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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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    Discovering Natural 
    Hi Naturals, 

    Recently I shared a video on 3 ways to make Aloe Vera Oil. Since then, a lot of people have been asking about different ways to use Aloe Vera Oil in their hair. I decided to create a video showing just how to do it. Please leave a comment if it's helpful!- Discovering Natural



    Will you give it a try?
    Tell us about your experience with Aloe Vera Oil!


    Social Media:
    Twitter: @sawahtwit
    Snapchat: @discovernatural

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    The Duke and Duchess of Sussex 
    By Brenda Alexander

    Thanks to Meghan Markle, the new Duchess of Sussex, we have now #SecuredTheCastle (whoever created this hashtag is a complete genius)! But seriously, how amazing is it to know that a woman of color will be sipping afternoon tea on the regular at Buckingham Palace?!

    Aside from the storybook romance of Harry and Meghan- how they were set up on a blind date and married two years later- many Black people waited in anticipation to see just how black the Royal Wedding would get, if at all, and they didn’t disappoint. Here are the 6 most "colorful" aka "black" moments from the ceremony:


    The Kingdom Choir
    The Choir
    Did it not feel like we were watching Sr. Mary Clarence direct the St. Francis choir in Sister Act 2 during their performance of Stand By Me. The Choir Director played NO games. We felt it all. The Kingdom Choir made their mark. Then, they transitioned into the Vacation Bible Study staple song, This Little Light Of Mine. Every note was clear, the outfits were in sync and their rendition was soulful to say the least. She had me clapping and swaying side to side along with! And, she looked good doing it!

    Bishop Michael Curry 
    The Bishop
    I also wasn’t expecting a black bishop from North Carolina, the Deep South of all places, to officiate this ceremony. It couldn’t get any blacker than this. Bishop Michael Curry preached about love and inclusion throughout his sermon with an undertone of a “Yes, we are here” to England. I don’t know what was better: the bishop's sermon or the reaction from majority of the white upper echelon of the British community. Half of them looked severely confused and not sure how to take his style of preaching. Welcome to our world folk. Y’all are lucky there wasn’t a SECOND service.



    Meghan’s Mom
    Meghan Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, is divine. The nose ring, the locs, the cocoa butter skin...the woman is gorgeous. She beamed with pride and joy throughout the ceremony, front and center...and solo. We see where Megan gets her beauty and independence from. Push through Mama Markle!

    Oprah, Idris & Serena
    The Guest List 
    Has there ever been so much color at a member of the royal family’s wedding? Mutha Oprah, Zaddy Idris, Cousin Serena and Auntie Gina Torres were a few in attendance. I mean we are normally the ones inviting non-coloreds to the cookout and not the other way around so much. It was refreshing to see such inclusion at such an event. 

    Sheku Kanneh-Mason
    The Music
    Elton John has been an honorary black for decades now and I hear that Etta James made the cut on the Royal Wedding playlist also. Aside from that, live classical music was in full effect but not without one of us. That’s right, Britain’s Got Talent’s Sheku Kanneh-Mason, a Cellist, executed a flawless performance as the newlyweds signed the register. And, he’s only 19! 


    The Wedding Date
    Meghan and Harry wed on the birthday of the first-known black or biracial Queen of England. Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was the wife of King George III. She served as both Queen of Great Britain and Queen of Ireland throughout their union. Through research, it doesn’t appear that her race caused any issue during her time despite many viewing her as a mulatto. The House of Windsor never denied that the Queen was of African ancestry, nor is there proof that she herself did not claim it. Frontline dedicated a segment to her, attempting to trace her descent and analyzed her features. Her ancestry has been widely researched and there’s even a large portrait of her on display at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC. After The Sunday Times published an investigative piece in 1999 titled; “Revealed: The Queen’s Black Ancestors,” a spokesperson for Buckingham Palace, David Buck, told the Boston Globe, “This has been rumoured for years and years. It is a matter of history, and frankly, we've got far more important things to talk about.” May 19 is also ironically the birthday of brotha Malcolm X. It doesn’t get more revolutionary than that.

    Do you have any favorite moments from the wedding? Did you watch?
    Brenda is a Philadelphia native with a love for Marketing, Creative writing, wine and Jesus. Her work has been featured on Mayvenn’s Real Beautiful blog and she is the co-author of the book Christmas 364: Be Merry and Bright Beyond Christmas Night (available for purchase on amazon). Follow her on IG @trulybrenda_ and trulybrenda.wordpress.com

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    Marjorie Harvey
    By Mwabi Kaira

    I follow celebrities and I enjoy on the gram because I’m nosey. I like to see the going ons in their lives and to see how they navigate their fame. I started following Majorie Harvey, wife of Steve Harvey years ago because of her fabulous style. She’s Glam-Ma goals and I love her globetrotting glamorous adventures. She spent Mother’s Day in her hometown of Memphis and I loved seeing her Mother’s reaction as she opened her gift. I thought nothing of seeing Marjorie and her family enjoy Memphis and it didn’t strike me as beneath her since it wasn’t in Paris, Saint Tropez or any of the other places around the world she frequents. We all have beginnings and home is a place most people go to feel centered and remember their childhoods.
    But we don't all think that way...

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    When I saw a picture of Marjorie chilling on the front stoop of her parent’s house with her family enjoying themselves behind her, I was touched because it was a sweet moment. Here was a grown woman, a proud grandmother known by so many for her style and her celebrity marriage looking so content and like a little girl in front of her childhood home. I liked the picture and kept scrolling while thoughts of my own childhood home filled my head. I was surprised to see the same image on The Shaderoom a few hours later with a classy clapback from Marjorie.

    User @robmitch2664 left this comment under the post, “U letting your Mom live like that. That’s so sad.” Marjorie responded with the following:


    There were other comments as well including, “If it wasn’t for Steve, you would still be on that stoop #favor.” The saddest part of all this was that these comments were from women. This got me thinking and I have to conclude that social media has taken away good old common sense and replaced it with online confidence that is not translated into real life situations. It is great that Marjorie and other celebrities with a following allow us to see their lives through pictures they post. It is also a fact that none of these people with negative comments would have walked up to the stoop and told Marjorie all of these things to her face.

    Clapbacks from celebrities have become a fabric of celebrity news and it is the saddest thing to witness what they have to read from people. Assumptions are made about how much money they are spending or not spending, how they parent or don’t parent, where they live, how they dress, how they look, and everything else you can think of. Social media has given people such a false perception of reality and I fear that we will not know the long term effects until much later on. The BBC recently did a study on the effects of social media and found that 40% of the world’s population uses social media platforms for 2 hours a day on average. The study listed people being more stressed, lower moods, heightened anxiety, depression, less sleep, addiction, low self-esteem, strained relationships, and experiencing more envy and loneliness because of social media. That’s a whole lot and none of it is good. 

    The intent of social media was to make us feel more connected and it worked for a while. It took a turn along the way and we are now bombarded with so much negativity from people. People will write two paragraph tirades in the form of a comment simply because their favorite celebrity puts sugar and butter on their grits. Those deeper in the hole will spend an entire day arguing back and forth with others about something else on the internet. What is all of this doing to our psyche? Time will tell and I fear it won’t be good. We have to take back our power and common sense when it comes to social media. We have to know that just because we develop an online persona that is more gully than our real life persona, it is still the internet and real life. Be accountable for what you say and know that it can have consequences. Don’t be the one fired from your job because of what you said online. Don’t say mean things online that you’d never say to the person if they were standing in front of you. Don’t make assumptions about what you don’t know and don’t even need to know. Live in real time and take a break from the internet sometimes, okkkuurrr?

    Do you think people start feeling hella loose with their comments to people on social media?
    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 athttp://africanbeautifulme.blogspot.com

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    Photo via Un-ruly
    By Ellen Haile
    We all have those moments when we have no idea what to do with our hair. Sometimes we’re simply just bored or have forgotten what our options are. Luckily, for our 4C readers, we’ve put together a curated list of go-to hair styles courtesy of the gram!

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    Meghan Markle aka The Duchess of Sussex 
    By Ta-ning Connai

    Black Girl Magic is a big gigantic rainbow! And if Meghan Markle were a part of my 90’s inner city camp crew called Unlimited Flavors, she probably could've squeezed right in between me (they named me Nutty Coconut) and this girl we called Vanilla Almond Swirl! We were celebrating our black girl magic way back before the hashtag, loving what brought us together while embracing the ways we all stood apart.

    Who knew decades later we’d be witness to an average sistah just like us plucked from obscurity and thrusted into royalty! Racists tried to deem the newly crowned Duchess unworthy right from the start, but Prince Harry was like, “Not today Satan!” and he shut that nonsense down!

    Prince Harry in Lesotho, S. Africa
    Prince Harry is well known for his charitable deeds and has given more than his share of money and time to several organizations, many of which aid African nations. But it was his deep and personal love for the bi-racial actress that provoked him to speak up against racism like he never had before. I truly believe that waaaaaay before she even stepped foot in that castle, the God-given royalty already running through her veins had the power to bring a quiet man out of the shadows and onto a platform where his voice could be heard. And when he chastised the press and social media for harassing Meghan because of her race, a man of courage was immediately born!

    Whether black or white or any color in between, we as women have the ability to change both people and things just by walking in the room. Whether it’s a throne room, a classroom, the diaper room, or the board room...just recognize what ya got and change can not be stopped! And you can be single or married for that!

    There was also some racist stuff surrounding the reign of King Ahasuerus back in the Bible days, in the Book of Esther. And if it wasn't for the former peasant girl name Esther, he would have remained the shallow king that he was, gloating over his wealth and missing the opportunity to both save an entire race and become a better human being.

    See, Vashti was King Ahasuerus’ first Queen, and when she got tired of him obnoxiously parading her around like a bikini-clad video chick sitting on top of a car, she refused to be his arm candy anymore. The mix of drinking and pride caused him to give her the boot and when he found himself queenless, he didn't know what to do. So he went ahead with the dumb idea to have a contest and whoever won got to be his Queen. After many auditions, callbacks and semi-final rounds, this girl name Esther made her way to the top and went from an orphaned little wanderer to a Royal Highness practically overnight.

    Well, just when she probably thought it was time to max and relax, she found out from her Uncle Mordecai that all Jews were scheduled to be annihilated. And what's this got to do with Esther? She was Jewish and it was kept secret, even her hubby didn't know!

    So now Esther is faced with the most OMG moment of her life. She could DIE by telling the king and she could DIE by not telling him. But her uncle sparked a little bit of purpose in her life and this is what he said, “...Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4: 14) Yeah, that's pretty deep.

    So Esther was like, “Y’all better pray for me!" and off she went to approach the temperamental king. She basically told him who she was and presented him with a chance to become a king remembered for both bravery and humanity.

    Dude was so flabbergasted by her mix of beauty, guts and wisdom, that he was like, “Bae, Imma kill the fools in charge of that plan and save ALL your peeps! Imma promote your uncle ‘cause he’s cool like dat and you girl are getting your own holiday!” Well, he didn't say it exactly that way, I'm paraphrasing, of course. But the truth still remains, Esther went from obscurity to royalty just like that! But it was because of the REAL royalty that was within her ALL ALONG.

    Your royalty is NECESSARY. In some cases, not all, it will include a husband figure to bring it to its next level. But we all need the right friends, the right mentors, the right team, to help us to get to the right place at the right time. But that's God's job. Just be ready, and please remember, if Jesus is a King, you're already a Queen!

    Are you walking in your royalty?
    TA-NING is a former model and clothing designer who one day got the "call" to leave the fab world of fashion behind. While in Bible College, she discovered her knack for mixing her quirky style of writing with her gift to teach. TA-NING'S TELL IT TUESDAY is a weekly column (originally launched on Facebook) that uses doses of pop culture to tear down the walls of churchy tradition, change the face of Christianity, and present it's message in a lively way. Ta-ning resides in Santa Monica (by way of BK), is obsessed with dogs, and is an old school Hip-Hop junkie!

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    Brandy's interview with True Exclusives 
    By Brenda Alexander

    Brandy has always been thin. Like no curves, straight up and down, pencil thin. So when pictures of a relatively thicker Brandy started surfacing, people speculated she was pregnant. She denied she was with child but the rumors persisted, as if her added pounds couldn’t be voluntary, or something more serious like a medical issue. How rude?!

    After so much talk, Brandy finally addressed her weight gain in a recent interview with True Exclusives and put the body shamers and social media thugs to rest. While explaining that after 7 years of going hard in the gym, rigorous tennis and boxing workouts and eating clean, Brandy had enough and wanted a “foodcation.”

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    She expressed,
    “I’m tired of this crazy discipline. I need something to eat. I want some pasta, I want some pizza, I want some cake. I want something other than salmon, broccoli and asparagus....and WATER!”
    Brandy pre-weight gain
    I feel you Brandy. Prior to starting with my personal trainer a little under a year ago, I hesitated because I knew I had to change my lifestyle. Now, I didn’t go as hard as Brandy by eating the same meal over and over again; but, there are major sacrifices you take to achieve complete wellness; and sweets, salts and almost all things good are what you have to give up on large consumption. It does pay off in your fitness results and overall energy you acquire as a result BUT it’s hard to get into the groove of things and stay so committed. Brandy’s dedication was definitely on a higher level than mine, and many others, and I can see why she needed a break. How she went from a strict diet to declaring her love for Wendy’s #10 with a large strawberry lemonade and apple pies from McDonald's on a daily is probably an adverse effect from the control she held for so long. After forbidding yourself the things you yearn for like that, of course she went crazy when she finally got a taste of the sweets!

    Brandy out & about
    But why is it that fans went into a frenzy when she started packing on a few pounds? Maybe it’s related to the idea that when we scroll through our social media feeds, our timelines are over-saturated with our favorite celebs and influencers killing it in the gym and posting vegan transition guides. And let’s not ignore that many of these knifed-up reality stars all have the same plastic surgeon and morph into a replica of each other with the same damn features: flat stomach, big ass, small waist and perky D’s in their swimsuit tops (I mean seriously, y’all do look the same).

    There’s nothing wrong with working out and eating healthy. Studies show that a balanced diet and exercise have great benefits. But there is something to be said about having an ideal image of yourself that you in turn punish yourself from enjoying the plethora of foods around you - and you become manic if you miss one workout. There’s a reason it’s called a balanced diet. The torment we also put ourselves through by dreaming of having certain body parts because one of our faves is shaped that way is ridiculous. And, Brandy’s weight gain as a focal point of discussion for this long is problematic.

    Speaking with my cousin about this, she shared the same thoughts.
    “Being overweight (not that Brandy is) is seen as a bad thing or gives the idea that someone isn’t happy. If they were thinner, does that mean that person cares more about themselves? Overall, I think body image has changed so much over the years because people are embracing their curves and many steer away from the idea that skinny equals beautiful. But we spend so much time on looks and weight and it becomes a perception of value.”
    Speaking more in depth about her weight gain, Brandy admits that she feels she does need to drop a few pounds but insists it’s more for reasons other than regaining her skinny frame. In fact, she wants the opposite. She says,
    “My goal is to drop 15. I don't want to go back to that skinny Brandy that looked too skinny, I didn’t have any boobs or the butt that I have now. I want to keep some. I just want a flat stomach and that’s it.”
    The Real co-host Jeannie Mai also recently revealed her own weight struggle, saying that she too possessed so much domination over her body and workouts that she maintain a tiny frame of 103 pounds for 12 years, suffering along the way. But now, Mai is also finding freedom in losing control, packing on a few pounds of muscle and enjoying everything she eats along this new fitness, carb-filled journey. I find it fascinating that across the spectrum, so many have similar experiences.

    What about you? Do you have healthy body goals?
    Brenda is a Philadelphia native with a love for Marketing, Creative writing, wine and Jesus. Her work has been featured on Mayvenn’s Real Beautiful blog and she is the co-author of the book Christmas 364: Be Merry and Bright Beyond Christmas Night (available for purchase on amazon). Follow her on IG @trulybrenda_ and trulybrenda.wordpress.com

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    By Grace Runo Wanjiku

    I was having dinner with some friends recently. The conversation soon turned to parenting, as it usually does when more than half of the people in a group are parents. One of our younger friends started telling us about how children learn to talk from their parents and that if a child has delayed speech it’s because the parents or the primary caregivers in the child’s life don’t talk much to the child. The rest of us tried to convince him that delayed speech is not always a result of lack of communication at home. He was however adamant and the rest of us just kept quiet and let him have his say. After all, you know how they say it hasn’t happened until it happens to you? We left him alone because we knew he would never understand the struggle of parenting until he became a parent too.

    I don’t blame the young man though because I know it is sometimes hard to empathize with a situation you have never had an experience with. Take my case for instance.

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    I had a daughter who learned to talk way before she could walk, and way before her peers. I was young and full of pride, and I thought it was because I did parenting better than the other parents whose children were taking forever to talk. My daughter’s cousin who is the same age didn’t say anything meaningful until he was five, and I thought it was because of something his parents were doing wrong.

    That is, until I had my son and he had delayed speech. He would say nothing except gibberish that only he could understand. It was frustrating because kids two to three years younger than him could communicate in full sentences while the only clear word he had was ‘dad’. He couldn’t even say my name. I remember an insensitive lady asked him in my presence why he couldn’t talk and he was already so big. That hurt so bad, but it made me think how insensitive human beings, especially mothers, make everything about their babies a competition.

    We are always comparing our children to others, whether it be your child grew her first teeth early, walked before her age mates learned to crawl, or even learned her ABCs before she ever stepped in class. The truth is, just like adults, children are unique and have different abilities. One will have strong motor skills and strong limbs. He might go on to be a great athlete or not. The girl who learned her numbers might go on to be a great mathematician, or she might even come to hate math later in high school.

    At the end of the day, unless the child has underlying problems he will catch up with his peers. He will eventually learn to talk. He will grow a beautiful set of pearly whites, he will run with the rest of the kids by the time he joins kindergarten, and he will know his letters and numbers just like his peers.

    I know this to be true because I have had a girl who hit her milestones early, and a boy who took his sweet time with his milestones, especially his speech. By the time they are joining grade 1 they are mostly at par with the rest. However, if the child has any underlying problems, working with a professional could help to rectify the problem. I had to engage the services of a speech therapist and now my son is doing okay. In fact, he talks so much sometimes we have to ask him to keep quiet for a bit. So to the woman who thought my son was stupid just because he was not verbal early in his life, I have news for you. No, he was and is not stupid. You were just not listening carefully. He was communicating in his own way.

    Have you experienced competitive parents?
    I am a curriculum developer, teacher and writer. I am also a wife and mother of three children and three dogs. When I am not busy transmitting knowledge to students or devising ways to achieve the same, I enjoy reading, watching fashion shows and travelling. I also watch cartoons to keep my inner child alive and to know what is going on in my kids’ world.

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    By Kira Sparkles

    I became obsessed with Korean Beauty - or K-Beauty - about three years ago when visiting my friend Tiffany. Looking at her bathroom counter, I couldn't help noticing her routine! K-Beauty's packaging comes in a variety of fun shapes and sizes to display their products. It's SO CUTE! Exfoliators in coffee cups! Lip balms in peaches! Cleansers with cute animals!

    The first time I looked into what K-Beauty was, I was met with article upon article about a "10 step method" that felt overwhelming and bank-breaking. Since I've had three years worth of trial and error, I thought it would be worth sharing these experiences because I'm always asked: Is Korean Beauty really ten steps?!

    Yes. And no.

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    Seriously, how cute!
    The steps, according to Charlotte Cho ofSokoglam, are as follows:
    1. Oil Cleanser
    2. Foam Cleanser
    3. Exfoliator
    4. Toner
    5. Essence
    6. Treatments
    7. Sheet Mask
    8. Eye Cream
    9. Face Cream
    10. SPF

    Yikes! Let's clean this up a little bit.

    1.Double Cleanse
    2. Exfoliator
    3. Toner
    4. Treatment
    5. Sheet Mask
    6. Creams

    To simplify THIS list even further, keep in mind you won't be using all of these steps every single day, but let's break it down.

    The most outstanding difference with Korean beauty is the 'double cleanse' method, meaning you use an oil cleanser followed by a foam cleanser. The oil gets rid of excess oil, your make-up and any pollutants. The foam washes away sweat and dirt. If you have oily skin, this seems counterintuitive, but think of adding water to oil. It just doesn't mix! However, when you use a cosmetic grade oil, it contains an emulsifying agent that traps all the excess oil and washes it away with water. So, unfortunately, coconut oil alone won't do that.

    I loveBanila Clean It Zero!

    With the first two steps out of the way, we move on to exfoliating. Despite all the products on the market that include a daily exfoliator, you should really only exfoliate about once a week. Over-exfoliating can lead to oilier skin.

               With a quarter-sized amount each week,this tube will last me forever.

    After that you have toning. Toner is made to prep your skin and helps absorb the next products you put on your face. Always use a gentle toner! Anything acidic can be too harsh. Your toner SHOULD NOT have alcohol. This dries out your skin!

    It smells just likepeaches!
    The next two steps I'm also combining because this is your treatment step which includes, essences, serums, boosters, and ampoules. Some have a watery consistency, some are more viscous. Either way, you use these to treat problems specific to your skin. There are products made for oily skin, aging skin, and dry skin. You can find treatments for acne, blackheads, and dark spots. You can use these as much as you want.

    Thissnail's happy to give you a boost!

    After that comes the sheet mask. These can actually be used in place of your treatments if they include the benefits you want. Or they can be used in conjunction with your treatments for a powerful boost. You can use these as much as the lord or your bank move you. I'm a fan of these after a night of partying with friends because they hydrate the absolute hell out of your skin and will make you look refreshed NO MATTER WHAT. Seriously. Try it. You're welcome.

    Pop, pop it'sglow time!

    Lastly, and depending on the time of day, apply your creams. Your eye cream, day cream and night cream. The difference between day and night cream is the thickness. Day creams should be light and night creams will be thicker and heavier to absorb all those delicious nutrients while you sleep. Your day routine should include your day cream and a sunscreen. Your night routine should include your eye cream and night cream.

    Thishoney cream keeps your skin moist and even-toned.
    The most important step in all of this is to use whatever products you love! If you love a cleanser from Skinfood but the toner from Clinique works better for you, do it! Mix and match, find your perfect formula! If you love what you're using now and just want to add a couple things, great! The goal at the end of the day is to look and feel your best. 

    Do you have experience with Korean Beauty products? Will you give them a try?
    Kira is a passionate, outspoken writer keeping it real for the people. She's a UF graduate with a soft spot for cats. Read more of her work at her blog KiraSparkles!

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    Photo: OnlinEpikairotita.com
    By Sharee Silerio

    Since 2009, our hearts have been captured by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle. They’ve inspired us to care, do, and become more so we could have a positive impact on the world.

    When they left the White House, it felt like our favorites were leaving us behind. Books have been written on their legacies, films have tried their best to show us how it all got started, and artists have grasped their intrinsic magnificence through masterpieces.

    Now, the Obamas are partnering with Netflix to create content that uplifts and moves the world as they have over the past eight years.

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    The Obamas
    Netflix announced that the former first couple signed a multi-year deal to produce a diverse mix of content – from scripted series to unscripted series, docu-series, documentaries and features – through their company, Higher Ground Productions. 

    In a press release, the Obamas shared their excitement about this new chapter in their lives.

     President Obama said,
    “One of the simple joys of our time in public service was getting to meet so many fascinating people from all walks of life, and to help them share their experiences with a wider audience. That’s why Michelle and I are so excited to partner with Netflix – we hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples, and help them share their stories with the entire world.”
    Mrs. Obama said,
    “Barack and I have always believed in the power of storytelling to inspire us, to make us think differently about the world around us, and to help us open our minds and hearts to others. Netflix’s unparalleled service is a natural fit for the kinds of stories we want to share, and we look forward to starting this exciting new partnership.”
    If the content they create is anything like them, we know that we should expect nothing but the best. Their projects are sure to open hearts, change minds and encourage action, further enhancing their influence on society. We can’t wait to see what the Obamas have in store for us!

    Are you excited about this partnership?
    https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-MblxtY6vhN4/WabW_0OC8RI/AAAAAAAA-zU/OdaRoqTAo4YRgGmDf1F00tiUxqzqYinMACLcBGAs/s1600/Sharee%2BSilerio.jpg
    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 SincerelySharee.com, relaxing with a cup of chai tea, crafting chic DIY event décor, and traveling. Review her freelance portfolio at ShareeSilerio.com then connect with her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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    NapturalistaMoji.com
    By Erickka Sy Savané

    Ever feel like you needed an emoji that said exactly what you need it to say from someone that looks like you and your peeps? Napturalista Moji feels you and that's why they recently launched a kickstarter campaign to bring their melanin-poppin,' natural-haired emoji's to life!

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    Napturalista Moji was inspired by Black women of the Natural Hair movement with an aim to create a healthy appreciation for the natural beauty that black women and girls possess.

    Eugenia Okafor, the creative director of the Napturalista Moji team states,
    “Black women/girls are too often relegated to the margins in conversations of beauty, desirability and worth. With Napturalista Moji we are bringing ‘Sistas' to the centerfold. We’ve carved out a digital space to affirm Black Women that is free from encroachment and appropriation. In short, we’re here to give credit where credit is due. We hope you’re here for it too.” 
    We are here for it, just look at how they transform this group chat!

    Group Chat
    This project has been over a year in the making, with most of the work being done by a team of sisters and brothers (literally siblings in some cases). Faith Onwusa and Rynae Linsey serve in design/curator roles while Okafor’s three younger brothers, Joe, Alex and Onye, support in a various capacities as well. (Talk about a family affair!!!) 

    Now, they've put their hard work into a Kickstarter launch because like with many great things, they need money. And like many great things that happen in our community, it only happens when we recognize the need and come together to make it happen. Like seriously, who will create this type of representation for us? 

    Like the Napuralista Emoji team says, 
    “History has shown that when we look to others to create representations of/for us, we either end up waiting for a mighty long time, thoroughly disappointed in the end-result, or both. We must produce as much, if not more, than we consume.”
    Amen.

    If you want to support this project, and we hope you do, go to the kickstarter page now (they only have till June 26 to meet their goal) and give just $5, more if you can. It does add up! Also visit their website to sign up to keep in touch with them. We expect that this is just the beginning for this creative, boss-ass team!

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    Tiffany Haddish 
    By Erickka Sy Savané

    A common misconception that a lot of us have when we see new celebrities is thinking that it happened overnight. Sorry to burst any bubbles, but ain't no overnight success. By the time a person is in front of us doing their thing at a high level they've already put in years worth of work that we'll probably never see. Major thanks to actress and comedian Tiffany Haddish- who has had her share of life's tough breaks from foster care to homelessness- for sharing this video via IG because it's proof that not only does hard work pay off, anyone can live the dream! Now let's go out and be somebody!

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    Tiffany has been grinding and getting ready for a minute. 
    Do you believe that hard work pays off?


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    Adrienne, Jada & Willow
    By Erickka Sy Savané

    I ain’t gon’ lie, not since Power has a show grabbed my attention like Jada Pinkett Smith’s Red Table Talk on Facebook. Whether she’s sharing the early struggle of co-parenting with Will Smith’s first wife Sheree or daughter Willow is talking about cutting herself as a pre-teen, there’s something for everyone and they all, including Jada’s mom Adrienne, keep it completely 100. So what did the Ladies chat about this week?

    Body Confessions and not only was it juicier than a Georgia peach, there was also a takeaway… 
    So the interesting thing about this episode is that you could look at Jada, her mom or Willow and see three perfectly beautiful women, yet, they all have their body issues….

    Mom Adrienne, age 64, kicked off the discussion talking about the challenge she faces as an older woman with not becoming obsessed with youth, since that’s what’s always portrayed in the media.

    She says,
    “Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and I don’t like what I see. The worst part of my body for me are my legs, my thighs. Like, I’m thin and people think it’s ridiculous but I have mad cellulite. And I hate it, so I hate my legs. I’ve put on some extra pounds, and it my mind, I feel fat. I know that it’s not true, but I’m certainly bigger than I used to be. I’m used to seeing myself a certain way. But the rest of me looks pretty good.”
    Uhhhh, we concur, Mama Adrienne 
    Next up, was Jada who addressed a deeply personal issue that she’s been getting lots of questions about, which is ‘Why all the head wraps?’ Well, it has to do with hair loss. In her own words:
    “It was terrifying when it first started. I was in the shower one day and then there was just hands full of hair in my hands. And I was just like, ‘oh my god, am I going bald?' It was one of those times when I was literally shaken with fear.”
    She says that though she’s taken every kind of test, doctors have no idea why she’s losing her hair, and experiencing this form of alopecia. Some say it’s stress. However, the silver lining has been putting it in a spiritual perspective. When she thinks of the struggles that others are going through from cancer, to sick children, if the higher power wants to take her hair, she can deal with it. Another silver lining is discovering how to wrap a turban, which make her feel like a Queen.


    Come through Jada!!!
    And last, but certainly not least, was cutie-pie Willow revealing her insecurities around being the skinny girl who gets seen as the ‘little sister’ or ‘friend’ while her curvier friends get the guys. She shared, 
    “I start to wonder, like dang, am I not desirable? Is my body not what society likes? It gets really hard.”
    It was a conversation with Papa Will that helped give her some perspective on her body envy issues. He told her that he’s glad that she doesn’t have curves because guys will look at her brain more….(spoken like a true Dad!)

    She has found power in not cutting her armpit hair, and doesn’t shave because it takes too much time.

    “I just want to get in and out of the shower! I wanna be like my ancestors and do what I have to do.”

    Do you Boo! Ain't no shame in being natural.  
    So what can be learned from this red table talk? 
    1) Celebrities struggle just like everybody else, regardless of what you see on the gram. 
    2) Everyone has something they don't like about themselves no matter how 'perfect' they look to us.
    3) We'll always envy others, and so what. As long as we can find something to love about ourselves we'll be fine.  

    Watch the show right here!

    Did you discover anything from this episode? What's one thing you LIKE about yourself?
    Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of CurlyNikki.com, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in Essence.comEbony.com, Madamenoire.com, xoNecole.com, and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on TwitterInstagram or ErickkaSySavane.com
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    Dominique Silver
    By Erickka Sy Savané

    Safe to say, the modeling industry has changed. Gone are the days where one standard of beauty represented the whole, and we can't get enough of diverse beauties like Winnie Harlow, Philomena Kwao, and Adut Akech. So it makes sense that transgender beauties are also having their day. Gone are the days where trans models have to hide out of fear or because no one will book them. One trans model who is carving out a name for herself is Dominican Republic-born, San Diego-bred Dominique Silver who has been in the modeling game long enough to chat about how the industry has evolved and what it's like to be a trans model today.

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    Dominique in Barcelona, Spain
    What does it mean to be a transgender model today?
    It means a lot to me. I have been modeling stealth (as cis gender appearance) without people knowing I was trans for years in the USA and all over Europe, but it’s such a breath of fresh air to finally be able to be myself on set and not be ashamed of being different because it's more embraced. Being a transgender model today is like being any other model because we are all canvases of creativity for designers to showcase their art.

    How did you get started modeling? 
    Funny story. I had just moved to New York from San Diego along with my long time friend Jamie Clayton and we used to hang out on 8th street and frequent Patricia Fields store to buy hairpieces, makeup...etc. Back home, everyone would tell me I should be a model, but my dream was to be a woman first! Then one day walking down the street I got scouted and my first runway show was for Patricia Fields, on ice, at Rockefeller Center. From there, I signed with an agency and was sent to Italy at 18 and no one knew I was trans. I come from an era where it wasn’t so accepted as now so I would keep my sexually a secret as long as I could. I feel like unless you are going to be intimate with that person it doesn’t matter what genitalia you have.

    Via IG
    You work a lot. Do people book you because you're transgender? 
    Well, I am with the first All Transgender modeling agency called Slay Model Management and through them I get most of my jobs. Also, being a model and moving in the right social circles I’ve acquired jobs, and surprisingly, off of Instagram too! The clients that book through the agency of course know that I'm transgender because they are searching for that specific talent.

    At what point did you 'come out' in the industry, so to speak?
    I've been modeling on-and-off for the past 15 years, and I guess my "coming out" was when I signed with the transgender agency and filmed for the TV show. So let’s say the past 2 1/2 years.

    Is the industry more accepting of trans models now?
    TOTALLY. I remember back when my best friend and I went to agencies and they wanted to sign us, but when they found out we were trans they said in order to sign you have to have genital reassignment surgery...we've come a LONG way since then, thank God!!! Now androgyny is a fore-runner in this industry and we got that on LOCK, hehehe!

    Dominique walking in the RichbyRithieRich Show
    What's been your favorite modeling job so far? 
    Wow, I have a few all-time favorites like walking for Dsquared in Milan at 19 and doing the Richie Rich show 2 years ago at NYFW with my idol UGLYWORLDWIDE️and supermodels from NY model management. The back stage was so LIT.

    Do you have regular clients and how often do you travel? 
    I am blessed because the clients I work with are happy with my work ethic and frequent me! And I travel too damn much! This year alone I’ve been coast-to-coast like 4 times, and now I’m in Europe for a couple weeks.

    Do you have any favorite models, trans or otherwise?
    YES. Victoria Secret Supermodel Jasmine Tookes is my IDOL and I really adore Lea T for being a ground-breaker in our community and making the fashion industry accept transgender models more! Obrigada.

    Dominique modeling with her niece 
    Does your family accept you? 
    Luckily, I have the support of all of my family. Sadly, I know many are not so fortunate.

    At what age did you know you were a woman?
    I always felt like I was trapped in the wrong body. I guess it was about 5 years old when I was old enough to try to understand what it was.


    What's next for you?
    I would like to continue my career as long as possible and be a positive influence and role model to the upcoming transgender youth to show them that anything is possible.  In the future, I also want to have a “finishing school” where I can help young transgender get prepared for the world using my knowledge and experience from over the years!

    Are you living your dream?
    YES I am. I honestly could not ask for more...

    Photo by Rick Day

    Follow Dominique on Instagram! 

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    Dominique Perry & Sarunas J. Jackson
    By Veronica Wells 

    This week, “Insecure” fans were surprised to learn that Dominque Perry, the actress who played Tasha the bank teller, gave birth to a child fathered by her castmate Sarunas J. Jackson, (the man who plays Dro.)

    There was a shock factor associated with this revelation not only because no one would have put these two together but also because there was more than a little bit of drama surrounding the entire situation. When Dominque first shared the news of her pregnancy, she made it clear that she was under the impression that she’d have to go it alone...

    And shared this message on instagram:


    Since the drama of her child’s birth unfolded, Perry has altered the caption (and deleted other photos from her page,) removing a previous version that said, "Let’s take over this world young Queen…just the 2 of us.

    Secondly, the news was met with strong reactions because there was another woman, MTV reality personality, Kaylen Zahara, who claimed that though she had previously dated Sarunas, she learned that he was expecting a child like the rest of us did, on The Shade Room. 

    She wrote on Instagram,
    “Ladies listen to your intuition! These dudes will be in your crib, eating your food & laying up with you, taking you on dates, etc but got kids on the way without you knowing. TUH. These insecure men can’t never keep it 100. Congrats tho.” 
    Drama. 

    Since then, Zahara has received additional information from Jackson and decided that she overreacted in blasting him like that. Now, she wants to take the high road and doesn’t want to share the details.

    Too late, sis. 

    The childishness spawned by social media is not the issue here. I’m bringing this drama to your plate because the entire scenario spawned a pretty interesting conversation at my office. 

    When should a man you’re dating disclose the fact that he’s expecting a child? 

    I thought the answer was simple. As soon as possible, like second date at the latest. Having a child changes your life in every way imaginable. It affects the time you’ll be able to spend with me, the money you’ll be able to invest in dates and other plans, the people I’ll have to interact with—meaning the child and his/her mother, and it affects the emotions of all parties involved. There’s a good chance you could end up loving a man’s child. And if the relationship doesn’t work out, it can be extremely difficult, emotionally and logistically for both the adults and children involved, to maintain a connection with a child that is not yours. Children change lives. And they don’t have to be yours to do so. I am definitely one of those women who did not want to date a man with children for all the reasons I listed above. Relationships with just two people are hard enough. 

    Having a child also speaks to a lifestyle that dating partners should know about. The same way you would want to know if the man you’re dating doesn’t have a job or believes Bill Cosby was taken down because he was trying to buy NBC. It will shape the trajectory of your dating life. 

    But a friend and coworker could understand why a man might not want to share this type of information early in the game. She likened it to sharing the fact that you’re living with an incurable STD. The information can scare people away before you get a chance to know and like them. She said it becomes a particular issue when the man doesn’t know if the baby in question is even his child. 

    I can understand that if you’re unsure, why share? But I think we can argue that any decent human being should be actively pursuing information that lets him know whether or not his sperm is helping to bring another soul into the world. It’s a big deal. 

    And withholding that type of “big deal” information takes away my options in a dating situation. Let me know the truth of your situation so I can decide if I want to ride out or run. 



    Most importantly though, a person’s lack of interest in or outright denial of their child speaks volumes not only about your character but how you’ll treat me in a romantic relationship. If you can’t be bothered to talk about your own flesh and blood, then what type of care and concern can I expect for you to show me?

    When should a guy tell the woman he's dating that he's expecting a child?
    Veronica Wells is the culture editor at MadameNoire.com. She is also the author of “Bettah Days” and the creator of the websiteNoSugarNoCreamMag. You can follow her on Facebook and on Instagram and Twitter @VDubShrug.


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    Solange Knowles 
    By Kristin Denise Rowe

    It’s hard to put an exact start date on the natural hair movement, as it began organically online between Black women. However, folks who write about the movement often mark its beginnings to the late 2000s—perhaps around 2007 or 2008. During these early years, newfound social media usage, an interest in organic products and going green, DIY culture, and natural-haired celebrities all opened up a space for the movement to spread.

    Over the past decade, a number of natural hair-related moments have made us smile, scream, and think. Here are 5.

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    1. Solange’s Natural Hair Journey (2009-2012)

    Photo via Nappyheadedblackgirl.com
    By 2012, she was wearing her natural afro, and in a May 2012 interview with Essence, Solange stated, “I honestly was just tired of the energy surrounding my hair. So when I cut it, I didn't think about what anyone else would think.”

    Many young Black women and girls, were inspired by Solange’s style, art, and natural hair journey. Hair is a continued theme in Solange’s story, as her 2016 single “Don’t Touch My Hair” explores hair, boundaries, consent, and intimacy.

    2. Students in Pretoria, South Africa Protest Ban on Natural Hair (2016)

    Photo via Ebony.com
    In 2016, conflicts around dress codes, racism, and Black girls’ hair came to a head at Pretoria High School for Girls.

    The school was founded in 1902, while South Africa was under European colonial rule. From 1948 to 1990, a strict system of institutionalized separation and discrimination called “apartheid” previously only allowed white students to enroll in the school. Since 1990, the school has been open to all races.

    The dress code in the school’s code of conduct banned cornrows, braids, and locs that are more than a centimeter in diameter. Afros were required to be pushed back and tied up. Many students recall being told that they need to “fix” their hair.

    During fall 2016, over 100 girls at Pretoria High for Girls began protesting the restrictions placed on their natural hair. The protests spread throughout the country. An online petition against the hair policies garnered over 10,000 signatures, and the hashtag #StopRacismatPretoriaGirlsHigh began trending, calling international attention.

    On August 30, 2016, the Gauteng Department of Education, which oversees the Pretoria High School for Girls, put out a statement agreeing (among other things) to review the code of conduct, and “the mocking of learners’ hairstyles must cease.”

    The situation at Pretoria High School for Girls reminded us all of the global implications of anti-Black racism and colonialism, as well as the diasporic connections we can potentially forge worldwide. For these girls, the protests were about so much more than hair--but about carving out space to exist in a school, a country, and a system that rarely values them or their bodies.

    3. Viola Davis Sports a TWA on the Red Carpet at an Oscars Luncheon (2012)

    Photo via pinterest.com
    In February of 2012, actress Viola Davis debuted her “teeny weeny afro” (also known as a “T.W.A.”), causing a buzz online and on television.

    The actress wore her own natural, very short, and golden-brown afro at the Essence Black Women in Hollywood celebratory Oscars luncheon. Black women everywhere supported the look and Davis’s choice to deviate from the straight hair and long extensions typical of Black women (and most women) at formal red-carpet events.

    “As a woman with an afro, I applauded her,” wrote the editor of MadameNoire. Davis said her choice to go natural was “a powerful statement.”

    However, Davis’s decision to wear her natural afro wasn’t universally supported. Some questioned whether natural hair was “formal” enough for a Hollywood red carpet. Wendy Williams commented negatively on Davis’s afro, as well.

    These diverse reactions reflect the ambivalence many Black women also face by their colleagues, significant others, and family after “going natural.” This ambivalence reflects the sorted and complex ways beauty standards and social norms are mapped onto Black female bodies, through hair politics.

    4. Beyoncé Claps Back at Critiques of Blue Ivy Carter’s Afro (2016)

    Photo via phasionista.com
    In 2014, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Sean “Jay-Z” Carter were criticized online for the appearance of their daughter Blue Ivy’s hair.

    Back then, Blue Ivy’s hair often stuck out in an afro; however, her critics would have preferred that Blue’s hair was straightened, permed, smoothed down, plaited, or otherwise contained and made smaller.

    One woman created a Change.org petition requesting that Blue Ivy’s parents “properly” comb her hair. While likely created as a mean joke, the petition garnered over 5,000 signatures. Karrueche Tran also joked about Blue’s hair being unkempt.

    Fast forward to Beyoncé’s lead single “Formation” (2016) on her critically acclaimed album Lemonade. Here, Knowles-Carter sings, “I like my baby heir with baby hair and afros/ I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils.” The lyrics directly call out normative, Eurocentric standards of beauty, while also serving as a direct clapback to critics.

    Knowles-Carter’s discussion of Blue Ivy’s hair reveals the ways that hair and beauty politics are passed down intergenerationally and are rooted in Black women’s girlhood.

    5. Viola Davis Takes Her Wig Off on ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder (2014)

    Photo via Uk.businessinsider.com

    On the ABC drama How to Get Away with Murder, the complex, dynamic Black female protagonist Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) is a cutthroat lawyer/law professor.

    One 2014 episode featured an extended, climactic scene of Annalise removing her wig and revealing her own natural hair to the viewer. This scene garnered a huge reaction from diverse audiences, impressed by Davis’s vulnerability and commitment to the scene. 

    People magazine called the moment “a shocker,” while Huffington Post called it “one of the most memorable scenes of this year's television season.” BuzzFeed writer Kelley L. Carter and comedian Franchesca Ramsey positively commented on the relatability of the scene. 

    Viola Davis was public about her own role in helping to create that scene. On The Ellen Show, Davis said: 
    “I was so adamant about it. I said, ‘Listen…she cannot be in that bedroom with a wig on, because women don’t go to bed with their wigs on.…a whole portion of women out there are marginalized. I wanna be a real woman.’” 
    In her New York Times bestselling book, Black female comedian and writer Phoebe Robinson describes the wig removal scene as “THE SINGLE GREATEST MOMENT IN BLACK WOMEN TELEVISION HISTORY” (49). For Robinson, the scene resonated in large part because it involved a “reflecting back” of the beauty routine that she practiced in private for so much of her life. Like with many Black female viewers, the authenticity of the scene gave way to a feeling of exposure and vulnerability.

    In spite of the natural hair movement, Black women still grapple with beauty standards of their past and present. They still face structures of sexism, racism, classism, colonialism, heteronormativity, and more that attempt to tell them exactly who and what they are. 

    However, moments like the ones on this list open up spaces, as steps towards self-recognition and ultimately self-acceptance. 

    Do you have any favorite moments?
    Kristin Denise Rowe is a writer, scholar, and instructor whose work interrogates beauty and embodiment on the axes of race and gender. She is currently a doctoral candidate in African American and African Studies (with a specialization in Women’s and Gender Studies) at Michigan State University. Her research examines contemporary narratives within art/ popular culture of Black women’s experiences with natural hair, arguing these representations are sites where concepts of beauty are negotiated. Learn more about her work by following her on Twitter and Tumblr.

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    Photo of Georgiette Morgan-Thomas by Hillary Swift for TheNewYorkTimes
    By Winnie Gaturu

    Georgiette Morgan-Thomas is a woman who wears many hats, literally. She is a pastor, an entrepreneur and a pretty good manager. Over the years, Georgiette has been able to seamlessly incorporate hats into her daily lifestyle, and has a hat for every occasion and wears them just about everywhere. Due to her "hat obsession," she currently owns more than 100 of them. That's not all. She also owns a hat factory called American Hats LLC.

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    Growing up, Ms. Morgan-Thomas always admired the female activists who always put on exquisite hats. Since her grandmother was one of those women, she got to attend several of their meetings and admire their tasteful choice of clothes. The hat was a big part of their dress code and that's something she applied in her own life. Her love for hats has continued to grow over the years. To her, a hat makes a woman get a bit more confident and hold her head up high. She wears them everywhere and some people don't even recognize her when she's not wearing a hat.

    Although Georgiette has always loved hats, she didn't intend on owning a factory that manufactures them, especially in her fifties. However, when a friend informed her that the S&S hat factory was up for sale in 2015, she made an impromptu decision to buy it. S&S Hats began its operations in 1923 and started selling hats to small boutiques and department stores and eventually started doing business with large stores. It looked like the perfect investment and she ended up investing more than $100k to buy the business.

    However, things weren't smooth for Ms. Morgan-Thomas. Soon after acquiring the company, it quickly lost a $32,000 annual order and one of the managers left. When it came to machinery, it was difficult to find spare parts to fix them since they were very old. She had to learn quickly and get up to speed with the basics of operations in order to revive the failing business. The company was also dealing with various financial problems which her local community helped her overcome by contributing whatever little they had to support her. Despite all the challenges, Ms. Morgan-Thomas has managed to revive the company and create a steady flow of income.

    Folks showing off their hats via the website

    Hats off to these Ladies!
    Currently, the factory, which is located in Philadelphia, produces a wide range of hats for both men and women. You can find a hat for every occasion ranging from broad-brimmed summer hats for summer to a Dr. Seuss-looking hat for going to church. Ms. Morgan-Thomas pays close attention to the details on each hat and ensures that every customer looks good and is satisfied.

    As a result of her hard work, things are starting to look up. Business has gone up by 40% since 2016. She has sold several thousand hats which range in price from $90 to $400. She eventually hopes to open up a second factory in Harlem, New York. In the meantime, she would like to teach young people about the hat-making business by giving them an opportunity to intern at a factory.

    Are you a hat person? What are your favorites?
     https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-DnsMSFjLFNw/We9aV3iBeiI/AAAAAAAADII/F9HbMPX6PfYe6aCJqc-eDi3Wgmu41YE4wCLcBGAs/s1600/Winnie%2BG..jpg
    Winnie Gaturu is a writer, tech lover, mom, wife and student from Nairobi, Kenya. During her free time, she loves trying out new recipes, diy projects, filling in crossword puzzles and spending time with her family. You can catch up with her onyourhairandbeautywrite.wordpress.com.

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    Skin & Beauty Vlogger Angeer 
    Hey Lovers,

    In this video I show how I make my facial mask. This DIY face mask which I make with all natural ingredients (Ginkgo Biloba powder, Ginger powder and dark coffee) will help your face Melanin stay young and radiant, and aid in healthy melanin production. You can also use this for your body.



    Be sure to follow Angeer for more tips on how to keep dark skin radiant! 

    Will you try this mask?



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    Book illustration by Shakira Rivers

    By Michelby Coco-Whitehead

    As a single 30-something with no children, I sometimes feel like I’m in my second childhood. I still watch cartoons and collect baby dolls that exude black girl magic with absolutely no shame. But coloring has never excited me as a kid, and it didn’t appeal to me in adulthood when my cousin mentioned her coloring book for women. I thought to myself: I ain’t THAT bored! But according to Psychology Today, there is power in coloring. Researchers say that coloring can be used to aid with therapy and as an intervention to relieve stress and anxiety. Taking this into consideration, I can now see why coloring books are the new wave. When I found the one created by Latoya Nicole, I was ecstatic.

    North Caroline mover and shaker Latoya is a mental health professional, entrepreneur, and the brains behind 24 Shades of Business: An Adult Coloring Book, which features images of beautiful, boss women who are bloggers, doctors, makeup artists, teachers, yoga instructors, etc. It also contains mazes and motivational quotes. Recently, Lotaya chatted with us about the inspiration behind her coloring book and why they're great therapy for black women, especially entrepreneurs!

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    Illustration by Shakira Rivers

    What inspired you to create a coloring book for entrepreneurs?
    I was at work a while back and it was a really busy season and we were all frustrated and overwhelmed with the work load. Some of the managers wanted to try and make things better so they were doing “stress relieving” things like providing free coffee, massages and they also brought each of us coloring books to help “take the load off.” To be honest, when I first saw the coloring book I was thinking “what am I gonna do with this?” because I hadn’t used a coloring book since I was a child. But one day I had gotten frustrated to the max and I jokingly and frustratingly said to the guy beside me “pass me one of those colored pencils!” Once I started coloring, I noticed that I started feeling calmer!

    But, I thought nothing else of it until years later and I was browsing the internet trying to figure out great ideas to put in place so that I could create passive income. My initial thought was to write a book about my journey and entrepreneurship, so I was browsing and asking God what my next move should be when I heard “24 Shades of Business.” When I hear certain things, especially after I ask, I don’t take them lightly because I'm a believer that I have always been given “witty inventions.” I quickly jotted down the title that I had heard and put it in my journal. Later, I started putting pieces together and remembered how the coloring book from my job had really helped. I also remembered that the coloring book only had trees, mandalas and birds for me to color. I started doing more research and I realized there were no adult coloring books that solely highlighted African-American entrepreneurs. And, of course, since I had already been given the title of the book “24 Shades of Business” I knew it would be dealing with business, so I took that and ran with it.

    Do you think the journey of building a business is more stressful for women of color?
    I do believe that building a business can be stressful, especially if you are trying to find funding as a start-up business. But, I also believe that we as women of color have always been pioneers and just like Madam C.J. Walker created a way to produce and sell hair care products, we’ve always found a way to make things happen with the resources that we have.

    Why is coloring therapeutic?
    Coloring allows us to switch our brains off from other thoughts and focus and concentrate only on the moment which can help decrease stress. The time and focus that adult coloring takes can help remove the focus from the negative issues and habits and focus them in a more productive way. When we are thinking about which color to choose and when we are applying crayon or colored pencil to paper, we are also working on problem solving. Who knew all of this was involved from the simple act of coloring and bringing a picture to life? Even now, many psychologists suggest coloring to patients as a means of relaxation, and as a calming tool. So, whether you decide to color by yourself or color with a group of girlfriends at a coloring party, just have fun and unplug.

    What has been the response to your coloring book?
    The response has been overwhelmingly excellent! People really love the idea and they have been very supportive! So much so that the week the book was released on Amazon it was a number one new release!

    How did you come up with the images in the book?
    I wanted the book to be something that girls and women like me could relate to, so I created a list of different types of entrepreneurs that I had seen or worked with. After I finished jotting down all the types of business women that I wanted to add, I also decided that I wanted the book to have a couple of puzzles. From there, I sent my illustrator the list and my view of the images as best I could using stick figures, ink pen & pencil drawings as well as pictures that inspired me. She was able to perfect it and make the images come alive and if I said “no she needs glasses on” or “no not like that, like this” she was on it! Once that was done, I created the layout and put everything together in the order of the vision I had and sent it off to be published.


    Thanks Latoya!

                                                                        
    Latoya Nicole

    To learn more about 24 Shades of Business: An Adult Coloring Book, visit
    www.entrepreneurscolortoo.com. Latoya also teaches other women how to start and build their own online retail businesses.

    Will you give coloring a try?
    A woman of the bayou pimping my pen because I'm scared of a day job. You can find me somewhere telling stories like Nas and Terry McMillan on April Fool's day. Writing is life so follow me on IG @cococurator 

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    succulents

    By Kira Sparkles

    Last winter, my roommate, Earl, brought home a plant. It was a small plant from the grocery store with thick, green leaves and little pink flowers. He usually brought home cut flowers, but it was the first time he brought home an actual plant. My first thought was that this plant would die in a week. I have the brownest of thumbs. I tried growing basil that summer with no luck. When I was a teenager, I somehow managed to kill my lucky bamboo. This thing didn't have a chance. He didn't seem too hopeful either.

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    Still, we named the plant Bruce and gave him water. He sat on our countertop until I decided to move him by a sunny window. We watered him once a week.

    To my surprise, Bruce didn't die. Bruce got bigger. I had to transplant him into a new, slightly bigger pot. Still, he got bigger. And bigger. And bigger.

    Bruce 
    Two more transplants later and flash forward to today, Bruce is a huge plant with thick, curling stems and lush leaves. I need to transplant him again, but I know he's just going to keep growing and I don't know what the hell I'm going to do with such a huge plant!

    I wondered why this time around was different. I didn't do anything special except water my plant and give it sunlight. Other plants I've done the same to haven't been nearly as abundant.

    After some research, I found that Bruce is a kalanchoe, a breed of succulent. Succulents have been everywhere in the last few years and it's easy to see why! Just look at them!



    They're so beautiful and colorful! You don't need any experience with plants to grow them. They're cheap as hell. They're damn near impossible to kill. Their leaves break off and create even more succulents. The best part about all of this? These plants are so low maintenance that even when I forget to water them they don't start withering away. That's because succulents are related to cacti meaning they're great at retaining water for the dry environments they're used to.

    Once I watched Bruce really take off, I had the confidence to buy more succulents. I now have a few in my room and a couple outside. I even found out that aloe is a kind of succulent and immediately got one! (Hello hydrated hair and skin!)

    Succulent pots outside my door
    With their intricate patterns and beautiful coloring, they can improve not only your mood but also your concentration. Besides the aesthetic appeal, they can purify the air in your home helping you breathe better.

    When I see my plants thriving it makes me feel proud and happy. I'm rewarded with a touch of beauty in my living space. With their adaptability, succulents can thrive in whatever pot you put them in. I've seen small desk planters, I've seen tiny pots, I've even seen old frames used as gardens filled to the brim with succulents.

    The possibilities are really only limited by your imagination.
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    Someone even put these creepy things to good use!
    I'm completely in love with the creativity and versatility that these plants allow. Next time when you're at a box store, visit the garden department. I guarantee you'll find something you like without spending too much money.

    How do you feel about having your own succulent garden?
    Kira is a passionate, outspoken writer keeping it real for the people. She's a UF graduate with a soft spot for cats. Read more of her work at her blog KiraSparkles!

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    By Tiffy Kink

    In spring of 2013, my sophomore year in college, I met a guy on an app. I had only met up with one guy before him out of the many different guys that hit me up wanting to take me out. While I don’t necessarily allow one experience to generalize another, I will say that the guy I met before was okay and we even ended up in a relationship for a while. It ended abruptly, however, when he transitioned into a new religion and I rejected his invitation to join in said religion. And marriage. I was 19 at the time.

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    Shortly after, I returned to the app not really looking for anything in particular. In fact, I wasn’t planning on meeting up with anyone and would just use it to meet people in a way I wouldn’t have met them otherwise. Until I met him. A guy who seemed to be nice. We talked a couple times and had really good conversations. We were both techies so we never ran out of things to talk about. He was kind of a dork, with glasses and just how he dressed and stuff. But I like dorks so that wasn’t an issue. He was also Jamaican. Two months into talking, he asked me out on a date and I said yes.

    Our first date was cool. We went to a bowling alley and had a good time. I didn’t get any creepy vibes from him and we hit it off pretty well. So much so that when the date was nearing the end, I suggested we go to the movies to extend it. The whole time our date was going on, he kept complimenting me to the point where I asked him to stop. I’m not one for flattery. After the movie, we ended our date and walked to the train station. He waited until my train came and before I got on, I gave him a peck on the lips. Just a peck.

    The second date was more interesting. We went to the movies and was horsing around a bit. We made out a little while watching the movie and I guess he wanted to continue that because he insisted on kissing in the seating area near the place where you go in. That would mean that everyone who was walking out and in the theatre would see us. Be looking at us. Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of PDA, so there was no problem making out in a dark movie theatre. But not where people could see us. It’s just not my thing. He got mad. And at the end of our date, he walked me to my train, but didn’t wait for me to get on. I understood that he was upset, I just didn’t know how upset he was.

    Something I didn’t mention in the beginning was that while we were talking, and flirting, we both traded pictures. Naked ones. Just body parts. Without any previous negative experience, I had been forewarned a long time ago about not taking naked pictures with your face displayed in them. And it just wasn’t my thing. I had done this (exchanged pictures) before with a very select few of guys and didn’t see a problem with it. This will come to bite me in the ass later on.

    After our second date, we didn’t talk for a week. Following that, a guy who I was previously chatting with before him, liked a bunch of my pictures on Facebook and that made him furious, though it was out of my control, and I didn’t understand why he cared. I myself thought the act was weird, and he later apologized. But I had a feeling my fate was already sealed.

    Following that event, maybe a couple of hours later, he informed me that he was so mad at what happened on Facebook, that he went outside and punched a tree. I was slightly horrified as I had never seen a guy get that angry before over something I quite frankly didn’t think was worth anyone’s anger.

    So when it came to our third and final date, he showed up visibly agitated and when I requested that this date just turn into a friendly gathering, he got even more upset, saying that if we didn’t continue this as a date, he would leave. I had already purchased the tickets and didn’t want to waste them, so I obliged.

    After that day, we didn’t talk much and he was starting to notice it. I ended up telling him that how he acted on our third date, combined with what happened on Facebook, made me apprehensive to continue seeing him.

    “I don’t think we should see each other anymore," I said, in a simple sentence, explaining that it wasn’t him, that I didn’t think I was the right person for him, and he could probably find someone he would be more compatible with. That was a terrible idea.

    He didn’t just flip a lid. He blew a f*cking gasket. He immediately started going off about us and how I “cheated” on him, even though I never recalled us formally entering into a relationship. Unless he mistook me accepting his request that I not talk to anyone else on our second date as us now being exclusive. I didn’t take that to mean anything because I was already not planning on talking to anyone else. I guess I was wrong. This all came out of nowhere.

    He then went on to start threatening me, saying that he would expose me for the real person I am. He told me he was going to ruin my life and put the picture, the picture I entrusted him with, on the internet for the world to see. My heart sank to my stomach and I was mortified. I started begging and pleading for him not to do it. He wouldn’t tell me anything further other than I deserve what will be coming to me.

    I was standing in my room. Not knowing what to do. Shaking as if I was having an internal earthquake. I didn’t understand how a simple conversation went left so fast. I didn’t lead him on. At least I don’t think I did. Yet there I was. Standing, shaking, and in a cold sweat. I didn’t know what do to or who to turn to. And my phone kept ringing. Him continuing to go off about the person I really am. To him. A slut.

    I turned to the only person I knew I could tell at that moment. My older sister. She was at work. I called her, my voice crackling and shaking. She kept asking me what was wrong and I had a hard time getting out until I did:

    “You know that guy I was talking to and going to the movies with?”

    “Yea.”

    “I told him that I wanted to stop seeing him....he got mad and now he’s threatening to put a picture I sent him online.”

    “What?!”

    “I don’t know what to do, this has never happened before with anyone.”

    “Okay Tiff. Just calm down and tell me word-for-word what happened.”

    I told her. She herself couldn’t make sense of why he was doing this, and she told me to give her his phone number and she would try to talk to him. I did, but it only made things worse. He texted me back saying that I shouldn’t have given her his number and that I have now sealed my fate by doing so.

    When my sister came home, we went to her best friend’s house where we further talked about what happened, the timeline, and everything in-between. My sister and her best friend were both livid. They wanted to find him, but I reasoned with them. Telling them that searching a whole borough wouldn’t be feasible. But I understood their anger. Even in that moment I was still partially sympathetic towards him, remembering when he told me that he was very insecure about his looks. I didn’t go off looks, so that wasn’t my concern.

    I felt bad for him until he crossed the line. Touching something that had nothing to do with the problem he had with me: My mother. While we were out, he sent a text message to both me and my sister’s phone:
    “This bitch is a target. Whoever finds, rapes and kills this bitch gets 5 G’s.”
    Below it was a picture of my mother. I was every emotion I could possibly feel. He later sent one with a picture of me as well. Where the hell did he get the picture of my mother? Facebook! I never thought that listing my mother as my MOTHER would put her life in danger. So now what do I do? How many people did he send this to? Did he just send it to me and my sister? Either way, we weren’t sure. We definitely had to go to the police. I could have adjusted to life with a picture of my breasts floating around the internet. But this was something I just didn’t know how to handle. And now I would have to tell the one person who I wanted to keep it from the most that because of me, her life could potentially be put in danger by some guy I met on the internet: My mom.

    Stay tuned for Part 2.

    Have you ever been stalked and harassed by a man you barely knew?
    About Tiffy
    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

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