Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Spotlight BOSS: Mara Johnson Author of Her Name Was Bitter


Her Name Was Bitter, The Memoir is the true account of a child's decade long ordeal with a fugitive on the run. Years of incest that lead to a pregnancy at 13. The trauma of giving birth in secret, being forced to give her daughter up for adoption, and coping with the shame of protecting the guilty. A glimpse into the life of a victim and a victor. Explore a young girl’s journey from utter chaos to an unlikely destination of peace, healing and forgiveness.

Book excerpt from the fugitive years (Age 7): Chapter 4 - Carla

...After a while, the constant screaming, yelling, and flying accusations, just faded into the background. I would go into my own little world, pretending I was someone else, somewhere else. I was a princess again, nothing mattered, because soon I would be a Queen...Boom! I heard a loud sound interrupting my daydream. Then a loud, Bang! Our heads rotated quickly to the direction of the thunderous sounds, it was coming from our parents’ room. I peeled myself off the couch. My sisters followed suit, we tiptoed cautiously, approaching the hallway. Then we heard a bloodcurdling scream, causing us to jump with fear. The door flew open with a big, bang! Carla was running desperately, trying to escape something in the room, then I saw daddy clutching her leg. She fell, she was still trying frantically to crawl away. Now on her hands and knees, she tried to create distance between her and daddy. Her eyes were open so wide and filled with terror. Daddy forced her legs between his own as he straddled her back. As he neared her shoulders, mounting her like a wild stallion, he started slamming his fist into her head. He was bringing his fist up and slamming it back down as hard as he could. You could hear the blows as he hit her head and face. She finally succumbed to his weight and slowly slid forward, now lying on her stomach with one of her arms beneath her. He was beating her so violently. I couldn’t believe it. We were standing there frozen in shock. She raised her eyes to us and managed to scream, “Help–me, please–help–me. Call 9–1–1!”

About Mara Johnson:

Mara D. Johnson is the accomplished technical writer and Author of the Memoir, Her Name Was Bitter. The Memoir gives a frank and sometimes disturbing view into the life of a young girl facing overwhelming obstacles. It tackles many social issues that plague every country, city, neighborhood, and far too many households. The book is available at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, Ibook Store, maradjohnson.com or anywhere e-books are sold. The Book was released in April in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Mara Johnson has been an advocate for Men and Women who are victims of Sexual abuse since she was featured in a 2012 Documentary called: “Innocence Stolen” Pt 1. Her goal is to take sexual abuse out of individual's closets and open up dialogue about the ever-present issue. Acknowledging you were a victim is the first step in laying down the misplaced shame that keeps people in silence. Millions of people around the world have been effected by sexual abuse. Statistics show that 1 out of 3 women and 1 out of 6 men are victims of some form of sexual abuse. Mara currently is the Assistant Director, of the network, for SociallyCued Pro-international and she resides in East Texas with her two sons

To learn more about Mara follow her on Twitter @HerNameBitter

Sisters with Voices: Kozi Kyles, Kyra Kyles Take on Stereotypes of Black Women

Kyra and Kozi Kyles
From attacks on natural hair in schools and workplaces to the daily diet of misogyny served by most popular rap music, it isn’t farfetched to suggest that Black women are often the (big) butt of pop culture parodies and jokes.

But two sisters from Chicago, Kozi Kyles and Kyra Kyles are trying to turn the tables with a new series Bosses everywhere should salute. 

Their “Video Vixens: Laughter Without Labels”—which launched officially in February—spoofs the constant criticism that African American ladies face including critiques on their “unkempt” God-given hair texture and doomsday messaging leveled at single sistahs.

“We are so tired of seeing so few portrayals of Black women in mainstream media,” explains Kozi—a senior-level marketing executive who leverages her corporate and branding savvy to make Myth Lab Entertainment a success.  “If it’s not people questioning Blue Ivy’s braids, sharing girlfight videos on social media, or calling Olivia Pope a ‘sidepiece,’ there isn’t much positive public discussion around Black womanhood.”

Kyra, an award-winning journalist and media personality, concurs, revealing why they chose to take the humorous route.

“We could just go troll the comment boxes of articles that unfairly depict and demean Black women, picket certain artists, or write thought pieces all day but what would that get us,” Kyra asks.  “We’d rather take the satirical approach and get people to question their own assumptions while making them laugh in the process.”

But don’t take their word for it.  Please check out their short, but effective jabs at sistah-stereotyping in the three Video Vixen episodes to follow.  There’s more to come, so feel free to leave suggestions for their next target in the comment section:

1.    “Black People Mate” (Target: Doomsday Dating Stories on Black Women)

2.    “Protective Styles: How to Deal with Natural Hair Haters” (Target: Natural Hair Critics) Link: http://youtu.be/R489rvI3BKE

3.     “Raps A Get You Slapped” (Target: Misogyny in Mainstream Rap Music) Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pr5EDfyZuq0

Want to see more?  Subscribe to their channel at www.youtube.com/mythlabentertainment or follow them @mythlabent and keep in step with these LAWEBFEST award-winning sisters. 

Myth Lab Entertainment is a multimedia entertainment company that creates innovative scripted and unscripted content including television & film projects, sketches, parodies and web series.   The company—helmed by sisters, Kozi Kyles and Kyra Kyles—also partners with brands to develop innovative and engaging entertainment strategies.  Visit www.youtube.com/mythlabentertainment to check out the projects that have attracted media coverage by industry influencers including Clutch Magazine, LA Weekly, IndieWire, tubefilter.com, N’digo magazine, and the BOSS Network.   

Wednesday, April 9, 2014



 “You want to max out your humanity by using your energy to lift yourself up, your family, and the people around you.” – Oprah Winfrey

Normally, I blog about legal topics and celebrity news.   For the last week, I have been in an introspective place and it influenced my decision to write this blog post.  Last week, my secretary had a family member pass and it made me reflect on life, loss and my own personal experiences.  

In the fall of 2013, a close friend of mine passed away.  She was like a sister to me and we would always share our hopes and dreams for the future with each other.  My friend died young and had an unfinished life.  She did not get an opportunity to achieve many of her personal, professional and entrepreneurial goals.  She would always tell me that she was waiting for the perfect time to start her business, but the perfect time never came.

Life’s tragedies have a way of teaching us the most profound lessons.  When my friend passed I struggled for months to make sense of it.  What I learned is that sometimes it takes losing someone to make us go after our dreams in life and step into our destiny. 
The experience also reaffirmed for me there is power in using your life to inspire and lift up others.  I do not frequently talk about my entrepreneurial journey.  For this blog post, I wanted to share my story in the hopes that it will inspire and motivate others members of the BOSS Network.  

I started my law practice in 2009, during the height of the economic recession.  At the time, there were limited job opportunities for attorneys. I felt that if no one would give me an opportunity then I would create one for myself.  I had zero capital to start my business.  What I did have was vision, drive and determination.  

It was a struggle starting my business and I had to make a lot of sacrifices. Many of my earlier cases were time intensive and required me to work long hours.  During this time quite a few of my friends got married.  I was unable to attend their weddings because I needed to work on client matters.  I did not have any money and frequently had to trade legal services to get things like website design and coding.  My challenges and successes as an entrepreneur taught me three important lessons:


“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” - Thomas A. Edison

Failure is a necessary step to achieving our dreams.  Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times before he invented the light bulb.  Oprah Winfrey struggled and experienced low ratings when she initially launched OWN. Failure forces you to re-evaluate your business strategy and to make adjustments so that you can succeed.

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” - Napoleon Hill

The entrepreneurial life is not for the faint of heart.  There will be numerous obstacles you will need to overcome as you build and establish your business.  Being an entrepreneur pushes you beyond your limits and there will be times when you want to quit.  It’s in the difficult times that you have to continue to fight.  As P. Diddy…I mean Puff Daddy says, “I won’t stop now, cause I can’t stop now.”  Tenacity is what is going to enable you to keep striving when it seems like your breakthrough is not going to come and the walls are closing in on you.   

“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.” - Joel A. Barker
Not everyone is going to understand or support your vision.  As you embark upon your entrepreneurial journey a lot of people will advise you to give up.  When I first started my business my parents implored me to get a “stable” job.  They could not understand why I would opt for a life filled with uncertainty.   What helped me stay the course was my unwavering belief in my vision.  Vision is going to be what motivates you to work countless hours and to push through during challenging times. There is something extremely gratifying about seeing your vision become a reality.

These are just three lessons that I learned in my journey.  Please use the comment box below to share your entrepreneurial lessons with the BOSS community.

Visit Johnetta website: www.jpaye.com and follow her on Twitter: @jpayeesq