I can’t say how important it is that we tell our own history enough. Otherwise, we have “Blacks Riot in Baltimore” headlines instead of, “Cops Kill Another Unarmed Black Man.
I’ll have you know, there were plenty of peaceful protests in Baltimore but there was no media coverage. Baltimore City residents also cleaned the city streets after the 1% looted but there was no media coverage. Baltimore City residents also brought food to students who are unable to get free lunch because schools are closed but there was no media coverage. This is not by accident.
I’m not sure if tearing shit up is the right thing to do but I do understand why some folks are at that point. Like MLK said, it is morally irresponsible of us to condemn the riots without, “at the same condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to emerge in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say, that the riot is the language of the unheard.”
“To be Black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage.” – James Baldwin
Real rap I had some serious red/dark spots on my cheeks and jawline due to acne. I was also subjecting my skin to too much sun exposure and popping my deep under-the-skin pimples thinking I knew what I was doing. It was once so bad that I wouldn’t leave the house without foundation because of the discoloration. When you first met me, I wore makeup to the gym. SMH. But now, me no care! So, if you are suffering from acne and scaring I can help. See below:
Exfoliate- Exfoliate your skin… gently. Exfoliating lifts the dead skin from the surface of the skin which reduces clogging and reveals the younger layer of skin. Exfoliating is great but you don’t want to do it too much or too hard because it will dry your skin out.
I recommend gentle exfoliating gloves of scrubs. You can make them or buy them. See our Avocado Pit Body Scrub Recipe here. Exfoliate once a week for dry skin and twice for oily skin. After, you must replenish your skin with a good moisturizer but we will get to that later. Keep in mind that if you exfoliate too often you may dry your skin out. Your skin will then create additional sebum and cause more breakouts so start off exfoliating slowly and gauge it from there.
Vitamin E- Vitamin is an antioxidant (slows cells damage) that occurs naturally in food and can be used both topically and internally. It not only promotes healthy skin but it also beefs up your immune system. Vitamin E attacks free radicals throughout the body and can prevent some of the damage they may cause. It’s all about preventative care.
Water- We all know this. Water is essential in the functioning of our bodies but did you know that water is the primary way in which we moisture our skin? It also a great substitute for your favorite expensive night cream by preventing wrinkles, psoriasis, ecezema and other skin conditions. Cold water in particular, when applied topically does wonders for the skin. It reduces redness, puffiness and closes your pores which prevent them from getting clogged. Rule of thumb… Wash with warm water. Finish with cold.
Sleep- When Nas said, “I never sleep cause sleep is the cuzzin of death” he was trippin. Beauty rest is not just a phrase. Sleep is so important when it comes to the health and appearance of your skin. Without adequate sleep your skin looses it’s luster. It becomes dull, sags and even bags. Your body repairs and heals itself while you sleep. If you disrupt that healing process it WILL show. So ladies, put your phones away. Turn Netflix off and get your 8 hours.
(In order of application)
Philosophy Clear Days Ahead Face Wash- “This acne treatment cleanser deeply cleanses and helps lessen acne-causing bacteria, while salicylic acid effectively reduces breakouts. It efficiently clears skin without irritation, leaving skin feeling completely clean and comfortably balanced.”- Sephora
I couldn’t have said it myself. The salicylic acid deep cleans and for the most part illuminates my deep set pimples. Salicylic acid does however leave you more susceptible to sun damage so make sure you use sunblock with this product. For that reason alone I use this at night and wash with regular soap and water in the mornings.
Philosophy’s Miracle Worker- (found at Sephora) is product that really helped me in getting rid of my dark spots. It won’t happen over night but it definitely aides and speeds the process. This basically helps fade the spots by removing the dead skin/epidermis from your face. Much like exfoliating, but it also speeds the cell production process. New skin forms, revealing new bright beautiful skin. Seriously it works.
Ole Hendrisken Vitamin C Serum- is formulated with a proprietary five-source vitamin C complex to support natural collagen production, brighten, and minimize fine lines, this must-have serum defends from environmental aggressors and free radical damage, leaving skin healthy and protected. It is enriched with green tea extract and sodium hyaluronate to nurture and nourish. This lightweight and oil-free formula quickly absorbs into skin while the iconic uplifting citrus scent pampers your skin and your senses. -Sephora
This product definitely has helped brighten my complexion and made my skin look more awake. I think it is a good investment to make. After all, it’s about being proactive.
Sunscreen- YOU MUST WEAR SUNSCREEN! I can’t say it enough. It drives me crazy when folks don’t. The ozone layer is depleting y’all. Yes, a good sun kissed glow is nice but at what cost? Skin cancer? Wrinkles? Sunburn? Just put some damn sunscreen on. You also must realize that if you already have brown spots and pigmentation from acne scaring they will only get darker if they come into direct contact with the sun. So, if you don’t wear sunblock you will be doing all this good work in vein.
Moisturize- I use Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion in the Summer and Nivea Skin Creme in the Winter as a moisturizer. They can be found at any drug store. It’s important that after all your cleansing you moisturize and hydrate your skin. Cetaphil is very mild and is recommended for any skin type. Nivea is thick and may clog your pores if you have oily skin. I was very skeptical about Nivea because of how thick the product felt but it has kept my winter skin hydrated all day without clogging my pores.
Find Your Regimen and Stick to It- At the end of the day it is important that you are constant. There are plenty of nights when I don’t feel like washing my makeup off but I know that my skin will suffer from it in the long run. It only takes 15 minutes to take care of yourself. Why not do it? Above is one of my nightly regimens.
If you live in Philadelphia and love live music then you must be familiar with the bar and restaurant “Time”. If you are familiar with “Time” on Tuesdays then you have probably been graced by Kriss Mincey who performs faithfully every Tuesday night. I first saw Kriss last summer and was completely blown away by her rendition of Minnie Riperton’s “Loving You”. Aside from being stupidly talented, she seems incorruptibly innocent and good natured. Her social media focuses on self-help, self-awareness and the metaphysics behind “the power of now”. Talented, beautiful, positive yet slightly guarded she is an incredible artist to follow. Here is an interview with the amazing Kriss Mincey.
1. Tell us about yourself. Where were you raised? Where did you study? Where do you currently reside?
I am Kriss, a singer new to Philadelphia by way of Baltimore. At the moment, I’m living in West Philly.
My parents are both retired Navy Veterans so I moved a bit. I always had my home in the North West part of the city to come home to. I still do. Same house and same neighbors from when I was small. I spent time in Richmond and Hampton, Virginia, and Aberdeen, MD where where I’d attend the Aberdeen Science and Mathematics Academy at Aberdeen High School.
At the University of Maryland College Park I studied public relations, gender and communication, African-American Studies, particularly focused in gender relations and literature produced during the Harlem Renaissance.
2.Have you always wanted to perform? When did you realize that your heart belonged to the stage?
I’ve always performed, now that I think of it. My mom was instrumental in exposing me to theatre and dance, practically from birth. The first show I ever saw on Broadway was “The Magic School Bus”.
When my parents split, a lot of my energy channeled itself into writing and public speaking. It was yet another stage, and the podium became my theater, my dance. It wasn’t until high school that I danced again, and even then, I was convinced I would have to give it up for something “more serious”, once I started college. But the Universe has its way of bringing us back to the beginning again, back to the purpose we were designed for. Thats when I found music. Better yet, that’s when it found me.
Fall semester 2008, I sang on stage by myself for the first time. “JukeJoint” was an open mic event held on campus every first Thursday. It was the first of the year and more than 200 students were there. I sang Phyllis Hyman’s rendition of “Betch By Golly Wow”, and the crowd raved. From that night on, up until the day I graduated, I was the girl who sang at the “JukeJoint”.
3. You were a contestant on American Idol. What did you learn about the machine of mass media at that time? Most importantly, what did you learn about yourself?
American Idol was cool. My time on the show was probably the first time I learned the importance of being present; that is being mindful of the moment at hand. The media coverage around the show was like a different reality of a parallel universe where I was watching myself. Freaky stuff. Remembering where I was in the present moment made it less confusing and easier to cope. If you ever hear about public figures having anxiety or depression, the truth is they’re a lot more like us than we realize. The same sort of dual-reality effect that Idol had for me, other people deal with on a much larger scale.
The more exposure you gain, the more important it is to be mindful of the moment. We all get overwhelmed sometimes by what’s around us, remorseful of past mistakes. You find your calm in the present. So just be right here, right now. The only reality is now.
4. You recently hosted a three part series – Unleash the Best which was an all encompassing focus on the physical, mental and emotional grind of being an artist and entrepreneur in the Philadelphia area. From your experience, do you think Philadelphia is a city which supports and encourages it’s entertainers?
Unleash the Beast (UTB) was a great opportunity for me to become more embedded in the Philadelphia community. When I first moved to Philly last spring, I sought out people whom I admired, people I identified as cultural influencers, and asked to interview them. In these interviews, I found a common thread of commentary: “there’s so much talent in Philly, but it’s broken up…it doesn’t have a brand, a voice, a movement, because everyone is competing against each other.”
What some local artists had identified as a Philly flaw was in fact a cultural trope that extended far beyond city boarders. American culture teaches us to define success by dominance. The need to compete, to be “better than” just to feel good enough.It’s no wonder everyone is stressed and aggressive, not to mention lonely and isolated.
UtB allowed me to create a safe space where Philly artists, entrepreneurs and investors could support each other without the fear of vulnerability.
In short, I’ve learned that Philly absolutely supports Philly when we create the space for it.
5. What is the hardest part about being an artreprenuer?
Honestly, I think the hardest part of being an Artrepreneur is being the engineer of your own thoughts. It’s an awesome gift, and at the same time, a huge responsibility to yourself to make the things you want real. It’s scary to think anyone could have that much power. But we do. We become who we are when we embrace that fact. And that’s what being an Artrepreneur is really all about.
6. I hate to even speak this possibility into existence because Lord knows your gift and warm spirit deserve to be shared with the masses but do you have a plan B if music does not work out? Is plan B even a possibility?
The art always works out so long as we submit to it. Music has served as a vehicle for me to occupy new spaces. UTB has been proof of that. I’m a singer who talks, teaches and creates, and aspires to do all the above on a grander scale. So really, it’s not a question of whether music will work out for me, so much so as it is a question of how it’ll work through me. The sweetest problem of it all is deciding what to get my hands into next.
7. Who is your musical idol?
One of my musical idols is Nina Simone. My mom named me Simone as my middle name to honor her. I watched an interview she did with BBC World’s “Hardtalk” and I fell in love. She was so…human and passionate, and I said to myself “God, that woman.”
I understood why my mother adored her for so many of the same reasons I adored my mother. It’s in her girth of spirit, her audacity and her refusal to be sanitized in the interpretation of her ideas. I very much look forward to growing into myself and into my art in this way.
8. When you envision success in your life what do you see?
Success looks like me traveling with the babies I’ll have, all across the world on trains, with polaroids and dinners with my friends all of whom are everyday superheroes.
But what it feels like is: Calm. Air. Water. Warmth. It feels like contentment.
Ironically, its the very thing I’m fighting against to be “Successful”. And it makes me think, even as I write this response, how did we become so obsessed with the idea of success, and when did it become something so different from happiness?”
9. What do you feel are the responsibilities of the young, gifted and black?
The responsibility of the young, gifted and black are the same as any other human being – to stay human. To live in your purpose, whatever that is, is the closest you can ever be to God. Don’t trade that just to satisfy an agenda or set of expectations. Your first obligation is always to your heart.
10.What are you currently working on? Where can people find you?
I’m excited to be releasing new music this season. “Otherwise” is my first single with Bold New Breed Records.
It is morning. I open my eyes and immediately the memories begin. Im flooded with montages of us walking hand in hand, strong kisses, his mouth when he laughs, our arms and legs tangled under the heat of cream sheets, the quiet of his apartment after secrets, fears and hopes are confessed and the dark brown of his sloping, sweet sad eyes. Hot tears stream down my face and tickle my ears. I want to scream. I want to go back to sleep. I want him.
I check my phone. Nothing.
After walking into the bathroom, I read aloud the “post-its” pasted on the top of my mirror. “I make good decisions”, “I complete things that I start”. With a sigh, I study my face. My normally smooth, brown skin is adorned with small bursting white heads, my lips are dry and my eyes are still wet from tears. It has become more and more difficult to like my own reflection. It has become more and more difficult not to notice the darkness cast beneath my eyes, the unkept, misshapen curls atop my head and my complete disinterest in changing any of it.
I suppose this is natural when you are in mourning.
The heat from the stream of the shower feels good on my neck. I lather my soap and quietly praise the areas of my body that I am proud of like my shapely legs, generous hips and thin, firm arms which move mechanically over the areas of my body I ignore and try to hide like my small, sagging breasts streaked horizontally with stretch marks and my weak, pouch of a belly tattooed just the same.
I plan on working out now and really taking care of myself. I want to consume kale in every way possible, I want to wear skirt sets and have my belly show shadowed and flat. I have hopes that I will somehow feel how I hope to someday look – healthy, confident and amazing. Someday, I tell myself.
I check my phone. Nothing. I check his instagram and scroll.
Instagram has become an inspirational guide for me. I scroll and “like” every post advocating themes of “Self Love”, “Fuck ‘em girl” and “This Too Shall Pass”. I have difficulty maintaining these sentiments after my head is raised from the white light of my screen and my phone is stuffed into my pocket.
On my way to work I daydream about him re-routing his path to catch me. Like a scripted movie, breathless, handsome and assured he will tell me he loves me, tell me he is ready, tell me I’m the one, tell me he misses me so much and he just had to see me or at the very least simply ask me to share a damn coffee with him.
I check my phone. Nothing.
At work, I serve many couples. Young, smiling, happy couples with nothing but their shared futures ahead of them. It doesn’t matter if they may be faced with sadness, deceit, anger, disappointment and loss. They are together. I hate them.
It’s late. I have had two glasses of wine. I want to call him. I want to see him. I want to lay next to him even though I know I will wake in the morning feeling like I have killed someone. The guilt, the shame, the emptiness would take me weeks to recover from. I look at my phone and wait. If he were to call or text, I know my ill equipped, third world walls of defense would crumble against his established power.
I check my phone. Nothing.
I am driving home. I need support, reassurance. I put on Stevie and he sings to me,
Little girl be fair show yourself you care Let others care for you before it’s too late ‘Cause time won’t wait till your heart’s no longer blue
Little girl be smart don’t break your own heart There is love waiting for you before it’s too late ‘Cause time won’t wait till your heart’s no longer blue
The tears start again. They are hot and I can’t stop them.
I am alone in bed. I am alone with myself. I am still crying but I feel a stirring, soothing strength within me.
I cry until I fall asleep and have to wake to face another day.
E’s television host Giuliana Rancic recently made offensive remarks about the young Disney actress Zendaya’s hair. Zendaya who usually rocks straight hair styles recently went for something different at the Oscar Award show. She wore a head of faux locs styled elegantly and reaching past her shoulders.
As a critique of the young actresse’s style choice for the evening, Guiliana implied that the hair style did not fit Zendaya’s small frame and that she preferred the “little hair”.
She then went on to say that “I feel like she smells like patchouli oil. Or weed! Yeah, maybe weed?”
Zendaya took to Instagram to defend herself and admonish the words of Guiliana.
Recently Giuliana used her television show to air a public apology to Zendaya and everyone else who may have been offended.
Antoinette and I have a running joke. We always stop and ask one another “Shit, how can we learn to be cool?” Well I got the answer! Troll Solange’s website “Saint Heron” and learn what’s what in fashion, music, arts culture, events and everyday cool shit. I bet the really cool girls are rolling their eyes thinking “Ugh, we been knew about this. It’s been up for like 2 years.” Welp, my corny, motherly, trying to hold on for dear life to the vestiges of her youth ass just discovered it!
The site as well as the label Saint Records is committed to ” feature, highlight and align a new movement of contemporary, genre-defying R&B visionaries, which will serve as a segue into the diverse evolution of these independent artists as they share their voices and words as only they can – through pure, unadulterated music.”
20 year old Parisian twins with Afro-Cuban roots (father was a member of the Buena Vista Social Club), haunting vocals with percussion, piano and a mean beat from production! What?! I give you my most recent music obsession – Ibeyi. I am not quite sure how to pronounce the group’s name, I don’t know what they are saying when they sing in Yoruba but I love them anyways. They make me feel things and I love feeling things. Plus they are aesthetically beautiful. One twin has long wavy, straight hair while the other rocks a mane of kinks and curls. Take a listen here in their video “River”
3. The Poetry of Nayyirah Waheed
Her poetry again, makes me feel things. Things that sit deep down in the heat of my stomach or are fluttering to escape wedged between my lungs and heart. She makes me feel emotions I never knew I had until only after 3 sentences I find myself weeping or I feel just a little less worried, or anxious or sad or angry. She makes me feel as if she knows me. She is me and I am her. She is an incredible writer. One that I admire so much. You have probably seen her quotes shared on social media. Her two published books of poetry are “salt” and “Nejma” both available on Amazon. Inspiration station right there.
4. Beyonce Untouched
God, is that you God? Are you trying to let us all know that nobody is perfect by leaking these photos personally? Are you trying to let us know that Beyonce isn’t your chosen one and that we can all start focusing on more important things rather than being obsessed with Beyonce and making ourselves “perfect” by going to the gym and getting a lace front or nah? Nah? Oh, okay.
Whats New Ladies? Anything New that Interests You These days?
Throw me to the wolves and I will return leading the pack with my lipstick unbothered and not a scratch on my crown.
I’m no model and I don’t pretend to be but I have a pair of soup coolers on me that love a good lipstick so when the The Lip Bar asked me to model for their campaign I was all the way down. To think, I was once one of those girls that was too scared to rock a lip. I feared they would draw too much attention, throw my face off balance or even worse… make my lips look bigger. Gasp. So, growing up I would apply some clear blistex and call it day. I was intimidated by my very own mouth. My mouth! WTF! How wack? How sick? How cowardly of me… If I only knew then what I know now… cause these lips right here? They’re magic. You betta ask somebody.
Just look at little Kylie Jenner. Girlfriend spent all kinds of money to have a pout like mine (ours), not that her surgery in any way validates me (us), but I certainly think it helps put some things into perspective. (Oh and if we are being honest I think her pumped up injected lips looked bangin… but I digress).
It’s interesting though, often the things that come natural to women of color, the things we are most self conscious about, are the very things that end up being bought, praised and coveted i.e. warm skin tones, full lips, wide hips, full butts and the ability to flip it, toss it, and throw it back like a boss. It seems that those things are most often admired and praised when they are adorned by women not of color. What a mind fuck! What a setup for self hate. You mean to tell me we (and I use the term ‘we’ loosely because I’m well aware that my light skin and fine curly hair put me in the ‘exotic’ category in which I reap the benefits of daily) can’t get any love? Aside from King Bey who despite my unyielding love for, is two seconds from looking like a full blown white woman (just sayin). And please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with the way our King Bey looks. I’m simply saying we have to peep the pattern and move in this world accordingly.
Images are becoming more and more important. Folks are all about the visual. We don’t even buy music based on the sound anymore, we buy based on the video. Just look at Instagram. We spend hours scrolling, staring, screen-shoting and sharing selfies. So be mindful of what you consume and celebrate. Images are beautiful things but they can also be used as psychological warfare. Be sure some of the images you see are of and in tune with your own reflection.
I’ll leave you with this, a dear friend of mine Kristin Braswell, once wrote the following Facebook status after Kim K released her cover of Paper Magazine where she was mimicking the iconic Grace Jones and attempting to #breaktheinternet
“What frustrates me is not Kim Kardashian herself, but the idea that this whiteness and otherness in non-Black women deserves countless think pieces and celebration. As our neighborhoods, slang, culture, music and even bodies are being co-opted, I am reminded of how important it is that we continue to uphold and celebrate whatever reinforces the truth that we as black women have always been enough”.
May we always remember that we are indeed, enough. Thank you to The Lip Bar for having and celebrating me.
Recently, I went to go see writer and social media personality Alex Elle in Philadelphia. For some reason, I entered the venue feeling a little nervous because I was all alone. There was no side kick to keep me enveloped in the “no new friends” zone. Instead, I was given the choice of remaining open and friendly or quiet and guarded. I teetered on both spectrums by smiling at strangers but never really striking up any conversation.
Yusuf Yuie on the left and Curran on the right
Shortly after the audience filled in, promoters Yusuf Yuie and Curran Swift Yusuf stood and introduced both the moderator and Alex Elle.
Alex came out unto the stage confident and calm. She was everything she seems to be via social media and her writing. She was poised, sweet, present and ready to share. The audience was very quiet, so quiet that Alex’s first sentence addressed to us was, ” Ya’ll look scared.” I suppose we were all nervous. We were a room full of young twenty-somethings wanting to understand how to get just a smidgeon of what she appears to smear on everything she touches – success and happiness.
The moderator probed Alex with questions about love, work, motherhood, sex and writing. All of her answers were the same, no different than the affirmations she shares through her writing. In order to find success in love and life, you must go inward.You must work on yourself gently and consistently.
When it came time for questions, I was amused by the inquiries. It was very telling of who we are and what we want. Everyone wanted to know about Alex’s hard times; drama with her child’s father and single mother hood. I suppose that’s how we connect with one another. I must admit that I felt so encouraged when I learned that Alex was also a young mother, estranged from the child’s father and yet she still found love. It’s more comforting to know someone’s pain and struggle versus happiness and “success”. To understand the struggle from which one came, makes other’s feel like their own destinies aren’t so bleak. They too can rise up, push past the pain and be happy.
Alex Elle for me, through her writing and existence is a reminder that the human potential for change and creativity is real and in all of us. The potential for success is not only alloted to prodigy, white people, college educated and childless folk but it extends to us all even if we are brown, women, single mothers, ridden with daddy issues and have no idea how we are going to make it. We are all entitled to happiness and the fruition of our personal successes.