Sunday Vibes: Corrine Bailey Rae – Green Aphrodisiac

20 Nov

Apart from this song being absolutely masterful–the visuals, use of color and dance in the video are sublime.

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We are all ‘Nobodies’

17 Nov

When I jumped into reading Marc Lamont Hill’s Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond I’d just finished reading Mychal Denzel Smith’s ‘Invisible Man’. Both books were released just five weeks apart and in realizing the similar theme between the two (a person of color being seen as insignificant) I thought it to be a striking commentary on how many men of color must be feeling in our country lately. Then two black men were brutalized and publically slain by police within 48 hours of each other. Then came the Dallas massacre. Then Keith Lamont Scott. Then Alfred Olango. It has been one hell of a year for black people and for those fighting against this violence, to say the least.  It was one thing to read this book from a retrospective viewpoint. It was another experience entirely to read Hill’s reflections on our societies’ historic (and often systematic) attack on people of color, and in particular black men, while also feeling like you had a live front row seat to it. Yet again. Yet again video taped. Yet again hearing the cries for help or one’s last fight for survival. Yet again it all is, heartbreaking, infuriating and hard to take in. And yet again I like many of us, am left staring into the face of blatant, violent, and brutal injustice with unanswered questions and a further enforced conviction that our system is deeply broken. ‘Nobody’ gave me the exact facts and background knowledge I needed to know (even further) that this is not a faulty assessment.

In presenting the history and facts about previously little-known places like Ferguson, Missouri and Waller County, Texas Hill succeeds in directly tying them to the violence we’ve seen in recent months. And in doing so, provides some clarity to the questions many of us have asked in the wake of such horrific and intolerable injustices: How could this have happened?  How was it allowed to happen? And why does it keep happening? Hill uses the most recent examples of fatal police brutality to explore on the long-standing policies (such as the Stand Your Ground Law) and cultures that created and now sustain a culture that allows these murders to occur, and injustice to continuously prevail. In examining the data, geography, political history, culture and public policies behind these instances, Nobody makes intriguing commentary on the various larger issues plaguing our society, that ultimately, have given birth to the fatalities we’re seeing now,  i.e.: Flint’s water crisis, the war on drugs, the prison industrial complex, the lack of resources for and the criminalization of mental illness and our woefully disparate economic infrastructure that continues to disproportionately devastate minority communities.

Furthermore, in Nobody’s presentation of pieces of the intimate lives of Mike Brown (Despite a troublesome academic environment, “Brown like, many teenagers of color, had a positive and eclectic set of aspirations. He wanted to learn sound engineering, play college football, become a rap artist, and be a heating and cooling technician; he also wanted to be famous.”) or Sandra Bland (“…Bland was a 2009 graduate of Prairie View A&M. She majored in agriculture, played in the school band, and was a member of the Sigma Gamma Rho sorority.”) or the more ordinary aspects of life for Jordan Davis and Freddie Gray– we are better able to see ourselves within them. 

Image result for marc lamont hill nobody                                                                                                                                           

(photo via amazon.com)

“Brown’s story is a testament to how race and class, as well as other factors like gender, sexuality, citizenship, and ability status, conspire to create a dual set of realities in twenty-first-century America. For the powerful, justice is a right; for the powerless, justice is an illusion.”

Not only does ‘Nobody’ help us to better connect the dots as to the “why’s” and “how’s” of these injustices, but (I dare say) it also allows us to see that those who are deemed a “nobody” in the corrupt parts and eyes of the American political system can really be all of us in one way or another. And brings forth the frightening realization that: many of us, especially people of color, are connected to the “nobody”: wealthy or poor or disabled or “respectable” or teenaged. With our hands up or asking questions pertaining to our rights or running away. We walk to the store, we stop for gas, we play music we love, we make eye contact with each other. We exist and try to live our lives both as freely as possible and at times, as mundanely and low key as we please. We are all nobodies and–we are somebodies. We are all  a beautiful and valuable piece existing in this mosaic of the ugly idea of a nobody. And in knowing that, we know the most frightening call to action ever: that a nobody, can be anybody.

“It would be easy, given the logic of the current moment, to individualize this crisis. We could say that our problems are the work of a few bad apples and that the great majority of police, prosecutors, politicians, corporations–indeed the great majority of the nation–frowns on the exploitation of the vulnerable….Regardless of our individual or collective intentions, we are nonetheless bound up in a state of emergency in this nation. In order to repair the damage that has been done, we must craft a new set of frameworks of our economy, for our schools, for our justice system, for public housing….We must reinvest in communities. We must imagine the world that is not yet.”

I’ve been a busy, busy Bee :)

8 Oct

I’ve been away from blogging for a bit trying to stay on top of work, grad school and most importantly: I’ve been working in roles  that will help further my dreams of being in the writing, editing and publishing world full-time. It’s definitely a journey, ya’ll. A give and take. Sometimes with more sacrifices than immediate rewards- but the feeling of doing what you love is priceless. There’s no feeling that can compare to living out your purpose and realizing your dreams.

More on that later.

But with that being said, please check out the latest production piece from Luce Inspiration Enterprises, where I’ve worked as the social media manager for the last 6 months. Lucy Coutinho is a journalist, radio personality and formerly worked at BET until she decided to pursue her dreams of becoming an author and owner of her own production company. Her Crown and Glory is an interview with two young woman immersed in their natural hair journeys who discuss the challenges women of color face when embarking on a mission to embrace their full selves, without the influence of mainstream standards of beauty. Check it out below!

location: evolving.

6 Sep

It’s been a while, I’m not who I was before
You look surprised, your words don’t burn me anymore
Been meaning to tell you, but I guess it’s clear to see
Don’t be mad, it’s just the brand new kind of me
Can’t be bad, I found a brand new kind of free

Careful with your ego, he’s the one that we should blame
Had to grab my heart back
God know something had to change
I thought that you’d be happy
I found the one thing I need, why you mad
It’s just the brand new kind of me

It took a long long time to get here
It took a brave, brave girl to try
It took one too many excuses, one too many lies
Don’t be surprised, don’t be surprised

if i talk a little louder
If I speak up when you’re wrong
If I walk a little taller
I’d be known to you too long
If you noticed that I’m different
Don’t take it personally
Don’t be mad, it’s just the brand new kind of me
And it ain’t bad, I found a brand new kind of free

Oh, it took a long long road to get here
It took a brave brave girl to try
I’ve taken one too many excuses, one too many lies
Don’t be surprised, oh see you look surprised

Hey, if you were a friend, you want to get know me again
If you were worth a while
You’d be happy to see me smile
I’m not expecting sorry
I’m too busy finding myself
I got this
I found me, I found me, yeah

I don’t need your opinion
I’m not waiting for your okay
I’ll never be perfect, but at least now I’m brave
Now, my heart is open
And I can finally breathe
Don’t be mad, it’s just the brand new kind of free
That ain’t bad, I found a brand new kind of me
Don’t be mad, it’s just a brand new time for me

-Alicia Keys

Come through with the SLAY:

1 Jul

U.S. Olympian and Gymnast Gabby Douglas for Teen Vogue’s body issue:

GabbyDouglas

photo via Teen Vogue

 

New Music: Rihanna “Sledgehammer”

27 Jun

All Summer 16′: 16 Songs To Jump-Start Your Summer Mood

20 Jun

With today being the first day of summer (seriously,where did the time go 2016?) it’s only right you welcome it equipped with a proper playlist. Below is a mixture of that “new-new” and a few feel-good classics to get you pumped up for the warm weather and all the adventures to come.  Whether you’re heading to the beach, cleaning with all your windows open, turning up at a cookout, filling up pages on your passport, or simply enjoying the sun with a glass of lemonade, these 20 tracks ranging from hip-hop to reggae should help get you in the mood for some good ole’ summertime madness.

1.Major Lazor “Light it up” (remix)

This tracks is a great blend of dancehall and pop and sure to turn any event into a “lituation.”

2. Chris Brown & Benny Bennassi “Paradise”

Though these two haven’t collaborate since 2011’s “Beautiful People”, clearly time has done nothing to diminish the magic they create together.

3. Ameriie “Why dont we fall in love”

Ameriie recently dropped an LP this year after a nearly decade long hiatus from the music scene and though her new music is popping who could forget her debut track that had us all thinking of a certain someone special and wondering the same thing?

4. Ariana Grande “Into You”

5. Drake featuring Wizkid and Kyla “One Dance” 

Nuff’ said.

6. Fifth Harmony featuring Ty Dolla $ign “Work from home”

#NSFW

7. Tupac featuring Dr. Dre “California Love”

Even if you’re not from the sunshine state, this is a classic banger.

8. Fat Joe, Remy Ma featuring French Montana “All the way up”

Also #NSFW…..unless you’re walking out the door.

9. Rihanna featuring Drake “Work”

This is Ri-Ri’s 14th number one hit and though she released it in January, it’s still on top of the charts. Even President Obama loves it.

10.  M.O “Who do you think of?”

You may not have heard of this British group yet, but this dancehall inspired track is a strong contender for a top-ten hit this summer.

11. Calvin Harris and Rihanna “This is what you came for”

12. Justin Bieber “Company”

I can’t lie, I wouldn’t mind keeping the Biebs company. Don’t judge me.

13. Carl Thomas “Summer rain”

This soul-soothing melody is perfect for a calmer setting like an evening walk along the beach or relaxing on van island vacation.

14. Chance the Rapper “No problem”

One could argue every song off “Coloring Book” is masterful, but this one seems like it’ll be a  dance-inducing summer anthem.

15. Justin Timberlake “Can’t stop the feeling”

So maybe you’re at work and it’s an especially beautiful summer day you can’t wait to run out to. Throw this on for a 5 minute dance break for you and your coworkers. Who knows, your boss might jump in too…MIGHT.

16. Will Smith & Jazzy Jeff “Summertime”

“Drums please!” Ok, any summertime playlist wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) be considered  complete without this classic from the former Fresh Prince and his DJ partner in crime. This song literally touches on every good part of the summer: great weather, memories made with loved ones, and the promise of ample opportunities to turn up with friends or just sitting back and unwinding.

On embracing the “Hell No”:

16 Jun

Mama Melanie

1 Jun

 

Melanie Fiona had me feeling all the feels and this time it’s not due to a love song. In what may be one of  the most candid and touching 21 minutes of footage I’ve ever seen, The “4 AM” singer recently posted a cathartic video via her YouTube channel reflecting on her birth experience. Fiona gave birth to son, Cameron, on March 14th after having an unexpected and particularly difficult labor which included developing a dangerously high blood pressure and a rare case of preeclampsia.

“I was disconnected from the whole process because it just happened. Until I sat down and really had to process what happened. And I had to deal with feelings of disappointment and feeling like a failure…That sounds so crazy because, how could I even look at this beautiful child and feel like I failed?”

In echoing what other celeb moms have said about the pressures to “snap back” post-baby, Fiona discusses her staunch rejection of comparing and rushing her journey or her body as she eases into motherhood. She goes onto to discuss an unanticipated journey of re-discovering herself through new motherhood, body changes, the necessary lifestyle adjustments, and confronting questions of what these changes mean as she moves forward.

“I’m looking at myself with completely new eyes, trying to understand who I am. What is this new body? Who is this new woman? Who is this new mother? And everyday I just try to be honest with myself and I try to forgive myself and be patient. And I look at my beautiful son and I don’t regret any of it….I would do it all over again.”

It’s nearly impossible to get through this confession without shedding a tear or two whether you’re a mother or not, but it’s well-worth the emotions and, per usual, she drops some real gems of wisdom throughout.

“Live in your truth. Be patient with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Be forgiving of yourself. And love yourself. Love yourself at every stage…”

Lessons on lessons on lessons.

Check out the clip below:

Come through with the SLAY:

26 May

Janelle Monae at the Gordon Parks Foundation Gala

JanelleMonae

photo via @JanelleMonae