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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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    Mellody Hobson
    By Adedamola Agboola

    Mellody Hobson, one of the most respected and knowledgeable black business leaders, will move up to the role of vice chair at Starbucks when longtime chairman Howard Schultz steps down at the end of the month.


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    Eembuvi braids worn by women of the Mbalantu tribes from the Namibia
    By Mwabi Kaira

    The versatility of our hair and all of the hairstyles we can pull off is just one of the many reasons it's great to be melanin. I recently wanted a cornrow style and searched images to show my stylist and ran across an image of eembuvi braids that left me breathless. The black and white image was of three women with their backs turned and braids down to their ankles. Eembuvi braids are worn by women of the Mbalantu tribes from the Namibia. It’s a style that requires preparation from a young age when Mbalantu girls use thick layers of finely ground tree bark and oils– a mixture that is said to be the secret to growing their hair to such lengths.

    Eembuvi braids are part of the process of Mbalantu girls being initiated into womanhood. Preparation for this stage begins when the girls are twelve and the hair undergoes special treatment to drastically speed up hair growth. First, the hair is coated with a thick paste made from the finely ground tree bark of the omutyuula tree mixed with fat. The paste is loosened to make the hair visible after a few years. Fruit pips are then tied to the hair ends with sinew strings. When girls reach the age of sixteen, long sinew strands that reach the ground are attached to the hair. In the same year they undergo the Ohango Initiation ceremony, a living tradition with roots in the ancient past. Before the ceremony begins, their hair is styled into four long, thick braids, known as eembuvi. Once the girls complete their initiation ceremony, they are considered to be women. To celebrate this new status, their hair undergoes yet another change. A new layer of the tree bark and oil mixture is applied to the hair to once again encourage growth. After the paste is applied, the long plaits were taken up and arranged into an elaborate headdress, signifying that the woman was married. You can tell the stage of a woman in the Mbalantu tribe by their hair; little girls have nothing in their hair, girls being initiated into womanhood have their hair coated and braided, and married women have their hair arranged in a headdress.
    Source Essence
    Learning about the Mbalantu tribe and the eembuvi braids has me thinking back about hairstyles I saw and wore as a young Zambian girl. The only one I remember wearing in the early 80’s involved cornrows that ended in cotton wrapped fabric enabling a pattern to be shaped on top of your head. I found this picture of the style and now I’m thinking it’s time to find someone to revive this hairstyle for me. Man, I love our hair. 

    How much do you love our hair?
    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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    By Erickka Sy Savané

    I was reading an article recently about a South Carolina dad whose 8-month-old baby died after being left in a hot car all day. We hear these stories and wonder how this could happen? Actually, statistics show that it happens to the tune of 36 babies dying each year in the United States. We also wonder, who could do such a thing? Well...I did. Thankfully, my baby didn’t die, and I was able to learn some valuable life lessons as a result.

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    It was a typical blazing hot summer day in Sherman Oaks, CA, and I was running late, as usual, to pick up my 3-year-old from pre-school. I peeled into the parking lot on two wheels thinking if I move fast enough I could reverse time. Out of the car I ran, passing moms going in and out with their little ones in tow, and I was happy to finally see mine. As she rushed over to give me a big hug I hear, “Who left their baby in the car?”

    Who left their baby in the car? I think to myself, wondering who could be so thoughtless when suddenly I scream, “ME!”

    All I could think about while running past the parade of curious stares from mom’s is, “I hope she’s okay.” I knew it was only a couple of minutes, but she was only 4 months old, and again, it was hot as hell. I got there, relieved to see her sitting peacefully in her car seat as if she hadn’t a care in the world. By now, a few moms I knew were there, trying to assure me that it was okay, the most important thing was that she was okay. I was a mess. Not sloppy, crying, pathetic mess, but clearly shaken, and extremely embarrassed...Once I knew I was good, I strapped my eldest daughter into her seat and we drove away, on all four wheels this time.

    This happened 5 ½ years ago and now that time has passed, I'm able to see the lessons that I learned from it.  I share it now because there are moms, and dads, out there who might be on the brink of making a serious mistake, or have already screwed up royally and need to know that there's life after.

    Don’t judge
    Before this happened to me I thought that only murderers and irresponsible people left their babies in the car. Knowing that I love my child and would never intentionally hurt her, I now know different. Never think that you’re above making a crucial mistake and give others the same level of compassion that you would want in a similar situation. Because the truth is, you never know when something like this might happen to you. No one starts their day saying, 'I'm going to do something to harm someone I love.'

    Take time to de-stress.
    We all have signs that we’re doing too much whether it be forgetting to turn the pot off on the stove or showing up late everywhere. This was my sign that I needed to take it down a thousand, smell the roses and re-group. I began to pay more attention to when I was feeling overwhelmed and in need of self-care. Finding time for yourself as a mom isn’t easy, but it’s critical.

    Forgive 
    As long as I was still hammering myself daily about what I did the train couldn’t leave the station and I stayed stuck. Once I was able to say, ‘I’m human, and I'm not going to do everything perfect,' I was free. Free to be a better person and better mom. We can only do our best as parents and when we fail, learn from our missteps. 

    Talk about it
    No one wants to be the mom who left her baby in the car, but that’s who I was and once I was able to talk about it I got to see that I wasn’t the only one who had done messed up things. Making such a big acknowledgement created the space for others to talk about their shortcomings and I bonded more with my family and friends. I got to see that we're all out here doing the best we can and it's a blessing to have a family. 
    Good luck parents!!!

    Have you made any big mommy mistakes? What did you learn?
    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 Twitter, Instagram or ErickkaSySavane.com

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    Actress Yvonne Orji and Emmanuel Acho via IG
    By Veronica Wells

    Years ago, I was attending a cultural parade downtown. Having reached my limit of human interaction for the day, at the parade’s conclusion, I announced that I would be returning home. This was a deviation from what the rest of the group was doing: following up the parade with an early dinner at a Nigerian restaurant. When one of the women in the group learned that I wasn’t joining them, she tried to persuade me to go.

    “You might be missing out on your African Prince.”

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    I knew she was joking. Still, her comment just confirmed the fact that I needed to carry my then-single ass home. I’d heard variations of concepts like that repeated over and over again. When women offer up advice on how to “get a man” they say something to the effect of go out and be seen. Put yourself in the right places. (I remember one article even suggested going to steakhouses because men love meat.)

    Meeting your life partner is as simple as being at the right restaurant, happy hour, after-work mixer or day party. And any time you opt to go home and spend time with yourself is time you could be missing out on meeting “the one.” I always knew it was some bullsh*t.

    I’ve watched too many women go out with the expectations of leaving a venue boo’ed up, only to have their hopes dashed when no one approached them.

    I don’t say all that to shame women. Because I totally understand the desire to “find the one” and be married. But I also understand most of the messaging we’ve received about how to do that has been profoundly inaccurate. Mostly because it seeks to provide a formula...just one.

    The other day, a girl I went to college with tweeted this and almost made me run around the room.


    Precisely.

    When singer Michelle Williams announced that she was engaged to pastor Chad Johnson, I saw a woman in some comment section ask Michelle about the prayer she prayed to get a man like him.

    Months later, when Yvonne Orji debuted her new boo on The Gram, I saw an identical comment…from another woman. What prayer did you pray?

    I shared this with my sister, alarmed. And she told me to chill, that these women were just joking. I wasn’t so sure. And if they were, it was probably one of those “unless you gon do it” jokes. These women, like so many others, are looking for thee blueprint as if just one exists.

    Interestingly enough, in thinking about this topic this week, I stumbled across relationship expert Tracy McMillan who, as you might assume, also had a theory about how to bring love- in the form of a romantic partner- into your life. She said there’s no such thing as getting a man. She said, “We don’t get anything. We create it.” Essentially, the process of loving ourselves, nurturing ourselves, being the person we would like to attract emanates out and draws similar individuals, potential life partners, to us. We know the physics of “like attracts like” but rarely do we apply it to our love lives. Instead, we’d rather sit at steakhouses and interview women about how they “got” what we want, as if finding a life partner is like buying a house.

    If we are to assume Tracy’s method is true—and I believe it is— then how do we instruct women to love themselves? The truth is you really can’t. It’s a journey that is as unique and tailor-made to each individual as our fingerprints. And the gag is, your self-love journey can’t be fake. You can’t trick the universe or God by embarking on a self-love journey with the sole intent of getting a man. You have to love yourself genuinely and authentically just because it’s a better way to live. And I think we can all agree that all people are attracted to those who seem to be living in abundance.

    There’s no one way to do that. It can’t be unlocked with a magical prayer, going where the mens go, or studying someone else’s relationship. You have to figure it out for yourself. And at the end of the day, you always appreciate the things you worked creatively for more than those that you achieved by following someone else’s formula.

    What do you feel is the best way to meet someone?
    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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    Kofi Siriboe
    By Mwabi Kaira

    Despite reports of the rising number of mental health case issues and of people committing suicide- the CDC just released a report yesterday stating that suicide rates have increased by 25% - 30% across the United States and just this week both handbag designer Kate Spade and Emmy-award-winning TV host and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain killed themselves- discussing mental is a taboo topic, especially in the black community. Queen Sugar’s Kofi Siriboe, or SiriBae as he is affectionately called, is seeking to change that. 

    Photo courtesy of ViaKofi

    Before Kofi became a household name, he suffered a huge loss when a man who served as a big brother figure to him died by suicide. He found himself with a lot of questions he couldn't find answers to like most people in that situation would. He turned to art to work through his feelings, but as he created, he noticed there was a huge gap in addressing mental health in the black community. 

    Siriboe released a short film about mental health with the grabbing title 'WTF Is Mental Health?' to help further the dialog in black communities about taking care of ourselves. Seven young black people come together to have candid conversations about mental well-being in the short film. In a conversation with Teen Vogue, Kofi explains how his own misconception was a catalyst for the focus on mental health by saying, 
    “I realized my own resistance around mental health as a concept and realized my resistance was only rooted in misunderstanding. I feel like that’s common in the black community — there’s a lot of stigma. There aren’t many spaces created for us to openly talk through our emotions and how they affect our lives. We’re so used to compressing our feelings until we actually believe they don’t exist. I want to initiate a conversation among young black people that’s tasty and nutritious — I want us to be excited and willing to be transparent with one another.”
    Kofi has ultimately created a film that's so candid and leaves viewers with a sense of peace and understanding. It not only opens up the conversation but leaves it a place where viewers know that it’s perfectly okay to discuss our feelings and seek assistance when it comes to mental health. Viewers have been given the language of mental health and feel included. All we’ve known is stigma and what society has molded our conversation to be. It’s admirable that Kofi has taken this on and in doing so has been transparent as well. He says, 
    “I’m a guinea pig in all this. I’ve felt the highs and the lows and I know it’s all real. Being transparent with myself about what I need ultimately allows me to know what other people just like me may need.”
    Kofi wants young people to know that mental health is the collective harmony of our minds, spirit and physical bodies. Young people should especially care about their minds because of the information age we live in. We take a lot of information in and not knowing how to filter it can have detrimental results on our psyche. A strong understanding of your mental enables you the power to actually choose and design your reality rather than living in someone else’s. 

    Watch 'WTF Is Mental Health?' below and share your thoughts!

    ******

    How's your mental health?
    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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    By Kira Sparkles

    I don't know what it is about college that makes you more open to learning and willing to experiment. At least that's how it felt for me. It was during college that I chopped off my permed hair for an afro, smoked a ton of weed and absorbed every interest I could. It was during this time I discovered feminism. With a feminist bookstore right down the road, I would visit often. It was an awesome little place with local art and authors, tons of books and products that I'd never seen before for 'that' time of the month.

    Of course, with all the tampon commercials in magazines and on TV, I never really thought of an alternative to what I could be using. Tampons were easy and everywhere. But commercial tampons use chemicals that can cause vaginal dryness to worse things like cancer, and sometimes even death. I know I experienced that weird, dry feeling with tampons.

    With that knowledge, I was open to trying something better, and started a journey of going through menstrual products before landing on an alternative that I liked. They all have their pros and cons, so it depends on your flow and what you feel ultimately works best for you.

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    The Keeper
    The Keeper is similar to the more popular 'Diva Cup.' The only difference is that The Keeper is made from natural gum rubber (latex) whereas the Diva Cup is made from silicone. They come in two different sizes usually labeled "A" or "B" one for people who have given birth and one for people who have not. If used correctly and cleaned properly, this thing can last you up to ten years!

    I've had several friends speak the praises of the cup, but I personally hated it. I just could not get a proper seal and I'm not alone. I don't know if it's because I chose rubber specifically or simply that it just isn't made for me, but the cup leaked constantly. Also, there was this one instance where I was doing yoga and the entire cup decided to flip inside of me, but we won't get into that.

    SheThinx
    SheThinx is a company that makes "period-proof underwear that works". On the website they claim they look and feel like regular underwear with the capacity to hold up to two tampon's worth of blood in a pair.

    Upon getting them though, the material was more like a swimsuit with a pad sewn inside of it. Wearing it felt like a diaper. It was really awesome about keeping the blood in one place, but it just felt wet and uncomfortable. Plus, periods smell and there's no odor lock on those. I will say that they're super fantastic for light days though.



    Jade & Pearl Sea Sponges
    These were actually one of my favorite things. You insert them inside your vagina and they're so comfortable that you don't feel them at all. I had a pair that lasted me for at least four years before they fell apart. Thoroughly wash them and they're good to go! Keep in mind that they're definitely for those who have a medium to lighter flow. Also, once they're full, they're FULL. You never realize how much your vagina can contract when you have a full sponge and you cough. Or sneeze. Or giggle.

     

    Menstrual Discs

    This is my current method and by far my favorite. For one thing, it's not linked to causing TSS. Like the sea sponges, I literally don't feel this once it's in and it lasts for twelve hours with no mishaps. Before using these, I would bleed all seven days, even with the alternative methods I was using, but once I went with the menstrual disc, that number cut down to four!

    Two popular brands include Softcup & Flex. There's no difference between them except name and price, but the price fluctuates so make sure to check them both before you buy.

    As a bonus, it says on the instructions that you can have sex while wearing these since it covers the cervix and doesn't sit in the vaginal canal. I haven't tried that. Neither has a friend of mine that uses the same method. We both have images of the team banner being broken right before a football game, but with more blood. So maybe try that one at your own risk.

    Do you use alternatives to pads and tampons?
    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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    Akira & Nalo
    By Jashima Wadehra

    Naturally Glam Bronx high school students, Akira Johnson and Nalo Turner attended the annual STOP STREET HARASSMENT rally in New York to speak out against harassment of individuals in the LGBTQIA (African American and East Asian) communities. These naturally glam teens completely fed our soul with their warmth, honesty and passion for making a difference. Keep reading to find out what inspires these two! WARNING: Heartfelt truths may cause tears.

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    Nalo & Akira
    Why is the Anti-Street Harassment movement important to you ? 
    Nalo
    : Being both queer and transgender, my safety has always been either reliant on others acceptance of me or on my ability to hide that aspect of my identity. Sometimes, when others assume I am a man (If I present more masculine) I am left alone. My family members such as my sister and cousin, are not so lucky. Majority of the harrassment I experienced was racially motivated during my time in high school in New Hampshire. Anti-street harassment is important to me because I spend most of my day powerless against society's treatment of people like myself, my friends and family. It makes me want to be louder, and show them I have a right to exist in public and be safe.

    Akira:
    The anti-street harassment rally is important to me for various reasons. It helps shed light on how men treat women. They might not always be physically harmful but they instill fear. Women of color and South East Asian women get fetishized or are often not talked about in these regards. I want to bring more awareness to Native American women who are sexually abused and attacked by non-Native men, this goes for black women and trans women alike. People don’t talk about it, as if we don’t have a place in any conversation.

    How long have you both had natural hair ?
    Nalo: Since my sophomore year when I cut my hair so many times I just ended up shaving it bald that summer. So I’ll just tentatively say just over a-year-and-a-half.

    Akira: I’ve been natural for about 5-6 years now. I decided to transition when I noticed that relaxers are very expensive and when I started loving my blackness more than I ever have. I had been bullied for being black, so I would attempt to water down my blackness for other people as if it would please them and make them happy.

    What products do you use on your hair ?
    Nalo: For my hair products I’m really simple. I use whatever shampoo and conditioner I find that’s sulfate/paraben free and whipped shea butter from bglh marketplace. When I’m really dry or my curls look dull I put in some avocado or almond oil.

    Akira: The products I use for my hair are usually very cheap and inexpensive (lol) such as cantu, softee, dove, Jamaican castor oil, African mayonnaise, Indian hemp, and raw shea butter.

    Have you struggled with your hair or appearance ? How did you overcome it ?
    Nalo: I started struggling with my gender identity in seventh grade, my body, born female, caused me so much discomfort. I refused to go outside in anything that wasn’t sweatpants and baggy shirts until I reached high school. There I started experimenting with ultra feminine or masculine styles, often switching between the two at random. Soon enough, I stopped focusing on what my body should look like and just started aiming to take care of it. This is how I began to love my hair. I wore it out almost every day, twisted it into unique and complicated styles, cut it so many times in the span of three months that I learned what my hair looked like without dye or relaxer in it for the first time. It was equally parts terrifying and wonderful.

    Akira: I have most definitely struggled with my hair experience, especially when I was young. My mother would get me relaxers, but before that I had gotten one perm and it messed up my head completely. I wasn’t bald but it changed my hair pattern and damaged my hair a lot. It bothered me a lot because I went to a minority- majority school. Most of the kids in my school were non-black Hispanics or afro-latin people who were anti-black or denied their own blackness. If I had gotten box braids, cornrows or had my hair natural I would get disgusting comments about that and my skin tone. It was after I left Middle school and gotten around other black people that I felt a tad bit more comfortable letting my hair out. I thank a lot of my African friends who inspired me and made me more confident and comfortable.

    Akira & Nalo
    Why are you passionate about advocacy for women in the African American Community? 
    Nalo: Black women are the foundation of many movements because usually they are the forefront of the oppressed. Fighting for them is fighting for all struggles. Putting them in power, giving them financial and emotional stability/safety should be on everyone’s minds when they go out and advocate for change.

    Akira: After being bullied for 4-6 years in school because I was poor and black, I had come to realize many other children are experiencing this because of their blackness. I wasn’t too educated on my own history, the most I knew was that we came from slaves, civil rights movement and that’s basically all that’s taught. Through research and building understanding it sparked not just activism but a radical response. I noticed black women weren’t treated well in my community, people would overlook deaths, murders, police brutality, transphobia and other things. I go out and educate online and offline. It’s important because when you’re black and female in the LGBTQ community you’re not seen as important as a black man that’s cis and straight.

    *********
    Writer Jashima Wadehra 

    I started working with Sayfty because I wanted to be part of the solution, to help fight for gender equality and teach women and girls globally about self-defense. As an organization we participate in digital campaigns, conducting self defense workshops in marginalized communities, and a weekly Twitter chat called #Sayftychat.

    As an adult, I found the confidence to join advocacy groups and movements. These girls, so young have found a way to impact their communities and share their powerful stories.

    To see how you can get involved check out Stop Street Harassment and Sayfty! It’s never too late or too early to start, just ask Nalo and Akira. 

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    Starting tomorrow morning, make a commitment to be present as an objective audience to your inner voice. Like, instead of being ‘the thinker’ of the thoughts, be ‘the listener’ behind them. It’s a simple but necessary shift that you’ll have to keep remembering— just keep falling back and reminding yourself to watch yourself like you’re watching a movie about someone else.

    Note that there’s no need to roll up your sleeves and go-in on each and every little, negative thought or self-criticism— just watch... listen... witness. That’s all you have to do. The light of awareness automatically re-wires your whole situation— replacing your petty, fearful thoughts with HER empowering, productive ones. Just stay woke. #BeHerNow

    p.s. There’s a LOUD silence that’s present before, during, and after every thought. If you can find that silence, then remaining as ‘the listener’ (no matter how messy, bitchy or scary the thoughts are) is recognized to be not only effortless, but joyful. Find the silence and stay there as the thoughts come and go. -Nikki Walton

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    Chime (Hair Crush)
    By Erickka Sy Savané

    If you've ever suffered from acne and hyper pigmentation (dark spots) then you know it can make life seem unbearable. Though my skin in nowhere near the zit-covered train wreck that it was in high school, I do still suffer from the occasional breakout that leaves me with yucky dark spots. If this is a problem for you, worry no more because Chime (Hair Crush) has found a magic skin care routine that has helped turn her skin around in just 8 months! So if you've got 5 mins, do check out her video, drop us a comment and like her page!


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    By Angela Perry

    Let me start by saying that I didn’t know that I was marrying a weed head. Well, I kinda did. I found out that he was a closeted daily weed smoker after we’d already been dating a year. I was already in love with him so it wasn’t a reason for me not to get married. One day, he confessed that he’d been smoking weed every day since before we met and didn’t tell me because he didn’t think that I’d be cool with it. Damn straight, an occasional smoker myself, I wouldn’t have signed up to be with a heavy smoker. My father, who I never lived with and barely had a relationship with, had substance abuse issues so men struggling with drug issues was not my thing. I even went to a narcotics anonymous meeting once with a friend years ago and they warned me of the danger of falling for a man I could save. Classic, co-dependent, child of a substance abuser shit.

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    Here I am. Over 10 years into marriage with a few kids and while he’s been a great dad and husband on some levels, and the sole provider in our relationship during the times when I hadn’t yet figured out what I wanted to do, he’s not always present. He’s one of those smokers that likes to get in his head and contemplate life’s biggest questions. He also barely helps around the house, doesn’t work out, and is tanking in his career.

    Another issue I have is that he’s quit weed over 100 times since we’ve been together no exaggeration. He’ll quit in the morning and by evening he’s back at it again. He’ll quit in the evening and be smoking 20 minutes after a big speech on why he stopped. The longest he’s gone is a year, which was pretty awesome in terms of time, but still, his life didn’t change that much. I was expecting the moon since he was no longer puffing his life away, but somehow he still managed to be pretty much the same person, which makes me wonder if it is the weed or the man?

    Did I just marry someone who lacks motivation? It’s nuts because on one hand, he’s done some pretty amazing things with his life, and he’s changed mine in so many ways, helping me to tap into a level of creativity that I didn’t know I had, but sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it. Honestly, there are things that I don’t worry about, like cheating, I pretty much know where he is the majority of the time, and I trust him. It’s just I wonder what it would be like to be with a man who is disciplined, keeps his word, and is ready to grab life by the balls. Someone who is more active with me and our kids. I used to think that money was the reason that he’s never been so big on doing family activities but now I think it’s just lack of motivation. Weed can make you feel like nothing is as important as chilling. When he’s really on he starts his day smoking and ends it that way with an early evening nap. I don’t want our kids thinking that grownups need daily naps to get through the day. It’s not true because I rarely do it.

    My biggest fear is that I’ll look up, 20 years from now, and we’ll be in the same spot. I can’t waste my life away. I’m not smoking right now because one, I’ve never had a daily habit (I can take weed or leave it), and two, I refuse to sit and smoke with him like it’s okay. When we got into it recently about his smoking he said, “You can’t tell me shit because you smoke too!” That was my last puff. Nope. I’m standing by the fact that this weed smoking is a dream killer. At least in this house. Because while I may not have a bad weed habit myself, when I do smoke I get fat. I eat like munchies were invented just for me and there are never enough. Plus, if I’m honest, I ain't mama of the year either. Getting my kids tucked into bed at night is the highlight of my day because right after I’m lighting up a bean.

    So now there’s this divide. He’s continued to smoke while I’ve quit and that means that he’s off in the living room watching his sports while I work in the bedroom or go to bed early. I can’t be around him chatting it up and laughing like we used to because I’d be too tempted into taking a puff and thinking it’s okay. Sometimes I think about my mom and how she almost decided to do hard drugs with my father so she could be close to him. I know that feeling. You want to be with your man and on some level he loves that shit more than you so joining in is the next best thing to having him.

    I struggle. Ain’t gon lie. It’s tough. But, it’s been a few weeks and I’m still not smoking and I don’t plan to go back. We’ve been arguing a lot during this time because I think I’ve been trying to force him to quit by getting mad and being disappointed when I see him puffing. I throw his own words about wanting to quit in his face, hoping that I can remind him of who he wants to be. He was that stand for me once when I’d almost given up. He stood for me. But he’s kinda chopped off my legs, and gets angry at me calling me judgmental. I just get tired of him using money we don’t have for weed. Sometimes he uses our last $20 for a bag. It stinks. I’m tired of fighting. I’m thinking, will I divorce him over this? Some days I say yes, get out, while you’re still relatively young, live the life you envision. Then other times I think of our kids and I want them to have a family. I also think that as long as I stay clean and I can keep my body healthy and in order, and I keep working on my craft, I can still have the life I want. It’s just more a focus on me instead of us. If he ever changes his tune and wants to be ambitious for his own life, great, but I’ll keep reaching for the stars on my own. That’s life anyway, isn’t it? You come here alone and that’s how you leave, right?  


    Have you dated an addict?

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    Anthony Bourdain
    By Ta-ning Connai

    I watched Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown on a barely working television when I was living in a rinky dink hotel. It was a depressing period in my life and there was hardly anything that could cheer me up. By stumbling through the channels one day, I was instantly captivated by the professional chef’s people-loving skills as he effortlessly adapted to every culture he explored. From Koreatown to places I can’t pronounce, Anthony Bourdain seemed to love life, as delicious dishes and traveling the world were the vehicles he used to show it. Oddly enough, this interesting show about food was a vehicle God used to show me great possibilities beyond my surrounding circumstances. Although I knew in my heart things would change, Parts Unknown gave me a picture of what change could look like. I was encouraged by Bourdain’s struggles and the tremendous loss he had overcome and his “second time around” gave me the hope to hang on and wait for mine.

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    Unfortunately, loving life was a temporary thing for Mr. Bourdain as he struggled between light and darkness. The man I lovingly call “The Wizard of the Kitchen” gave up his will to live last week, in spite of all the hope he has shared with the world. He was a true champion for change by giving dignity to people in places less traveled, by giving his support to the #metoo movement and by exposing racism in the food industry, in spite of his personal success. He may have lost his battle with depression, but his work here on earth was a job well done.

    Only God truly knows what can drive a person to take their own life. And before anyone should judge with labels like “weak" or “selfish” let's get into the story of the Prophet Elijah (1 Kings 17). Because if suicidal thoughts could consume this mighty man of God, we could learn a thing or two about how he overcame them.

    Anybody who will have you killed for denying the true and living God ain't no joke! Yep, Elijah was about as gangsta as it gets. He was so confident in the power of speaking God's words that, if he proclaimed a thing, consider it DONE. From calling down consuming fires, to the rain submitting to his will, Elijah had a hotline to Heaven.

    But then came Jezebel, and word on the streets was she was coming for Elijah's blood. Yeah, she reigned as Queen Bee at the time, but her arms were too short to box with God. Elijah knew this, or at least he should have, but suddenly he was shook. He couldn't keep from hearing her words, and he LISTENED way too long. When we believe the devil's words more than God's...Houston we have a problem!

    So Elijah ran and he ran, then he laid down to die. But please pay attention to what he did next...HE SPOKE TO GOD. This is what changed EVERYTHING. Although he was pleading with God to literally take his life, the most important thing is that he was communicating with His Father. This act alone invited God's restoration, and angels were sent to feed and comfort him. Before long, Elijah was back on his feet and Jezebel ended up face down and splattered on the ground, right where she belonged!

    Talk to God and let Him tell you what to say and do about your situation. There is no level of hopelessness or depression that He can’t treat. NO I don’t believe that faith is one big ol’ bandaid you just slap onto your problems and walk away. But Jesus urges us to,
    “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Mark 11: 28-30)
    This is how God can start the process of getting us the help we need, by giving Him what we are carrying in exchange for His way of doing things. He can send us to the right doctors, to get the right meds, or for others, the right person to talk to will do. He can help us get past shame, failure and disappointments to imagining a future that's brand spankin’ new. If He did it for Elijah, He can do it for us too!

    Have hope. Life can always be worse than it is, but then again, life can also get better than it is. God’s got some major plans for you boo, just hold on ‘til they come through!

    “To console those who mourn...to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness...” - Isaiah 61:3

    “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”- Jeremiah 29:11
    Have you ever felt like giving up, but found the strength to keep going?
    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).  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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    By Erickka Sy Savané

    His eyes meet mine. They are the coldest, darkest eyes I have ever seen, and this I can tell from all the way across the street. What a life this person must have lived to have eyes that could damn near kill you. I force myself to look away. As does my friend Vanessa who is feeling, I’m sure, the exact same way. It is impossible to see what we see and not be affected. In silence, we turn our heads in front of us, pick up our pace and carry on to the club that is our destination. We don’t speak the entire way. There is this knowing that to even talk about it before we are somewhere safe is in some way putting ourselves in jeopardy. It is best to pretend that everything is fine. But when the doors to the club shut behind us we exhale for the first time in at least ten solid blocks.
    “What the hell was that?” I ask.
    “I don’t know.”
    “Do you think we’re safe?”
    “I don’t know,” says Vanessa.

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    We take a cab home later that night with money that neither of us have and though we don’t talk about it, our silence says it all. We are both consumed by thoughts of who that stranger was on that street and the sound of a muffled scream. Whatever was going on, he didn’t want to be seen and that was evident by the way he looked at us. Like he couldn’t be sure what we knew. It’s a scene that I replay over and over in my mind. It carries over into my dreams. It is the first thing I think about in the morning. I’m not even surprised when Vanessa lets out a gasp while reading the morning paper.

    “Oh no!”
    “What is it?” I ask, because reading the paper is a pleasure that I left three weeks ago in London. Vanessa often translates the news from Dutch.
    “There was a body found in a car trunk not far from here on the same street where we saw that guy.”

    You mean, on the same street that is only two minutes from here?
    Now things have just gotten complicated because piercing black eyes stalking me in my sleep is one thing, but a killer stalking me in real life because I can identify him is something else altogether. I didn’t sign up for this. I came to Amsterdam to model and get tear sheets for my book, not come face-to-face with a murderer. And this isn’t consistent with the people I’ve met. These folks are sweet. They actually ride bikes, whole families, a mother, father and two kids, on the same bike. These people don’t kill. And getting back to Vanessa, this girl doesn’t know me from a can of paint but has let me stay in her apartment rent-free for weeks only because her sister knows my agent in London. Frankly, I haven’t even known him that long. And Vanessa is sweet too. We cook, hang out; I’ve come to love her like a sister. This all doesn’t make sense!

    The way I see it, we have two choices. We can keep what we know to ourselves and hope that we did a good enough job of acting casual when our eyes met the stare of the killer, or we can get our asses over to the police department and spill our guts in case this dude wants us dead.
    I let Vanessa do the talking at the precinct because, well, I don’t speak Dutch and though a lot of people in Amsterdam speak English there are still places that you go where you realize that you’re a foreigner. This is that kind of place. I’m very aware that I don’t belong. Not only do I not speak the language, the faces and the mannerisms aren’t familiar. In the States, I can size up a police officer and tell if he’s an asshole or really out to be helpful, but here I sit clueless, once again dependent on Vanessa. After what seems like an hour, but is probably more like twenty minutes, I take my cue to stand and the police officer walks us to the door. I’m actually taken aback and don’t want to go. Why didn’t they do a sketch of the killer and where is our security guard? Oh, they’re probably taking us to a protection bunker since we’re key witnesses in this case!

    Once outside, Vanessa informs me that the detective believes the victim was involved in the Turkish mob. There’s been a lot of killing lately, but they rarely mess with people outside of the circle. It’s the rarely part that bothers me.

    I don’t know if it’s something in all that fresh air people get from riding bikes or I watch too much Detective Crime Stories, but Vanessa seems to be shaking the whole thing off while I’m plagued by thoughts of disappearing without a trace. And it’s during our walk home from the precinct that she tells me that she is going to her parent’s house in The Hague for the weekend. She will be leaving tonight.

    Come again? I half expect her to burst out laughing, because it has to be a joke. But no. She is l.e.a.v.i.n.g. Tonight. I will be alone for two whole days. It’s not fair. Who would leave a friend who is in danger of being murdered alone for two whole days? And more importantly, why?

    No matter what her reasons for abandoning me, it causes me to become suspicious. Had the killer gotten to her? Had she offered me up to save herself? Or was she working with the killer from day one and this whole thing was a scheme to abduct me? Was the police precinct real or just a part of the plan? I begin to see everything differently. This place, at the end of the day, is home of the Red Light District, legalized marijuana, those horrid Black-faced Santa helpers and Anne Frank. This place is hell and these people are devils. Every moment finds me peering over my shoulder, staring into the eyes of strangers, fearful. I would get on the first thing smoking back to London and even the States, but I’m sooooo broke. Trapped until I can use my return ticket.

    Vanessa leaves as planned and surprisingly it doesn’t seem so bad, at first. I eat, listen to a hip hop CD- ‘Cash moves everything around me cream get the money. Dollar dollar bill ya’ll’- and pretty much take it easy. It’s when darkness falls that things begin to change. The music starts sounding like a score to a horror movie so I have to shut it off. But the quiet is unbearable. Even worse are my thoughts. From them there is no escape. Aside from picturing the killer coming into the apartment through the patio door and killing me in the most brutal way, I can’t let go of the sadness and pity I feel about dying, no, being bludgeoned, in a foreign country. Not to say that I want to be killed in the States either, but at least I can hope for something better than happening upon a killer on the way to the club. Give me robbery or crime of passion any day. Plus, I don’t have a lot of confidence that the Amsterdam police will do much to solve my case. I can imagine the headline: Black girl disappears in Amsterdam. She was probably a prostitute or involved with the Turkish gang.

    At one point, when I see a flicker on the terrace, I grab the phone and like an Olympic crawler, dash to a corner at the far end of the room. Convinced that the killer is only moments away, I call my Granny. I can’t bear to call my mom because it would break her heart and it’s not like she can wire me money to come home, like in the next minute. My Granny is always cool under pressure and will have to let the rest of the family know what happened.

    “Mokey!” She says cheerfully. It’s about 2am and I knew she’d be up watching TV. It’s her 24/7 pastime.

    I relay the whole story in one breath. She’s silent for a moment and then says, “Well, seems t’ me that the worst that could happen is that he could kill you.” Gee, thanks Granny! “But if he don’t, it’s a whole lotta fuss about nothin.”

    She reminds me that this isn’t the first time that I’ve called her scared in the middle of the night. There were times when my roommate had gone out of town back in New York and I would call her just to sit on the phone with me. She’d fill me in on what the family was up to, Jerry Springer episodes, and I’d tell her about work. “Yea, Granny, I hear you, but this time is different. I saw a killer and he saw me.”

    “Well, Moke, all I’m sayin’ is, it reminds me of that time you ran out your apartment and woke up the whole building ‘cuz you swore there was a robber in your bathroom. Remember? It took the police to find out it was just broken glass that fell n’ the tub.”

    Damn, Granny, that was a low blow. She knows I’m not proud of that story. But she made her point. I need to chill.

    When the sun comes up, with Granny still on the phone, I open the patio door for some fresh air. It’s then that I see that the flicker that had terrorized me the whole night was a reflector from the neighbor’s bike. A reflector. I thank my Granny and get off the phone. It’s time to catch up on some sleep.

    If you have a true story to tell, email erickka@curlynikki.com!

    Have you ever been so scared that things got distorted?
    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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    Tina Lifford
    By Brenda Alexander

    Aunt Vi, played by Tina Lifford on Queen Sugar, is a character unlike any middle aged black woman we’ve ever seen on the small screen. She’s older but with a young spirit and swag, sexy without trying and motherly without seeming elderly. To top it off, she has a man at least 20 years her junior and has just as much, if not more, spunk than him and the women his age chasing after him. She’s the gap that’s finally been filled to represent the black woman on the other side of 50.

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    For far too long, there’s been one or two prototypes that we are bombarded to accept the older black woman to be: she’s either the matriarch raising her kids (and everyone else’s) while taking care of her husband (or single and lonely) while putting herself last; or, she’s the no-nonsense taking, curse like a sailor grandma, auntie or mama that teaches by the belt or yelling to keep her family together. Neither of those images portrays a woman who is capable of caring for her family while also enjoying the later years of her life with a stallion to hold her down and tackle life’s adventures owed to her with a glass of moonshine in tow and a smile. Thanks to Aunt Vi, we have an extension, one in which we all know from our own experiences with the beautiful wise women in our family and sister circles.

    There’s only so many times I can handle Madea (no shade to TP as I love the character as well) or the woman who plays the back burner to her husband on television. For years, I’ve yearned for more. The conviction that Tina Lifford brings to Aunt Vi is an unprecedented portrayal. There’s something to be said about visually seeing a woman thrive when they have more years behind them than they have in front of them. It’s a stellar example and puts many at ease as to what the later years of their lives can potentially be.

    We live in an age where women 40 and 50+ are furthering their education, changing careers, starting businesses and serving all sorts of body goals on the gram. I have always hated the notion that a woman of a certain age has to be victim to aging versus embracing it in the boldest way possible. Who says a 60-year-old woman can’t rock an ombre lace front as opposed to a short black wig cap? Why can’t they flaunt their experienced curves in a bodycon dress from Fashionnova instead of an Anne Klein two piece? They’re older, not dead people.

    Aside from her sassy persona and fashion sense, Aunt Vi shows what adjusting one’s viewpoint to the current time can do for you in the way she takes advice from her younger nieces and nephew. Often times, we see women on screen, and in our everyday lives, who carry the attitude of “there’s nothing I can learn from young folk” and they miss out. Aunt Vi does the exact opposite. She seeks out advice from those who came after her to not only keep her current, but also inspire her to unleash her inner diva both personally and professionally while still holding her crown as matriarch. It creates a beneficial relationship and mutual respect and admiration on both sides. They keep her hip and fearless while she marches on and achieves things she never deemed possible without their push.

    Aunti Vi with her niece
    I recently sat through a Q&A with Dr. Michael Eric Dyson and his protegee Marc Lamont Hill where they discussed how Dr. Dyson took Hill under his wing and as Hill’s star rose, he passed on modern business advice to Dr. Dyson that turned out to help him financially. Aunt Vi’s relationship with her nieces and nephew is the same, she helped raise them and through their successes they have led by example in going after their goals while encouraging her to do the same, hence her new pie making business in Season 3. As Dr. Dyson explained during the Q&A, “We teach those we precede so that when we are older, we learn from them. Every generation gives something new for us to advance further.”

    In love, Aunt Vi is thriving, journeying through life with her younger beau Hollywood and slowly but surely allowing him to take lead while not losing herself. Whereas in other shows, we normally witness a woman single, or dating and disinterested or not open to love, closed off to new experiences.

    Hollywood and Aunt Vi
    In many ways, Aunt Vi reminds me of my very beautiful 52-year-old mother, who herself had troubles in love, career and has like many, suffered loss along the way. Just like Aunt Vi, those experiences did not stop her from now living out her destiny. They may have halted things a bit, but together, as Aunt Vi and her nieces and nephew, we have found our way. After some financial difficulties, raising a family while putting her needs last, my mama is living her best life. She’s downsized to an apartment fit perfectly for her, is in the career of her choice while making more money than she could have ever dreamed, has a busier social schedule than me and is out here dating chile.

    There’s so many others like my mom and Aunt Vi. My friends moms are like her, my older co-worker women are like her. To finally have that on screen is the final piece of the puzzle of the multi-faceted black woman that we all yearn to see.

    Queen Sugar airs Wednesdays on OWN at 10P EST.


    By the way, here’s my Mama! Shawtie bad (and her boobs are real...and she knows I brag about her all the time and show pics whenever I feel like it!) and she's single too…




    Do you have an Aunt Vi in your life?
    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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    24 Shades of Business Coloring Book
    If you remember, it wasn't long ago that we featured a story about 24 Shades of Business adult coloring books created by entrepreneur Latoya Nicole. We love these books because not only do they feature beautiful black female bosses, they also help relieve stress, spark creativity and just provide a source of fun! So it's no surprise that we want YOU to have one of these books! Keep reading to find out how to get one delivered straight to your door...

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    24 Shades of Business by Latoya Nicole Illustration by Shakira Rivers
    Comment on all articles this week for a chance to win a 24 Shades of Business adult coloring book. 7 winners will be chosen by commenting on articles and 1 of the 7 will be chosen for being a loyal commenter even when there's no giveaway! To find out more about this coloring book visit here. Good luck and see ya next Weds. when we announce the winners! 

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    By Mwabi Kaira

    A girl I knew in my late teens once told me that she didn’t want to have children. I couldn't wait to become a mother and already had a name picked out so what she told me was outside my orbit of things I knew but I respected that she had her own orbit of things she knew as well. We are African and being mothers is as much a part of womanhood as breathing so this girl got a lot of grief for her decision. I always admired how sure of herself she was even back then and how her mind was completely made up and nothing was going to sway her. We’re in our 40’s now and she is childless, thriving and happy and I am a mother to 2 teens and loving this stage in my parenting journey. We knew exactly what we wanted and thankfully things panned out just as hoped.

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    Earlier this week my friend Marlene posted about how at 22, she asked to get her tubes tied and her doctor said no. She already had a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old. She eventually had them tied but lamented about how she had to plead a case for her uterus to people who did not possess it. She asked if anyone else had a similar story. I shared that at 25, after the birth of my second son, I too decided to get my tubes tied. It was a mutual decision between my husband and I. We had two sons and although he came from a family of 9 and I came from a family of 4, we decided that we were good with two kids, especially financially. Our doctor tried to talk us out of it because we were so young according to him. I was 25 and my husband was 28. We had a house, jobs, and two kids. We were full on adulting and didn’t know what the doctor considered young. Who exactly was going to fund the daycare bills for these other babies our doctor thought we needed? It made no sense and we pleaded our case just as Marlene had and were granted our desire, our basic human right.

    Marlene’s thread alerted me to new notifications the entire day and woman after woman told their own stories of fighting for their uterus. It broke my heart. Why aren’t women trusted to make their own decisions regarding their bodies? When women decide that they don’t ever want a little resident in their uterus or don’t want anymore they are sent to see therapists because the assumption is that there is something wrong with them for feeling this way. If not to reproduce then what is a woman’s purpose? Men on the other hand can decide to have a vasectomy and be viewed as good decision makers. It is not required that they get permission from their wives to do so. Dr. Ira D. Sharlip, Chair of American Urological Association’s Vasectomy Guideline Panel explains,
    “There’s no legal requirement for spousal consent and no minimum age for vasectomy other than the minimum age of consent. But while it’s not necessary to have spousal consent, it’s a really good idea, and involving the spouse in the decision is encouraged.” 
     Encouraged and forced are two different ends of the spectrum. In Marlene’s thread a 19-year-old and a 41-year-old were denied tubal ligation. Both were childless and both were denied because they were told they could still have healthy children. They could but they asked for the tubal ligation in the first place because they didn’t want to have a child. I was especially struck by how much work these women had to do to remain child-free because they couldn’t get their tubes tied. They had to be extra cautious while the 99% method of avoiding pregnancy was kept from them. Some women were told that they had to be 30 years old before they could have a tubal ligation and deemed this age to be the age of mental maturity. Clearly, the age limit is moved to a physicians liking judging by what the 41-year-old woman was told. Is there a mental maturity age for men seeing as the age of consent is all that’s listed a requirement? The age of consent starts at 16 in many states. Most physicians base their refusal on the belief that a woman will eventually change her mind and don’t want them to live with regret. Dr. Denise Jamieson, a practicing physician and chief of the Women’s Health and Fertility Branch at the Centers for Disease Control, is also supportive of a patient’s right to choose, though she notes that the statistics don’t lie.
    “As a clinician, I know that regret is so common. Patients come in heart-broken because the situation has changed, and now they desperately want a child. It makes you feel bad as their physician.”
    While it appears admirable for physicians to think this way, Zenzele Tanya Bell in the thread put it best with this question,
    “But even if you decided at 19 that you wanted to get your tubes tied, did it, and regretted it later, wouldn't that be something for you to accept, and not the doctor who's trying to control your body?"
    The message being sent is clear; we are not in control of our uterus and can’t be trusted to make decisions on our own about them. It’s disheartening and has to change. The narrative has been passed down for generations from physician to physician. Isn’t it about time that change came and women were finally trusted to make their own decisions regarding their uterus? Can everyone that doesn’t belong in our uterus stay out of it once and for all?

    Have you had to justify not wanting to have kids to doctors/friends/family?

    Mwabi Kaira is an African girl navigating her way in an American world.  She is of Zambian and Malawian heritage and moved to the USA in 1993.  Writing has been her passion since she could put a sentence together on the page. Mothering her sons is her pride and joy.  She has been an avid runner since 2013 and has run 10 half marathons and a full marathon.  Keep up with her at http://africanbeautifulme.blogspot.com/

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    Photo: Onicia Muller- 2015 Wedding Mirror
    By Onicia Muller 

    My 27th birthday was on the horizon. I was a late bloomer and introvert who finally felt like life was falling into place. I had my Master’s degree, produced my first play, I could still fit into my jeans from high school, and in a few months, I would marry my OKCupid boo. Oh yeah, I was also having the best hair of my life!


    I’m by no means a girly girl, but I had a solid vision of my bridal look before I had a fiancé, let alone a boyfriend. The only thing stopping me was perfect -- not just good -- hair. I wanted to be a carefree bohemian, hippie, cloth-draped goddess a la Vanessa Carlton in her Carousel music video. So, for my birthday, I gathered an entire week’s pay from my part-time call center job and splurged on what I described as a luxury Real Housewives makeover.

    To understand my relationship with my hair, we have to go back about seven years when I did the big chop. My natural hair journey started partly because I finally succeeded at destroying my relaxed hair by using too much bleach and heat. Also, I wanted to prove to my cousin that hair length was “locked in our DNA”; black women either had length or they didn’t.


    Photo: Onicia Muller - 2008 Hair 
    Proof? In our family, most of the women had shoulder-length hair. Still, there was a good number who had bra strap length or longer. We all identified as black, had mostly the same texture, and same-ish styling habits. To me, DNA or God’s plan could be the only differentiating factors.

    My cousin insisted that Kim Love (Kimmaytube) had the secret to growing long, afro-textured hair. Sure, my cousin’s hair had improved over the past two years -- she’d graduated from chin-length and finally joined the shoulder-length club -- but I chalked the new growth up to simply taking better care of herself. She was a wild one who used to unbraid her cornrows from the CENTER, not the ends. Savage.

    As for me, all of my life, my relaxed hair rested just passed my shoulders. My stylist became scissors happy anytime it came near my bra strap. Hatred. “Whoever did your hair last didn’t do a good job.” Trick, you did my hair last! Whatchu talkin' bout?!

    By year four post big chop (two years following Kim Love’s methods) I was pushing past armpit length and it seemed like my strands had no intention of splitting or breaking.


    Photo: Onicia Muller - 2014 hair 
    My friends were tired of me wearing granny twists and wanted me to show off my hair so, in year 5, I wore my hair in my version of micro braids. With this style, I just braided the first 2-3 inches and the let the rest loose. The results: I was cute, but my growth stagnated leaving my hair to hover around bra strap length

    Could I break through to the next milestone? All my cousins were routing for me. People who I’d never spoken to in years messaged me for my secrets. As a black woman who had been teased for being dark-skinned, too thin, and having a long torso (girl, people will find anything to criticize), I started to depend on my hair as my claim to beauty. Getting engaged to a biracial man didn’t help any. Every time someone mentioned our future kids, my inner rage grew. “Our children will be beautiful because I am beautiful! Also, I been growing hair. I don’t need this man's DNA I’m bringing my own!!”

    Year 5 post big chop was all about personal growth. I left my tiny Caribbean island with a mission to achieve world domination by sharing Caribbean stories with the worlds. I was enamored with the idea that the hair on my head had traveled with me to three different countries and many adventures. What began as a silly science experiment, turned into pride, and then a crutch.

    It was around this time I started seeing a therapist. I was emotionally constipated and wanted a life of balance. During this year of personal growth, I signed up for a 5K and dusted off my OKCupid profile. 

    Photo: Onicia Muller – 2015 Makeover 
    Three years later, I found myself at a fancy hair salon hoping that spending $200 versus the standard $50 to flat iron my hair would make me feel beautiful. I even dropped an extra $100 so that a M.A.C. makeup artist could work her magic on my face.

    What did I get for blowing an entire week’s paycheck on a makeover? Deep. Ultra-deep disappointment. My makeup was horrible. I could do a better job with my eyes closed. My hair was ratty! Pfft, with 3 hours and some John Frieda I could get my hair bone straight at home. This expensive stylist did a job so shoddy that I was poofy within hours.

    I was livid. I was dizzy. I was sick.

    My fiancé preferred the natural me. A week later, I went to the bathroom intending to cut bangs, or layers, or just anything to make my hair look better. The result was me chopping my near-waist-length hair into a medium bob just months before our wedding.

    It was a raggedy bob that took several sessions to get leveled. My friends mourned. On some days I desperately wanted a weave. However, I’d achieved the most important growth milestone; higher self-esteem. I knew then that I didn’t need “biracial curls” to be beautiful. I didn’t need super long hair to be special. Everything I needed to feel like my best version of me I had naturally.

    My hair journey ended when I finally fell in love with me.

    *****


    Is your self-esteem tied to hair length?

    Onicia Muller is a Caribbean writer and comedian currently freezing her buns off in Chicago. A former crime reporter and children’s columnist, she's found her happy place writing about women in entertainment. If you're into oversharing, read her weekly humor column Just Being Funny in The Daily Herald’s Weekender. In June 2018, she received IGNITE Caribbean's 30 Under 30 Caribbean American Emerging Leaders and Changemakers award for her work as a cultural influencer.

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    Andrea Kelly 
    By Erickka Sy Savané

    Let the church say, AMEN. R. Kelly's ex-wife Andrea (Drea as many of us who watched the spunky and petite dancer on Hollywood Exes remember her by) has finally spoken out about her life with R. Kelly. Divorced in 2009, after 13 years and 3 children with the singer- now accused of child molestation and running a cult of young and under-age girls who are being held in Atlanta, some against their will- many have wondered how much Drea knew. I mean, if you saw her on Hollywood Exes, she seemed like a really nice woman. Well, now we know. Drea was suffering from her own abuse at the hands of R. Kelly and it's only now that she feels strong enough to speak out. We hope that she, as well as the many other women impacted by R. Kelly's abuse, will get the healing that they need. Check out her honest and heartfelt interview with Sister Circle Live.


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    Amanda Seales via her IG
    By Veronica Wells

    Amanda Seales shares some incredibly interesting stories on her Instagram page. Most of them are told through the lens of activism, but occasionally she’ll sneak in some relationship advice or an anecdote from her own romantic experiences. In one of the more recent ones, she shared why she had to get rid of a f*ckbuddy turned boo after seven years.

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    For those who didn’t watch the video, Amanda was walking with a man she’d used off-and-on as a f*ckbuddy. But when the two tried dating officially and were asked to sign a petition for gay rights, he told her that the gays were ruining our children.

    Whoa.

    If you’ve ever dated a Hotep, you might have heard this type of logic before. For whatever reason, the Hoteps believe that the effeminization of the Black man is a trick, ploy or tactic by the White man to weaken us as a people. Because you know, all gay men are effeminate and anything feminine is weak. But that’s a story for another day.

    I share Amanda’s story because after she finished telling it, the only thing I wondered was how she was unaware of this man’s homophobia for seven long years. Granted they were off-and-on but still. Perhaps she let his job as a fashion photographer convince her that he was more progressive than he actually was. Not to mention, if she kept going back to him after seven years, the dick must have not only been good but it very well could have clouded her vision, deactivated her spidey senses or caused her to forgo “the question” process.

    I know I can’t be the only woman who uses questions to determine what type of man I’m dealing with from early on. Unlike a Steve Harvey-like checklist, these questions are hidden in stories from other people’s relationships, celebrity drama, and everyday life occurrences you too may happen to witness together.

    For instance, a woman could easily ask a potential boo if he saw the footage between Fabolous and Emily B. You don’t have to share your thoughts. Just ask if he saw. The video was so graphic, he’ll have to offer an opinion about it. And if he says anything other than “Yes and it was terrible.” Then that man is not for you. Any type of “Well, we don’t know what happened, women can push a man…” or “I hope they work it out” can be read as a clear sign of a man who has a tolerance for domestic violence and you want no parts.

    And sad as it is, with the influence of the Black church, Christianity at large, the Hoteps and toxic masculinity, you have to quiz your partner to find out whether or not he’s harboring homophobic thoughts and attitudes. Again, you don’t have to ask outright. You can ask about shows or movies that feature gay characters or subjects. If homeboy’s response is “I don’t watch that gay sh*t,” then you know where he stands.

    Quiet as it’s kept, if he really goes off the deep end condemning the gays, using the f word or turning up his upper lip in disgust you might even be dealing with a man who is questioning his own sexuality. Because any man who is angered by another man’s sexuality, is a man who is likely wrestling with acknowledging the fullness of his own.

    Cis gendered, heterosexual Black women don’t often inquire about their man’s homophobia because they feel like it’s an issue that won’t affect them directly. Either that woman is holding on to her own homophobic notions or she feels like because she’s not a member of that community, it doesn’t matter if her partner has outdated and oppressive views about it. But it absolutely does. Not only because we should want to be associated with kind, loving and open men; but also because if there is any chance that you end up reproducing with this man, you should want to ensure that he’s not teaching your children hate. Even if you don’t have children, the thought of him uttering one of his homophobic beliefs in front of the wrong crowd could leave you mortified. Plus, who wants to look back 50-60 years from now and see that not only were their loved ones on the wrong side of history but you didn’t say or do anything to help bring them along? I know I don’t. To avoid all of that, go ahead and ask the questions now, so you don’t learn of your man’s dirty, little secret years into the game when you’ve developed too many feelings to walk away.

    Ever dated a homophobic romantic partner? How did you deal with it?
    Veronica Wells is the culture editor at MadameNoire.com. She is also the author of “Bettah Days” and the creator of the website NoSugarNoCreamMag. You can follow her on Facebook and on Instagram and Twitter @VDubShrug.

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    Ayo Henry & young white supremacist 
    By Kira Sparkles

    While scrolling through Facebook one night, I found a video of the woman that I wish I was in the face of adversity. Meet Ayo Henry of Rhode Island. Mother of four. Derby Girl. Badass. She charged unapologetically forward ready to mom the hell out of a kid who called her n*gger. Lucky for me, we're part of a mutual interest group on Facebook so I was able to snag Ayo to ask her all about the infamous video that has trended on World Star, Raw Story, TheRoot, and even D.L. Hughley gave it some love! This is what she had to say about the incident...



    Hi Ayo, obviously, there was some backstory. What happened to lead up to this point?
     So I got out of scrimmage practice on a Sunday about a month ago...my daughters were with me and I was taking them up to their dad's house in MA so I wanted to feed them real quick and we decided to go to D'angelos restaurant. As I pulled into the parking lot like any normal person would, this dude on a bicycle comes swooping across the lot swerving like he's got not a care in the world, nearly clips me...before I get a chance to even blow the horn, the kid turns around and starts shouting at me. I can barely hear him so I roll down my window just in time to hear "you dumb bitch!" At which point (and I have my kids in the car so I'm restraining TF out of myself) I'm like "Excuse me!???" He's wearing his confederate sweatshirt... he shouts something back, and I say something along the lines of "why don't you watch where you're going you ignorant douche, btw the confederacy is over." At which point he calls me a "dumb nigger" and says "suck my dick you nigger bitch." Well, now I'm just dumbfounded with rage...because A. wtf even just happened? B. my kids are in the car and C. this is Rhode Island (people are racist, but it's much more subtle, generally).


    So I say to my kids, watch...he's gonna forget all about this, but Rhode Island is small...I'm gonna run into him again and I will remember him.


    Fast forward a month...again, I'm leaving practice and damn if I don't see this kid go peddling by the rink wearing the same dingy confederate flag sweatshirt....Right before I started the video, he saw me pull into the gas station and we locked eyes and he took off. That's when I turned the camera on.


    What made you go after him? Were you afraid it might turn violent?

    I don't even know... I was still pretty amped up from scrimmage...I am also one of those people who can't help but speak their mind regardless of consequence, particularly when it comes to certain issues and racism is one of those. It's in my blood I think, lol...my mom, grandma, great grandma were and are very outspoken, justice-oriented, strong black women. Maybe a little quick with the mouth, but with sincere integrity.


    I was not afraid, and I have read many comments reminding me that what I did was dangerous...


    But I've always been really good at reading people. I come from a real mixed up background growing up in the projects, but attending private school, working in hospitals and pharmacies, and having a career in sales.


    So I could tell from his demeanor right off the bat that he was far more afraid of me than I was of him... not to say it wasn't still risky, but I definitely would give myself credit for having pretty good street smarts.


    You really went straight up into mom mode on this kid! Were you hoping to accomplish something with your interaction with him?

     I think my initial feeling was just that I wanted him to know that he couldn't just get away with what he said. I wanted him to know that I remembered his words and I remembered his face and I remembered his sweatshirt and that I wasn't afraid. Whenever I see terrible racist crap on the internet or in real life (or any of the degenerate shit the media inundates us with) the first thing I always think is "where is this person's mother...and is she proud?" or "who is raising their children to be such garbage humans?"...Like my primary objective on earth right now is raising 4 kids, but it's not just raising kids you're raising future adults. I can't understand for the life of me why racism, sexism, transphobia any of this stuff is still even an issue because in my household the number one rule is "don't be a dick."


    What would you love to change about the world with your newfound platform?

     If I could change one thing about the world, it would be to make people understand that we ARE all essentially the same. We all want to be successful, we all want to make our folks proud, we all want to give our children the best opportunities in life. We all love a good meal, we laugh and cry the same despite language differences. If everyone understood that and could have a little empathy for the next, without the presumption of superiority or inferiority between groups, we would have none of the problems we have in the world today.


    Thanks so much for chatting with us Ayo!

    How do you/have you dealt with racists?

    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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    Gathered, yet? #FlipTheSwitch #BeHerNow

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    Fun Fact- You are not the annoyed and easily bothered individual you think you are. Your natural Self is ‘good’... happy for no reason, and inherently grateful. To remember and ‘experience’ this reality, you don’t have to change your beliefs, fake it til you make it, or do anything— you just need to stop ‘doing’ for a second... stop thinking long enough to see and BE this.

    Try this- place two items in front of you on a table, about 12 inches apart... a pen and your phone, or whatever is in arms reach. Now, sit comfortably and pay attention to both. Try to look at both. Give both items your full attention, and at the same time, notice that you’re aware of yourself looking at these two items. Now, as you continue to look, notice how your body feels.

    This activity (looking at, watching or trying to pay attention to two things at once), momentarily short circuits your thoughts— your mind grows quiet and your body feels relaxed and good. Once you’re used to this quiet joy, you can skip the exercise and go right to the feels. Choose these feels over your habitual annoyed and bothered feels, until you remember that these feels are HOME. And when you’re HOME, you’re HER.

    The above exercise is inspired by Frank Kinslow’s ‘The Secret of Quantum Living.’ -Nikki Walton

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