My AMAZING Day at The White House's "South X South Lawn" by Shanelle Gabriel

Out of nowhere, I was selected to attend the first festival to ever be held in the White House called South By South Lawn this past Monday, October 3rd. South by South Lawn, an event inspired by Austin, Texas' South by Southwest, gathered a dynamic group of creators, innovators, and organizers who are working in their own unique ways to better their communities and the world. Other attendees, speakers, and performers included Common, The Lumineers, Baratunde Thurston, Ryan Leslie, and more with a closing conversation between Leonardo DiCaprio and, the man who's backyard we gathered in, our President Barack Obama. It was so surreal walking through the White House only to arrive at the beautiful Lawn filled with so many interesting people and new friends!

I was able to get a few quick photos with Nick Cannon and Brooklyn's own Senator Kevin Parker but it was dope having a conversation with producer/entrepreneur Ryan Leslie and shaking Common's hand. I was so geeked to explore the exhibitions presented including two virtual reality simulations, one that took viewers on a trip through Yellowstone Park (narrated by President Obama) and the Guardian's disturbing 6x9 which places you inside a US solitary confinement prison cell and tells the story of the psychological damage that can ensue from isolation. All of this plus great food, perfect weather, and some laughs while "Swag Surfing" in front of the White House made this day epic.
Being able to be a part of this event was life changing and humbling. Being numbered among the vast sea of people connecting, building, and doing amazing things in the community, I felt a sense of duty to figure out the impact God wants me to have on this world. It was an honor to have been selected to attend, and it is still unbelievable that I was present to see history being made. I don't know who will be President next year (Not TRUMP!) but I doubt there will ever be another opportunity for me to Swag Surf in front of the White House building. Blessed...


Blog: Neglecting Lupus- The Brat You Never Asked For by Shanelle Gabriel

There are times when I neglect my lupus so much that someone could call ACS on me. Lupus is a part of, and like a baby, I should nurture my health. But I go through these seasons where I pretend lupus isn't a part of me. I mean, I never asked for this cranky child that changes lives, expects me to plan around it, makes me go to bed early, stay up late, cancel dates, stop drinking, sit still, and pacify it with meds. I'm expected to keep my lupus close to my chest because at any point in time, it can wake and it will scream into my joints and bones.

I think anyone with a chronic illness has seasons where they want to pretend it doesn't exist. We watch our friends giggle and chat during a day at the mall, not wanting to be the one to say that your body is ready to go. We let the adrenaline take over as we ignore the late hour, keep dancing, and pretend that, coupled with the dehydration from your friend's birthday shots, we won't feel it the next day...and probably for the next two days. We forget pill boxes on the counter, reschedule doctor appointments when they conflict with work, and miss infusions. We wish our Lupus fog would help us forget we have Lupus instead of forgetting where we put our keys. This brat of a disease sometimes quiets down. But as with real children, quiet can feel like it's getting into something and trouble is a'coming.

Lupus is so unpredictable. But honestly, sometimes it isn't. We know our triggers and what we should do to keep it from acting up and showing out. But it seems easier to try to live life like the young parent whose mom is always down to babysit. Drop lupus off and keep the party (or just the regular life) going. Sadly, it doesn't work that way.

Our stints of disconnecting our lives from our illness, as if the two can't work hand in hand, can put us at risk for severe flares and hospitalizations. Sure, we can have a couple long nights and fun days. But pretending Lupus doesn't exist can cause it to bawl at your joints, keep you up at night, leave you drained during the day, and throw a tantrum so terrible, you'll only desire to be in fetal position for weeks.

I understand wanting to hold on to the life you had when you were single and not paired with a chronic illness. But learning how to have it, grow with it, hate it but still live with it will only benefit me in the long run. Neglecting lupus meant I was neglecting myself. It took a lot to be able to remember that Lupus is something that forces me to listen to my body's cries and nurture my body (something we all need to do with or without an illness). I don't feel guilty for needing to take breaks, power naps, and saying no. I realized the parties I missed were the same as the last ones, and being sober made everyone seem even more hilarious. Even though this brat called Lupus continuously tries to mess up my good time, I still truly believe I can still have a life filled with joy if I just paid it a little attention.
-Shanelle Gabriel

Upcoming Show: TRAPKARAOKE- The R&B Edition 9/23 by Shanelle Gabriel

The video of my feature at the R&B Edition of TrapKaraoke (sponsored by the 2016 BET Awards) is below this email and here:

Enjoyed it? Sad you missed it? Well, after a nationwide tour, TrapKaraoke is back in NYC and I'll be headlining again at SOB's. Get your tickets ASAP! They sold out a week before the show last time!


(Friday, 9/23 @11pm)

S.O.B.'s (204 Varick Street, NYC) $25

Newness by Shanelle Gabriel

This is new
First breath
For sale sign removed from
Emerald grass
Awkward playground kiss
Leaning back in heated seats
Kicks wiped with licked fingertips
I'm treasuring this

This is fresh
Blueberries handpicked
Or just picked out
Hand on hips
Neck rolls and bent wrists
Back spins and windmills
Dookie chains
Flat tops with the part
You too fly

This is love like
Bottomless mimosas
Wet noses and protection
A seat on the train after a long day
Broken windows turned to stained glass
Your favorite song sung on a stage
Faucet mics
Finding a missing piece to a game you once played
A piece of you you didn't know you missed
This is life
Loving this fresh newness

How to heal our country by Shanelle Gabriel

Timely paragraph in "Black Look- Race and Representation" by bell hooks. It's going to take White America to admit there's a problem, that they've partaken in, benefitted from, and ignored the colonization and destruction of an entire group of people in history and today for real change to happen. Liberation is not just for the oppressed. It frees the destructive mind of the oppressor and opens their hearts to the joy of loving humanity.

-Shanelle Gabriel

NaPoMo Day 29: Lifting by Shanelle Gabriel

She's been stressed lately
Can't always run from her problems
So she barbell presses
the weight of the world off her shoulders
Deadlifts what's holding her down
Getting her life in full Kettlebell swing
Doesn't give a Squat who is in her way
Not looking for kick backs
She earned what's hers
Only lunging forward
Raises her hands to the sky
Her existence has never been a skip and a jump
Left to workout life solo
Support came and then dipped
Roped into dark places
Where most people would curl into a
Medicine ball
But with every fall she pushes up
Remembering that targeting weaknesses
Leads to greater gains
Rather to raise the bar
Than live as a dumb belle
Worried over 5 pounds
Potential gathering dust on a shelf
She would rather lift the
Iron that sharpens iron
Never cared about
Being TOO strong for a man
This gym is life
Where who she is gets defined

NaPoMo Day 27: How to kill a student by Shanelle Gabriel

Tell them they're worthless
Then tell them they're perfect.
Tell them their flaws are their strengths
And their strengths are their flaws
Tell them the world is there's
But leave out the part about
It being hard and unfair
Let them feel like everything they want
Is on the bottom shelf
No need to climb
To fall would be too risky
Make these poor black and brown lives easy
Tell them about their rights
Sing songs about equality
Label their disrespect as freedom of speech
Let their tongues run free
Don't expect thought or self-control
Teach them to ignore authority
Skills they'll need when
Approached by police
Called out by bosses
Bend rules frequently
Consequences are too hard a concept
Let them believe someone will always
Be there to protect
To save
Keep on trying to save them
Hug them
Cushion them
They are the teddy bears you cuddle
Destined to sit on a prison barred shelf
Let them learn to expect the coddling
So many years of cotton picking
Only to have this generation
Filled with cotton stuffing
Forgetting the strength of steel backs
That silenced a whip's crack
Teach them slavery is a thing of the past
That there's nothing they lack
Tell them the world is colorblind
Tell yourself you see no skin
Only skeleton
Give the kids only bones
Barely scratch their surface
Make graduating their only purpose
If they're not complacent
Tell them they're worthless
Separate them based
How well they fit the status quo
Create futures for those who's tongues
You can hold
If they question you
Or suggest that you don't know what you think you know
About them
Hold them in contempt
Silence their recognition
That somethings wrong with their education
Blame their struggle on themselves
It's their fault if they don't do well
Regardless of hunger pains,
Misdiagnoses, and family strains
They should be able to excel
Suspend and expel
Anyone not compelled by your rhetoric
those that challenge your thinking
Suppress anyone who knows they don't need
Another pillow to catch them
That Brillo pad type of scrubbing
To be made to shine
To be able succeed
Through the subconscious destruction
Within every human interaction
And an inherently racist system
Smother them
Watch them bleed their potential
Choke on the White guilt
You shove down their throats
Give them your smiles
Give them your soft touch
Your praise and hi-5s
And pray that it will be enough
To keep them alive
To keep them free
To keep them employed
To keep them warm as an adult
Wandering through life

NaPoMo Day 25 by Shanelle Gabriel

I started hating him/ For not loving me/ for not seeing my efforts and my ability/ for not making life easier for me/ for seeing me drowning and still pouring salt water on my head/ for being salty/ for seeing my failures and labeling me a failure/ for not seeing that it's easy for an island to sink beneath the sea/ I started hating him for turning chameleon/ for making me mistake his smile for kindness/ his open hands were handshakes/ and now slaps to the face/ I started hating him for making me hate myself/ even if it was for just a second/ for that moment I didn't know how to defend my action/ and let your crooked words hurt/ I almost hated you/ I still kinda do but I'm slowly realizing that there is a gift in every person's curse/ that there is a healing that comes after every hurt/ that my soul is a mattress for my heart/ I can bounce back/ this end taught me how to keep my pride intact/ how to separate someone's disrespect from someone's own lack of self-respect/ how to set myself up so when someone tries to set me up I got enough to back myself up/ I know how to store enough gangsta for a rainy day/ Store enough perspective to be able to put my attitude in the right place/ I know that when someone comes out their face/ a lot of times it's cause they don't know how to save face/ and some would rather throw people off the train/ than admit the conductor instructions they gave were a mistake./ I'm learning not to sit in hate/ but to run away/ from anyone and anything meant to kill my spirit/ I won't be like him and lose my mind or my grace/ Any person or place/ that's fine with breaking me down/ Will have to learn to be fine without me around/ cause this curse blessed me with the urgency to search for the gift/ that I have now found.

NaPoMo Day 24: Crew Love by Shanelle Gabriel

Your guards down/ his cards up/ he's the player and the dealer/ texting him in caps cause you mad at how he treats ya/ think you gonna win when he's in charge of the game/ gave him the draws and you don't know his govt name/ you too mixed up/ give too much all these men/ getting your womb run thru and call it liberation/ No Amber or Kardashian/ Those are exceptions/ the average fly chick falls from recollection/ The moment these baller dudes finally get some./ Addicted to attention/ guys who only care about erections/ Women's liberation wasn't so you could be loose like them/ Equate the fight for equal rights to justify being objectified/ emotionally dead inside/
used to be a 10/ now you're just a one/ Dudes don't call you for dates/ They call you for fun/ Thinking if you sleep with a star you can be one/ left your constellation/ for bottle service and walks of shame with the sun/ I want better for you/ but you gotta want better for you/ i wish you could love yourself instead of just loving the crew

NaPoMo Day 22: Advice by Shanelle Gabriel

Ya lie down in strange places/ a woman of da night/ intertwined wit alla deez foreign men like making pelau wit uncle bens rice/ Ya too mixxy/ askin silly questions like "whatcha need ta do ta be a good wife"/ ya priorities float by/ cause Ya think ya need a man in ya life/ I thought like you once/ had dat sickness called "trust in love"/ but mi heal mi own body/ when Ya father and me's Union turned ta dust/ death to us put mi body in Trinidad but mi heart in the Arctic/ see, listen to mi pickney/ before dis illness kills ya soul/ the hurt will neva leave ya like da common cold/so turn ya heart into ice/so numb ya won't notice ya sick/say these words to ya reflection repeatedly/ so one day it will stick:
No man is gonna love you/ more than he love he freedom/ each lie a brick to build pyramids/ a beautiful tomb to hold ya heart/ he will watch you die/ just so he can feel like a worthy cause/ your tombstone will read birth/ under death - he'll sign he name/ just for de fame of it/ hell, he'll use your death to find de next chick/ pat the soil on ya grave/ before the grass can grow/ he in dat cemetery wanderin/ find himself another gal lookin for a man for she tombstone/ dah-lin gal/ mi daughter / mi redskin pickney/ this is for ya own good/ let these men be

NaPoMo Day 21: Desire by Shanelle Gabriel

When all you want
When all your chest pains for
When every single curl springing from your crown
To the callous shadowing
The heels of your feet
When all your knock knees
Legs that could caress arrows wants
When every ancestor within you
When your entire being...
Wants a seat on the train
You will tackle anyone
Shift anyone
Bludgeon anyone to get it.

NaPoMo Day 19: Workin by Shanelle Gabriel

I am anointed oil
Blessing every
Midnight toil
Digging in the soil
That folk won't soil
Their hands with
They ain't got the bandwidth
To do what I do
God can call many
But chooses so few
When called to duty
Would rather say it's out of their control
Remote locations
They won't go
Too scared to go the extra mile
Their grimace is my smile
I make the hard look easy
They're swans barely making a ripple
I'm more like Crocodile
Built to Slide
In and out muddy places
Splash and silence the water
Born to make an impact
Been putting in that work since
School gave you breaks
for naps and snacks
I won't stop cause I can't stop
I have that thing so many lack
It's called a hustlers spirit
I never fold no matter
How the odds against me are stacked

NaPoMo Day 17: Mixed Signals by Shanelle Gabriel

This is for the woman who said yes but meant no.
More than buyers remorse
Given a deal she couldn't refuse
Told it's not an option
Like taxes or student loans
Said yes
But clenched fists, shut eyes
Silent cries said no
Of course
Her thought her trembling and tears
Were cause of the pleasure he caused
Of course she really didn't want him to stop
I mean,
Women never really know what they want
So hormonal
Mixed signals I never needed to read
Color blind
Can't tell between red and green
This is for the woman
Who said yes but meant no
Cause of years of being told her no wasn't sufficient
Told he didn't even really need her permission
Told if she had a problem no one would listen
Cause "you know what it's like when he doesn't get his medicine"
Misogyny gave him the prescription
She has no choice but to fill
We still live in a world where a woman's right to her body
Gets shot down by a room full of men
In senate floor bills
So why would her bedroom be safe
Why would he not be in charge
She should be glad to be a background actress
Taking the lead from the self-proclaimed porn star
This is for the woman
Who said yes but meant no
Cause no is too "negative"
And she wanted to keep her man
"If he gets it up
It's your job to bring it down"
Like he doesn't have two perfectly good hands
Men have needs
You should understand
Always be ready
The place between your legs juicy
Matter of fact, it could be dry
As long as legs open wide
As long as he can force his way inside
Told baby girl,
Calm down
You'll be alright
Baby if you love me you'd let me try
If you love me you'll do what I like
Do you want me to go elsewhere
You ain't got nothing I can't go outside and find
This is for the woman
Who said yes but meant no
Cause no means there'll be a fight
So bit tongued
Forced smile
Love isn't about compromise
It's about sacrifice
Spent so many years saying yes to mans desire
She doesn't even know what she actually likes
Never reached an orgasm but has had sex countless times
Taught that
Love is a body cemented on top of me
Love is a penis concrete
Heavy inside me
Pain is pleasure.
Love hurts
And I learned how to love from my daddy
Love and Violation
I learned synonymously
The word no was never in my vocabulary
This is for the woman
Who said yes but meant no
Taught to swallow semen and pride
Be fine
With being treated like a whore
But stay dignified in the public eye
A freak in the sheets
Is always defined by how readily
you meet a mans needs
Wires will always be crossed
When social constructs and power dynamics
Make men think they're in the movie weird science
And they can create and exploit a woman's sexual mechanics
They can focus on the yes
Ignore the no that was sandwiched
As long as there's a yes
Forget the body language
She consented to the sex
So she alone is responsible for the damage
There was an "ok" mumbled somewhere
Put it in before she changes her mind
Not my fault she agreed to this slow suicide
This is for the woman who was never told she could say no at anytime
Coerced or forced sex is a crime
This is for the woman
Who said yes but meant no
Although though no question was posed
This is for the woman who was a girl
who said yes but meant no.
Because she wasn't old enough to say no to adults
Who grew into a woman
Who said yes but meant no
This is for the woman dating a man
Who once said yes but meant no
This is for the woman
Who said yes but meant no
Who said yes but meant no
Who said no but meant no
Who said no but meant no
Who said nothing but meant no
Who said nothing but meant no
Who said...

NaPoMo Day 14: Broken by Shanelle Gabriel

Broken men
Battling broken men
Breaking battling broken men
Be breaking battling broken men
I be breaking battling broken men
Cause I be breaking battling broken men
Tired cause I be breaking battling broken men
So shattered cause I be breaking battling broken men
Get so shattered cause I be breaking battling broken men
I get so shattered cause I be breaking battling broken men
I now see my reflection in his shards

NaPoMo: Day 13: Struggling to Pray by Shanelle Gabriel

I struggle to pray sometimes
Except to bless food
Every plate I remember to be thankful
But some days my plate seems too full
Too much to bare
Or too little
Not much to share
I struggle to pray sometimes
Except for the youth I know
I may feel stagnant at times
But my goal is for them to grow
Recognize the same sun that burns them
Feeds their leaves strengthens their branches
The mistakes are okay
God gives second, third fourth fifth chances
I struggle to pray sometimes
Except when I'm in danger
Walking through the darkness
He always sends a friend in the guise of a stranger
I can't count the uncountable number of times
I felt so afraid
Barely a moment would pass
And the terrifying situation would fade
Im ashamed to say
Sometimes I struggle to pray
But He keeps on blessing me