“With Love”

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Antoinette’s story behind her new album “With Love” is nothing short of amazing. It is a story of trust. It is an example of what magic can come from trusting that God, the universe, fate (or whatever you want to call it) is always ready for us, always presenting opportunities to us and all we need do is show up as best we can.  Nearly two years ago, Antoinette called me with an amazing story to share….

One Friday night, Antoinette was serving tables at the Jazz venue Dizzy’s  as she did every weekend. On this particular weekend the great jazz vocalist  Kim Nalley was performing. 

Somehow Antoinette and Kim had  graduated from the required role play of  “How are you? What can I get you to drink?” to more personal conversation and Antoinette revealed to Kim that she was an aspiring jazz vocalist. Nonchalantly, Kim told Antoinette that she would invite Antoinette on stage some time during Kim’s set to sing a song and advised Antoinette to be ready when she was called up.  Antoinette thought that was highly unlikely and assumed Kim was just being nice because what established jazz vocalist invites some “nobody” unto the stage to share her shine? 

Nonetheless, Antoinette prepared herself just in case Ms. Kim was serious. She practiced in the bathroom that Friday night but Kim didn’t call her up. She practiced Saturday morning before work. Saturday night passed. Kim hadn’t called her up. Sunday night came and lo and behold’ Kim called her up to stage and to Antoinette’s surprise she indeed did not want to share the stage with Antoinette, she wanted to give the whole stage to Antoinette for herself. Antoinette shed her waitress apron and stepped unto the stage and sang. Although scared, she gave it all she had. 

Here is video from that very night.

Unbeknownst to Antoinette,  there was a man in the audience that would fulfill one of her greatest desires. Everyone at Dizzy’s was familiar with him. He was quiet, sweet, tipped well and had a peculiar affinity for Fiji water (which Antoinette took incredibly seriously often running to nearby stores to get him The Fiji water if the restaurant was out of it). He became what we affectionally call in the restaurant biz as “a regular”. On this Friday night, after Antoinette performed, he whispered in her ear “I want to pay for you to make an album”. The rest is history.

No, he wasn’t a sugar daddy, no there were no strings attached. He was just an extremely wealthy man who simply wanted to use his wealth to help young, talented people follow their dreams (yeah, those types of wealthy people exist). He financed Antoinette’s entire album.

Produced by the incredibily talented bassist Christian McBride, Antoinette has created an album with selected jazz standards about love performed “her way”.

The Making of “With Love”

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I recently went to see Antoinette perform at her album release party and I was struck by my best friend. I saw her in a way I had never seen her before. Onstage, I saw her stretched and expanded in her greatest artistic form.

My God, the impressions we can make when we push past fear and step forth into the boundlessness of our life’s purpose. My God, the inspiration we spark when we do the hard work required of us as we push towards completing our goals. When we pursue our art, when we strive to fulfill our inner dictates, when we complete our goals, we allow ourselves the possibility of perfection through the eyes of others. I really saw my best friend during her performance and she was flawless. 

She stepped unto the stage, barefoot, with a tight royal blue dress clinging to her ample form, hands folded in a prayer and resting on her thighs, with lowered, bedroom eyes she tossed her waves over her shoulder and looked into the crowd with a shy, innocent smirk which stretched into a wide knowing smile, which opened into a laugh. The crowd was transfixed. Black girl magic. Her entire performance was a reflection of who she is at her core – sensual, controlled, generous and oh so very vulnerable.  I hope she knows how beautiful she was that night. I hope she knows she has a gift. I hope she knows how deeply she touches people. I hope she continues to share her richness with this starving world. Love you girl! 

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Antoinettehenry.com

Antoinette’s album “With Love” is also available for purchase on iTunes!

Kristin Braswell – A Woman With A Crush On The World

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Social media never ceases to amaze me. It really does create a network of people that you come to develop relationships with. There is always that one person who you have a random, soft connection with yet you are all the way here for. You scroll her instagram feed and see how her personal life is thriving with super cool friends and a loving family and at each career advancement you cheer her on in your head like, “You go girl! You’re killing it!”. You come to anticipate the many think pieces, music links and event invites she shares on social media because ya’ll are on the same wave length. Ya’ll appreciate the same things. Ya’ll hate the same people. Although you may have never talked to this person in your life and no matter how one sided the relationship stalking may be, she is like your best friend in your head but for real for real…

  This is my relationship with Kristin Braswell. In all honesty, we do have a stronger connection than one randomly established online. Kristin has assisted in bringing ATWC’s online presence to the forefront. She selected us to work on Carol’s Daughters online series “The Curl” which she produced herself as well as putting us on to many opportunities which followed. We have remained social media friends ever since and as stated before, I am totally here for her. She is truly a friend in my head and if we were ever to link up in person, I’m pretty sure we would vibe out as well.

 Kristin is a travel writer, producer and newly titled entrepreneur. She has created a new online publication called CrushGlobal which encapsulates her two greatest loves – writing and travel. I am excited to present you all with her interview. To me, she is an inspiration. She is black girl magic personified. She is the supernatural result when grit, endurance and raw talent meet in a weightless, limitless, cage-less  free spirit. 

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Tell us about yourself. Where were you raised? Where did you go to school? Where do you reside now?                                                                                                                                                              

I was born in Los Angeles, but I feel like I was raised in both Los Angeles and New York. I attended the University of Pennsylvania in Philly and have been a proud Brooklyn resident for years.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? Tell us your earliest memories of realizing that you wanted to become a writer.                                                                                                                            

I’ve created stories in my mind for as long as I can remember, and the easiest way to translate those stories was on paper. Looking back now, I realize that creating those stories was a means of survival.  I did not always fit in as a child, so when I wrote, I found purpose and felt empowered. I was very much a loner and a bit obsessed with reading. So being drawn into this fictional world I was reading about inspired me to stretch the limits of reality in my own writing. It’s not always easy for me to communicate an idea verbally, but when I write, I feel closer to myself and to others.

Are you more drawn to fiction or non-fictional writing? Why?                                                            A little bit of both, honestly. I love writing and reading fiction because there are no limits to a storyline within the realm of imagination. I also love non-fiction. When I read the words of Malcolm X or James Baldwin, the message always punches me in the gut. Isn’t that the beauty of words, of film, music and dance, really? That  sometimes it only takes so little- a short scene or melody- for so much to be understood.

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To say that you are accomplished in your career is to say the least. You have been published in Essence, Huffington Post, Los Angeles times, Ebony, CNN Travel and ForbesLife to name a few. Can you describe your career journey? How have you been able to keep your work circulating amongst such reputable publications? Any advice to young writers?                    

Am I accomplished? (smiles) Thank you. There’s soooo much more I want to do, but, I am FINALLY getting a to a place where I can say “dang girl, you did that!” For anyone reading  this, I encourage you to do the same. Stop for a moment and just pop your collar. You’re bigger and badder than your mind and experiences would have you to believe. My career journey is definitely not typical, and sometimes I still feel like I don’t know what the hell I am doing and would rather just be eating pizza and listening to music on a beach.

I began in breaking news, working at various networks in hopes to become a broadcast journalist. I won’t sugarcoat this. I got laid off, a lot. It was never a reflection of my work, and really the byproduct of companies that undervalued their employees and were trying to keep up with an ever-changing industry. For years, I took it personally, but now I am in a place where I’m no longer affected by any shifts in employment. This isn’t because I think I’m invincible. Truthfully, I’ve been disappointed so many times that it just doesn’t impact me in the same way. The beautiful thing that has come out of that is a shift in my perspective on my own talents. My brother has always told me, “you’re not meant to work for other people, or to have an ordinary life with the picket fence. You are here to do something extraordinary.” And oddly enough, every time I find myself trying to fit in that neat little package of success, I get thrown right back out into the wild. So now I am focusing more on my own business, CrushGlobal Travel.  I am in talks with a publisher for my first novel, and I contribute to publications that I dreamed of writing for since I was a little girl. I get to travel the world and meet new people and just give thanks. To young writers I say this: don’t be afraid to pitch. Celebrate your vulnerability and own your story. Expect to hear no more than yes. Know that editors are always juggling a number of things and it’s sometimes more about timing than even talent. I would actually like to help a lot more young writers because I didn’t always have that same support. So, please feel free to email me at contact@crushglobaltravel.com if you need some advice.

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Top 5 favorite writers.                                                                                                                              

1.Warsan Shire (waaay before Lemonade dropped). 

2. James Baldwin

3. Zora Neale Hurston

4. Ta-Nehisi Coates

5. Bernice McFadden

Name all of the places that you have traveled to. Is there one place that you loved the most? Is there one place you are dying to see but have yet to go?                                                                

 I’ve been to London, Paris, the Maldives, Madrid, Seville, Tenerife, Barcelona, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Anguilla, Mexico, Hawaii, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Bermuda, The Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Maarten, St. Barths, Berlin, Hamburg, Santiago and Patagonia in Chile, various cities in India, Bordeaux, Montreal, Barbados, Belize, Petit St. Vincent, Cayman Islands, Rome, Capri, Positano, Sorrento, Portugal, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. I love a lot of these places for different reasons, but, if I had to choose, I would say Nicaragua surprised me the most with its natural beauty and good vibes, Bordeaux for its wine and food, and Trinidad for the supreme joy I feel during Carnival. I am a soca junkie and the happiest with some roti in my hand and a riddim playing. I’m dying to get to Cuba and have been for over a decade now. Honestly, I just feel so blessed. I love seeing the world.

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Top 5 beauty necessities while traveling.

1. A good gloss because my lips must stay poppin.                                                                                                  

2. An eye mask for sleep. Without it, I act a fool.                                                                                            

3. Lotion. You can’t be ashy abroad.                                                                                                                                 

4. An ayurvedic calming spray I got in India. It helps my nerves when I fly.                                                          

5. A good book + my journal to collect my thoughts and express gratitude for wherever I am in the world.

What is one thing you have learned about America having traveled outside of it? What is one thing you have discovered about being black outside of the context of being in America?

America is not the center of the world. I feel like we are very much taught that as children and it is in many ways to our own detriment. I travel to other countries and children from all backgrounds can speak different languages and know far more about American history than we ever learned about their countries or customs. It’s a curious thing to me, how disconnected we are from the rest of the world in many ways growing up, but how connected the world is to us. Honestly, I am never really made aware of my Blackness unless I am in a very homogenous place like India or Germany. But even in places like India, there was just a natural curiosity about where I was from rather  than any ill feelings about me being Black like I find in the States. I have more of a safety  issue sometimes being a woman while traveling than being a Black woman.

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You have launched a new site called CrushGlobal Travel. Can you tell us about it? What inspired it? What are your hopes for it’s future?                                                                

CrushGlobal was born out of my desire  to create a deeper understanding between people through travel. The site offers features, tips and first hand accounts of travel and culture from writers around the world. We also offer curated travel experiences, and will be launching our first group adventure later this year with a few really, really dope people who have a similar vision. Responsible tourism will also be a large component of our curated experiences, meaning, we will find ways to connect to and support the local people and economies of the places we visit. My love for travel and people inspired the brand. I have seen the deepest connections between people during travel, so I want to use that to fuel a transformative movement that is more than just cute selfies under a sunset or the Eiffel Tower. I truly believe that travel can change people and the way we see and treat each other.  I think a passport is the greatest form of education and I want to get one into the hands of as many people as possible.

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Did Jay-Z really cheat on Beyonce?                                                                                                          

HA! I did not see this question coming. There’s so much to unpack with Lemonade that Jay Z’s potential infidelity was actually the last thing on my mind. I am still exploring the gorgeous imagery, the invocations of Yemaya and Oshun, the sheer enormity of sisterhood and redemption. Beyonce dressed as OSHUN gave me life– the sensuality, healing powers and fertility. I just love that there is so much to explore.

I do think that she does a great job of blending fiction with reality- and I had a very visceral reaction to the album as a Black woman. The scene where the mothers of Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin hold photos of their sons broke my heart. We deal with a particular, historical, generational  kind of pain, and if you’re just looking at Lemonade as a Jay vs. B thing, you are missing the enormity of this body of work.

We give so much. Too much sometimes. Lemonade created a space for Black women to reckon with our pain and methods of healing, whether that be with a bat or in the arms of the lover who scorned us. I do think people can forgive and grow after catastrophes, but both parties have to be willing to put in the work and be accountable. Anger is easy. Forgiveness takes more work than we can sometimes fathom, but it is possible. I’ve heard a lot of women say that if Beyonce can be cheated on, anything is possible. Ladies, come on. We know good and well that one can appear to be perfect (whatever that means) and still get hurt. That’s why you have to make it a daily practice to love yourself fiercely, as hard as that may be sometimes– and keep that hot sauce in your bag.

kristinbraswell.com

www.crushglobaltravel.com

Instagram and Twitter:  @crushglobal

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/crushglobaltravel/

Crowns & Style

This is a weekly series from the creative genius that is coiled up and springing from Emiliano Styles.  I loved all the videos so much I had to share. What beautiful, beautiful women live and thrive in this world. 

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  To stay abreast of new videos that come out weekly, click

 Crowns & Style

Undercut Hair Grow Out Challenge!!

I have officially decided that I am going to grow out my hair. I am ready for change. I am ready for challenge. I am ready to rock twist outs and ponytails and have it get on my nerves again. I have a mohawk right now so I have a center section with significantly longer hair and very short hair on the sides. Uggh, this is going to be a bitch to grow out. I refuse to cut it all evenly until my sides grow out some more though. Anyway, here is a video describing my plan of action.

Who else is ready to keep their heads warm this winter? Who else is growing out their shorter hair styles? I think we all should keep one another motivated and away from scissors and barber chairs!  Send me some pics of your starting point for this challenge! I will share yours as well as my growth every 2 months or so to see one another’s progress. Lets get it! 

(Starting point) Oct 2015

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Tag @aroundthewaycurls on instagram with your photos with the hashtag #undercuthairgrowout

Or email photos to aroundthewaycurls@gmail.com

“Healthy Roots” Natural Dolls For Natural Girls KICKSTARTER

affbeb9dc8ca5b3f512727beb4448880_original-1   I often pace the aisles of toy stores and I leave empty handed (not just because I am cheap and a bad mother) but because there are NO DOLLS that look like my daughter. Either they are unrealistically proportioned white dolls, scary monster, weirdo, sex kittens, black dolls with straight hair and white features or they are dolls peddling propaganda of excessive materialism and sexism. Where are the dolls and toys which offer education and stimulate the imagination? Where are the dolls which offer companionship to the entire spectrum of young girls? The world isn’t just black and white. The spectrum of brown, red, yellow and every color in between is real and beautiful and in need of representation. My daughter is a beautiful blend of her father’s Eritrean ancestry and my white and black genes. Very rarely do I ever feel that she is uncomfortable in her skin. She is constantly reminded by everyone in her life that she is extra-ordinary, clever, funny, intelligent, kind and beautiful.  Yet every now and then she will express her desire for straight hair and her dislike for her big curly hair.  Each and every time that she has voiced her dissatisfaction is when she is stroking the knotty, stringy straight hair of a doll baby or Barbie (that she was gifted and I hadn’t the heart to throw the hell out).  With that being my struggle, I was really excited to be contacted by Yelitsa Jean-Charles. She is a young artist coming from the much respected art school of RISD. She has created the toy company “Healthy Roots” which offer dolls that represent the variation of the African Diaspora with varying hair textures as well as an illustrated reading book and coloring book which offer basic information about natural haircare. It’s genius!  Here is Yelitsa’s response to the state of toys offered to children of color. 

“I created Healthy Roots to fill that void. Internalized racism and colorism stem from mainstream beauty standards that exclude women of color. The pressure that girls feel to appeal to mainstream beauty standards impacts their self esteem, leading them to use dangerous chemicals like perms and bleaching creams to become “beautiful.” Healthy Roots teaches girls of color self-love through education, diversity, and positive representation. If the toys we play with influence how we perceive ourselves, imagine the kind of impact we can have with a toy that aims to inspire and empower.”

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Easy reading book included w/ doll explaining basic natural haircare

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Real representation of a Healthy Roots Doll

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Doll Concepts

Meet Yelitsa and Learn More about her Kickstarter for “Healthy Roots” Toy Company

Yelitsa is 5 days away from her kickstarter ending. She needs help to bring this brilliant idea and hardwork into realization! She is so close already! 

Support Yelitsa’s Kickstarter Today to Make These Dolls A reality for Our Children!

Click the Link HERE

                                                                                                                 (Post By Shanti)

Shanti In LA

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I was in LA for the first time in June. I went to visit a friend Emiliano Styles and was shown a wonderful time. We went to lofty high rise restaurants overlooking downtown LA, ate delicious octopus tacos in Grand Central Market, went hiking on Runyun Canyon, bike riding in Venice, and found our way into a secret, hidden Cuban bar with a live saxophone player who played to a woman who danced, twirled and writhed her hips until her white vestido fell and she was left to gyrate in only her bra and panties. We ate fried chicken at Roscoes and discovered the talent of Joseph Khalil at the MOCA. We skipped the Hollywood scene and I absorbed the sun rays and buena onda of the West coast without the glitz and glam of Lala Land.

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I especially loved the graffiti-esque murals that brought an urban edge to the romantic curls and scales of the Spanish architecture. I loved the Latino presence in LA. I loved seeing the traditional Mexican cowboy with a shiny big belt and brown, wide brimmed hat, hand in hand with his lovely woman to the “neo” Latino influenced by black culture, cool as a cucumber with Converses, conversing with the distinct West coast Latino lilt “Ehhhhhh, what’s up?”

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 I was in the best of company with Emil. He is a creative inspiration for me. He is an artist, grounded in discipline with just the right shiny sprinkling of idealism and hope.  He is photographing, writing, shooting, directing and editing a beautiful life for himself. He is dope, working hard to be doper. Having well put in his 10,000 hours of practice, he still makes every effort to sharpen his skills and expand creatively. With that being said, he made sure to have his camera on hand  during my visit and documented my time in LA.  He made a video of me! I loved it so much I wanted to share it with you all. He says he wanted to simply capture my curious nature. The video meant much more to me than that. It brought visuals to my daily prayer, “Let it all work out.”

SHANTI IN LA from Emiliano Styles™ on Vimeo.

Things That Interest the Around The Way Girl – Part Tres

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1. SaintHeron.com

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.”

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2. Ibeyi

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 

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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.

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4. Beyonce Untouched

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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?

Alex Elle in Philly

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

Thank you Alex for the reminder.

When Are We Truly ‘At Our Best’

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There was a time when I would have never posted this picture anywhere. There was a time I would have never been caught video chatting without a complete beat face. Even as recently as last year, had FaceTime rang with me still sweaty from the gym, I would have declined the call or strategically placed the camera so that I had a chance to ‘put myself together’ before anyone could see me. But then I have to ask myself would I had even gone to the gym without at least foundation on? I think not.

Now, I know that we all say there is nothing wrong with trying to look ‘our best’. But lately, I have struggled with what that means and all the weight and pressure that comes with that. It’s a mind f*ck really. So tell me, am I not at my best like this? I had a good day, prayed, went to yoga, walked, drank a mean green smoothie for dinner, cleaned my room and approached the day with gratitude. But even after all that, I still need to look outside of myself in order to be my best? It’s really quite confusing and the implications that come along with statements like ‘you’re best’ can be daunting.

I worry sometimes that this blog adds to that confusion because we are in a way a beauty blog. But my hope is that we aren’t your average beauty blog. My hope is that we keep it real enough to keep your minds at ease. My hope is that no claims of perfection are made here. My hope is that Shanti and I document our own personal journeys that folks can relate to it but not strive towards it. My hope is that we inspire.

In summary, I’m at a point in my life that when it comes to beauty, I no longer feel the need to strive towards perfection and I think it is because I have defined for myself what “at my best” is. I think it’s important that we all do that. It’s vital that we have and live by our definitions and refine them when need be.  Otherwise, we are at risk of living up to standards made with a broad brush.

So, I am at my best when…

-I eat healthy

-I exercise

-I’m in love

-I take care of my skin

-I use my favorite sweet smelling shea butter after I shave

-I use lip liner with my lipstick

-I wear my new black leather jacket with a bright red lip, aviator sun glasses and slick my hair back in a tight bun

-I have that black long line bra on

-I get my eyebrows done and handle any random weird hairs on my face/chin/mustache (smh)

-I drink tons of water

-I’m organized

-I get to see him

-I think positive

-I trust the journey

-I smile

-I stretch

-I’m social and not behind this computer

-I watch/listen/love Beyonce

-I’m around kids

-I get a pedicure

-I sing

-I leave my hair alone until it is completely dry.

When are you at your best ladies?

These Are Not Radical Ideas

We have not posted much about Michael Brown. Mainly, because I/we haven’t known what exactly to say. Frankly, I still don’t know how to express my anger, guilt, sorrow and frustration that will ignite any real change. Even now, I fear that some of you are reading this thinking, “Here she goes again” or “She doesn’t even know because her mom’s white” or “Where is the hair post”. But that’s my own stuff. Not yours.

 The following is a Facebook message and it says it all… everything I have ever felt but couldn’t articulate.  My once mentor and now friend posted it. Sadly, I wanted to send it to some family members and friends of mine. I’ve been secretly waiting for someone in my circle to say something stupid to me about Mike Brown. Well, a couple days ago that wait was over and I wish my response was something like the statements below, but instead I eloquently informed them that “they didn’t know shit”. Smh. Please read below.

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“A white friend expressed to me recently that my facebook and twitter timelines seemed more “radical” lately. In response, I told him that it is not radical at all. First, it’s obvious that we are not very close friends if you believe that spreading important information is radical expression for me. In fact, it feels quite passive. Additionally, and maybe even more significant, are my feelings behind the messages and tone of the information that I help to share.

It is not radical for me or anyone else to want to live. It is not radical for me to want to see my brother  live until he is an old man. It is not radical for me to want my nephew and my cousins to not be criminalized because of the color of their skin. It is not radical for me to want my uncle to be able to work, pay taxes, provide for his family, and enjoy his life without the threat of violence and death from the police. These are not radical ideas. They are normal, reasonable ideas. So normal in fact, white US citizens very rarely ever have to think about it. You expect these realities and privilege and take full advantage of them with every breath. If you believe that it is radical for me to express this desire for myself, it is clear that you believe the notion of who we are and what we deserve as humans is fundamentally different from you. Moreover, when I talk about myself, I am talking about ALL of my people. ALL OF THEM. Every utterance of “but what about…”, “but not all…”, “but they should have just…” “but not all white people….” – each of these is an expression of micro-deviations between your level of humanity to mine.

To put it plainly, if you are a so called believer in human rights- you should be fighting harder to defend those who are constantly abused by and used as fodder for the system that you benefit from WITH EVERY SINGLE BREATH. Anything short of that brings me what I covet these days more than any other time in my life, clarity. How you feel about #michaelbrown is how you feel about my son and how you feel about me. When it comes to survival, this liberal rhetoric has muddied the waters for too long. At least I know where the other side stands. How you feel about the people of #ferguson is how you feel about my family. I very rarely quote the bible these days, but when it comes to survival, Revelation 3:15-16 seems extremely appropriate: “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot … So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

We are not fools. Here in the United States, Brazil, and many place in between, violence and oppression based on skin color, hair, features, and class are the dogs of war– this brutality is controlled by two leashes. Holding the leash tightest is institutional racism. Hiding behind, is his son white privilege. What a fucking coward. HE has the nerve to ask ME to teach HIM what HE should do to for ME to make HIM more comfortable as a so-called ally. Sadly, many of my liberal friends don’t see the violence inherit in these indignities. I am not comfortable and have never been. I don’t have that privilege. My life is full of the anxiety of being a critical victim. I have worried my entire life about living long enough to start a family and will spend the remainder of my life worrying about losing my children to structural violence. Needless to say, I am busy and have zero time for your lukewarm bullshit.”

#ARRESTDARRENWILSON

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It is not radical to want to live

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