In the midst of achievement and success, sometimes you’ll also encounter jealousy, anger, and competitive energy from unlikely sources. That’s what I’m dealing with now, bellas. That kind of negativity can be disquieting to the spirit.

On days when it gets to me, I tend to do as my mom suggests and shroud myself in prayer, or to reread the Desiderata — the poem that basically outlines the way I try to live my life. Or — as I told fellow blogger Game Well and Truly Over for his 2010 Music Project — I listen to a song that makes me feel protected.


Yesterday I found solace in the poetry of Maya Angelou. And this is probably a poem we’ve all read before, but it helped me out in a time of trouble this week. So I hope it does the same for you.

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise

I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

I rise

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

I rise

I rise

I rise.

I had the privilege of seeing Maya Angelou speak and perform her work once, when she came to the University of Miami. What an aura she has. Such poise, such presence. I can only admire and aspire to be like that someday. Her words already speak volumes, but when you hear her perform her poetry, it resonates with even deeper meaning.

That particular poem speaks to my soul right now. And maybe it speaks to an experience you’re going through, too. For those who would wish you ill, shrug off their negative vibes and ill wishes. And know that in the path ahead you’re going to encounter slings, arrows, and snakes in the grass. And still, despite all of that, we’ll rise.



Maria says:
February 17, 2010, 11:31 am
Afrobella (and fellow Bellas): This has been a disheartening time for for many who are trying to live decent lives and achieve their goals. When you are focused AND purposed, the "emotional vampires" come out trying to just throw shade on your plans, success and triumphs, which can be simply draining. You have to protect your mental health at all costs. So this is what I do: 1. Pray for your protection and focus. People tend to confuse selfishness with self care. I have needs and wants and pray daily for them. 2. Music helps ALOT!!! A song I have been playing lately is Phoenix by Buckshot LeFonque featuring an amazing vocalist, Frank McComb. It speaks of love and friendship lost and how the person rises again. 3. Walk. Light exercise such as walking can really get your blood flowing and get your mind off of the negativity that people are trying to throw at you. 4. Write it out. Writing is cathartic. Therapy without the big bill (Giggle).
Anya says:
February 17, 2010, 11:57 am
Hi Bella: Don't let the negatives get you down. Look at all you've accomplished. When you're in the role of a leader, there are those who are jealous and that's just something you'll have to learn to brush off.
BeautyXchangeGirl says:
February 17, 2010, 1:10 pm
I can understand what you're feeling as I'm sure most of us can. But, honestly Bella what I've started to learn is to have a "I don't give a ....." attitude (I'll let you fill in the blanks with your choice of words). As long as you know that what you're doing is honest to you and GOD than all else will fall into place. In the words of Maya - I think you're a phenomenal woman with so many dimensions and you freely share that with your readers and that's remarkable in itself. Good Luck & keep praying! (btw - This is one of my favorite poems from Ms. Maya Angelou since the 4th grade when it was rehearsed and read by a fellow classmate during a Black History celebration.)
Bosslady312 says:
February 17, 2010, 1:49 pm
thank you bella for posting ms. angelou's poem....I needed this today. :)
Nia says:
February 17, 2010, 1:54 pm
Bella, remember you are a beautiful light that has touched many hearts! Those that matter-have your back. And,"fans" like myself, will continue to lift you up in prayer. We recongize your genius and arent intimidated.:) Maya's words are healing. I find solace in this poem. Ms. Maya was a regular speaker at our annual leadership conference in college. She challenged us to go out into the world and share our gifts. So, Bella stay true to your gift-DO U! The Universe is smiling. Maria,AMEN sister!
Yolanda says:
February 17, 2010, 2:38 pm
The Light of GOD Surrounds you. The Love of GOD Enfolds you. The Power of GOD protects you. Wherever YOU are, GOD is and all is well.
NiaSoul01 says:
February 17, 2010, 2:44 pm
Bella and family... Allow me to share two of my favorite quotes with you. "You need haters...a haters job is to hate so let them do their job...Ladies, if you have 14 women hating on you, you need to figure out how to get to 16 before the summer gets here." ~Katt Williams "When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell." ~Psalm 27:2 Now, you might ask how can I follow up a quote from the not-so-reverent Katt Williams with one from the Word of God (and please believe that I had to paraphrase the heck out of the Katt Williams quote). But in thiking about this post, that's what popped into my head. Now, granted, I don't have a lot of haters, but there are folks that are going to hate on you no matter what. You buy a new car; here come the haters. You get a new job; here come the haters. You get a new man; here comes the haters. You lose some weight; here come the haters. You start working on a better relationship with Christ; here comes the haters. So, I say, let them come. If they choose to stand still and be afraid of your progress, then that's on them. You can't let their insecurities, fears, and/or ignorance stand in your way. We're all toooooooooooooooo blessed for that. It's not about being better than them. It's about trusting God's Word. I love Psalm 27 for so many different reasons and always looked at it as being about my protection. But after looking at it again, I can truly say, let the haters come. God will take care of that too! Ladies be encouraged!!!
paradisebird says:
February 17, 2010, 2:49 pm
*hugs offerend* Ah, Bella, you are such a beautiful person. This beauty attracts not so well-meaning ppl like light attract moths (for the same reasons, I think, to want to know how it feels to shine this bright and draw attention and give warmth and secure feelings). And sometimes..just sometimes jealousy is the most honest form of admiration. Thanks for sharing this poem. It is a constant mantra for me and a life saver.
Hillerie Camille says:
February 17, 2010, 4:41 pm
Hi Bella, I've been reading and commenting on your site for about two years. I love your energy, but speaking as a big sister, please don't let the negative energy invade your passion. I can tell your heart and soul fill this place. I often come here for your uplifting presence and spirit. A couple weeks ago, you were going off about the negativity regarding people using your name. I understand how you're feeling lately, but don't let them steal your joy and invade your space. This blog is your space. Don't let the haters have it. The people who love you, love you and that's the truth. Let this place, your blog, be a place of peace. Love you girl!
JenG says:
February 17, 2010, 4:46 pm
Just what I needed!
Georgia Peche says:
February 17, 2010, 4:49 pm
Hey Afrobella, I am sorry that their are haters in your midst, but don't let the devil affect you or get you down. I wanted to stop by earlier because i opened my copy of a well known African American magazine and lo and behold, there you were smiling in all your glory. As a fellow blogger, I started only for fun, and I have asked for your advice along the way because I considered finding my niche and taking things to the next level. I can only wish more good things on you. You are an inspiration and I hope to be in an Essence or Ebony like you somedays. Keep doing great things to inspire people.
bella says:
February 17, 2010, 5:45 pm
You don't know how much your words of encouragement helped me today! I've been hearing the leaves rustling lately, and yes - apparently some people are upset I've been getting the opportunities I've been blessed to receive lately. They want to know why me, and not them. I would not even be in position to be receiving these blessings and opportunities were it not for HARD WORK, and I've been putting it in for years. It has never even occurred to me once to be jealous or angry, much less to try to disrupt someone else's shine, when it is their time to shine. So it really shook me that someone was out there trying to do that to me. Sigh. People are strange. But as so many of you said, all you can do is stay faithful and true to yourself and your beliefs. Shoulders are brushed, head is high - FORWARD EVER, backward NEVER! Love you bellas!!!
Nina says:
February 17, 2010, 5:47 pm
NiaSoul01 read my mind. I was going to quote Kat too. He may be a little unorthodox, but he had a skit that said even Jesus had had haters: And I'll take it a step further and say that these haters are all a part of helping you to grow stronger (*cues Christina Aguilera's "Fighter"*) and fulfill a greater purpose.
Moni says:
February 17, 2010, 7:10 pm
Thank you so much for this. This is exactly what I needed to hear today, after my co-chair of an organization basically told me to go f$!* myself after I called him on using the organization's name to get out of line. I got angry, but I also realized that his anger and hate is his issue, not mine. I will not allow others' issues to cause me to lose my joy and neither should you!
tycajam says:
February 17, 2010, 9:23 pm
Even in this moment you are an inspiration. I agree with all the encouraging words and send you all types of positive vibes. Blessings from on high!
sandra says:
February 18, 2010, 12:11 am
Thank you bella I needed this for the last four weeks and today. I don't understand why there are just some people hell bent on injustice and inequality.
Jessica says:
February 18, 2010, 12:19 am
Bella, Anyone who has been on your site for 5 minutes can see the time, care and well-chosen content you put on you site like clockwork. For my money (and time = money) you have one of the best written blogs and social media platforms in the business. If EVER anyone doubts that you have earned every scrap of opportunity invite them to pu t in the same blood, sweat and tears! With love, Jessica
sandra says:
February 18, 2010, 12:23 am
When I feel down bella I listen to the song:"stand by me" by playing for change. Here is a link: And...The other thing that helps me is realizing that a word we throw around quite fluidly(Love) is not something people really understand. But when I read the bible definition of it; I realize so many people think because they go to church, that they are loving when in fact they aren't. Remember Love IS: Love is *patient*, love is *kind* and is *not jealous*; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Meditate on this and it will help you on how to love and show you that many people do not have "love" when we think they do or they profess to.
Chatty Patty says:
February 18, 2010, 1:06 am
You have been an inspiration to me and so many bloggers like myself. Your positive energy is like the sunshine after a rainy day. It's only natural when you get to the level that you've gotten on that bad minded people will try to pull you down. Keep your head to the sky!
Ambrosia says:
February 18, 2010, 2:11 am
Ultimately, envy means that you are doing something right. Otherwise people would have nothing to be jeallous about. Unluckily, the mor eyou are in the public eye the more you will attract atention, both good and bad. All you can do is listen to the good, and take the bad as a sign that at least you are achieving some kind of inspiration for others...may they learnt to strive towards what they would like to have themselves, and learnto be inspired rather than jeallous! All you can ever do is be gracious and help others where you can!
Joy says:
February 18, 2010, 4:01 am
I love Maya Angelou. She is indeed an inspiration. Also, have you heard about Janelle Monae's newly released singles? Ive been listening to them nonstop. You should write about it once you get the chance. Check her site at for free version of the songs. All the best
trinigul says:
February 18, 2010, 5:14 am
NiaSoul01 and Nina are so right!! Prayer and Katt Williams (he really is inspirational if you can get past his potty mouth): use them to take care of your Star Player.
Purple says:
February 18, 2010, 6:45 am
Bella, the opposition you face shows just how powerful you are. You're doing an amazing job and I'm grateful for your work.
Dad says:
February 18, 2010, 10:43 am
It's a part of life. It is how some of us are.On a platform like this you will get all types. But from the responses, you must be doing something right and good and wholesome. You continue to inspire and help so many people through the gifts that you have been given that you may never really know the true impact of your work. What comes through in most of your work is love for everyone,caring and gratitude for everything, even the negative. Your journey has only just begun. Love always.
Shonquayshah says:
February 19, 2010, 8:02 pm
i love your site and keep doing what you are doing. hurting (or fill in the blank________) people, hurt people. haters, hate, liars, lie on...the list goes on...just keep on doing what you do! and listen to ewf "keep your head to the sky" that ALWAYS makes me smile.
pets says:
February 21, 2010, 8:10 pm
Bella stay bright. Stay up beat. Stay focused. Be a mentor and be a humanitarian. But don't be down, don't be angry and upset - there will always be people who can't and won't wish you well - ignore them and daily continue to thank God for your success.
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