street style: queen beez

January 4, 2016

The New Year is all about fresh starts, taking new approaches, making the best of our lives. We are lucky to live in an area that has so many wonderful organizations dedicated to improving our communities. Living Classrooms Foundation is one such group.

A Baltimore-Washington-based nonprofit organization, for more than thirty years Living Classrooms Foundation has been strengthening communities and inspiring young people to achieve their potential through hands-on education, job training, and community service programs. Using urban, natural, and maritime settings as living classrooms, the foundation’s programs reach thousands of bright, ambitious children and young adults who are struggling to succeed against terrible odds.

Queen Beez is one such program, encouraging young girls to express themselves through song and dance. During weekly Saturday workshops, groups of 6th grade girls meet with professional female mentors to learn about the environment and leadership. After lunch, the focus of the day shifts to transferring their new knowledge to their communities by writing and filming positive hip-hop videos. The girls become involved in strengthening their communities while at the same time becoming invested in their own self-improvement.

I recently met with Chanree (aka Flow) and Janae (aka LA) after one of their Queen Beez outings. They were very bubbly, talkative, and friendly, and once they stepped in front of the camera, they immediately became models. Their facial expressions and poses changed from silly to mature in a second: you could tell that they both felt comfortable and confident.

Click to see Flow and LA in their Peace & Unity video, produced by the Queen Beez in 2015. (They start singing at 1:00 into the song)

Why do you like Queen Beez?
LA: I love Queen Beez because you don’t have to be anyone else for people to like you. You can literally be yourself in everything you do in Queen Beez. That opportunity to express how you feel about something in everyday life is an amazing gift! No one can buy that feeling. It’s my heart and soul.

What have you learned from Queen Beez?
LA: I learned that life isn’t easy! Even for youth. We learned about domestic violence, stereotypes, even what drugs can do to you. And at a young age, to hear something like that is inspirational.

Why should the program continue?
LA: This program should remain! I wouldn’t understand why it would ever close or shut down. It’s not just all fun and games, these real life situations are hurting and killing people around the world. And it needs to be known. We NEED to continue spreading good vibes and educate the people who know nothing about what’s going on. Or helping the ones who are in these crisis! It would be a TRAGEDY if Queen Beez was to shut down! I would cry and be really hurt.

Has your life changed? Why?
LA: My life changed in multiple ways. Having someone like our mentors, Ms. Monique, Jimmy, Gretchen, Emily, plus more, (they) are like my super Heroes! Without them, without Queen Beez, I would be some normal girl with a regular life. I love being different! I see the world totally different and I have nothing but justice through my eye view of this world and in my heart!

Name three important parts of the program.
LA: 1) Getting the word out, as far as the violence and crime and hurt that’s spreading around the world.
2) Experience with new people and being able to perform with them and know them more.
3.) And making sure you’re doing the right things to keep each other stable and on track of what our daily mission is and that’s to cleanse the world to our best ability.

It was such a pleasure working with these Queen Beez! This shoot will go down as one of the most energetic and fun ever.

Chanree “Flow” W.

How do you spend your time? Dancing
Neighborhood: Anacostia
What is your hometown? Washington, DC
You’re a superhero: what’s your superpower? Teleportation, I would teleport everywhere!
Facebook or Instagram? Instagram
Define your style in three words or less: Chilled and unique
The go-to piece in your wardrobe: Sweatpants, plaid shirt, Jordans or Nikes
Next planned purchase: New bed set
Your go-to work-out: Dancing
Group exercise or solo: Both!
Fitness goal: Trying to stay fit
Proudest fitness achievement: Headstands, left split and beatbox stands

Janae “LA” R.
How do you spend your time?
Dancing and singing
Neighborhood: Naylor Road
What is your hometown? Washington, DC
Favorite Movie: The Hunger Games
You’re a superhero: what’s your superpower? Flying
Facebook or Instagram? Facebook
Define your style in three words or less: Urban, unique, bold
The go-to piece in your wardrobe: Jordans, half shirts, and Joggers
Next planned purchase: A lipstick box filled full of endless Mac lipstick
Your go-to work-out: Dancing
Group exercise or solo: Both!
Fitness goal: Trying to stay fit
Proudest fitness achievement: Splits, b-boy dance, round-offs