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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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    Richard Jenkins
    By Ta-ning Connai 

    Sometimes the road to success is littered with disaster. For 18-year old Richard Jenkins, homelessness and lots of humiliation tried to obstruct his path. Yet, while living in a shelter surrounded by hopelessness and despair, he reached for books as his way of escape. As word spread at school regarding his obsession with reading, bullies taunted him relentlessly and called him “Harvard” as a joke. But his enemies had NO IDEA they were actually prophesying his future ‘cause baby boy can now officially say, “Whaddup Harvard University! I'm on my way and my scholarship is PAID IN FULL!” My my my, look who got the last laugh on his way to real success!

    Continue
    Real success (the Bible actually calls it Good Success in Joshua 1:8) is not the same as famous, popular, wealthy or rich. And although real success can in some ways (and at times) encompass one or all of those elements, real success is so much more. I'm talking about the kind of success that, not only takes resilience and tenacity, but also includes failure, disappointment and suffering too. And when you allow your former struggles and achievements to grant you the extended power to help others, change lives and have some level of lasting impact on the community or the generation you serve...welcome to real success.

    Everybody wants the by-products of real success, but everybody won't dig deep enough to secure the roots it requires. Some would rather settle for get-rich-quick schemes or 15 minutes of fame, not realizing that it may be easy in the beginning but it's brutal when it ends. Yeah, the road to real success may be painful at times, but it's nothing compared to the rock bottom you hit when quick success comes tumbling down.

    No one epitomizes real success quite like my boy Joseph does (book of Genesis, Chapter 37). He was mocked with the nickname “Dreamer” because he revealed his vision of leadership to a very hostile crowd. I mean, who goes around boasting to their brothers that one day they'll "kiss the ring" like he's The Godfather Don Corleone??? Well, Joseph paid a huge price for the jealousy he provoked, and it landed him right into a pit. No, I don't mean figuratively, I mean really! He was betrayed by his own brothers and they threw his bragging butt into a pit and then sold him as a slave. And he must've been mighty swagalicious, because his master’s wife kept trying to get at him when her hubby wasn't around. Joseph kept trying to tell her, “Yo! It ain't that kind of party!” but all his integrity got him was a rape case and more time. But Joseph took the false accusation like a champ and did his bid without even putting up a fight. But just because he didn't win the first round doesn't meant he'd lose the whole match.

    Joseph was doing the most behind bars! Word spread of his brilliant management skills and in no time he was head of all prisoner affairs. Pharaoh was told that Joseph could decipher dreams, which landed him a meeting with the highest ranking ruler of all the land.

    Due to his successful interpretation, Joseph was given freedom and authority to outline and execute a 7-year preparation for the famine that was soon to come. His promotions came swiftly as his incredible gift of wisdom and foresight created national wealth. Starving nations from around the world had to come before Joseph in order to survive. Oddly enough, this long line of refugees would soon include his brothers too. The sibling they betrayed now had the power of revenge, but fortunately for them, Joseph had a heart of gold.

    Joseph tearfully forgave his brothers as they trembled before him with fear and the penalty they deserved was instead met with these words, “...you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good...Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” (Genesis 50:19-21) Joseph went from being a brat to a prisoner to Egypt's CEO...now that's what I call real success!

    There's hardly a chance for real success without a bunch of ups and downs. Our troubles acquaint us with the problems in the world that God is equipping us to one day solve. So let the hard times that tried to wear you down become the tools to build you up. If your struggle is real, then you best believe, real success is part of the deal!
    "...count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect (mature) and complete, lacking nothing.” - James 1:2-4
    "...but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope." - Romans 5:3-4
    Do you know real success?
    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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    Naakie Nartey 
    Hey Guys,
    Here's a quick tutorial on how I protective style during the week that also helps me retain length. It's a quick and easy protective style for short natural hair and all hair types. Hope this is helpful and be sure to like, comment and share this video!


    Will you try this style?
    *****
    Keep up with Naakie here!

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    By Tiffy Kink

    Part 1 of this story

    When my sister and I got home, my mother immediately sensed that something was very wrong. She could see it in our faces. Who would tell it first, my sister or me? As I was about to say it, my sister said it first, I further explained. The look of slight fear came across my mother’s face. Then anger. Not for me, but for the person who dare to put her and her child’s life in danger. We agreed on a course of action that included going to the police station to file a police report.

    Continue
    Two days later, I was assigned a detective for my case. In that time, he sent me two links to two porn websites with my information (my name, my phone number, where I go to school) plastered all over them for the world to see. The picture of my breast were on both of them and both profiles got so many hits and views within such a short time. My phone was ringing off the hook with a combination of messages from him, and computer-generated messages that I believe were from him that messed with my phone so much that it permanently slowed down from not being able to take in the 200+ messages being sent within the span of two hours daily. That went on for a week. I wanted to change my phone number, but I knew I needed it for evidence.

    In that time, I avoided all technology, even staying away from TV. I lost my interest in being on the computer and resorted to sleeping pills just to get a good 4 hours of sleep. I stopped eating and somehow developed diarrhea. I was constantly exhausted and scared of my own shadow. I avoided going to school as people I didn’t know wanted to find me so they could have sex with me because apparently “BrooklynBBW” wanted to act out a rape fantasy and was okay with people coming up to her and forcing themselves on to her. To make matters worse, a student who went to the same school as me at the time was looking out for me so we could “do it.” That wasn’t me. That wasn’t who I was. I had never told him I liked the idea of rape or forced sex.

    During the investigation, I had to practically convince everyone, even my own family at times, that I never slept with him. I know it’s hard to believe, but I was still a virgin and we were nowhere near the idea of having sex. I made that clear to him. My case almost got dropped because he claimed someone else was using his phone. I was able to reason with the deceive noting that the nature of the messages had intimate details that wouldn’t make sense for someone other than him to know. The detective took his time with the case because he believed me and didn’t want him to get away with it. Then his threats started to get more aggressive again.

    In a weeks’ time, I was dealing with threats and messages from him and random people. Men sending me pictures of their genitals and telling me all the nasty things they wanted to do to me, men calling my phone to tell me how hot they thought I was. After telling some of them that it wasn’t me, they apologized and told me they would report the profiles. There were so many of them trying to contact me, it required too much energy to keep repeating myself. I had to email the porn sites and explain to them that I did not create the profiles and needed them to be removed, almost having to sue one in the process.

    I was still receiving threats from him the day he was arrested. A few days prior, I was instructed to stop responding to any of his or anyone’s text messages who I didn’t recognize. I had already stopped doing that anyway and I’m guessing the lack of reaction was starting to get to him. As the messages kept pouring in, I called the police station to let the detective know that he was still contacting me. He called me back right away and let me know that they were going to get him.

    The next phone call I got was the detective telling me that they got him and for me to come down to the precinct to identify him. Luckily, I was spared the grief of having to see him face-to-face, as the detective took a picture of him with his cellphone and I identified him there.

    I never got my day in court with him, as he took a plea deal and wasn’t given any additional jail time because it was apparently his first offense, though something in me felt as though this wasn’t his first time. This was just the first time he didn’t get away with it. I was given a restraining order against him and my world slowly started to adjust to a new normal.

    I had never been put in a situation like this before. Having to fight for my innocence. Having to prove to people that sex was not the reason this person turned on me. “Look out for the signs," I kept hearing many people say to me as I had to tell and retell my story over and over again. That part really messed with me because I know I’m good at reading people. So when I tell you that guy flipped out on me for no good reason, I know what I’m talking about. How can you watch out for signs when there were none to begin with?

    As for the picture I sent, do I feel like I still shouldn’t have sent it? No. That picture was sent as an even exchange between two adults with a mutual understanding that it was not to be sent or shared with anyone else. How would you feel if someone took an unflattering picture of you at an event and after giving you their word that they would not post the picture to social media, they do it anyway? You would probably be upset because that person violated your trust, right? Women shouldn’t be slut-shamed for naked pictures they send and exchange with others.

    I’m writing this story, reliving my nightmare because women encounter things like this all the time and the one question that keeps getting asked is, “What did you do?” I am also annoyed with this idea that people on the internet are crazy. Would you want someone to think that of you because they met you on Facebook or Instagram? I’m not defending him, but I’m trying to make a point. People are people and sometimes they don’t present who they really are or their bad qualities right away. We usually don’t ask people unflattering questions (I do that way more now) and we ourselves try our best to hide our bad qualities as well.

    Have you ever been harassed or stalked by someone? 
    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.comFollow her on Twitter @Theaquakink

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    Real Housewives of Potomac Season 3 Cast Promotional Photo
    By Brenda Alexander

    Whenever I ask friends if they watch Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Potomac, I’m hit with the same response: “I’ve heard about it and saw a few clips, but haven’t watched it yet. I hear it’s good.” Well, what you’ve heard is correct, Real Housewives of Potomac has been slept on and I’m here to wake y’all up!


    After three seasons, the show has found its groove. The Potomac ladies serve you early RHOA: raw and unconcerned before the reality TV millions and good wigs come into existence. Plus drama, interesting relationship dynamics, financial fronting and fun. So for those unfamiliar, let me give you a quick overview!

    RHOP Candiace Dillard
    Let’s start with the newbie. Pageant queen Candiace Dillard is a 30-year-old browned skinned beauty engaged to a sexy, bearded, white restaurateur - Chris. Unlike most housewives who marry up, Candiace survives off her mother’s self-made psychology practice, who in turn uses it to keep Candiace on a string. Case in point, mom’s paying for the wedding and Candiace and Chris live in a home that mom owns with Candiace, where she and Chris pay one half of the mortgage (collectively) and mom pays the other half. Mom also stays with the soon-to-be married couple for weeks at a time and considers it her “vacation home.” Huh? Confused tf out of me too. Needless to say, the other ladies aren’t impressed with Candiace’s sugar-mama financed lifestyle and it causes them to question her maturity and place within the group.



    RHOP Ashley Darby

    29-year-old RHOP vet Ashley Darby is married to Michael, an Australian businessman who is almost three decades her senior. Tired of playing housewife, she sought money independently of her husband. They founded Oz, an Aussie inspired restaurant in Arlington, VA. Ashley moved out of their marital home (but later returned) after their work-life became too much. From, the outside looking in, it seemed like Ashley was feeling herself and wanted to break free after she deposited some of those Bravo checks and made a little money from her share of the restaurant and was over Michael’s control. But hunti, was I wrong?! Turns out, Michael’s a damn finance broker for Ashley’s family. He’s been paying her unemployed mama’s $3k monthly rent in a home that he purchased for her post bankruptcy (and a car) under the condition that she leave her broke, non-working, long term boyfriend. Meanwhile, Ashley’s been sliding her mama an additional $1,500 on the side, leaving Michael to give an ultimatum: your mom or our marriage...

    RHOP Monique Sammuels

    Motormouth Monique is married to NFL Hall of Famer Chris Sammuels. Let her tell it, Chris is the breadwinner and she’s the manager. She runs his charities and whatever other businesses she owns, throws lavish and fun parties (including a $20k 1st birthday party/christening for their daughter), smokes cigars and complains about how tired and busy she is as a mom who just moved into a 12,000-square foot home (because she says they outgrew their last home) who is raising two children with no Nanny. Oh Monique. I want to like her but she sometimes makes it hard. She’s definitely fun and will bust out into a rap at any given time; but she gives off a “new money” attitude that will have you giving her the side eye. Her mother-in-law feels the same. Or, maybe I'm just hating? Lol I’m all for being well off but damn, it seems a bit braggy.

    RHOP Gizelle Bryant RHOP Robyn Dixon

    Gizelle and Robyn A.K.A. “The Green Eyed Bandits. These two had to be grouped together because they are the BFF’s of the show. Gizelle is the ex-wife of Baltimore mega Pastor/Philanderer Jamal Bryant and Robyn Dixon is the ex-wife/live in sleep in the same bed, co-parent of former NBA Player Juan Dixon. Gizelle is a serial dater, sarcastic with a dry sense of humor who owns her own makeup line, Every Hue Beauty; while Robyn is constantly trying to pull herself and her family out of financial ruin and figure out what the hell her and Juan are doing. Gizelle is more outspoken and semi-ring leader-ish and Robyn is the quieter (or sneakier), who seems real chill but turns when Gizelle is around. *Sigh*

    RHOP Karen Huger

    And then there’s Karen Huger, the self proclaimed “Grand Dame” of Potomac who viewers fell in love with after she gave a Swarovski Crystal framed photo of the top 10 rules of etiquette to Gizelle - post Gizelle sitting at the center of the table at her party, which Karen deemed inappropriate. She makes it known, with pride, that one of the only jobs she’s ever had was as an employee of Taco Bell. She’s been well kept since marrying her husband Ray, whom she refers to as the “Black Bill Gates” since Ray is CEO of a successful tech company. After forcing my friend to watch a few episodes of the show, while laughing he claimed; “Karen looks like she saw one episode of any Real Housewives show and said: Housewives, that’s me! I was born to do this!” I couldn't agree more. Mrs. Huger is reality tv gold. Don’t believe me? Just watch this clip.

    This show is everything. In between their individual storylines, you have several “wtf” moments. Just recently, Karen Huger came under fire for her husband’s tax issues and to address the ladies questions, she rented out a private room in a restaurant to throw a press conference that featured no press, no food and she answered no questions; instead, there was house champagne and peanuts. Ashley finds herself in everyone’s mess and is the common denominator in the group’s arguments while Gizelle and Robyn stir the pot. Candiace is constantly crying about her mom’s meddling and trying to hide Chris’ secret teenaged son from a previous relationship from her (in addition to the other two toddlers he shares with an ex-wife), and Monique is trying to protect her charitable reputation after getting into a car accident post a drink session with Ashley that has everyone questioning if she has a problem. It’s a real ki-ki.

    RHOP airs Sunday nights at 8PM on Bravo. You can watch from Season 1 on Hulu.

    What are your thoughts on the show?

    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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    Get Women Cycling founder Angela Azzolino (red hat) and bikers via the GetWomenCycling website
    By Jashima Wadehra 

    My favorite childhood activity was bike riding- yours too? So when I met the inspiring and refreshing Angela Azzolino recently at the Stop Street Harassment Rally in New York, her infectious energy, beautiful freckles and passion for women’s cycling had me SOLD. Stay tuned to see what this executive director of Get Women Cycling is doing to get women back on bikes! 

    Angela, who started the Get Women Cycling Program, to get women back on bikes, attributes her love for cycling to her parents who taught her to ride at a young age.
    “When I was 16 years old my uncle gave me his Schwinn Varsity 10 speed, my first road bike that I used to commute to high school. On weekends, I’d ride over the Brooklyn Bridge and visit my grandmother who lived in the Lower East Side. I discovered something new every time I rode. I smiled more and was never bored. My passion for cycling grew from those impressionable teenage years when many girls stop riding bikes. After high school, I commuted by bike to college and to every job I've held since graduating." 
    As a child, I spent 99% of my time outside on my bike. There was something empowering about being able to get myself from point A to point B without anyone's help or public transit. Cycling also gave me a sense of emotional and mental freedom, the wind whipping through my hair (under my helmet!) and the sun beating down on my back- It felt exhilarating. Let’s be real, when I kicked off those training wheels, I thought I RAAAAN the neighborhood!

    Photo via the Get Women Cycling website
    Angela also founded Get Women Cycling to encourage women to take charge of their independence and fitness. I, as a woman, used to feel that cycling was better suited for men, and one of my greatest concerns was my appearance. I somehow felt that my fat rolls whilst sitting on a bike or my helmet hair afterwards made the whole experience “unsavory.” I asked Angela to tell me about the benefits and concerns many women have with cycling. She said,
    “Frequent cycling, at any level, offers you reliable and affordable transportation, tremendous physical health benefits including reduced risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity. Bicycling also reduces stress, combats depression, promotes mindfulness, and improves self-esteem. Finally, bike riding is sustainable, helps to reduce traffic congestion, produces zero carbon emissions and is great for the environment overall. The gender disparity within cycling is real. Non-gender conforming and female identifying individuals bicycle less than their male counterparts due to several reasons, the 3 biggest are safety concerns, child responsibilities, and grooming issues. If we think about ways to address these known barriers we'll get more women cycling and we will also be doing things to help attract many more people who are still hesitant to try riding. “
    But things are changing. 
    “Major cities around the world are shifting gears and rallying for cycling as a viable transportation option. Bike share schemes are popping up everywhere, local bike shops are offering community rides and workshops, industry manufacturers are producing female specific bicycles and products that open up the cycling community to greater diversity and enables cultural shifts. Ironically, there also seems to be a revival in the natural hair movement. Greater visibility, acceptance, and support for free-flowing locks and bicycles is the perfect combo for feeling confident in ourselves and in our ability to lead healthy lives.”
    The community at Get Women Cycling is supportive, open and nonjudgmental. If you don't live in New York City but you're interested in cycling in a group, check for local cycling organizations in your area. It's worth it!

    Do you already bike? Will you give cycling a try?
    Jashima Wadehra is a writer, entrepreneur, artist and lover of all people based in NYC. She can be found dancing and traveling her way through life. 
    Follow her on Instagram @TheChatterBoxLife and check out her new blog TheChatterBoxLife.com

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    Summyr Sheppard
    By Kanisha Parks

    Meet Summyr, a 25-year-old multi-talented beauty who has been natural all her life! She acts, models, trains, and recently became vegan. Find out how she juggles her many interests, all while keeping it naturally glam!

    Continue
    What do you use on your hair?
    To be honest, I use whatever is convenient but my favorite product is the All-in-One Kinky-Coily Leave-in by LUS Brands. I'm absolutely in love with this brand and product because I only have to use this ONE product to style my hair. Oh annnnd I keep Eco-Styler Gel on deck for my edges (that's the most important part).

    What do you do and why do you love it?
    I am a fitness instructor, actress, and a part-time food therapist. (I just made that up—is this a real job?) I'm a total fitness/health junkie. I love training people because I get to be a part of a positive change and impact in people's lives.  I find myself constantly counseling my peers on their food choices and soliciting free health advice based upon my own experience and extensive research throughout the years. I should probably write a book. As an actress I get to express myself creatively through the choices I make to portray a character, which makes me feel free and fulfilled.

    How do you balance being multi-talented: acting, modeling, and being a fitness instructor?
    I don't really have a formula to it. All three of those are true passions and when you are doing something you love it never feels like work just tons of fun! When I'm actually getting paid to do any of those things sometimes you work way longer hours than a normal 9-5 and I love every bit of it.

    Summyr and her mom
    How did your fitness journey begin and progress to where you are now?
    It began in middle school when my Grandmother introduced me to Billy Blanks' Tae-bo. Then at 14, I decided I wanted to challenge myself and became a pescatarian for 7 years. Shout-out to my mom because she always supported my healthy eating habits and introduced me to alternate meat choices growing up. She also made me eat my veggies and raised me to love water too! She's the absolute best. I love that woman! I am now Vegan and also love doing and teaching many different forms of physical fitness.

    What do you do for fun?
    I enjoy partaking in soul cycle classes with instructors who play bomb music, teaching and taking boot camp classes that are extra challenging, experiencing new things that challenge my fitness levels, eating vegan food at eclectic spots, attending acting class, actually being on set for film, television, or theater, being photographed in cool places, taking spontaneous trips, and spending quality time and having meaningful conversations with those closest to me.

    How do you stay healthy?
    To stay healthy mentally I pray A LOT, spend alone time with God, and listen to sermons often. To stay healthy physically I seek new challenging ways to train and switch up my workouts often so I don't get bored and fall off.

    Has having natural hair contributed to your self-esteem in any way?
    Yes—it makes me feel confident in who I am. It's what I was born with and will never change or be like anyone else's. My natural hair is my crown and I wear it proudly! Don't get it twisted though I will indeed rock a wig, some braids, faux locs, and add some clip-ins. I'm all for switching it up and I still feel just as confident, but there's something extra freeing about rocking my natural hair (it's my fave).

    Did you have any positive hair models growing up?
    Alicia Keys inspired all my braid choices growing up. My Godsister Essence inspires my confidence in wearing my natural hair because she always rocks her gorgeous mane so fiercely honeyyyy. My Godmother taught me how to care for my hair in the most gentle way. She would always get on me about deep conditioning, taking care of my edges, and using quality products that were created for our hair textures (she's a hair stylist/owner of Dyevercity Salon). Lastly, Tracee Ellis Ross has been a positive hair influence for gracefully rocking her natural hair on television.


    Do you let people touch your hair?
    Ummm... most of the time people don't ask they just go in for the kill as if I have pre-approved them. It doesn't bother me much.

    Have you had any negative natural hair experiences?
    Yessss. I wore clip-ins for 1.5 to 2 weeks straight when I had my hair straightened in high school. I wrapped my hair every night with the clips ins. When I finally washed my hair, I realized the clip-ins had been ripping out the back of my hair. When my Godmother began styling my hair she was like, "What did you do? I'm going to have to cut it." I cried so hard (like the choked up I can't breathe cry) in front of my little godsisters. They tried to console me. Looking back, it is so hilarious and sad that I was that devastated over hair that grows back. Wow. That day taught me so much about self-confidence. I ended up rocking a cute bob with cool purple highlights. I felt like a little rebel.

    What natural hair advice do you give to others?
    Drink lots of water and eat as clean as possible to promote growth. Sleep with a silk bonnet, scarf, or silk pillowcase to prevent breakage at night. Try to deep condition at least every other week. I try to keep my haircare super simple, yet effective.

    How do you celebrate your heritage?
    Definitely by supporting black-owned businesses, events, and creatives. By being a mentor to young black girls around me. Reminding them of their beauty and teaching them to celebrate and be proud of their hair at school and wherever they go.

    How can we keep up with you?
    I'm on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. I mainly used my Instagram account @summyrtyme.

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    By Dawn Washington

    In catching up with an old friend from college who had just started a new job as a clinic director, I asked him what he would do if he was attracted to one of his employees. His response was, "Nothing, because of the MeToo movement." And as I took a moment to celebrate internally and hum that negro spiritual, "Look How Far We Done Come," he went on. "Men are afraid to approach women now." And he said it with an entitled disdain. I'll admit that I felt my eyes narrow and my lip tighten up because I know this dude wasn't sitting before me over our Cuban-style chicken and yuca complaining about the monumental shift that is happening for women. I just knew he wasn't tripping. After all, he is raising two girls of his own and equally important, 3 boys. If anyone needed to be woke on this matter, it was him.

    Continue
    A cultural norm of sexual harassment and violence that has lasted for centuries, 3 waves of feminism in this nation, and we are just at the point where collectively men from Hollywood to Capitol Hill are giving second thought to their sexual behavior towards women. Needless to say, what is happening in this country is epic and historic. Some would even say that we are in the midst of a 4th wave of feminism. But none of this seemed as important as my friend's precious privilege to holla when and how he wanted.

    His scoffing, as tasteless as it was, gave me reason to take a step back, take a breath, and ask myself, how have I contributed to his mindset? And now that men are seriously considering their privilege and abuses of those privileges, what will this mean for the dating scene?

    Hegemony is a cultural theory that explains why many of our social ills stay around longer than we want. The theory says that a group of people in power can introduce oppressive ideologies (like racism and sexism) but it takes all of us, both those in power and the oppressed to maintain these systems. For example, with racism, the longer Southern Blacks paid full fare to ride buses that treated them like second class citizens, the longer that racist practice was sustained. It wasn't until they refused to ride the buses that the oppressive system began to fall apart. A more recent example is mass incarceration, which was bankrolled by not just white people but everyone who had investments in the stock market, including Blacks. So, while men may have constructed and perpetuated sexist systems, it has been both men and women who have sustained a culture of sexism, otherwise, it would cease to exist.

    It has been argued that everyone from groupies, to female porn stars, to complicit female administrators, who turn blind eyes to abuses against other women, play a role in sustaining violence against women. But complicity manifests itself in less direct ways. Last I checked, R. Kelly and Chris Brown are not hurting for women or patronizers of their music (although I hear another negro spiritual rising up in me soon with them). There are artists, genres of music, art, television shows, films, and videos whose entire business model is based upon rape culture and misogyny. And we are fans and supporters. The fact is that we buy into rape culture and sexism more times than we are aware.

    I too have played my part in sustaining this culture. There is a population of women, myself included, who have come to associate some types of male aggression or initiative with masculinity. So that if a man does not make the first move, he is not worth our time. Or if he is not sexually experienced in a particular way, his value as a man is called into question. The same way that racism can cultivate self-hate in Black people, sexism can generate the same in women, which means that I must stay woke and self-critical.

    In my own life, I've allowed men to say inappropriate things to me. I've lost interest in men who are "too nice." I’ve also been among a group of men and either participated in or stayed silent as they pick apart another woman's body. And these all play a role into how men and women define what it means to be masculine.

    But now that we are at the point where our voices are finally being heard when men take their power and privileges over the edge, how will this change how we understand masculinity? Will the man who doesn't approach, but wait for a woman to approach him garner the same interest? Will the new ways men employ to gain a woman's attention be acceptable? If men decide to be more tentative in their dating rituals, how will we respond? How will this change how and when we give permission and how will conversations between men and women change? All questions with answers that remain to be seen. But one thing is for sure, men won't be the only gender who will have to adjust to the new era of equality in sexual politics.

    Do you feel the #metoo movement has had an impact on dating and how men and women interact with one another?

    Dawn has a Master of Arts in Media and Cinema Studies and holds down a day job in academia. She is a freelance writer from Chicago who has written for The Chicago Defender, NBC5 Chicago, and Caramel Lattes and Stilettos. Read more of her works here.

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    Antoinette White and her niece
    By Erickka Sy Savané

    3 or more women are murdered by their boyfriends or husbands every single day in the United States. It's the type of tragedy you pray never happens in your family, and then it does. Antoinette White knows this story all too well because her younger sister Heather was brutally killed by her boyfriend who was also the father of her child (1 years old at the time), and a surrogate dad to her special needs son (age 3). For those who are left behind, life changes instantly. Here's how Antoinette's family were able to pick up the pieces.

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    Antoinette w/Heather's kids
    Hi Antoinette, first tell me, how was it decided who would take care of the children?
    When my sister died I felt it was unfair that my mom would have to raise children all over again. My brother was graduating from high school and it was now time for her to live her life. However, she was adamant, saying that she was grieving the loss of her daughter and her grandchildren were the closest thing she had to her. Unfortunately, my niece’s paternal grandfather wanted custody too. He was trying to split the kids up and only wanted my niece because she was biologically his. So not only were we grieving the death of my sister, now we had a custody battle with the father of the man who killed her.

    How did you deal with that?
    We couldn’t believe it. Fortunately, the daycare that my niece attended found out about what was happening and one of the moms was a lawyer and took the case pro bono. So she represented my mom and hammered him. We found out that he had found a 24-hr daycare center that he was going to put her in because he only wanted the money. We didn’t even know daycares like that existed. It was a very difficult time, but my mom eventually got custody.

    The home Antoinette and her family lived in
    How did it work out with your mom having custody?
    She got some help because her twin sister quit her job so she could help. I got my niece and nephew in the summer to give my mom a break. It was a lot because the kids (my two and my sister’s two) were all around the same age, plus my nephew was special needs, and required more care. As my mom began to get older I saw how her job was affecting her and she was tired. So after much convincing, she let me help, and moved to Virginia with me and my two, so I could help raise them. It was taxing, but when you’re in the midst you don’t really see it that way. You do what you have to do for family. I bought a house that I couldn’t afford, but, God made a way. Sometimes I would use some of my school loan refund to help make ends meet.

    How is the relationship between your side of the family and your niece’s father's side?
    It was a very difficult time because we had our anger and bitterness about the custody battle, but there was also anger towards their family for not getting my niece’s father counseling. As I mentioned in the previous article, he witnessed his mom getting killed by her boyfriend when he was a young boy, so this is something that he’d seen first-hand. Why didn’t they get him help?

    It wasn’t easy, but in the end we chose forgiveness. My niece’s grandmother wanted to be in her life and we know that my sister Heather would have wanted that for her. Today, they have a great relationship. We’re on good terms. I'm also friends with my niece's aunt.

    Speaking of getting help, did the children or anyone in your family receive counseling?
    Yes, with my nephew we realized that even though he’s special needs, and was only 3 years old when the murder happened, it still had an impact on him. Once, when he was very young and taking a bath with my niece, he pointed a toy gun to her head and said, ‘POW.’ Then put the gun to his head, and did it again. We knew in that moment that he saw what happened and would need counseling. They both went to counseling when they were young, and should have gone back when they were teenagers because now they were dealing with a different set of emotions.

    Antoinette and Quinn
    How are they doing today?
    The are doing fine. My 24-year-old nephew (Marquise) is adjusting to his life as a young special needs adult. My 22-year-old niece (Quinn) is still trying to discover herself and what career she actually wants. The deaths still affect her emotionally, and she struggles with the fact that her father killed her mother. She has a void in her life that we couldn’t fill, though we all came together to help raise her. She struggles with how she would have turned out and the morals her mom would have instilled in her if she was alive.

    What advice would you give a family who is reeling from a tragic domestic violence situation like this?
    The first thing I would say is be sure to get counseling for yourself and the kids or go to a support group. The support group will help the kids see they’re not alone and help with communicating their feelings. Embrace the different set of grieving emotions you will feel. Heal yourself because you don’t want the remnants of your bitterness to be taken out on the children. Do not put your life completely on hold. Continue doing the things you like to do, keep the kids active in community events and sports and surround them with positive people. Know that it’s okay to feel like you need a break or reach out for help. Finally, don’t blame yourself. It’s not your fault, and forgive. The children grew up in a Christian upbringing and were taught to love their father despite what he did, they were taught to forgive.

    Heather & Antoinette as teens 
    What advice would you give a person who is in a domestic violence situation?
    I’d say there’s only two ways out of the situation. You’re either going to end up dead or in prison for killing him. And no matter whether you stay in the toxic relationship or not, the children are going to be affected. So reach out for help. Call the domestic violence hotline so they can help you plan a safe escape because the majority of domestic violence murders, just like my sister, happen when a victim is trying to leave. The number is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit the website.

    Antoinette White is an author and a motivational speaker. Visit AntoinetteWhite.com for more information.

    Do you know a family impacted by domestic violence?
    Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of CurlyNikki.com, a wife and mom, based in Jersey, City. Her work has appeared in Essence.comEbony.comMadamenoire.com and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on Twitter and Instagram or ErickkaSySavane.com

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    By Lauren R. D. Fox

    If you’ve ever used mascara by Too Faced called ‘Better Than Sex’ you’ve probably chuckled because in some instances the mascara is indeed better than the unfulfilled sexual encounters some of us have had. On top of engaging in less than satisfactory sex, some of us have dealt with toxic partners who spew false rhetoric about our sanity, needs, bodies or genitals, making us feel small and confused about our sexual experiences. Psychology Todayclassifies this as gaslighting.



     Preston Ni, Professor of Communication Studies reports.
    “Gaslighting is a form of persistent manipulation and brainwashing that causes the victim to doubt her or himself, and ultimately lose her or his own sense of perception, identity, and self-worth.”
    I experienced this last year when I had sexual intercourse for the first time and began to have sex regularly. The guy I was dating at the time seemed ideal on paper with his six-figure salary and impeccable resume. However, his moods often ping-ponged between highs and lows that left me feeling drained. This affected our sex life greatly, especially when he complained that foreplay shouldn’t be longer than ten minutes or that my vagina was too tight and curved. As you can imagine, the sex with him became increasingly painful and I started to avoid it at all cost.


    When I shared this information with my best friend Raquel, she immediately told me that he was using gaslighting tactics. She went on to say since his behavior was less than subpar, my vagina (and I) wasn’t sold on him hence the sandpaper sex we were having. My other best friend Yetunde agreed and exclaimed without hesitation, “Girrrrl, you know these men are crazy! They do that all the time,” while proceeding to tell me about the men she was intimate with who would make her question how herbody functions if she wasn’t sexually satisfied.


    Since I was newly minted in the world of sex, I was shocked to learn most women I know shared similar stories. One married woman who wishes to remain anonymous shared this story with me: 
    “I remember having sex half sleep[sic], and him throwing my panties to the side. I woke up and was like well that was good where’s my panties. He was like “What was good?” I said the sex...he gonna [sic] gaslight me and said we never had sex. And I’m like so why my panties off? Totally made me feel crazy. Til this day he denies we ever had sex. This is my husband mind you. And [this] started a long list of him trying to gaslight me throughout the years.”
    Another woman, Nia, told me a past partner of hers said “only lonely hoes” use sex toys after trying to encourage him to use them to arouse her. Nia continued, revealing one of her friend’s tried to use sex toys while dating a man who told her she could not use them without him because he considered that to be cheating. He also had to approve the toys she could use around him.


    Nicole, a friend from high school expressed to me that she loves having sex in various places and positions. She’s successfully done so with men who matched her tall frame and were of different sizes. So when Nicole began dating a local musician whose confidence was a bubble you couldn’t pop, she was surprised when he began to blame her for the reason why they couldn’t do doggy style properly. She says, 
    “I’m bent over which is actually my best position ‘cause I’m workin with a whole lot but I digress; he was behind me struggling and gonna [sic] tell me I’m too tall for him to stick it in. Now, all the men I’ve had sex with were tall men and they never had a problem. But the difference was he ain’t have enough d-ck and instead of playing up his strengths and finding a position that worked for him, he blamed me.”
    Journalist Dee Eastside wrote to me about a past lover who was twenty-years plus her senior. She thought his age would make a difference but that proved to be wrong.
    “When I tried to explain I wasn’t aroused enough for P in V sex and could he finger me he goes, 'I’m thinking she wants my fingers more than my d-ck?' He was 45. I want to know how he reached that age with such a weak pipe game? No wonder you’re divorced. Dummy. For someone with pierced nipples he was surprisingly clueless about sex. Or at least when it came to his partners pleasure.”
    All women surveyed unanimously agreed that sex education from women they trusted (older female family members, medical and wellness experts) helped them realized their partner's controlling and disingenuous nature. It also pushed them to speak up when their partners try to downplay their needs or even memory of events.

    If gaslighting is not dealt with firmly, you lose the sense that you can negotiate your sexual relationship. When that happens, Dr. Elizabeth Boskey states in her Very Well Mind article you won’t feel like you have control over your body. And not feeling authoritative over yourself will make you feel like you don’t have a firm grip on anything else.

    Can you relate?
    Lauren R.D. Fox is a Guyanese-American pop culture/beauty editor and writer who has an undying love for soca fetes, poulorri, New Orleans and deep conditioners. After graduating from SUNY Geneseo with a dual concentration in American and Black Studies, she became a journalist and social media manager. Lauren has previously written for MadameNoire, Mayvenn Hair, Wetpaint, Enstarz, Her Agenda, Zora Magazine and B.Couleur Magazine. Follow her at @LOLOTHEFOX.

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    By Brenda Alexander

    When OWN debuted, I was disappointed. Between the reruns of Dr. Phil and 20/20, I couldn’t figure out what the hell Auntie O was doing. Fast-forward to today and she's developed some of the greatest quality shows and content television has ever seen.

    OWN’s seasonal campaign is “See Yourself” and that’s exactly what I’m able to do with her current programming. There’s a little something for everyone. For those who have grown tired of Bravo, WeTV and all things Viacom, look no further than OWN to satisfy your needs of multi-faceted stories that depict us in all forms. Here’s a look into what you’ll find in its current rotation.

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    Kofi Siriboe, Rutina Wesley & Dawn-Lyen Gardner
    Queen Sugar
    Ava DuVernay outdid herself with the level of love and precision she’s poured into this show. Adapted from the novel of the same title, Queen Sugar follows the Bordelon family as they run an ailing sugar cane farm their patriarch left behind. The show exposes the hardships of black farming in the deep south of Louisiana paralleled to its white privileged counterparts and the depths a family will go to keep their land theirs while preserving the family. Kofi Siriboe brings vulnerability to Ralph Angel, a young single father with a checkered past trying to do right, while a record tails his every move. Aunt Vi, played by Tina Lifford, shows a different side of a black matriarch: wise, sexy and powerful with a younger chocolate and suave beau, Hollywood (Omar Dorsey). Charley (Dawn-Lyen Gardner), the single mom and businesswoman, takes lead of the farm post cheating scandal from her NBA player ex-husband, forcing she and her teenaged son to flee LA. Her son Micah (Nicholas L. Ashe) is stuck between his posh past and desire to be more pro black. Rutina Wesley is unmatched as Nova in her acting both physical and emotive: a nose ring wearing, hair locked, sage burning activist free in her speech and sexuality, unapologetically. This season, Charley and RA embark on a secret partnership with a rival white owned farm. RA is reeling from the discovery that his beloved son Blue may not be biologically his. Charley continues to make business decisions based on merit versus moral and Aunt Vi and Hollywood plan a wedding while keeping the family unit tight. Wednesdays at 10 are a little sweeter thanks to Queen Sugar.

    Black Love Couples 
    Black Love
    For as much dysfunction as we see on Love & Hip Hop and the likes portraying black marriages, Black Love is a refreshing docu-series showcasing the stories of some of our favorite celebrity couples and everyday people telling their stories of courtship, dating and finally the walk down the aisle. Each episode has a different theme and explores different areas of relationships and how they survived along the way. Newlyweds and couples married 60+ years share their insight into what makes a successful and happy marriage. Directed by filmmakers Codie Elaine Oliver and Tommy Oliver, the married couple makes their living from interviewing other married couples as a way to gain knowledge on marriage sustainability and a way to expose black love to the world. Grab your bae and some tissues and tune in every Saturday at 10.

    Michele Weaver & Will Catlett
    Love Is...
    Salim and Mara Akil married in 1998 and have been a force to be reckoned with in film and television with shows like Girlfriends, The Game and Being Mary Jane. Most couples who work together don’t last but these two are keeping love alive, both personally and professionally. The Akils are bringing the story of how they came to be a couple to OWN in Love Is. Set primarily in 90’s LA, against a Black Hollywood black drop, it follows Nuri (Michele Weaver) and Yasir (Will Catlett) as they chase their dreams and each other. The show will also revisit the social issues and vibrant black culture of that time and its parallel to how it shaped them 20 years later. Love Is will premiere on June 19.

    (left to right) Merle Dandridge, Oprah Winfrey, Lynn Whitfield & Keith David
    Greenleaf
    The Greenleafs are a semi-corrupt, semi-good Christian Church-owning southern family with secrets that every Black church has seen. Led by Lynn Whitfield as Lady Di, First Lady of Calvary has enough hats and attitude to match. She and her husband Bishop, run a tight ship while the family reels through a painful family omen: their middle daughter Faith commits suicide in the first season after struggling years post sexual abuse from Uncle Mac, Lady Di’s brother and the Church’s deacon. Grace returns after years of absence from the family and church to bring Mac down, much to Lady Di’s dismay. Jacob, the only son, is a recovering adulterer with a wife who wants power and pushes Jacob to start a rivalry Church, Triumph, after Bishop turns down his pleads to preach and instead gives the pulpit to the more talented Grace. The baby sister Charity is mama’s favorite who discovers her husband is gay while pregnant with twins. Going into Season 3, Uncle Mac ends up dead, extramarital affairs between the Bishop and Lady Di are revealed and the Greenleaf grandkids are sexing it up and in abusive relationships while Church is still in session. If you want to partake in such sin, tune in this August for Greenleaf’s resurrection.

    Of course, there’s much more that OWN has to offer. Sweetie Pies is in its final season and Tyler Perry is leading the ratings with the dramatic The Have and the Have Nots. OWN is a network to enjoy and when it’s inspirational interviews featuring Motha O return to Super Soul Sundays, the best is yet to come!

    Do you have a favorite OWN network show? 
    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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    Roseann V. Warren 
    By Roseann V. Warren

    My big chop occurred about 18 years ago after I had my son, and looking back it’s weird I had made such a massive step with no post-chop plan. I figured it’s only hair, not factoring that I hadn’t handled my hair in its natural state since I was 15! So I embarked on this steep uphill journey through hair-discovery. The early days were terrible and got worse as I experimented with products that promised lustrous, soft, silky curls. But all I was experiencing was significant frizz and crispy hair! Now I realize poor “Sheila” (my hair) was sick and I didn’t know how to care for her.

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    A friend introduced me to DevaCurl, a product I tried but garnered the same results of frizz. The founder of DevaCurl, Lorraine Massey, published the book, Curly Girl: The Handbook, where she expertly breaks down the anatomy of hair, which opened my eyes to what frizz means. And it’s never about hair being dry. At the time, I was trying my hand in co-washing (using only conditioner to wash my hair). However, conditioner alone cannot cleanse afro hair, especially when using sealant products like heavy oils, pomades, and gels as moisturizers. When we shampoo, we cleanse the hair of oils and open the hair shaft to receive nutrients from the conditioner, and as a result of co-washing, my hair was never truly free from oils; the conditioner could not reach my hair shaft. Sheila was reaching out into the atmosphere for food, and the result was a big ball of frizz – which is a representation of a hair deficiency. Bottom line; Sheila was looking like a hot mess! (See pics below.)


    In May of 2015, an aunt in Jamaica sent me a link to read about the Maximum Hydration Method, a method designed to dispel the myth that Wash N’ Go’s on 4C is unachievable, and that 4C hair can have defined curls after a Wash N’ Go, if moisturized well. While my hair is between 3C/4B, I was intrigued to learn more about the method. By clarifying and cleansing your hair first, you open your hair’s cuticles to receive what’s good for it – the leave-in conditioner – and then you use your gel and carrier oils as a sealant. The signature ingredient of the MHM is Bentonite Clay, an ash composed from volcanos. The clay draws metals, toxins, and impurities out of the hair providing the benefits to help condition and moisturize hair, restore shine and softness, increase curl definition, and heal the scalp of conditions such as eczema. 

    The original MHM is about 5-steps that can take up to 2-hours to complete! When I started the MHM method, I tried to stick to the regime by washing my hair every three days, but found it exhausting and to be honest, I don’t like the Wash N’ Go look on my hair. My hair has high shrinkage. I prefer to stretch hair with two-strand twists. Though the MHM is an excessive amount of hair washing, I began to see a huge difference in how my hair looked and felt with using less product. I now do the method once a month, with the most significant lesson learned, is knowing how to identify what works for Sheila. I now make Flaxseed hair gel as store-bought gels cause frizz. Sheila is practically a vegan!

    Below I will walk you through my MHM. There are a few bonus items I use that add benefits your hair will gladly receive.

    Modified Maximum Hydration (Once a month)
    Clarifying your hair assists in removing all product from hair. Afro hair, in general, requires oils but to promote healthy growth, it is important to frequently remove sealant products from hair to reapply conditioner and gels and moisturizers. 

    Step 1 - Clarifying Ingredients
    · 2 TBSP Baking Soda
    · 1 TBSP Kinky Curly Knot Today
    · 1 Cup Distilled or Filtered Water

    Add these three ingredients into a small coverable container and shake until mixed. The water should be watery in consistency with the conditioner adding softness and a little thickness to the solution. Apply by raking the solution to your hair in sections, until it is evenly distributed on your hair from root to tip. Cover hair with a plastic shower cap and leave the clarifier on for 15-minutes. Do not exceed the time, as it will dry hair and can cause damage. Clarifying is also achieved by using Apple Cider Vinegar. Rinse hair thoroughly after 15-minutes.

    Step 2 – Bentonite Cleanse Ingredients
    · 2-3 TBSP Tablespoons of Bentonite Clay
    · Distilled or Filtered Water

    Mix about three tablespoons of Bentonite clay into a small coverable container. Be sure to use a plastic spoon to mix the clay. Bentonite clay removes metals from the hair; so it would be counterproductive to use metal to stir the clay. Add water until a thick paste consistency is achieved. Rake through hair with fingers in sections until hair covered from root to tip. Cover hair with plastic cap for 30-minutes. I usually keep this on for a few hours. Sometimes overnight). Then thoroughly rinse the clay out of hair. List of recommended Bentonite Clay.

    Step 3 - Leave-In Conditioner


    · 2 TBSP Conditioner (my preferred conditioner is Kinky Curly Knot Today)
    · ½ Cup Distilled or Filtered Water

    Add the conditioner and water to a small container that can be covered over. Cover the container and shake to mix ingredients. The conditioner should be loose and frothy in texture. Create sections and rake with fingers through hair. Make sure to apply conditioner over entire head from root to tip. You will be using this time to detangle hair with fingers. *You can also cover hair with a plastic cap for deep conditioning or sit under a hair steamer for 15-minutes. Ms. DeeKay lists more options on recommended MHM conditioners on her website.

    Step 4 – Gel Application


    I make Flaxseed Gel with Olive Oil, Sweet Almond Oil and a few drops of Lavender and Rosemary Essential Oils (See this YouTube tutorial for a recipe.)

    With the Leave-In Conditioner wet in hair, create a medium sized section of hair and apply the gel evenly, as you are smoothing the gel from root to tip. You can use this time to detangle if your hair feels like it needs it. I usually make about 20-25 two-strand twists throughout the entire head. Here’s Chroncurls YouTube tutorial for the two-strand twist technique (but ignore the product use). Bottom line, as you two-strand twist, you want to be twisting the hair before you cross over to join your twist (if that makes sense). I prefer to air dry hair, but if you’re pressed for time, you can sit under a hooded dryer on medium temperature to dry hair for about 30-minutes until hair is completely dry.

    For the weekly wash, eliminate Step 2, and start by cleansing hair with Dr. Bonner’s Lavender Soap, foaming and rinsing hair 2-3 times as Step 1. Then complete Steps 3 and 4. Total time on weekly wash is approximately 1-hour.

    In a nutshell, the MHM is not about using a lot of product to tame your mane, but rather to let your hair breathe and receive the nutrients it needs. Softer water helps towards hair hydration, so invest in a water filter for your shower head. I spend considerably less on hair products. Kinky Curly Knot Today costs about $12, but in MHM conditioners are diluted and will last a lot longer. A two-pound container of Bentonite Clay, costs $14 and lasts 6-8 months. The essential oils cost the most and will last a couple of years. So financially you are winning with the Maximum Hydration Method.
    After much hair-searching, I’ve finally gotten to a place where I’m happy that Sheila is finally happy! My length and fullness have increased, one-strand knots have decreased, and I seldom use combs or brushes. I challenge you to give the MHM a try and join in all the “Oh Sheila” fun! *flips hairs*

    Have you used this method? Will you try it?
    Roseann V. Warren is the founder and editorial director of MuphoricSounds.com, and a developmental book editor based in Brooklyn, NY. She proudly calls herself a Prince head, and believes Hersey's chocolate is a crime. Follow her on: Twitter | InstagramFacebook |RoseannWarren.com

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    Photo via DanualBerkley.com
    By Erickka Sy Savané

    Dad, poet and author Danual Berkley created Davy’s Pirate Ship Adventure, a children’s book about a kid named Davy who uses his magical powers to build a pirate ship so he and his family could search for gold, but no adventure ever goes as planned, because he never saw or was exposed to adventure books, or many books in general, with black families and characters. He says, 
    "I decided then I wanted to provide that for my sons. That way when my sons read it, they could say, ‘Hey, that kid looks like me!’ or ‘That dad looks like my dad!” 

    Danual says that a lot of the stories he writes are created at home.
    "When I’m at home playing with my boys and we’re fighting aliens or out-running monsters, we’re essentially creating stories. After we’re done playing, I write them down on paper."
    Another reason Danual created this book was to provide a positive example that would go up against some of the false stereotypes about Black men, including stereotypes such as "black men don't raise their kids or get married." Danual, who has a blended family, a son from a previous relationship and a son with his wife, says that his wife is a wonderful step-mother, and next he'll be writing stores about the adventures and experiences that stem from their beautiful relationship.

    Danual & his family via DanualBerkley.com

    And while we can't wait for more of his children's books, we'll stick to this one right now. Check out the trailer because it's too cute, and if you have little ones let them see too. Also, be sure to check out Danual's website for purchasing the book and updates! 


    Book Trailer: Davy's Pirate Ship Adventure



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    By Erickka Sy Savané

    I'll be the first to say that when I stumbled across the youtube channel, Light Skin Tears, for light-skin and bi-racial women, I had the same thought as when I first heard of the hair product line 'Mixed Chicks.' Like, seriously, ya'll need to segregate yourselves by calling out the fact that you are mixed? It sounded so pretentious, and I immediately turned off. And then there was the fact that the product was obviously not for my kinky hair. But once I took a listen, this woman has reasons for creating this channel that can't be easily dismissed.

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    First off, the creator of the channel, Izidora Storm, says that the site is not for black men. It's for women. All black women are welcome, however, this channel is a safe place where light-skin and bi-racial black women can come and talk about issues specific to them without feeling guilty, being bullied, or told to shut up because dark skin women have it worse, which she says is a scam that light-skinned women have come to accept that leads to them becoming victims. Yea, it's controversial. She's received all kinds of threats and called every name under the sun, but she's a stand for her people and if you listen to what she's saying, really listen, you may find that she makes some good points. For instance, she talks about being told that she's not black enough when her DNA test proves that she's 93% African. She's blacker than a lot of black people. Not to mention she grew up in an all-black area somewhere in Cali that she calls "Blackistan." So why the constant having to prove something that is?

    But while she makes sense in a lot of areas, she also falls flat, like when she tells light skinned women it's time to take advantage of the privilege we have, but can offer nothing tangible. There's the dating thing (referring to many black men's preference for light skin and bi-racial women, which she acknowledges as a huge problem, and has interesting things to say about it), but she herself only dates Asian men.

    Okay, so there's a lot to unpack with this channel but the truth is it's only a few months old and her following is building fast. She's got loads of comments- she deletes the negative ones, which I get, but at the same time it would be nice to see her challenged a bit. I'm not saying keep the ones who want to take her life, but discussion and intelligent conversation is good for everyone.

    With that said, here are a few of her videos, one explaining why she created the channel and the other addressing why light skin blacks are encouraged to hate themselves.

    Would love to know what you think?!


    Izidora on why she created this platform



    Why are light skin blacks encouraged to hate themselves? 


    *******

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

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    Naturalie Cherokie Sapphire 
    Sometimes we want to try something different like a little pop of color for the summer, but we just don't know where to begin. The last thing we want is to make the wrong move and end up bald! Well, Naturalie Cherokie Sapphire, who prides herself on simple natural hair tutorials, has out-done herself this time. She's managed to give us a full-on highlighting tutorial in under 2 mins. Take a peek because this might be the look you wanna rock this summer! And please be sure to like this vloggers page!

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    Will you give highlights a try?

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    Photo illustration by Cristiana Couceiro. Source photograph of Colin Kaepernick: Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/ Getty Images.

    By Ta-ning Connai

    There’s nothing like a man on a mission, especially a man who didn’t set out to be on one. Colin Kaepernick was getting busy on the turf when the call to activism came knocking. His stand against racial injustice came by way of a kneel and the rest, my friend, is history. 

    Kaepernick was bad-mouthed and blackballed as every racist with a rant chimed in for his demise. But our so-called Leader of the Free World dealt the most recent blow: Trump pressured the NFL to contrive a new policy placing limitations on protest, with consequences that put players’ careers at risk. But wait, coercion and collusion are ILLEGAL! And according to Sports Illustrated, Kaepernick’s lawyer says there's a new whistleblower in town and the NFL is going down! Watch out for “a dramatic turn (in the case)” he said, recently. So, who’s coming over for popcorn?!

    I believe that one day, Colin Kaepernick will be listed amongst the greatest of civil rights leaders who were willing to fight for what's right in spite of the evil forces that tried to bring them down. This brother demonstrates commitment to his new-found mission, although the transitional stage has been rough.

    Times of transition can have you feeling stuck in the middle of nowhere! You can't go back to where you were, there are way more challenges where you are, and you have no clue where you're going. It’s like that fork in the road that NEVER has a sign. Ugh, don't you just hate those?

    I just hope the worst of my transitions are all behind me. 'Cause the next time Jesus comes knocking at my door to take me on a journey of biblical proportions, I'm asking for a raincheck! And knowing Jesus, He’s gonna wanna take the scenic route.

    But really, the truth is, I'll be packed with all my snacks, up and ready to go; because, as much as I hate to admit it, transition is the place where transformation takes place. You become who you had no idea you could, and you get to see God be Who you had no idea He would! It's the launching pad for enormous growth and unfortunately, there's no microwave version for that. No GPS to measure from point A to B, no anesthesia for the pain (yes, sometimes it hurts). But there’s one thing for sure…if you’re in transition, you’ve been chosen for a mission.

    I always marvel at what Daniel did when he found himself in the same kinda jam (Daniel 1:1)...He remained committed to what he believed in. This character from the Scriptures had character galore and with his winning combo of fearlessness and faith, this guy right here could never lose.

    Daniel's time in Babylon was more or less considered a transition. He was taken captive from the comforts of his home and thrust into a pagan culture that conflicted with his religious upbringing. But because Daniel was the consummate wiz kid, officials brought him into their inner circle for access to his various skills. That was all cool with Daniel...as long as it didn't interrupt his regularly scheduled program. In spite of his current displacement, Daniel was STILL gonna pray to his God, loud and proud like he always had...no if’s, and’s or but’s about it!

    Since haters gonna hate, a conspiracy was devised to take poor Daniel down. They passed a law for all citizens to refrain from praying (except to the king) for 30 days. All that to bring one man down??? Yep. And guess what Daniel did? He flung those windows open so hard, they nearly broke off the hinges! And then he got on the floor (like Kaepernick’s kneel!) and belted out a prayer so loud, it practically shook the building! God chose Daniel as an example of relentless righteousness and Daniel had the guts to follow through. This transition was not gonna break Daniel, no matter how hard the “powers-that-be" tried.

    Unfortunately, all this guts and glory got Daniel’s butt thrown into the lion's den. However, what happened next is nothing short of a miracle...Danny Boy came out alive! Even the king couldn't deny how God responded to Daniel’s stance and some major changes were made that day. The king ordered the entire nation to turn to Daniel’s God, but not before turning the lions loose on Daniel's schemers! How 'bout dat! Daniel’s transition was vital to the mission.

    Ecclesiastes 7:8 says, “The end of a thing is better than its beginning…” which means you might not like how things are going, but the outcome is always a win! Have the audacity to STAND and everything else will eventually fall. Have faith in God and watch your bumpy transition lead you to your unshakeable mission!

    “We ought to obey God rather than men…” Acts 5:29

    Are you going through a time of transition?
    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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    Whitney Houston
    By Brenda Alexander 

    Everyone who knows me knows that my love for Nippy (Whitney Houston) runs deep. So imagine my disgust when I saw that Pusha T’s album cover was the photo of her alleged drug den of a bathroom, taken circa 2006. The photo in question was taken by her then sister-in-law during the height of her drug use, sold and subsequently published in the National Enquirer to be absorbed by the masses. Making matters worse, Kanye West paid $85,000 for the “artwork,” which he purchased from said ex-sister-in-law.

    In an interview with Angie Martinez, Pusha T explained previous artwork was chosen but changed per Kanye last minute, stating: “He changed my artwork last night at 1 a.m. He wasn’t feeling it.”

    That’s the explanation provided. Nothing further.

    I’ve never taken precious time out of my life to sit and listen to Pusha T’s music, and with this distasteful album cover, I won’t. That being said, with the lack of explanation for the use of the photo and me not hearing his music, I see no correlation between the photo and his discography. Is he a drug addict? Does his music tell a story of his secret binges? Does Pusha T not have the balls to make his own decision on cover art? Please explain.

    My horror far outweighs my confusion.

    Whitney’s estate agrees, telling Entertainment Tonight, "The estate is extremely disappointed in Kanye’s choice. Even in Whitney's death, we see that no one is exempt from the harsh realities of the world."

    The larger conversation is not the repulsive album cover. Instead, it raises the concern of the general public having little respect for those who have passed on and the obsession we have with creating an immortal universe for our most beloved celebrities, one that leaves their loved ones who are still living with wounds to continuously be opened and closed whenever something like this arises. Furthermore, it’s a dig at the legacy that Whitney and the likes spent decades building, regardless of their personal trials. Viewing them as human beings seem to be a distant idea.

    Whitney passed in 2012. We know what the autopsy revealed and have heard enough personal accounts from those close to her to know the struggles. She even spoke in depth to Oprah about how bad her addiction was. In the days and months following her death, there was so much talk surrounding how drugs altered the trajectory of her life and career, her voice and even her comeback. If I had a dollar for how many health and wellness “experts” sat on CNN talking about the effects they thought took place within her body prior to the autopsy report even being released, I’d be rich.

    Aside from musical tributes, there’s been little done to celebrate or highlight the groundbreaking career of Whitney’s that exclude an analysis of her drug troubles and what’s deemed as a coinciding “toxic” marriage to Bobby Brown. I can’t even count the number of documentaries and “re-enactments” I have seen or read about. There’s always interviews with random business associates and so-called friends who are willing to share “never before heard” stories that seldom paint an overall good picture of her. Dozens of unauthorized books have been written and movies without the family or estate’s input have been made, with those involved claiming it’s done out of love and respect. Yes, as a celebrity, you sign up for a certain level of public consumption and scrutiny, but even that should have a limit, especially in death. It’s also difficult to hear that a project is made with compassion and an intent to show appreciation in spite of living family member’s objections, the family who already had the hard tasks of sharing their loved one with the world with little space to grieve privately. Grief should not be deemed a luxury.

    The same can be said for many of our other beloved celebrities, some who had serious struggles and others who had seemingly unscathed careers. Remember that horrible Lifetime Aaliyah biopic that was poorly casted and had negative reviews? That was done without her family’s input. Just last month, a special titled, “The Last Days of Michael Jackson” was debuted on ABC, chronicling primarily his last few months getting Propofol injections, as if enough hasn't already been revealed about that addiction and his death, along with the doctor who administered the shots. Every year around Anna Nicole Smith’s death anniversary, there’s an update on the daughter she left, her father and the paternity case that ensued post Smith’s death, with no new revelations, just a reminder of what’s already been told. Biggie and Tupac were murdered 20+ years ago, Unsolved on USA Network just wrapped and Vlad TV does enough interviews monthly surrounding their deaths. Not to mention the fascination with others such as Marilyn Monroe, The Kennedy’s, Princess Diana...the list goes on and on. It’s too much. Almost all of this is unaccredited with protest from those who know them best.

    What needs to be understood is that when a celebrity dies, we as fans mourn the artist - the family mourns the person. We have a glimpse of the person, but not their entirety. We don’t know their full existence. They let us in while they were here, but their loved ones knew them in the most intimate ways. Whitney did her job while she was here, she gave us her beautiful voice. As did the other greats who are now gone. Unless their families want to share personal photos, write a biography, produce a biopic or release never before heard music, let them rest.

    Note: If you’re looking for a tribute to Whitney from her estate, WHITNEY hits theaters July 6.

    Should our deceased stars get to RIP?
    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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    Finchberry soaps
    By Kira Sparkles

    Today I'm super excited to share my love for a brand called Finchberry! They're a soap company that's based near my neck of the woods in North Florida known not only for being vegan and preservative free, but their products are so cute and colorful! They look like little decadent slices of cake. Everything in this brand is just an absolute feast for the eyes. But how do these products hold up in everyday life? Are they just pretty? Or are they practical too?

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    Sweetly Southern because it smells like honeysuckle
    Sweetly Southern Bar Soap
    First of all, I am in love with their bar soaps. Not only are they eye candy, they smell wonderful. It's not overwhelming, but it's definitely noticeable and not in that artificial chemical kind of way either. It left my bathroom smelling lovely just by being in it! As for how it cleans, it leaves me feeling fresh and squeaky clean without any residue. Plus, I could catch the subtle scent of honeysuckle on me which is so sexy!

    Now, with more coffee!
    Artisanal Coffee Soap
    I really hesitated to use this one, only because my current day job involves serving coffee and I already come home smelling like it. Did I really want to smell like coffee after bathing too? While the description on the label says 'warm coffee' it has this very light, almost floral scent, but nowhere near as powerful as their bar soap. Also, are those beans on the soap? Totally a mold! I was ready to clean up coffee beans in my tub, but it fooled me. As for how it cleans? It actually has coffee grounds in it, so it's really gritty. I shared this with my s.o. and he said he loved it. I ended up giving it to him and I'll admit his skin is much softer. Not for me, but if you prefer a more intense exfoliation, this may be the bar for you.

    Artisanal Salt Soak Blend
    Relaxing Artisanal Salt Soak Blend
    I'm not a bath person usually, especially getting into the hot summer months in Florida. Still, it was really nice to carve out some time to take one. I didn't notice a heavy scent in the water, but there was a subtle hint of lavender which was very relaxing. With the salt, it really did melt any tension away, but I can't say that there was anything about this that really stood out to me. Salt soaks are nice, but in my mind, they're all kind of the same. 

    ROSE BATH BOMBS!!
    These bath bombs made an absolute believer out of me. The first bath bomb I ever tried was from 'Da Bomb' and I was super disappointed. BUT THESE BATH BOMBS?! Listen. Taking this bath made me feel like a f*cking princess. It turned the water BRIGHT MAGENTA and even had rose petals in it! This bath was fun and brought out my inner child. It made me and my entire bathroom smell like roses for a day after AND it made my skin incredibly soft. Besides the soap, I would absolutely go back for another bath bomb because it was the absolute shit.


    Which ones are you excited to get your hands on?

     
    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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    Judith Kryztals
    By Erickka Sy Savané

    Things change, seasons change, and such is the case with natural hair & beauty vlogger Judith Kryztals, who after 4 years natural, recently relaxed her hair. In a surprise twist, she did it at home using a store-bought relaxer kit. Yup. I stopped doing those in junior high when I burned off my edges (thank GOD they grew back!), but since Judith grew up in her mom's salon she felt equipped enough to give it a shot. However, she DOES NOT recommend others who are going from natural to relaxed follow suit. Since this is a live reaction video you get to see the process as well as the results right along with Judith. I have to admit, watching her put the creamy crack on her virgin hair made me want to scream, "Don't do it!!!" but to each her own. Check out the video and tell us your thoughts? Did she make a good decision???!!!

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    Feel free to check out more videos by Judith as she takes us on this next hair journey. Our hope is that she'll be able to keep her hair healthy and strong! 

    1st wash day with relaxed hair



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    FX's Pose
    By Erma BreAnn

    Sunday night was not only a great start to the week but a fab-u-lous kickoff to Pride celebrations with the premiere of FX’s new show ‘Pose.’ Set in New York surrounding the 80’s ballroom culture, ‘Pose’ is shedding light on trans lives like never before. Ballroom culture is a subculture within the LGBTQ community where people compete and are judged on costumes, appearance, and voguing for trophies. Those who compete usually are apart of “Houses.” These “houses” serve as a safe space and alternative families for those who have been ostracized by their own families. ‘Pose’ is a dive into a world unknown and shunned by most, and at times, shaded by the community meant to protect them. We get to take a look into the lives of our most marginalized sisters and brothers. What other way is there to celebrate Pride other than to showcase our transgender lives and tell their stories? The premiere not only entertained but made me excited for the month to come. If you have been looking for realness served to you on a platter, look no further because we found it and it’s a ballroom in your living room.

    Here are 4 reasons to watch!

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    Trans activist, writer and 'Pose' co-producer Janet Mock chats with Wendy Williams about the show

    1. Representation is validation
    In the time we are living, where there’s a hypersensitivity around inclusiveness, it is beautiful to see a marginalized group portray themselves. We know stories are told with more authenticity when there is proper representation in the creative room. You can tell when we are in the producer’s room, the writer’s room, and on set because the stories are told with honesty. ‘Pose’ isn’t giving us some second hand account of trans lives. With names like Janet Mock and Our Lady J as co-producers there is no room to get it wrong. From casting transgender actors to portray transgender characters, the translation from real-life to screen is nothing but true to life. It’s not a gimmick or comic relief. It’s real and honest.


    Photo of cast members Courtesy of FX
    2. The characters are serving realness! Yass Queen!!
    ‘Pose’ is holding a mirror to those the world has tried to make disappear and is allowing them to dance in the spotlight. This show is a banner screaming, “YOU ARE SEEN!” Casting aside fake inclusiveness and opting for the real thing. Trans characters can be main characters and leading ladies deserving of well-developed complex characters. ‘Pose’ does this with a well-written script and amazing actors who play the characters with ease. It was an easy episode to watch because of the care put into developing the characters and the script. I am counting down the days until Sunday for episode two. I am proud to see new faces and jobs given to those who need the representation and who deserve the recognition.

    Dominique Jackson stars as Elektra. Photo FX
    3. It is good and fun television
    Like a naive child waiting on a deadbeat parent to follow through with a promise, I’ve been waiting on television to give me a good show. And just when the disappointment had me on the verge of cancelling all my television services, FX has arrived to save the day. ‘Pose’ is a sign that television is changing the tides. The premiere gave me chills and had me sashaying around screaming ‘Yasss,’ ‘You betta werk,’ ‘Serve them queen!’ Although there were downs, as there are in real life, ‘Pose’ made the phrase “it gets better” shown. The queer community has always been a welcoming friend to those in need. We need shows like ‘Pose’ to educate while entertaining and giving hope. I would have preferred the show take place in current time because the issues, I foresee being addressed in episodes to come, are still current issues. Oftentimes when we see shows set in the past, we think the issues dealt with thirty years ago are no longer taking place. Keep this in mind when you watch, the show is entertaining, but transwomen are still at risk.

    MJ Rodríguez, Dominique Jackson, Indya Moore, Hailie Sahar & Angelica Ross. Photo: FX
    4. Everyone can ‘Pose’
    The main characters are just like anyone who wants to leave their mark on the world, who wants to follow their dream, or just wants to find love. ‘Pose’ is telling the story of transgender women but doesn’t exclude the humanity that connects us all together. We have desires of love and fulfillment beyond our deaths that makes us all the same despite our differences. If you aren’t planning to watch this Sunday, you are missing out on getting your life together. Start your week off right and watch ‘Pose’ on FX on Sunday night.

    Watch the trailer!

    *****

    Will you be watching?

    Erma BreAnn is a queer writer and poet based in Chicago. She is the creator of the blog Basic, Bad, & Bitchie at ermabreann.com, focusing on her journey through life. Follow her on Instagram: instagram.com/ermabreann

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    Randy aka Mister Fresh
    By Erickka Sy Savané

    Randy, aka Mister Fresh, was born and raised in a small town in South Jersey. It was his mom who stressed the importance of first impressions and always looking his best. Today, he's taken that advice to new levels by becoming a men's grooming expert, esthetician, content creator, and all-around fly guy. Peep how he stays at the top of his game and naturally glam!

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    How long have you been rocking a beard and baldie? 
    I started rocking a baldie in 2009 when Barack become president. It was time for a change. I've been wearing a beard off-and-on for the last 4 years. 

    How do you keep your beard and baldie fresh? 
    I usually cut my hair once a week, but it all depends on what I have going on sometimes twice. My go-to products are the Purpose cleansing bar, Sea breeze astringent and Lucky Tiger vanishing cream. I treat my scalp like my face by using toner to keep it moisturized and I do not use razors to avoid nicks and cuts. For my beard, I use Proraso, an Italian grooming brand that has an amazing hot oil beard treatment, beard balm and beard oil. It works pretty well with my skin and beard. Shea Moisture Men also has a beard conditioning oil that I love to use when I'm traveling. 

    How has being bald contributed to your life/self-esteem? 
    I first started thinning in my mid-20’s. I tried everything on the market at that time and it only worked temporarily. I finally came to terms that my hair was not my saving grace and decided to cut it off and try a new look. It took some time to get used to, but I adjusted and love everything about it now. I've been told I have a nice shaped head.

    Do you let people touch your head?
    Never.

    What are the misconceptions people have about men and grooming? 
    It’s feminine, which I never understood. Some people will invest more time into their sneaker collection but will say they don't have enough to groom. Priorities are important.


    What's a major grooming DO and DON'T for men?
    DO - Exfoliate and wear sunscreen. DON'T -Black men especially, shave with razors regularly. It's just not good for our skin. Clippers can go a long way.

    What's the best grooming advice you give men? 
    Having a consistent regimen will give you the results you want. Discover what works best for you!

    How do you stay healthy?
    I wake up 4-5 days a week at 5am and hit the gym. The typical day is usually some type of weight training followed up with some intense cardio. Stair Master and jumping rope are my favorites.



    What do you do for fun?
    I love to go hiking, biking around the city, spending time with friends and just laughing. I'm also a true movie buff, so it doesn't matter if it's in theaters or on Netflix I'm tuning in.

    How do you stay positive?
    Thank GOD everyday and appreciate what I have and the people in my life that inspire me.

    Did you have a positive male role model growing up? 
    My dad was an entrepreneur before I even knew what that meant. He always told me to write things down, set long and short terms goals, and create whatever you want.

    Keep up with Randy aka Mister Fresh!
    All photos via Randy's IG


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