I am proud to introduce you to my friend, Yecheilyah Ysrayl, writer, poet, and blogger. Today, August 24, 2015, we are celebrating the release of her new novel, “Stella – Beyond the Colored Line.”
Here is what “Stella,” is all about:
“Born in 1916, Stella May is the great-granddaughter of former slave Stella Mae who changed the family’s name to May upon freedom. A descendant of mixed ancestry, Stella’s complexion is very light, and her blonde hair and hazel eyes cause her to be the tease of her black classmates. Unable to find solace among her African-American contemporaries, Stella finds it difficult to adjust to a world where she is too light to be black and yet too poor to be white.
After the Great Depression of the 1930s forces Stella’s family to move to Chicago, a prevailing conversation with Aunt Sara provokes Stella to pass, and she decides to live her life as Sidney McNair, a white woman.
As the growing oppression of Blacks in the age of Jim Crow continues to rise, Stella is conflicted about the color of her skin and the life she has chosen to live. What will it take for her to discover the truth concerning herself? How far is too far?”
Find out in this “Stella Sequel,” what’s truly Beyond the Colored Line.
B & N NOOK:
Author, Yecheilyah Ysrayl
“Yecheilyah (e-see-lee-Yah) Ysrayl, whose name means “deliverance”, started writing short stories and poetry at twelve years old. Although she cannot remember the exact moment, she has always loved to read and believe this nurtured her writing coming of age.
“When you know what it’s like to be homeless, or to be hungry, or to be overall in need there’s a lot of time to read and to reflect and to, as a consequence, write.”
When asked why she started writing she’s at a loss for words.
“It just seems to have always been a part of me. It seemed natural. Writing was breathing, it was living and I just did it.”
It wasn’t until High School that she really got into Spoken Word poetry.
“I joined this poetry group in High School, UMOJA Spoken Word, which really revolutionized my words as it taught me how to perform poetry rather than just writing it down or reading it. UMOJA is the Swahili word for “unity” and the class really taught me a lot. The teachers for instance would always give us these assignments to take home where we’d have to write on a certain theme: irony, alliteration, personification, metaphor, etc. It was the first time I’d really heard these terms and it was really exciting exploring them. But what I remember most is their insistence to be ourselves. The assignments were always encouraged to be original and unique. They didn’t tell us how to write, though they were teaching us how to write! I also worked part-time writing and performing plays for the school and also studied drama which added to the education I was getting in the area of performance and the arts.”
After High School, Yecheilyah attended Chicago State University where she met her husband and majored in Professional and Technical Writing. After this, she attended Everest College where she took a hiatus from the whole writing field and studied Medical Assistance.
“It was fun and I found myself developing a passion for Phlebotomy (the practice of drawing blood from patients and taking the blood specimens to the laboratory to prepare for testing) and spent some time at Trinity Advocate Hospital on Chicago’s south side. But when my husband and I moved to Shreveport Louisiana, I found myself coming back to my first love. I mean, I’m a devoted bible believer and as such an individual who believes time is never wasted but that everything happens for a reason. So for that I do still enjoy the medical field and just having that knowledge I know will be useful one day is important I think.”
Yecheilyah introduced Shreveport to her poetry through open mic nights at such places as The Naked Bean Cafe, and Words Over Lattes and got her writing gears back turning. In 2010, she Self-Published her first book of poetry.
“Writing is important to me because I never second guessed whether it would be a part of my life. You know how sometimes your dream career changes as you age? And in that process you discover new gifts and may even develop new interests? Not for me. For me writing, even in its innumerable forms, has always been my first love. Even when I turned to the medical field I never lost sight of it.”
Today, Yecheilyah lives in Shreveport, LA with her husband and writes full-time. She says:
“Beyond The Colored Line is my seventh Self-Published project but I feel like it’s the first! I really sought to understand more about the process with this one and I pray it will be both an adventure and an insightful read for all of you.”
While Silver and Yecheilyah are juggling all these book sales here are some Fun Facts about Yecheilyah:
- My birth name is Stacey
- I’ve been married for seven years
- I have two stepdaughters (14, 17)
- I have a twin sister and were the youngest on both our Mother and Fathers side
- I love children
- I’m originally from Chicago (South Side)
- I was Homeless at 10 years old
- My father died of Cancer when I was 13 years old
- I went to an International Language Career Academy for High School and can speak bits of Spanish, French, German, and Twi or Ashanti Twi
- I love to travel
- I ran a Community Center as lead Administrative Manager for six years tutoring / teaching children
- I believe the Bible is Black History and it’s my favorite book of all
- I’m a Certified Medical Assistant with a specialty in Phlebotomy
I now write Full Time
In order for you to get to know her better, I informed Stella of this exciting opportunity to be featured on Colleen’s lovely blog. Now I have to be honest in that she was not very happy about this, and wants me to inform all of you that you should probably mind your own business. Now, I told her that wasn’t very nice and so she sends her apologies. Well, that just was not enough for me! I told her that she has to give you guys something a little more convincing. So, finally Stella agreed to help me out and has decided to write us a poem about her identity crisis. – EC
“Mama Put a Curse on Me,” by Stella May
Mama put a curse on me
When she gave me that name
Attaching history to my skin
When she knew it had stains on it
Though her eyes were green
She acted like her skin was brown
And teleported her daughter back to slavery
What kind of name is Stella anyway?
It don’t hardly go with my skin
And mama’s either.
But she tryna be something she ain’t
And I’m just tryna be something I am
You see, there’s a stigma that comes
With the color of history
And yet being colored
race wars always concerned these two groups of people
and there ain’t seemed to be much room for a mulatto
So you see
Mama put a curse on me
When she named me Stella
After my great-grandmother
A slave on Paul Saddlers plantation
And his daughter too
So as to escape slavery
I think I’ll just opt out this race
And considers myself white
Maybe even change my name
And pitch my tent somewhere
Beyond the Colored Line
Did you enjoy meeting Yecheilyah? I love her poetry! Here is where else you can find her:
Thanks for stopping by. See you again!