Young thugs standing on the corner are mostly “wanna be’s,” a little black girl is ashamed of her beauty, and both young and old people are living without a purpose. The world we live in needs saving. The people need a “Shero”. I am that “Shero”. Saving the world is the source of my art. Saving lives through the arts is my mission.
My journey as “Shero” begins with a tragedy. It is the night of November 18, 2004. It is raining, thundering, and raging at me like a mad man. I was returning home from an afterschool program at Westcott elementary school and got on the 8A Halsted bus like any other night. On the other side of the street was Gatling’s Funeral home. I did not know then that I would have a life and death connection to it. I did not know then that the funeral home could have been the last place my family and friends saw my body. As I crossed the street towards Gatling’s, a car hit me. I never made it across that street, but I made it to a hospital where doctors wondered whether I would live or not. Before I got there, I flew up in the air, came back down, hit the hood of the car, and sailed from 101st to 103rd street.
There I was in the middle of the street, lifeless. The right side of my brain was severely damaged, my left collarbone was fractured, my lungs had collapsed, my spleen was cracked, both my Pelvis and tailbone were shattered, and my right leg was broken. The coma lasted for two months. The doctors told my mother I was going to die, and then they came back a second time and told her I was going to live, but I would be paralyzed from the neck down. My mother told them if I was going to be a vegetable then pull the plug, so they came back a third time and said I was going to be just fine. While all this was going on, which my life went back and forth between the darkness and the light, I was becoming an artist on the inside.
After I woke up from the coma, I started on my journey to recovery. I recovered physically in 4 months. Doctors were amazed. For months, I was not able to talk; however, I could understand some but not able to clench onto what people were saying fully. I still have these problems today but not as bad as before. The only way I knew how to express myself was through poetry. “As I look down into the waters of the earth, and I see a reflection of myself now. I think about what changes I could make to myself.” (“As I Look”, by Safiya James). My poetry questioned identity, my identity, and pain, but over time poetry was not enough to express my creativity. I became involved in modeling, acting, and performance art. Poetry and art saved my life. It gave me a new understanding of life. Life is art, and art is life. When I see people not living to their fullest, it saddens me. I believe if everyone was whole, then this world would be a better place, but I understand it is hard for people to be true to themselves when society tells them that they do not matter. Society sends the message to females that they are not beautiful if they do not wear a size two or have light skin, and society tells males they are worthless if they do not have money. I am here to change this mentality through my art. For example, In my poem “Womanhood” I wrote, “Identity is loss in this world of assimilation. If I dare differ from the most high who rule over my outer circle, negative thoughts, words, or actions will try to conquer my poor soul. Cruel remarks already challenged and dug me to the ground, but that did not stop this Wo-man from crossing over into womanhood. These encounters failed to bury me, but instead made me stronger than before.” In my poetry, I encourage people to be the best they can.
My primary skill as an artist is writing and performance art. I spent my whole life in traditional classrooms, which were not for me. I tried traditional college but it did not work. I can admit I have met some great teachers at Truman College and they helped take my skills to the next level. Now it is time for me to reach yet another level When I was trying to pursue a career as a model and poet, I used to always wonder why I was not as successful as I wanted. I have concluded that is was because I did not receive the proper training to perfect my skills. I am now attending The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I am finally entering into a phase of my life to take my art to the next level. .
I went down to New Orleans to help rebuild for spring break with my high school. I really enjoyed helping people and seeing them smile from the work I did. This project made me realize that people need help. “Hey Child do you know where you come from? No?”(“Hey Child” by Safiya James). This poem is a message to all the children of New Orleans who were affected by Hurricane Katrina. I am telling them that they can make it through these hard times because their roots trace back to powerful people. I wanted to do everything at once before, but now I have determined that poetry will be the foundation of my art since it was my first love.
Poetry was the beginning of my art career. The thing is that I am filled with many visions and just writing poetry will not make all of my visions come true. I have transformed my poetry into spoken-word, which adds a performance art element to it, but I am still not satisfied artistically. I want to take poetry to the next level. When I research all the career opportunities for a poet, all I find is teacher or recording artist. I do not just want to be those things. I want to have my own fashion line. I want to create sculptures with poetry incorporated. My poetry already paints a visual picture inside people’s heads, but now I want to create a physical picture so people can see it. I strongly believe learning studio art skills will enrich my talents, not just as an artist but as a poet as well.
I am “Shero” whose art source is the world, with a mission to save lives through the arts. Art is not just a hobby for me or a job, it is my life. Art ha