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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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    Meek Mill today & from a 2007 mug shot
    By Brenda Alexander

    When the #FreeMeekMill campaign began, I was unbothered and uninterested. Considering the protests took place near my job, I was irritated at the inconvenience it would cause with traveling to and from work. Furthermore, I was perplexed as to why the entire city of Philly was in an uproar over his arrest and imprisonment. Philadelphia 76ers owner, Michael G. Rubin became a public champion and Meek’s song was even used as an introduction to the Eagle’s game during this year’s Super Bowl. Not being a huge fan of today’s hip hop, I knew very little of 31 year-old Meek Mill.

    Meek & Nicki
    Aside from him being a rapper from my hometown, I knew what was reported in the media - he dated Nicki Minaj (who later defended his judge after he was sentenced), had beef with Drake, his squad jumped Minaj’s ex-beau and he’s had several run-ins with the law for what seemed to me like immature and stupid behavior. He has definitely acted carelessly at times. From my standpoint, Meek represented another rapper given an opportunity to transcend his rough upbringing, only to jeopardize that by doing everything to keep his street credibility. I was ignorant of his actual case and circumstances. That is until I read Rolling Stone’s feature on Meek’s case that detailed his 2008 arrest, the parole he was placed on post release, and the uphill battle he’s been facing at the hands of a seemingly crooked judge and unfair legal system that disproportionately affects Black and brown men.

    No, Meek has not been an angel, but the amount of time he was given to live on probation made it almost impossible to stay out of prison.

    In 2017, the Atlantic reported that Pennsylvania has the second highest rate in the country of people on probation or parole, with 44,000 of them in Philadelphia. According to recent Census statistics, 44% of the city’s population is black. 

    18 year-old Meek Mill from a 2007 arrest 

    In an interview with Lester Holt on Dateline, Meek explained that he originally was sentenced to a maximum of 11 months in prison on a weapons charge, in which he allegedly pointed a gun at a police officer. He has always maintained his innocence, claiming that he was the one assaulted, and has the mugshot to prove it. Many would say that he got off easy, but 10 years probation should make them think otherwise. In Meek’s case, he was haunted with being punished for “technical violations,” which can include anything from missing curfew by a few minutes or lack of employment. A technical violation can equal extended parole or re-entry.

    Meek has suffered from both. First came an eight-month prison term; then five years of added probation; then another five months added for violating those terms which totaled to almost another 10 years of probation, which he would go on to violate two additional times before he was arrested when video footage surfaced online of him doing stunts on a dirt bike in NYC. That resulted in the final arrest and 2-4 year sentence imposed on him that sparked the #FreeMeekMill campaigns.

    Remy Ma has spoken about her experience dealing with probation and the importance of staying on a strict schedule to adhere to her parole, as she understands the consequences that come along with any infractions. Although his “violations” were minimal, I don’t believe that like Remy, Meek took his parole as serious as she did at all time. Unfortunately, it looks as if it took Meek this last stint in prison to truly understand the depth of his parole and the work he is responsible for.

    I’ve long understood the loopholes in the criminal justice system as it pertains to men of color, but with more recent high profile cases like Meek’s, the call for prison reform and a change in release stipulation has been at an all time high. Now with him out of prison, he is on a press tour for prison reform. Prior to this situation, Meek had not aligned himself with any worthy causes, but this could really make a difference. Many are calling his passion for this project a gimmick, but considering he is still on parole I doubt that to be true. His celebrity has not given him a pass but has instead increased the amount of eyes on him. It can be assumed that the judge in this case made it her duty to make an example out of him, which has ultimately backfired. Now more than ever, the nation is watching not just this case, but also researching deeper into others.

    From his interviews, it seems as if prison gave him the necessary time to reflect, analyze his circle and slow down a bit. Just this week alone, Meek has done in-depth interviews with CBS This MorningThe Angie Martinez Show and held a press conference. More are to come. Often times, it takes a public figure to encourage a call for action. I personally am rooting for him and am proud that he is using his platform for a greater good. I’m #TeamMeek and personally apologize for writing him off in the beginning, without knowing the full story.

    Meek Mill on CBS This Morning speaking to Gayle King

    ********

    How do you feel about Meek Mill speaking out about prison reform?
    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 Devon Mac

    Coming to terms with a divorce after 14 years of giving it your all can bring out some anger. Being in therapy and realizing you've been suppressing your emotions for most of your life can also bring out quite a bit of rage. I won't go into all the reasons I am in my current state. What's important is now that I know that I'm angry, what am I going to do with all of it?

    "Be angry and sin not" is what I've been taught. Translation: Be angry and don't f*ck up your life or anyone else in the process.

    Continue
    That scripture has always been unsatisfying to me. Because there is no other instruction about what do with that anger other than to just be...and being angry is never a good feeling, or is it?

    Here is a small list I have incidentally discovered over the years that have helped me to channel my anger.

    1. Sex
    Anger and sex are closely related to me. Anger gets my blood boiling and so does sex. So lately I've been asking myself, how can I make these two work for me? I won’t forget the first time I was hit during sex, it did something to me. And when I returned the favor and punched his ass in the torso a few times, I was off the rails and it made for an incredible sexual encounter. I knew then that sex can be one way that I channel my rage. Of course, it is important to note that I had history with the partner I was with that went back to childhood. I felt incredibly safe with him, and most important, he was cool with hitting. But I cannot tell you how much of a release it was having that moment to channel the intense feelings I had bottled up for years. I wanted more of it.

    Speaking of hitting...

    2. H.I.I.T and Boxing
    When I cannot have sex (which is often these days), I have found my workout to be my saving grace for pent up anger. A friend introduced me to boxing a few years ago with a group of men. Perhaps it was somewhere amid the surrounding testosterone and being in a grungy garage that I first discovered how my wrath can be used in the most productive way, getting my body right and tight. Later, after I gave birth to my second child in my late 30's, I signed up for boot camp. The class was a H.I.I.T session, which stands for High Intensity Interval Training and my trainer was lit.

    Since I have been in the gym, I’ve channeled my anger during a 3-year unemployment period, when different men in my life have pissed me off, when I am sexually frustrated, when I've had a bad day, when I'm depressed...name the injustice and I find a way to bring it into the gym with me and work it out. My method is to put whatever is bothering me in my mind when I'm straining through a particularly painful move. Best part, when someone in particular has set me off, I put their face in line of view when I am kicking or punching, and it brings great satisfaction.


    Issa Rae 
    3. Hip Hop
    Some women are like Cardi B with their anger and some are like Issa Rae. I fall into the latter category. I will internalize my anger and then come home and go off in the mirror. Hip Hop gave me words to spit when I reached that mirror. The first artist I immersed myself in when I was reunited with hip hop was J. Cole, later Kendrick Lamar. Both speak profoundly about rage and can articulate it in ways that are clever, authentic, and most of all truthful to their experiences, no matter how ugly it is. I often find myself these days quoting one of them to express how I feel.

    Hip Hop has no shame about its anger, it claims it with authority and says, I have every right to be angry. For someone like me, the music and lyrics are just the permission I need to emote as I go through my own disillusion and loss.

    The exciting part of it all is that between my exercise (both inside and outside the bedroom) and rap, I have been able to discover parts of myself sexually. I can use my body during sex, during workouts, and while listening to hip hop to express my femininity and rage simultaneously.

    So, if I have to be angry, I am going to make it work for me and not against me. In fact, my homie, Kendrick knows a little something about that. In his words, “If I gotta slap a pussy ass nigga Ima make it look sexy, if I gotta go hard, Ima make it look sexy.” Whatever I do, when I am hot with rage, I am going to make it look sexy. This one here won’t be taken out of her element.

    For more by Devon Mac, visit GoodBlackChurchGirl.com

    How do you channel your anger?

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    Cardi, Ri-Ri & B.
    By Erickka Sy Savané

    “You walk like a duck,” said my husband.

    “Excuse me?” I responded incredulously. He knows that I’ve walked runways as a model from here to London and Paris. Now it was some time ago, and Naomi Campbell and I never crossed paths, but walk, I can with the best of them.

    “Yea, when you have on heels you don’t elongate your calves.”

    Okay, he’s bugging. For one, I rarely wear heels since I popped out two of his kids. And two…let me think about this…

    Continue

    Okay, the truth is I can’t remember the last time I wore heels. Since becoming a mom flats are my bff be it tennis shoes or flip flops. So there’s that, and then there’s the deep depression that threatened to eat me like the big bad wolf a few years back...I’m talking everything from giving up on all my chosen careers- acting, singing and writing- to car repossession, eviction, and baby weight that stuck to my body like a second and third layer of skin. So, walking with my head up high, with elongated calves was kinda not on my list of shit to worry about. So maybe he’s right. And so what?

    I start paying attention when I walk to the store. I’m not talking full leg extension, but I start straightening by back, you know, a sistah has gotten her life together- new career that she’s been building for a few years- a hair cut that she can afford to keep up. I ain’t doing too bad. Nah-mean?

    One day, I’m going to an event in the City that requires I wear heels. On the train. Okay, that’s always tricky because I hate being fancy on the train- yes, I equate heels to fanciness and I wear mom jeans sometimes too. Train-to-the-City rides are for chilling, I live about 20 mins outside of NYC in Jersey City, so it usually means I’m going to be jumping on multiple trains. This particular day, it’s hot as hell. Which means that the cute outfit I'm wearing will be for all to see. I have two choices. Crawl under a rock, a very big rock since I'm 5’10 or put on my big girl panties and make the best of it.

    I’m on the train to the City and it’s pretty uneventful. A few stares here and there, I equate it to the fact that my dress is metallic, but nothing crazy. I’m sure most of what I’m feeling is in my head. Things are going fine until I make the switch at World Trade to the 4 train. It’s about 4pm, just in time for freakin’ rush hour, and when I say that the platform is filled five rows deep with people smashed like sardines I’m not even exaggerating. I’ve never seen anything like it. And there I am, thinking that I could just disappear right there on the platform because I’m tall as hell and it’s hot and there are people everywhere and though I’ve come out of my shell over the past few years I’m no diva by any means. And I’m standing there. And standing there for what feels like forever and I’m starting to feel sweat beads drop from under my boob...and I swear I might even be in the beginning stages of a panic attack when I tell myself to STOP. Get a grip! Suddenly, I stop looking out at the faces that might be looking at me, and I look within. I ask myself, ‘how would you be standing if you didn’t give a f*ck?” Funny enough, I straighten my back, elongate my calves, and assume a more powerful position. The position of someone who could give a f*ck about anyone on that platform and what they might be thinking of me. I start thinking about the event I'm going to and the fun I intend to have. I think about how good I feel in my outfit (sweat beads and all), how nice it is to have an evening to myself where I won't have to cook or wash dishes or tuck anyone in. I'll even have a few cocktails. Shit, life is good!

    I finally make my may to the front of the line and onto a train. By now I'm feeling pretty confident and even strike up a conversation with a complete stranger, something I never do. By the time I get to the event, I'm strutting like I'm on my own personal catwalk and when I walk into the room the bitch is owned!


    And what did it take? To quote Miss CurlyNikki herself, being her now. I just became the woman I wanted to be. I didn’t wait for permission, an initiation period, or someone to tell me that I was worthy. I just decided in that moment and I’ve been choosing to be her ever since. I never have to play small if I don’t want to.

    So back to my hubby, he was more than likely right. I probably was walking like a duck, but who’s the duck now!?!

    How's your strut?
    Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of CurlyNikki.com, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in Essence.comEbony.com, Madamenoire.com, xoNecole.com, and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on TwitterInstagram or ErickkaSySavane.com

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    By Veronica Wells

    I’ll never forget my cousin’s wedding. Not because of the decorations, the food, or the love in the air. Instead, I remember all the signs that pointed to the fact it just wasn’t going to work out. My cousin dropped out of school to marry a man who proved to be bereft of all morals. In fact, some of our family members were the victims of his shenanigans. Still, the heart wants what it wants. 

    The day was filled with omens. 

    Minutes before my cousin walked down the aisle, my aunt, her mother was still trying desperately to talk her out of it. When she made it down the aisle, that same aunt was supposed to sing a Luther Vandross song to commemorate the occasion but announced, after the first verse, that she simply couldn’t do it. The congregation hummed the chorus lightly, trying to gloss over the awkward moment. Another uncle who was sitting in the congregation caught on fire briefly when he got too close to one of the candles lining the aisle. 

    After the ceremony, when a videographer asked the guests for words of encouragement for the newlyweds, the best my dad could offer was, “Do the right thing!” with raised, knowing eyebrows.

    You would have been hard pressed to find someone who believed in that union. And sure enough, after a few more years, they were separated and then divorced.

    I can honestly say that was the one and only wedding I’ve attended where 75 percent of the guests knew it was over before it started. But knowing what we knew, wouldn’t it have been a better idea to just skip the wedding?

    Recently, the women of “The Real” were talking about wedding guests and asked the question Should you attend a wedding if you don’t support the marriage?  According to a poll they cited, 27 percent of the people asked had attended weddings they didn't support. 


    The general consensus was that you shouldn’t be there if you have anything but well wishes for the couple. In fact, Loni Love said that she had skipped her close friends’ wedding because she knew the marriage was doomed.

    On the surface, I agree. The answer seems simple. If you’re not there to provide your full support, then it’s probably better to keep your bad energy at home. But weddings and the behavior that accompany them, are tricky. Sometimes, in order to keep the peace or preserve a relationship, it’s better to keep your true thoughts about your loved ones’ partners to yourself. When it comes to love, people have been known to cast friends and family aside in order to be with their beloved. It comes down to the type of relationship you share. Some people can handle uncomfortable truths and revelations while others absolutely cannot.

    So you might want to ask yourself, is warning my loved one or sharing my concerns worth the risk of breaking the bond? 

    Not to mention, the older I get, the more I realize that just because I want more for my loved ones in their romantic relationships, it doesn’t mean that their marriages won’t make it. Everything ain’t for everybody and all of our standards are different. The opinions of a guest won’t make or break a marriage. Only the people in it can determine that.

    Perhaps a better question is if the marriage doesn’t make it, do you have guests who will support one or both of you regardless? The people who will be there whether you’re married or single, should be the ones to witness all the big milestones in your life. They deserve it. 

    Would you attend a wedding that you don't support?
     
     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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    Photo via GeorgiaNY.com
    By Erickka Sy Savané

    For many of us just getting an idea of what it means to be transgender (identifying with the opposite sex of that which you are born), the thought of a transgender child is confusing because it poses questions like, is it just a phase and is a child old enough to make such an important decision about his or her identity? And while the majority of us will never have to deal with this issue, the truth is, some of us do, and probably more of us than we think. One of the reasons the topic stays under the radar is not because it’s not happening, but more often because opinions are so strong that parents choose not to talk about it. For Brooklyn-based beauty blogger and mother of 5, Jodie Patterson, staying quiet is not an option. For her, raising a transgender child, the right way, is a matter of life and death. Though I wrote this story a few years ago, it still rings true today, even more so with transgender rights and people being constantly under attack. Hopefully, reading this will give some insight into this under-discussed topic.

    Continue

    HOW DID YOU REALIZE THAT YOUR CHILD WAS TRANSGENDER?
    JODIE: Penelope was born a she. Around 2 ½ I noticed she was grumpy, bullying, fighting me when it was time to get her dressed and bathed. Finally, I asked her what was wrong and she said, ‘Everyone thinks I’m a girl and I’m not.’ I came to realize that her brain registers as male.

    WHAT DOES THAT MEAN EXACTLY? BECAUSE A LOT OF PEOPLE FEEL THAT A CHILD IS TOO YOUNG TO MAKE THAT DECISION.
    JODIE: The forming of ones Identity is actually a biological process that occurs in each of us. It's not something we choose to do, rather it just happens. And the process surprisingly starts around 2 years old and then again during adolescence. The body and brain does this process, not the human will. Identity is not a 'decision' it's simply biology. So Penel's timing is pretty typical.


    Penel

    HOW LONG DID IT TAKE FOR YOU TO ACCEPT THAT?
    JODIE: At first there was the initial fear. I’m terrified and imagining the worst. I think people won’t understand and will be disgusted by it. But when you think about changing a person’s core, you’re inflicting murder on them. When your child tells you, ‘I don’t want tomorrow to come because it’s going to be worse than today,’ it becomes about supporting them. It becomes about keeping them alive. So I read a lot. I prayed. Meditated. It helped to say the word transgender out loud. The family has been supportive on both sides. At first, they didn’t understand and felt like, ‘just put a dress on her; it’s just a phase.’

    IN TERMS OF ‘A PHASE’ HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A CRACK IN HOW HE SEES HIMSELF?
    JODIE: (LAUGHS) No, Penel’s been consistent.

    HOW DID YOU BECOME SO OPEN ABOUT DISCUSSING THIS TOPIC?
    JODIE: It’s such a private experience on many levels and people were encouraging us to keep it private. But I feel like the topics of gender and identity are public conversations that you have to have. They are limited if we keep them private.


    Jodie and her family via GeorgiaNY.com

    IN YOUR EXPERIENCE HOW COMMON IS THIS?
    JODIE: I don’t have statistics on how many transgender kids there are but I am surprised to know that in black families, in white families, there are transgender stories and they’re not to be confused with drug addiction, poverty, and sexual abuse. Those are separate issues that sometimes overlap in our lives, but transgender is a separate conversation around identity.

    HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO FIND SUPPORT GROUPS IN THE NEW YORK AREA?
    JODIE: Yea, there are some great organizations that have weekly and monthly meetings. The organization I go to for information is PFLAG. That’s a good starting point. We go to transgender family camps and I’ve also made personal friends.

    HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THE CHALLENGES THAT ARISE?
    JODIE: Mostly we use meditation. We also do a lot of reading on the topic. We adults have a therapist who is keen on identity. As for Penel, I always do check-ins and ask questions about how he’s feeling about his body. We also watch age appropriate documentaries.

    WHAT’S BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE SO FAR?
    JODIE: Just the mental switch. So many things are different from what I thought. What is gender? Identity? I throw my hands up to God and see this as another level of his perfection. I have to approach life differently.

    HOW HAS SCHOOL BEEN?
    JODIE: Fantastic. He goes to a small, private school. From the beginning I sat down with the Principal and told him that my daughter will be coming in a boy’s uniform, and he was okay with it. The students are used to seeing him that way, and there’s been no pushback from the parents. There’s only one single bathroom, so we haven’t had to deal with that yet. There are no sports team. I know that high school, puberty, hormones, will be my next hurdle. How will Penel want his body to be? There are drugs to take that delay breasts and period, but it’s scary because we’re very organic.

    HAVE YOU FOUND YOURSELF THRUST INTO THE ROLE OF SPOKESPERSON?
    JODIE: I’m a mom first. Once you understand the path your children are on you have to help them along. I don’t shy away from being a voice. I wanna be that person. I don’t think Penel does. But I really do this because I want Penel to live. When you see potential suicide in your kid this becomes about keeping him alive. That’s why I do this.

    DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING YOU WANT TO ADD?
    JODIE: The big issue is talking about it early so that you can deal with it early. Also, listen. Pick up on signs. Ask questions. Be willing to understand.


    *******

    Did this conversation help you better understand parenting a transgender child?
    Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of CurlyNikki.com, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in Essence.comEbony.com, Madamenoire.com, xoNecole.com, and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on TwitterInstagram or ErickkaSySavane.com

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    By Kaila Boulware

    I am a 23-year-old African-American woman, and for the past ten years, I have been dealing with alopecia. My condition is one that is not uncommon, but given societal expectations of beauty, it is one that is rarely, or never talked about--and when it is talked about, it is demonized to the fullest. I mean really, who wants to be bald, right?

    I have been hiding and lying for the past ten years, and now I am finally deciding to OWN MY BEAUTY, even if I am bald.

    Continue

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    Azealia Banks on the Breakfast Club
    By Brenda Alexander

    Azealia Banks has been hard for me to figure out. One minute, she's professing the most thought-provoking, incense lighting ceremony worthy opinions and the next, what’s uttered from her tongue makes you eager to refer her to the closest clinical psychiatrist for an immediate diagnosis and treatment- or hire a crisis management firm to reel her in a bit (Olivia Pope would do wonders). But she’s smart. With her intellect, she could stand with Dr. Michael Eric Dyson on a panel discussing whatever is impacting black lives. But her Kanye-esque rants and adult tantrums have overpowered her talent and brilliance. I knew she was a rapper, but I had no idea she could SANG until a clip of her singing I’m Every Woman acapella made its rounds. Her gifts mixed with her lack of censorship have been counterproductive in terms of the success an artist of her stature could achieve. Aside from making headlines for whatever beefs she starts (Remy Ma, Nicki Minaj, T.I. & Tiny, and now Cardi B), there’s a layer underneath that’s full of potential. This was proven further with her most recent interview with The Breakfast Club.

    Here are 5 revelations that have me rooting for her.

    She Thinks Cardi B Is Counterproductive to Black Girl Magic
    Defending why she referred to Cardi B as an illiterate, uneducated hoodrat, Banks explained that she’s perplexed that in such a state of #blackexcellence, Cardi B transitioning from the stripper pole to reality TV and then popping on the hip hop scene with broken English contradicts the direction the culture was going in. Having nothing against Cardi’s rise to fame, but instead what she considers the caricature she’s accepted as by the mainstream media, Banks believes with the double standard between what’s accepted with blacks versus the world, Cardi B adds an extra barrier. “I don’t understand how we can go from Lemonade and Black Lives Matter with great conversations revolving around the culture and black womanhood to this,” she says. “If my spelling and grammar was that bad, I’d be cancelled.” I have no issue with Cardi, but I couldn’t agree with Azealia more. Black women aren’t given any passes.

    She Was A Trump Supporter But Mainly Because of His Proposed Tax Break
    We all know that black folk and Trump don’t blend so anyone who sides with him is excommunicated. Azealia was no exception. But, unlike many when it comes to voting democratic versus republican, Banks has an understanding on policy that I was impressed with. “The American Dream rests on a systematically oppressed underclass and either way you go, you get f**ked,” she professed. Her logic for supporting Trump was: there’s no difference in either political party you align yourself with because there will still be marginalization of groups, so why not get extra money out of it? She was pro Trump for the tax break y’all. She also revealed her love of bold comedy with shows like South Park and likened the show to Trump’s foolery, saying she found him amusing….until he actually became President. Guess the joke’s on her now?

    She Didn’t Want to Vote for Hillary Clinton Because She Thought It Would Be A Win For White Women And A Loss For Black Women
    Banks attributes the division of black families to Bill Clinton’s 1994 Crime Bill. She reminded us that Hillary referred to us as super predators . Hillary did brag about carrying hot sauce in her bag, which is associated with the black eating experience. I guess that’s what happens when using Beyonce lyrics goes wrong...at least for a white woman. What took the cake for me was Banks declaring that she likes her “racists racist” [a reference to Trump not hiding his]. No need to be discreet about it for her. Can’t be mad at her for that.

    She Doesn’t See The Need For Black Women To Be All Inclusive
    Banks believes that black women should think twice before longing for inclusiveness with our white women counterparts. Reflecting on the Suffrage Movement, Banks declares, “Black women helped white women get their right to vote and then they left us by ourselves. We were the last American citizens to get voting rights.” This girl needs a pulpit. While I want to have the same civil rights as White America, it’s been shown that we are left with no water after we help others to the well.

    The #MeToo Doesn’t Apply to Black Women
    I’ve written about this before and Banks has experienced it first-hand. Speaking on her confrontation with Russell Crowe, she admitted she does not forgive RZA for not protecting her. He admitted that he witnessed Crow spit “in her direction,” but Banks alleges that she was spat on and choked, amongst other things. RZA defended Crowe and Banks did not press charges because she didn’t have the money. She claims RZA did more harm than good by speaking about it publicly and ruined both of their chances in the acting world. She holds RZA more accountable for the ordeal than Crowe because she felt betrayed by a black man...and I get it. 

    I would encourage everyone to check out the full interview. I’ll be watching to see where she goes from here. 


    *********

    Do you have any thoughts on what Azealia had to say?
    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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    photo via google
    By Locslife

    Whenever you start something new, you’re bound to make mistakes. However, there are some issues we can avoid with a little research. Read below to see my opinion of what NOT to do with your locs (based on either my own experience or research), and what to do instead.


    1. Thick Butters/Creams on Locs 
    What not to do…
    – Unfortunately, what goes in your locs doesn’t always come out. Thick butters and creams can cause build up in your locs and scalp. Results vary from person to person, but overall most people will benefit from avoiding putting coconut oil, shea butter, and thick moisturizing creams on their hair.


    What to do instead…
    – Try moisturizing with thinner products like aloe vera gel and jojoba oil. Or just try using a spray bottle of water. If you just can’t live without a moisturizer, try applying it in a solution diluted with water.


    2. Threading the loc through the same parting 

    What not to do…
    – Please, please, please don’t interlock your hair like this. This will ultimately create tension and holes in your locs. Essentially, threading your locs through the same hole multiple times causes separation as you are twisting two sections of your loc apart.


    What to do instead…
    – Check out this article for interlocking tools and tips.

    3. Retightening Too Often or Too Tightly 
    What not to do…
    – Many people associate defined loc parts with professionalism or well-kept hair. However, overtightening/tightening too often can lead to areas thinning and breaking off.

    What to do instead…
    – Mindset change. You can still look professional without the fresh retwist look. It is not necessary for every strand of hair to be neatly tucked into a loc.

    Ignore my messy room
    – Hair style change. If you love the freshly locd look, you can try some styles that give the appearance of that while avoiding retwisting. For example, buns with side parts or head wraps are good alternatives.

    4. Not Washing Your Locs
    What not to do…
    – I understand some people may be wary of washing locs for fear of them unraveling. However, you’re still susceptible to product build-up and/or getting an itchy scalp from not washing – so it’s best to avoid that by cleaning your locs.

    What to do instead…
    – There are a couple things you can try. If you’re newly locd with short hair try washing hair in a tub of water. Most of what unravels locs is the stream of water from above when you’re in the shower. However, if you wash your hair in a basin of water, there is no pressure and you can have more control. This way you can concentrate on washing by section more gently, so there is a lesser chance of your locs unraveling.

    – If your hair can fit into braids/twists, you can try washing your hair in twisted sections. This way, the stream of water won’t be able to unravel your locs.

    – If you haven’t started your locs yet, consider a method that isn’t as prone to unraveling in the shower. For example; comb-coils are more likely to unravel than twists, and twists are more unlikely to unravel than braids.

    – Embrace the fact that parts of your hair will unravel, and just reloc as it happens. This is what I did, and by about six months it was fine. For reference, I started my locs by twisting.

    Smile (or not...your life) and enjoy the process!

    ***********

    This article appeared via LocsLife. For more articles on all things locs, please visit!

    How do you maintain your locs? Do you have any do's and don'ts?

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    Deidre Palode
    By Michelby Coco Whitehead

    A publicist’s job is quite fascinating, especially as it relates to the beauty industry. From your favorite hair care commercials and even the infamous Dove and Shea Moisture ads that made consumers of color say “Girl, bye!” you can bet your good wig that a publicist was involved somewhere in the process. Having a PR expert on your team is an invaluable investment, but before hiring someone, there are several things to consider. Atlanta-based PR pro Deidre Palode shared some insight on what it’s like to work in the industry, as well as what beauty professionals should consider before hiring someone to leverage media coverage for their brand.

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    How did you get your PR experience?
    It was during my college career. I was a dual major in Film/Video and Journalism/PR. I took the classes, but the experience came through Google, internships, outside workshops, shadowing and volunteering for sure.

    What made you did you decide that entrepreneurship was the route you should go?
    I didn't decide. God decided for me. I was the type of lady who wanted to climb the corporate ladder and maybe start a business in my mid-thirties or early forties, but God had other plans. He made me very uncomfortable in my 9-5 whether it be budget cuts, position changes, contracts ending, etc. I am not the kind of person you can keep in a box. I like to be creative and do new things and with corporate you kind of have to stick to the rules. I'm so not that person! So, I launched my firm in 2014, and I've been holding it down as a full-time entrepreneur since 2015.

    What is the biggest misconception people have about your job?
    It's easy and the money is quick. FALSE AND FALSE. Just because you see me working a red carpet doesn't mean I have that A-lister's money. Just because you see me out with the news station doesn't mean I built that relationship overnight. Being a publicist, is to BUILD relationships and WORK HARD! These things take time. Whether you want to be a publicist, or you need one, it takes time, effort and a whole bunch of prayer.

    When beauty professionals are searching for a publicist, what do they need to consider before choosing someone? 
    A budget. Hiring a publicist is way more cost-effective than advertising but you generally need a decent budget to hire a professional who is responsible for your brand's exposure, and I'm not talking about a couple of hundred dollars. Invest at least $1,000 per month for a publicist. Also, know what's the "WHY" in your product or service. Out of all the beauty professionals and products that are out there, what makes you desirable and newsworthy.

    What is the biggest branding mistake you see people make in the beauty industry? 
    With the age of social media and the digital space, if you are providing services online, make your services visible. If I'm looking for a stylist on Instagram, why is your page private? We need to see your work and what you can do!

    Can you think of a national beauty campaign that you really liked?

    I would have to say P&G's"My Black Is Beautiful" campaign. They have really shifted what it means to promote your own beauty standards and redefine them among Black women. I had the chance to work with this campaign just last year and it's something I am proud to say I had a hand in.

    Deidre at work
    What advice do you have for a newbie who is embarking on a career in public relations?
    Don't walk into this field thinking it's all about celebrities, exclusive events and being on social media all day. Expect to do some not-so-great things and be prepared to work long, extensive hours. Make sure you understand what PR really is before you walk into it. We're not club promoters, babysitters or booking agents. We are responsible for the public image of your brand and highlighting your brand in a positive light.

    What qualities make a seasoned PR person?
    In my opinion, I believe being truthful and honest first especially with the client and those in the field. Be nice! I can't stress that enough. You don't have to be rude and nasty to be successful, I personally don't believe in that route. Be a great writer; we're the storytellers! Excellent communication skills. How can you communicate your client's brand message if you suck at communicating? Whether it be verbal or non-verbal, know how to communicate and what to communicate. MULTI-TASK! Know how to take on numerous things at once and be able to balance them all.

    Besides focusing on getting a client media attention, what else does a publicist do?
    My job as a publicist is to get you the exposure and that is done through getting the press to talk about you or your brand, planning and publicizing an event, brand management, drafting and distributing press releases, scheduling photo shoots, managing social media and/or your website. We oversee the client's overall image (hire a stylist or glam squad to make sure their look is up to par), red carpet management and submitting said clients to events for the extra media attention. I mean the list goes on, but in a nutshell we publicize our client's brand!

    What has been the most rewarding part of your job? 
    Aside from my time and having the freedom to spend it how I like, where I like, and when I like, the most rewarding part for me is when I have a client that has started from ground zero to having packed out events and eating up the press. I mean, I helped build a client's event from a coffee shop to packed out event venues and to have executed THAT, means so much! I love when the press doesn't really know my clients and I've created and helped build their brand to where they turn around and ask will they be in town for an interview. It makes my heart smile!!!

    Have you ever had a PR mess to tackle like Shea Moisture or Dove? 
    Nope! Thank God! I know how to do crisis PR, but I prefer not to. I'll outsource in a minute. But seriously, I haven't had that happen during my career, and thankfully, my clients really listen to me and take my advice.

    For more PR tips to expand your beauty brand, follow Deidre on Instagram and Twitter.

    Did this article help you better understand the PR world?
    A woman of the bayou pimping my pen because I'm scared of a day job. You can find me somewhere telling stories like Nas and Terry McMillan on April Fool's day. Writing is life so follow me on IG @cococurator 

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    By Ta-ning Connai 

    Gabrielle Union was recently spotted wilin’out, throwing things and dropping bodies left and right! NO, not in real life (that'd be so weird) but in her new movie, Breaking In, which was released over Mother's Day Weekend. Instead of the same old “if you try to hurt me, my dad the ex-cop is gonna postpone his retirement, come after you and your crew, I'm gonna go free, and y’all gonna be dead and oh so sorry" flicks, we are finally presented with an exciting, refreshing storyline that's quite believable too.

    Continue

    Ajiona Alexus, Gabrielle Union & Seth Carr

    Union plays a mother who is determined to protect her children during an unexpected home invasion. Get ready for some action, ‘cause there's plenty of it! They say don't mess with a bear’s cubs, but I say don't mess with a ride-or-die mama with nothing to fear! There are superhero moms all around us and it's right about time that Hollywood recognize!

    Whether there's danger lurking near us or danger lurking within, we all know a mother that just ain't letting it happen. Growing up, if my mother wasn't spending every waking moment trying to protect me from bad things and bad people, she was spending the same amount of energy trying to save me from my stupid self. My teenage years were the worst times of her life and when she used to ask me if I had lost my bleeping mind, I should've simply said, "YES!”

    From getting arrested, to busting a girl in the face so hard that an ambulance had to come (it was a self-defense/retaliation situation!), to having a boyfriend that got killed for messing with a rival gang...yes, I was that bad. And that lenient mentality of "you might as well let 'em get it out their system ‘cause they're gonna do it anyway"...oh no, my mother was not down with all that. She was right there to push my crazy self back on track whether I liked it or not. Sometimes it took talks, whoopings, punishment, restrictions, threats...whatever the mix of tactics she used, they worked...but it took a while.

    One day, while looking for her skirt I had borrowed, my mother found a huge stash of stolen clothing hidden in my closet (and I'm still wondering, WHY I would put borrowed and five-finger-discount merchandise in the SAME place? Duh). Next thing I know, she’s throwing those big ol’ black trash bags at me, cursing, crying and yelling for me to pack everything up, ‘cause we’re going for a ride. “A ride?” I'm thinking, “but we don't have a car.” Suddenly, she done dragged me on the bus with the plan to return EVERY single item to EVERY single store, one long ride after the next! Who in the world does this??? My mom does.

    At one department store, my mother started sobbing and asked security if they were gonna arrest me. He said, "Arrest her? Lady, we don't even know what to do with these clothes! We've never seen anything like this in our lives!" Then he looks over at me and says, "You have NO IDEA how much your mother loves you and that's why we're gonna let you go home. Please listen to her and be good. And we don't ever want to see you in this office again." And it was pretty much the same thing at every store...I got to see how discipline and mercy worked hand in hand. What a day, what a day.

    What started off as the Ride of Humiliation turned out to be one of the most remarkable testimonies of my entire life. Many years later, I went on to have my own clothing company, hired my mother as my CEO and for 10 straight years we straight killed the game selling to over 300 stores globally and nabbing celeb clients like Beyonce, Madonna, Halle and more. Look at God, I used to steal clothes and I ended up designing and selling them! What Satan meant for my harm, God worked out for my good (Genesis 15:20). Now how's that for a turn around?

    Me & Mommy New Year's Eve 1990
    A parent's love is proven by the hard decisions they make that are best for their children. Got kids? Stand your ground. Don't adopt the ways of this world that tell you children are their “own people,” they have the right to "explore" their own paths, that discipline is "cruel and unusual punishment", blah blah blah. They will not be there when your child ends up in jail, the hospital or the morgue, and your tough love may be the very thing to prevent them from going there. Just hang in there like my mom did and your biggest nightmare will one day be your greatest reward! Thank you Mommy!
    "Train up a child in the way they should go, and when they are old they will not depart from it." - Proverbs 22:6

    "And we know that all things work together for good for them who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." - Romans 8:28
    See the trailer! 

    *********

    Do you believe in tough love when necessary?
    TA-NING is a former model and clothing designer who got the "call" to leave the fab world of fashion behind. While in Bible College, she discovered her knack for mixing her quirky style of writing with her gift to teach. TA-NING'S TELL IT TUESDAY is a weekly column (originally launched on Facebook) that uses doses of pop culture to present Christianity in a lively way. Ta-ning resides in Santa Monica (by way of Brooklyn), is obsessed with dogs, and is an old school Hip-Hop junkie

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    Mirna Norales of TimelesslyMirna
    Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Mirna started her natural hair journey just four years ago and has since become a natural lifestyle queen! See why she's our naturally glam pick and find out how to keep up with this blogger, cosmetologist and model.


    What products do you use on your hair?
    I’m very funny with hair products. I like to be as natural as possible, so I mostly DIY and mix ingredients that my hair needs at the moment. My staples are bentonite clay masks, apple cider vinegar, castor and olive oil. For additives, I use a variety of essential oils. I always buy these in bulk and they last me for months.

    What do you do and why do you love it?
    Part-time I blog and model. My blog, Timelesslymirna focuses on the natural lifestyle in beauty, fashion, and wellness. My mission is to emphasize the natural beauty that exists here, now and within us all. I use my cosmetology background to educate and provide resources on natural beauty in skin, hair, and nails. On the blog you can find DIY recipes, personal essays, and model look-books from both my own work and collaborations.

    I’ve been modeling for about three years and I love it because I get to work with other creatives to relay a message we are all passionate about. There’s a vulnerability in being creative, it’s self expression. Every time I create something, whether it's completing a piece of writing or walking down the runway, I learn something new about myself.

    Mirna and her BFF
    What do you do for fun?
    For fun, I love to drive with my best friend out of the city. We sing at the top of our lungs, show off our best car dance moves, and talk for hours. Sometimes we like to hike in nature, other times we eat Italian food.

    How do you stay healthy?
    To stay healthy I drink as much water as I can, from tea to seltzers. More water doesn’t hurt. I walk all the time, mainly because I prefer it than the subway. I’ve also been a vegetarian for three years so that's made me selective about what I choose to eat. Every so often throughout the year I go through my gym phases.

    How has having natural hair contributed to your life? 
    Until I went natural I never really considered myself beautiful. I started diving into makeup and hair extensions very early on. I knew all done up I was attractive, but if I took off my makeup and let my natural hair out, I wasn’t so sure. Not until I big chopped and started to wear little-to-no-makeup did I grow an appreciation for my natural beauty. I started to like my skin with no foundation and I began to love my hair in an afro. And better yet everyone else loved it too! I get more compliments as a natural than I ever did with a weave. For new naturals, it’s like an awakening.


    What's been the best part of your natural hair journey?
    For me, the best part of being natural has been learning my hair. I like to describe styling my hair as having a conversation. Sometimes, I like to try a style that I saw on Pinterest or Youtube and my hair will react like, “No girl, you tried it!” So I’d have to work with what my hair is giving me at that point or start from square one. Some may find it frustrating that your hair isn’t doing what you want it to, but I find that’s when I’m the most creative resulting in some of my best styles.

    Did you have any positive hair role models growing up?
    My mother was natural to a fault. She rarely wore makeup and if she did it was her lipstick in her favorite shade, brown. Her hair was natural and short, with soft, fine strands. She always wore it in a low ponytail or in two braids. I always thought she was so beautiful.

    Youtube Vlogger Donedo
    Do you have a hair crush?
    Youtube Vlogger Donedo is definitely my hair crush. She has the hair of my dreams.

    Do you let people touch your hair?
    Yes, I definitely let people touch my hair. As long as they ask and use the hand sanitizer I provide. I’m always down to teach someone something new about hair.

    Have you had any negative experiences with natural hair?
    My worst experiences being natural have been a couple instances when African American men have told me that my hair looked like I didn’t comb it or I looked like a runaway slave (yes, someone actually said that to my face). At first these remarks were hurtful, of course, but later it fueled me to wear my natural hair even more. At that point it became a statement to be natural confidently.

    What's the best hair advice you give to other women?
    Some of the best advice I have is to be patient and have fun with the length you’re at now. Find the fierceness in it, rock it, and before you know it you’re Rapunzel!! Oh, and moisturize, seal, and don’t skip your trims!


    How do you stay positive?
    I stay positive by remembering to be grateful for what I have in front of me. Nothing is promised, but change. As long as I’m secure in myself, no obstacles, be it people or situations will have power over me. I always take care of myself and give myself time to regroup, review, and relax. I can’t help someone, if I can barely help myself

    Keep up with Mirna:
    Blog: timelesslymirna.com
    Pinterest: Timelesslymirna

    If you'd like to be featured in Naturally Glam email: naturallyglam@curlynikki.com!


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    Kira getting her yoga on
    By Kira Sparkles 

    While reading this article about Chewing Gum actress Michaela Coel and her yoga practice, it cited that only two percent of Black Americans do yoga. TWO percent! That's a tragic number! Why shouldn't we be out here doing yoga? We're killing everything in the game and this is just another thing that should be on a very long list. Also, we need to challenge this idea of what a yogi looks like.

    Yoga was born as a practice in India, but through commercialization and whitewashing, it's become synonymous with upper-class white women in yoga pants chanting Om. I get where that feels daunting and isolating. I know when I go to yoga classes, there are so few people of color in these spaces.

    But why is yoga so important to our lives?

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    With the meditative side of yoga, it allows the clutter of the mind to clear and lets you breathe a little easier. However, when it comes to the physical side of yoga, the benefits are numerous including, but definitely not limited to: increased flexibility, improved posture, increased muscle strength and tone and weight loss. It can improve your circulation which in turn can even improve your sex life.

    Do I have your attention now?

    In my experience, I've suffered from anxiety and depression in the past while still facing bouts to this day, but yoga has helped me immensely. I'm not saying it's a cure-all, but staying mindful has made me more aware of my thought patterns and myself. It's made me aware of the thoughts that lead me to a sneaky hate spiral. It's made me aware to be kinder to myself, even in a not so kind world, and don't we deserve that at the end of the day?

    With social media trickling into a lot of aspects of our lives, it's easy to get sucked in. It can play on all our insecurities and fears. In spite of this, coming back to yoga gives me a feeling of stability and consistency. Yoga shows me just how strong I am in the face of opposition. It shows my compassion for myself to show up, even on days when it's extremely difficult. Through this practice, I feel strong and grounded in spite of everything that tries to work against me.

    Even if it's the world. Even if it's myself.

    Of course, I live in myself every day so I thought I would ask some of my friends what their experiences with yoga were and how the practice improved their lives.

    My best friend Brittany looked really thoughtful and said, "Of course it feels obvious to say you get into shape, but... not to sound like a hippie but it's made me more aware of myself. I would say the meditative side ties into a sort of spiritual side for me. I think that's important no matter who you are."

    Alice, another friend of mine has made it a ritual with her husband, "We look forward to our Sunday Yoga date followed by lunch!" She even encourages friends to come with her to share the practice.

    When I asked if they were worried about any pushback, Brittany shrugged and said, "I think when it comes to anything that's white-dominated you're going to get that pushback, but you have to do it for yourself."

    While Alice's biggest opponent was herself, "I was more of a cardio person and I had those same feelings about my body not being able to do Yoga poses. Now I'm so proud of how far my body can mold into any yoga pose."

    So there you have it ladies! Will you give it a try?

    Share your thoughts on yoga!
    Kira is a passionate, outspoken writer keeping it real for the people. She's a UF graduate with a soft spot for cats. Read more of her work at her blog KiraSparkles!

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    Photo via Madamenoire
    By Veronica Wells

    I’ve tried to avoid the hoopla and hubbub surrounding Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s wedding. Still, the news of the nuptials and her relatives’ responses to them have been all over the news.

    It’s hard to avoid.


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    Nathaniel Kweku
    By Mwabi Kaira

    If your mom doesn’t like your show, it probably means you’re doing something right. Such is the case with Nathanel Kweku’s ‘Growing Up Immigrant,’ a comedic 6 episode web series about Ghanaian-American Nicholas Ajayi who has just moved in with his recently divorced Aunty and separated cousin Kojo. Aunty is looking for a new love via social media, Kojo is working on winning his wife back and Nicholas is failing in the love game by not giving enough time to his girlfriend while trying to get-back-in with co-worker Nkem, after making a terrible first impression. Rasil Lee rounds out the cast as Nicholas's sex addicted co-worker and friend. Whew!

    The idea to create, write and direct the project came to him when “African Parents Be Like” videos began burning up the web- which probably explains why his mom doesn't like the show. For this first-generation Ghanaian who loved writing, caught the acting bug in high school, and began acquiring a list of TV credits that would include ‘Lopez,’ ‘Rosewood,’ and ‘Startup,’ he’d found his calling. We recently caught up with Nathaniel to chat about the series and his own personal experience growing up immigrant!
    Nicholas, Aunty Mama & Cousin Kojo 
    How close is the web series to real-life?
    (Laughs Growing up, I was surrounded by very strong, independent African women- everyone from my mom to aunties in the States and in Ghana, so there’s a lot of truth in the dynamic between Nicholas and Aunty Mama. I think there’s also a lot of truth in how Nicholas’s identity struggle overlaps with his career trajectory and also his romantic relationships. However, the actual events in the series are (mostly) fictional…

    What was the most challenging part creating it? 
    EVERY part of it was a challenge! Lol. I probably went through close to 15 drafts in the writing process. Resources were definitely limited- about 40% of the budget came from community support and crowdfunding and the remaining 60% came from my own pocket. Every crew-member was paid well below industry standards or on a volunteer basis. We also lost my DP after the first 3 days of production due to a medical emergency, so that was one of the hardest challenges, but thankfully other crew members stepped up. Another major challenge was trying to schedule shoot days around cast member availability.

    What do you hope to show with this series?
    Right now my main focus is building an audience and making sure the people that are looking for a show like Growing Up Immigrant are able to find it. I think so many times we put expectations of where something has to go without understanding that there’s a process to getting there. With that said, in the long term, I’d love to partner with FX, Netflix of HBO.

    Do you plan to go further with Growing Up Immigrant or do you want to create other shows?
    There’s so much more that I want to do with Growing Up Immigrant! There’s a lot more stories to tell! At the same time, I do have other ideas, concepts, and scripts.

    What's your first love (acting, writing, directing)? 
    Ooooh… 1st love? We getting personal! Writing was my first love, however, I didn’t recognize we were in love until I got to college. I wrote and performed poetry and won a number of contests as a kid, but of course, as the child of immigrants, writing wasn’t something that was ever encouraged. It wasn’t until a college professor kept affirming my voice as a writer that I recognized it was a skill set.


    What's your ideal role?
    I love biopics and history. Even though Growing Up Immigrant is borderline comedy and drama, I’m really a drama-actor at heart. I’d love to take on the role of an African liberator- I have a few specific ones in mind.

    How do you feel Africans are portrayed in TV and film?
    I think we’re seeing a renaissance in terms of how black people are portrayed in TV and film. Growing up, the portrayals I saw of Africans from a Western perspective (on a global scale) glorified the war, poverty, and corruption of the Continent. As an African, it was disheartening and subconsciously, those portrayals made me ashamed of my African identity. However, I think we’re seeing more diversified portrayals- Queen of Katwe, Black Panther, William Jackson Harper’s character on The Good Place and many others. Our narratives are finally reflecting the multi-dimensionality of the black experience and I’m excited to be a part of it.

    Do you feel more African, American or both?
    It’s an interesting duality because sometimes I feel like I identify with one more than the other, depending on where I am and who I’m with, but the reality is being first-generation American is kind of like its own identity. I feel like a hybrid in the fact that I can kind of assimilate into African American culture because I grew up in the States and around Africans, I feel like I’m able to relate because of how I grew up, numerous visits to Ghana, and consciously making an effort.

    Do you feel an obligation to tell African stories?
    I don’t see it as an obligation to tell African stories; I see it as a privilege. As a Ghanaian-American- a Ghanaian who grew up in America, I see it as part of my mission to help bridge the gap between African Americans and Africans. I understand perspectives and experiences of both groups and believe that storytelling can help bridge the divides.

    Danai, Lupita, & Florence Kasumba
    Do you feel the success of Black Panther is helping the popularity of Africans in Hollywood? 
    I definitely think Black Panther is helping to show a different side of Africa and Africans. The fact that you have a cast with a dark-skinned female lead as the love interest and a dark-skinned female as the primary military leader speaks volumes to audiences. We’ve never seen that before in a way that was empowering for African women. Roles are now being created around African talent such as John Boyega, Idris Elba, Daniel Kaluuya, Lupita Nyong’o, and Danai Gurira. I think we’re just on the tip of the ice-berg in terms of what we’ve come to see in terms of storytelling about Africa and Africans.

    Check out the trailer for Growing Up Immigrant, watch the episodes, and keep up with it on social media!

    Will you watch the show? Share your thoughts!
    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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    Stacie J. & her girls/ Sheryl Roberts and her son
    By Erickka Sy Savané

    Written a few years back, this article about two moms who were forced to pay more attention to their mental health is just what the doctor ordered for Mental Health Month! Please read and take a moment to reflect on whether you're taking care of yourself as you should.

    Sheryl Roberts was driving home late one evening when she fell asleep at the wheel. No she wasn’t drunk. But she was tired. So tired, in fact, that she was supposed to be on vacation. The first one in years. But she postponed it because when you’re a commercial actress and you book a mega job, you take it. Especially, when you need the money. So despite the fact that she crashed into a parked car and had a huge laceration on her forehead, she refused to go to the hospital.

    “All I could think about was my job, and I still went the next morning even though my head was the size of Shrek,” says Sheryl.

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    Sheryl post accident via her IG 

    They obviously replaced her. It was then that she went to the hospital and discovered that she had six herniated disks in the back and neck and a small fracture in the neck. It was the cut on her forehead, however, that caused her the most anxiety because what would happen to her modeling career if she was left with a scar? “It was very traumatic,” she says.
    “The first two weeks I cried every day because I was always finding something else wrong with me. But after that, I had an epiphany.”
    More on that later…

    Stacie’s
    headaches began last July and remained almost two weeks. She thought they were no big deal until she collapsed to the floor and had to be rushed to the hospital by a friend. Turns out, she had a ruptured brain aneurysm that left her unconscious for days. She also suffered two strokes. “People usually die straight from this or end up in a nursing home,” she says. And while things could have been a lot worse, life has changed in many ways. Once a very athletic person who worked out regularly, she can’t run anymore. Her left eye, which was shut for three months after the accident, is now open, but she must wear glasses. She’s often dizzy and sometimes struggles to remember things. “The other day, I couldn’t remember something from my childhood. The memory was just gone.” She also can’t drive and needs help taking care of her two kids.

    But if you think Stacie is spending her time feeling sorry for herself, think again. Like Sheryl, she’s got other things on her mind.

    For Sheryl, the accident, and coming close to death, made her realize that she needed to deal with her life. That meant, getting out of a toxic relationship, which became most apparent when the guy wasn’t there for her following the accident. It also meant getting rid of friends too.
    “There was no one I could really count on. I mean those who are there when you feel like you can’t deal with your life.”
    She was also able to put her career into perspective. “I used to stress over the fact that I’m getting older (Sheryl is 47 years old) and will have to change careers. Now I realize I can only do what I can do. No more no less. I take my time with things. I’m working on my clothing business IndigostyleVintage.” It also changed her relationship with her 17-year-old son.
    “Before I used to feel like I had to make things happen. Be mother and father. Now I’m more honest. As parents we try so much to protect them but sometimes they have to see you as human. He knows that I’ve been very successful in my career, but now I’m starting over. I’m figuring it out.”
    For Stacie, the accident has shown her that she’s not in control. “I’m more patient now because I know there’s a higher being driving my life.” She also feels a renewed sense of purpose.
    “I want to start a non-for profit to bring awareness to brain aneurysms. Millions of people have them, but don’t know it because they don’t all rupture. Mine had been growing for 20 years....I also value every second I have with my daughters. Even more now. I want them to be happy.”
    Sheryl also adds that she learned to put herself first and listen to her gut. “When I’m tired, I sleep, when I am not in the mood I say no, and when it doesn’t feel right I make adjustments.” She says it makes her life more full and keeps her really engaged versus getting in a rut and just going through the motions.

    Have you ever had a devastating experience change your life for the better?
    Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of CurlyNikki.com, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in Essence.comEbony.com, Madamenoire.com, xoNecole.com, and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on TwitterInstagram or ErickkaSySavane.com

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    Daya La Soul 
    Though some natural hair purists believe that being natural means never donning hair that isn't your own, there are others who love nothing more than switching it up sometimes whether for protective styling or just for the sake of switching it up. Here, natural hair vlogger Daya La Soul gives us 3 wigs she got from a local beauty supply store that she says are: SAFE, very cheap, easy & quick to install, will last months (if you don't over manipulate) and are great for last minute slayage! Enjoy, show some love to her page, and let us know if you'll give one of these wigs a try!

    Will you give any of these wigs a try? Did you have a favorite?

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    Esosa E.
    By Erickka Sy Savané

    If you've ever seen the popular web series 'An African City' then you're no stranger to ‘Ngozi,’ a character so sweet you can gain 5 lbs. just looking at her. She's that girlfriend that hasn't been jaded who’s there to remind us of how we used to be. And while people have come to know and love Ngozi, they're only beginning to discover Esosa E., the New York City born actress, author and holistic lifestyle advocate who so convincingly plays her. Get to know Esosa and you'll discover that she's passionate about health and beauty and has authored two books, 'The Acne-Free Diet' and 'Parasites Be Gone' to help others on their journey to a more holistic life. Her third book, 'Got Veg? How to Thrive on a Plant-Based Diet’ came about as a way to answer the many questions she received from readers of her blog about the basics of a vegan lifestyle. So if you've ever wondered what it would take to become a vegan, but had serious questions, wonder no more. Like a true girlfriend, Esosa's got everything you need to know. Read on!

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    What’s the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan?
    Esosa: A vegetarian is someone who refrains from eating meat but may include eggs or dairy products like milk and cheese in their diet. Vegans choose to abstain from all forms of animal products including meat and dairy. I am African vegan, and eat primarily raw foods (uncooked) when I'm in my ideal living environment. I went vegan when I was around thirteen years old and didn't really have a major source of inspiration when I started. Many years later I had horrible skin and borderline chronic fatigue. I was motivated to go raw to heal my acne, and it worked. Within one month on raw foods my skin was acne and scar-free and glowing.

    Which do you ultimately recommend?
    Esosa: I believe in bio-individuality, which in essence takes into account that we all have different blood types, genes, and other factors that can affect what is the best fuel for our bodies. I'm also a huge fan and ongoing student of Ayurveda which can help people find their ideal diet based on their overall energy type which they call doshas. I do not believe the vegan diet is the best diet for everyone, but I have personally witnessed the healing effects of plant-based living and it has been documented through research that plant-based diets can have drastic and incredible effects when healing many diseases.

    What are the benefits of a vegan lifestyle?
    Esosa: Some of the benefits I have experienced include clear skin, increased energy, youthfulness, and creativity. Because of my lifestyle I rarely get sick and also have deepened my spiritual practice. If you adopt a whole foods, plant-based lifestyle and are eating a balanced diet you immediately decrease the chances of contracting diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease and more.

    What was your family's reaction to you becoming vegan?
    Esosa: My family thought I was a little crazy at first, but over time as they witnessed my own personal transformation it affected their choices. After a few years of teasing I came home and there was almond milk and tofu in the fridge. Now everyone calls me for health advice.

    Does being vegan stunt your social life?
    Esosa: Being vegan will only interrupt your social life if you let it. Learning how to cope socially as a plant-eater was one of my major challenges when I transitioned. I overcame the social issues by preparing dishes to share with family and inviting friends to join me at my favorite vegan spots. Rather than get stressed about it I decided to bring people into my world and that helped a lot. In fact, people more often than not were inspired by my choices and enjoyed trying something new. If you are vegan and going to dinner, always speak up and let people know. If the friends you are visiting are clueless about preparing plant-based meals, take some food to share with you and have a great time.

    Is it harder to date as a vegan? Do you end up dating only vegan men?
    Esosa: I don't believe in love being hindered by food preference. But if a man was to consistently ridicule my dietary choices, it would never work out.

    Photo via rawgirltoxicworld.com
    What are the biggest misconceptions about going vegan?
    Esosa: People think that being vegan means that you have to sacrifice eating delicious food. That is really not true; its all about knowing how to prepare plant-based foods. My book ‘Got Veg?’ has over fifty recipes to try immediately upon reading.

    The other major misconception is that vegans do not get enough protein and cannot build muscle. There are many incredible plant-based foods that are rich in protein, and also many vegan athletes that have proved you can not only build muscle but become a champion while consuming a plant-based diet.

    What is your advice to people who are interested in a vegan lifestyle?
    Esosa: Try it! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain, especially if you are dealing with an ailment or are interested in clearing your skin, losing ​weight, or just increasing your vitality and youthfulness.

    For more Esosa E., visit her website & health Blog!

    Are you about that vegan life? 
    Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of CurlyNikki.com, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in Essence.comEbony.com, Madamenoire.com, xoNecole.com, and more. When she’s not writing...wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on TwitterInstagram or ErickkaSySavane.com

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    By: Lenora Houseworth

    What words come to mind when you think self-care? Bubble baths, facial masks and meditation apps? If you haven’t already noticed, the self-care revolution has become big business--and with good reason. Women are twice as likely as men to suffer from stress and depression, with Black women uniquely impacted by race-related daily stress. It took me many years and my own mental breakdown before I understood that self-care is more than lighting candles on #SelfCareSunday. It also took me being 30+ and a depression diagnosis in my 20's to realize prayer does not cure mental dysfunction and distress. For many black women, church is and always has been the only power source for mental and emotional maintenance.

    And it’s killing us.

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    Whitney McNulty
    “We can’t just show up to church religiously every Sunday and think that our problems will just disappear without us putting in any effort. Just like we wouldn’t get hit by a car and head straight to church with broken bones instead of the ER,” says Whitney McNulty, a mental health advocate with a Masters in Psychology. “We shouldn’t just be struggling mentally and not seek out professional help/therapy.”

    McNulty created her own empowerment business and Christian dance ministry in New York City inspired by her own journey after being diagnosed with depression and panic disorder in 2012 and again in 2014.

    “I don’t think treatment and spirituality are mutually exclusive. In fact, I believe the best healing comes when you join the two together. The way I see it, receiving treatment and learning strategies to heal ARE a part of self-care” she says.

    McNulty recommends for anyone who has experienced any type of trauma, especially violence or abuse in any way (physical, sexual, emotional and verbal), to seek therapy as soon as they can.

    Minaa B
    Licensed psychotherapist and mental health consultant Jessmina “Minaa B” Archbold agrees.

    “I think it's great that black women are in tune with their spiritual side and if church helps with watering their sense of self that is great also. I do, however, think it is important to know that you can be a spiritual person and still be in need of help and that is okay. The church is not the only place on earth that can bring you restoration and healing.”

    Archbold’s practice focuses on clients dealing with depression, anxiety, and life transitions. As a Christian, she offers faith-based treatment for clients if they prefer. She asserts it is important for church leaders to be trained on mental healthcare so they can recognize the signs that it’s time to get professional help because they can be easily missed. She says,

    “If you are depressed you need to be aware of your motivation level, eating/sleeping habits and how that has shifted in a two week period. If someone is bipolar are they having manic episodes? Overly joyed, talking rapidly, having inappropriate outbursts/anger or hallucinating? Is the person feeling overwhelmed every time they wake up in the morning? Is he/she constantly sweating, breathing heavy, consumed by irrational fears? This could be a sign that a person is struggling with an anxiety disorder."
    There is a lot of education that still needs to be done because there is still so much stigma attached to mental health/illness. Therefore, here are a few more signs that Archbold says you can look for if you think you or someone you love may be suffering from mental illness:

    You avoid people, new and old.
    Often isolation occurs when dealing with a mental illness, people tend to stay away from friends, family and their peers.

    You feel guilty and worthless
    Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and lack of motivation are keys signs that a person could be struggling with depression. These warning signs also lead to suicide intent so it is important to be mindful and aware of how a person sees their quality of life and their purpose.

    Emotional outbursts are a norm
    Disorders like bipolar l and ll include manic episodes which can cause someone to have emotional outbursts that are euphoric, aggressive or extreme irritability. Mania often requires hospitalization because it gets so intense for the person having the experience and the people around them.

    Increased sexual desire
    Some disorders curb your libido like depression, most people experience a low sex drive, while others with other mental illnesses like bipolar disorder, can see an increase in their sex drive due to their mania. Hyper sexuality is a symptom in bipolar disorder that isn't talked about often.

    You can’t stop worrying
    Worry plays a huge role in anxiety, but can be seen in other mental illnesses as well. It is important to seek professional counseling such as cognitive behavioral therapy to help with thoughts that often control behaviors.

    Once we start owning our narratives and understanding that it is okay to ask for help, then we will be able to serve others in a better capacity.

    To find out more information about mental health disorders and where to get help, please visit: The American Psychiatric Association

    Do you seek help outside of a church when you're struggling mentally? 
    Lenora Houseworth-Weston is a social media strategist and writer based in Jersey City, NJ by way of the Windy City. Her work has been seen in places such as Yahoo.comGlaad.org and BlackEnterprise.com. Jay-Z lyrics and avocados are her life. Follow her adventures on Instagram @LenoraSheWrote!

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    Taraji P. Henson
    By Brenda Alexander

    In a 2015 interview with Steve Harvey, when asked about the status of her dating life, Taraji P. Henson declared: “I’m a grown woman...if there’s nothing on this (ring) finger, no one gets claimed. You don’t get claimed until you claim me.”

    Well her beau Kelvin Hayden must have taken note because 3 years later, Taraji is now a fiance and wearing it well!

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    (L to R) Taraji P. Henson and her fiance Kelvin Hayden; Engagement Announcement

    The actress has kept her dating life private and it was not until last winter that she confirmed she and Hayden’s romance. Prior, our favorite Cookie kept her love life in a jar and focused on her career and her son, that she raised as a single mom. Not getting her big break in Hollywood until she was 29, she preached on the importance of women focusing and discovering themselves before setting their sights on a sweetheart neckline wedding dress and a white picket fence with Prince Charming. Never one to race against time and aging, Taraji’s life has come full circle at 47-years-old with an enviable career and a FIONE former NFL player as a soon-to-be husband. With a now-adult son, she is able to embrace all that is in front of her. Her new ring serves as the icing on the cake to her commitment to not settle and is a good example for all women to follow.

    Many of us feel a sense of urgency on the other side of our 20’s and in our 30’s to marry and start a family. Sometimes it’s due to our own vision of where we think we should be; and, other times it’s because our friends are jumping the broom and birthing babies. We find ourselves asking, “Should I start looking for my Mr. Right?” or “When will my time come?”

    Marriage and a family are a beautiful thing, but only under the right conditions: when two people are in love, desire and are ready for the same thing. The problem is wanting a marriage and family so badly that we take whatever is offered to us...first. Everybody knows somebody who wanted a hubby and baby so much that they married and got pregnant too quickly and it ended up horribly.

    There’s nothing wrong with being single, or enjoying your relationship at every phase. What a lot of women tend to forgo when they rush into marriages and families is the time to truly explore themselves. Not that marriage is final and once you say “I do” you won’t have the opportunity of self-discovery. But, the thing you lose when two become one is the right to be selfish. Once you are married, you have to think about you and your partner. When single or in a non-marriage relationship, there is a greater sense of freedom, or wiggle room to “do you.” Even if you live together, there is a bit more flexibility.

    I’ve been in a long-term relationship myself and can understand both sides. I’ve gone to college in a different state, studied abroad, changed jobs multiple times, and I travel at almost any given second. Thankfully, I have a partner who understands such and has never made me feel as if he wanted to restrict the things that I do and vice versa. But, to many, our relationship is too unconventional. Many don’t understand that we made a commitment to each other that while in our 20’s, we would go after our goals individually and together, keeping a line of communication open regarding what we wanted. Doing so has made us closer, our desire to stay with one another and eventually marry even stronger, and we’re more content and happy as individuals.

    Friends in our age group, on the other hand, have not been so lucky. I know a ton of people who are in relationships with people who don’t support their personal goals but stay because they want to be wives so bad and dream that this is “the one.” Others are married and feel trapped because they have someone they feel they have to answer to. Some have children, whether married or not who constantly put themselves last because they in essence have to...to a large extent. Many in these situations often complain that they wished they would have done more themselves before making those decisions and commitments. Only a small portion have different experiences.

    I know every situation is different; however, I strongly believe that regardless, as women we have choices. Taraji herself was a single mother at one point with minimal resources but made herself (and her son) a priority. She moved to LA at 26 with $700 and her toddler and made it work. And, it paid off.

    Thankfully, this narrative is shifting. More and more women are embracing being single or are more content than our aunties may have been in their day with being in long-term relationships without having the desire to rush into a marriage, choosing to do things their way and on their time. Hell, a lot of people don’t even consider marriage. Regardless, I think that Taraji ‘s story is one that should be celebrated, whether marriage is the goal or not.

    Are you content being single or in a relationship? Did you wait until the right time for marriage?
    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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    Discovering Natural 
    Hi Naturals, 

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



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


    Social Media:
    Twitter: @sawahtwit
    Snapchat: @discovernatural

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    The Duke and Duchess of Sussex 
    By Brenda Alexander

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

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


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

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



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

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

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


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

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

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    Marjorie Harvey
    By Mwabi Kaira

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

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

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


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

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

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

    Do you think people start feeling hella loose with their comments to people on social media?
    Mwabi Kaira is an African girl navigating her way in an American world.  She is of Zambian and Malawian heritage and moved to the USA in 1993.  Writing has been her passion since she could put a sentence together on the page. Mothering her sons is her pride and joy.  She has been an avid runner since 2013 and has run 10 half marathons and a full marathon.  Keep up with her athttp://africanbeautifulme.blogspot.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Brandy's interview with True Exclusives 
    By Brenda Alexander

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

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

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

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

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

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

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