“RELEASED” a hit new docu-series to be debuted on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network
September 30, 2017

Consulting Producer and Author Shaka Senghor

Yesterday, I had the privilege of being an honorary guest at the dynamic press lunch accompanied by a very deep and necessary roundtable discussion. The group dissussion surrounded multiple branches of incarceration within families and it featured the consulting producer of “Released” Mr. Shaka Senghor. 

“Released” is a new docu-series that adds a journey filled with emotion, a glimpse into the interaction and readjustment back into society after being incarcerated. In episode one we are introduced to Kevin, Jermaine and Kay as their stories are documented post release and they enter the next phase of transitional adjustment back into society; some serving over a decade of time. When one family member goes to prison it takes on a whole new territory for the family through conversation, explanation, financial and emotional hardship. No person is wrong for having the feelings they experience as we are not in that persons shoes to identify the hardship.

Rapper Mysonne joined to weigh in his views on the discussion

If you have not been incarcerated personally you are unaware of the tactics it took to survive inside, post traumatic stress uncuffed and the mentally physche of overwhelming feelings. You may have experienced the same emotions within your life perspective but from the key element of FREEDOM. Not having an outlet or the option to choose what and when you eat, enjoying simple pleasures at your own leisure or even interaction with others if you are in the hole will make you appreciate life in general. The struggle or the restriction is not comparable in either instance even though it does not make one’s feeling less valid because of a void that was not filled.

Shaka Senghor shared his story and why it was important to show this vantage point of being released is imperative. With staggering statistics as: 44% of Black Women have a family member in prison or 10,000 men and women are released every week, 4 to 10 return within 6 months and how the U.S. incarcerates more people than anywhere else in the world is alarming. 1 in 9 African Americans parents are in prison and drugs are along the top tier for the reasoning. 

RELEASED follows individuals who have completed longterm prison sentences during those first crucial 90 dayson the outside.  We’ll meet them as they walk out the  prison doors for the first time, and stay with them for  every step and misstep as they attempt to reconnect withtheir loved ones, establish their independence and beginthe long, hard work of starting over. 

As the docu-series continues to build around Kevin, Jermaine and Kay we will gain insight in how they transition from being restricted inside with no glimpse of society to entering a new world so to speak as it did not stop as they were away. 

  

I think society stigmatizes being released and there has not been an outlet to break the cycle of incarceration which tears families apart. Prison isn’t always the solution and in Kevin’s scenario he already had two strikes and went onto serve 19 years for stealing $160 worth of baby clothes and getting into a scuffle with a security guard. That sentence is harsh in comparison to a sentence of a murderer or not being able to get a job due to his priors and environment in which many opportunities aren’t rendered. Returning to familiar habits becomes the resolution to the common issue of being an outcast when returning to society. There is hope after prison, adversity and anything you consider struggling it all has to deal with your mentality and utilizing what you have access to but some are not as fortunate as others.

Shaka Senghor joined by Chanel Benjamin

Being placed back into society is similar to a baby learning how to walk after the crawling stages. How can you put something in the past that the world constantly remind you of with closed doors and limited opportunities? You literally walk out of one form of imprisonment to another form of restraint. Many are dehumanized in a way that allows people to say that’s unfair and unfortunate and make strides by utilizing our voice for change. The healing for children impacts their quality of life you can not rewind time and the importance of the new docu-series “Released” angles of family interaction, dealing with the outskirts of reality is depicted with raw emotion. The only emotion we are allowed to own is our anger from the notion of what is presented to us and what we see others have or just curiosity to how your life would have been in comparison to what is it. 

Courtesy of 135th Street Agency

Watch: Kevin Getting Stopped at Airport Security

https://owncomm.box.com/s/w5psexj6q1fcijs8qg1hpth5o126bkcd

Watch: Kay Describes How it Felt to Be Released

https://owncomm.box.com/s/cxw2bzq2xxvw0zkfclddo2bg7tl9b6lq

Be sure to watch RELEASED as it debuts on Saturday, September 30 at 10PM ET/PT on OWN. Join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #ReleasedOWN

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Harlem Cares 2nd Annual toy drive RECAP
December 17, 2014

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On Sunday, December 14, 2014 The Harlem Cares Family (Yandy Smith, Original Housewife Collection, Pretty in Black Catering, EGL – Everything Girls Love and myself presented the 2nd Annual toy drive with The Winter Wonderland theme to the Harlem community. The event was held from 1pm to 5pm at The Kennedy Center *Thank you @billycharlem for providing the venue* (34 W 134th Street between Lenox and Fifth Avenue) in the effort to collect toys and coats from attendees to donate to deserving less fortunate families this year. This year differed from last year as we invited the adults to bring children for a day of fun filled activities, entertainment and food.

Affirmations. "I am beautiful" / "I am very smart"

Affirmations. “I am beautiful” / “I am very smart”

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There were different stations set up to cater to the children of the families who donated toys filled with the amenities suitable for the stars of the day. The activities included:

KIDDIE BUFFET – chicken sliders, pizza, mac n cheese were provided by Mama Mias (@mamamias_)

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Peanut butter and jelly sandwich squares, fruit kabobs and other bites were provided by Nelly’s Kitchen (@nellyskitchen)

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Arizona Ice tea were provided by Drinkup (@drinkup_nyc3) and cupcake were provided by Tonnie’s minis (@tonniesminis)

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PAMPER STATIONS – featured manicures for girls provided by Little Miss Pretty House of Glam (@lmphouseofglam)

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Shape ups for boys provided by Started with Clippers (@startedwithclippers) and Street Fame own @ladyjaekutz

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HOT COCO BAR – provided by Trendy Treats BK (@trendytreatsBK) and the decor was provided by Primrose Couture Events (@primrosecoutureevents)

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HOLIDAY PHOTO BOOTH – provided by Fancy Face (@fancyfacephotobooth)

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FACE PAINTING – provided by Sheila J. (@sheilajfaces) and Cutie Crew (@cutiecrew)

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HOLIDAY ARTS AND CRAFTS STATION – provided by Original Housewife Collection (@originalhousewifecollection), Dash Diva (@dashdiva13) and Pinky Sez (@Pinkysezdesigns__)

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PICK A BOOK STATION – there were over 200 books available that the children in attendance could choose from to take home provided by Pretty With a Purpose (@PrettyWithAPurpose)

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MUSIC – was provided by (@blkidtwins)

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DJ TP of The Blkidtwins

LIVE ENTERTAINMENT – provided by the tap dancer known as Cartier (@cartier231) – a special surprise R and B rendition by Zieme and his little princess who sung Twinkle, twinkle little star, Jusso and the Ninja Turtles danced their way into the kids heart provided by Saycheeez (@saycheeeze_nyc)

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CUPCAKE DECORATING – provided by Bites Galor (@bites_galore_)

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The kids ate, danced, wrote letters to Santa, picked out books and much more. The turnout was great and everyone was overwhelmed with excitement as Yandy Smith arrived with her family along with her PUD Kimbella and her .

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Kimbella with Mama Mia's chef

Thank you to all of our sponsors who donated to the raffle, companies that sponsored the event, everyone who volunteered their time and congratulations to all of the winners.

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Lil Mandeecees shuffled the first raffle which was a bookbag with a tablet and headphones inside. The other raffles that were given away were: (2) $50 gift certificates to Don Coqui, a $50 credit for Uber car services, a $50 gift certificate to Poco NYC restaurant and a gift certificate to Ottomanelli’s. It was a great turn out and every year it will get BIGGER and BETTER because of YOU!!! What an amazing day. Thank you to everyone who supported the Harlem Cares 2nd Annual toy drive. It was a successful event that will brighten a deserving child’s holiday season. Join our Facebook page www.facebook.com/harlemwecare and keep hashtagging your experience with #HarlemCares – See you next year!!!

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