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This Is Our Story

This Is Our Story: “Dream Big Or Go Home”

Jamal Muhammad August 17, 2016

In life, we all have big dreams, and it is up to us to make those dreams a reality. Every day someone’s life could change in a blink of an eye while chasing their dreams. All the hard work, long hours, blood, sweat, and tears could finally pay off, but some will realize that their dreams may not come true.

However, their destiny could be an amazing thing to acknowledge because a person could end up finding what they love to do. For example, a young boy can grow up all his life, thinking that he is going to play in the NBA. Teachers, parents, friends, and extended family members preach that he has significant amounts talent. So the young boy grows up feeling pressured because he does not want to let his support system down.

CONNECTED TO: “New Black Millennials”

For a decade straight, the young boy practices day and night and finally makes to the NBA. But for whatever reason, he does not get drafted. Then when he returns home, he discovers that teaching is his passion and started educating younger athletes how their dreams can diminish in a second.

Nevertheless, if a person stays focus on their dreams, anything is possible. So a young woman by the name Maiyah Phelps created a platform for artists, entrepreneurs, racial and social conversations to thrive in the African-American community. Maiyah wants individuals to chase their true destiny and never be afraid to make mistakes.

Photo Credit: Najee Tobin

Photo Credit: Najee Tobin

Grade School Days

Born in Oakland, California to Valorie Hutson and Ali Phelps. For the first five years of Maiyah’s life, she lived in a two-parent household with two other siblings named Nailah and Malayah Phelps. Eventually, Maiyah’s parents separated due to complications in the relationship. Then she understood that it was hard for her mom to raise three girls as a single parent. In total, she has seven sisters and brothers, so Maiyah never feels alone.

“I learned from my mother how to become a strong independent black woman. Ever since I was a little my mother instilled in me the importance of self-love, self-reliance, and self-awareness,” said Maiyah. “My father taught me the importance of forgiveness, even when people let you down numerous times.”

Maiyah did battle with her self-esteem and the lack of confidence. From always moving and changing schools, it contributed to Maiyah’s self-doubt because she was not able to build long lasting relationships in grade school.

Despite Maiyah’s personal issues, she still became very active in extracurricular activities. She joined several after school programs such as Oakland Youth Chorus, Destiny Arts Center, and the Girl Scouts. These programs allowed Maiyah to express her creativity and build her personality.

In the 5th grade, one of her favorite organizations was the Oakland Fukuoka Sister City Association because they sent her and several other low-income households to Japan for free. For two weeks, Maiyah spent time engaging with the Japanese community, ate their food, and learned their mannerism and language.

“Living in Japan was probably one of the greatest experience in my life. Learning about different cultures opened my eyes to new ideas and opportunities,” said Maiyah.

Years later, in high school, Maiyah developed a passion for songwriting, the theater arts, and the business behind it. Also in high school, Maiyah participated in sports, politics, and acting such as basketball, the step team, and a Representative of the Student Council. After that, she was a member of an organization called Heads Up where she learned administrative duties and moved up from being a student to an office assistant by the 12th grade.

Photo Credit: Najee Tobin

Photo Credit: Najee Tobin

College Years

Maiyah’s senior year of high school she applied to her top three colleges: UCLA, NYU, and the historically black college Howard University (HU). But only one school accepted her, and that was HU. College gave Maiyah an eye opener about her fellow African-American peers because they were a diverse group of black educated individuals. Maiyah was so excited to see students who look like her, striving for their education.

“At the beginning, I was nervous yet thrilled to be accepted into Howard,” said Maiyah. “To see other African-American students in college makes me proud to be black.”

PHOTO GALLERY: “Dream Big or Go Home” (Photos)

Maiyah decided to major in Theater Arts and minor in Business Administration. While attending HU, Maiyah became a member of the campus a stroll team and had internships at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., working with professionals actors and doing admin work. Currently, Maiyah is entering her last year of college, while planning to graduate and take her brand to the next level.

“Combining art and business is my passion, I believe that is the way I can make a difference in my community,” said Maiyah.

Photo Credit: Najee Tobin

Photo Credit: Najee Tobin

The Making of Speak Into Xistence (S.I.X)

In 2014, Maiyah witnessed the racial tension and senseless killings of African-Americans by the hands of police officers. So one day Maiyah decided to brainstorm ideas for change because she was tired of being hopeless. Many nights were spent reading and conducting research. By late 2014, Maiyah created the platform Speak Into Xistence (S.I.X), which means individuals have the ability to foresee their goals until they become an achievement. Through this platform, Maiyah wanted to showcase artists and entrepreneurs in the Bay Area and on the East Coast.

“Speak Into Xistence is not only an apparel line, but an artist and social awareness platform as well. This platform is used to encourage individuals to use their artistry and/or any form of self expression to speak into existence what they want for themselves and their community through their artistry, as well as to bring forth important issues of the world, to communicate these issues through art, and to thus keep the conversation alive,” said Maiyah.


Furthermore, Maiyah believes in community engagement and feels that it will encourage African-American neighborhoods to support their own. In 2015, Maiyah began selling t-shirts because she loves fashion and for branding purpose. Sadly enough, Maiyah decided to stop selling t-shirts and focus more on school and work due to time management.

CONNECTED TO: “Everyone Deserves A Second Chance”

Last month, Maiyah hosted her first event under S.I.X. called Artistry Unleashed in Oakland and over 200 people attended. It cost five dollars to enter the showcase and eat free food, converse with vendors and watch live performances.

“I was very surprised by the turnout and can’t wait to host an even larger event,” said Maiyah. “My plan is to grow this brand nationally or maybe internationally. I just want many people to have access to my platform as possible.”

Photo Credit: Najee Tobin

Photo Credit: Najee Tobin