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With the best articles on caring for natural hair, Curly Nikki is your source for inspiration and advice. Find out about the latest styles and trends today!

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  • 09/12/17--06:42: Have This Kind of Faith

  • Hola Chica,

    Mostly typical day yesterday.  Had brunch with a friend, ran some errands and by the time I got home, found that Gene had relieved the nanny and was watching the Firestick.

    He was deeply absorbed in what was clearly a pretty good movie.  I still had some stuff to do so I didn't demand that he take it all the way back and re-watch it with me (haha), I just caught the end.   But when I cut it back on later that night, I obviously had a completely different experience than Gene did earlier that day.  He was probably up and down with the characters, probably nervous for them at times not knowing their fates and totally on the rollercoaster of emotions the writers wanted him to experience.  Not me, though.  I'd seen the end, so while I enjoyed the twists and turns of the plot, I was able to watch with a gentle detachment.  Despite all the drama and tumultuous circumstances, I knew the characters would be happy in the end.  You see where I'm going with this?

    Let's say you have a goal to finally start your own business.  Spoiler alert-- it's already yours!  That's why you 'want it'.  If you can see the desire as a promise from God, then you know it's already yours and you live in the feels of thanksgiving and appreciation (literally, ask yourself how it would feel if you had what you desired, right now... wait for the feeling to automatically bubble up and STAY THERE).  That successful business is already yours.  So it doesn't matter who says no, or how bleak the circumstances look or how many doors close in your face-- you know that's just the drama, the plot twists to keep things interesting!  You know the ending, you can feel it, so you take inspired actions and walk in the confidence that all is well and working out for you.  That's faith, y'all.

    'Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark'.  
    Rabindranath Tagore-

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    By Nikki Igbo

    Approximately 25% of pregnancies in the U.S. end in miscarriage. It typically happens during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy with little to no indication as to why. I have had two miscarriages. The first one happened at about 7 weeks. The second happened at 11 weeks. I spent a lot of time not talking about either miscarriage and that was a tragedy in and of itself.

    As I was living the experience of losing two pregnancies, two children who I very much wanted, I felt deeply alone and misunderstood. I felt as though I didn't have enough information to cope with what was happening. No one warned me about the sharp pain in my gut or the brightness of the blood or what those losses would feel like. No one explained how detached all the medical professionals would be or how one would even ask me to collect a sample of the blood and tissue to bring with me on my next doctor's visit. No one was able to make the hurt go away or reassure me that I could and would go on. No one told me not to give up trying for a successful pregnancy. In those moments of discovering that my pregnancies had failed, I never felt more alone or more devastated.

    I recently had a surprisingly candid conversation with a complete stranger about my miscarriages. We were in a nail salon and we got to talking first about our children. I told her how I'd just had my second son two months ago and she told me about her two daughters. I told her how my sons were two years apart while she told me that her daughters had a nine year gap between them.

    "My, you took a big break, huh," I said.

    "I lost one between them," she answered.

    "Oh, I'm so sorry. I've lost two myself," I followed. 

    15 minutes later, we were both misty eyed and emotional as we recounted our ordeals in our respective emergency room visits. It was a beautiful and cathartic moment shared but it only happened because we both knew and understood that pain and time had been merciful in removing some of the sting. 

    However, as we were experiencing it, we had only our family members or close friends to turn to--and they did not understand. And this, I believe, is most often why those of us who experience miscarriage do not talk about it.

    My husband did not know how to comfort me while mourning his own loss. He'd never experienced it before. My mother told me things like "Everything happens for a reason" or "God has a plan." She'd never experienced it before. My sister didn't even bother to call me. She'd never experienced it before either. I hated every single one of them for their inability to help me through it and I did not want to hate them so I buried my feelings to save those relationships. What I most needed was a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on and confirmation that what I was feeling was okay. 

    I was fortunate though. When I made up my mind to go back to living my life in grad school and at my writing internship, my manager shared with me how she'd experienced fiveback-to-back miscarriages. I remember sitting in her office listening to her and seeing the tears stream down her face. I remember her long and warm embrace. I remember her giving me information about fertility specialists and urging me not to give up. I remember her also glancing at the portrait of her toddler son she kept next to her computer screen and her squeezing my hand. 

    She gave me hope. 

    For those who have had one or multiple miscarriages, I urge you to be candid and open about your experience. Your testimony never fails to put life back into a better perspective. Your story lets others know that they are not alone. Your honesty can help erase anger at God and doubt in oneself and the worry and guilt that comes with the mystery of why the loss happened in the first place. 

    For those who have never experienced a miscarriage, I urge you to listen carefully to the sisters who have, and be the compassionate, caring, support and strength they need. 

     What's your experience? Does it help to talk about miscarriage?

    Nikki Igbo is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and political junkie. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Political Science from California State University at Fullerton and a Masters in Fine Arts of Writing at Savannah College of Art and Design. When not staring in disbelief at the antics unfolding on CSPAN, she enjoys philosophical arguments with her husband, 70's era music and any excuse to craft with glitter. Feel free to check out her freelance services at and stalk her on twitter @nikigbo or Instagram at @nikigbo.

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    Stacie J.
    Brain Aneurysm Month  
    Two years ago, Stacie Jones, who many remember from the second season of “The Apprentice,” had just put her kids to bed and was saying goodnight to a friend who was staying over when she passed out cold. She was rushed to the hospital where they determined that she had suffered a seizure due to a ruptured brain aneurysm.

    According to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation40 percent of people who suffer a brain aneurysm die, and 60 percent of survivors suffer permanent neurological deficit. When Stacie regained consciousness after being in an induced coma for four days, she had undergone a series of strokes that left her with memory loss, slowed speech, impaired vision, and an inability to control the left side of her body. The road to recovery would be very challenging, especially when you take a closer look at what happened.
    Estimated to have been growing some 25 years, doctors said Stacie’s medium-sized aneurysm could have ruptured at any time. According to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, up to six million Americans have aneurysms, but they don’t always rupture. In many cases, they don’t have symptoms so there are no definite warning signs of a looming rupture. In Stacie’s case, however, there was a big warning sign.
    Eleven days prior to being rushed to the hospital, Stacie had her first headache. It persisted daily, but she dismissed it, thinking maybe it had something to do with some wine she drank one night. Two days before the rupture, her daughters’ father insisted she get an MRI brain scan. “I did get an MRI, but doctors missed it,” Stacie said, adding that she should have gotten an MRA (magnetic resonance angiogram) scan because it gives a more detailed look inside the brain.
    Research points to smoking, high blood pressure, cocaine use, and family history as possible causes of brain aneurysms. However, an avid runner for years who was the perfect bill of health, Stacie didn’t fit the profile for any of the risk factors. If family history was to blame Stacie wouldn’t know because her parents have never been tested.
    It would take everything Stacie had to battle through learning to walk again, recovering her speech, regaining her vision, doing simple math, and taking charge of her own therapy once her insurance company stopped paying eight months in. Though a devastating blow, Stacie continued therapy by practicing mental games and exercises she learned online. “My drive to live and get better was all because of my kids,” said Stacie, whose daughters were 6 and 4 years old at the time of the rupture.
    And while Stacie doesn’t know if she’ll ever be “100 percent,” she does recognize her progress as a miracle. “My neurosurgeon says that she’s only seen one other brain aneurysm patient recover to the extent that I have.”
    As for what’s next, Stacie is passionate about bringing awareness to brain aneurysms. “The largest segment affected by aneurysms is African American women, so if you have the worst headache of your life, and it persists, go see a doctor immediately,” she warned. Stacie also started The Jones Insurance Agency to help people get the proper insurance care they need in case of a health emergency or death. “I never expected to need disability insurance, and then this happened,” she said, “so it’s important to protect yourself and your family while you are still healthy.”
    To learn more about brain aneurysms, visit The Brain Aneurysm Foundation.
    This article first appeared on 
    Featured photo of Stacie J. by Sharon Daniels. 

    How much do you know about brain aneurysms? 

    Erickka Sy Savané is the managing editor of, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in,,, and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or  

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  • 09/13/17--09:00: DIY Hair Treatments To Avoid

  • By Mary Wolff

    When it comes to taking a do-it-yourself approach, it can be a lot of fun and really effective. Since you can tailor the ingredients to meet your exact hair needs at any given moment in time, you can get more personalized results than using a store-bought product. They are also great for when you need a quick treatment, but run out of your favorite product! However, there are a few DIY hair treatments to avoid, and some might surprise you.

    Continue Reading 

    1. Mayonnaise

    This is one of the most controversial DIY hair treatments to avoid because some people still swear by it. Mayo is reported to give hair a dose of protein and moisture once rinsed out. While mayonnaise can be super moisturizing for dry hair, there are a few reasons you may want to skip this one altogether. First of all, the protein from mayonnaise is a myth because the protein is too large to penetrate the cuticle of the shaft. The moisture may be a benefit, but the natural oiliness of mayonnaise can add too much grease to your hair and possibly disrupt the sebum balance of your scalp. If you really need the moisture of mayo, you would be better off using a lighter oil that is easier to rinse out.

    2. Champagne

    Since wine and beer have become a great way to rinse hair and add some extra nutrients, many people assume all alcoholic beverages might work for their hair, but this is wrong. Champagne doesn’t have the resveratrol found in wine or the hops in beer to help hair improve strength. It is also full of sugar which can be drying to hair. If you want a little champagne in your day, drink it and leave your hair out of it.

    3. Lemon

    This one is similar to the mayonnaise debate.  While it is true that lemon can be used to lighten hair temporarily and help deal with an overabundance of oil, it can be drying to the scalp and strands. If you don’t have an extra oily scalp, applying lemon directly to the scalp can be too harsh and lead to dryness. Use this one at your own risk, or dilute it with water to make sure it's not too strong.

    4. Sugar

    While using sugar for a skin exfoliant is usually considered a beauty treat that leaves skin soft and refreshed, using it on the scalp is too much. The sugar granules are much too large and abrasive for the sensitive area of your scalp and can lead to small scratches. In general, the scalp doesn’t need to be exfoliated with anything this tough since it should be self-regulated to remove dead skin cells and keep everything working properly.

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  • 09/13/17--09:20: Undercuts & Natural Hair

  •  by Mary Wolff

    One of the most popular looks for natural hair is the undercut. It is a great way to keep the hairline clean and easy to style while helping to add contrast that shows off your natural texture. However, when it comes to undercuts and natural hair, there are a few things to know before you reach for the cutting shears.

    Continue Reading 

    Get it done by a professional. While there are a lot of hair care tasks you can do by yourself, an undercut isn’t one of them. If you are going to do this look, it’s best to let an experienced hand handle the clippers. Letting someone else do it is also practical because they can see the back of your head better than you would be able to with a mirror so they can ensure a clean, even cut along the hairline.
    Know there will be ongoing maintenance. Many naturalistas mistakenly choose this look because they think it’s low maintenance. While it’s true that it’s less hair to deal with on a daily basis, there is still some upkeep to keep this look fresh. How often you will need to re-trim your undercut will depend on how fast your hair grows and also the closeness of the original cut. If you get an intricate pattern in your undercut that is no longer visible, it’s time for a touch-up. Most people have to have their undercut trimmed around every 2-4 weeks, depending on their growth.
    You can either go bold with a full cut or choose a half side cut. A full undercut will be the entire bottom hairline whereas the half would be just one side of the hairline. The full is a great way to make a bold fashion statement while the half is perfect for those with long hair that may want to hide the undercut during certain situations. With a flip of their long hair, a half cut can be easily hidden from sight.
    Growing hair out can be a journey. One of the most important things to know about undercuts and natural hair is that growing it out can lead to hair that sticks straight out instead of falling flat. Obviously, this will depend on your hair type more than anything, but you should still consider this factor before taking the plunge. If your hair has a harder time staying flat and hanging, an undercut grow out phase will require a lot more gel to keep things smooth.

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    Hola Chica,

    Let me let you in on a little secret--

    There's a part of you that has never aged. Never changed. It was with you on your first day of kindergarten, your first day of college and is with you, witnessing the reading of these very words right now.  It will be present at the birth of your first child. It will be there when your body dies. It's always here, and always now.  And you're intimately familiar with it, you just forget sometimes.

    It's faceless. It's formless. It's who and what you really are. This presence is your awareness of being. It's your 'I am-ness'. It's consciousness and it's not 'yours', it's absolutely universal. My sense of 'I am', the simple and super apparent way that I know that I'm alive...  is the same as yours and the same as your mothers and the same as Beyonce's! There's only ONE, but it appears as the many. It appears as absolutely everything! It's what man calls God.  We are God appearing as humans... God appearing as magical Black girls and our main task is to become transparent enough to let God work through us to serve each other. You came here to experience and play and forget your power in order to remember and become it once more. And you tasked your other selves to remind you from time to time. I'm one of your other selves. And this is a wake up call.  You've been dreaming that your only this girl, sitting here reading these words, wondering what Nikki is going on about.  God has been dreaming he's you.  But you're so much more. Don't go back to sleep.

    Before you were aware of being you, you were just aware. There was just awareness of being. Period.  And you can become aware of that unconditioned presence right now by stopping and listening for a sound that you can't hear.  Alternatively, you can ask yourself silently, 'I wonder what my next thought will be?' and wait in gentle anticipation, listening for it (a la Eckhart Tolle), like a cat watching a mouse hole.  When the next thought comes, ask the question again and wait. Listen.  The silence you experienced waiting for the next thought is always there and it's not empty-- it's absolutely full. It's the source of everything and is experienced subjectively by you as a feeling of peace and joy. Stay there.  You're becoming aware of yourself.

    So let's take this one step further. If you're God appearing as Lorie or Nadeira, then what could you possibly fear? What could you want or ask for? It's already yours. You created it! God is appearing as you and knows and fulfills your wants and needs before your conscious mind can attempt to beg or pray for them. He knows what you need more than you do. God is source.  Which means your abundance, your health and wealth is already here, right now. So again, your only task is to stay connected to the presence by staying consciously aware of the peaceful, loving silence.  And that awareness will take the form of the outer things you need to live and rock in this world-- be it a plane ticket, a new job or a 6 bedroom house.  Note--you can never actually lose your connection, you are THAT... there's not two-- there's not you and God, there's really just God appearing as you... you just need to be consciously aware.  Think of it like electricity.  It's powerful and everywhere but absolutely useless unless you're plugged in.  So when seeming problems arise, turn to that presence. Love it.  Appreciate it.  Feel those feels. When everything is all good, turn to the presence. Thank it, appreciate it, love it, become even more familiar with it.  Pretty soon, you'll come to realize that you're not aware of the presence.  You are the presence. And everything is you.

    Marinate on that for the rest of the day.

    Your Other Self, also known as Nik

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    By Nikki Igbo

    By now, most, if not all have heard about the Equifax data breach in which hackers gained access to potentially 143 million consumers’ sensitive data including social security numbers and driver’s license numbers. Based in Atlanta, Equifax is the oldest of the three biggest American consumer credit reporting agencies. Its breach did not take place in a vacuum.

    Arby’s, a national fast food chain, had malware placed on payment systems at various locations. Dun & Bradstreet leaked personal contact information on millions of employees at U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Postal Service, CVS Health, Wal-Mart and AT&T. Nearly 5 million users ofAmerica’s JobLink across ten states had personal information compromised. Identity thieves also snatched personal information for up to 100,000 taxpayers through the IRS Data Retrieval Tool which is used to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Those are just a few examples from 2017 alone.

    Last year, consumers lost nearly $16 billion as a result of identity theft and fraud.Obviously, data breaches can be expected to be a regular occurrence in our brave, new digitized world. But you don’t have to sit back and wait to be victimized. Here are steps you can take to protect yourself after (and sometimes before) a breach occurs. 

    1. Keep a close watch over your finances. You should always keep track of what is moving in and out of your bank and credit card accounts. Match your receipts to your account ledgers daily and weekly; keep an eye out for oddities or discrepancies. Whether hackers are afoot or not, banks often make mistakes. You can even sign up for a credit or identity-monitoring service to make supervision easier.

    2. Take inventory of what was stolen. If a breach has occurred, make sure you know exactly what was stolen.If it was a simple leak of names or mailing addresses then you have nothing to worry about. A stolen email address will likely result in increased spam. Birth dates and drivers’ license numbers can be sensitive if taken along with your name and other contact information. Stolen payment cards and/or social security numbers will definitely require more action and attention on your part.

    3. Change/update your passwords. Any compromised account passwords should be changed immediately. Make sure you always create strong passwords which contain at least 15 characters and include all four types of characters (upper-case letters, lower-case letters, punctuation marks/special characters, numerals).   Do not use names, birthdays or references to any personal interest that are potentially easy to guess. Never reuse passwords for multiple accounts.

    4. Alert any relevant financial institutions. If your payment card information was stolen, contact the issuer and understand that you are not liable.  More often than not, you will receive a call or notice from your card issuer if they notice suspicious activity first. Any fraudulent charges made against your card will be negated and you’ll be issued a new card. You’ll also want to contact credit reporting agencies to make sure your credit score is not adversely affected.

    5. Make any necessary reports to the proper authorities. If your social security number has been compromised, then you’ll want to notify Equifax, TransUnionand Experian(credit reporting agencies), the IRS, the Federal Trade Commission, your local police (if you want a new social security number), and the Internet Crime Complaint Center (who can alert all other law enforcement agencies). 

    Have you had to deal with identity theft or a breach or your personal information? 

    Nikki Igbo is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and political junkie. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Political Science from California State University at Fullerton and a Masters in Fine Arts of Writing at Savannah College of Art and Design. When not staring in disbelief at the antics unfolding on CSPAN, she enjoys philosophical arguments with her husband, 70's era music and any excuse to craft with glitter. Feel free to check out her freelance services at and stalk her on twitter @nikigbo or Instagram at @nikigbo.

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    By Kanisha Parks

    If we’re going to talk about poetry, we have to go back—to Harlem, the 1920’s. Back to Langston Hughes and his weary blues, back to Claude McKay and his black man rage. I’m talking about rhyme and rhythm, music and tone; brokenness, hopelessness, sorrow, and pain. I’m talking about the Harlem Renaissance, which is (arguably) one the most essential movements of American poetry. In all honesty, if it weren’t for the Harlem Renaissance, I’m not sure I’d be a poet today.


    The Harlem Renaissance was, "A period of musical, literary, and cultural proliferation that began in New York's African-American community during the 1920's and early 1930's. I first learned about the movement in middle school and had the opportunity to study it more in-depth during college. I fell in love with these poets, their plight, and their determination to make their voices heard despite the deplorable conditions they were living in at the time. One of my favorite poems of the era is Countee Cullen’s “Incident:”

    Once riding in old Baltimore, 
    Heart-filled, head-filled with glee, 
    I saw a Baltimorean 
    Keep looking straight at me. 
    Now I was eight and very small, 
    And he was no whit bigger, 
    And so I smiled, but he poked out 
    His tongue, and called me, 'Nigger.' 
    I saw the whole of Baltimore 
    From May until December; 
    Of all the things that happened there 
    That's all that I remember. 

    I remember feeling amazed at how in just a few short lines, I went from feeling hopeful to helpless, just like the writer and I thought to myself, “Wow. This is so incredibly moving.” His poetry didn’t tell me how to feel but it made me feel something. I learned so much from studying the poets and poems of the Harlem Renaissance, which cemented my love for poetry and its ability to inspire and promote change.

    I wrote my first poem when I was ten years old and it was about how much I truly loved God. From then on, I started writing Christian poetry, which is simply poetry that explores various topics of Christianity—God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, faith, love, and anything discussed in the Bible. Most of my poems center around what it means to be a Christian and how to make it in this world, while some come from God’s perspective, revealing how much He truly loves and cares about us.

    I write poems that can accompany you through every season of this faith journey that is the Christian life. Yet it’s amazing how, at a time when we have much more creative freedom than the Harlem Renaissance poets, it appears that poetry has “died.” Although this is a sentiment that I wholeheartedly disagree with, I must recognize the truth about the current state of poetry. And realistically, poetry has become one of those art forms that a lot of people appreciate—from a distance. It’s like, “Yeah, poetry sounds nice and all, but do I really want to buy an entire book of it? Nah."

    And yes, I’ve heard and read many a negative remark about Christian poetry: that it ‘sucks,’ isn’t deep enough, doesn’t resonate with the average person, or it doesn’t sell. You’ll be hard pressed to find a book publisher interested in producing poetry at all, let alone Christian poetry. Some poets like me choose to self-publish, others just share their poems with family and friends.

    So that leaves the question—why do I write Christian poetry?

    Just like Harlem Renaissance poetry, Christian poetry has meaning and purpose. Similar to many of the Psalms and encouraging verses of the Bible, Christian poetry has the unique ability to lift you up out of your current circumstance and redirect your attentions upon God, so reading and writing poetry helps me keep my mind on God. I also write poetry because I know it pleases God, and it helps me see the good in any and every situation, like Paul suggests in Philippians 4:8:

    “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

    I know that no matter what I do in life, I will always write Christian poetry. It doesn’t matter to me if two people read them or two million, I know that these words can and will bless someone. And who knows, maybe there will be a movement of Christian poetry next and I’m here for it! 

    Are you a poetry fan? What types of poetry do you read?

    Kanisha is a Christian writer/author based in Augusta, GA. Other, she has also written forBlackNaps.organdDevozine, and has authored a book of poetry entitled, "Love Letters from the Master." Kanisha can be contacted for business inquiries at

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    By Sharee Silerio

    We often count the days, weeks and months since we lost the ones we love, but it always feels like it just happened yesterday.

    Have you ever been through a storm and could feel the sun, just for the clouds and rain to swiftly cover its glory? Have you ever felt like you were just starting to “feel normal," then another crush to your heart brings you deeper into despair?

    This is what it felt like on May 3, 2016, when my Uncle Nell passed. He wasn’t the first family member to go, but he was the one I was closest to. On a Tuesday evening, my mom and I were walking back to her house after exercising when my grandma called. I can still feel the moment she told me that Nell passed; the angst that rushed out of my throat as I yelled “No!” The river of pain that flowed from my eyes; the morning after that felt like it was all a dream.

    Nell was one of my best friends. I could be myself and talk to him on the phone for hours without being bored. I could share my doubts, fears, and insecurities. He never judged me, but loved and uplifted me.

    Between February and June of 2016, a member of my family died each month – five people. My husband’s grandmother lost her battle with cancer, our nephew passed due to complications from an asthma attack, and my uncle died due to blocked arteries.

    Each of these losses – individually and collectively – were a reality check, revealing the healing I needed from a lifetime of pain.

    I hadn’t spoken to my uncle in several months, maybe a year, before he died. To be honest, I don’t even know exactly how long it was, but the wedge between us began as his mental illness got worse. He became paranoid, verbally aggressive and erratic. One evening, when my husband and I were at the grocery store, he called me. As I was having a conversation with him, my husband and I laughed about something going on in the store. He thought that my husband was talking about him, so he threatened to beat him up. The moment before this was the last time I felt safe around him.

    As his casket was being lowered into the grave during the burial, I became trapped in a net of guilt and regret. I felt awful that I let Nell’s mental illness separate us instead of forgiving his episodes for the sake of our relationship.

    For weeks, I struggled to get “back on track," although I had no idea how to get there. I worked as a business manager at a counseling center and couldn’t focus on my tasks. It was also difficult for me to do the things I wanted and planned to do before Nell died. I was depressed, lost and anxious. A few days later, I started weekly counseling sessions.

    During therapy, we started with the grief from my losses and worked backwards. It was easier than I thought, and I began to believe that it was okay for me to release the guilt I felt about disconnecting from Nell, in addition to the hurt and disappointment from the way he treated me and the love of my life.

    Eventually, I found that forgiveness is possible without receiving an apology from the person or people who hurt me. It is a decision to release what someone did to me and focus on how I can use the hurt to grow. We never know when someone will take their last breath, so it’s best to let things go. Most times, what people do to us has everything to do with them and little to do with us.

    The next thing to work through was being molested when I was around 10, and groped during school and walking home from school in junior high. So many times, I felt like I betrayed myself because I didn’t yell for help when I was being abused or tell my family what happened. I wondered how someone could love me when I didn’t love myself enough to speak up. I felt weak, and like I deserved everything that happened to me.

    Each time I spoke of my pain though, healing filled my wounds. I felt strength rise from within me, my voice becoming a tool for me to heal myself.

    Journaling was another way I found healing. Every day, I wrote to God, being honest about my emotions and thoughts, just like the scriptures in the book of Psalms. The more open I was, the more comfort, peace and love I felt wash over me. God quickly became more real and accessible to me, and now I know what it feels like to have a relationship with the One who created me.

    Since then, I’ve been blogging, sharing my journey to wholeness, of self-love, faith and growth. Through the pain, I discovered one of my purposes.

    Loss has taught me a lot about life. The main things are that God is a healer; life isn’t promised and every moment we breathe is a gift; don’t live life passively, but intentionally; forgiveness frees the heart, soul and mind to love; pain can open the door to freedom from what holds us back; and I have a choice regarding what I do with my pain. I can either let it destroy me or use it to restore me.

     How have you dealt with the grief of losing a loved one?

    Sharee Silerio is a St. Louis-based freelance writer, Film and TV writer-producer, and blogger. When she isn’t creating content for The Root or The St. Louis American, she enjoys watching drama/sci-fi/comedy movies and TV shows, writing faith and self-love posts for, relaxing with a cup of chai tea, crafting chic DIY event décor, and traveling. Review her freelance portfolio at then connect with her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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    By Erickka Sy Savané

    “My name is Shaniqua,” said a blogger I met at a luncheon in mid-town Manhattan. Shaniqua? I did a double take. She gave me her card. As soon as I got home, I was all over my computer, genuinely curious to see what a “ghetto” website looked like. Hmm…it was nice…and there was even a picture of her and Oprah Winfrey...

    A few weeks later, I’m on the phone with my old roommate from college. We hadn’t spoken for a few months so it was time to catch up. She told me she was launching a dessert business and I was thrilled. But there was an underlying anxiety in her voice.
    “What’s wrong?” I asked.
    “I’m stuck. I don’t know whether to use my name or my initials for my business,” she responded.
    “I’d go for your name all day,” I answered. “People with initials seem shady. Look at O.J. Simpson, and who is T.I., really? 10 reality shows later, and I'm still lost.”
    “Yea, but my name is Shi-kwan-da.”
    “Okay, I get it,” I say, suddenly remembering Shaniqua, and how quick I was to throw her under the ghetto bus…only to find out that she’s doing better than a lot of us.
    “Wait, I think I have an answer,” I say, telling her about Shaniqua and how she's embracing her name, and using it for her business. It's really smart too, because people are curious enough to go to her website to learn more, and by that time she's already got you. There's no better advertising than a unique name!
    “I never thought about it like that,” says Shikwanda.

    And we know why. There’s no denying that distinctly Black names get a bad rap. Just last year Raven-Symone publicly apologized for saying on 'The View' that she wouldn’t hire someone with a “ghetto name” and who can forget the famous study that found when applying for jobs, names that sound white receive 50 percent more callbacks than names that sound distinctly African American. But at the same time, a Black man with a Muslim name became President of the United States. Twice. If 69 million Americans can get over any hangups they might’ve had regarding the name Barack Hussein Obama, surely Shaniqua and Shikwanda can carve out a space for themselves in their respective industries.

     A few months later…
    It’s catch up time with Shikwanda again. I find her in the middle of making vanilla cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for a birthday event. I guess she’s in business, which reminds me that I never found out what name she decided to use.

    “I went with Shikwanda,” she tells me, with a smile in her voice so bright I can see it through the phone. “ I realized that Shikwanda is who I am, take it or leave it, and I needed to stop focusing so much energy on my name, and put it into my business. At the end of the day, your name doesn't make you, you make your name.”

    Amen to that.

    This article first appeared on 

    Have you ever been name shamed? If so, how do you handle it?

    Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in,,, and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or  

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    By Mwabi Kaira

    Are you watching 'Black Love' on OWN?  Oprah Winfrey has taken her Master Class series and turned the lens on couples for a master class on love. Husband and wife filmmakers Codie and Tommy Oliver interviewed famous and everyday married couples about how they fell in love and have stayed in love and their stories are told in the most honest and emotional way.

    With the hashtag relationship goals bombarding us daily on social media, giving us little more than cute pictures and even cuter captions to aspire to, 'Black Love' gives us the behind-the-scenes on #RelationshipGoals and leaves no stone unturned.  This series covers love from the amazing times, financial crisis, incarceration, and the loss of a child. So if you are not already watching 'Black Love' here are 5 gems dropped in the series that could give your marriage longevity.

    Your Life Gets Better with the Right Partner
    Oscar winner Viola Davis didn’t call her husband Julius for a month after getting his number.  She had a lot going on including bad credit and wanted to work on herself before she started a relationship.  After some convincing from her friends, she called him and her life changed.  Viola recalls, “After my first date with Julius my life got better in every way; anxiety went away, fear went away, he just made my life better.”
    Devon Franklin feels the same way about marrying Megan Good.  Devon says, “As a single man I was good but as a married man, I’m great.  Get the right woman and you can conquer the world.”

    Differences are meant to Teach You
    There is nothing more frustrating than living with someone and finding out that they’re messy and you’re clean, that they leave 3 sips of orange juice in the container in the fridge instead of finishing it up, and my personal favorite, that they leave trash on the counter NEXT to the trash can!
    Tia Mowry was raised in a military family and knows structure very well. Her husband Cory Hardrict was not. They decided to learn from each other instead of getting frustrated.  Corey reflects, “I have learned structure and how to pay bills on time from Tia and I have taught Tia how to dream, have no fear and take risks in life.” 

    Fix the relationship and not the person.  Fix Yourself and then Come Together

    Danielle and Hasan fell in love and enjoyed their courtship. Danielle grew up with brothers and felt like a Princess in her home. After their marriage, Danielle began to feel criticized and became jaded and cold.  The couple was disconnected.  Danielle felt like Hasan was trying to fix HER and not the relationship.  Hasan notes, “When we began to look internally all of a sudden there was an emotional connection, sex was more frequent and pleasurable and we bonded.” 

    Allow Yourselves to Step Back from a Challenge

    Sean Patrick Thomas and Aonika Laurent had a whirlwind romance and an amazing marriage until their hardest tribulation came.  Aonika knew Sean wanted to be a Father and they were excited when they first got pregnant.  She describes them being so ecstatic and literally skipping to the ultrasound.  There they heard the worst news; they lost the baby.  They had multiple miscarriages and each time Aonika felt like she was letting Sean down and even considered divorcing him.  The thought never crossed his mind. 
    It wasn’t until they decided to stop trying and step away completely from IVF treatment  just so they could concentrate on what was going right in their lives that they got pregnant again immediately.  They are now parents to a daughter and a son.

    Be Willing to Accept Love in a Different Package Other Than the One You Imagined

    Ashley always imagined that her Prince Charming would have chocolate skin and dreadlocks down his back.  She imagined them reciting hip hop rhymes and being the real life Brown Sugar couple.  She met Chea from Cambodia and kept him in the friend zone.  The more time they spent together made Ashley realize something very crucial as she explains on Black Love, “I stopped paying attention to what he was. I couldn’t pass him up just because he wasn’t packaged how I wanted.”  The couple has been married since 2015 and has 2 children.

    Are you watching 'Black Love?' What do you think?
    Mwabi Kaira is an African girl navigating her way in an American world.  She is of Zambian and Malawian heritage and moved to the USA in 1993.  Writing has been her passion since she could put a sentence together on the page. Mothering her sons is her pride and joy.  She has been an avid runner since 2013 and has run 10 half marathons and a full marathon.  Keep up with her at
    Cover photo:

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    gorgeous new Etnia Barcelona sunnies gifted from my friends at

    Hola Chica,

    So about 3 months ago I deleted all of the social media apps from my phone and it was probably one of the best decisions I've made in my whole damn life.  I obviously still have to log on because money, but it's nice using the internet like it's nineteen hundred and ninety-nine.  I actually have to sit down at my computer, cut it on and log in... or if I want to post to IG (which ain't often), I have to take the time to re-download the app and then proceed to post.  I promptly re-delete it too, haha.

    It not only freed up my mornings, allowing for an excellent pre-mommy duties meditation session but not checking my feed and emails first thing also keeps me in my chosen frequency or vibe.  After my morning meditation and before my feet hit the floor, I choose how I want to feel that day and I do my best to stay there no matter what shakes or pops off.  It's been working, especially on the days where I can make it past breakfast.  Speaking of breakfast, I'm still mostly doing my intermittent fasting.  It's worked great to help me get back down to pre-Max weight! I was 103 pounds when I got pregnant with him and I'm 105 now (7 months later).  I got up to 150 with both of them.  I'm still not working out like I should, but carrying his 18 pound self around the house is plenty.  What else... I'm taking aloe vera gel caps to prevent aging.  We have a nanny and I spend a ton of time on the roof, in the sun and although I rock sunscreen daily (cetaphil), I wanted to take extra steps.  There was a study done a while back and they found that aloe vera gel, even in small amounts helps to increase collagen production which is what you need to keep your skin gorgeous.  I think that concludes my rambling... off to the roof to dive into an old favorite, Mooji's book, 'Before I Am'.

    went to Magic Ground in DC to let Gia run off some energy.  Hadn't been there since I was 9 months pregnant so I was also motivated by my desire to hear, 'OMG, you look amazing!' from all the staff.  It was fun. And yes, Max is in the cesspool, but he really wanted to get in there and I disinfected his whole self immediately following. Strangely, he only wanted to taste the yellow ones. 

    Fats.  He pulls up on absolutely everything now so we had to get him a walker to keep him from hurting himself! 

    Boogie. 7 years old. 2nd grade. I don't even know how. 

    Me and this bob. And how 'bout I'm wrapping it... like it's nineteen hundred and ninety-nine! 
    I was pin curling it for a while, then bantu-knotting, trying to get some texture in it, but my hair falls fast.  Wrapping it is quick and keeps the volume on deck. Thanks @enigmatic_styles! 

    Are you taking any extra precautions to maintain your sexy? 

    When you wear a blow-out, how do you maintain it? Any wrappers? 

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  • 09/17/17--08:04: Living for Naps.

  • It's crazy how as a new mommy all over again, I live for the naps.  When I place that ticking time bomb in his crib, I can almost feel the peace wash over the house, if even for 30 minutes.

    It's in these calm respites that I can steal a shower, actually eat, read a chapter or sneak in these few sentences.  Sadly, many live their lives this way... in that week of vacation, or on their lunch break, or on that too short weekend. It becomes a cycle of looking past this present moment in anticipation of some ‘better’, more relaxing, one. But the future never comes, ‘cause it’s always now… and now… and now. And what you don’t already have now, you’ll never have.

    The same peace that a Sunday morning offers can be found in the whirlwind of action and responsibility that a Monday morning brings. God is equally present on Sunday and Monday. You just have to look a little harder, but it’s always there, waiting for you to come home. And once you begin to practice this presence and become more consciously aware of this always-on, always-here peace, you’ll see that each and every moment is perfect and as it should be—even the ones where baby has pooped up his back. God is there, too.

    Your other self,

    What future moment have you been waiting on? Can you find that excitement or peace that that moment promises, now? 

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    By Tee Elle
    “I like your weave.”
    I was midstride towards the register when the cashier greeted me, not with a “Did you find everything okay?” but with a flippant statement that was based purely on assumption rather than fact: The hair that tickled the middle of my back as lightly as a lover’s hand couldn’t have grown out of my scalp. “This is not a weave,” I retorted, appalled.

    It wasn’t that I actually turned my nose up at fake hair. I neither viewed it as “ghetto and ratchet” like those who automatically judge vivid and towering updos nor “distracting” to my peers like principals and senior managers who often use it as discriminatory grounds for suspensions and terminations. Braids and weaves aren’t indicators of incapability.

    But I did feel it was unnecessary except in the cases of extreme hair loss. I didn’t fully understand why anyone would willingly cover the hair that’s growing out of her own head with something that often didn’t look real.

    Of course this judgment came from someone who never quite mastered doing her own hair. My roller sets always looked like I did them myself, as in “Um, who did your hair?” instead of “Oooh, who did your hair!” When I moved 200+ miles away from my trusted stylist, my hair’s health severely declined. I decided to go natural without realizing the transition process would require more maintenance than a relaxed one, and my hair went from bad to worse. Recently I found myself back in a hair predicament, this time in the form of the dreaded in-between stage where it’s too short to slick into a pony but too long to be considered edgy. My hair has refused to grow at the speed it once did when it was maintained by a professional, and I’ve worn the same part-on-the-left-side look for nearly four years. Needless to say, I was ready for something else.

    One day I received a picture text from my cousin.

    “Who dis?” I thought, staring at the long, jet black, crinkled, faux locs on the screen. I grew so intrigued by the look that I dragged another cousin who was familiar with box braids to a nearby beauty outlet and we picked up some hair based off of a YouTube video tutorial.

    At home, my cousin sectioned my hair into 399 tiny plaits and crocheted a loc adjacent to each one. The problem arose when it was time to work the individual plait into its adjoining loc: It wouldn’t slide in as effortlessly as the young woman in the video made it seem. When the latch of the crochet needle wasn’t scraping my scalp, it was poking through the loc, snagging it.

    “Maybe it’s the needle,” I suggested. We got a new one. Same result.
    “Nah, the plait is still too fat,” my cousin countered.

    So I unraveled all 399 with the intent to divide them into 798 pieces, but something told me to test a few. It still didn’t work, so I Googled a few more videos, determined to keep the locs. The next night my cousin and I followed the cornrow method, and I endured the scalp-digging a second time. Part of me wanted to yell, “Forget it!” But what was the alternative? To apply relaxer to a raw and wounded scalp?

    Oddly the pain was more bearable than the intense itching that I experienced at night. I was so unprepared. No one warned me that the hair would launch an aggressive assault on my scalp whenever I was near sleep like a six-alarm fire.

    Yet, surprisingly, I grew to like the results – all 18 voluminous inches. I liked the way the tendrils framed my face, the way they snatched my edges, and the way they draped my head when I moved them around. By the fourth or fifth day – after some mango and lime oil and rosemary spray to quell the scalp burn – I loved them.
    I was glamorous.
    I was empowered.
    I was transformed.
    I was converted.
    I was free.
     I finally got it. The decision to enhance our hair really isn’t based on laziness or some desire to be someone else. It isn’t always about insecurity or shame, either. It’s about discovery, ease, independence, and versatility. And in my case, the intent was to add as much hair as reasonably possible. I wasn’t going to leave any question as to whether my hair was real or not; it was going to be fairly obvious.

    Last week I noticed my 6-year old cousin periodically glancing at me in the middle of Walmart

    "Is that your hair?" she asked curiously, to which I proudly replied, "Nope, it's fake.”

     What are your thoughts? Yay or Nay to fake hair

    Tee Elle is an east-coast storyteller hoping for her big break west. Her words have been published on xoNecole and Clutch magazine, you can also follow her on Twitter and the blog. When she’s not writing or stalking social media, find her reading a great book, binge-watching reality TV, or pretending to be the next winner of Bravo’s Top Chef.

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    Hi Guys, 
    I'm back with a new vid! This time, I'm detailing the FULL (unabridged, lol) list of my favorite products! These products have aided my hair growth, retention, and health, IMMENSELY. All of them are my "holy of holiest grail" products. They are superb for hair that is protein sensitive and low porosity.


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    By Mwabi Kaira 

     Imagine, 18 years ago, before ‘Queer As Folk,’ ‘The L Word,’ or ‘Noah’s Arc,’ a film centered around the lives of four black lesbian women navigating friendship and love. The name of the film was, ‘A Luv Tale,’ it was written, directed and produced by Sidra Smith, and it starred Tichina Arnold, MC Lyte, Gina Ravera (Soul Food), Michele Lamar Richards (The BodyGuard), and Angela Means (Friday).  Shown at a host of film festivals, it was a fan favorite that won many awards, including the Audience Award at the Hollywood Black Film Festival. Now streaming on amazon for the past month, ‘A Luv Tale’ is racking up record breaking viewership numbers- with no advertising- and a perfect 5 star rating. 
    Though it was a bit ahead of its time then, the timing couldn’t be more perfect now. Just look at Lena Waithe's Emmy-Win for the ‘Master Of None’ episode she co-wrote based off of her real life experience coming out as a lesbian. She received a standing ovation from the star-studded audience, and gave a big shoutout to the LGBTQ community. Yes, a lot has changed. But one thing that hasn’t is the lack of content representing this diverse community.
    Wrap party for 'A Luv Tale' 1999, (left to right) Tichina Arnold, MC Lyte, Holly Joy, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Gina Ravera, and Sidra Smith
    While Sidra has kept busy throughout the years since creating ‘A Luv Tale’- she was a film and TV casting director, and producer of the NAACP Award-winning documentary ‘Free Angela and All Political Prisoners,’- fans have never stopped asking what happened next given ‘A Luv Tale’s  juicy cliffhanger ending. Well, now they get to find out!

    With the advancement of digital programming that wasn’t available back when ‘A Luv Tale’ the movie was released, along with the triumphs and challenges facing the LGBTQ community that are rarely highlighted, Sidra is now bringing ‘A Luv Tale: The Series’ via the web. And she’s launched an Indiegogo campaign so that those who support the LGBTQ community and want to see this type of content, can contribute by giving as little as $10 or play a much bigger role by becoming an executive producer.

    Just recently, we caught up with Sidra to hear all about the campaign, so get comfortable and listen in!

    Curly Nikki: What was the inspiration behind writing “A Luv Tale’ 18 years ago?
    Sidra Smith: I didn’t really see anything that represented queer women of color and I kept asking myself, what would that story look like?  And how could it be told in a way that didn’t feel like a ‘gay’ story filled with stereotypical views.  Winning the audience award at the Hollywood Black Film Festival spoke volumes to me because this was not an LGBTQ festival, the audience enjoyed the story and connected with the characters because they were great characters.

    Curly Nikki:‘A Luv Tale’ was before the TV Series, ‘The L Word’ which many felt was the first lesbian TV series.  And although Bette, the lead character was biracial, it was geared towards a white audience.  During that time was there any interest for ‘A Luv Tale’ to become a series for women of color to enjoy?
    Sidra Smith: ‘The L Word’ and ‘Noah’s Arc’ definitely made it feel possible for ‘A Luv Tale’ to become a series. People who saw the film always wanted to know what happened next but I was never approached to do a series back then.  The current digital platforms available have made it very possible now and the timing is right.

    Curly Nikki: What are the noticeable changes in the LGBTQ community from 1999 when a ‘A Luv Tale’ was released and present day?
    Sidra Smith: Visibility and openness in a positive and welcoming way are very present now for sure. Gay characters in TV and Film were not visible. Now they are and I want to highlight them in A Luv Tale: The Series. Our lead characters are an artist, model, advertising exec and a musician. Think 'Sex and The City' meets 'Insecure.' It’s going to be fun to explore and share their worlds.  

    Curly Nikki: We live in a fast-paced digital world where the audience has more power than ever before with platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.  Did fans of ‘A Luv Tale’ make their voice heard and ask for the series?
    Sidra Smith:  I can’t tell you how many requests on social media and emails I get from people on a daily basis asking for more. The film was shown at festivals and I sold VHS tapes there as well, that was the only way to see it.  Fans still show me pictures of their VHS tapes.  So yes, I was definitely motivated by the fans.

    Curly Nikki: Why an Indiegogo campaign? Why not go directly to networks?
    Sidra Smith: Indiegogo is another platform that allows me to take my campaign directly to the fans to get the series made. In addition to having the creative freedom.  

    Curly Nikki: Talk about ‘A Luv Tale: The Series’ and what your hope for the series is.
    Sidra Smith: The series will be set and shot in Harlem with an entirely new cast of fresh talent, picking up where the film left off.  The series will continue to explore love and friendship between women of color who happen to be gay, through a world filled with fabulous art, music and fashion.  I plan on showing today’s Harlem Renaissance.  I can’t wait to tell the story again in this way. My hope is that it is as well received now, as it was then. 

    To contribute to the campaign or learn more, visit  here!

    What do you think? Are we ready for a LGBTQ web series?
    Mwabi Kaira is an African girl navigating her way in an American world.  She is of Zambian and Malawian heritage and moved to the USA in 1993.  Writing has been her passion since she could put a sentence together on the page. Mothering her sons is her pride and joy.  She has been an avid runner since 2013 and has run 10 half marathons and a full marathon.  Keep up with her at


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    By Vince L.

    We were a few months short of two years into our relationship when my world imploded. My ex-was beautiful. She stood about 5'8 inches tall and was often mistaken for a Latina, but she wasn't. She was a mix of Caribbean spices from her father's side and southern militant black love from her mother's side. Somehow the good Lord caused her parents to cross paths in the year of ‘82. Fast-forward twenty-six years, she and I met through a mutual friend on Facebook.  

    Things started off smooth between the two of us. Back then, I was an associate designer for a young men's clothing brand. She worked for the city. Our work schedules were opposite of one another, but we made it work. I worked during the day and she worked the night shift. She would stay at my place three to four times out the week. I enjoyed that. When I came home after the gym in the evenings, I would cook dinner. I made sure I cooked enough for her to eat and for her to have for lunch at work. I did my best for her to feel comfortable around me. Even down to her head wraps to bed. I didn't have any issue with her. She had my best interest at heart. When a man knows a woman has his back no matter what (excluding his mother) it changes him for the better. He finds himself looking forward to doing activities with this woman. In short, building a future with this woman. 

    These thoughts started to come at me rapidly. So, when she told me she was "late" one evening after a workout, I was dumbfounded.  Of course, my stupid ass said, "It's only 10 pm. You got plenty of time to get to work.” That was followed by a smack to the back of my head. "No jackass! Late with my period....El Feelio!" she said.  At that point, I turned numb, but I wasn't surprised. The way we were sexing….ssshhhiiii…Anyway, the deed was done and the seed was planted. The question what?

    The days to come had me extremely excited. I did my best to make her as comfortable as possible. Whatever she needed me to do to make this process the best for the both of us, I did. We became closer. She practically moved in with me. We didn't speak much about her being pregnant. Every time we spoke about it she would shy away from the conversation. I found it frustrating at times, but figured it was her being emotional. I went with the flow of things.

    She was scared. She would say little things in regards to her future. Her future, not our future. This was the first of a few jewels she dropped on me as days turned into weeks with her being pregnant.

    8 weeks later
    We finally had a heart to heart talk about the pregnancy. I told her that I’m here to support whatever decision she chooses to make. She told me about her fears, like not wanting to end up a single mother like her sister. Or go through the hardship her mother went through raising her and her siblings; mostly on her own. Everyday, I did my best to try to assure her that our situation would be different.

    Eight weeks turned into twelve weeks so fast! And that's when she hit me with it. She wanted an abortion. I didn't know what to say. As much as I didn't agree with her choice, I had to respect it and be supportive. Right? After all, I did tell her I would be supportive of her choice from the beginning.

    She set the date for the abortion. The tension between us leading up to the appointment was tighter than African hair braids. I tried my best to convince her that this wasn't the right decision. Then it hit me, why do I need to convince the woman I love, the woman who claims to love me, the woman who claims to love us, to have our child?! This epiphany was the first layer of questions from the mental onion that instantly grew in my head from her decision.  

    Why wait to have an abortion three months into being pregnant?

    Why didn't she want to have my/our child?

    Why didn't she see the future for us as I did?

    Did she trust me?

    Did she think I couldn't be a provider?

    Did she think I couldn't be a father?

    Her choice also created self-doubt within me too. After we left Planned Parenthood, it was the start of the end. But I think she knew it, though it was never said. I honestly tried but I didn't have it in me. Eventually, she confronted me, and I told her how I felt. She pleaded with me, telling me we could work through this. But I knew I couldn't get past her choice. To add to the list, I felt she took a piece of my life away. When I see my close friends (my brothers) with their children, I can't help but think about my own. Or should I say how old mine would have been. My son/daughter would have been seven years old this year.

    What do you think? Can a relationship last if both don't agree to an abortion?

    Renaissance man from The Bronx, NY, Vincent "VJ" Lake creative career started in fashion, and expand through fitness and the military. Vincent is also an entrepreneur with his own active-wear lifestyle apparel brand; "PURESPORT ATHLETIC aka PSA". Currently, he is finishing up his first non-fiction book of short stories titled,"I've Had My Share". The book is scheduled for release in early 2018.

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    By Mwabi Kaira

    Ever wonder what it would be like to have a front row seat to the making of your favorite artist’s album? Multiple Grammy-winning vocalist, bassist, and song-writer Esperanza Spalding's newest album ‘Exposure’ did just that. Making good on an idea she came up with months ago, she recorded a live album over the course of 77 hours, before the watchful eyes of fans.

    Stripped down & ready to go, Esperanza introduces Facebook fans to her studio for the next 77 hrs.
    It was pretty genius when you think about it. A link was sent out to fans to pre-order a limited blank CD that they could watch get filled with 10 songs as she live streamed the creation and recording over Facebook Live. Nothing was premeditated. Esperanza wrote in a statement,

    “I foresee that creating before a live audience will add excitement and extra inspiration and energy.  Knowing someone is watching and listening to what you’re making seems to conjure up a sort of “can’t fail” energy.  Having such limited time to write and record 10 songs will also force us to rely on improvisation and first instinct. Not allowing us to judge, second guess, guess, or alter the initial hits of inspiration that drive the creation of each song.”

    It was a music lover’s dream, even for grammy-nominated pianist, and producer Ray Angry, who can be seen banging it out on the keyboards. At one point, it takes him a while to catch on to what appears to be a very intricate run of notes. Was the stress of the moment getting to him?

    When we caught up with him post-live recording he said, “No, way. I like a challenge, and no matter how complicated it is, I know I’ll always get it.” Taken from a man who has been a playing music since the age of 7, and has worked with may of today's top artists.

    And how does he feel about the end product?
    “Are you kidding me?” he answers, incredulously. “It turned out amazing! I feel so blessed that she asked me to be a part of this project. I actually bought 4 copies myself.”

    Fans are happy too, as eloquently expressed by Geoffrey L. Gogan who said in the Facebook comments-  

    “So never again will a song just be a song. It’s an imprint of a whole process of give and take, refinement, and how being on the edge – tired at times, and the urgency of the deadline gets the ego out of the way and lets you stand there and scream your heart out.”

    Not surprisingly copies sold out.  Given the current state of music sales and their declining numbers due to streaming options, will other artists follow Esperanza’s lead and create albums live in front of their fans?

    Having a virtual front seat to watching your favorite artist create your next favorite album could be all the incentive fans need to shell out the big bucks the music industry is missing. Add to that the exclusivity and VIP aspect to it all, this may be the new wave led by Esperanza.

    To watch footage, go to Esperanza Spalding's facebook page.

    Did you watch Esperanza’s facebook live album stream?
    Mwabi Kaira is an African girl navigating her way in an American world.  She is of Zambian and Malawian heritage and moved to the USA in 1993.  Writing has been her passion since she could put a sentence together on the page. Mothering her sons is her pride and joy.  She has been an avid runner since 2013 and has run 10 half marathons and a full marathon.  Keep up with her at

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    By Erickka Sy Savané

    I’m heading out for drinks with my cousin when she turns to her man and says, “If he gets out of hand, go ahead and spank him.” She’s referring to her 4-year-old son. I’m a little surprised because she’s been dating this guy less than a year. When I ask her if she thinks it’s a good idea to let him spank her kid she doesn’t see the problem. “If I’m gone, my son needs to know that he’s got to listen or he’s going to get popped,” she says, a little defensively. I leave it alone. But later, I’m definitely thinking about it.

    On one hand, I see what she means. It’s kinda old school in the sense that people used to take responsibility for other people’s kids. Family members had the right to pop you if they saw you getting out of hand, and even neighbors could snatch you up, and drag you home to mama. Teachers had, and in many places still do, have the right to take physical action. Corporal punishment is alive and well, especially in the South. Let’s face it, not everyone was mad when the Spring Valley High police officer flung the young female student to the ground last year. “Kids today have a problem with authority,” they say.

    But the flip side of that is you’re putting a lot of trust in a person, in this case, a boyfriend. How long have you known him? Does he have a temper? What’s his experience with kids? And what if you break up and get a new man, is he going to be able to hit him too?

    Sadly, it doesn’t always end well. Tragic stories surface everyday about boyfriends who injure, and sometimes kill, a woman’s kid. Men can have a heavy hand, and when it’s not their child, they may lack patience or feel they have to over compensate to show that they have the upper hand. Kids are quick to scream, “I don’t have to listen to you; you’re not my daddy!”

    So what’s an acceptable way to discipline that won’t create bigger problems?

    I call up Dr. Jane Fort, one of my go-to psychologists, to see what advice she may have because I want to make sure my cousin is doing the right thing.

    She says, “The real question is what is being communicated to the child in a spanking no matter who does it?

    We want to teach children what to do and what not to do, but too many times, we open ourselves to the possibility of venting our anger and frustration on a child because we’re bigger and can get away with it and not because we are actually communicating the message we want the child to grasp.

    So, time out with an explanation may be a better option.

    Loss of a privilege or benefit for a brief period of time – but not so long that everyone forgets what it was all about in the first place.

    We also have to know what limits should be made evident in supervision of our children. Determine what discipline best communicates the lesson to the child.”

    Seriously, that’s a good one because what one adult sees as a reason to spank another might not. Do you want your kid being bopped upside the head for not eating his peas or failing to do his homework?

    Okay. She’s saying that spanking may not be the best way to discipline. Period. And I agree. I swore I wouldn’t do it to my own kids, and then I did. It feels awful every time. I can’t imagine doing it to someone else’s child, even with permission. It just feels messy.

    Should boyfriends have the power to discipline your kids? 

    Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in,,, and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or  

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    Yara Shahidi
     By Mary Wolff
    Braids can be a curly girl’s best friend and her favorite go-to style. They can be done in a variety of styles and they help protect your strands from potential damage. For some naturals, it seems your braids only look their best for a short time and then you have no choice but to take them out. What are you doing wrong? Why aren’t your braids lasting and looking as great as the day you put them in? When looking for a few pointers on how to make braids last longer, we have some information that may help you achieve this goal.

    1. Modify Routines
    If anyone ever tries to tell you that you don’t need to wash your braids, ignore their ill advice. You should still keep up with your wash routine when you have braids in to avoid an accumulation of dirt, oil, fungi growth, and other unpleasant scenarios which can play out on your scalp. The key is to modify the routine so you aren’t washing as often. A good rule of thumb is to wash your braids every two weeks.

    2. Wash Braids the Right Way

    If you are concerned about creating frizz or flyaways when washing your braids, there is a better way to wash them. You never want to rub braids in an up and down motion since the movement will make your style all out of whack. When washing braids, you want to squeeze them instead of rubbing them to help braids last longer.

    3. Don’t Neglect Moisturizing

    When it comes to moisturizing your strands, you probably already know how important moisturizing is, but some curlies seem to forget this once they have braids in. Your strands still need hydration to stay healthy and happy! Applying your favorite leave in every few days will help with hair health while applying a daily misting oil will keep things sleek for longer lasting braids. A good oil for this purpose is ULTIMATE Moroccan Argan Oil Argan Oil Treatment which helps to hydrate and tame frizz at the same time.

    4. Wrap Braids Overnight

    One of the biggest tips on how to make braids last longer is to wrap your hair at night! When you sleep, your hair rubs against your pillow which creates frizz and friction. Wrapping your hair at night ensures your style will last longer by eliminating this concern. You can also opt for a silk pillowcase to cut down on the friction factor.

    5. Take Them Out!

    While some naturals are tempted to simply have their front braids redone to refresh their look, you really shouldn’t leave braids in for more than the average of 6-8 weeks. Lots of naturalistas will leave their braids in, especially box braids, for longer, and then their hair pays a price. Your curls need a chance to breath and your edges need a break! So, a key in managing how long braids will last is also in knowing when they need to go.

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