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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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    Naturi Naughton as Tasha St. Patrick
    By Kaila Kea

    I have a confession…I hate Tasha St. Patrick’s look. I hate the weave. The boots. The make-up. Oy, the make-up. Don’t get me wrong, this has nothing to do with actress Naturi Naughton. As a matter of fact, I really dig Naturi. She seems like someone who would be great to know in real life. Her comeback from her early days in a music trio is arguably one of the best glow-ups we’ve ever seen. Not to mention, she stays away from the drama, enjoying a successful career on the ever-popular Power while keeping her private life…well, private. We can all learn a thing or two from Naturi.

    In fact, it is my love for Naturi that makes me hate Tasha’s look even more. 

    As a brown-skinned girl myself, I just cannot get with the long, light brown wig that Tasha has worn since season 1 on Power. Contrary to popular belief, brown girls can rock a lot of colors, but the light brown wig just aint cuttin’ it. On top of that, Tasha’s wardrobe leaves much to be desired. I’ll give her a pass on wearing high-heeled boots every single episode – I’m willing to bet that the heels help close the gap between Naturi and her taller castmates. However, the rest has got to go. 

    LaLa Anthony & Naturi Naughton
    During season 4, Tasha vented to Lakeisha about centering her life around Ghost and their family. She even mentioned that Ghost has inspired her look. I had hope that this revelation would lead to some serious wardrobe changes. Perhaps Tasha would swap out the wig for a sleek straight bob or fun textured ‘do and work in some natural-looking makeup. Although I am not wishing for Tasha to look dowdy, I do wish her look was more representative of the Tasha we’ve come to root for. I also wish she looked more like the women who watch the show. Naturi’s natural beauty provides a canvas for a more relatable, chic look yet Tasha still looks like she’s playing dress-up each episode.

    Now that I know that Ghost has heavily influenced Tasha’s look, I am really rooting for a style reboot. With everything that Tasha has been through – marital discord, legal woes, loss – this is the perfect time for Tasha to reclaim her look and her life.

    Truthfully, we have all been in Tasha’s shoes at some point. Okay, so maybe we don’t have a drug dealer-turned-club owner as a husband and we’ve never instructed a loved one on how to cover up a crime *side eye.* But, many of us have big chopped, releasing years of damaged hair so that our natural beauty can flourish. Case in point: when I big chopped for the fourth time in October 2016, I knew it was time. I needed a new start; a way to stop camouflaging irreversibly damaged tresses. At the same time, I let go of some of the stress that had brought me to that point. Embracing the change in my hair empowered me to embrace other changes in my life.

    Sanaa Lathan
    The same is true for many women. Last year, when Sanaa Lathan revealed her big chop for Nappily Ever After, she shared how refreshing the change was. “It was actually really powerful and kind of weirdly cathartic and freeing." Lathan adds, “[It feels like this is time] in terms of women of color coming into this amazing renaissance of owning who they are, and owning all of their beauty in whatever shape, size, color it is.” Much like myself and Sanaa, Tasha has come to a point where evolving her style can unlock other changes in her life. But, I can’t help but feel like the masterminds behind Power are stunting Tasha’s style evolution for a reason. Tasha often talks about moving on from her life with Ghost but rarely acts on it. She’s been stuck in the same cycle in her life and style and quite honestly, it’s no fun to watch. Perhaps Tasha has not moved on as much as she claims she has and her Nappily Ever After moment is still on the horizon. Whatever the case, I hope that Power showrunners give Tasha’s style a fighting chance in the coming seasons. Once Tasha experiences the catharsis that follows a major style change, she will level up in her look and her storyline, showing viewers that no one’s past is too dark to bounce back from.

    Sound off! What do you think of Tasha’s look? Have you ever held on to something too long only to find that letting go was the best thing you ever did? 
    Kaila Kea is a freelance career coach and writer who specializes in creating content pertaining to career and self-development. In addition to writing for CurlyNikki, she has also created content for ZipRecruiter, Blavity, 21Ninety, and LinkedIn. Her work is both provocative and pleasing, often straddling the fine lines between career goals and natural hair care, current events, and goal-setting. Follow her journey on Instagram.

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    Benny Harlem & Wife Kourtney Dandridge via IG
    By Winnie Gaturu 

    Benny Harlem's hair kits are quite impressive, especially when you consider they sell out within seconds. Containing rare ingredients which are guaranteed to nurture and nourish African hair, the products are handmade with ut-most care and dedication to ensure supreme quality. To obtain the ingredients used, Benny Harlem has to travel to countries like Ethiopia. It was during one of these trips that Benny was bitten by a viper snake. Since he had been informed that the bite was non-venomous at the facility in Ethiopia, he went about his business as usual. It was when he came back to the United States that the effects of the venom began to manifest. While in the middle of a photo shoot, his face and neck began to swell, eyes slowly shut down and he was rushed to the hospital. His condition was severe to the point that he couldn't walk or breathe on his own.

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    Benny Harlem at a hospital in LA
    Due to the sensitive nature of the situation, the family had remained silent, except for this cryptic message that was left on his page last week that had many of Benny's friends and fans thinking the worst. And well wishes and prayers began pouring on his page.




    Mr. Harlem has been ordered by doctors to cancel all engagements this coming week in Soweto South Africa & Somalia. The Peace march in Soweto will now be lead by Reverend L. Colman and First Lady Colman. Please contact Gold Temple Out Reach for further details. At this time we can not confirm or deny any truth to any reports or make an official statement on Mr. Harlem’s condition. Mr. Harlem’s wife Courtney Harlem Muhammad sincerely apologizes to supporters & clients who have waited many hours to give flowers and well wishes to Mr. Harlem and the family. If you were turned away please understand that the terms and policies of the hospital are very firm and out of the hands of the Harlem family. Your love and compassion has brought comfort to the family in this unimaginable trying time. The family ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult time. An official update and announcement will be made soon on Mr. Harlem’s website. - Rachel Anderson LA Angels PR & Branding
    A post shared by bennyharlem (@bennyharlem) on
    You see, Benny is more than just a hair care entrepreneur, committed to his customers and product. He also mentors young black men and inspires them to love their families. As a matter of fact, Benny Harlem's Instagram account can be summarized as a display of love, unity, and dedication to family. However, this hasn't always been the case.

    Like a large number of young black men, Benny didn't have a father or many positive male role models growing up. So by the time his daughter Jaxyn was born, he wasn't equipped to be a Dad. By his own admission, Benny's life was a mess:
    "I was selling drugs out my Miami Beach Condo .. Messing with everyone's wife except my own.. 90 pounds over weight (From years of Abusing Lean) I was Completely high on codeine until I overdosed in this very tub. I woke up in the hospital crying .. Thinking about my daughter and how I was repeating a cycle of lies .. Pain .. selfishness and hurt.. @kourtneydandridge wanted nothing to do with me .. she didn't believe I was ready to change .. So I had to prove it.. I traveled all over Africa for almost a year finding myself .. Tracing my roots .. learning new ways of living .. Spiritually & Physically .. I came back to America delivered.. ready to teach my daughter everything I learned while on my quest to freedom, healing and detoxing from all the evils I learned to consume spiritually and physically since I came into this world .. I not only taught my wife and daughter how to grow their hair higher & closer to God .. But I showed them how to be an example in moving closer to God."
    Benny Harlem IG taken 5 years ago
    Now this is what you see today!

    Benny Harlem IG today
    So as you can imagine, a LOT of people were very happy that Benny posted this picture to his IG account just yesterday, saying that prayers were answered. We celebrate Benny Harlem's dedication to his hair kits, family and the black community, and we're praying that he'll be around for a very long time! 

    What do you think about Benny Harlem and what he's doing with his life today?
     https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-DnsMSFjLFNw/We9aV3iBeiI/AAAAAAAADII/F9HbMPX6PfYe6aCJqc-eDi3Wgmu41YE4wCLcBGAs/s1600/Winnie%2BG..jpg
    Winnie Gaturu is a writer, tech lover, mom, wife and student from Nairobi, Kenya. During her free time, she loves trying out new recipes, diy projects, filling in crossword puzzles and spending time with her family. 

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    Angela and Ghost
    By Mwabi Kaira 

     As far as season finales and cliffhangers go, Power fell flat last night.

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    Don't read ahead if you haven't seen the finale...you've been warned...
    Angela 
    When Raina got killed last season we felt that in our souls because no one saw it coming. Raina was sweet and caring and just wanted her brother to do right. Everyone and their Mama has been gunning for Angela’s demise since season 1 so when it finally happened it was just meh. Where’s the story here? Other than Ghost, no one was checking for Angela. Speaking of Ghost, how dense is he when it comes to Angela? Tasha may have had her situationships but she never lost her head in the process. Ghost’s brain was non-existent when Angela was involved.

    Speaking of Tasha, I have to nominate her for the worst friend award after this season finale. I felt for Keisha. She has never been thanked for risking her life for Tasha and her family and always taken for-granted. I wanted to throw my shoe at Tasha’s head when Keisha was pouring out her heart on their friendship with tears in her eyes and all Tasha could think of was Keisha’s alibi once again. Friendship requires reciprocity and Tasha knows nothing about that. What’s obvious is that if the tables were turned, Tasha would never be all she expects from Keisha in a friendship. It is clear that Tasha is for self. Keisha finally finds her backbone and demands respect from this friendship by walking away from it.

    Dre
    They say a cat has nine lives. In the world of Power, the cat is Dre. I have never seen so many attempts to take someone out fail. This entire season guns have been pointed at Dre and he has managed to escape them all. How Sway? The only way for Dre to get out of this life that he sneakily inserted himself into is to cooperate with the Feds. He got too big for his own good and it’s come back to bite him.

    This entire episode was a game of who will snitch on who. The Feds wanted Tommy to snitch on Ghost and Angela to save himself. Keisha wanted Tommy to snitch on Ghost and Tasha so they could live happily ever after without them. Proctor wants Ghost to snitch on Tommy and Silver wants Tasha to snitch on Ghost. In the end, the only snitch is Dre and we will see how it plays out next season.

    Tommy
    This season’s highlight was Kanan’s death and that was 2 episodes ago. Tariq and Tasha setting him up and Kanan choosing not to kill Tariq when he had the chance is more of a water cooler conversation than Tommy shooting Angela. We didn’t see it coming. Tommy knew Angela was a bad idea from day one and has been waiting for his opportunity. This shooting was not a shock, it was too obvious. This is TV and for all we know neither Kanan or Angela are dead. They may come back to life in a new storyline. I can see Angela having amnesia and poor Ghost losing his mind because his Angie doesn’t remember him. Can we discuss Ghost taking out Silver like that even though he’s sprung over Angela? I will never understand it.

    Power has high ratings and a very loyal audience. They’ve already been renewed for Season 6. All we could think about after the Season 4 finale was poor Raina and what would become of the St. Patrick family. After last night’s Season 5 finale, there is not much to contemplate or speculate on. I’ll be watching Season 6 and hope they can deliver some more on-the-edge-of-your-seat programming and not the obvious programming that was the final scene of Season 5.

    Did you see Power this season? 
    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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    Screenshot via Twitter
    By Erickka Sy Savané

    White women, or white folks in general, feeling the need to touch black women's hair is nothing new. Seeing them get busted right in the act is. Thanks to this guy who took this now viral video at a restaurant in Atlanta, and posted it to twitter, everyone gets to see how it goes down in all its white-privileged creepiness...

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    Thankfully, this has never happened to me. And if it does, I can't say how I'd react. This white lady was lucky she had someone who kept her composure. According to Dustin who took the video footage the black woman said, "I'm being very friendly today, but please don't touch my hair." I mean, just imagine innocently standing in a line about to get your grub when you suddenly feel strange hands fondling your hair. As a reflex someone could get karate-chopped. Oscar-winning director Ava DuVernay tweeted:
    "I've experienced this. This sister is a saint. I'd recommend others don't try it with the rest of us."
    Countless black women shared their frustration via twitter and even some woke white folks chimed in on this "petting" phenomenon.  






     Has this ever happened to you?
     
    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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    Cardi B
     By Brenda Alexander

    So Cardi B decided to interrupt the Harper's Bazaar Party during the fashion industry’s premiere celebration of New York Fashion Week for a full-on old school street fight with Nicki Minaj. I knew nothing of this beef, but I digress. What’s more important here is that I’m disappointed that once again, my people cannot handle themselves amongst the Caucasians.

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    Considering that there’s always apprehension to invite us to certain “upscale events,” specifically rappers and the not so soft version of R&B singers and reality stars, this incident furthered the negative perception that we don’t know how to act. The most you hear about a Fashion Week attendee is that they may have a little too much to drink. Or, during film award season, someone may say something out of term during an acceptance speech. But never have I heard of an entire brawl. They done bought the hood to NYC Fashion Week.

    Cardi B & Nicki Minaj

    Sis, we are in mixed company. The legendary Anna Wintour was somewhere with her bob and enjoying a glass of Prosecco while you couldn’t resist yelling expletives and throwing your Versace shoes (or whatever brand the shoe was) across the room at your rival? A rival that either no one knew existed or at minimum, whatever spat you guys had was squashed per your recollection just months prior.

    Cardi you are no longer that girl who has to put on for reality television cameras. You got out. You were one of the lucky ones. You are now in rooms that those same girls act a monkey ass in every other scene, hoping to get the type of access and opportunity you are awarded. You claim to have left Love & Hip Hop for the very reason of not being in situations in which you are forced to behave in certain ways, only to be a wanted guest at America’s beloved fashion event to relapse into the same stereotypical behavior you ran away from.

    There’s a time and a place for everything, and a Harper's Bazaar party during NYFW is NOT the time nor place. This is an unfortunate example of the old saying, “You can take the girl out of the hood but not the hood out of the girl.”

    I don’t care what provoked such. Unless Nicki lunged or put her hands up as if she were to fight Cardi, then this is unacceptable. Cardi needs a lesson in, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” And all of that to not land one punch and YOU walk away with a knot on YOUR head from someone trying to stop you from hitting her. In hindsight, was it worth it Cardi?

    I think not, but her recent Instagram post suggests she stands by her actions.




    What Nicki is being accused of doing is nothing more than what Lil’ Kim and Remy Ma have claimed, it just hasn’t escalated to them putting paws on her. Nicki has even tried Mariah Carey by attacking her verbally and threatening to fight her, so we know she’s missing a screw or two and at worst has no respect for the legends.

    But, even Remy had the sense to rap about it in a more productive way by releasing the Shether diss track and air her grievances in an educated fashion in interviews as opposed to clocking her on sight at a public event. And even Solange was smart enough to go kung foo panda on Jay Z in an enclosed elevator versus on a red carpet at the MET Gala. Did she anticipate a tape of elevator-gate being leaked to TMZ? No. But had it not been for a money hungry surveillance agent, we would have never known it happened.

    I’m not saying that Nicki doesn’t deserve a gentle slap across the face from someone for the constant shit talk she does and the alleged underhanded activity she does behind the scenes. Even recently, she blamed what she considered to be lackluster album sales and losing the number one spot to Kylie Jenner’s promotion of Travis Scott’s project.

    I’m not an advocate of violence of any form, specifically amongst black women. However, I’m not naive to the fact that if you talk smack you’ll eventually run into someone who’ll match that with their fists to teach you a lesson.

    Either way, we have to do better, both verbally and physically. We need to be cautious of what we say to one another and we also need to get to the point where we understand that retaliating with a kick, curse word or weapon helps none. The English vocabulary is broad. Let’s make better use of it. Furthermore, let’s not ruin the chances for those coming behind us because we can’t handle conflict as adults. Let’s see who gets an invite to next year’s Harper Bazaar party. Smh.

    Do you think we're expecting too much from rappers when it comes to keeping it classy?
     
    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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     EL HADJ AMADOU DIOP
    By Erickka Sy Savané

    If you're not familiar with GQ Style fashion editor Mobolaji Dawodu, don't worry, we'll catch you up. Before his current gig, the Nigerian-American spent over a decade traveling the globe styling fashion shoots for Fader magazine. He's worked with such stars as Brad Pitt, Jared Leto and Mahershala Ali, and he was the costume designer for the films 'Queen of Katwe' and 'Mother of George.' He's also rumored to have dated actress Lupita Nyong'o, but we ain't one to gossip. For this particular shoot, Mobolaji traveled to the streets of Senegal with some suitcases full of clothes and a photographer and made this magic!

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    LÉNA GUEYE | AGE 18 | OCCUPATION Model, student (Top by Adam Selman / Pants by Anna Sui / Shoes by Christian Louboutin / Bracelets by Dinosaur Designs / Earrings by Giorgio Armani / Ring by Alexis Bittar)

    PAPI | AGE 28 | OCCUPATION Artist, fashion designer, founder of @DakarLives (Jacket, $2,290, pants, $990, by Fendi / Shirt, $995, by Dolce & Gabbana / Hat, $60, by JJ Hat Center / Ring, his own)

    ABOU SARR | AGE 24 | OCCUPATION Model (Shirt [women’s] by Giorgio Armani / Pants, $728, by Bode / Boots, $1,150, by Bottega Veneta)




    MISS MARIA DIADY | AGE 19 | OCCUPATION Student (Dress by Gucci / Shoes by Christian Louboutin)

    NANETTE DIOP | AGE 24 | OCCUPATION TV presenter, actress (Dress by Pleats Please Issey Miyake / Top by Anna Sui / Pants by Etro / Boots by Clergerie / Sunglasses by Eyevan / Scarf, stylist’s own) / RIGHT, ON MARCEL (Coat, price upon request, by Haider Ackermann / Jacket, $2,095, pants, $1,535, by Issey Miyake Men / Boots, $1,295, by Christian Louboutin / Hat and necklace, stylist’s own)

    SHARON DOSSOU | AGE 19 | OCCUPATION Student (Jacket and skirt by Dolce & Gabbana / Top by Ulla Johnson / Jewelry by The Shiny Squirrel)

    LEFT, ON PAPI (Blazer, $1,050, by Massimo Alba / Turtleneck, $1,330, by Etro / Pants (price upon request) by Isaia / Shoes, $1,050, by Santoni / Hat, stylist’s own / Ring, his own) / RIGHT, ON ABOU (Blazer, $2,330, by Etro / Shirt, $515, by Vivienne Westwood / Pants, $300, by Death to Tennis / Hat, stylist’s own / Sunglasses, $665, by Mr. Leight)




    GNIMA DIOP | AGE 31 | OCCUPATION Regional analyst (Coat and top by Jil Sander / Sunglasses by Eyevan / Head scarf and earrings, stylist’s own) / LEFT, ON DIJA (Top and skirt by Pleats Please Issey Miyake / Coat by Prabal Gurung)

    MOUR FALL | AGE 31 | OCCUPATION Artist (Jacket and pants, prices upon request, by Louis Vuitton / Shirt, $240, by Acne Studios / Shoes, $1,295, by Christian Louboutin / Hat, $148, by Laulhère / Sunglasses, $460, by Salt / Necklace and ring, his own)

    MADELEINE DIENG NDOYE | AGE 17 | OCCUPATION Model, student (Turtleneck by Ellery / Overalls by Rosie Assoulin) 

    LEFT, ON ALIOU SOW | AGE 56 | OCCUPATION Vendor (Clothing, his own) / CENTER, ON NDIATÉ CISSÉ | AGE 23 | OCCUPATION Portfolio assistant (Jacket and skirt by Kenzo / Top by Ulla Johnson / Boots by Christian Louboutin / Hat, stylist’s own / Necklace by Dolce & Gabbana / Bracelet by Alexis Bittar) / RIGHT, ON MANZELA ITOUA | AGE 27 | OCCUPATION Sales adviser (Sweater, $1,750, by Bottega Veneta / Pants (part of suit), $4,295, by Isaia / Shoes, $960, by Christian Louboutin / Hat, stylist’s own / Sunglasses, $420, by Garrett Leight / Bracelet, his own)

    BEYDI OUMAR BA | AGE 21 (Blazer, $1,205, pants, $1,075, by Off-White c/o Virgil Abloh / Sweater, $1,185, by The Elder Statesman / Boots, $1,450, by Santoni / Hat, $475, by Versace / Ring, his own)

    AMADOU DIALLO (Vest, $550, by Dries Van Noten / Coat, $1,150, by Death to Tennis / Pants, $1,195, by Giorgio Armani / Shoes, $700, by Acne Studios)

    All photos courtesy of GQ.com
     *********


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    Kenneka Jenkins
    By Brenda Alexander
    It’s been a year since the tragic death of Kenneka Jenkins, the Chicago teen whose body was found in a hotel freezer after a night of partying gone wrong. Her case attracted national attention, protests and conspiracy theories, but was ultimately ruled accidental- she got intoxicated at a hotel party, wandered away from her friends and stumbled into a freezer she was unable to escape. When I initially heard the news of her disappearance and subsequent death, I was saddened. When I saw the actual video of her wandering alone, visibly under the influence of substances, I was mortified. That image has remained a constant memory in my mind and a warning of what drinking with people who may not have your best interest at heart could lead too.

    There’s nothing wrong with having a good time. And, what you do when you’re out with friends and what substances you take part in is a personal choice. I myself am the turn up queen and love a good cocktail or two, have engaged in a “puff puff pass” situation on occasion and love to have a good time. That’s a given, especially when you’re young. I’ve always been careful when partying and have imbedded in my mind the things my mother always told me to look out for when outside of the comfort of my home or family function: never leave your drink unattended - don’t share drinks with others - don’t mix silver and brown liquor - don’t drive under the influence - stay in close proximity to your family and friends - etc. But after what happened to Kenneka, I take those warnings a lot more seriously. 

    What happened to her could have been avoided. I’m not placing blame on anyone for Kenneka’s death as we are responsible for our own choices when it comes to how much alcohol we intake, although at some point, if too much was consumed, it’s safe to bet we aren’t thinking clearly. When you sit back and analyze the scenario of what we know occurred, she could very well have been saved had someone intervened. Thinking back to some of my crazy nights out when I’ve been white-girl-wasted that could have easily been me...

    There have been several mornings that I awoke to friends recounting the night before and I remembered less than half of what they were talking about. The first time I ever got too drunk to the point where I was not in control, I was with my older cousin and her friend. After two jolly ranchers and three double shots of tequila, me dancing on tables, snapping fingers at patrons for more drinks and whatever else, they took me home. There was a guy who tried to pick me up at the bar and continued to buy me drinks. My cousin tried to get me to slow down, but I refused. She monitored me while I did so and cleaned me up later.

    There was a time in LA that I drank a fish bowl of Long Island iced tea and unbeknownst to me, took pictures atop of a parked luxury car. My friend that I was with watched me and got us home safe. And probably the worst time was just last year, the weekend of my housewarming. After drinking the entire day and night, my friend from out of town refused to let me go home until he felt I was sober after vomiting naked in the bathroom of his $1500 a night hotel suite (a mess, I know). Any one of those situations could have ended badly for me. 

    When in control, I’ve always been that girl joined at the hip with whomever I enter a kick back, bar or club with. If my girls get too hot and decide to step out for some air, I could use a cool breeze too. If they get up to go to the bathroom, I guess I can freshen up my matte lipstick as well. If they walk away with a guy to go and chat in a quieter area, I’m two steps behind and will stand near them scanning the internet with mase easy to grab in my purse in case something pops off. My friends are the same way. Because if you watch enough episodes of Law & Order SVU, you know anything is possible. In Kenneka Jenkins' case, that’s exactly what happened. 

    Why in the hell was she allowed to leave that hotel room unattended (or slip away) in the state that she was in? Out of the estimated dozens of people in that room, no one had the bright idea to travel with her, regardless of if she refused anyone’s help? 

    And who in the world was monitoring the security cameras? She traveled up and down multiple floors via an elevator and was seen stumbling through hallways and over banisters prior to entering the kitchen for dozens of minutes before going out of camera view. No one deemed it important enough to stop her and take her to the security office in holding until they found her crew, or better yet, contacted her family? Everyone from her friends to the hotel staff are responsible in some capacity for this unfortunate outcome. I can’t wrap my head around the fact that no one stepped in to help and that haunts me to this day. 

    I pray that her family finds peace through all of this and advocate partying safely. Furthermore, it is my hope that all who were present that night, learned a valuable lesson. 

    As for me, Kenneka Jenkins’ passing taught me to be cautious while enjoying a night out and not to over-drink, remain alert on behalf of those I’m with, and to be appreciative for the friends and family I have who did not allow a fun night out turn into a tragedy like Kenneka’s. 

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

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    By Ta-Ning Connai

    I LOVE TO LAUGH! Just sitting here thinking about it makes me feel like belting out a huge Ahahahaha! And nothing brings me more chuckles than a Facebook page called Church of Laugh, where nothing churchy is off limits. From feathery hats large enough to be a lethal weapon to choir leaders that should be officially banned from the mic forever, get ready for some gotta-catch-your-breath hilariousness! I find their mix of humor and the Christian experience quite the clever combo; ‘cause I just don’t see why everything about loving Jesus gotta be so sad like those old gospel hymns (sorry but, no I don't wanna go up yonder, yes I can DEFINITELY wait to get to Heaven, yes His grace is amazing, but do not call me a wretch, thanks). And while they usually have me in stitches, one recent post pointed to something that happens to me, and lots of other people in church, way too often.

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    They created a meme of various celebs sitting together, but they were all glaring straight ahead ignoring each other. The text read, 
    "When the pastor says hug your neighbor and everybody act like they don't hear 'em." 
    At first, I cracked up, hard; because, if there's anything you're gonna repeatedly experience at a black church, it's gonna be the pastor trying to get the entire congregation all involved in the sermon: Hug your neighbor, dance with your neighbor, pray for your neighbor, my pastor will have you repeat a whole paragraph to your neighbor...expect to get really familiar with your neighbor. But far too often you end up sitting next to somebody with a really funky attitude. And that is not so funny.

    The comments on this Church of Laugh post said a lot about the dry demeanor and dingy dispositions that sometimes lurk in the House of the Lord...
    "This pic is so me! ‘Cause I don't want nobody putting their germs on me, I don't know where they hands been!" 
    “Girl, you can't be letting people's spirits be getting all over you! You don't know what kinda demons is in them!"
    “I just go to church to hear the Word, I don't wanna be bothered with all that!
    One comment after the next, the consensus was in: evidently it's ok to be rude to people, as long as you come up with an excuse for your behavior. Even I have to admit, I'm not always in the mood for so much neighborly love...

    Out of curiosity, I mustered up the guts to ask my pastor why the “neighbor” thing was such a thing for him and other pastors across the globe when clearly so many people don't like it... He said, 
    “Since the Bible says that, ‘faith comes by hearing’ it's important to get the people to speak words of faith together so that it gets deep within their spirit. Also, it's a way to encourage community, unity and fellowship amongst the people of God.” 
    Good answer! Plus, people come to church looking for answers, in search of peace, in hopes to connect. I may not be perfect, but I don't ever want to be the reason people hate Christians and want nothing to do with God. I don't want people to stop coming to church because of me. I hope and pray that Christians everywhere will truly and authentically wear that "label" with the knowledge that we have the power to change the atmosphere around us. Be kind, show love. Let's be a blessing to the people God puts in our path, from the church pews to the beauty salon. I mean, what if a person's chance to know God is by sitting next to YOU? One moment can change their lives forever, and whether that's for better or worse it is up to us. 
    “...and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law (Ten Commandments)” - Romans 13: 9b-10
    Do you mind interacting with your neighbor at church? 
    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 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 

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    Photo BlackLove.com
    By Nicole Pender

    “Love is patient, love is kind, love requires longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, and faith.”

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    Kyrzayda Rodriguez
     By Ta-Ning Connai

    While watching American Idol one night back in 2009, I heard the most beautiful song; a song full of enough power to put the meaning of life and death in its proper perspective. 'Live Like You're Dying' was about waking up to the reality that life is short, tomorrow may never come and that it is of the utmost urgency to live everyday with unrestricted abandon, as if it were your last. And although I'd heard variations of that same message many times before, none seemed to have such an inspirational impact on me like that lyrical life lesson did. Nine years later, I can't say I have fully and consistently manifested that mantra in my life and I can't say that I've been an eyewitness to anyone else that embodied the entirety of those words either...until lifestyle and fashion blogger, Kyrzayda Rodriguez invited us on her incredible journey of living life while she was dying.

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    Kyrzayda IG
     In 2013, the Dominican diva entered the social media stratosphere. It wouldn't be long before her impeccable style, infectious personality and glowing spirit made her an instant influencer all around the world, garnering her close to half a million Instagram followers to date. Many of her fans cite her dazzling beauty and creativity as their initial draw, but were quick to often mention that her willingness to share her faith in Jesus with such ease and grace is what made their hearts soar and  keep them coming back.

    However, in October 2017, things would dramatically change. While the gram is often used to show one's best foot forward and to invite people into a controlled environment reeking with the illusion of glamorous perfection, Kyrzayda decided to share with her faithful supporters that she had not been feeling well, which led to her getting some tests done. In the days to follow, before the startling news had even had a chance to sink in, she revealed that she was diagnosed with stage 4 gastric cancer and that the battle of a lifetime was about to begin.




    This beautiful platform I shared with each and one you guys has open so many opportunities for me. I have met so many wonderful people. I have grown into a businesswoman. Most importantly I proved to myself that with hard work anything is possible. I want to thank everyone who has reached out to me. I'm so humbled. Here is a little updated. Unfortunately I was diagnosed with stomach Cancer. I still don't know how to wrap my head around all this info. I know God will guide me but guys this has been the toughest challenge. I have learned so much this week ... that kindness is stronger than anything, than your past and your mistakes. Thank you IG family for your prayers. I'm doing ok for now, and I will start treatment very soon. This is a new journey for me, I don't want to fall into "why me" but find ways to overcome. My family & friends have been so supportive, I’m beyond bless! For now my IG friends remember to be kind to one another! #FUCKyoucancer
    A post shared by Kyrzayda Rodriguez (@kyrzayda_) on
    This monumental moment was the beginning of a journey Kyrzayda didn't plan, expect or choose, yet she embraced it with ferocious dignity and determination. The NY based blogger would suddenly become a beacon of hope and example of tremendous will, reaching far beyond her fashionista platform.

    It can be so utterly painful to watch someone battle a life-threatening disease, but in the case of Kyrzayda, it was more like beholding courage personified. Yes, she expressed sorrow when forced to shave her crowning glory, but it was her strength that shook us. When her body become frail, she spoke honestly about her hard time initially accepting the drastic change. But, then she lovingly schooled the world on the superficiality of outer beauty once she learned to love the real her lying deep beyond the flesh and bones. When she felt sick, she said so, while still uplifting her followers. And when she brought the chemo to an end because it wasn't going as planned, she asked for our support and understanding.

    But MY GOD MY GOD, this woman continued to take fierceness to a whole ‘nother level! She didn't hide in shame and she didn't give cancer an easy win. She fought the presence of defeat by continuing to work as much as she could, serving us 100% slay to the likes of which have never been seen before. Kyrzayda proved that true love can supersede time and space and that it can be felt even amongst strangers along the World Wide Web. Every post was filled with appreciation and gratefulness for her followers, her family and most importantly, God. She showed us that death can be met with peace and that a short life on earth can leave a long lasting legacy when lived with purpose and sacrifice. Kyrzayda sacrificed her privacy in order to show us how to do what we love NOW and to do it as a blessing for others and not just ourselves.

    Kyrzayda IG
    Ms. Rodriguez passed away on September 9th, and will be sorely missed by her family, friends, and so many of us. If there's anything to help through the pain, I hope it would be the sharing in her love for God and the joyful realization that this precious angel has been welcomed into Heaven and greeted by the words that we all hope to one day hear…
    "Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” - Matthew 25:21
     Does Kyrzayda's journey inspire you to live a fuller life?

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    By Nikki Walton

    The joy is God appearing as you and your world. But you have to invite It in, so It can escort you out. If ‘you’ want to win, ‘you’ must go.

    Find the innate Joy that’s present to you now and now and now and now—stay with it, choose it over everything. Make it EXTRA primary. #BeHerNow #GodNotes

    Fun fact: God = Love ... and It’s a felt experience

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    Can you relate?

    Better yet, you ever lose your train of thought, and start feeling calm and peaceful, and then thoughts say, ‘I was worried about something... what was it again?’ and then you start trying to remember what had you so bothered?! In moments like that, catch yourself and find and choose the current of Joy. Instead of asking ‘why was I feeling worried?’ ask, ‘is there Joy here?’ #BeHerNow #SheAsksBetterQuestions

    p.s. Notice that vague sense of dread or worry the next time it comes up. If you really look at it, you’ll see just how familiar it is. When it comes to visit sometimes the mind says it’s because you have an exam coming up or an important meeting... other times the mind attributes it to not getting an email response back from someone ‘important’ or getting ‘the we need to talk’ text from your partner. No matter what label the mind sticks on it, notice that it’s the SAME. DAMN. FEELING. Different intensities, but always the same sensations. When you notice this, you’ve taken your power back. Then the game is staying woke enough to watch it come and go without being bothered. Let it go, and if you can’t do that, let it be!

    Do you find yourself being peaceful then try to force yourself back to worry?

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    Hey guys!

    As a mommy of two growing kiddos, and a #WholeLifeWellness advocate, I’d love for you to join me in supporting Beech-Nut and No Kid Hungry’s new campaign to end childhood hunger in the United States.

    Continue>>>


    To kick off their new partnership, Beech-Nut and No Kid Hungry have created a video to shed light on food insecurity among children under the age of five. More than 13 million children in the United States live in “food insecure” households, which translates to roughly 1 in 6 children who are living with hunger. Beech-Nut will donate $75,000 to No Kid Hungry during the campaign. Additionally, for every video view, Beech-Nut will donate $1 to No Kid Hungry, up to $10,000!


    The video is powerful and emotionally stirring because it features real moms… real people… people just like you and me, that are struggling to provide whole, healthy food for their young children. You’ll gain perspective and a burning drive to help make ‘no kid hungry a reality in America.’ Please watch it now, and share across your social media platforms!



    About Beech-Nut
    Beech-Nut Nutrition is dedicated to conserving the goodness of nature and is one of America’s leading companies providing safe, nutritious food for babies. It sells a wide variety of products that are natural, organic, and GMO-free. Beech-Nut baby food has been producing baby food since 1931 and was recently awarded 2015 Product of the Year in the baby food category by the Consumer Survey of Product Innovation USA. Beech-Nut Nutrition is owned by the Hero Group, a private consumer goods conglomerate based in Lenzburg, Switzerland.
    Visit www.beechnut.com for more information.

    About No Kid Hungry
    No child should go hungry in America. But 1 in 6 kids will face hunger this year. No Kid Hungry is ending childhood hunger through effective programs that provide kids with the food they need. This is a problem we know how to solve. No Kid Hungry is a campaign of Share Our Strength, an organization working to end hunger and poverty.

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    Photo BlackLove.com
    By Courtni Guevara

    I didn't want to wash my hair. No, that’s not accurate. I wanted to wash my hair, but I was scared. My scalp burned as if it were on fire. The water would soothe it, but it would also cause so much more of it to fall out all at once. There were already the warning signs – like when I had thought that I dropped my washcloth in the shower and was horrified to find that it was a large clump of hair.

    As it turned out, my fear didn’t matter; within two months I would be completely bald from head to toe.

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    By Kerika Fields Nalty

    When I turned forty-eight in March, someone asked me how old I was and I found myself faced with a conundrum: To lie, or not to lie?

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    On a good day, I can get away with saying forty-two. On a great day (in the right lighting with a pink lipstick and if I don’t talk too much) I can even erase a decade and declare myself thirty-eight- or at least I’d like to think so! But, just because I can, does it mean I should?

    Let’s face it, ladies; we live in an age-ist society. You know how it is: A business partner, a job prospect, a handsome stranger are all excited to meet you. But once you tell them your age, especially if that age is anywhere over forty-five, things change. It’s like a calm comes over the room as you wait for it: They either stammer or say, “Wow I would have never guessed. I thought you were much younger!” or worse, they say nothing at all.

    Regardless of the response, once a woman of a certain age reveals her true number, the spell is broken. People start doing the math in their heads. How old were you when you had your first kid? How come you don’t have any kids? The questions go on and on and people get distracted. Everything becomes about how old you are; it is no longer about just you.

    Some think the feminist movement got its momentum in the sixties when The Pill arrived on the scene. With birth control, women could decide whether they wanted to have a child, how many or with whom. But I suspect it was actually the popularity of hair dye that really gave women The Tool to an independent lifestyle. Women were able to reinvent themselves. Women who married young then found themselves in their mid-life, divorced, or simply bored, wanted to go back to work but wondered what they would do with all that gray hair. Hair dye made it possible for women to start over, to get jobs, to support themselves and make life choices accordingly. Because no matter what people like to say, society categorizes women by their age. In our country, especially, younger is just, well, better.

    So can you blame me if, once I turned forty, I started to lie about my age? Mainly it was because eight years ago, my vain, ignorant self could not even get my mouth to form the words f-f-forty. I literally had to practice saying it in front of a mirror. But now I’m facing fifty and I’m over it. It really is what it is.

    Now, when it comes to lying about my age, it’s just way too much work. I have to remember if I told you the truth or not. I have to remember the year I was supposed to be born. I have to remember not to make references to the 80’s. It’s exhausting AF. I’ve discovered the key to feeling and appearing youthful is to simply be truthful.

    As Coco Chanel put it:
    “The mere act of falseness is aging in itself. It announces your real age more than hides it. Nothing makes a woman look so old as trying desperately hard to look young.”
    So ever since my last birthday, I stopped lying about my age. That doesn’t mean I go around announcing it, especially since it really isn’t anybody’s business. And if some random person wants to assume I’m a tad younger than I actually am, I don’t go out of my way to correct them. I’ve also used the classic answer: “I’m too old for you to be asking my age.” Or, more to the point, I simply say, ”I’m over 21,” which means I’m legal. Which is really all you need to know.

    But to people that matter, people that I interact with long-term, I let it be known. I’m forty-eight and I am not here for your shenanigans. I’ve found it to be quite liberating. It saves a lot of time because if whoever has a problem with my age then whatever. Everybody can keep it moving.

    This is really, for me, what being truthful about my age is all about: Moving forward. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time for anything else.

    Do you lie about your age?
    Kerika Fields Nalty is a Brooklyn-based writer and photographer and the author of “He’s Gone…You’re Back! The Right Way to Get Over Mr. Wrong.” Follow her on Instagram @kerikafieldsnalty and at withyourbadself.com

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    Photo of Allegra Hill & Kimberly Durdin by Angela Hughes 
    By Ta-ning Connai

    America is a leader, but when it comes to leading maternal death rates in dozens of countries, including some third world nations, it's a label we might not want to claim. For black women it fares worst because we die during birth at a rate of 3-4 times that of white women. It's stats like these that provoked two women to take action to prevent more senseless fatalities.

    Kimberly Durdin and Allegra Hill are natural birth professionals and it’s been their desire for many years to extend their life-long work to women in predominantly black areas. I had the opportunity to chat with Kimberly to find out how these phenomenal women are changing the way black women birth.


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    Imagined as a birth, lactation and education space that could provide birthing support groups, lactation support, new mom and dad support groups, midwifery and montrice services, Kindred Space was officially opened in March 2018, funded predominately by crowdsourcing, smack dab in Inglewood, California, aka the hood.
     
    Kimberly says,
    “We chose a location at the intersection of La Tijera and Centinela because it is within the same community we wanted to serve. Los Angles has three special planning areas that have been identified as having the highest rates for infant and maternal death. We didn't know at the time of beginning Kindred Space that we were in one of these areas, although we now consider it kismet."
    In a short period of time, Kimberly and Allegra are making tremendous strides re-educating or as Kimberly puts it, "un-educating" African American mommies-to-be about the myths and lies surrounding pregnancy, the process of childbearing, and even breastfeeding. While giving birth is a huge moment in a woman's life, as Kimberly tells it, there's no real preparation out there.
    “Everything a woman learns about birth, she picked up from friends or family. And believe it or not, film and TV play a huge role in the falsehoods that fill our psyche. Women have been so riddled with fear in regards to enduring labor pains, but what's being taught at Kindred Space is that birth is nothing to fear; that it's beautiful and with our midwifery expertise, a peaceful birth can be achieved.” 
    Currently the staff at Kindred Space prepare and assist women for births at home while they are working on opening their own birthing center in South Central L.A. 

    Photo of Birthing People Foundation Training by Charisse Sims

    With its ethnically-inspired decor, the vibe at Kindred Space makes you feel right at home. It's the kind of place black women can let down their guard and be comfortable around others who look like them, which is extremely important. Kim says,
    "Here we allow women to be themselves. Often when POC walk into medical institutions they feel like they have to be on guard, or code switch in order not to be judged or subject to discrimination. It's tiring to do this and also indicates that they aren't completely comfortable with their care providers. It's abominable to imagine that POC also have to be on-guard when they are in labor, when they give birth, and when they are just learning about their new little ones."
    Ain't it the truth!That type of comfort is worth every penny, which brings us to the very important question of cost. As it stands, Kindred Space also offers postpartum support, breastfeeding classes, meditation, dance, emotional support, and their non-profit, The Birthing People Foundation, which trains and encourages more women of color to join the birthing movement. To Ms. Hill and Ms. Durdin's credit, some work is without pay. They take great pride in making women's needs the top priority. They never turn anyone away, and offer a sliding scale according to one's ability to pay. Currently, they're preparing the facility to be Medi-Cal compliant. Midwifery services are known to have a pretty hefty fee, and with Medi-Cal picking up most of the tab, low income candidates would be relieved.

    Photo of Birthing People Foundation Training by Charisse Sims

    That’s pretty amazing. So what does the future hold for Kindred Space? Kimberly’s plans are precise and clear.
    “We want to duplicate our successful blueprint and create more spaces in LA...to provide full and partial scholarships for birthworkers, educators and midwifery candidates...and to eventually dismantle society's trust in the western approach to birth so that women will choose the safest way to perform the greatest miracle on earth.”
    To learn more about Kindred Space, The Birthing People Foundation at its founders, check out their website kindredspacela.com and @kindredspacela on Instagram!

    ********
    What do you think about Kindred Space and the need for more education around black women's maternal health?
    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 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).

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    HFR x LeBron 16 sneaker (Photo courtesy of Armand Consulting PR/HFR)
    By Selena Hill 

    NBA superstar LeBron James debuted his latest Nike collaboration, revealing that they were inspired and designed by African American women.



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    By Veronica Wells

    If someone decided to conduct an experiment to determine the most-used word in my vocabulary, I would tell them to save their time and energy. I can answer that question myself. The word is n*gga. I can hear the disappointed groans from those of you who argue that we should’ve buried the word a few years ago. I’ve heard the arguments from folks like Oprah who remind us that n*gga was the last word Black men heard before they were lynched or murdered.

    I hear her. The history and pain of it is deep and not to be understated. But the provocative nature of the word just make it that much more alluring to me. Still, there are times when I wonder about its appropriateness.

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    And I’m not talking about in front of White people. (Because really, at the end of the day, there are two types of White people in this world: the ones who will say n*gga and the ones who never will.)

    When I talk about appropriateness I mean amongst ourselves, other Black people. I remember feeling a bit heartbroken when I saw that owners of a clothing store in Malawi decided to name their business “N*ggers.” I was taken aback by my fiancé’s cousin’s use of the word—mostly because he was born, raised and living in South Africa. I think of the word in the context of Black American history and struggle. And it’s odd that African people would want to adopt that narrative; not only because they hadn’t lived it, but because why adopt additional struggle? Then again, even those Africans who managed to avoid the Transatlantic Slave trade still know a thing or two about being treated like a n*gga, thanks to colonization.

    But I’m also conflicted about the use of n*gga when it comes to Black children. The other day, I stumbled across this tweet from a father, frustrated by his son’s antics.




    I immediately laughed at this tweet, thinking only of the humor of a little boy terrorizing his father into appreciation for his mother. But when I told my coworker-friends about the tweet, I wondered for the first time about his use of the word n*gga in reference to his son.

    In my mind, n*gga can be and is often a term of endearment when used amongst Black folk. It’s for us. I call it our birthright. The way we’ve taken something that was meant to oppress us and turned it into something to unite community is beautiful and certainly symbolic of what Black people have had to do in America.

    Still, I get the sense that children hearing the word at home from their parents and then being told that people of other races aren’t supposed to call them that might be confusing. This man called his son a n*gga on Twitter. And I presume he can’t read yet and doesn’t follow his father on the app. But in my search, I stumbled upon people who used the word to address or discuss young children and they were standing right there. And it didn’t feel right.

    I’m aware that kids are often more capable of processing complex concepts than we give them credit for. But admittedly, there’s something adult about it. I balk at even teenagers using it in public because I wonder if they really know what they’re saying. There’s a responsibility that comes with the use of the word.

    The tweet made me ask myself do I plan on calling my future child n*gga. And it’s a loaded one. It’s funny but I can’t see myself staring into the face of an infant saying, “I love you lil n*gga.” Even if I didn’t call my child that to her face, the thought that someone else would read something I wrote and in turn refer to her as a n*gga troubles me.

    What do you think? Is it wrong to call children n*gga?
    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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    Dorian Missick (Center)
    By Brenda Alexander

    The remarkable story of Brian Banks leaves you both angry and inspired. A high school football star, his future was interrupted when he was accused and convicted of raping a classmate. He spent 5 years in prison after copping a plea deal, afraid of a potential 41-year-to-life sentence. After being released, his accuser messaged him on Facebook, hoping to rekindle their relationship. Eager for justice, Banks eventually met her at his lawyer's office, where she confessed while being secretly recorded. With the help of the Innocence Project, he was exonerated and went on to play with the Atlanta Falcons.

    Now, his story is being brought to film and shows his transition from tragedy to triumph. Actor Dorian Missick stars as Banks’ Parole Officer, Mick Randolph, who abuses his authority spewed by his hatred of sex offenders. I spoke with Dorian about Banks’ life, his character and what he hopes audiences take away from the film.

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    Brian Banks
    How familiar were you with Brian Banks’ story before the movie?
    I’d heard of Brian but not the intricate details. Prior to the script and doing further research, I thought he was a college athlete on his way to the pros as opposed to being in high school when the unfortunate turn of events took place. The overall arc of his story was a learning experience.

    What was the audition process like?
    I knew the film was being made but didn’t actively pursue it. When the script was sent to my agent I found out about Officer Mick Randolph, auditioned, and by the end of the day, got the call.

    What did you do to prepare for this role? 
    I received all direction on my character from Brian, who was extremely involved. He hasn't had any contact with Randolph since being off parole. When I read the script, I immediately connected because I’ve experienced people like Randolph before: someone older, cocky and slightly jealous because he too played football. I liked the contrast of the two. It’s interesting - I came on late in the process because of a miscommunication between casting and Brian. They assumed Randolph was white and auditioned white actors for the role. When Brian found out, things changed.

    What did that casting assumption reveal to you?
    It said a lot about people’s perceptions of things - the assumption that people in positions of power are white. We’re conditioned to believe that. The dynamic between Brian and Randolph, who is black, isn’t new. Blacks are familiar with this character, even going back to the house negro in slavery. We know their motivations. In this scenario, Randolph has to please his boss and could be scrutinized at work if he’s considered being lenient on someone because they have the same skin color. So he doesn't make things easy for Randolf. There’s a freedom white parole officers have that black parole officers face different consequences for. From an actor’s perspective, that was interesting to pry into.

    You mentioned earlier you didn’t know all details of Brian’s case. When you discovered the full story, what impact did it have?
    It’s hard to think that someone’s word has the power to shape the trajectory of your life, especially in terms of a sexual relationship. That’s an intimate moment between two people and it was used against him. That’s scary. Men in my circles have been skeptical of rape allegations before. I’m not a general believer in thinking that women lie about assault because they already have scrutiny they come under when they do come forward with allegations. The notion of women fabricating such stories was difficult for me to fathom, but Brian put a face to that truth with his case.

    What made you want to participate in the film, and did it hold emotional weight?
    A lot of films now have important subject matter. This isn't a fad or a cool film- this will last. I jumped at the opportunity because I knew it would be done right. This role took a toll on me to a certain degree. I don’t live my life as black and white as Randolph. It was frustrating to play a guy who refused to bend. Having Brian on set and him re-living it was tough. The scenes that I was involved in were the worst parts of the story. Watching Brian’s reaction was difficult and he’d leave set because it was too much at times. 

    Brian Banks and his Mom
    What did you learn and what’s your anticipated reaction?
    Being around Brian everyday was most impactful. If there’s anyone who has a reason to be resentful, Brian is someone you’d give a pass because he’s had an unfair deck of cards. But, he leads with love, he’s not vindictive, he’s genuine. Experiencing his graciousness is something to relish.

    Audiences will love this movie because people enjoy stories with hope. This isn't a movie where you’ll walk out feeling like you hate the world.

    Do you think Brian’s story will spark change?
    I'm hopeful his story will affect things moving forward as far as the idea of being innocent until proven guilty. Although things initially were bad, I think it helps cases to come because we now have a reference point.

    The Brian Banks Story, starring Aldis Hodge as Brian Banks and Sherri Shepherd as Brian's mom, will premiere September 22nd at the Los Angeles Film Festival. You can catch Dorian in his upcoming projects: Jinn (released in November), and Tell Me A Story on CBS All Access.



    *******

    Were you familiar with Brian Bank's story?
     
    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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    GlamFun
    By Erickka Sy Savané

    Okay, so I've done my share of fasting. The Master Cleanse aka the lemon cleanse (pure maple syrup, lemons and cayenne pepper) is a favorite. The first time I did it for 5 days I thought I was going to die. Now I do it for 10-14 days pretty easily. Mainly I do it to cleanse my body, lose weight and to get disciplined. Nothing clears the mind like not eating. But I have NEVER considered drinking nothing but water for 20 days. So when I saw this woman did just that I had to know why, how and what happened? Watch as this vlogger takes us through her journey and sums up what it ultimately did for her in the end. And let us know, would you try it?!

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    Photo via BlackWomenofBrazil
    By Marques Travae

    And once again, coming from the land of “we are all equal” in a “racial democracy.” The mother of a four-year-old black girl was asked by the girl’s school to change her daughter’s hairstyle so that her classmates would better accept her.

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