For many, life’s hardships can often be enough to stagnate anyone’s personal growth. This is especially true of young African-American women, whose plight often begins with navigating the difficulties of being a double minority. Clark Atlanta University senior Sabreen Jolley is one of those exceptional young women who have not only transcended those hardships, but has committed to share her story as a testimony to other young, Black women: your blessed existence is so much bigger than the problems you face. Jolley has just published her first volume of poetry, a collection of poems aimed at reinforcing self-love, particularly to those who may not know, or have forgotten, how special they truly are.
Jolley’s new book, Same Sky, Different Light, was inspired by a series of difficult times that she experienced during high school and her first year of college. Her father passed away, which is often a crushing blow for so many young people. Another tragic experience occurred when Jolley was sexually assaulted. Along with the physical and mental trauma that occurs when someone is violated in this manner, were the very real, although misplaced, feelings of guilt and shame. Victims of rape often fault themselves for the conditions that led to their assault. It took years for her to finally make her mother and stepfather aware of what happened, as sexual assault can often be so difficult to revisit and discuss, even with parents.
Instead of allowing these moments to defeat her, she used them as tools of empowerment. Jolley will graduate in May with honors. She will receive a bachelor’s degree in Mass Media Arts, and has already committed to studying for a master’s degree. Along with her academic success, she has written for Clark Atlanta University’s newspaper, and served as a panelist during discussions by many women’s empowerment groups on campus. She has also had the privilege of interning with Susan Taylor, former editor of Essence Magazine, and serving as a speaker at a host of memorable events, most recently, at the 50th Anniversary Memorial of Dr. Martin Luther King in Memphis, Tennessee.
Despite an extremely demanding senior year in college, Jolley does not second guess the timing of putting the book out now. “I felt like God put me in this position,” she said. “I experienced so many things, and these things were necessary for this moment. Plus, I also wanted to encourage myself. There’s no deadline, there’s no time limit on when you can accomplish your dreams and your goals. Just do it.”
Jolley strives to not only inspire, but to connect with her readers. Her poems specifically target authentic events and moments, in the hopes that her work will resonate intellectually and emotionally with her audience. Her favorite poem is called “Sunshine”, which focuses on selfless love, and the expectation of true love in the lives of young women. Like her other poems, it was directly influenced by a relationship she had, in hopes that she will share what an all-encompassing love should entail.
Same Sky, Different Light is a celebration of the kind of strength, love, compassion, and honesty that Black women embody. Jolley’s poetry, and life, is proof-positive that we are always much bigger than our struggles.
Same Sky, Different Light can be purchased on Amazon.com, or at sabreenspeaksstore.bigcartel.com