate is a national, B2B magazine that provides resources and ideas to professionals and planners in the meetings and events industry. Jonathan is a proud member of the Tau Iota Sigma chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. He was selected to represent the International Fraternity at the 2019 NAACP Leadership 500 Summit, an invite only think tank designed to assist the NAACP in deciding what initiatives the organization will mobilize behind that year. He is a volunteer for Room in the Inn, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, March of Dimes and Junior Achievement with his fraternity. Jonathan has been named an Inaugural 2020 LeMoyne-Owen College 40 under 40 Alumni NextGen National Influencer. Additionally, it has been announced that Jonathan will become an Ambassador of the College, serving as the face of their new NextGen National influencers Campaign, which hopes to recruit, retain and reconnect perspective and current students, and other young professional alumni to LeMoyne-Owen College.


Profile for The Unleashed Voice Magazine

The Unleashed Voice Magazine 2020 March/April Empowerment Issue  

The Sensational Actor, Writer, Entreprenuer Dred Carpenter graces the cover of The Empowerment Issue. We caught up with Dred to give her leg...

The Unleashed Voice Magazine 2020 March/April Empowerment Issue  

The Sensational Actor, Writer, Entreprenuer Dred Carpenter graces the cover of The Empowerment Issue. We caught up with Dred to give her leg...