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Articles on this Page
- 04/03/18--05:29: _And iDanced: Shane ...
- 04/04/18--07:55: _The Face of Now: Wi...
- 04/04/18--08:18: _Colorism Within the...
- 04/04/18--08:28: _Double Standards: C...
- 04/05/18--05:38: _How-to Get a Sleek ...
- 04/05/18--06:44: _8 Times Serena's Ba...
- 04/05/18--06:44: _Therapist Vladimire...
- 04/06/18--08:01: _ How to Not Suffer ...
- 04/06/18--08:30: _Stretch Out Natural...
- 04/06/18--08:32: _ Tiffany Haddish an...
- 04/09/18--06:49: _Meet the Author Beh...
- 04/09/18--07:03: _ Do You Find it Har...
- 04/09/18--07:28: _Tune in to Catch Me...
- 04/10/18--07:45: _Gabby Union Chats N...
- 04/10/18--08:11: _Michaela DePrince: ...
- 04/10/18--09:05: _Tell It Tuesday: Ma...
- 04/11/18--08:53: _Swimmie Caps Motiva...
- 04/11/18--08:55: _When Obsessing Over...
- 04/11/18--08:55: _You Become a Master...
- 04/12/18--07:47: _Top 10 African Trib...
- 04/04/18--07:55: The Face of Now: Winnie Harlow Covers Elle UK!
- 04/04/18--08:18: Colorism Within the Family and Myself
- 04/05/18--05:38: How-to Get a Sleek (Ninja) BUN on Very Kinky Natural Hair
- 04/05/18--06:44: 8 Times Serena's Baby Olympia Got Our Ovaries Tingling
- 04/06/18--08:01: How to Not Suffer in Silence
- 04/06/18--08:30: Stretch Out Natural Hair Using the African Threading Method
- 04/06/18--08:32: Tiffany Haddish and Tracy Morgan Bring the Laughs in 'The Last O.G.'
- 04/09/18--07:03: Do You Find it Hard to Speak Up for Yourself?
- 04/09/18--07:28: Tune in to Catch Me on Dr. OZ Today!
- 04/11/18--08:53: Swimmie Caps Motivate Black & Brown Kids to Swim
- 04/12/18--07:47: Top 10 African Tribes Taken in the Atlantic Slave Trade
|Promotional photo for And iDanced with Shane Johnson|
In a time where music videos with coinciding choreography that you mimic in front of your bedroom mirror are almost nonexistent, most hip dances are learned via Youtube and Instagram. With the exception of Beyonce’s core background dancers, the days where artists have a signature ensemble of dancers employed are long gone. I grew up in the 90s where dancers were a vital part of a performance or video. Dancers, at one point, were the main attraction, more so than the artist. Those dancers weren’t known by name but they were recognized by their faces and their moves. Many were associated with the artists they worked with. Bobby Brown, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson all had some of the greatest dancers and choreography in its prime. There was one dancer at the center of it all during that time: Shane Johnson.
Now, in a new documentary she co-produced with Christopher “Play” Martin titled “And iDanced,” Play and Shane are putting names to faces of the dancers of that era. The film shares dancers’ journey to the stage, how they helped shape some of the most iconic videos and tours during that time and where they are today. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Shane during a stop on her promotional tour for the film in Philadelphia. Audience members were treated to an exclusive sneak peek of the documentary and a moderated panel with Shane and Play. In my conversation with Shane, she touched on her experiences as a dancer, shared inside scoop into life on tour, gave her thoughts on where dance is today and explains why she decided to finally put a name to her face (and many others).
BA: You got your first break in a video with Kid-N-Play, take us through your journey from there.
SJ: I ended up doing three videos with Kid-N-Play and from there, I was hired by a rapper named Sweet Tee, who was in their entourage. I went on tour with her and she was my real first job as a dancer. While I was on tour with her, we did a show with Slick Rick and one of his dancers asked me to join them. They were paying a lot more than Sweet Tee at the time so I started dancing with him. At one of the shows with Slick Rick, Bobby Brown came up to me after the show and said, “Oh my God, I want you to do Soul Train with me.” Little did I know it was the Soul Train Music Awards. That was my first big break and Bobby kept me and the other dancers. I formed a group with three of the other dancers called MECCA and it went from there.
BA: How did you end up touring with Whitney?
SJ: We danced with Bobby for about 5 years and really became a family. I could have danced with other artists but I preferred to stay with the same team. Of course, he married Whitney and that’s how we were introduced. There’s actually mention of how we became her dancers on her special “A Concert for South Africa,” (watch at the 4:43 mark) she literally stole us from Bobby. While we were touring with Bobby, she was working on her album. His tour stopped, she needed dancers and we jumped from touring with him to her “I Will Always Love You Tour,” which was her biggest tour. That took it to another level.
|Shane, Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown|
SJ: I was with Whitney for 7 years and it was the best experience. We were treated like royalty. We stayed at The Ritz Carlton, whenever we traveled she arranged excursions for us and even had our own rooms and tour buses when we traveled. I had never made that type of money prior. My meal per diem was equivalent to what I was making weekly as a dancer for Slick Rick, that’s how much we were paid. I got the chance to see the world. Nothing compares to my time with Whitney and there were fun times with Bobby too.
BA: How was life dancing at the time?
SJ: It was great. A lot of people don’t know that we didn’t have a choreographer and we created the dances ourselves. We rehearsed in our hotel rooms and in lobby’s. With Whitney, at one point our group MECCA was signed to her label and management as artists. Unfortunately, things started going downhill for her as everyone knows so we never did anything as artists.
|MECCA with Whitney Houston during the “I Will Always Love You” Tour|
SJ: No. Once things started going downhill with Whitney, I had to think about what was next. I already danced with Bobby, Whitney and I did Michael Jackson’s “Remember the Time” video in between. Having performed for the best, I wasn’t interested in settling for anything less. By that time, dancers weren’t being used in the way as before. Video vixens started to break into the scene and we weren’t interested in being part of that so we hung up our dance shoes. I put two pieces of paper in my hand, one said singing and the other said acting, I said a prayer and opened the paper that said acting so I moved to LA to do so.
BA: How did acting work for you? Did you ever think of life outside of entertainment.
SJ: I still wanted to stay in the arts. I did some commercials and TV shows but it wasn't really my passion. I did some hosting but I recently found my passion with producing and work as a Producer and writer for Bobbcat Films in Atlanta. Moving to Atlanta was the best decision I ever made and only did so because I was supposed to get married. I moved to Atlanta and my relationship fell through within the first week but I believe that was a vessel to get me here and find my next calling. With the And iDanced project, this has been such a passion project of mine because it’s bringing the two worlds of production and dance together. With Bobbcat Films, I am also the Executive Producer of a new music and video show with Revolt that I am excited about.
BA: I’m glad you mentioned that because I feel like there’s a huge void now with music videos dying and dancers aren't being included as much. Do you hope to change that with your show?
SJ: It’s interesting because the good thing is that with the digital world, dancers can market themselves like never before. But there aren’t many artists outside of the Chris Brown, Beyonce and Bruno Mars type that really use dancers anymore so their options in that sense are limited. I am hopeful. One of the reasons I did And iDanced was to show the world how important dancers are. The dances that Beyonce and Chris Brown are doing, my era is responsible for.
|Promotional photo for And iDanced|
Remember last week when Winnie Harlow asked, “Do you see me suffering?” after The Evening Standard labeled her a “vitiligo sufferer“? I think it’s fair to ask that question again after seeing the model on the cover of Elle UK’s May issue. The beauty is the definition of living life in color as she stuns in Gucci and complementary pastel-colored makeup as the mag’s cover model.
|Photo: Tyra Banks|
“What up auntie?”
I introduce him and she says as if she couldn’t stop what was coming out of her mouth, “Does your hair lay down?”
Typically my hair stands up, hardly combed and barely styled. My aunt, like many people on that side (or any side of my family for that matter) has loose curls. She could slick her hair back into a ponytail with some water almost like a white girl. She’s more obviously of mixed heritage, with golden butterscotch skin, like her sisters and her nieces.
|Fabolous & Emily B.|
I’ve already expressed why I don’t stand with Mo’Nique in a previous piece. I even questioned why Tisha Campbell-Martin would ever re-consider a reboot of Martin after she alleged to be sexually harassed for years on the show by her co-star. Those sentiments remain true for me. However, the same way I can call out a woman who I feel isn’t standing in truth or whose actions I find questionable, is the same way I can change any radio station that plays a song by the “Pied Piper” and turn a channel when one of my favorite shows from childhood, The Cosby Show, appears on my screen. Unfortunately, not many others can do the same.
With that being said, it baffles me how many women can so easily take a stance against one another when called for but continue to line dance to R. Kelly's "Step In the Name of Love” on their wedding day and call to question the validity of Emily B’s accusations against Fabolous.
When will the double standard in nailing black women to the cross but letting black men run free stop?
There’s been dozens of findings against many beloved black men in the public eye, especially over the last few years. The sickening personal behaviors of many have been revealed. Everything ranging from sexual assault allegations, domestic violence allegations and philandering have hit the tabloids. With the exception of Ray Rice, many have suffered slim consequences despite proof that have been presented in their cases. Even with Ray Rice losing his contract with the NFL and struggling to redeem himself since, his wife, the victim in the situation, has come under more scrutiny for standing by his side, with her saying it was an isolated incident. It got so bad that she had to resort to making her social media pages private all the while Ray Rice is interviewed and profiled in 1500 word essays about his road to redemption.
*Insert eye roll emoji here*
This conversation is nothing new yet disappointing everytime it happens. When news first broke that Fabolous was arrested for a domestic issue, I waited for The Shade Room to re-share the news in anticipation of the Fabolous fan train to voice their disbelief. Taking it a step further, I knew it would be a matter of time before commentators would resort to blaming Emily for the situation considering it’s been public knowledge that they’ve had an on-again-off-again relationship, with him rarely publicly acknowledging that she was his woman in the first place. Little did I know that actual video footage would surface showing Fabolous cursing, belittling and attempting to charge the mother of his two sons (apparently in front of them). What was his punishment after the video was released? A sold out performance the same evening in NYC with cheering fans in the audience and a photo op with Lil’ Kim (who he performed with) on IG. That’ll really teach him a lesson. And if I’m not mistaken, didn’t Emily B, who is a stylist and shoe designer, style Lil Kim’ on a few occasions? And doesn’t the Black Barbie allege that she suffered domestic abuse at the hands of Biggie and her child’s father? Way to show your girl power Queen B.
Though there were a few “prayers up” comments and encouraging words for Emily, majority sided with Fabolous, raising questions such as, “Well if she’s so scared, why is there a camera in his face?” Because after all, a woman who dedicated 10+ years of her life with a man and bore two children for him deserves to be (allegedly) striked in the face 7 times that resulted in the extraction of her two front teeth from the damage, right? Wrong. Anyone in this world who thinks otherwise there’s a special fiery place that lies beneath this Earth that I would tell them to go.
Furthermore, it’s been argued repeatedly that women do not come forward with such claims because of the backlash and scrutiny they are put under. It’s hard enough to tell your story but to have your accusers walk free and reap the benefits of the public’s support while you fall into obscurity is double the trauma. We scream black lives matter and protest for the world to see when an unarmed black man is killed by a white police officer and acquitted of charges. We add more money to a proven predators pockets by buying tickets to whatever spring jam he’s apart of while he holds teenage girls captive in his homes. But when a video of a woman being dragged out of an elevator while unconscious from a blow he shot to her face is released to the public, the first comment out of the mouths of many is, “I’m sure she wasn’t innocent.”
Until one of these situations results in the death or serious and irreversible physical damage of one of these women (more than likely a celebrity because that of course would get the most coverage), I fear that unfortunately things won't change.
In this video, I show how to achieve a sleek top knot on very kinky/thick hair! A lot of people negatively term tightly coily hair “nappy” when it’s absolutely gorgeous. Hopefully, this will show other type 4 naturals that they can do anything they want with their hair. It’s all about technique. Good luck and drop me a line in the comment section to let me know your thoughts!
|Serena & Olympia|
For many, the days can seem long and staying UP can be an uphill battle. From #45 to police brutality to the snow storms that keep slamming the East Coast like a pro-wrestler, sometimes we need a diversion! Serena's IG page is a good start. There we can find enough photos of her now 7-month-old sweet-faced baby Olympia to bring a smile to the gloomiest face. Don't believe me, sift through this post and I guarantee you'll be smiling too! You may even try to make a baby....
Did baby Olympia make you smile?
When I was in high school, I didn’t see the hype about the Lifetime channel. Every Saturday afternoon the women in my family would be glued to the television watching what I thought was a bunch of cliché’ drama between a female protagonist and her insane male love interest. At 16-years-old, I thought it was depressing to watch, but now in my 30s I see such storylines are important to depict because women actually fall in love with toxic mates.
But the gag is when you’re being gaslighted you can’t always recognize the brainwashing that is taking place, so the relationship drags on longer than it should. As a result, one’s life becomes as a chaotic as the movies I used to loathe on Saturdays…
What is gaslighting you ask? I recently had the opportunity to chat with award-winning therapist Vladamire Calixte about the term as it relates to romantic and paternal relationships. Check it out!
Curly Nikki (CN): What exactly is gaslighting?
Vladimire Calixte (VC): Gaslighting is a dangerously abusive manipulative tactic aimed to make the person on the receiving end doubt his or her reality, memory, and perception. Gaslighting is a deliberate and intentional attempt to disorient a person. It is important to note that gaslighting requires a consistent game plan.
CN: How can one be certain that gaslighting is taking place and he or she is not overreacting?
VC: For gaslighting to take place there needs to be a denial of reality. It's more than downplaying someone's emotions; there must be an attempt to deceive someone into believing that a false event really occurred and that a real event is false. Thus, why gaslighting is referred to as "crazy-making" because it’s a systematic distortion and deception of someone's reality. For example, telling someone that they can't take a joke or is overreacting isn't gaslighting. The hallmark of gaslighting is an ongoing deception combined with a reality denial to the person on the receiving end of the gaslighting.
I’ll give you an example: A boyfriend sees his girlfriend cheating on him. She starts an ongoing strategy to make him believe this event was false and that his perception of reality is incorrect. She may say, "No, you're crazy." When he maintains on what he saw, she responds with "why are you being so emotional?"
CN: This happens in many types of relationships, not just romantic connections. What are the damages of parents gaslighting their children?
VC: The damage of being told that you are imagining things or lying causes a child to doubt his or her own sense of reality, perception, and feelings, which affects his or her core sense of self, leading to a lifetime of self-doubt. This damage extends well into adulthood because the quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives. In the words of Esther Perel, "Tell me how you were loved as a child and I'll tell you how you love as an adult".
CN: Can you explain to our readers what a narcissist is and why they use gaslighting?
VC: Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder in which a person has an inflated sense of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration and attention, arrogant, manipulative, and shows a lack of disregard and empathy for others. Gaslighting is used by narcissists to gain control and to dominate others by systematically making the person on the receiving end question his or her own reality. It's a controlling mechanism!
CN: I’ve often heard that you must be extremely cautious when removing toxic people from your life. What’s the most effective way to get rid of a narcissist?
VC: Because of their fragile egos and emotional brittleness, a narcissist will hoover, stalk, and harass you in an attempt to maintain their narcissistic supply. Moreover, in a post-breakup, a narcissist will embark on a smear campaign designed to humiliate and fabricate malicious gossip. Because when a narcissist can no longer control you, they will try to control how others see you. The only way to remove a narcissist from your life is to go "No Contact," which means completely blocking him or her from getting to you.
Fascinating, huh? Vladimire also left us with some tips to remember about relationships:
1. Discernment is POWER. The very last thing a toxic person wants is for you to figure out his or her manipulative ways.
2. Pay attention to actions. Love is not a feeling; it’s a series of choices we make every day, either to love or not to love.
3. Be at peace knowing that what is meant for you will NEVER miss you, and whatever misses you was NEVER meant for you.
4. Singleness is not a curse. Marriage is not a cure. Your worth is not defined by a relationship status.
5. Change is something that comes from within. A person must see the incentive in being better for themselves. You can influence change, but you can’t make people do anything they don’t want to do.
For more information on Vladimire Calixte, visit www.liferebuilding.com.
By Tiffy Kink
As a black woman, I think that black people are some of the strongest human beings to ever exist on planet earth. However, we can sometimes be too prideful in ourselves, to the point where we are willing to suffer in silence. We have a tendency to let fear and shame invade our minds and silence us. This forces us to believe that we are the only ones going through whatever we are going through. While I believe that experiences are unique to the individual, I don’t believe that one individual is the only individual to have gone through a particular experience. At least that’s not always the case. And even when it is, there are some ways to help you feel like you’re not alone. Here are 9.
Prayer is a very powerful thing. Putting your situation or problem in prayer can help start the healing process. Praying to God or whatever higher power you believe in about the trials and tribulations can feel as though a burden has been lifted. Prayer can also lead to guidance.
The traditional idea of mediation is not required for this, as there are many ways to meditate. Sitting down and thinking is a form of meditation. It’s also great for those who like to go into a situation head first with guns blazing. Not a good idea in many cases. Sitting down and looking at a problem can help you find different ways to approach and solve it.
Literally. Just google it. Take your situation, find some relatable keywords and see what comes up. You’d be surprised at how many forums and articles are on the internet of people sharing their experiences on the World Wide Web. This can provide unique or alternative solutions and different perspectives.
This one is good if you have an issue that involves a mutual and neutral party. Like a friend or a family member. You can ask that neutral party to help you stage a mediation meeting with the party you’re having issues with. Of course, this will only work if you and the other person is willing to have an open mind and open ear to hearing each other out and vice versa, and the mutual-neutral party has to remain un-biased.
Find a Support Group
Support groups can be helpful by teaching accountability in a group setting. Group discussions can help you make connections outside of your own personal world by being able to relate to other people and their stories.
Start a Blog
Sometimes the best way to find support is through sharing your story and things you have experienced. It can be a little intimidating to put yourself out there in the world and on the internet, but you might find it to be a liberating experience and you may also help others going through the same thing as you.
Talk to a Friend or Family Member
This may not be the most conducive method for everyone, but if you have someone who you feel comfortable talking to, talking to them about what you’re going through may provide you with extra resources and a different point of view. You may even be surprised at how supportive your loved ones and friends can be in a time of need.
Sometimes talking to a stranger or seeking professional help may be a more ideal approach to your problem or situation as strangers are usually less likely to pass visible judgment about you and don’t have much information about your past. They know only what you tell them.
Get the Authorities Involved
If you are in a particular situation where you feel as though your life is being threatened or you feel as though you or a loved one may be put in danger by another individual, go to the police. Sometimes we think that we have things under control because we overestimate how well we know the situation or the person we are dealing with. While people are creatures of habit for the most part, that doesn’t mean people don’t snap or don’t become violent when things aren’t going their way. If the individual you are dealing with starts to become aggressive or begins to make threats towards you or your loved ones, go to the police and start to document these things.
No matter what you’re going through, the road to healing takes time. The situation you are in, though it may feel like it now, will not last forever. Always try your very best to think things through and reach out when you begin to feel overwhelmed. There is no shame in admitting that you need some help.
Tiffy kink is a New York based Sex Blogger whose goal is to spread sex positivity and break down barriers for the sexually deprived and repressed through her blog posts and sex toy reviews where she not only talks about her interactions with sex and masturbation, but she also introduces her readers to body-safe sex toys and advice. If you like what you’ve read and would like to see more, visit her blog Aquakink.com Follow her on Twitter @Theaquakink
|So Naturally Angie|
|Tiffany Haddish & Tracy Morgan|
One thing people that do time wish for is a pause button. They want to come home from their bid and find things as they left them. In the new TBS sitcom The Last O.G. Tray (Tracy Morgan) is a Brooklyn hustler who gets busted for on-the corner activities that sends him away to prison for 15 years. The night he gets busted, he and his girl Shay (Tiffany Haddish) are cuddled on the couch watching Kelly Clarkson about to win American Idol. Shay laying on his chest and the laughter and jokes they share right when she is about to tell him something are not a strong enough pull to keep Tray from the corner when summoned. Shay begs him not to go but he does. She watches him get arrested from her window.
|Tracy Morgan is The Last O.G.|
Tracy Morgan is from a housing project in Bedford-Stuyvesant and had peers who ended up incarcerated for doing desperate things. He liked the idea of someone returning from prison and feeling like everything, the good, the bad, and the ugly, had been sort of paved over.
"I've been thinking about this show for eight years," Morgan says. He pitched the idea to Jordan Peele while recovering from the horrific 2014 accident that almost killed him and the show was born.
|Gentrification is real in the Last O.G.|
The Last O.G. brought the laughs in its first episode and is off to a fantastic start. I’m excited to see the remaining 9 episodes. The show airs on TBS on Tuesdays at 10.30 PM.
Black Panther just surpassed the Titanic to become the 3rd highest-earning movie of all time. This comes as it hits a revenue of $665.4 million. Following its tremendous success, Marvel has decided to create a 3-comic miniseries starring the Dora Milage and Spider Man. The miniseries is conveniently named Wakanda Forever perhaps to take advantage of Black Panther's popularity. The storyline revolves around the Wakanda female warriors (the Dora Milage) fighting alongside Spiderman on a mission in New York City. This is bound to be an entertaining miniseries to say the least. However, what's even more exciting is the fact that the series will be written by acclaimed afro futuristic author, Nnedi Okarafor.
If you don't know who Nnedi Okarafor is, it's time that you do. This way, you'll understand why she's the right person for this job. Nnedi Okarafor has established a name for herself in the science fiction world largely in the last ten years. Born of two Nigerian immigrant parents, Nnedi keeps true to her roots by incorporating African culture into all her writings. As a result, she ends up creating captivating African-based science fiction, magic realism and fantasy. It's hard not to get lost in her intricate depiction of African customs, traditions and culture in a futuristic manner. She draws inspiration from folklores from different African countries especially Nigeria, where her parents are from. Her unique perspective and creativity is what makes her literature amazing.
Some of Nnedi's notable works include novels like Binti, Who Fears Death, Akata Witch, Ngozi, Kabu Kabu and Zahrah the Windseeker. Her outstanding writing has seen her receive numerous awards including the Hugo award (Oscar equivalent for sci-fiction writers) for best novelist, in 2016.
Apart from her intriguing writing, you'll also fall in love with her personality, from her geeky large glasses to her knee-length-long locs! And, like most of us, she loves Black Panther too. She even teamed up with Buzzfeed's Tasty team to create a Wakandan dish, the Wakandan jeweled vegetable pilau with Berbere braised lamb. Yes, she literally took part in envisioning a delicacy from Wakanda (even though we all know it’s a fictional country). If this doesn't convince you of her love for Wakanda, then perhaps you should also know that this isn't the first time Nnedi is working on a Wakandan series. In 2017, she wrote the Black Panther series, Long Live the King. That's why we're certain that she'll do a great job with this spinoff.
You'll be surprised to know that growing up, Nnedi Okarafor did not read a lot of comics. However, when she did, she found herself not identifying with any of the protagonists. As a result, she ended up gravitating towards the animals and alien characters. Maybe that's what sparked her love for writing the way she does. Now, as an author, she seeks to create characters that black people, especially kids, can relate to. This is evident in all her books. Hopefully, Nnedi Okarafor will inspire more black girls and women to take up science fiction and afrofuturistic writing and represent black culture. In the meantime, let's wait and see how Wakanda Forever will turn out, but we can be certain that Nnedi won't disappoint!
By Veronica Wells
I think I got my first perm at about five years old. For most children, it’s not exactly the age of rebellion. Instead, it was the age of conditioning and obedience. I was conditioned to sit still and quiet for as long as possible so I could get the best results. And I was a Black child with a Black mother, so obedience was essential for survival.
The idea of speaking up in the chair only became an option when the burning became unbearable.
I don’t know about the rest of y’all but I have a suspicion that our hesitancy to speak up in the salon chairs stems, at least partially, from those early experiences of being taught to be still, to be quiet, to not complain until you felt like you were in real, physical, irreversible danger.
I was reminded of all of those hours I spent in salons, kitchens, and garages converted into beauty shops when I stumbled upon this tweet.
“Learn how to say I don’t like that.”
A woman responded:
It seems like such a simple concept. Yet, the last I checked, it had over 180,000 likes, 68,000 retweets and over 200 comments with women talking about the ways in which they’ve contributed to their own frustrations and unhappiness by hating what they see in that mirror and remaining silent.
There’s something deeper to this.
I know that beauticians and stylists are artists, creatives who likely feel like your hair is their canvas. Still, they’re being paid to do a job. And if we aren’t pleased when they spin us around to reveal their work, why is it so much of a challenge to say we don’t like it? Granted, there are times we don’t believe that the person is qualified to fix it. Still, it’s kind crazy that so many women spend money to get their hair done only to go home and repair the damage. Time and money and more time wasted.
I’m convinced it has a lot to do with this “disease to please” (Shout out to Oprah) that disproportionately affects women. We don’t want to be interpreted as difficult. We want our beautician to like us. We’d rather inconvenience ourselves than anyone else. It seems admirable until you consider the toll it takes on us, running around unhappy and unfulfilled, while the people who’ve contributed to this state of discontent, count our money.
This level of unfulfillment reaches far beyond the realm of beauty services. We have a problem saying “I don’t like that” to our parents, to our teachers, our bosses and coworkers, the people we date, the partners we choose. And most of it can be traced back to the fear of not being liked or accepted.
Jay-Z has been out here doing interviews recently. A lot of it has been about his infidelity, which still makes me feel a certain way.
But in a promotional trailer for his interview on David Letterman’s new show, “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction,” he shared this anecdote about his eldest daughter Blue Ivy and a day he took her to school.
"I told her to get in the car the other day because she was asking a thousand questions and we had to leave for school.
“We're driving and then I just hear a little voice (say), 'Dad...'," JAY-Z continued. "I turn around and she said, 'I didn't like when you told me to get in the car the way you told me' - she's six! - 'It hurt my feelings,' Blue Ivy said."
Jay Z replied, “That's the most beautiful thing you've ever said to me."
When I first read that, I’m not going to lie, I thought it was a bit dramatic. The most beautiful thing? Still, after just a couple of seconds, I thought Blue Ivy is a six-year-old. They’re impressionable and Jay-Z was trying to send a message. With the babies, you have to capture them with your words. Hyperbole is necessary when you’re trying to send a message you want to last for a lifetime. And the message he was trying to send to her is that her feelings are valid. They matter to him. And she did the right thing by expressing them.
It’s a lesson the six-year-olds and the sixty-year-olds need to hear.
You gotta love Gabrielle Union. Mama has been working in the entertainment business as an A-list actress for 25 years, she looks better than when she first started (she's 45), and now she's adding a new fashion line and pilot with Jessica Alba into the mix. How does she do it? How does her life seem to get better and better? She has a secret to her latest success that she shared on yesterday's Today show with everybody's favorite Hoda and Kathie Lee! Drop us a line in the comment section if you think this is something that you could adopt- Enjoy!
Michaela DePrince is no ordinary 23-year-old young lady. She has established a name for herself in the ballet world through hard work and determination. She was even invited to perform alongside Beyonce in the Lemonade video shooting and Madonna is set to direct a biopic based on her life. Michaela's inspiration to become a ballerina was inspired by a magazine she found blowing in the wind. Its cover photo was a stunningly beautiful ballerina en pointe. She was just four at the time but she knew in her heart that one day, she would become a ballerina, just like the lady on the magazine.
Michaela was born in 1995, a time when there was a civil war in Sierra Leone, her home country. By the time she reached the age of three, her father was killed and her mother passed away soon after due to malnutrition. As if things couldn’t get any worse, Michaela's uncle abandoned her at an orphanage because she had vitiligo. It was believed that vitiligo was a curse of the devil. As a result, even the women who took care of the children at the orphanage continuously taunted her and called her the devil's child. All this happened when Michaela was only four years old. Her stay at the orphanage was short-lived since it was destroyed during a bomb attack. Michaela, together with others, fled to a refugee camp. This is where she got hold of the magazine with the ballerina.
Michaela's life took a turn for the better when Elaine and Charles DePrince adopted her and took her with them to their home in the United States. They noticed her love for ballet and enrolled her to a ballet class at the age of five. With their support, she worked hard to develop her skills, attending the Rock School for Dance education located in Philadelphia and the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at the American Ballet Theatre. In 2011, she was one of the stars featured in the film 'First Position,' which followed six young dancers vying for a place in an elite ballet school or company. She also performed on Dancing with the Stars.
In 2013, Michaela DePrince and her mother, Elaine DePrince, wrote a memoir about her life, Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina. It is Michaela's hope that she'll inspire children, especially children of color, and let them know that they can achieve their dreams despite the challenges they'll face along the way. In the film, 'First Position,' Michaela's mom recalls how she was often told by parents that black girls can't become ballerinas. As a matter of fact, Michaela was denied the chance to perform as Marie in The Nutcracker when she was eight years old, reason being, "America's not ready for a black ballerina." In addition, a year later, the teacher blatantly told her mother that it wasn't worth it to invest money in a black dancer. Despite all the stereotypes and racism, Michaela has still successfully made a name for herself in the ballet world.
Currently, she is part of the Dutch National Ballet where she works as a professional ballerina. Apart from dancing, she also loves reaching out to disadvantaged young people with whom she shares her message of hope, hard work and perseverance. Her aim is to encourage them to actively strive to achieve their dreams. Find out more about Michaela on her website or follow her via Instagram!
|Mary J. Blige in April's Ebony magazine|
No one masters the art of the comeback quite like Mary J. Blige. The woman who inspired the phrase Ghetto Fabulous has yet again risen from the ashes to live her best life ever in spite of the many burdens she's had to bare. Her most recent achievement is a soulful rendition of the 1976 Elton John classic, 'Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word.' Released on April 6 as a single from John’s star-studded tribute album Revamp, you best believe the R&B songstress gives it everything she's got.
If we learn nothing more from the diva who has survived domestic violence, drug abuse, betrayal, disappointment and loss of every kind, we should at least learn this...brokenness can either break you OR it can make you better. And based on her continuous whirlwind of miraculous restoration, better she most certainly is!
Just shy of three weeks later, Sherlock Gnomes was released in theaters, and the world got to hear an animated character maintain her strength by shaking off the dust from an old shabby relationship that ended up not working out. Mary J was quick to point out during an interview that being the voice of the spiffy female gnome and singing the sassy, relationship clapback song helped her to, not only feel personally empowered, but to get past her broken heart. In other words, she was gradually going from being broken to being BETTER THAN BEFORE.
When God allows us to be broken (notice I said He allows it, He does not cause it), we are going through His painstaking process of being “broken in.” Usually when we hear that term, we have a tendency to automatically think "worn out,"“used up," or "no longer new." But if we were to shift our perspective to see things from God’s heavenly view, we'd realize it actually denotes the exact opposite...BETTER THAN BEFORE.
That buttery leather jacket you couldn't wait to bring home is made of the most luscious cowhide on the planet. You turn up in it every once in a while, but you really wasn't fully slayed until it was completely broken in.
That good old fashioned recliner chair, never felt reclineable right off the bat. You let the whole family and the big pet dog take it for a spin, until it was broken in. Now that chair has YOUR name on it and there's a price to pay for any butt that touches it from here on in.
I've even heard it said that a better grip on the football could more likely win the game if the football is broken in.
So, here's the good news my friend...You too can go from broken to broken in to BETTER THAN BEFORE.
“The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit." (Psalms 34:18)He’s the Master Craftsman with the power to heal us, transform us and make us brand new. He will take all your shattered pieces and create the MASTERPIECE He intended since the day you were born. Now that was a good day, but your tomorrows are even BETTER!
|Photos via Swimmie Caps IG|
Yolanda Flournah-Perkins is a mom on a mission. She is the brains behind the first swimming cap brand to feature images of black and brown kids in a bid to motivate them to take more interest in swimming. The thought initially came when her kids aged 4 and 6 wanted some swimming caps, and she took them to the local retail shop and bought two. Once they got home, the kids were excited to put their caps on, however, when her daughter Bella opened her swim cap, she wasn't pleased. She said it was ugly since it didn't have a picture of a black girl on it. Yolanda told her that she would purchase one for her online, but she couldn't find one featuring a black girl. After searching for two days, Yolanda realized that no such product existed in the market. That's when she did something about it and Swimmie Caps was born.
Swimmie Caps is a unique brand since it has images of black and brown kids printed on them. The images feature girls and boys with different hair textures and different skin tones. There's even one with an image captioned unapologetically dope! It's surprising to realize that no one had implemented an idea like this before. Representation is really important and just like Yolanda's daughter, there must be many kids who feel like swimming isn't for them simply because they don't see an image that looks like them on the swim caps.
|Yolanda Flournah-Perkins via IG|
Swimmie Caps also seeks to empower African American kids and get them to love and embrace their own natural hair. Most of the images they see on the brands available in the market today are of straight hair which isn't what African American hair looks like, especially when wet. Seeing a graphic or illustration that looks more like them on the swim cap is a great source of motivation. It makes the kids realize that they too can become swimmers and even pursue it competitively even in the Olympics and other water sports.
|They even have them for boys too! (photo via IG)|
By Devon Mac
There's this word that I've become newly acquainted with called repression. To say that I've become newly acquainted with repression is sort of misleading because most of my conscious and breathing moments on this earth, apart from early childhood, have been lived repressed. What I mean is that at 40 now, I've become a lot more conscious of what repression is and how it has manifested in my life.
The scary thing about repression is that you can actually have a great time while being blissfully ignorant of its presence in your life.
I grew up in the church and while it's common to hear people say that they did not enjoy their church-going experiences, I did. In fact, I had the time of my life as a teenager growing up in church, wouldn't trade my experience.
We were led by a youth minister who was radical in his approach, who boldly took on topics like sex and sexuality in ways that were mostly healthy and affirming. For example, one of the mantras that was driven into us was that sex was great and that on its face, nothing was shameful or bad about it. Sex was, in fact, beautiful because God created it. And those words and teachings were formative in my life. Little did I know though that that time was cultivating a life of sexual repression for me.
At home and among my family, I quickly learned that doing "the right thing" brought along wonderful benefits. If I got good grades, I was rewarded with cash from my dad. My dad bragged about me at work and wherever he went. With my mom, doing "the right thing" (or helping out around the house) kept things peaceful and harmonious, which, as an introvert, I loved. My extended family would buy me gifts and praise me whenever I did "the right things." And as a child, I wanted for nothing. For those reasons, I became the ultimate "good girl."
That said, this painfully shy Black girl from the southside of Chicago quickly learned that doing "the right thing" was the way to go in life. Church reinforced this model all the more. I was prized with recognition for taking the word of God seriously and investing in my relationship with God. I was popular at church and had friends who loved and cared for me. We all seemed to be having a blast growing up in that environment.
I'll never forget the weeks leading up to my departure from home and off to college. The women mentors of our church had rented out a space for a girl's sleepover. The time would be dedicated to crossing me and several of my peers, now seniors in high school, over into young adulthood.
Most memorable though, was how I felt when the ladies were imparting wisdom to us about college. It was my turn to share and I remember tears filling my eyes as I expressed how terrified I was of going the route of others who had gone away to college- those who essentially lost their damn minds (coming back home pregnant, dropping out of school, wildin’ out). A part of me vehemently didn't want that for myself and was scared to death of following that path. Yet a deep part of me was madly curious about that life and wanted it for myself.
Fast forward to present times, married (15+ years), children, a career, and yet facing my repression in ways that can no longer be avoided. I married an extraordinary man straight out of college, a loving, caring man. In a world where it is certainly not the norm to be one, he was a devout and faithful man. He was in many ways, ideal.
But all and all, he was my safe choice. Marrying him was me doing "the right thing."
The problem was that my husband married a fraud and an imposter. I was faking the "good girl" thing and didn't even know it. There were parts of me that I had repressed for so long, I didn't have the chance to discover who I was. And because I didn't know who I was, I played the roles that had become all too familiar- the girl who knew how to do everyone else's "right things."
I was presented with another choice for life partner. I avoided him like the plague and I treated him awfully. I wasn't aware at the time that my aversion to him was actually attraction. Yet, he still asked to marry me. I blew him off. Little did I know that the way I treated him was the manifestation of my sexual repression.
Consequently, today I am currently wading through the waters of trauma, the trauma that comes along with divorce and denying myself. In my desperate pursuit of others’ "right things," I compromised what was right for me. I f*cked up. I was so concerned about being "right" that I ended up being wrong for my husband and myself.
Some years later, my church friends and I all came together as adults to say farewell to the youth minister who was so formative in our lives. Upon his departure to another city, he imparted these words to me, "Live," he said.
The thing about life is you can't live a life you're scared to live. And you most certainly can't get to know yourself if you're scared of life.
Do I blame my family for teaching me how to behave appropriately? No. Do I blame the church? No. One thing I know for sure is that God is not at all concerned about me doing someone’s "right things." In fact, God is interested in what's best for me, and those can be two wildly different things.
No one is to blame here.
There is no universal "right thing." There's only what's right for you. And finding out what that is takes a good mix of Divine wisdom and knowing who the hell you are...all things I'm madly pursuing today.
Has wanting to do 'the right thing' caused issues in your life?
The moment you notice you’re worrying or overthinking: STOP
Notice that there are no thoughts down there, in your stomach.
Can you see that? The space in your head may be full of thoughts, but the space in your stomach is not. Stay there. Stay HER. #BeHerNow #BreatheEasy
By Erickka Sy Savané
With Black Panther/Wakanda fever forever cementing a place in our hearts, and the rise of African Americans getting their DNA tested, especially from AfricanAncestry.com, where they can trace your ancestry back to your African ethnic group, we're at a time when we want to know more about where we came from. So it's not surprising that when I stumbled across this video on youtube just a day after it was released, it already had 50,000 views and a plethora of positive comments from African Americans and Africans alike. So whether you've gotten your DNA tested or not, it's nice to have an idea that these ethnic groups exist, and that it's more than likely the blood of these tribes running through our veins. Enjoy and share your thoughts in the comment section below. Also, show the guy who put this video together some love too!