Truth To Power | Rock the Vote

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What is Truth to Power?

“To launch Rock the Vote’s Truth to Power campaign to engage and mobilize young people in the 2016 election, join artists and activists from across the nation coming together against the backdrop of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

In partnership with #Cut50 and other national and community partners, Rock the Vote will host a large-scale pop-up art exhibition, discussion forum and live performances designed to elevate and illuminate the most pressing issues facing young people in the United States today.

Together we will lift our voices, identify solutions and get organized to speak truth to power in November.”

I attended  the first night of the The Truth to Power (TTP) series (July 25-27). I walked in and studied the workings of Philadelphia’s tight nit community of movers and shakers.  Men were dressed sharply in crisp khaki pants, nonchalantly cuffed, revealing bare ankles above bright white Reeboks or Adidas sneakers. Broad shoulders  gave form to freshly pressed collared short sleeved shirts, buttoned high  to Adam’s apples, shadowed by handsomely groomed beards. Hair was cut in either classic all American fades or pulled slickly into the ubiquitous top not. Cigarettes dangled from slack lips.  People arrived  laughing loudly and smiling . Large gauged ears swung as shoulders pressed in hugs and hand clasps.  Septum piercings were worn by many. Wild curls framed faces, tight dresses hugged hips, minimalism shrieked loudly in the form of simple black pants, white loose tops, messy buns and small gold studs and rings. The vibe was “you got to be down to enter”.

The evenings festivities included a bar , a live DJ and a performance by the lovely Andra Day. I arrived early and wandered around the venue which consisted of two rooms – the art gallery  and the performance space. I went into the gallery and was blown away. The art pieces varied from sculpture to photography, paintings to hanging  instillation pieces from artists such as Shepard Fairey and Banksy (see all artists here) The themes were provocation,  deviance, vulnerability and the exposure of the government’s failings. Centered around  minority populations within America, the exhibition displayed critiques of White supremacy, the criminal justice system, economic inequality, patriarchy and environmental decline. The art work felt like it pointed a stiff finger towards the left of my chest and pushed hard until I found my ass on the floor.

Unlike the censored political narratives being pushed by the media that leave me dazed and confused, the art of Truth to Power helped me to connect politics directly to all that matters the most to me –  people. It smacked me in the face with the issues that I have become accustomed to tolerating as if they are normal, as if they are out of my control. Citizens are being executed by police by an alarming rate of 3 deaths per day,  immigrants are stripped of their humanity and dignity and the disparity between rich and poor, black and white, them and us is growing with no near halt in the future. What the fuck do we do? 

I  left the event without any answers. Beyond being included with the “cool crowd”, I left without the spirited camaraderie needed to keep people inspired with the will to fight for one another. I am not sure that those haunting artistic visuals helped me to feel more empowered to partake in politics within the construct of this system. I feel like we wondered the gallery in a stylish stupor of cognizant dissonance, aware that the stakes were high, aware that all evidence points to corruption and that the real power is held in the hands of the few, yet like a dehydrated and starving caravan we stumble towards a wavy mirage of democracy. 

I am not criticizing this event. I think it is so very necessary and amazing. It has brought up so much for me. I needed this. We need this. My experience was only limited to the night time portion of this amazing event. I am fully aware that it has so much more to offer. From 11am to 7pm there is an amazing line up of FREE discussions that bring focus and perhaps offer answers and sympathy to those cynical and scared like me. Here is the schedule of times and topics.  I will be sure to go to see the other side to this series as well. 

To all those in Philly please attend this event, please. Let me know what it meant to you. 

The Art












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ATWC’S Favorites From Curl Fest 2016

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The ladies and the legends Left to Right: Gia, Simone, Melody, Charisse and Tracey

            We were unable to attend Curl Fest this year, nonetheless, the hard work, consistency and black girl magic that is expressed by the beautiful ladies behind Curl Fest 2016 never goes unnoticed by ATWC. Although we could not be there in person, we were there in spirit and stalked all the happenings via social media. The crowd was gorgeous and came to slay! Good Job ladies!  Here are some of our favorites.

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 9.29.45 PMThe Cougar

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 9.33.05 PMThe Details

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 9.31.52 PMThe Height

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 9.29.18 PMThe Admiration

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 9.30.20 PMThe Formation

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 9.31.19 PMThe Smiles

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 9.30.46 PMThe Pop of Color

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 9.37.26 PMThe Gaze

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 9.33.55 PMThe Lines

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 10.10.13 PMThe Confidence

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 9.31.36 PMThe Crew

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 9.33.24 PMThe Love

Did Anyone Attend Curl Fest This Year?
What was it Like?


On the Cover but not the Average CoverGirl. curlBOX BODY


This isn’t a photo of a greasy girl in her bra and underwear. This is a photo of a woman standing proudly, in her glory, celebrating all that she is and all that she thankfully, is not. Thank you Curlbox for celebrating with her.

A Thank you Letter

Dear Body, 

Thank you for keeping me safe and protecting me during the times when I needed it most. Thank you for standing strong when life and its many lessons, seemed too much for me to bare. Thank you for being plentiful for it has kept me warm when no chicken soup could soothe my soul. Thank you for being broad because it helped me block those that did not belong. Thank you for holding me close. Thank you for healing me. Thank you breathing air into my lungs. Thank you for keeping me going. I love you. 



I am in love. Meaning, it’s mutual. I love someone and they love me back. They told me so. I hear it. “What if I told you that I loved you”? I replay those words in my head daily. Filled with all the feelings, I look up. I. see. him. Handsome, sure and smiling. I am overcome with gratitude and resolve. This. is all I’ve ever wanted. He’s more than I’ve imagined. He is love. My love.

I am in love. Meaning, I’m wide the fuck open and for his taking. I’m all in. Exposed. Naked and Vulnerable. In the past, I’ve stretched my body out anticipating civilization, but have only been met by ruins. Here, I am safe. Here, I can be still. Here, we are kind and just.

I am in love. Meaning, I’m devoted. All in. Chin deep. Soaked. Invested. Thinking of the future. Envisioning a future. All his. All mine. All of me. All and all.

I am in love. Meaning, I am thriving. I aim to be my lover’s every(any)thing. His go-to. His best friend. Therefore, I want to be my best self. I am becoming my best self. In his eyes, my reflection is clear and I bask in its glory. I am better now, than before he found me.

I am in love. Meaning, I am in lust. Wide. Open. Ready. Needing all. of. it. Unafraid. Unabashed.

I am in love. Meaning, I am (re)learning. Love languages. Love truths. Love confessions.

I am in love. Meaning, I am healing. I do deserve love. I do deserve peace. I do deserve clarity. I do deserve affection. I do deserve admiration. I do deserve him. I am enough.

I am in love. Meaning, I am terrified. Now, that I have found this. feeling. Now, that I have been loved, I’m afraid. I need love.


Ouidad NYFW Express Never Surpress Event


Wednesday, I had the pleasure of attending one of Ouidad’s #NYFW events in celebration of their re-branding and 30th anniversary. Some curl influencers stopped by a posh hotel in lower Manhattan, sipped on some champagne, ate some treats and had their photo taken. It was all so very New York. Lol.

The highlight of the event was definitely having Chad (pictured below) work on my hair and being pleasantly surprised to find out that Ouidad is planning to launch and entire line of products specifically for the kinky curly girl aka the ethic/aroundtheway/brown/black girl. I must say, it really is gratifying to see all these folks in the industry embracing more coiled  hair types. I say F.I.N.A.L.L.Y!


Chad was extremely kind and friendly. He immediately recognized that I had fine hair but instinctively knew that I wanted to achieve more body. He recommended the product line, “Play Curl” for which I am excited to try and review. Apparently, it’s going to give me all the life. We shall see. I am slightly skeptical, yet somewhat hopeful. After all, Ouidad has been one of our favorites for a while. While I have never been to their salon, I have had the pleasure of using some of their products and they have never steered me wrong.  Click here and here for some of our reviews.

So, thank you Ouidad for having me.

@Ouidad Event Host: @NatalieZfat Hair Stylists: @NikkiProvidence and @ChadPendley5 Makeup: @EricaMUA Photographer: @LordAshbury Venue: @SixtyHotels #ExpressNeverSuppress

Black Girls Getting Their Hair Done Via Buzzed


Photographer Adama Jalloh is celebrating black British girlhood via the hair salons of south London in her “Identity” project.


“Rarely do you go to exhibitions and see images of black people, especially when it’s in the UK.”

Adama Jalloh recently completed a degree in photography at the Arts University Bournemouth. “I went to a uni where it was predominantly white people and most of the projects they did tended to be things I wasn’t necessarily interested in,” she says. So in her second year, she started a project that was personal to her, and would shine a light on her – and other black girls’ – beauty rituals. She began visiting black hair salons around Peckham in south London to find subjects, and named the project “Identity”. “I thought the way I live, and the way other black girls have lived, should be shown in that same kind of environment, and in a positive light. Because most of the time when you see images of black people, it tends to be quite negative.”


“A lot of questions are asked whenever I do my hair so I thought I would show them what it’s all about.”

“One of the underlying questions is always: ‘Is your hair part of your identity?’” says Jalloh. “And for me, it definitely is – like an extension of who I am.” The Identity project showcases the versatility of black hair. “When you are young and growing up, you kind of don’t realise how versatile your hair really is – you only see it in one light.”


“When it’s a black audience, it’s not just about discovering. It’s more reminiscing and remembering.”

“When I was showing my work at uni, it was to a mostly white audience. So the way they would respond to it would be completely different to the way black girls would,” says Jalloh. Her images are infused with nostalgia, and recognition. The aim was to stoke the collective memory of black British girls, most of whom share this universal history. “I wanted people to remember what it was like to go the salon to get their hair done,” she says. “This was me wanting wanting people to remember how they used to do their hair.”


“The images are mostly of young girls.”

Jalloh found younger customers to be her most willing subjects. “Teenagers and older women were a bit more skeptical about getting their picture taken,” she says. “I guess when you’re younger you don’t really care that much.”


“It was definitely drawn for a black audience.”

“When I was at uni, there was just a lot of hair touching,” says Jalloh, who won the British Journal of Photography’s Breakthrough Award in May 2015. “This project in particular relates more to black women, and I knew it would get a positive response,” she says. It is important to Jalloh that her work be something audiences can relate to. A selection of her photographs is being shown at the Black British Girlhood exhibition in London (curated by Bekke Popoola, and now extended until 5 August).


“I just wanted to show how versatile our hair is, whether its natural or in extensions.”

Jalloh says the majority of the salons she visited were staffed by African and West Indian women, who were mostly reluctant to have their photos taken. “When I mentioned the project, they didn’t want to be seen on the internet,” she says, laughing. “So when you look at the images, you’re seeing their hands rather than their faces.” The restriction ended up working in her favour. “It would have been cool to have more faces in it,” she adds, “but by the end I was focusing more on the actual ways our hair was being done and trying to tell a story about that.



“Anything to do with black British girls is pretty much non-existent.”

“I’m 22,” says Jalloh, “and if I went to an exhibition and saw [the art at Black British Girlhood], I’d be like ‘yeah, I can relate to that.’” “I want people to react in a similar way to how I reacted.”


Jalloh’s next project centres around gentrification and a disappearing way of life in south London.

“I’m working on a project that’s slightly linked to identity, but not focused on just black girls – it’s more of a community of black people and other people of colour,” she says. The photography series centres on the residents of an estate close to where she lives in Peckham. “It’s being knocked down and new buildings are being built near and around it already and being labelled as “affordable housing” when really, it’s not affordable. The people who are going to move in there are far richer than the people who are being kicked out of the estate right now.” “There’s so much gentrification going on at the moment. I’ve been documenting parts of the estate and the people who live there, just to make sure there’s a memory of it left over because it would be a shame not to.”

The Black British Girlhood Exhibition is on until August 5th at the Centre for Better Health in Hackney.

Looking For Local Philly Artisans And Vendors For August Event

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Shanti Co-creator and editor of ATWC + Syretta Scott owner of Duafe

Around The Way Curls X Duafe

Are Bringing You A PHILLY Event!

Celebrity hair stylist Syretta Scott is hosting the First Annual Community Collaborative to support and encourage her new neighbors in her North Philadelphia community towards economic development with a day of engagement, education, and entertainment!

On August 15th, 2015 at Panati Recreation Center of Allegheny West located at 3100 N. 22nd St in Philadelphia, a collaboration of the city’s entrepreneurs, artists and activists are coming together for a day focused on igniting North Philadelphia’s business potential in a fun, relaxed family orientated setting with food, games, music and selected speakers.

Syretta Scott has been a heavyweight in the natural hair community for over 10 years. She has established herself as the natural hairstylist for celebrities such as Jill Scott, Smokey Robinson and Janet Jackson. She recently made the strategic decision of moving her hair salon “Duafe” from a prosperous, protected location in East Falls back to the heart of North Philadelphia were she was raised.

The presence of the business “Duafe” is a bright marker, highlighting that “the hood” does not have to represent stagnancy and poverty. “Duafe” intends to keep a location in North Philadelphia with motivation to build up the community, being integrative rather than segregative, which seems to be the unfortunate pattern of gentrification throughout the city. ‘This is a call to action to rebuild North Philadelphia from the inside out”, says Syretta Scott.

Duafe wants your help in spreading the news about the First Annual Community Collaborative. We welcome those who can reach an audience of businesses, sponsors, volunteers, families, youth, elderly, home owners and other members from the North Philadelphia community.

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If you are down for the cause and want to participate in this event as a vendor, food truck vendor, volunteer, political activist, sponsor or attendee please email Shanti at

Things That Interest The Around The Way Curl – Deuce x Deuce

Khalil Joseph

The videography of Khalil Joseph. I recently visited LA for the first time and I went to the MOCA. On exhibition was the video “Double Consciousness” treated to Kendrick Lamar’s album “m.A.A.d city”. The video is fifteen minutes long and played on two split screens displaying the dichotomy of the beauty and the horror of black life in LA.  Thoughtful and often cryptic (no pun intended) Joseph brings to life the young, old, innocent and tainted characters of Kendrick Lamar’s  lyrics. I had never heard of Khalil Joseph until I stepped foot into MOCA and now I want to know so much more about the fiercely private director of short films and music videos. I was unable to find and share the “double consciousness” video (if you’re in LA go to the MOCA and see it!) but this video directed by Khalil for Flying Lotus “Until the Quiet Comes” shows the amazing grace he brings to grit.


Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright”


  Which brings me to ol’ boy Kendrick Lamar. He is doing what so many muthafuckas want to do but can’t because they lack the artistic ability and affinity that comes so naturally to Lamar. For example, no matter what Kanye or Jay Z try to offer as their “original art” (Marina Abramovic, Givenchy designs, clothing, and often times music) falls flat to me. It always seems to miss the mark, feels two dimensional, feigned and selfish. But when I listen to Kendrick’s  albums, the characters he creates, the many moods he sets when I watch his collaboration with Khalil Joseph it is obvious the lil man has a distinct, altruistic message that he is attempting to share. That’s what real artist do, they have something to say and they twist, turn, stretch, sketch, type, film, paint and syncopate to get the message across in mediums that are sometimes hard to digest and understand. I dig that shit man.  

I watched his new video “Alright”  and immediately shared it with my videographer/filmmaker friend. Initially, he was pissed that the piece was so cryptic and “senseless” but because he knows that nothing within an artist’s work is unintentional he studied it and came up with an interpretation which I think is spot on. The beginning scenes are hellish, chaotic and a reflection of the times and state of consciousness of the masses. The upside down Kendrick represents the cocooned Kendrick, the growing of consciousness and resistance, the floating Kendrick is the “butterfly”, evolved, “flying high” who perhaps can be a hopeful inspiration extended to the black race which the oppressors/evil don’t want to see thus the “shooting” and bringing down of Kendrick but it ain’t over. What do you guys think? What are your interpretations? Did you like the video?


Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Confession of a Seduction Addict” 

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I related a lot to this article. I didn’t relate to the addiction to seduction part. I don’t pursue, I don’t meddle, I don’t change for men nor am I feign for attention. What I do relate to is the pattern of overlapping, serial monogamous relationships. I suppose I love love, of experiencing the variances of being “in like” to the reckless, all consuming madness of losing myself in another until now. I have met my match – myself. I have surrendered to being a lone. No distractions. Just me, my God and the current of my fears, hopes, pain and dreams which bubble within me like a cold, thick stew being warmed.  I can relate with Gilbert in the contemplative, difficult journey of finding the savory in alone-ness. (Hardest shit I have ever done son.)

To continue to the article, click

The Music of Son Little 

I have been meaning to share this brother since winter but…I haven’t. I love his sound so much I couldn’t not share it. Son Little is a Philly Native. I am proud to represent for him. “O’ Mother” is heart wrenching and so Donny Hathaway-esque. Tell me what ya’ll think. 


What’s of Interest to you guys?

New music? Movies? Articles? Pop Culture? Share!!!

I Want to know!

Shanti BTW (Our system is jacked so we can only send it from one account)

Memoir Writing Workshop – Reflect. Remember. Release.

tumblr_mo4cdmQNOY1s8x8t4o1_500   A excerpt from a piece I am working on for this workshop:

“I am fourteen years old. My parents are arguing again in the backyard as I watch them from my bedroom window. My father’s black frame is tight. His right arm rises and falls like a karate chop with each word he yells. My mother stands in front of him, chest out, red faced and crying. He must seem threatening to my neighbors – this rigid black man yelling at the top of his lungs at a hysterical white woman. I am worried that they will call the cops on them. I want to bring them inside but I don’t interfere this time. I just watch. 

My dad soon comes into my bedroom. He is late for work. He apologizes for the scene. He tells me he feels hopeless and that he can’t do it anymore. I tell him they should just get a divorce. I don’t feel very sad. I don’t cry like I usually do when my parents fight. This time I don’t care. I feel numb.

I recently started high school. Each day I wake up early and get off to school by myself. It takes me about an hour to get to school each day. It’s an agricultural high school. We learn about plants, farm animals and the environment. I really enjoyed the orientation that I had to go to during the summer. I got all A’s and won awards. I was surprised when they called my name for an award the first time but I was embarrassed by the third. I don’t have the same focus that I did back in the summer because now I think I am in love…

He pages my beeper. I have been waiting for it all day. Once I get home from school, I shower, oil my body with coconut oil, slick my curls into a high ponytail, put on new Baby Phat panties I bought from Burlington Coat Factory and dress into a new outfit. I have a job at a gourmet food shop that pays me in cash each week. I spend most of my money on clothes. I have six pairs of Timberland boots in different colors and a fresh pair of air force 1’s in all white and red and white. I am the only girl in my high school to wear a Roc A Wear valor sweat suit. I think all of the girls are jealous of me. I think all of the boys like me. I don’t have many friends. 

I call him back. “Yo, meet me on Wayne Ave.”

My heart is racing. I rush to leave my home. I am happy to get away from the heavy, dark space it has become. My father left a month ago. He moved into a new apartment five blocks away. I don’t know where my mom is. She has started a new teaching job and often comes home late and tired. She cries a lot at night.

I walk the four blocks to meet Ali. He is sixteen. He drives a car, has a Nextel, white teeth, light skin and freckles. He isn’t like my last boyfriend. Ali isn’t my friend. We don’t stay up late talking on the phone. I don’t know his mother’s name. We don’t laugh very often. He says I talk funny, like a white girl so I talk less and curse more. 

He is the first boy I ever French kiss. We sit on the steps of a church and pass gum between our mouths swapping his Big Red for my Winter Fresh. His tongue is wet and forceful like his hands which squeeze my small breasts and push in between my thighs. 

I don’t know what I am doing but I feel grown. I feel like the older girls who have full breasts, big hips, asses and who have had sex. 

I meet Ali at a park. Fall is here and the sun is setting earlier. It is nearly dark. My mom flashes into my mind but I push her tired, worried image into the back of my thoughts. 

Ali looks over my body and chews loudly on his Big Red. In between the interruption of his Nextel which barks random “Yoooo’s” and “Where you at’s”, he kisses me and touches my hair.

He wants me to go to his cousin’s house down the street. A house I have never been to. I feel nervous but I play it cool and agree. I know why he wants me to go to this random house. He wants to have sex. 

I am a virgin and a lot of my friends from middle school have already had sex. They tell me about the way it feels and how many boy’s they have been with. I want to experience it. I like the way my body responds when he kisses me and touches me but my young, fourteen year old self is in conflict.”

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 This is memoir writing. It comes from memory about experiences and moments that make deep impressions and grooves into the woodwork of our lives. For me, writing is an act of healing. It helps me to reflect, remember and release moments that bring me confusion, hurt and shame. Writing helps me to accept myself and all my varied circumstances so that I can forgive others (and most importantly myself) and grow.

I know that there are other young, old, experienced and fresh writers out there with their own stories that have been stagnant in their psyches for so long. It is time to loosen the hardened material and allow the beautiful alchemy of words to unfurl. 

 I have facilitated a Memoir Writing Workshop here in Philadelphia beginning July 7th-21 lead by Maleka Fruean. Every Tuesday for two hours in this short writing workshop, we will explore our memories and our life’s narrative- from the first time we remember feeling fear to the last time we ate cotton candy. We’ll use humor, sadness, and everything in between to begin creating polished non-fiction pieces that read like great stories. We’ll explore our own unique writing voice in the world through in-class writing prompts and exercises, and short assignments to work on at home. This workshop is for women, and for all levels of writers. Our work will be shared and workshopped in a safe and encouraging environment.

 Seating for Registration is limited. For more information and to register hit the link. Can’t wait to hear the amazing stories to come!

Registration for Memoir Writing Workshop

New Video : My Color Results After Using Shea Moisture At Home Kit

Although late (this video was filmed in winter) I wanted to share the results I had with Shea Moisture’s at home coloring kit. 

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