I love summer time Chi! Summer time in Chicago means festival season and there are a ton to choose from. Here is a list of some of my favorite cultural and family friendly festivals on the Southside of the city.
Chosen Few Picnic & Music Festival event features house music by Chosen Few DJ’S w/ various special guest DJ’s, July 1-2, 8 a.m.-9 p.m., Jackson Park, 63rd & Hayes Drive, ticket prices start at $40.
Arts & Crafts Festival: “Here’s To You Margaret Burroughs: Connecting Black Art & History- Celebrating Excellence,” July 8-9. Noon-10 p.m., DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Place, Free.
Ghanafest is an event featuring Ghanaian culture, fashion, food & music. July 29, 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Washington Park, 5600 S. Russell Drive. $10.
Bantu Fest is a community fest bringing over 20 different countries and cultures together to celebrate diversity, unity & love, July 29, 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Midway Plaisance (in Hyde Park by the University of Chicago), Free.
African Festival of the Arts event features live musical performances. Drum and Afro-folk village, food and various vendors, September 1-4, 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Washington Park, 51st and Cottage Grove, see website for ticket prices.
Englewood Jazz Festival, various live jazz performances, September 17, Noon-6 p.m., Hamilton Park, 513 W. 72nd Street. Free.
Hyde Park Jazz Fest features the finest in local, national & international jazz artists, September 23-24, Sep. 23 from 1 p.m. – midnight & Sep. 24 from 1-7 p.m., for location details click here. $5 donation.
Dear Zahara Evelyn:
Three months ago, I never would have imagined that I would be having a brand-new baby girl due on Halloween. After three pregnancy tests confirmed that you were indeed real and not just a figment of my imagination—I was stunned. Your father did not believe it was so—even after three pregnancy tests. We both were in shock because this was not planned. But despite the unforeseen circumstances, we only had one choice and that is to love you and welcome you into the family.
We just knew you would be a boy and your father made sure that your big sister and big brother understood they were having a baby brother. So, when it finally came time for us to have your five-month ultrasound we all were in shock. The ultrasound tech shouted, “It’s a girl!” “Wait. What….” I thought that I was dreaming. Your dad had convinced me that you were a boy. I even had a name picked out. The perfect name– Assad Talib. In that moment, I didn’t care whether you were a girl or a boy, just that you were healthy and that you were indeed. But I would be lying if I was bummed out about having to think of a new name.
When we got home and informed your siblings that you were a girl and not a boy—mixed emotions appeared. Assata, your big sister was elated and started jumping up and down. Tafari, your big brother calmly said, “baby brother.” “No, baby sister,” I explained. “Baby brother” he continued. That was about two weeks ago and he has now come around and understands that you are his baby sister. He even kisses my tummy.
We can’t wait for your arrival Zahara Evelyn. I named you Zahara because it means shining; flower. Names speak life into people and my hope is that you will shine in whatever you set out to do and be as beautiful as a flower in bloom. Until we meet my love, keep jumping all around in my tummy. Mommy loves you, more than you will ever know. See you soon baby girl.
Is your current job, your dream job and what you have always wanted to do? No. My job is just a job. Steve Jobs said, “your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
When I was little and someone asked me what I wanted to be—the answer always came easy. A writer. I never knew how I would achieve this goal but I took steps in the right direction any chance I could get. I would always write. I would recite my poetry at church events and school graduations. I was even invited to do a commencement speech for my grammar school. I wrote poetry, essays, short stories, songs and plays. It always came easy for me and I have always enjoyed it.
When I entered high school the only writing outlet was the school paper so I immediately joined and eventually became the assistant editor. I also was featured on television for the NAACP ACT-SO awards for my playwriting skills in my sophomore year. I also wrote for the minority newspaper at my college from time to time. I went to journalism camps and even did an internship for a small newspaper. My majors were English and Journalism. My life had been surrounding and immersed with activities to prepare me to be a writer.
After graduation, I went back home to Chicago and worked whatever job I could find. I never even tried to get a job in my field of journalism or English. I just stopped writing. I landed a job working in financial aid at an online university and the rest is history. Now that I have a family to support and no other real experience I feel bound to a job that I only do out of necessity that doesn’t satisfy me. I know I am not the only one who feels this way.
As I look back on everything, I realize that fear is what stopped me from pursuing my dream job of being a writer. I was afraid that I would not make enough money or have a stable income to support myself. Even worse, I was afraid to fail. If I could do it all over again I would take the low pay and uncertainty of writing just to be happy—to be me. Today, almost 20 years later I still don’t have the courage to completely commit myself and quit my job but I am making a start. This blog is my start and I will continue to seek other writing opportunities. I am tired of just existing. I want to start living the life I was meant to live. I won’t stop until I can say, “hi, my name is La’Shon and I am a writer.” Hey, what about you. Is your current job, your dream job and what you have always wanted to do?