Category: History

Generational Curses

Brittney Pickett feeds her daughter, Brooklyn, and prepares her for daycare. (Photo By Lorenzo Pickett)

A mouthful of a pancake drenched in sweet maple rests on Brooklyn’s palate as her mother, Brittany Pickett, adjusts her earrings and prepares her for daycare. Brittany is a single African American mother, who has risen to the challenge of raising her child alone, due to the incarceration of her baby’s father, Shaun Theus. Shaun has been incarcerated for almost three years, which means that Brooklyn has suffered the damage of single parenthood for the majority of her life. Shaun was incarcerated after being convicted of drug charges, although there were no drugs found on him at the time of his arrest.

The mass imprisonment of Black males has been a proven statistic for decades. According to the “Sentencing Project,” Black males account for 38% of the imprisoned population, but only 12.7% of the United States population. The mass, and often unjust, imprisonment of Black fathers contributes to generational curses, where children are raised in these single parent households from one generation to the next.

Without the presence of a father figure, these African American children are brought up not knowing how to be a parent of their own one day or accept genuine love from a stable male figure. This has impacted Brittany and Brooklyn, as well as many other Black mothers and children in their community. Brittany stated, “Out of ten of my friends, seven of their babies’ fathers are imprisoned. Some of these arrests were justified, but others of them were victims of targeting and were caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Brooklyn Pickett poses for a portrait . (Photo By Lorenzo Pickett)

A challenge that Brittany faces is that Brooklyn does not genuinely know her father and may later struggle with growing in a relationship with him. Brittany explained that the lack of a father in these children’s lives causes detrimental effects, unless there are others who actively intervene and aid in the growth of these children—such as Brittany’s father.

Brittany rejoices in the fact that Brooklyn has been shown the love of a male figure in her life by her grandfather, Larry Pickett. It is individuals like Larry that help shape the futures and minds of children raised by a single parent, but without positive figures like him, these curses are much more likely to pass from generation to generation.

Meet the Storyteller

Lorenzo Pickett

Lorenzo Pickett is a senior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga who majors in Communication. He has experience in guest services and has been a camp counselor for the past 4 years. Lorenzo’s passion is storytelling, creating art, and showing genuine love and loyalty to those around him. He can be contacted at qfv861@mocs.utc.edu.

A New Normal by Margo Zani

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Julie Dunn assembling a wooden cross decorated with live flowers to celebrate the Easter holiday. Dunn explained that because her family couldn’t attend church they decided to celebrate by building this cross. April 11, 2020. (Photo by Margo Zani)

Saturday, April 11th was my youngest brother Eli’s birthday. He turned 18 which is a pretty significant birthday to be quarantined for. He spent most of his time inside trying to make the most of his special day. At one point, Eli’s friends drove by in their cars outside of our house and honked their horns as a way to celebrate his birthday from afar. It was really sweet but I couldn’t help but feel bad that my brother wasn’t allowed to appropriately celebrate his birthday in a “normal” way.

I thought about how radically different our eighteenth birthdays looked like. Almost three years ago I turned 18 and it happened to be the same day I was graduating from high school. My whole senior year, the thought of sharing my day of celebration with all 400 students of my graduating class bothered me. When the day actually arrived, it turned out to be one of the best birthdays I’d ever had. We were all celebrating something and got to be surrounded by so many people with lots of hugs and socializing. Now fast forwarding to April 11, 2020 Eli wasn’t even allowed to spend the day with his friends or even think about having a party if he wanted to because of COVID-19. Don’t get me wrong my family and I celebrated him as best as we could but this is just another example of how this pandemic has disrupted what we know to be normal.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Paul Zani, Eli Zani, and Donna Zani celebrating Eli’s 18th birthday. Since quarantine was still going on Eli stayed at home rather than going out and celebrating. April 12, 2020. (Photo by Margo Zani)

In the same weekend, millions across the world celebrated Easter on Sunday, April 12. Churches have not been allowed to gather for weeks now meaning they wouldn’t be able to celebrate one of the most significant days of the year for Christians in the typical way. This was the first time I haven’t gone to church for Easter in as long as I can remember, but that didn’t make the day any less important for me or the millions across the world. Instead of gathering at churches, many of my neighbors placed crosses in their yards or used chalk art as a way to celebrate.

These two celebrations were a bittersweet reminder that life is still moving forward day by day, and that there will be many more birthdays and holidays to come. Hopefully, sooner rather than later we can get back to celebrating the way we used to, but now with a new-found appreciation for being surrounded by friends and family.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

The Zani family gathers to eat brunch together. They were celebrating both a birthday and Easter during COVID-19. April 12, 2020. (Photo by Margo Zani)

Journal Entry #3

Last week, I was in a meeting for my internship with The House, and my boss asked us to reflect over some questions concerning grief. I was confused. I hadn’t lost anyone so what was I grieving? But grief doesn’t always mean death, and quickly, I began to realize what I actually had lost over the last month. The rest of my spring semester, proximity of friendships, summer plans and much more. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Student interns for The House campus ministry gathering together over Zoom for their weekly intern meeting to discuss all different things pertaining to the ministry. During this meeting, they were told the story of the bible from Genesis to Revelation through different types of foods. April 7, 2020. (Photo by Margo Zani).

I have done a decent job at not letting the craziness of this whole situation get the best of me. I have tried to control my emotions, but sometimes it’s hard to deal with so many feelings when they’re happening all at once. In a time where I have the space to process what I’m feeling, the task of discerning each different emotion that comes hand in hand with grief seems overwhelming. They say there are five stages in the grieving process. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Some days it feels like I am processing all stages at once. However, I have slowly begun to accept this pandemic for what it is. 

I’d be lying if I said I haven’t had any hard days during the past month. Some days are productive and some days are lazy. Some days I’m motivated and others I procrastinate until the sun sets. Some days I feel really good, but lately a lot of days have felt heavy. I think it’s because i’m beginning to accept my losses.

However, in my acceptance these are the things that I still know to be true. I am healthy and safe. I have my family who hurts with me, but refuses to let me slip into a funk for too long. I have friends to return to in Chattanooga, and in the meantime phone calls and letters will have to be our best bet at staying in touch. I have simple pleasures that still bring me moments of peace like music, writing and reading. Lastly, I have faith. Faith that this pandemic will eventually end and the process of healing will soon begin for all.

Saturday, April 4, 2020 – Monday, April 6, 2020

Continue reading “A New Normal by Margo Zani”

A New Normal by Elian Richter

Journal Entry 4

Selfie taken using the reflection in a mirror on Wednesday, April 8, 2020. (Photo by Elian Richter)

After today, my college experience will be over. One last zoom meeting and a brief ten minute presentation are all that stand in front of me graduating from UTC. College has been the absolute best time of my life so far and I’m uncertain how to feel about leaving.

Continue reading “A New Normal by Elian Richter”

A New Normal by Alyssa B. Martin

I have not enjoyed the last few weeks of this new normal. Being separated from my family and friends seems to grow more difficult for me each day. I have spent the majority of the last few weeks stuck in a continuous loop of missing my loved ones, wishing I could go back to my hometown, and dwelling on the things I cannot change. Needless to say, my mindset has not been good. 


As I sat thinking about what to write about this week, I drew a huge blank. Everything I considered or immediately came to my mind was either too depressing or too selfish-especially considering how my situation compares to others. Nothing was worthy enough for me to document. 


I reached out to a few dear friends and explained my mindset and thoughts on it. They encouraged me to write it down anyways, step away, and come back with a fresh mindset. So I-sort of- tried it. I decided rather than focusing on all of the things I wish I could change right now and all that is wrong with the world, I should be focusing on the little, positive, good moments of each day. 


In an effort to change my perspective here is a list of moments that have inspired me or brought me some joy during this quarantine and “new normal” season:


A beautiful bluebird laid eggs in our birdhouse and few weeks ago, and the eggs hatched last week. I captured the momma bird on her way to feed her babies. 

Sweet momma bird heading to feed her babies
My backyard, Flowery Branch, Ga
Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Books. I have not been reading as much as I should be or could be. Books make me happy though, even if it is just stacking them up for a quick photo.

I stacked this books up in my room for the purpose of this photo. Books make my heart happy, even if I have not finished them.
Flowery Branch, Ga
Tuesday, April 21, 2020

I have found a new love of sketching. When I was in high school, I started painting a little bit. It is something I have kept up with a little bit through the years, but I have never been very good at sketching or drawing. This has helped me to focus my mind on something I can control and create. It is a nice escape for a little bit.

A sketch of my bedroom window.
Flowery Branch, Ga
Tuesday, April 21, 2020
(Sketch: April-something, 2020)

Nearly every night my parents and I cook dinner and eat together while watching “Jeopardy” and “Wheel of Fortune.” One of my personal favorites is the amount of Marvel movie reruns we have managed to watch in the past few weeks. Also, Every Sunday morning we watch church together in efforts to keep some sort of our old routine the same, even though it is definitely very different.

The past month of being stuck at home has given me the opportunity to do whatever I want, for the most part. One particular night a few weeks ago, I decided to try being a little creative by doing a self portrait shoot and play around with the lighting in my bedroom. 

Self-portrait using stringed lights in my bedroom.
Flowery Branch, Ga
Tuesday, March 31, 2020

I bought a new fish tank for my betta, Boyfriend-it’s a long story. My best friend bought him for me on Valentine’s Day last year, and he has survived nearly seven long distance car rides and living in a gallon sized bowl without a heater. I figured it was time to give him an upgrade .

Boyfriend’s new home
Flowery Branch, Ga
Monday, April 20, 2020

These days are pretty lonely. Everyone is dealing with isolation of some form right now, I think. Over the last few weeks, I have tried to stay connected to the people I care about as much as I can. It can be difficult, but I am thankful for modern technology to make it feel like the people I love are not so far away. It has made this season a bit easier by being able to hear my little cousins voice every night and to see my best friend’s face via snapchat or FaceTime whenever I want.

Two of my sweet friends I met at UTC, Amanda and Emily, and I have sent each other personality quizzes, life updates via snapchat videos, instagram videos of silly games, etc to stay connect. One night, we all did multiple Buzzfeed quizzes to see which character we would be in various shows we watched growing up. I used put our faces on the characters we matched.

Photo: somewhere on the internet or my friends’ instagram

Lately I have been trying to look at light with a different perspective. How the moon illuminates my parents bedroom at night, or the way the sunset shines in my window each evening. Something about light reminds me about hope and comfort, like warm feeling of sitting in sunshine on a cool spring day.

My bedroom window
Monday, April 20, 2020

Even though right now is different than what any of us have ever experience, I think we can all find hope and comfort knowing we are not alone. Millions of people are experiencing the same situation we are, even if it is in a different capacity.

From this day on, I am going to try to find hope and comfort knowing the sun will shine through my window tonight, and God has granted us another day to please him. I will look for joy and light in the smallest of acts and moments. I hope everyone reading this will try to do the same.


Continue reading “A New Normal by Alyssa B. Martin”