QueeNia AsheeMa’at

Buffalo Spotlight

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.

QUEENIA ASHEEMA’AT

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“PADRINO — GODFATHER

December 2022

I struggled to connect with the intended Community Spotlight. And that’s ok. It’s a busy time of year. I go online to seek inspiration as I do every month. I noticed a constant – not ONLY in my News Feed on FB but in my DM, email & text messages. This constant is Alberto O. Cappas, and I have wanted to write about him especially after finding out about his connection to UB’s PODER student organization when I wrote about Brother Kamau (August issue 2022). But as he is the founder of the Buffalo Latino Village, I thought he might reject it. So, if you’re reading this on my Facebook wall and it doesn’t make it to print, you know why.

Alberto O. Cappas is like a Padrino – You know the one that is not quite an uncle to you – because your uncle is still part of your biological family so he can say some things – but NOT EVERYTHING. A Godfather is a person chosen to tell you WHAT IT IS because they’re invested in that TITLE. It requires that they encourage you to live Upright and in Your Purpose. The Purpose inscribed in the deepest part of your being as the Creator was weaving us in our mother’s womb.

I had come to know Alberto from the political scene when I moved to Buffalo, NY. I met him formally at the Contract Compliance Review Committee (2015) to make sure that the former Solar City, now Tesla, did right by the agreed-upon condition of hiring a percentage of people of color. Still not sure if that number has been reached – but that’s for another article.  Since meeting him, I have admired the way he plants seeds; waters them; checks in when they might not be growing; adds fertilizer; checks again until the plant has taken root and is growing. 

I’m an example of this tending too. It’s the reason I started writing this column. Alberto would see my post on FB that were well thought out, and maybe controversial. One day he told me I should write for the Latino Village (seed). Then he sent me the FB Page (water), then he made me a moderator (fertilizer). In November 2021, he saw me with Aminah Johnson (February 2022) at the Towne Restaurant. He encouraged me to write Aminah’s Story.  Now I’ve “taken root.”

I’m sure many others can testify to a similar situation. He has a gift for recognizing talent and passion in individuals. What better way to channel these passions than to write intelligently about them? 

Thinking of all he contributes to, this is, truly, only a very short list compared to what he (actually) contributes. He buys tickets to events and invites us to represent. If he can’t attend an event, he reaches out to us. In this way, he’s making strides in getting us a seat at the table. He’s a strong advocate for breaking the invisible barriers that exist amongst the so-called ‘Black & Hispanic Communities.’ He KNOWS if WE combined our Collective Powers, we wouldn’t be collectively suffering to the extent we do at the hands of those in power. Election Year In/Out he Challenges us to EDUCATE, THINK and VOTE FOR OURSELVES. 

I Trust, One Day, we’ll bear witness to Alberto’s vision of the Greatness of a Buffalo that Represents ALL. —— RESPECTFULLY!

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“I will Have What She’s Having this Holiday Season”

November 2022

I’m not a fan of saying goodbye to the brief summers in Buffalo, NY. Especially this summer was cut short for me as I experienced a bicycle injury in July that led to a near-life-threatening blood clot in August. 

So, I’m desiring to appreciate life and the people in my life in a way I haven’t before. I just couldn’t help myself from wanting to focus the Buffalo Spotlight on a dear friend of mine – Mark Bondon. Mark and I met in 2020 at the Labor Day Midnight Bike Ride. He caught me checking out the dynamic lights on his bike while I donned the incredibly heavy Independent Health Bike because my bike needed repair.

The following week his wife, Heather, told him to lend me her bike as she was with child and wasn’t using it anyway. Mind you, we had not even met yet. Our friendships grew so much that our families have invested time in getting to know one another. I was with Mark when I injured myself & he made sure I made it home from the Slow Roll that night. They frequently check on me and my family. 

As the temperature drops, leaves change color and holidays approach we experience aromas and specialty flavors specific to the season! And so I’m very much reminded of Mark’s talents beyond being a great friend. 

Mark Bondon is Pastry Chef that works extremely hard to satisfy customers. He is the owner of Geen’s Flour Shop. He aims to create delectable treats for that sweet tooth in all of us!

He truly creates an experience with his pastries! I’ve had the privilege to indulge in his fall treats. The apple crumbles pie is my favorite. His pumpkin pie is the right amount of sweet – not overbearing as some out there. 

And when it comes to custom cakes – he’s truly a Genius. Creativity is always a collaboration between the customer’s general idea and his imagination that gives it the WOW factor! He truly aims to give you what you desire and more! 

A glance at his Facebook page will make your jaw drop from the Hennessey Birthday cake he made for his sister that came to visit him from Detroit, Mi; to the Little Tea Pot Cake; to the Night Before Christmas Theme; to the Amazing Wedding Cake with handmade roses which each easily took one hour to make from start to finish. His nearly entirely edible works of art become the Centerpiece at every venue. 

So, whether you are looking to bring the best-tasting cookies to the holiday office party OR tired of wondering ‘who made the pumpkin pie?’ at the holiday dinners OR want to WOW the guests at a Graduation; Birthday Party; Baby Shower or Wedding CONNECT with Geen’s Flour Shop on Facebook! I promise you’ll be beyond satisfied! You’re Welcome in Advance!

Happy Holidays & Bon Appetit! 

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“AGAINST ALL ODDS”

October 2022

As the Fall/Winter Sports Season gets underway in Buffalo, NY, there is a rush of energy that gets infused into our city. It may be seen on the fields or courts at a park near you. You see parents huddled close to one another on their chairs cheering their favs! Or in the way, folks show up to a basketball court with hoodies & breakaways only to have these sprawled at the edge because the players are warmed up!

Malak Bontzolakes

When I think of a youth that is making a buzz in the basketball community I think of Malak Bontzolakes. Malak’s first word may have very well been ‘Ball’! At 13 years young, he has played football and basketball since he was about 7 years old. He not ONLY loves to play but he loves to watch professional sports. He can carry on heated conversations with the best of adults. He enjoys it so much that he creates short videos highlighting players & game highlights to post to TikTok! 

Last year, he had decided, along with his number one fan, his mom, Jacqueline Bontzolakes, to focus on basketball. She doubles as his coach and triples as his public relations coordinator. They’re often seen at the YMCA as soon as they open – practicing. 

One day, Malak decided that he would stay up and be absorbed in the technology. Well, Mom woke up and it was 3:30 AM when she heard him still on his phone. She sternly addressed him; took his phone while promising that she’ll be back to wake him up at 5:30 AM for PRACTICE. And THAT she did, she even posted about this as they entered the Y! 

Next year, he would have been entering high school at CSAT. Malak is being homeschooled as the family chose to maintain their core religious beliefs and not vaccinate (NYS decided to remove religious exemptions on June 13, 2019). So being seen playing on a high school team in hopes of being noticed by colleges has faded into non-existence. 

Mom works to instill dedication and resiliency. He trains just as much as he learns, if not MORE Than if he was in school. She finds community coaches & teams. When his dedication is NOT valued or recognized – she switches him to a new team. Other children that are in both school and community teams will have opportunities that are close to him. There’s no time to play as he’s aspiring to play professional basketball.  Mom’s figuring it out and opening other opportunities for him! This past summer his team, THE UNIT, made it to the Championships in South Carolina. Malak took initiative and sold 30 dinners using his social media skills to help fund the trip. And he just came back from weekend B-Ball Training Camp in Texas. Just Days after being Nominated AND ADDED to the team that is traveling across the globe with Richie Schueler’s Ph.D. Hoops!

If you follow Buffalo sports and desire to witness the progress of a child that’s striving to put Buffalo, NY on the map through Basketball in a Most Untraditional Way – follow their social media accounts. Come cheer them on at games throughout the year!

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BREAKING COMMUNITY BARRIERS

September 2022

One thing about lasting friendships, especially with those whom we consider our elders in the community, is that sometimes we can’t even remember how we met them.

At some point, you grew fond of them, and they are more like family members. You may refer to them as brother or sister, or your children refer to them as uncles/tips, aunts/titi, Baba/grandpa, or Ummi/grandma. Upon reflecting on this I chose to honor Brother Kamau R. E. Fields to shine the community spotlight. 

I found this article very challenging to prepare and write. As many other people as possible, I have pre-written what I wrote and followed it by having them review and edit. But with Brother Kamau, I wanted to try something different. Because his life experience is so extensive, I asked him to share what he wanted the community to remember of him.

He shared this list with me: Buffalo Media Maker, Buffalo ComeUnity Worker, Father, Friend, Teacher, Thinker, East High School, and UB Alumni. This thing might help you know him a bit, but I needed something to CAPTURE you, my readers. I want you to FEEL the ESSENCE of Brother Kamau thru my article.

Kamau

I was driving Brother Kamau home not long ago when he told me of the time student riots broke out in the 70s while he was at UB. He and Brother Alberto O. Cappas shared neighboring offices; one that mainly Puerto Rican students used for organizing (which didn’t have an official name yet), and one that the Black Student Union used for organizing as well.  There was one student named Jameel Hassan (Harlem Prep, NYC), who helped Cappas decide on the name PODER (Puerto Rican Organization for Dignity, Elevation, & Responsibility) for the organization, as it means Power in Spanish.

Kamau also remembered that during the student riots, the two organizations decided to bring down the wall that separated the two offices! In a way, symbolically and physically, taking down an imagined barrier that divided so-called brown and black students. I dare even to say similar artificial barriers exist even today! I see it repeatedly play out in our so-called “Black” & “Brown” organizations or agencies.  This division is blatant, but ignored. While I can’t quite pinpoint it precisely, I sense it has a tinge of politics attached. Correct me, elders, if I’m wrong.

One thing is for sure and two is for certain. I would like to see a reunion of these two student organizations. Kamau could only give me just a snippet of what he remembered at UB in the 1970s. He remarked that he has told Alberto that this story needs to eventually be told in full. As this article is limited, I would want to explore other options for getting that story out and hope to interview others who can shed more light on what they remembered.

A symposium that can highlight the struggles during the 1970s and how we are different and/or the same to this day. I challenge the readers to appeal to others that may have been influential during this time to get this story to the forefront. This history is important and I for one long to know it so that maybe I can help further tear down the artificial barriers between our communities. 

Brother Kamau has a poem and in it, he repeats “Working Together Works” which is so on point. Then he had another thing he says quite often when you are expressing a trial you are facing: “Hurt people, HURT PEOPLE!” Read that 3 times. 

I’ll invite you to close your eyes and imagine just for a moment taking these two simple quotes to heart and mind. Then do that every single day. Imagine that these things can truly shift your perspective on all that troubles us as a community of many different cultures and backgrounds. Try it, you might like it!

LISTEN TO THE CHILD

August 2022

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, and Flag Football and learned to Skate with PAL. The most relaxed but favorite thing he does is regularly watching movies. He enjoys the 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 “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 virtually any more. 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, and 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! 

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“HEALING DIFFERENTLY”

June 2022

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!

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“LIVING IN THE DICHOTOMY!”

May 2022

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 those 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.

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JUWERIA DAHIR

April 2022

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

Juweria Dahir

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 beautiful 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 its 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!

March 2022

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.

Amiyah King

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 on 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, and business circles.

https://www.outyourestimate.com/ Share words of encouragement and find out what she’s up to as our Miss Buffalo, 2022 on Facebook!

https://www.facebook.com/missbuffalo22ny/

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!

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February 2022

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 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.

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New Columnist:

QUEENIA ASHEEMA’AT

INTRODUCTION:

January 2022

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 upfront.

Names are ATTRIBUTES & mean so much as they define who we are or should be!

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 my 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 names mean. Heck, find out what all your family’s names mean. You’ll be surprised to find that what your/their name means 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 to Mastering the Principle of SELF-DETERMINATION! 

Peace, Love & Light!

~QueeNia AsheeMa’at