LESSONS FROM A JEWEL
FEATURING INSPIRING WORDS FROM MICHAELA ANGELA DAVIS
About a week ago, I linked up with my bestie Chloe and we went to the “Radical Women Have the Solutions” with Afropunk in The Wing Dumbo location. To my surprise, Michaela Angela Davis would be apart of the discussion. Davis has been uplifting and speaking for Black women in the media for years. I was honored and humbled to be in the presence of a jewel. Something that I admired most about her were her levels of “I don’t give a fuck” and her knowledge of her stance in the world as a woman of color. One of the greatest gifts is knowing yourself and what you do for your community.
As we all know “adulting” can be everything we want it to be but it also can get critical. Even the thought of being a woman of color and balancing it all can get real too. During the discussion, someone questioned some of Michaela’s daily routines and how she managing to stay in control of her life. Michaela’s insight on the subject quickly made it all good and transformed my perspective. I took plenty of notes during my time with her and you can view them below. Read them, take them, and post them.
- “It’s a very good time to be a woman with a vision and a voice.”
- “This generation young women are so bad ass….We got this.”
- “Black women need to get more pedicures than to go marches…Rest!”
- “Whatever you love, go get it and have it for you. Do things that restore you and don’t take from you. Have no shame about it.”
- “Do what calls you and make time for meditation.”
- “The biggest challenge is to protect me.”
- “Don’t allow yourself to be buried by other people and their expectations.”
- “If you have a good life, she keeps evolving.”
- “Be in a love with yourself. Reveal that love.”
- “Travel and have sex.”
- “Have a moment to sit and breathe. Don’t touch anything. Make gratitude list.”
- “Resist doing other peoples work.”
- “Having a high profile and receipts doesn’t mean you have money in the bank.”
- “A successful career is knowing what you’re here for.”
- “Everybody has a calling. Everybody has a reason to be here…You may be given a moment to do something special.”
- “You can be a change agent.”
THANK YOU MICHAELA ANGELA DAVIS!
COLORS ON THE BLOCK
Living in color
What happens to colors on the block?
Does it rot and decay?
Like a cherry in a tree?
Or does it shine bright like the sun-
Has it washed away?
Does it fade into the shade?
Or create a joyful sensation in the sky-
Like a rainbow?
Maybe it’s invisible
Like a blind stitch on a garment.
Or does it stand still?
BLACK & WOKE TELEVISION
Being black & woke may be the most recent trend all throughout our timelines but for some of us it’s a lifestyle. For a period of time reality television seemed to be replacing the images of black families, comedies and realities. Now there has been a shift in the black experience and our appearance in television. Below I have listed a few of the hit shows that I consider black and woke that occupy my time and summer. Feel free to comment and let me know if you have any additions. Whether its a television show fulfilled with superheroes, family drama, comedy or love story; they are all beautiful stories. Tune in!
“These are our stories…dong dong” lol Just kidding
A new year begins and the lightning strikes.
Everything needs to get right this year.
Panic and get excited.
Reflect on last years f’ ups.
The wins and the losses.
A new blank page.
A new opportunity.
Stand still with some new balance.
To just start this thing all over again.
Whether the your new starts January 1st or June 1st…
It’s still a new beginning.
Some of us might be moving fast; others standing still.
Focus on the progression
But chill….stay calm.
The enlightenment is on its way.
But just remember.
Everything will happen when the time is right.
Or even when your just living and least expect it.
And just like that.
Before you know it.
Your life will be shining under a new light.
Embrace this new time.
Embark in some dope moments.
All in fearlessness and shamelessness.
Remember this new time.
LIFE OF CABO
What happens in Cabo should stay in Cabo? Should it really?
Anyway… here are just a few memories from my vacation with the Bachelorette Party A.K.A #cabocrew. I had the time of my life, got lots of sun (even sunburn), and danced all day long.
SYD ‘N’ PARIS
I met my family in Paris, France for 3 days in April. I spent my time there site seeing, taking pictures, and eating a ton of gelato. The weather was beautiful and I couldn’t help but fall in love with all of the art and architecture that Paris has to offer. Traveling abroad alone was ground breaking for me and felt very accomplished. Also, pushing myself to try new things and experiencing a new city was breathtaking. The best part of the trip for me was spending a day in Versailles.
one day you will wake up
and value yourself more than the world ever could
you will refuse to take no for an answer
your heart will reject all things that are half ass
you will level up
and be unforgettable.
you are the archetype.
PAID THE COST TO BE THE BOSS
(Glasses and Coat by Pieces And Things Boutique)
On June 19th, I launched my choker line which in the beginning scared the crap out of me but I decided to just run with it. Since then I’ve managed to discover a lot about myself along with what it means to be a true entrepreneur. It definitely hasn’t been easy and I’m still learning so much along the way. I thought it would be good to share a few lessons that I’ve learned since I started this “boss girl” journey.
#1. START. JUST START.
In the beginning, I felt as if I wasn’t prepared to start my own business. I thought that I didn’t have the money, talent, support, patience, etc. Every form of self-doubt you could think of flashed amongst my brain cells. I’m still not quite sure what sparked it, but one day I said to myself “f, it.” The worst thing that could happen is that it sucks and I have to find something else to do. I asked my bestie to teach me the basics of sewing and the rest was history. Before I knew it, I was sewing chokers any and everywhere I could. Eventually, proving to myself that I was capable of being an accessory designer. Most importantly, I became comfortable with the fact that I didn’t have it all figured together and that was okay.
#2. NAME YOUR PRICE AND STICK TO IT.
When you start a business you will be surprised by how many people actually don’t want to pay you. I learned the hard way about always keeping things professional even with family and friends. It’s so easy to get caught up with favors and negotiations. I had to remind myself that I work very hard and I am building a brand. The goal is to be fair to customers and also be fair to myself. As soon as you compromise that with favors and small deals for no reason then that changes everything. Set your price and stick to it, even for “ya mama and cousins too.”
#3. YOU WILL LOSE FRIENDS.
One of the fastest ways to figure out who your real friends and fake friends are is by starting your own business. Real friends will show up and scream loudly. Fake friends will remain silent and/or absent. Before you know it that energy that you once had time to entertain negativity, you won’t anymore. Don’t worry about losing friends though. I learned that the more sucky friends you lose the more space you have building your social network with people with similar goals as you. It definitely hurts at first but you’ll get over it.
#4. VALUE YOUR CUSTOMERS.
Valuing your customers is the most important part of running a business. Whether, its communicating via email, text, or DM’s I noticed that customers can always sense good service. Also, if you provide great service then customers have no problem representing you or referring you.
#5. YOU WILL BECOME MORE CONFIDENT.
I feel more fulfilled now that I know that I am capable of creating and selling something. There has definitely been a shift in my energy since I started my accessory line and it keeps expanding. Running a business gives you a sense of self-pride especially when you make your customers happy. It feels good to secure that bag too, I can’t lie.
#6. IF YOU ALLOW THE PEOPLE THAT TRULY LOVE YOU TO SUPPORT YOU THEN YOU WILL ALWAYS WIN.
On this journey, I learned the importance of becoming a sponge for love and support. My family and friends have become my sales representatives, models, mentors, photographers, teachers, and the list goes on. I am truly grateful and I’m proud to say that they are apart of my team. Shoutout to the homies.
MORAL OF THE STORY.
Whether the business succeeds or fails. You will conquer something. The lesson won’t be lost. You’ll become better. You will become stronger.
- I was born with an extra finger.
- My favorite song growing up was “JUMP” by Kriss Kross.
- I don’t eat tomatoes but I like spaghetti.
- For years, I was afraid of Chucky Cheese (I’m probably still afraid that’s a big ass rat).
- I used to play tennis and run track.
- I busted my upper lip in the same spot twice.
- My favorite movie is “The Wiz.”
- My favorite food is fried chicken.
- I started skating at adult sessions when I was 12 years old.
- I’m afraid of cats.
- I used to dance like a white girl, but now I twerk everyday.
- My worst habit is eating habit is eating tons of ice-cream.
- Growing up I never had a curfew.
- A molester broke into my home once when I was home.
- Secretly I can cook, I just tell people that so I won’t have to do it.
- I got suspended in the eighth grade for laughing at my principal’s ignorance.
- I’ve only been in love one time.
- I almost failed the 6th grade.
- I can’t snap with my left hand.
- I forged my mother’s signature on multiple write-ups from teachers at school.
- When I first moved to NY all I had was 1,000 dollars worth of graduation money and close to 300 of that I spent on a pair of shoes.
- I’m considered the “strong friend”, that’s funny, brutally honest, and loyal.
- I lost my virginity at 20 years old.
- I just found out the “compliment” and “complement” has two different meanings (Did you know that?).
- I only listen to trap music, R&B and James Brown.
- At 18, I was a victim of domestic violence.
- God and I are best friends.
- I used to cover my bald head and my butt. Now I refuse.
- I wrote this at 5am because I had nothing else to write about.
- I’m classy.
- I’m smart.
- I’m ratchet.
- I read books.
- I love to skate and dance (that might be the one thing you knew already).
- I’m human.
“It never rains in sunny California.” Yet, it seems to rain almost every other day, here in NYC. My nose is getting itchy and I’m starting to speak like a 60 year-old man due to this allergy season. The weather is so awkward these days, and every morning I can’t figure out if I’m going to freeze my nipples off or be over dressed. Truly hoping that Mother Nature will soon get it’s act together and pick one season. They say it’s the springtime, but considering the weather, it feels more like an “in between time.” Regardless of my feelings, spring is officially here, which means that it is time for me to do some good ol’ spring-cleaning shawty. We are 3 months into the year, so for this cleaning spree we can all start by being real with ourselves about those new years resolutions, made in January. When I say spring-cleaning, I’m not just talking about the basics – like changing out your closet, cleaning up the house, and busting out those floral linens. This spring cleaning is more about cleaning my internal home, because these days clearing out the material things is the easier part. I don’t just want to clean my expensive ass apartment in Brooklyn. I want to get clean inside and out, incorporate some healthy foods, and take more control of my surroundings.
For my spring-cleaning, of course I cleaned out my closet, but because I’m a semi-shopaholic that LITERALLY means that I’m only making space for more clothes. I did the small stuff like revamped my vision board and started making summer plans. Eventually, I got all technical and started cleaning out my electronic devices by removing things like unwanted selfies, unused apps, and giving my social media pages a face lift. Next, I challenged myself to take things up a notch by deleting phone numbers and text threads from toxic people, which feels AMAZING by the way. Taking these even further involved me doing some self-evaluations, figuring out who my real friends are and limiting how much and exactly what I give to people. Slowly but surely, I’m noticing the importance of quality versus quantity which my mom used to preach to me about. We will dig deeper into that part next post because it’s too real right now. Moving forward, hopefully my spring-cleaning results in an overflow of progression and slayage.
I have major plans of bouncing back like Big Sean, meanwhile embodying the ratchet ego of Future…“Chase a check, never chase a bi$@#” are definitely the words that will have me skipping stress-free through this blossoming season.
Future, I thank you – you the real MVP. No, seriously.
THE BLOG (YEAR 1)
For the longest my friends started presenting this bright idea about starting a blog. I always felt that it sounded like a good idea but just never knew how to start. In February 2016, I finally took everyone’s advice and started building the concept for my own lifestyle blog. The best suggestion I received was to take time with creating my blog and do it on my own time. It took me a month to create the layout for my blog using wordpress.com and it turned out to be easier than I thought it would be. When I started my blog there was a weird mix of emotions filled with excitement and nervousness. It’s kind of like when your mom tells you have to start paying your own phone bill. You know in the long run it will pay off but there is still apart of you that are in a state of shock.
I never had huge expectations for my blog nor did I think that people would enjoy it as much as they do. I refused to study other blogs to insure that my blog would be completely original. All I knew was that it would be a creative outlet and that I would create it in a way that no one would enjoy/love it more than I would. I love art, fashion, writing and interviewing people which is exactly what I wanted my blog to display. I love blackness and black history, so I eventually found a way to incorporate the culture as well. So far my blog received great reception, thousands of views, and expanded my social network. Something that I appreciate most about my blog is that it gives me a platform to inspire and pay homage to special figures in my life.
On March 11, 2016 I launched my blog with sweaty palms and all. Now I am a year in and super hype. I’m looking forward to showing more fashion ideas and getting more personal with you all. Thank you for all of the influence, support, and shares on social media. I’ll definitely keep this going and continue to grow. Yasssssssss!!! It’s my blogger-versary!! Round of applause, baby make that ____ clap!! Okay just kidding but not really.
Forgive me for all the lies I told myself.
Wrapping myself in the idea of you.
Failing to declare everything I ever wanted and everything I didn’t.
For you, accepting almost anything.
Forgive me for getting too comfortable.
As I sat back and watched you open up meanwhile neglecting to open my doors.
Searching for instant gratification and not letting things evolve.
Forgive me for listening to my friends.
Allowing my BFFS to tell my truths and untruths.
Listening to them instead of you.
Forgive me for lying to you.
Telling you things worked when they really didn’t.
Putting your ego before mine, pretending like my ego was missing.
Forgive me for not settling for your b.s.
Deleting you on social networks and being in my fe fe’s.
Being strong, realistic and free.
Forgive me for being real af.
Not for you but just for me.
The real tea is when I was 15 years old I had my whole life planned out. First, I would go to college, grad school, marry my college sweetheart and start having babies by 25. Of course none of that happened because my dreams of living the life of Carrie Bradshaw mysteriously intervened. So here I am 25 years old without a Valentine which leaves me with nothing better to do then to create my own dream date and tell you all about it (like you care anyway).
For starters, let’s just get the list of statements you all are going to say out of the way:
“Valentine’s day is a stupid holiday.”
“There is nothing wrong with spending Valentines Day alone.”
“You should celebrate love all year.”
“These guys ain’t sh#@ anyway.”
Blah Blah Blah Blah Blaaaaahhhhhhhhh
For my dream date I don’t want to dress up. Forget about the flowers, edibles arrangements, chocolates and teddy bears. All I need is for my face to be beat, a cat suit, and my favorite painted Timberlands. I can’t forget my door knockers because it’s the only Brooklyn way. I don’t need a fancy car; all I need is my metro card. I’m a simple girl with simple needs so for my dinner I’m going to Popeye’s. Now, I know what you’re thinking. What kind of ratchet date is this? Just hear me out because realistically no one loves me more than food right now. All I need is a 3 piece spicy, a side of Cajun fries, sweet heat sauce and a sprite. Once I’m all settled in my apartment I will turn on some classic “Carmen Jones” because in a real sense she taught us how to be a savage long before Rihanna (no shade Rhi Rhi, no shade). Every now and then I escape off into social media watch all of the Black Love having fun in my news feeds. To top it all off I’ll end the night with some self-made choreography to Solange’s True Album.Yes, my dream is filled with melanin, magic and more magic. To be continued……
A LETTER FOR MY BEST FRIEND
I’m almost certain that if I ever tried to be your friend then we absolutely wouldn’t be. Somehow we managed to become friends and to my surprise being two undercover assholes just worked out for us. I never would’ve thought that a random girl I met in ATL on a skate trip would become my best friend/roommate/sister/everything depending on the weather and my feelings. You are the best designer I’ve ever seen which is exactly why you have to make all of my cat suits for the rest of my life.
I know we act like an old married couple sometimes but that just comes with the territory. You hold the title of being my text ghostwriter whenever I don’t know what to text back. Most importantly, you saved my life and kept me from giving up on my dreams of flourishing in the fashion industry. Thank you for letting me cry in your face and be dramatic. I appreciate all of our “Ratchet TV Mondays” and “Netflix Sundays” to the fullest. You taught me how to be a better friend and let me walk around naked everyday. What more can a girl ask for? I take off my earrings to fight for you and you help me shave my head. It all just works out that way.
Thank you for being brutally honest but never judgmental. Whenever I’m being modest you are always there to interrupt and explain to me or anyone else just how great I am. It annoys me sometimes how someone can have so much faith in me that I don’t have for myself. How could I ever repay you for always being my peace and helping me reach unimaginable dreams? I’ll twerk to some Rihanna and we can call it even. Keep being fabulous and taking over the world of intimate apparel. Go Best Fran!!!!
P.S. Just in case you didn’t know you are stuck with me forever. You know way too much of my business. Til’ death do us part shawty!
BLOSSOMING CREATIVES: How to Survive In A Basic World
Here are just a few friendly reminders that I wrote for myself as I continue to blossom as a creative. I decided to share my discoveries with the creative people working towards bringing their dreams to life. Every now and then it helps to be reminded that creativity is worth expanding in such a basic world.
Remember that greatness comes with time. Don’t rush your creative juices.
We live in a world where instant gratification is so necessary. It’s easy to get caught up in rushing ideas and the execution of creative projects.
When I first started creating my blog site, I realized the importance of patience in creativity. I noticed that whenever I took my time with acting on my creative ideas I had better results. Whatever creative projects you are working on make sure you take your time to insure you are creating your best work.
Talk less. Do More.
“Don’t talk about it, just do it.” Is exactly what my best friend responded as I was sharing one of my creative ideas with her on a train ride home. Ever find yourself sharing amazing ideas and forgetting to actually pursue them? Try your hardest to come up with ideas and then immediately create a plan to achieve them. Speaking your dreams into existence is just the beginning.
Don’t allow people to convince you to turn your creativity down.
Do you and stay true to yourself. People will misread you all of the time so you might as well do what you want. Get acquainted with being misunderstood. Almost way too often people will tell you are over the top and you do too much. Let those people continue talking and carry on.
Do what you have to do until you can get where you want to be.
It’s okay that you aren’t working that fantastic job of your dreams or working for yourself. Learn what you can learn while working those jobs that you dislike going to everyday. Those same jobs are secretly preparing you to blossom creatively and you just don’t see it yet. Also, the jobs that you dislike might put the fire under your ass that causes you to be even more creative. Stay dedicated to those dreams day in and day out. You can lose a little sleep from time to time.
Find creative friends.
As a creative person you need to keep a creative set of friends. If you don’t have at least one then it’s time to find one. It’s very helpful when it comes to expanding those creative ideas you come up with on the daily. Also, it’s a great feeling to support others creativity as well.
Use social media to build your brand.
As a blossoming creative it is essential to put your social media skills to good use in order to create your plan. You never know who’s watching or you may be inspiring through these social platforms. Research yourself and figure out exactly what your social media accounts display about yourself. Allow your social media to show your most creative self.
Create creative goal list.
All throughout the year I create list of goals of all creative and non-creative I would love to accomplish. Since I’m turning 26 this year I wrote 26 things I would love to accomplish. For each month I try to accomplish at least 2-3 of those goals. I keep the list on my phone, in my diary, in planner at work. This way no matter where I am, my goals are always with me.
Creative goal list are super helpful because it’s away of holding yourself accountable. As you cross things out on your list you can visualize yourself progressing. It’s okay to change your list as many times as you want.
Read books and more books.
Reading books keeps expands your horizons and it keeps you informed. It’s always great to allow your mind to be taken to another place. The more you read the more you grow creatively. No matter the genre, get inspired. Books are the perfect creative getaways so make good use of them.
LIVING IN NYC
Are you considering moving to New York? Just visiting? It really doesn’t matter just read below. You will find some of the stuff no one really wants to tell you about fabulous life in NYC.
For starters, New York is a baaadddd bitch and she will knock you out if you let her.
In NY, it’s really all about your grind and determination that carries you through. Don’t allow the noise, hustle and bustle defeat you. You got this.
There are opportunities everywhere. You too can find a job. Don’t let the huge population and competitiveness deceive you.
Yes, its true there a lot of people applying for the same jobs but don’t get discouraged. There is space for all of us to succeed in some way, shape, or form. You will catch your big break sooner or later. Patience and experience is everything.
Some friends you can literally count on one hand the amount of times you’ve seen them in a year.
Because realistically all people in New York are “extremely busy”. We really only see each other for birthdays and random nights out. No shade though, we just all get it.
New Yorkers are not mean people, they just hate tourist. Get over yourself.
Let’s be honest. New Yorkers are on the move and they move quickly. They don’t have time for tourist abrupt stops in the middle of sidewalks to take pictures. It’s just way too many of them. Besides they walk around with those huge maps as if they don’t have iphones and still manage to ask us where to go. Don’t take it personal.
The real fashion inspirations come from the streets not magazines.
At least most of us will agree.
Every day in New York is Halloween.
I mean let’s face it. Everybody wears a costumes Monday-Friday and on their days off. There is no such thing as looking crazy. This is a place where people swing around poles on the train and dance in streets. Every day is a freak show. Who cares?
Don’t ask someone that lives in New York, “What celebrities have you met?”
That’s. Just…A dumb question.
If you move to New York, you will lose your Metro Card with 30 day unlimited fare at least once and you will cry about it.
Just the thought of repaying that lovely price of $116.50 gives you an immediate nervous breakdown no matter who’s watching. Oh, and I know what you’re thinking. “If I keep the receipt they can just give me a new one.” Um, no sweetie. It’s a long enough process for you to just buy a new one.
Life is good in NYC, but dating sucks.
Did I say dating sucks? But the food is good.
Every once and awhile you will meet a complete stranger. The two of you will instantly become BFF’s. You will exchange information. You will NEVER see that person again.
I know it sucks. It’s just so many of us. Don’t worry it will happen again.
A dollar slice of pizza will become necessary for long nights or broke days.
Don’t let the dollar amount from 2 Bros Pizza fool you. Those slices are good as hell. *Licks fingers*
Our life is paying rent. Duhhhhhh
I don’t really want to go into much detail on this topic. Just know that every first of the month there is a funeral for my rent check. Sometimes your landlord will let it sit in your bank account for way too long. Okay. I’m done here.
There is no such thing as really knowing how to get around.
People that live in NY get lost all of the time. Probably 65% percent of the time we really don’t know where we are going. This is why we have a million different apps to help us find our way. Can you believe we still get lost anyway?
People that live in New York do not hang out in Times Square.
We only take our tourist friends and family members there to look cool and take pictures.
Lunch is $10 or more, so be prepared to start looking up those recipes.
Cook your own shit or you die of hunger.
People that live in NY live for brunches, free trips to the museum, and rooftops.
This is all we need in life.
People that live in New York, will really choke a bi$** at a sample sale.
Sometimes stepping into a sample sale is like stepping into a lion’s den. Once you reach a point where you have sample sales that you must attend every year then you have a serious problem.
The bodega (corner store) is our Wal-Mart.
The bodega has everything you need. Yes, whatever you just thought about the bodega has inside. The only thing missing is self-checkout. The bodega is secretly better than Wal-Mart. The bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches along with a coffee for a few coins just might change your life.
Man we really do love this expensive ass place.
THE WAKE UP
- Learn how to move forward with your heart and your brain.
- Always walk with your head held high.
- Don’t jeopardize your pride and dignity for insignificant souls.
- “Protect your heart.”
- “Live in hope, not in despair.”
- Know who your friends are.
- Words and actions go hand and hand. You really need both.
- People will shit on you. It happens. Make note of it and move on.
- Never set limits to your dreams.
- “Don’t cover yourself up for nobody.”
- There is a difference between being truly valued and someone liking the idea of you.
- “It’s your life, don’t you forget.”
- In order for others to perceive you as beautiful you have to believe it yourself first.
- Don’t be afraid to embrace your gifts.
- It’s okay not to have it all figured out.
- Eliminate your fear of flight. Eliminate your fear of falling.
- “Don’t let anybody still your magic.”
- You are a shining star. Only you can dim the light.
- “You gotta imagine what’s never been.”
- “Que sera sera.”
- Worry less, love more.
- “Hope is a positive expectation of good things in your life.”
- “Your vision creates your vision.”
- “Think about where you are in life. Would you ever think that you would have made it this far?”
- You are a shining star. Only you can dim the light.
AFRO PUNK REFLECTIONS
Afro Punk was literally the best way to end the summer. If you have never been to Afro Punk while Black then you definitely haven’t lived. This literally gave me so much LIFE. Amazing melanin flowing, performances, art, good food, dance moves, and of course lots of photos. The Internet, Tyler the Creator, Janelle Monae, Nikki Giovani, and Ice Cube blessed the stage. Simply amazing!!
My father-tree includes short tales about how the Black men impacted a young black girls’ life in a great way. We live in a world where for hundreds of years Black men have been categorized as inferior, incompetent, criminals, and dead beat fathers. As the issues of police brutality and the negative images of its victims are constantly over-flooding our time lines hopefully this gives influences better views.
Originally, I planned to post this on Father’s day but I didn’t feel that it was perfect. I convinced myself that the following year I would post and “do things the right way.” On July 15th I lost my grandfather and August 1st I lost my uncle both whom played a pivotal role in my life. I wish they were both here to have the opportunity to read this. Special thanks to my Grandpa John and Uncle Bono. Rest in Paradise! Love you both!
Grandpa John-My grandpa. His name is John Harrison but to me he’s Grandpa John. He has to be the wisest man on earth. The first man I ever loved. As a kid I would ask “Grandpa why is your belly so big?” and he would say “From eating too much peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I refuse to wear fake jewelry in his presence just to avoid him saying “Girl, where you get that jewelry from? The cracker jack box.” He always reminds me to humble and to keep a J.O.B. He taught me the importance of keeping faith and trusting in God. One thing that he told me that I will never forget is to “live in hope and not in despair.” I want to thank him for always loving and supporting me. Thank him for taking off his oxygen cords to take selfies with me (that’s real love). Thank him for not yelling at me all the times I hacked his cellphone to put my face as his screensaver. Thank him for giving me drive and ambition. He is the reason I survived and I thank him. RIP Grandpa John
Uncle Bono– My great-uncle. I don’t think I’ve ever met a man with the levels of joy that he has regardless of his circumstances. As a painter he taught me to always take pride in my work. He took me everywhere with him in his station wagon. He was the first man to ever give me a pet. One day he brought home two turtles which I had for less than 24 hours because in his words “two bad-ass twins stole them.” I swear if I called him right now he would bring up those turtles and the twins that stole them. It’s because of him that I learned that it pays always be kind and generous. When I was younger he fell off a ladder and was paralyzed from the waist down. Changed our lives forever but never changed his high-spirits. RIP Uncle Bono
Uncle Anthony-My great-uncle. I know his footsteps. I could always tell when he was in the neighborhood because I could hear his engine roaring, setting off every car alarm on the street. He’s the first man that introduced me to Italian fiesta. He’s the first person that I’ve ever heard before any rap artist to desensitize the word “nigga.” He taught me the difference between book smarts and street smarts, in his eyes you need both to survive. No matter what he always demanded respect. There was no such thing as shaking your head when you spoke to him. You were only allowed to respond yes or no.What I love most about him is his honesty, love, demand for respect and his signature laugh.
Rashawn– My cousin. Rashawn also known as BoBo. Before there was anything “cool” there was Rashawn. A cool, laidback, hard-workin’ type of guy. The only thing we ever fussed over was him managing to kill my two birds. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the birds names because I changed them every other day. I won’t share how he killed them (died from inhaling certain plant) but just know that I never had the proper funeral arrangements. Despite our “bird” issues I always admired his honesty and his ability to be a great father. So family orientated and knows how to give praise when it’s due. He’s the first guy that introduced me to being unapologetically righteous. If you ever sit and talk to him you can expect to learn a lot.
Uncle Delancey-My mother’s half brother. To everyone else he was Delancey but to me he will always and forever be Uncle Jordan. I called him Uncle Jordan because he was super tall with a bald-head. Together we would blast the latest hip-hop music and dance. We even created a game to see who could scare each other the most. He’s the first man that introduced me to the flea market and I will never forget the rolls royce Barbie car he bought me from there. He taught me the importance of Mexican corn in a cup with cheese, mayo, and paprika. He is the reason I learned to be unapologetically silly. RIP Uncle Jordan
Charlie– My grandfather from another father. Most call him Charlie but I call him Char-laye. A man of Morehouse. An amazing artist and tennis player. I’m convinced that he knows everything and is the king of all great conversations.He appreciates good music, books, and films. He drives extremely slow sometimes. He showed me the importance of art and nature. I’m blessed to be his adopted grandchild. Sidebar: If you really want to party, there’s no party without Charlie.
Henry-My biological father. The first Black lawyer that I’ve ever met. A man of Morehouse and Syracuse Law School graduate. A go-getter. Extremely smart. Fashionable. Humble. He’s basically my twin. A huge supporter of my decision to move to NY to work in the fashion industry and told me “fuck grad school.” If you ever think I’m silly or a lil cray it all comes from him. It’s because of him that I’m never afraid to have extended conversations with strangers. He’s the turn up King and I’m the princess. The reason I have a passport. Introduced me to the love of basketball and sushi. It’s because of him I’ve learned the impact of forgiveness and the courage to build a relationship with my biological father. It’s never too late.
Uncle Malik– One of my biggest supporters. He’s a man of Morehouse and Sigma. You’ll prolly find his comments and post all over my social media and blog. I appreciate him for all the times he set aside to visit me on fried chicken Wednesdays at Spelman. Making sure I didn’t leave Atlanta without my degree in hand. It always good to know when good people are in your corner. I’ll work hard to continue to make you proud and to do what fits me. Thank you for supporting all of my creativity.
Uncle Eric– My god-father. Always willing to share his life experience and especially his amazing food. He was the person who taught me how to carry myself as a young lady in high-school to attract the “right” guys. He’s a jack of all trades, he can cook you food, put your hair in a ponytail, give you a dance lesson, and fix anything. I appreciate all of the times he picked me up from school and showed all the shortcuts on the South-side. A co-worker asked me about Chicago’s BBQ and my response was “I only eat my Uncle Eric’s BBQ. A fourth of July in Chicago is nothing without him.
Pedro– My father for play-play. Everybody on the South-side of Chicago is convinced that this man is my real father. Mainly because we are both light-skinned with brown hair. No, all light-skinned people don’t look alike but we actually do. He’s the first florist, designer, and entrepreneur that I’ve ever met. He’s supplied clothes for my first high school fashion show and does awesome decorations for prom. I consider him the king of creativity that stays on point from head to toe. Special shout out to him for always getting me my 6 piece w/ lemon pepper from Harold’s Chicken for me. He knows how much food brings joy to my heart. In his eyes I am his daughter and I’m honored. P.S. He’s low key really good at playing Uno but of course he learns from the best…Me duhhhhhhh.
Jessie– My mother’s best-friends husband. He takes so much pride in the fact that I’m the little girl that taught him the Barney song. I don’t anyone should ever live life without singing that song at least once to someone. He’s the first man that introduced me to artistic expression. I’m convinced he deserves his own interior design show on HGTV. All I remember as a child is his strong ability to transform a room. Whenever I spent time with him and his daughter there was no such thing as no. Even if it meant taking us to Mcdonald’s with sports bras on (laughing out loud). He’s one of the family oriented people that I know.
Uncle Mike– My mother’s brother from another mother. To me he will always and forever be my Uncle Mike. He doesn’t play around and especially not with me. He’s the true definition of a protector that loves his family. He took care me when I was at summer camp. He’s the first guy I’ve met with one of the dopest sound systems. He’s super cool and is the Crown Black King.
Tommy– My next door neighbor in Princeton Park. Our apartments were attached but I basically lived with the Johnson’s. He thought I was genuinely hilarious which was why he didn’t mind me stopping by pretty much everyday. Even though I was just a neighbor he treated me as if I was his own. From time to time he would take on the task of making me egg and jelly sandwiches for breakfast which pretty much made my days great. I have to thank him for all the times he took me to school when I definitely didn’t want to walk in the snow. I’ll never forget the parties he had that were always hella fun. Love you. Thank you Tommy!
Johhny-He’s my besties daddy but I’m basically his adopted child. The ultimate rasta with the longest dreads in the world. I personally think his obsession with Adidas and Keith Harring is pretty inspiring. We both have the same appreciation skating and we love to submerse ourselves in the crowd. I’m still trying to grasp his Jamaican accent but I’m still pretty terrible. I appreciate him for telling me I’m unstoppable and how I need to go skating even though I’m really enjoying my hiatus. I have to thank him an addition to his family and making me laugh hysterically.
This is a special mother’s day card for my mom. Just a few thank you’s for all of the awesome things she’s done for me. Enjoy! #shegetitfromhermama
Thank you for telling me my first words were “I’m hungry,” even though I think that’s just a story you tell to demonstrate how greedy I am.
Thank you for all of the times you braided my hair and yelled at me for being “tender headed” (I think that made me stronger).
Thank you for teaching me how to jump double-dutch and making me come inside when the streetlights come on.
Thank you for all the days you refused to go out in public with me because you thought I dressed crazy.
Thank you for introducing me to all genres of music especially funk, house, hip& hop and R&B.
Thank you for preaching to me about the importance of speaking proper English even though majority of the time I still don’t.
Thank you for calling me “Little Sydney” my entire life as if another Sydney existed in your life.
Thank you for embracing Lil Boosie and Lil Webbie with me so I’m not alone.
Thank you for never giving me a curfew which I never took advantage of because I was too afraid of you to use it. Besides, what kid in Chicago didn’t have a curfew?
Thank you for teaching how to throw a good party.
Thank you for letting me stay in Atlanta for the summers to play tennis.
Thank you for only allowing me to play with Black dolls so that I would be forced to understand the true essence of black women’s beauty.
Thank you for teaching me how to dance.
Thank you for forcing me to go skating and paying me $1 for skate moves.
Thank for telling me I was going to Spelman College and I didn’t have a choice.
Thank you for making me wear those super annoying snow suits in the winter time.
Thank you for letting me have all of those massive sleepovers.
Thank you for telling me to treat my step-mom as if she was my mother. I don’t think would have a great relationship without you.
Thank you for going to see the Between the Sheets tour with me even though you were only interested in seeing Chris Brown.
Thank you reminding me to always be kind to people even when I want to be petty.
Thank you for making me creative.
Thank you for telling me I wasn’t a bad kid even though everyone else thinks so.
Thank for never getting me a dog because in reality I didn’t want to take care of it anyway.
Thank you for teaching me the importance of independence.
Thank you for giving me all of my epic facial expressions.
Thank you for me being clumsy.
Thank you for teaching me the importance of Black art, writers, and history.
Thank you introducing me the movie “The WIZ.”
Thank you for telling me that everyone isn’t my friend.
Thank you for all of the times you failed to understand popular slang.
Thank you for making me stand up for myself whenever people mistreated me.
Thank you for being my ride or die.
Thank you for letting me call you Mishawna in public so people could think we were sisters because deep down we really are.
Thank you for teaching me how to laugh when I fall.
Thank you for celebrating my accomplishments big or small.
Thank you for allowing a village to raise me.
Thank you for telling me I’m special even though I think that’s just a nice way of calling me crazy.
Thank you for being my Mama Shawna. 💯 Love you!!
UNAPOLOGETICALLY: A ROLLER-SKATER
I’ve been roller-skating basically my entire life. My mother introduced me to roller-skating at the age of 2 and it’s been something special that we share ever since. The ritual was to go skating every friday night at “The Rink” on 87th in Chicago’s South Side. We even wore matching outfits, long before I starting wearing matching catsuits with my close friends.
The moment I realized I truly enjoyed skating was during a school field trip to the skating rink. I was in kindergarten and my mom had just purchased a pair of white and pink Chicago roller-skates. I just remembered being so amazed by how well the older kids skated. I was also terrified because all of the kids were skating so fast and the skate guard was a complete asshole. So instead I stayed on the little floor with a chaperon who taught me how to skate backwards for the first time. The rest was history.
I’m considered a JB skater which is a Chicago-style of skating. The term originates from the God-father of soul James Brown. Growing up I roller-skated to James Brown music, JB tracks (also known as skate remixes), hip-hop, rock & roll, funk, and R&B. Throughout my skate experience I’ve had a wide range of teachers in which I’ve learned both old school and new school forms of skating. Much respect to Ebony, she taught me the basics of JB and the importance of practice. Also to the unforgettable Michelle Allen, she taught me to be a risk-taker and to skate like the boys but to always remain smooth and sexy while doing it.
For the longest I was embarrassed about my roller-skating talents. Mainly because roller-skating wasn’t considered “cool.” All of my classmates had better things whether it was joining a dance team, juking, footworking etc. Meanwhile, at 12 years old I was sneaking into adult skating sessions to do cartwheels and splits.
Throughout high-school and college I made it a habit of doing majority of my creative class projects on roller-skating. I also started traveling for skating which is the highlight of my skate-life. I get to wear dope outfits with my friends. Thrive off of the crowd’s energy. I skate all night until my legs are sore.
Even though I’ve done so many great things with roller-skating such as class-projects, performances, and videos. There is still nothing like going back home to Chicago and skating to a combination of old-skool and new skool music.
Roller-skating is my only work-out and partially a huge reason why I can still wear the same clothes from high-school. It keeps my energy flowing and it’s a great stress reliever. I can’t go into depth about all aspects of roller-skating because most things only skaters can understand.
My hair story includes almost every hairstyle you can think of but the most life-changing hairstyle was my decision to go short and natural.
Check out my hair story as well as some frequently asked questions for a bald headed girl like myself.
THE HAIR STORY
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FOR THE BALD HEADED GIRL
Q: What made you cut all of your hair off?
A: Actually, I cut my hair off twice. The first time I cut my hair off was because I was going to study abroad in Ghana for a semester and I didn’t want to worry about my hair. Also, this was my version of being a spontaneous and rebellious young adult.
During my senior year at Spelman, I grew my hair back and went through a hair braiding phase. Once that was over I realized that I really wasn’t comfortable with having short hair. I was too caught up in everyone else’s standards of beauty instead of focusing on my own.
Later on I took a class that introduced me to the author and playwright Pearl Cleage along with her amazing book “What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day.” In the book the main character Ava had short hair and she tells a young girl “only free women wear their hair like this.” I immediately said to myself “I want to be a free woman.” I went the hair salon but this time I went completely bald and dyed it blonde…The rest was history.
Q: Did any celebrity’s short hair looks inspire you?
A: Yes, I started off being obsessed with Chrisette Michelle and Solange’s hair transformations. It wasn’t until I considered going bald that I started looking at Amber Rose for hair style and color ideas. Of course I followed Lupita Nyong’o, V. Bozeman, Goapele, and Erykah Badu.
Q: What were people’s reactions like when you first cut your hair off?
A: Some loved it and some hated it. Overall, I think people were just as confused as I was and more so worried about my sexuality and how I would be perceived by society. The most special reaction was my Grandma Geraldine’s, I call her Mama Dine for short. When she found out I cut my hair off she called, cursing me out and called me a lesbian. Funny thing is it only took her maybe a few months later to decide to cut her hair off too. Now her new version of the story is “if my grand-baby Boobie can cut hers then I can do.” Every now and then just to be a pain in the ass I like to remind her about how she cursed me out and then had the nerve to copy me. She told me she’s never growing her hair back and she shouldn’t because it looks great on her.
Q: How is it in the workforce now that you have short and natural?
A: I remembered hearing testimonies of people in corporate spaces telling Black women with natural hair that it looked untamed. I work in the fashion industry where they tend to accept diverse looks and hairstyles. Yet, there may have been times that I’m sure I didn’t get jobs because of the way I look, who really knows. I’ve realized that if you can do the work people will accept you in the workforce regardless of the style. I’ve witnessed so many African-American women with short natural hair succeed whether they are authors, actresses, or CEO’s of fortune 500 companies. It doesn’t matter, if you put your mind to it you can do it.
Q: Now that you have no hair do men still find you attractive?
A: I’ve dealt with with a wide array of perspectives. I once dated someone that didn’t like my short hair at the time but I’m almost certain that he’s punching himself in the face right about now. I’ve also met guys that are blown away. For me personally, as a woman with short hair, this is the most I’ve been hit on by both men and/or women ever in my life. It almost seems like there are no restrictions for who I attract. I receive a lot of respect when I walk down the streets of NYC. I like to think it inspires people and challenge their perceptions of beauty. Of course I get called Amber Rose like every other day. Whether blonde or not, but it’s all good.
Q: So now that you have short hair does this mean you like girls now?
A: No, I’m not interested in dating girls. Just because you have short hair does not automatically mean that you are a lesbian or bisexual. I think it’s really old school if you are walking around categorizing people’s sexuality based on how they wear their hair. It’s 2016.
Q: Do you think all Black girls should be natural?
A: No, I think that everyone should wear their hair in a way that feels comfortable. I do believe that it’s healthier to have natural hair, but if you want to wear a long-Brazilian weave, red-hair, short hair, long hair then do as you please. I realized the more I cut my hair less I felt inclined to categorize people or judge someone else’s hair decisions. For some odd reason people think I’m this huge advocate for natural hair solely but I’m not.
I think women should take care of their hair in a way that works best for them. At the same time I do think as women we should be more conscious about hair decisions. Ask yourself am I doing this hairstyle because I like it or because it’s socially acceptable? Be cautious towards becoming a slave to trends such as Youtube tutorials, hair products, and never allowing people to see the real you without a weave. People are going to judge and categorize you no matter what you look like whether you like it or not. In my eyes hair is just like an accessory and women should be allowed to wear it freely. Besides, hair is a billion-dollar business that is dictated by our perceptions. When we change, the ads will change.
Q: Why do you wear wigs?
A: Because it’s fun. My head gets cold in the winter. Besides, it brings out my inner Beyonce.
Q: Will you ever grow your hair back?
A: Probably not. It’s much easier to deal maintain short hair and it’s cheaper. Most likely if I want long hair again then I’ll just put on a nice wig or grow dreads.
Q: What would you consider some of your biggest hair mistakes?
A: Perming my hair, but technically I can’t take all the blame for that one. Adding pink hair extensions to my hair. Dying my hair red. Letting one of my cousins cut my hair after a long night of partying in ATL. Wearing tight and stingy pony-tails with extensive amounts of gel. Wearing super tight braids and flat twist. Wearing feather wraps that made me look like a granny. Wishing I had long hair.
Q: What advice would you give women that are considering doing the big chop?
A: It definitely takes gigantic balls to do it. If you ever decide to do it, do it for you. My biggest mistake was asking other people opinions about my decision, especially men. Don’t be afraid. You are going to cry, you are going to feel ugly, its just apart of the process. It’s definitely not for everybody but if you decide to do it hopefully you enjoy the experience as much as I do. Even if you don’t want to chop your hair off it’s always fun to make small changes and be a little courageous. No matter what love yourself no matter what your hair looks like.
Any other questions?
MY NAME IS SYDNEY SHANAYE MIRA BLAYLOCK
Today, I’m exploring the history of my full name. This project was first introduced to me in college during a public speaking course. I found this exercise very interesting because it made me realize the true significance of names and it’s influence on our lives forever. This blog post will share what I discovered about my name and its definition.We should all investigate the beauty of our name, it’s significance and how it guides our day-to-day lives.
You may be wondering why I have four names. My mother gave me four names because she wanted something unique and a way to set me apart from other people. So she figured instead of giving me the traditional three names. Why not four?
SYDNEY- My mother’s name is Mishawna which often people find difficult to pronounce. As a child she would often get marked absent from school because her teachers would pronounce her name incorrectly. In response to the constant mispronunciation she refused to declare presence in the classroom. In order to protect me from similar situations she decided that she wanted to give me a simple name. Most importantly, she wanted to give me a gender neutral name, one that would make it difficult for people to categorize me by my race, class or gender solely by the glance of my name.
I always find it funny when I go somewhere like the doctor or to a job interview and someone says “Sydney” and the surprise of their face when they realize that I’m the Black girl in the lobby. My mom decided to give the name “Sydney” because while she was pregnant, she watched two different films with a main character named Sydney. One film presented a character named Sydney as a female- and the other a male. The rest was history. I find my name to be pretty simple, yet still people find a way to butcher. Ironically, the mispronunciation of my name occurs most frequently at Starbucks. To end all confusion when I’m asked the correct spelling I often say “My name is Sydney, it’s spelled just like Sydney, Australia.” You’ll be surprised by the number of people that I’ve said that don’t even know what Sydney, Australia is in the first place. As a child I was compared to the scary movie character Sydney which I’m sure kids had a lot of fun with saying “Hellooooo Sydney” in their creepiest imitation. Overall I’m pretty proud of my first name.
SHANAYE- My mother told me that in my family an unspoken tradition is for women to share names in order to keep the women alive. My mother decided to pass down her middle name to me which is Shanaye. I have a love/hate relationship with Shanaye. I always thought that the name was beautiful and I admired the unique spelling. Yet, one thing that I never enjoyed (and I still don’t) is its comparison to the stereotypical character Sheneneh Jenkins played in Martin Lawrence’s hit show “Martin”. Although I did find the character amusing in the show, I never liked people referring to me as “Sheneneh” especially since to we had absolutely nothing in common. The only person that I’ve ever allowed to call me Sheneneh without rolling my eyes is my Auntie Tricia so if you aren’t her don’t even try it.
For a period of time I started to dismiss the name altogether, rarely even sharing the fact that it existed. Eventually, I got over myself and back into my old ways of being prideful about Shanaye as my middle name. I’ve gotten over the Sheneneh comparisons too so “two snaps” to that. Besides, my mother is over 40 years old and she is the original, positive and extraordinary Shanaye.
MIRA- The name Mira was passed down to me from my Auntie Mira whom my mother considers to be one of her favorite aunts because she took such good care of her when she was younger. People often say we look alike mainly because we are both high-yellow with the same sandy brown hair color. She takes so much pride in us sharing names that whenever she introduces me to someone you can expect her to mention two things 1. I’m her great-niece and 2. I’m named after her. Whenever I see her she says “ Heeyyyyyyy Sydney Mira” as if my middle name Shanaye doesn’t even exist which I find quite hilarious. From my own research I learned that Mira is originally a Spanish name which means wonderful, peace, and prosperous. In the Spanish language it is pronounced (mee-rah) but my name is pronounced (my-rah). Either way in the end I take great honor in sharing a name with my Auntie Mira.
BLAYLOCK- The last name Blaylock is my father’s last name. According to my grandmother, “All the Blaylock’s that I knew in Tennessee were Black. When we walked to school they (white people) called us little white niggas. I used to pick cotton and get it weighed for 50 cents, that’s how we made a living.”
Based on my research the name Blaylock has a Scottish origin. Due to a persecution faced in their homeland it forced many Scottish people to sail to the colonies of North America. In the short excerpt I read it included that during their migration the Scottish discovered “land, freedom, opportunity and nations in the making.” I’m assuming that one discovery that they failed to mention would be the discovery of slavery and/or slaves.. Otherwise, how else would my ancestors had received the name Blaylock? Once I discovered the name was Scottish as an African-American woman I took it upon myself to just classify Blaylock as the slave name of my ancestors. I could be wrong but for now that’s what context clues sound like to me. Overall I do love my last name, I think it’s powerful and it’s not a common last name.
Feel free to share something interesting facts about your name that you’ve discovered.