Peace!! I’m QueeNia AsheeMa’at, born of another name but bold enough to embark on a spiritual journey thirteen (13) years ago to find myself. In that journey, I sought out a name that was fitting — just for me. So, as I embark on another journey to become a writer with this debut article in the Buffalo Latino Village, I wanted to share this with the audience up front.
LISTEN TO THE CHILD
Asheem Ali is a talented Homeschooled 10-year old that keeps his momma (Me!) & older sister, AAliyah Mya, on our toes ever since he could walk. His favorite sport is Soccer (“Soccer for Success”). A close second is pushing his body to the limit doing Obstacle Courses/Parkour with Hybrid Ninja Academy. He also swims, runs track, plays Volleyball, and can throw a mean Boomerang! He participates in Basketball, Golf, Tennis, Flag Football and learned to Skate with PAL. The most relaxed but favorite thing he does regularly is watch movies. He enjoys Wakanda Alliance Program, Film & Technology with West Side Studios, 4-H Club -Buffalo, School of Two Hearts Co-Op, Minecrafting, Gardening, and Playing Piano.
On June 11th, Asheem took part in “The Arts are for All” summer” Recital! I couldn’t have been prouder! He was inspired by Drea D’Nur as he watched her play on a real piano in front of City Hall for a Cariol’s Law event 2 years ago. He wanted to play right then but she invited him to come and play at “Feed Buffalo” on Saturday. The event was wrapping up and the recently acquired piano had to be moved to its new home at the West Side’s ONLY mostly organic food distribution site (shameless plug). That entire week he asked me how many days until Saturday. I just kept answering 5 days; 4 days; 3 days; 2 days; 1 Day; Today! He quickly reminded me that ‘TODAY WE HAVE TO GO TO FEED BUFFALO” so he can play on Auntie Drea’s piano. It was not on the day’s agenda, but we were on the West Side for a 4-H Club meeting, and we messaged Drea and stopped by. As we were going over homeschooling stuff, Asheem was playing the piano. Drea took a pause in the middle of the discussion and says, ‘He’s playing something though…’ and stood up and put some music on the Bluetooth and asked him to play along with what he heard. He did!! She encouraged him and me to take him to music instruction. She gave me a lead for someone local that teaches music.
I put it out there that we were in search of a keyboard. My friend, Eve Shippens, who is a teacher, donated one that her son was no longer using! Asheem was so eager to learn that he began self-teaching using YouTube videos. When we hear and sing along to a song in the car, I’ll ask him, ‘Can you play this song?’ He would come out with answers like, ‘I could see, maybe, It’s very heavy in D.’ I’m like ok… Don’t know what he means, but ok! Kiara Harris, my niece, reminded me of virtual classes she had previously told me her daughter was taking at The Arts Are for All studio. I had told her Asheem can’t do virtual anymore. He was sick of it. But she explained it’s only 15 minutes; her daughter has won awards and it’s a great program. He takes virtual lessons on Wednesdays and practices nearly every day. Even if it’s just one song on the keyboard that’s bigger than him! A few weeks ago, we noticed a few keys were wonky. We were like ‘What is going on?’ We had taken it on a car ride so that he wouldn’t miss the piano lesson and we thought it broke. We were all set to exchange the gifted keyboard, but I had my reservations because it was a gift to him and his first real keyboard. I decided to change the batteries and VIOLA, we gave it a second life; the rest is NowStory! Our community Baby was NOW in a recording studio with his peers laying down the tracks for the Summer Recital 2022!
I share this because my heart is full, love is overflowing each day and in every way! Please be kind to others; focus on our sameness more than our differences! Support one another when you’re called/moved to do so! This is our child! Every child is our child! We are stronger when we take care of our children collectively!
At first, glance, if you haven’t met her and I’m not around you’ll be apt to begin a casual conversation with her. She’ll listen and interact and at some point, you’ll likely wonder why I’m not responding to you in a way you’d expect.
She will wait for a moment to hear you and THEN EXPLAIN – “You MUST know my Twin Sister!” You’ll have a blank stare; say you didn’t know I had a twin, and everyone has a laugh! Yes. We are Identical Mirror Twin Sisters. And even though we look alike we still have different personalities, interests & sets of friends. So, this is how our friends usually meet the Other Twin.
Jacqueline Bontzolakes earned a Bachelor’s in Social Work at Daemon College and worked at the Erie County Department of Social Services. She attended the University of Buffalo & earned credits towards a Master’s in Social Work. Massive layoffs in 2009 removed the security she once felt in having a government job. She was eventually called back but during her unexpected leave, she started to explore avenues that would NEVER again leave her wondering about her future, taking care of children & paying bills.
Her search led her to the New York Institute of Massage. I remember so vividly helping her juggle clinical school and nurturing two children and growing a 3rd baby! She had that baby and still went to school within a week to complete clinical to avoid having to wait a year to take the boards! AND She Passed the Boards! She was not playing!!
She formed Diamond Therapeutic Arts, LLC and went Full Time AND on Faith after witnessing difficult & toxic situations at work. Jacqueline is a Natural Healer. Her Drive & Dedication to helping people heal naturally is as unceasing as it was 16 years ago! She’s not only MASSAGING them. Many of her customers confide in her for personal struggles. They go to her for advice on nutritional supplements, skin care products, exercise regimens, and health & wellness recommendations. Some even come to know her as a True Friend.
She’s been rated “Top Pro” on Thumbtack, which is a platform for customers to rate professionals. She’s also rated 4.4/5 on Facebook. You can check these platforms for her reviews and make appointments. She’s absolutely the First of ONLY therapists I would EVER book an appointment with and not because she is my twin sister. Her hands magically find the areas that you didn’t even know hurt. Once that area is addressed you realize that’s what prevented you from moving another part of your body. It is an experience, and it confirms that our human body is interconnected.
I chose to honor her this month because we are Celebrating 48 Years on the Earth Side, on June 4th, and if you see her show, send her some Birthday LOVE! For those of you who ARE Ready to Heal Differently and want or need to LOVE Yourself, book an appointment; I promise — YOU WILL NOT regret it!
“LIVING IN THE DICHOTOMY!”
In honor of National Police Enforcement week, I recognize Cariol Horne of Cariol’s Law. A resolution voted in by the Buffalo Common Council (8-1) on September 29, 2020, was signed into law by Mayor Byron Brown 30 days later.
I had the privilege to be a witness to the votes as they came in. To state that the energy in her home was at an all-time high as the votes came in is a gross understatement. As family and close friends gathered around a computer in her East Side home – listening and rooting as one elected official after another stated their reason in support of the resolution… then a short executive session. The interruption broug
ht questions to everyone in the room, and tensions were as high as they may have been in that session. Chris Scanlon, who voted against this resolution, did not want the law to recognize the Author – “Cariol.” But with 8 Yays, the Law was secured. Regardless of the Mayor’s eventual position, whose signature was a mere formality. The People’s Elected Representatives had spoken.
Cariol’s Law requires law enforcement officials to intervene in excessive and sometimes deadly force situations. But it’s more than a ‘duty to intervene’ that police departments across the United States might have. She’s been to many cities across the country, speaking on her experience and how this law will help prevent deaths in the future. The six sections are:
1: Duty to Intervene when Officers Pose Imminent Threat to Citizens
2: Accountability for Officers Neglecting to Intervene
3: Protection for Officers who Intervene
4: Accountability for Falsifying Reports
5: Impacts Policy Regarding Termination and Department Funding is
6: Restorative Justice for Retaliation of Whistleblowers.
Most people in Buffalo have heard of Cariol; they have seen her on TV doing interviews about the life she saved. If not for her intervention, an interaction that may have cost Neil Mack’s life! Neal Mack has been quoted as saying because of Cariol Horne – “I Can Breathe Now.”
But stepping in and doing the right thing came with a price. A price she doesn’t want other good law enforcement officers to have to pay. This experience cost her livelihood and lifestyle. And not just for hers but for the five children she was raising. Living in the Dichotomy of Doing the Right Thing & Repeatedly Witnessing the Wrong was no longer an option. This catapulted her into her new mission in life as a Community Activist.
She has received awards in major cities in the past two years. She’s making it known that there is a way to end police brutality. These cities are looking to adopt similar laws/amendments to police contracts to adopt some or all the earlier components.
Senator James Sanders, NY-D, has proposed Bill S1619A. The community is being asked to write, call, and email your elected officials to urge them to make Cariol’s Law a reality for Our ENTIRE State.
Follow Cariol’s Law on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
The complexities of interwoven communities like Buffalo, NY might give some pause as people struggle to maintain their identities while acclimating to the community. There is Beauty in differences because we learn from one another. We ultimately realize that we have
more in common. If you keep good relationships and friendships, you’ll ultimately find that you are helping one another get a better understanding of what each other’s life is like. Almost 9 years ago a friend and I were co-teachers of the crochet/knitting class for refugee women and their supporters hosted by H.E.A.L International (Helping Everyone Achieve Livelihood). That’s where I met this BeautyFull young Lady!
Juweria Dahir had relocated to the US from the UK after marrying Mohammed, a Buffalo Native. The newlyweds were expecting their firstborn son. He was a model for a crochet kufi I made that summer. She studied Architecture & Urban Planning at UB and worked at City Hall. We stayed connected over the years and spent time together with our children at Wegman’s – Global Book Hour; local parks and apple/pumpkin/maple farms.
Last Spring, she announced that she was hired as the Executive Director of Entrepreneurship for All (EForAll). I was so proud that she stepped out in Faith towards a new career. Its mission as stated on their website: “EforAll is accelerating economic and social impact in communities nationwide through inclusive entrepreneurship.” In Mid Summer she was looking for an assistant and eventually asked my 19-year-old, AAliyah, to join the team as an intern. To support them both, I went to all events. I loved the energy and the vibe; they had amazing vendors, volunteers, guests, and speakers.
By end of summer, there were applications for the Pitch Contest and Business Accelerator Program. Juweria encouraged me to apply to both. I had an idea that I held in my mind and heart for 4+ years. I won “Fan Favorite” at the Pitch Contest and was selected for the program. When I think of the young lady, I was teaching crochet for 9 years at H.E.A.L. International with their mission; I read the EForAll’s mission, and I am convinced that there are no coincidences. She was being prepared!
The 14 entrepreneurs in the Winter Business Accelerator are learning so much from Juweria Dahir and the team of volunteers and mentors she’s assembled. The entrepreneurs can testify that this opportunity has afforded us the ability to believe in ourselves again; dream big and go after our dreams.
But don’t take it from me! Follow EForAll on Facebook and Instagram. If your FIRE is sparked, then APPLY for the Summer 2022 Business Accelerator Program! I’m so grateful for my spiritual sister – Juweria Dahir. Our journey together has proven to me that LIFE TRULY does come FULL CIRCLE if you Stay Connected, Keep Good Relationships and Friendships.
MISS BUFFALO on the MARCH!
It’s not very often when we have a striking connection with someone, and you not only hope the best for them but you are also moved to act and support them in all their endeavors; you know that pouring into them won’t be for naught and they appreciate everything you do.
I had the pleasure of meeting this beautiful young Lady almost 2 years ago for a Free “Meditation & Tarot Reading” she was offering our community. Even the 4 children there connected on a new level. It was an amazing setting by Hoyt Lake, Delaware Park, Buffalo, NY.
In 2021, she launched “Out Your Estimate” (O.Y.E.) – which was an extension of her findings from her master’s research project at Buffalo State and the meditation in the park gatherings. Her research showed there was a positive impact from meditation and public service. I was fortunate enough to be selected as 1/5 of her Meditation Mentees & Brand Ambassadors. The goal of O.Y.E. is to have meditation be a universal practice that is used in schools, prisons, businesses – pretty much anywhere. She’s currently volunteering with incarcerated youth and adding more proof to her research. But that’s not all! In the same year – without me even knowing – she was a candidate for a vigorous program in preparing to be our local representative.
So, without further Ado, I introduce to you the beautiful Inside — Outside & Spiritual Soul – AMIYAH KING! Amiyah holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, Journalism & Political Science from Howard University, 2019. A Master of Public Administration from Buffalo State College, 2021. Founder & Owner of O.Y.E.; Certified Life Coach & Mindfulness & Meditation Instructor, 2021!
And now she is our new “MISS BUFFALO 2022!
As Miss Buffalo, Amiyah will have the opportunity to achieve her personal and professional ambitions, as well as participate in Community Service activities while developing leadership skills to help her succeed in her chosen career and life goals!
The Miss Buffalo Scholarship Organization, “Prepares Great Women for the World and The World for Great Women.” has certainly chosen a great young Lady this year!
With this list of accomplishments and her great big heart at just 24 years young, I see a brighter day in Buffalo. Check out her website & connect with her for bringing her Passion & Life’s Work into your group, church, business circles.
https://www.outyourestimate.com/ Share words of encouragement and find out what’s she’s up to as our Miss Buffalo, 2022 on Facebook!
Amiyah King, I’m so proud of you; this article is just a small way to show how much you’ve added to my life in such a short time. I can’t wait to see what else is coming forth!
As part of this new column, I’ll like to celebrate people in our community for the work that they’ve done and haven’t been recognized as much as they should.
I would like to begin with Aminah Johnson. She is one such person — although she has been recognized as a staple in the community for the past several decades, and she has recently been missed by many.
Allow me to explain.
In the past 15 years she has dedicated herself to PUSH Buffalo, the West Side and the greater community.
Aminah was a Founding Member of PUSH and the organization’s first employee.
She was drawn to her passion of tenant advocacy after 7 years of being a Community Outreach Coordinator. She naturally was able to create the Tenant Advocacy Department and authored her own job description based on the needs of people she met every single day. She has performed in this capacity for over 7 years. She had never been issued a verbal warning or written up in all her years there. She would have retired from PUSH Buffalo in June 2022.
Unfortunately, for reasons that are STILL not clear to her she was terminated by PUSH Buffalo on August 21, 2020! Although she has surmised that she was terminated for the same things she has advocated for when helping others and for which PUSH Buffalo itself purports:
Engagement and Transparency.
She believes that she was terminated because her name was on an email with six other individuals requesting to attend the meeting with the Board of Directors of PUSH. This action was done as a group decision of and by the Organizing Team. She or they in no way meant any harm towards the agency or any individuals. It was a simple request that they did not feel was out of bounds or reach for their position in the agency.
She believes this joint decision was mistakenly viewed as an attack and subsequently cost her career.
But that’s not all she lost …
For the rest of Aminah Johnson’s story, please go to the Latino Village Facebook page where I’ll post the rest of the story.
Peace!! I’m QueeNia AsheeMa’at, born of another name but bold enough to embark on a spiritual journey thirteen (13) years ago to find myself. In that journey, I sought out a name that was fitting — just for me.
So, as I embark on another journey to become a writer with this debut article in the Buffalo Latino Village, I wanted to share this with the audience up front.
Names are ATTRIBUTES & mean so much as they define who we are or should!
I still get so much flack about my name change with the family. But upon meeting people I get so many queries, ‘Do you have a nickname?’ ‘Can I just call you Queen?’ ‘So, what’s up with that name?’
Some people won’t even try to say the name and assume it’s difficult. But saying it after realizing the actual meaning makes it easier for many of these folks.
As I come upon the 10th Anniversary of me redefining myself on January 17, 2012, I reintroduce myself to some and introduce myself to others through this medium.
QueeNia: A Queen with a Purpose, Nia in Swahili means Purpose!
AsheeMa’at: Asheema in Hindi means Boundless, Without Restrictions, Boundaries or Borders! Ma’at is the Goddess that regulates Balance and Equality (also Righteousness, Truth, Just-Us)!
I intentionally added Ma’at to Asheema so as not to lose sight of myself when I’ve freed myself from everything that has limited me. A constant reminder that even though, I am “free”, Universal Laws are still in effect!
As we are just emerging from the Holy Days Season & entering this New Year 2022, I hope others are inspired to embark on a journey to Live the Kwanzaa Principle of Kujichagulia/SelfDetermination:
To Define Yourself, Name Yourself!
Whether you keep your name or explore other names, you could at least know what your name means and what your children’s name mean. Heck, find out what all your family’s name mean. You’ll be surprised to find that what your/their name mean reflects who you/they really represent. If you’re not alright with that name and reflection… Change it!
There is POWER that comes with KNOWING exactly who you are & what you are striving to be! Your name can be your introduction into Mastering the Principle of SELF DETERMINATION!
Peace, Love & Light!