Black Girlhood in America Volume 1 by Evey Sekajipo

We learned so much from Dr. Ruth Nicole Brown at our Black Girlhood in America event this past month. We are in the process of deciding when we will host Volume II of the discussion; next time with a local advocate of Black girls. Stay tuned and let us know what you’d like us to focus on next. We have so much to learn together.

It's Cleanda "Ce Ce"! by Evey Sekajipo

Hi, my name is, Cleanda "Cece" Dieuveille. I was born in Broward County. I came to Tampa in 2008 (if I remember right). I agreed to serve in Mama Africana in 2009 having no idea I was saying 'yes' to such an amazing, life-changing program. I also had no idea the fight I would be walking into, but I wouldn't take any of it back. 

I love what I do in Mama Africana; It's challenging in more than one way, yet I endured. I believe in MA:  the mission, the sisterhood bond with the mentors, and the girls we impact (and have impacted).  

With permission of the directors, if and when God sends me to somewhere else, I'll take MA with me. 

We offer sisterhood highlighted by a commitment and relationship with Christ. 

 

Kaila's Reflections: My Plans Moving Forward by Evey Sekajipo

I have learned a lot about black history, and this internship has made me far more aware of the issues that we face. In the future, I plan to apply this information by being more aware of the injustices that black people face, and I have been seeing them more on social media now, most recently with the black Parkland students that are concerned about the increased police presence and the possibility of guns in classrooms. I will share these observations with those around me so that they are more aware of these issues.

Kaila's Reflections: Documentaries and Articles by Evey Sekajipo

During my internship, I have also had the privilege of reading a myriad of articles and documentaries about being black. One of the articles that I read was called Girlhood Interrupted, which focused on the adultification of black girls. In the article, people were surveyed on what they thought black girls (or white girls) were knowledgeable about concerning adult topics, and more people that black girls knew these things. The authors tied these assumptions that black girls are older than they are with how they are treated in the criminal justice system and schools. Punishment of black girls for misdemeanors outweighs that of white girls, at times for the same behaviors. The expectation that black girls know better, and just “act out” to be troublesome, has made it hard for them to reach their goals academically, as they are being removed from schools and punished. One of the documentaries that I watched was Parts 1 and 2 of the Eyes on My Prize documentary series. In the documentary, they talk about various events in black history, specifically the murder of Emmett Till, the Little Rock Nine, the Montgomery bus boycotts, and the story of James Meredith and his enrollment to Ole Miss (University of Mississippi). I learned about the murder of Emmett Till in college, but I had never heard of the story of James Meredith and Ole Miss. I think it was very brave of him to go to the school and decide that getting his education at the school he believed would best serve him and that it was worth been sneered at and mocked, and eventually, due to his perseverance, he was admitted to the school. The same can be said of the Little Rock Nine, especially of Elizabeth Eckerd, who walked to the school by herself amidst the jeers of the mob of white people surrounding her. Meredith’s story epitomizes one of the values that Mama Africana holds dear: that education can open a lot of doors. By blocking access to education as Governor Ross Barnett and Governor Orville Faubus did, they debilitated the black children’s opportunity not only make a life for themselves, but to acquire knowledge, and know their rights. The amount of political strain that these children had to endure just to go to school is something that has changed our history for the rest of time, and I am grateful for their bravery and those who stood behind them in their quest for an education.

Kaila's Reflections: GradNation and AVID at Blake High by Evey Sekajipo

Ah, GradNation, where do I start? It was awesome! The event was dedicated to discussing how Tampa plans to reach a high school graduation rate of 90% by 2020. Seeing those kids take charge of their educational destinies, and for them to be as passionate as they are to make that possible for as many other students as possible was a wonderful thing. I attended the Mentoring Matters group and the Hillsborough Excite! group, where couple mentors and mentees talked about their experiences and the impact that mentoring has had and can have on students, as well as the different things that can be done to help students be all they can be. There was a collaboration between students and administration and a general sense of “we’re all in this together” throughout the program that was great to see. I could see these students being leaders in their fields of expertise and schools. It is important for students to be involved in the formation of educational reform, and that was what was most powerful to me. I thought it was just administration talking about their plan to raise the graduation rates. But leaving it to the students and standing behind them in support is a great strategy. I was also was given the opportunity to shadow Ms. Willis-Barnett, an AVID teacher at Blake High School. It was amazing seeing her work with the students and be so invested in their success. She equipped them with all the tools they needed to succeed and helped them break down the barriers to success, even when they were their barrier. She cares for them as though they are her children, and it was great shadowing her.

Kaila's Reflections: Digging Into My Roots by Evey Sekajipo

In addition to Johari, I have had a couple of other unique experiences during my time at Mama Africana. I have visited the Ybor Museum and learned about the history of Ybor in its Latino, African-American, Jewish, and other interesting roots. I even learned that Cuban sandwiches are the state sandwich! Going to the Robert W. Saunders Library was also a cool experience, seeing all the books about African American history, and the fact that there is an area of African American literature was really fascinating to see. I think it shows the importance in representation, even so much as having a book that is written by a black person, with or about characters that are also black, can be empowering for black youth. Seeing characters that look like them and have gone through what they have gone through, as well as the success that they now have, can be inspiring.  

Kaila's Reflections: My Time At Lineage by Evey Sekajipo

I attended a Lineage Bible study on March 9, and it was pretty relaxed. The girls were talking and laughing and having a good time, and I appreciate them welcoming me into their group for the night. Shaniece spoke about the origin of sin in the garden, and we watched a video where a woman told the story from in a “Spoken Word” kind of way while an artist painted the scene, which was an exciting and engaging way to tell the story. There was also a time for the girls to have prayer and self-reflection.

Kaila's Reflections: My Johari Experience by Evey Sekajipo

My name is Kaila, and I have been an intern at Mama Africana for the past couple of months. It has been an enlightening and educational experience. Working with the girls in Johari has been eye-opening, and though it was a struggle at times, I have learned a thing or two about myself in the process, and it is an experience that I will not soon forget. One memory I have of working with the girls was when I showed them the video of a girl with natural hair potentially being suspended for wearing her natural hair. I was pleased to see their rightful indignation, even before the video had concluded, about the fact that someone would ban a girl for the hair on her head, which they deemed distracting. In addition to natural hair, we talked about culture, conflict resolution, and other relevant topics, as well as just casually having conversations about what was going on in their lives. We have also made slime in the past, which was messy, but a good time overall! Tuesday, I went and talked to the girls about conflict resolutions and how we can healthily de-escalate situations. We took deep breaths as practice and talked about positive and negative ways to handle a situation where someone says something you do not like. The staff at Kimbell Elementary were always so accommodating and were ready to help me in any way they could, and I’m grateful for their patience and readiness to assist me, especially Ms. Farmer, the school counselor.

Brave Lineage Girls Take On Camp Cristina by Evey Sekajipo

The experience of the day was more important than looking cute. The promise of deeper sisterhood took priority over fears. The trust that mentors, YMCA guides, and God would take full care of them allowed full freedom to enjoy the experience. We are sure lessons of the day will carry on through life. Our day at Camp Christina will be one of those days forever etched in our hearts.

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It's Alyssa! by Evey Sekajipo

Each year, I am reminded of the love Jesus has for us as Black girls. It has been beautiful to witness my little sisters walk in their worth as Black girls and as children of God. Mama Africana brings light to the Black girls and their families in the Tampa Bay area.

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It's Shaniece by Evey Sekajipo

The past seven years spent with MA have been nothing short of amazing. It is an absolute pleasure to witness the unfolding God does in our girls’ and mentors’ lives as we walk together through the years. Mama Africana has allowed me to live out Jeremiah 29:7, seeking the peace and prosperity of the city to which He has brought me. As their lives are enriched, mine is also.

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Celebrating Labreia by Evey Sekajipo

Mama Africana would not be at the place it is today if it weren’t for her relentless commitment. I celebrate her leadership and the legacy she is building for the youth of Tampa, beyond Mama Africana. She is a matriarch figure sent from Jesus to mother those who are broken and challenge those who are doubtful

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Meet Jessica by Evey Sekajipo

Hi, Mama Africana Supporters!


I’m Jessica. I’m 26. I grew up South Florida, Hollywood to be specific, spent six years at an awesome school called the University of Florida (go Gators!),  and graduated in 2015 with a Master’s in Landscape Architecture. God was gracious enough to bless me with a job in my field here in this lovely city [Tampa], so I moved just two months after graduation. I got involved with Mama Africana not long after, and the rest is history! In the last two years, I’ve loved getting to know the girls and mentors, sharing meals and laughter, experiencing new things together, and growing in sisterhood and confidence in our identity as black women.This year I’m co-leading Ebridge, our program for middle school girls. So far it’s a small, but intimate group. Our girls are open and excited, full of personality and big dreams! Join me in praying that they would feel loved and honored in our time together, free to be just kids, to share their worries and fears, and be inspired to love themselves as God created them to be as well as those around them. 

Our MSW Intern from USF by Evey Sekajipo

Hello everyone, my name is Nelly Hyppolite. I will be interning at Mama Africana for the duration of my masters, God willing. I am currently a student at the University of South Florida earning my Masters of Social Work. I am of Haitian descent. I lived in Haiti until the age of fourteen. I have lived in the United States ever since. As you can probably guess, because I lived in Haiti for so long I did learn to speak French, Creole, and English. I moved to Tampa two years ago from Palm Bay, Florida where I earned my AA degree. In addition to going to school there, I used to be the Vice President of my youth and also a Sunday school teacher for elementary school kids. I spent a lot of time working with youth and I would have to say they are my passion.

As Vice President, I alongside our President planned many different events that could get youths to participate in the church. One of my favorites was our annual Dance-O-Rama. We created this event to get youths from not just our church but also churches around our city, to come together for one night of dancing, singing and praising. It also allowed us to raise money for a summer annual trips. As a Sunday school teacher, I had a great time teaching the younger generation about God and getting them to also teach others about God. You may be wondering how we got them to teach others. Well, after they learned in class we would remind them that the word of God is not just for them and those they see at church. The following Sunday they would have to come back telling us about the person they talked to about the Gospel that week and how it felt to talk to them about it. Of course, our little kiddies need rewards for the great work they do. We set up a point system, where on the Sunday before Christmas, Easter and back to school, we would give a treasure box full of candy and toys to the boy and girl with the highest points.

Unfortunately, I have not been as active in church as much as I used to be and I hope to be able to do so once again. Working in the church has helped me realize how much I care for the new generation. They are after all our future, so I believe we should provide them with the best guidance we can. It will one day be up to them if we will have a better and brighter future. I am excited to meet and work with you all. I hope that we get the opportunity to learn a lot from each other,

 

Stay blessed

 

Nelly Hyppolite