Shamia Brightful and Mothyna James-Brightful

Recorded June 27, 2019 Archived June 27, 2019 31:03 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: dde001574


Shamia Brightful (32) talks with her sister-in-law Mothyna James-Brightful (36) about their relationship, and her appreciation and admiration for Mothyna's confidence and her work for women's wellness. Mothyna talks about her own journey in making conscious commitments to herself and her life as part of the larger community. The interview ends with the two sharing about their love, confidence, and appreciation as reflections of each other and their continued growth within the fabric of community wellness.

Subject Log / Time Code

Shamia Brightful and Mothyna James Brightful talk about first meeting one another, when MJB was dating SB’s brother.
SB talks about her admiration for MJB, her confidence, and her work for women’s wellness. MJB talks about her upbringing and changes in her confidence and how she shows up in the world.
MJB talks about the development of her character and growth, and the women in her family and community who provided various opportunities for her wellness.
MJB talks about the lifelong commitment of finding one’s place in the fabric of community.
MJB talks about her sense of purpose in her work and commitment to healing and strengthening the fabric of her community, and her sense of responsibility to herself and to advocacy.
MJB talks about being a mirror for each other’s strengths and capacities, and the process of excavating oneself from things that no longer fit.


  • Shamia Brightful
  • Mothyna James-Brightful

Recording Locations

Enoch Pratt Free Library, Orleans Street Branch

Venue / Recording Kit

Partnership Type

Fee for Service




StoryCorps uses Google Cloud Speech-to-Text and Natural Language API to provide machine-generated transcripts. Transcripts have not been checked for accuracy and may contain errors. Learn more about our FAQs through our Help Center or do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions.

00:00 My name is shamia. Brightful. I am 32 years old. Today's date is June 27th, 2019 where in Baltimore Maryland and I am interviewing today my sister-in-law Medina james-brightful and

00:20 I am looking forward to our conversation. Thank you. I am assigning james-brightful. I'm 36 years old. Today is June 27th, 2019. I'm in Baltimore, Maryland and the name of my interview partner is shamia brightful who happens to be my amazing sister-in-law.

00:41 All right. So I'm looking forward to our conversation today. I you know, I You See Me Grow. I've seen you girl. We watch one another girl and I think that this is a another opportunity for us to bond today. So I hope you're that's a good point, LOL. Yeah. I hope you're ready. I'm ready. Let's do this. Right? So let's talk about how we first met. What is your earliest memory of me? Oh my goodness. So first off, I just started dating your brother and not even was the weird to a dating situation cuz I was like, I'm at the festival right? So we were at the African American heritage festival downtown, Baltimore.

01:42 And it seems like Harry hit this is my sister and I was like, oh, hey sister and ever since that has been interesting because when people see us together, like all y'all are sisters and we just have to at this point nine and go. Yes, we are but that's not really his memory is meeting you at the festival and I was in my mind you were younger than you probably were cuz I'm like you like you don't 1615 since I wait a minute, is that right? Is that right? Now? You're a little older inside selfies since high school, but actually I just graduated high school. So I was calling to 18, you know, my earliest memory of you is actually cooking in your kitchen mozzarella sticks and more homemade and I will never forget those mozzarella sticks that you made from scratch. And so that was a little while we should try to make some more mozzarella sticks the children would love that.

02:42 Yes, I do. I've I do think so I do so I you know, I'm hoping to because I've watched you grow. I've been around you and my younger adult years and so, you know something that I really do admire about you is your confidence and and so, you know, I so why I'm excited to interview today because I really did Marius and I one of the things I might about you is your confidence and so that's always been with me in my thoughts of you as my sister-in-law.

03:37 So no one can ever change my mind about your level of confidence. If nothing else. I love it and I love the work that you do with women to empower them and how you just so stand and in that that

04:04 Because I look to you in that way. I don't want to know like all your secret but I just want to let you know that I'm that's why I'm

04:14 Think this is a good opportunity for us to talk because I don't know if you've ever need if you ever need that is so that's why I'm looking forward in seeing you. Do you want to share anything? That's why I wanted things about the confidence piece. That's really interesting is like most young people like I grew up on an island ride that well for a. Of time like you know it in years than in Upstate New York, and I'm coming to Maryland and moving from an island where you know, I did feel like boss of the time because I'm the oldest grandchild. We know I'm the oldest Grand girl rather and I was surrounded by family and siblings and tell him to move to New York where I was surrounded by mom sister my brother and my parents and all the extended cousins were no longer around my cousin to my confidence took a huge shot. Like, you know what I'm about to tell that story I would liken it to

05:14 Feeling like a giant and then going to need a ladder to get up on the curb. Like I went from feeling big and bold to totally feeling like a mouse like is not some of the Statue of voice of power. And so today I think that of course help inform how I started showing up in the world and hurting other people to show up because I didn't really find my voice until I came to Maryland until I can a Baltimore came to school and I just think we remember having a moment where I was like, you know what I'm in college now, I'm turning over a new Leaf. This is about to be to the new me which was really the old me that had gotten shrunken and cover it up and that whole experience is so really learning how to unpack that conversation about who I'm choosing to be and they even recently died having to taking hits emotionally and in life that confidence is definitely shaking and so I think I became a part of the reason if I go back

06:12 That moved from giant to need in the lap me in. The ladder has helped me then begin finding out what we're do you pull some of that from when you don't feel like you have it and then how do you view mirror for other people's particularly women to help them? See you forgot it was already there. So yeah. But I just had to get that out. It was good. And so one of the things and you saying about your college Years is that I learned

06:51 About you probably from your college experiences first. So I saw yes Miss Morgan and then from there I learned about your organization and stop always seen you in a position to me of confidence Carlos of how you felt emotionally. I've always that's always in my view of you as a leader. So I'll say that your confidence and so it's interesting that you that you mention your college and how that's me and your voice. Another thing is when I look at Jamar quino, I just looked and think of what the endless possibilities and all the things that he can become and how he how that might show up in his adult life. And so to me

07:51 That's that's the correlation of those two things is seeing that confidence in you and meeting you as an adult and then seemed as a young child would it might look like so sometimes when I see him, you know not hear him talking back on this thing. How much or his mind is that how I think of you as a young child, like maybe that you were that way and so I think I despise being closely and quarters and I always like to make connections and that's that's another connection. I've me recently is that you were you know, it was so when you say when you were away, I just think they may be young Medina was eating out already who she was.

08:51 All kinds of things and according to my father at yeah, apparently, I've always has many aspects of this personality and it brings to light just a concept of how how we should Advocate how we should encourage young people to understand and crafts and you know, really Creek direction for those innate abilities that they have because for us as the adults it can be frustrating right when they are like when he got the violin and the day he got the violin and wanted to have a violin and we can start taking the classes and then I already know how to play the violin. Yeah, you just got the violins like literally half an hour ago, but his but that's his confidence that you're talkin about. And so for him, it was like, yeah, but that same confidence is what led him to YouTube how to really play the violin.

09:51 Butchering that and not allowing it to push our buttons in terms of how we engage with him. And I think I'm most of us engage with people first off was certainly we use that becomes a huge component that we Wienerschnitzel's innate abilities and not crush them.

10:08 I'm just going to ask you one question because I I do.

10:14 Appreciate what the experiences you bring to Baltimore and how you connect two people in Baltimore. And so I've I do want to just ask you what or rather who who had the biggest influence on your life growing up. Oh my goodness. That's a great question. And I think one of the things that I always think first my mom right my mother, I didn't realize I'm 36 and did not realize till probably. Oh, I don't know if 36 really I did not realize that, you know, my mother was born in Nevis in the West Indies and she left that island and went to a US.

10:59 Property right and the US Virgin Islands, right and ultimately was born but all that she still had to go through a lot of the pieces that an immigrant would and my father is an immigrant song when I think back through the hustle and the energy and the go get it this that she exhibits and it's not as I reflect on it that I'm like I got it from my dad doesn't have it. I think might be that identifying Factor as a woman to just use that as a first example, but my mother is was the biggest proponent for us going to college. I love my daddy all day long, but he was like listen, you can go to the community colleges to start off right financially that might be a good idea. She wanted us to do to go to universities and go to institutions and encouraged us to apply to schools that weren't just in our backyard. And so it's because of that push that I ended up in Maryland and ended up at Morgan because

11:59 I tell you I was supposed to live in New York City right for Essence magazine and be the amazing journalist. Okay. I was about that New York City Life you nothing of it, but in my mind it was a glamour for it and yet and why you did not accept me and why you take this nap? However State University Morgan a lot of that hustle and drive and inspiration. That was just the day-to-day life but reflecting on it. I always say this. I was born in the US Virgin Islands. I was raised in Upstate New York Baltimore's where I grew up.

12:37 Right at Morgan State University in Baltimore where I grew up as for me that is where I began some really own who I am and uncovered that and learn about Sisterhood and connection and challenging having friends challenge me and go in a minute. I'm amazing what you mean? I'm not amazing, but they were pieces of my character. Of course. I thought I had it in so that when I think about who I admire most the first and foremost, what would be my mom and then from that I love all the five-star man in my life namely. I love all the five-star man in my life namely, you know my dad and now my husband however, it's the women now, you know, my mom and then reflected on my grandmother's and the Graham great-grandmother. I never met but who still who bought land and kept it in our family and has had that land passed down by generation.

13:37 Degeneration at this point to my grandmother hold it now, but she's ready to pass that Don t want to hurt great-grandchildren at this point. So that that concept of women I'm here in Maryland at Morgan at one of the people who is integral in terms of crafting who I became and how I was able to accept who I am is Vivian Ryan. She was director of Student Activities at Morgan during my tenure there. And when I said I have this idea, I'm going to run for Miss Morgan. I was untraditional Miss Morgan.

14:08 You know Queen of the university and that didn't really want to be but said you know what I'm going to do it and she accepted that okay, this one's different. But alright we're going to war with it. And when I said I want you to program call he won't heal nation and she was like, okay, but at the end of the program when I graduated, she's the one who called and said, I know you're you're done, but can you come back because it was so good. Let's do it again. And I was like, I had to double-check my degree cuz I said wait a minute. I know I'm finished. You know, I'm no longer a student right? I got the degree to prove it and she's like I know but it was so powerful and you got so many women together and the way it was organized. She gave me the confidence to understand that that wasn't just a one-time thing that this a powerful connection to this and she did that over and over and over again, so she passed away and so I was a good four years after I mean four years later when she passed away

15:07 Due to leukemia complications and I never even knew she was sick, but she just kept calling and saying at the beginning of every school year. Are you going to do it again? Come back and do it again? And so the that becoming part of the Legacy in the power behind what I carry and encouraging others to do like we're going to do it differently, but there was somebody whose story was tied to my story and she's one of them play. Yeah, never heard that never need that before and I just think when

15:44 When I like I said when I look at you and I think of you I just I'm like a maze and I when you mentioned your grandmother at thinking about my family my grandmother, my mother's biological mother was the strength and our family and her name was Daisy and why nickname was Daisy and so are always connected back to Daisy because I never knew Daisy but I just heard stories of our he was a great cook and how she was good at this and she didn't take any stuff. But I do know I think that Daisy lives in me is something I carry with me. I don't know Daisy but I knew my like my mother talked about Daisy that should be my Daisy.

16:41 You know family Dynamics change and you just look for those strong women and and that internet connection to see where and your family it is and I just you know

16:56 That aside I just think that use coming to our family and you're one of them.

17:05 The strongest connection with even if we don't speak on this often so never had this conversation. When you give back to the community the community through your work and have a woman have a nation what even though you've since graduated from Morgan what encourages you to continue your work and until you make it more impactful when and Go Global in and make it larger with engraved biggest piece and you know, anybody who gets a chance to listen to the conversation, maybe one day everybody has to find their peace. All right. Everybody has to find the thread I'll always look at Community as a fabric a big huge multi-colored garment that we can wear as a covering and

18:05 Community building in particular has a lifetime commitment. And for me is because I want I've been in different communities and I've had aspects of community that didn't nurture. It wasn't the easiest transition to come from the islands to New York. And I desire for my Baltimore transition to a different. So that was a commitment I made to myself and so I started with me being different and not to like maybe

18:32 I think maybe within the week or two of me making that commitment to myself and started my undergraduate year actually had somebody who still a good friend of mine. So this day walk up to me and say you seem like a nice person. Can I sit with you that changed everything in my life that I appreciate that moment with her because my answer was yes, we're standing in the line about to get food, but that showed me that if we hold on to the grace the energy the warm that we desire and other people we radiate that and so my commitment to to work with women and girls is who I needed when I was a girl who I needed in my twenties who I need now in my thirties and probably won't going to need as I move into my forties that we all go through the same things in life, but at different times and our Journeys may look slightly different, but there's that we all want to be under that same covering on it at same

19:32 Fabric and if every if one piece of the thread gets pulled out it changes the fabric and so how can we Embrace that and so my work will when I think is really centered on that and having to haven't worked in sexual violence prevention for the last one or two years at this point and educating Community infocon what sexual violence looks like and then going to things like a business conference where nobody knows I have anything to do with violence prevention or even that Focus specifically on women and having someone come up and say to me within 5 minutes of conversation that they are Survivor sexual violence and having a woman say that to me and then having to go even know that I had anything to do with this told me how many of the women that I work with and if I desire to continue to help the fabric that that becomes intrical part of what I need to know and I need other people to know about because we have that that be

20:32 A crown that trauma somewhere in so many of our stories and in order for us to spread the fabric a little further to have a community that feels safe and feels like it's wrapped in to a warm blanket and it's a safe space. We've got to learn how to do that healing and Arlene Arlene vassals a good friend of mine, and she said that hurting healing and thriving can all happen at the same time.

20:58 And when I look at why commit to community why stay connected to community and why do this work that is it and it's a cold by The Honorable Elijah. Muhammad says she can rise no higher than its woman and I'm like, that's a pretty good point right there that if we as women are healing and thriving even when they hurt Cam that we will assist the rest of the community in Rising as well and that they can do it while they're hurting. I still finding a way to heal and then finding a way to thrive regardless of what has happened in there and their story

21:34 So so what would your end goal not that show ever stop by tonight? What? What is your goal? What is your vision? Like, when do you think you'll be able to stay? But what is your what is your teeth look like when they think you'll be able to say like, I feel like my work not not carrying that that's your goal to stop. But what what are you looking forward to you with it?

22:03 Then the interest in time to have this conversation because after for 12-15 years 16-year technically, I was doing Hamilton on nation and now coming to that space where we took a year off and doing like an hour annual conference and we just brought everything almost to a standstill to ask that very question. What do we look like now moving forward, you know having work with hundreds literally hundreds of women.

22:27 To to help navigate that story and in that time frame and in that break constantly, even when I try and hide and run from it, okay, it comes literally to the door of the house where women are saying. Thank you for helping change. Not only my life for my mother's life by niece's life. My daughter's life. You know, I thought about becoming a writer I thought about becoming a speaker now, I'm doing it now. I'm an international speaker. I published an anthology. I'm working on my own individual Book Project having people say, you know, when I first came to you all I felt broken I felt alone and as if there was no other way for me to continue going I've actually had a woman say to me.

23:12 Yesterday I told my grandmother and my cousin had wanted to be buried.

23:18 And

23:20 For her dentist a but coming here and hearing you say one phrase has helped me have such a different Outlook outlook on life. And I said, well, I want to know what the phrase was and when she stepped back to us was with new said that I'm allowed as a matter fact. I have a Divine responsibility to live well because her idea behind being spiritual and being connected was I have to be meek I have to not live. Well, I have to be on the verge of being a better even and that's not a philosophy I ascribed to and so I know we have a Divine responsibility to LivWell to take care of ourselves to be our own Advocates to know that I self love isn't selfish and to be Unapologetic with that and you know what my favorite phrase right now to become a self-love revolutionary. And so even at this point, I think the last year was to remind me.

24:16 That you've done well.

24:19 You've already done it if you really want to do nothing else related to this useless a town, but the drive isn't to quit.

24:31 Is when you when you come to Mama's and I so I think at every stage there are moments of completion the way I did it in my twenties and knew when I started planning it 19 isn't the way to do it at 36th and probably won't be the way to do it at 38 or 40 but find your authentic voice and how you can do it now. So I think it might my completion is at the point of every instance.

24:55 That was done to the best of my ability. That's all I can do. And if I want to keep going. Okay, what what does it look like to do it now because you're not the same person and neither are the people you're going to connect with they're going to connect with you at the time that they need who you are today. Not who you were 10 years ago.

25:14 Right eye. I know I actually

25:21 Wanted it wasn't my goal to be here. But when I found out I was coming I thought

25:29 Her story needs to be on record because of your work in the community and finding out that you have written a book of affirmations. Like I was been one quotes and high school but a book of affirmations I needed that in my life because I just needed to remind myself, you know things that are affirming more than a quote a quote kind of the meeting can change with those words. Stay the same but affirmations to me, it's like you stay in till you become it. So it's funny that you remind me of your your affirmations in your butt self love is but I was probably yes, and so

26:25 So that is another way that you've contributed to my life. I I really do think that your story deserves to be recorded and I don't listen to re-pc speak or a B radio interview today but being here was the chance to talk to you. So do you want to add anything else any and if you want to discuss anything else, I think this was great and I I want to remind you that there's so much that I can see and you don't forget the people that we look alike in these streets. I don't feel like that would be a bad thing. I miss is the point that

27:17 Everything you see is a reflection everything all the confidence disclose. It's a reflection. I am to be your mirror like no matter what else I get to be your mirror. And so that is your reflection looking back at you is all the things that you are a want to be and desire to be and I think that is the power to behind affirmations and that's the thing that if I can leave that with you or anybody else is to affirm. Just who you are but who you decide to become because half of what we have done within our lives isn't even it was a conversation from somebody else from somewhere else and we adopted it as our own because people made us think it was ours and I think part of my Life Journey's the uncovering

28:06 My ignore my favorite right now is excavation.

28:11 The Excavating of you and digging into who you be and saw a lot of it. I believe is the uncovering of who we were always meant to be that divine piece of myself and we got to shed stuff that no longer fits never really fit in with L fitting anyway and be naked in the soul of who who you're meant to be in the world. I think that's an amazing place to be and I love it. I'm with it but you should be ready to let you know that's what I am and that's that's just after attending the conference which Zandra someone once we found out we had a connection and you was our connection. Is it a site has

29:04 Basically any way she can foster a relationship like she's been there when she actually I'm allowing me to attend the conference two years ago and to see you on stage and I was like I did to be in your personal space. Sometimes I saw a side of you that not others get to see often. But even in your personal space is still a maybe so so that's why I am.

29:33 So that's why I basically wanted. Like this was the direction. I wanted to talk up talk about going but Miss Campbell, basically help me.

29:50 In a way. So the fact that she suggested we sit down together right away from me, but I'm going to be here today to have this conversation. I am too and I think you did an amazing job. You did try and run away from it and get someone else to do it. But you did an awesome job and look at that has connection to us not like you might even at work environment, but we connected at Morgan and then lost contact until he will donation brought us back together again. And so I think that is the other piece to it that is so powerful. So I'm grateful. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you next time we do this.

30:41 Next. We do this mean I can try to run away at all. And the story will be from a different place because now I know what drives she we have your story on record and who's to say what might be the topic next time. I love it though.