Name: Jasmine Brion Chatman-Hamlett
Where from: Compton, California
Roots:Down South: Georgia, Florida, Arkansas, and Texas
When and where were you born?
April 29, 1977 in Inglewood, CA
Who did you grow up with?
My grandparents, Chester and Bettye Hamlett, raised most of their grands at some point. So I grew up in their home with my two sisters, Krystal, 19 and Elizabeth, 15, my cousins Meagan, Eric and Charity, my Uncle Jeffrey. We have a big family and a big house (6 bedroom/ 5 bath) so other relatives have lived with us throughout the years, which was always cool. My grandparents always had tons of love, especially for children, which is probably where I get it from. They demonstrated this love by opening our home to over 36 foster children over the years. Told you we have a big family!
Do you have any pets now?
Yes: I have a blonde chow mix...mixed with what,I don't know, but he's beautiful. His name is Corbin as in "Corbin Dallas" Bruce Willis' character in the movie the Fifth Element - one of my personal favorites. Corbin has been adopted by a wonderful lady named Edna while I trek.
What do you like to do with your friends?
Look for new things to do and new places to chill, relax... restaurants, cafes, secluded beaches, comedy shops, vintage clothing shops, beautiful poetry, good movies (foreign films rock)- any new experience will do - in search of the greatest thing that life has to offer - a lifelong endeavor.
What things are you afraid of?
Not appreciating all that life has to offer - good, bad or indifferent - No matter what, that moment only comes once in a lifetime.
What is your favorite food?
Yasa, a dish from Senegal. It doesn't seem especially African, It could easily be an American dish. It tastes great but I think I really like the way you eat it. It's chicken stewed with lots onions and lemon, marinated over night for best flavor, and then served over rice. Yasa is traditionally served to honored guests and eaten while sitting on the floor out of one big bowl with your hands. Popular tradition in Senegal, but not for Americans so it's always great when my family does it.
What is your advice to young people today?
There's no such thing as an accident. There is a purpose and meaning in everything, in every situation, good or bad. Find that meaning and learn from it...maybe even grow from it.
Who or what has had an especially strong influence on the direction of your life?
My faith has been instrumental in my life, in the way that I love, and in the way that I see things. As a Christian, my prayer is to live according to the Lord's word. God created us all with distinct gifts, talents, weaknesses, and purpose. So every person we encounter and every moment we experience is precious. There's a lifetime of things to behold and we'll never be able to experience it all but I hope that along the way I might add to someone elses life just as so many have touched mine.
What kind of student were you?
A straight A student 'til I got to college. I did well at first but by my sophomore year I had an A+ in Partying 101 and most of my other grades suffered. I eventually pulled it together to find the delicate balance necessary to be a successful student.
What was a challenging or cool job you've done?
I was the Youth Chair of the South LA Affirmative Action Project, a state-wide campaign against Prop 209, which successfully removed Affirmative Action programs in the state of California. I marched alongside Jesse Jackson, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Assemblyman Rod Wright, and so many others to defend minority rights; though Prop 209 was passed, that campaign was still a great success. We educated thousands of people and brought people out to the polls in record numbers.
What is the place you're most looking forward to visiting?
I have never been to Jerusalem and for me, that section of the voyage is almost like a pilgrimage. We plan to be in Israel on the eve of December 31, 1999. I can't wait! Everyone's talking about Y2K, the return of Jesus Christ and the end of the world. The fact is that no one really knows when He'll come but personally it's totally symbollic to be in his birth place on that day.
What are you not so good at?
I'm not so good at keeping up with things. I'm the one who's always saying "have you seen my keys?" I'm getting better but it takes a conscious effort for me not to just put things down. It's a frustrating challenge but I'm working on it.