Category Archives: Uncategorized

Who’s on Your Buy Black on Black Friday List?

You do have one right?

‘Cause if you’re in the Diaspora and haven’t noticed the incredible things that are coming out of Black owned and small Black businesses lately, you’re definitely missing out. I mean not only is there are there always Black owned and made jewelry and make-up for junkies like me, but my Soul Sistah, Khalilah put me on years ago to the Black owned companies that create the kind of basic goods we use in our lives every day! Detergent, cleaning supplies, deodorant, toothpaste, and more. If you follow  We Buy Black, you are sure to find anything and everything you have bought for years from “trusted” White owned brands (that we don’t even think of as White owned because White supremacy is constructed to be invisible) made by and for us!

Now look, I’m not saying everything I buy is Black owned…..

YET!

But I damn well am working up to it. Because every time I scroll through IG or on the interwebs or Khalilah, who is herself a Black entrepreneur, shoots me a link to some dope Black owned business, or Dupe Black on IG which puts me on to Black owned beauty alternatives, I get so hyped at how beautifully reflective, soulful, industrious and entrepreneurial we truly are. Heck, a girlfriend of mine just recently sent me the product summary for a brand she’s planning to launch soon because she needed some feedback and a critical eye. I am so proud of her and honored that she would tap me to hold her accountable. I am so proud of all of us, who push past fears designed to keep us trapped in economic slavery to materialize our dreams of liberation, spreading Black Joy, health, love of community and empowerment.

Vote Black

Just this week I recently got some amazing soaps from HerbnEden and a few beautiful pairs of earrings from Toni Daley that I just adore! They are items that fill me with a satisfaction which is more fulfilling than what comes from base consumerism. Knowing that my money is going directly to supporting a business that is Black owned allows me to see the broader return on my investment in my community. I also love  how much more transparent small Black businesses are. I connect with so many of the owners online because they are so much more visible and accessible to their community and that feels so connecting and conducive to building and cyclical support.

I was gonna be stingy and keep my list to myself but that’s sooooo White Supremacist. LOL!! So I’ll share a few. I used to hate Black Friday but now that it’s been reclaimed by actual Black businesses I am so excited to invest my dollars where it counts, I can hardly wait!

JXL Pops is an earring maker of some seriously “Poppin” earrings and her Black Friday sale online is going to be “Poppin with Purpose” I am really looking forward to this sale. I have seen sneak peeks of her new Blackkity Black line and well, if you wanna see it you know where to click.

This is The Read, one of my favorite podcast has Black Friday merch that probably launched already which means that they might already be sold out because their stuff goes mad fast. But it may be worth a check out.

Juvia’s Place is the only beauty line I own three eye shadow palettes from and they’ve been on sale for days now so Black Friday is gonna be real. I’m virtually crouched and ready to grab the Saharan palette so if I push passed you to throw it in my cart it, don’t take it personal. LOL!!

CREADnyc.com, founded by my girl Khalilah will launch the pre-sale of “The ABCs of The Black Panthers” this Friday at 9am! I was honored to play a role in editing the book so I got first looks at the incredibly beautiful illustrations and lovingly crafted narrative that guides both parents and children to learn about the members of the Black Panthers and other seminal Black Activists who played key roles in their formation and ideology. I plan on buying several copies myself because the holidays are right around the corner.

UMMM… soooo this is not Black Friday related and I know I’ve mentioned it once or a hundred times already but you know Fenty Beauty is dropping her Stunna Red Lip Paint on the world on Thanksgiving right? I’m hoping she’s got like 5 other lip colors poised to stun us as well but I’m getting it no matter what. That’s just one more dope thing to be thankful for.

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Maaaan..if I hadn’t read Zora Neale Hurston in HS, I woulda been even more of an asshole.

I was editing a fantastic blog entry for CREADnyc last week about the importance of Black female authors in Highs School. Please get your life, go there now and read it but remember to come back! LOL!

Among the 3 Black women authors Khalya wrote about, she mentioned reading Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God” for the first time in college.

The crazy thins is I had been thinking about that book a lot lately, not necessarily because it was among my favorite works of fiction, but because it was assigned reading in my high school humanities class and because it was the first ever book I had ever read in dialect. And I can remember like it was yesterday how quick I was to look down my uppity nose at that writing until it was made clear to be my my teachers that this book was not only worthy of cannon like status, but that it was, and is, a brilliantly written piece of literature, meant to be studied, deconstructed, theorized and revered.

As Khalya mentions in her piece, we all know what it’s like to struggle with Shakespeare, but love iambic pentameter or hate it, we see Shakespeare held in the highest esteem absolutely everywhere. And as Khalya also points out, no one has ever spoken like that. Where as dialetic is a phonetically written expression of the way real ass people talk. We hear it all the time. But we rarely ever read it. The only other example of a book written in dialect I can think of is, Trainspotting by Irvine Walsh which the film by the same name is based on. I love that movie and I totally respect that it was written in Welsh dialect but ain’t nobody got time for that! LOL! I had to watch the film with subtitles!

But back to Zora. See, when I was a teenager, I was already walking around thinking I was better than other Black students because I thought I acted and spoke the way I was taught was acceptable and appropriate. And although I hated reading dead White people classics, I never said a word in protest about it. By 9th grade I had already started reading Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Angela Davis’ collections of Short stories and Terry McMillan and I was very proud and feeling myself about that. But that just meant I was a snobby Black chick. I couldn’t stand Donald Goines and a lot of the work that came from what was at the time,  just developing “Black lit” genre from publications such as Triple Crown. I never read Zane or Push by Sapphire because I didn’t think these writers were worthy of being considered “literature.” Even in an alternative, progressive public charter school that was very subversive in it’s approach to education, I had still developed an idea about what I considered to be good writing that was of course informed by oppressive White supremacist media. I knew what kind of writing flooded the mainstream and occupied the majority of my YA bookshelf and none of them were written by in dialect by Black women.

In America, a young Black person’s learns very early that the only rewards worth anything are the ones we get for aspiring to Whiteness and hating ourselves and one another. Racism never sleeps. Slavery was never really abolished.

Their-Eyes-Were-Watching-God

The introduction of “Their Eyes Were Watching God” in high school impacted me in ways I wasn’t even aware of until now because it was placed on the same level by my teachers with Shakespeare, Salinger and Harper Lee. In addition to Romeo and Juliet, we also read and did a class production of scenes from “A Raisin in the Sun.” We read “Down These Mean Streets” by Piri Thomas who grew up in the same neighborhood in Spanish Harlem where I attended high school. This was a rough book for me to get through as well, more because of the content than anything else but when I look back on it, I remember appreciating some it’s rawest moments the most.

As a huge fan of reading, if I hadn’t been exposed to these books as a teenager I might have tied myself to the notion that great fiction and literature could only look and sound one way or only be produced by a certain class of Black people. The fact that most of us are not exposed to these writers until college is no coincidence. Self hatred in Black people is a seed planted by institutional and systemic racism that historically has always been bent in one way or another on creating slaves.

Thanks to resources like CREADnyc.com, which I am continually proud to be a part of and the brilliant educators and writers there as well as Decolonizing Education Publishing which was created to empower Black children with sociopolitical consciousness and yes, thanks to the Cheeto in Chief, those who have dedicated themselves to Black revolution are providing integral entry points to the dismantling, diminishing and dencentering  of White supremacy.

Much like Janie, in “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” Black people are the world and the heavens boiled into one drop. We don’t need to conform, convert or assimilate in order to be worthy of love, equity and humanity. We never have.

 

 

Staples: I have a few

UE Staples

Recently I noticed that I’ve been running out of some products that I feel like I can’t live without. Not just your cute shit that you get as a novelty to look at but you rarely ever use, but those things you use on the regular and even daily without fail. I don’t always make the discernment between sparkly stuff that catches my eye and the products that sustain, enhance and that I rely on every day so this is actually really helpful for me.

Spectrum Coconut Oil: Aka, Black people’s liquid gold. I use it to remove my make-up every night. A little goes a long way and though mine is running low, I’m pretty sure I can stretch it for at least another week or so. It can also be used on your hair, in your hair treatments, on your skin, on chapped lips and a myriad of other uses I’m sure I haven’t listed and some which may not have been discovered yet. Check out our video at Soul Sistah Series to learn more about the Coco Cure!

Rose Hips Oil: It’s filled with antioxidants and fatty acids and stuff which is scientifically proved to be good for your skin. All I know is, after I cleanse tone and serum each night, I put a small amount on my face and it absorbs it so well. It feels super soft and smooth. I’m oily so I was always scared to put oil on my face, thinking it would make it worse. I’ve learned some thangs since I started hanging out in the Whole Foods skincare section. LOL! My first ever bottle lasted a long time because you only need one good squirt a night. But It was done last week.

Shea Moisture Argan oil and Raw Shea with Frankincense and Myrrh: Another oil that does not leave my skin feeling greasy or sticky. It absorbs into my skin so well and again, leaves it feeling soft and smooth after every shower. Sigh…that shit is done.

EM cosmetics  Felt Tip Illustrative Eye Liner: There are a range of middling to great felt tip eye liners on the market right now and trust me when I tell you, I have most of them. LOL! I’m a wing tip cat eye junkie and I searched most of this year for a felt tip that would give me the most perfected, controlled line, the most pigmented black, the tip designed to give the best thick to thin release….(I know you’re like, what the hell is she talking about?) and Michelle Phan damn did it. It’s exactly what she describes it as. It is an illustrative (read graphic) Eye liner. Think calligraphic brush. For steady hands only. When it comes to perfecting a cat eye and painting my nails, I have very steady hands. I use this liner every day and it makes it so easy and so precise that I feel like a pro! I could tell my pen was running low last week and I cannot have that. Like I can’t. Drawing my cat eye in the morning is one of the great joys of my day.

Pumpkin Velvetine Lip color by Lime Crime: It took me a moment to realize that this was not just a matte lip color I love but one that I can wear with anything, every day and always look good. Let me just say that the Lime Crime liquid matte formula is basically everything. Light, comfortable, long wearing, never smudging, running or bleeding. And  the color Pumpkin is not represented well on the website at all. It’s a warm, earth tone in the terracotta family but with a vibrant brick/orangeish colored hue. It’s described as a “Brick red.” On my skin tone, it just always looks good. It’s the kind of lip color I can always wear when I don’t know what lip color I want to wear and I don’t want to think about it.

God, I need a dress that can do that. I need like ten dresses that can do that. 

Smith Rosebud Minted Rose Lip Balm: It’s just my boujee petroleum jelly. It’s rose so it’s pinkish in color which is cute. It lasts forever. I get one. It lasts all year. It’s in a tin, not a tube because although I know we live in a germ infested world, I like touching my lips.

Honorary Staple

Fenty Beauty Pro Filter Foundation: Since I bought this foundation, I have given most of my other foundations away. I still have a few but I don’t know why I keep them. This is the only one I use. Fenty gave me what I never knew I always wanted in a foundation. It’s light but buildable coverage does not cover my skin as much as enhance it. Every night, when I remove it, I swear it’s like I’m just removing a light layer. It’s such a difference from removing a heavy formula, full coverage foundation that feels like you’re wearing a mask. I also love that there are at least 2 or 3 shades that match me. Currently I’m rocking 400, but 410 and 420 work as well. And kudos to Fenty creator Rihanna for raking in $72 million in just a month!!! All those empty spaces at the Fenty counter at Sephora don’t lie!

 

In My Dreams Staple (LOL!)

Flesh 3

Matte Trance Lipstick Flesh 3 by Pat McGrath 

I picked from the fruit of The Mothership Collection and now I am obsessed with the color Flesh 3 which is sold out everywhere but that’s the story of my life. I’m not super big into nudes but when you find a nude that suits you, the whole world is suddenly changed. LOL!! I did get one her Metamorphosis kits last year which included an eye shadow a pigment and a meh felt tip liner. Frankly, I haven’t used it in a while, but this Mothership Collection…It is seriously glam, and I dared not look at it directly for fear my wallet would explode. All I want for Christmas is for them to restock.

LOL!

Urban Eve: What I’m Listening to Now

lianne-la-havas-for-atc

My husband introduced me to Liane La Havas, “Is Your Love Big Enough,” one night (wink wink LOL!) about a month ago and I have been hooked ever since. I’ve played it so many times, I think even he’s sick of the album now.

The Song that Hooked me

Found myself in the second
I found myself in the secondhand guitar
Never thought it would happen
But I found myself in the secondhand guitar

-“Is Your Love Big Enough”

I have to say, I really pretty much loved this entire album when I first heard it. I was hooked right away. But I do remember feeling like I was at the beginning of an exciting ride when I first heard the title song, “Is Your Love Big Enough.” The energy of the music, and it’s bold inquiry reminds me of Lenny Kravitz’ “Are You Gonna go My Way?” It’s a great album takes me on a journey whenever I hear it.

HERIt was while I was listening to my Lianne La Havas Pandora station a few weeks ago that I started to notice songs by H.E.R. playing repeatedly. I’m always working while Pandora is on so I never see the names of the artists. I just know that whenever an H.E.R. song came on, something happened. I listened. What was once just music playing in the background would make itself fully present as the only thing in the room worth noticing. And with music, if I respond to anything viscerally that I’ve never heard before, I immediately stop whatever I’m doing, find the album on Tidal and upload it.  “Volume 2” is my favorite of the 2 volumes H.E.R. has released. And I love the Album cover art. The silhouette of a thick hood girl with a softly glowing halo of letters H.E.R. just above her head is endearing and sweet.

HER Album 2

The Song that Hooked me

If the world should end tomorrow

and we only had today

I’m gonna love you in every kind of way.

-“Every Kind of Way”

“Every Kind of Way” is about making love and pleasing someone and the pleasure derived in pleasing someone and how much she wants to please. I just think it’s beautiful. In fact, even listening to it now is like listening to it again for the first time. I just feel it inside me. It moves me.

 

Okay so I heard both these last two artists while listening to my Lianne Lahavas Pandora station. LOL! It’s my top fave station right now.

Sabrina Pic

I only had to hear “Unravel” by Sabrina Claudio once. And it was only half way done when I looked up and clicked on my Pandora window. I went straight to Tidal, uploaded “About Time” and I’ve been mesmerized for days.

The Song That Makes Me Emotional

 The flowers will be blooming
The leaves will be turning
And snow will be falling
While we’re making love
And the sun will be shining
The flowers still are blooming
Then leaves will turn again

But time will be frozen for us.

-Frozen

Frozen makes me think of those moments when you share a special time with someone that you don’t ever want to end from something as brief as a gaze, to something as long as  a ten minute walk. Yet as a matter or your ability to cherish the moment, it must in fact end. It’s bittersweet and I’m a sucker for some melancholy done right. And this is done so right. The music on it’s own is just, unraveling. I fall open whenever I hear it.

A well crafted playlist of all three of these three albums is in the works. I imagine it would be a great mix for nothing but chillin, making love, feeling good, sexy, introspective, smoking a L, crying, having visions and starting anew.

bomba_estereo1

My honorary fourth fave new artist is Bomba Estereo. A new friend I made over the weekend, at a Racial Justice conference I attended with Khalilah, explained the video for the  song, “Soy Yo” as it was playing over the speakers after an incredible night of deeply vulnerable shared stories and a hell of a closing speech by Michelle Alexander came to an end. “Soy Yo” is on the album “Amanecer” which means dawn.  I’ll also be checking out their album “Ayo” which I uploaded this weekend because the video for “Internacionales” hooked me as well.

 

#itwasamerica

I don’t have any close White friends. Acquaintances yes. Close White friends?

I might have like…three?

As a Black person, you can have White friends for years and they will never really know the core of you unless you’re the type of Black person who is unapologetically Black about your shit.

I have not always been the kind of Black person who was always unapologetically Black about my shit. Therefore I have White acquaintances in my life who think they know me…but don’t fully. And that’s totally on me. But the White people I’ve I rocked with, who I got to know in my late 20s and 30s; they are staunch anti-racist White people who do their best to own their shit, to push themselves and stay informed on how to really do their work and check their privilege constantly.

I was in Manhattan yesterday, on my way to an appointment and waiting on a train platform for an express so naturally I started to scroll idly through social media feed on my Facebook account. That’s when I saw this posted by one of my good White friends’ status feeds.

#itwasme 

i was complicit,
the sexist, offensive, degrading, locker room talk – there have been too many times when i haven’t stood up to it, when i was part of it. used my privilege to be in and out of spaces without being damaged and without standing up to damaging behavior.

i haven’t called out men, who i knew were crossing the line with their talk, with their threat of action, with their violence. 
i have looked, stared, thought, and not respected boundaries. 
it was me, i was complicit.

It is our turn to speak up…and to post and hashtag and pass along. Somebody is doing the harassing and abusing…it doesn’t just happen. I have stood by in silence too many times…no more.

Men…Don’t just like this post…own it. Share it. Copy and Paste. Do something.
h/t David Cohen

Once, years ago,  I did an enthography of an anti-racist reading group (which I had never heard of in my life before) for a Cultural Diversity class I was taking for my undergrad. I did interviews with about 3-4 White people (it was an all White group) for my paper. One of the White men I interviewed was a social worker who told me that essentially, along his journey towards becoming active in social justice and anti-racism he discovered how hateful Whiteness was.

I was stunned. He was the first White person I had ever met who openly admitted how destructive, violent, dangerous and generally not shit Whiteness was.

I didn’t know how to respond. I think I was a little worried about him.

I got over that shit after Trayvon Martin. I stopped worrying about White people altogether soon after that.

When I read this #itwasme repost by, I’ll call him John, I was caught of guard but then I was like wow, this is exactly what more White men need to be doing. Admission of implicitness in the endangerment of women and the nurturing of rape culture is a real step towards a conversation that might actually shift attitudes and practices that perpetuate this sickening Weinsteinian/Trump/Cosby scourge.

I think it was pretty decent of him to own up to it in a way that honestly, any woman would have the right to wanna take him down for.

But then I thought….

Well, how about the admission of the numerous times when White people, maybe even John were present during conversations that were racially insensitive? Because to be totally honest, (I’m naive) I would not have guessed that he was someone who would let sexist comments slide either. I guess this was another reason the post caught me off guard. At first I thought he wrote it. Then I saw it was a repost. But the repost was still an admission. So I’m like torn between applauding (I really have to fight that applauding urge) his honesty but yet also feeling like…emmm, if you could be silent here, where else are you silent?

See because, I like this guy and I feel he’s really doing his work…

and yet…

You see, if America (read White people) ever had the dignity to admit its unforgivable atrocities towards all Black Brown and indigenous peoples in this way, it would at least be the first step towards opening up a conversation about what needs to happen next.

But if America ever did admit it openly, willingly, at the risk of deflating White fragility, ripping away the veil of respectability and phony puritanical standards to reveal and take responsibility for it’s perverse, putrid, rapacious and psychotically divisive existence, I don’t know about you; I would be both stunned, thankful and yet also…

Ummm…you don’t get invited to the cookouts no more man.

And I don’t even have cookouts.

And I think that at the core, this is what White people are really afraid of. They’re afraid we won’t invite them to partake of our perpetually resilient abundance anymore the way we always have, not matter what they’ve done to us.

They’re afraid of being left alone with themselves.

It’s certainly not a reflection I would want to face.

 

My Black Woman Halloween Costume on a Budget

I’m a Black woman.

I’m on a budget.

I have always loved Halloween.

I wouldn’t be caught dead at the Halloween Parade these days.

I’m not necessarily sure I want to be present at whatever corny Halloween shenanigans my company it doing.

Basically, I just want to sit at my desk and roam the streets in a costume on Halloween.

LMAO!!!

And this year, I’ve figured out a way to do that.

Seat at the tableI’ve decided to be Solange on the iconic cover of her hit album, “A Seat at The Table.”

Think of it.

All I need is a wig, some duckbill clips and I don’t even have to wear any make-up (right, like I’m leaving my home without make-up). I can judge the people who don’t know who I’m dressed as and high five and kiki with those who do all while honoring a great album and a talented Black artist, sitting back, looking cute and not having to fiddle with an stupid mask, glitter everywhere, bunny ears (though I like some bunny ears) or anything that sticks out, melts, falls down or needs to be constantly adjusted.

I’m weary of the ways of the world.

Now everyone will know!

LOL!!

“You Hate All Black People As Much As You Hate Yourself”

How many ways can a person say racism is the real bread and butter of our American mythology, and in how many ways will the racists among our countrymen act out their Turner Diaries race war fantasy combination Nazi Germany and Antebellum South – states which, incidentally, lost the wars they started, and always will, precisely because there is no way those white racisms can survive the earth without the rest of us types upholding humanity’s best, keeping the motor running on civilization, being good, and preserving nature and all the stuff worth working and living for?

-Kara Walker

As a Black person, going to see an art exhibit by a Black artist means that you will be surrounded predominantly by White people who like to discuss form, line, light and composition rather than content. I’ve only gone to see exhibitions lately that are pretty hardcore in their examination and critique of the atrocities committed by White people on Black and Brown people so I’ve had to get used to tunneling through and stepping in front of White bodies, avoiding White gazes and just taking in the work without letting my feelings of disgust, anger, violence and sadness overcome me.

Kara Walker 2

Kara Walker’s show at the Sikkema Jenkins & Co in Chelsea left nothing to be speculated on as far as what her subject matter expressed. The ugliness, the horror, the perversion and sickness of White racism, bleeds off of every piece. There were a couple of pictures I took of images, which I still cannot post on social media because they are for me, too triggering.

22291465_10155718930603149_5363872275001101401_oWhen I think of what it must take for Walker to get these images on the paper, mentally, psychologically, spiritually I can only hope that it serves as a form of catharsis. I don’t know how White people take in images like this casually, and I try not to preoccupy myself for too long, wondering how. My guess is that it’s the same way they can imagine that anything about America’s history as it has been taught for so many years could possibly be built on anything but lies, genocide, murder and hate.

After passing through a large room of about 5-6 of the large scale hand cut paper silhouette pieces Walker has become well known for, full of the darkest, most disturbing indictment of White Racist violence via chattel slavery and the modern day products of it I have seen since Kerry James Marshall, I came into a room of more traditional sized framed pieces filled with dark paint. The first one I looked at had a few snatches of hand scrawled words on it that were hard to make out until I leaned in close.

“You Hate Black People as Much as You Hate Yourself”

It is glaringly obvious who that message is for. There is no question of its authenticity. And it’s frighteningly clear that the truth of this statement has played out from the enslavement of the first of our ancestors until this very minute. This message I feel, is the one which White people are responsible to allow into every pore without the promise of acceptance, forgiveness, sympathy or love from Black or Brown people to keep them from the rawness and destruction of it’s sting.

Because we are beyond apologies now.

The day after I went to see the Kara Walker show, White nationalists in Charlottesville Virginia were on the march again, with lit torches chanting “You will not replace us.”

Later on Dove released an insidiously racist image of a Black woman pulling off her shirt to reveal a White woman’s face and body.

 

And to that I say:

You cannot replace us.

Without us you have only the mirror of your sins to reflect upon.

In her artists’ statement for this show and in her pieces,  it’s obvious that  Kara Walker is clearly fed up. She knows that showing White people to themselves has very little chance of changing anything because up until now it never has. But as Auntie Nina Simone once said, an artists duty is to reflect the times. Because time will always tell.

Thanks to social media and the Cheeto in charge,  though the times haven’t changed much, the ways in which they are being reflected is broad, immediate, often explosive, and perpetually evolving. This is only the beginning.

 

The Only Reason I Can Never a Watch White Person’s Make-up Tutorial

This will be short.

 

BECAUSE BARBIE

BECAUSE BECKY

BECAUSE AMERICA

 

The only reason I started watching youtube beauty tutorials, reviews, GRWM (Get ready with me if you didn’t know) or style vlogs was to see Black women doing it. I mean, initially, I started watching to find my shade twins and see how certain colors, foundations, lipsticks I like, might look on me. But I ended up watching and following Black women across the Diaspora with a broad range of skin colors because we are so gotdamn beautiful and the range of our skin tones is NO LIMIT!!!!!

And I LOOOOOOOOVE watching Black women put on make-up. I just do. I love all the different ways, the reasons, the looks, the attitudes, the approaches.

I clicked on a White chick’s video once but

NAH

NOPE

WHY?

Nothing for me to learn there that I haven’t been working on the daily to unlearn. And I mean personally, it’s just not attractive to me. That’s not what I’m checking for. I’m checking for me. And it’s not to say that White supremacy is not still alive in complex and dangerous ways on the Black channels but at least there I feel like I care about what’s happening. I’m invested, because I am represented.

And I can work from there.

 

 

Have I been Choosing Failure?

Do you know how many times I’ve watched the film The Hustler with Paul Newman and still not understood why some people choose to loose?

Newman Giphy

Never seen “The Hustler?” Never mind. My film fanatics will get it.

But I wanna bring the rest of you in.

Let’s try this:

Beloved are you more committed to your anger than you are to your dreams and pleasure? Observe what happens when you in all your receptivity call upon the passions never expressed. Ignite the bouquet of flowers along your spine. Don’t judge anything. Just observe. 

-From “You Look Like Something Blooming”

By India Ame’ye

I was heading downtown to Brooklyn for an orientation last Saturday morning and unless I truly don’t give a fuck, (and sometimes even then, to be honest) I pride myself on getting to events and meetings on time if I have anything to do with it. But like most people who commute via mass transit in New York, I often have nothing to do with it. Especially every weekend when the MTA decides to put you through train travel hell.

All that to say,  I had transferred to the third downtown train and was pacing in a virtually empty car which crawled along at a snails pace like it had no where to be when I realized I was not going to be on time. In fact I was going to be late. I’ve been is this situation enough times already and it’s always hard for me to avoid getting upset.

I was pissed. I was infuriated. I had to squeeze the hell out of my cellphone just to displace my violent energy into something I couldn’t hurt or destroy. Then I decided to just sit and read this book. Whatever was going to happen would happen. I couldn’t control it. I had done all I could.

All this over being late. I have problems…

And that’s when I read the passage from India Ame’ye. And this is a teeny tiny footnote at the end of page 170.

It occurred to me that YES, I have been more committed to my anger than my hopes and pleasures! And for a looong time! But hearing it, reading it out loud and outside of my own head for the first time just made me think, made me realize how fucking wrong that is. When did that happen? Who would do that?

But there it is. Over identification and investment in anger which is closely connected to fear of failure breeds a kind of lifestyle that always ensures failure. Because no matter what good you have in your life, no matter how talented, how capable, how unique, how worthy you are, if you don’t actually believe in it, you’re not really living, You’re busy avoiding imaginary pitfalls that haven’t happened yet. And even when they do, the idea should never be to hang out in the pitfalls but to learn from them and transcend them. You’re  not supposed to remain perpetually at the starting line watching others race and think you’ve figured out how to never be disappointed by never daring to try.

That sounds extreme. But I think most of us are conditioned to do this in one way or another. We think someone else will do what we need to do and do it better, or that we weren’t meant to do it anyway so why bother?

Where does that kind of thinking originate?

Some of us are conditioned to treat the world as if it could never have existed without us.

I’m not going to give you my specific theories as yet but I will say that a large percentage of it is intentional and systemic.

And I really want to move away from it.

Candle

 

There are many of us who subconsciously dedicate so much time and energy into our own failure through self sabotage. I’m there quite often myself. But as we become more conscious we have to demonstrate an understanding that the terms which we have been conditioned to accept are deeply dysfunctional, unhealthy and totally inauthentic to who we really are. And then go discover who we are by being who we are, in effect,  we have to create ourselves again…

For the first time.

So I was late but I wasn’t turned away as a I feared I would be. And I got exactly what I needed, plus a little bit more which I will happily share in my next entry.

 

How Have I Only Just Discovered Laura James?

I look to art and design a lot for inspiration, motivation and occasionally to improve my mood. And when I say art, I mean anything from fine art to street art, to fashion, to performing art, to the way any medium is crafted to mimic or honor or comment on a vibration that resonates intentionally with the human heart. Like when Migos says ssskrrrrrrt!

I like art that effectively communicates a feeling and expands or explores it. The feeling cannot be contrived with the crude and oppressive language of mainstream or standard commercialization. Obviously, for a series of reasons, not all art is effective in disrupting those destructive normative conditions. And so it’s all the more sweet and priceless and irreplaceable, that feeling when you come upon a work, which connects you squarely to your spirit in it’s execution.

This was how I felt when I came upon Laura James painting of Oshun as I was perusing pinterest for Orishas, which is what I do for inspiration and motivation and to improve my mood when necessary, along with the 7 other things I do at the same time on the internet.

I have a page on my board called “The Originals” where I curate images of Orishas created by artists utilizing all kinds of mediums, interpretations. Visually, Oshun is one of two of my favorite Orishas to see images of.  I don’t want to incur a wrath of jealousy among the others so I won’t say who my other faves are here. But there are sooooooo many! So many depictions of Oshun!

YemeyaGo ahead and google Oshun now and click on the images link. Make sure you come back, although I can understand if you don’t. You got lost in Oshunlandia™. You drowned in Yemeyatopia™.

I GET IT.

 

 

 

Of all the incredible images of Oshun I have collected on Pinterest, this one below just filled me right up and in all the right places.

It’s the colors I respond to initially. I love colors and the way in which a good painter uses color combinations and shades to evoke specific themes, feelings, moods and undercurrents of energy. Laura’s colors are playful but not juvenile. They are unapologetically vibrant and joyful and seem to reference a lot of popular Mexican and Egyptian art.

orisha-OSHUN-by-Laura-James

Then it’s the forms. Laura’s Oshun curves her hip to pop her booty out to the left, her proud breasts jutting out in the opposite direction of her head which is tilted towards an up-stretched arm as she looks down into the water, which she is pouring from a soft pink shell onto the ground. There are also fish being poured from the shell. There are bees buzzing around her yellow clad form, ya know because she’s sweet like honey. The tail of a peacock in a tree on her right hangs down almost to her knee. There are birds gathered in a tree to her left. There are lotus blossoms and lily pads at her feet. the tiny yellow orb in the upper left corner seems to be descending into the blue of a twilight sky. In fact all the plains of the painting, the hills, the ground are painted in the same blue that blue goes shortly before it turns into night. There is purple in the blue. There is yellow in the blue. There is blue in the blue.

The shapes are simple, triangles, ovals, wavy lines. The bottom of her dress blooms out in a series of down turned  lotuses. On her waist is a belt of cowrie shells. Her hair is a rolling network of orange and blue circles that mimic the tale of the peacock.

And the last sweetest detail, a form, which seems to imitate a cloud or gust of wind is a brown face curled in profile looking down over her with an approving smile.

OH, I love this painting!

And lest I forget what looks like a frame of uniquely arranged cowrie shells painted around the entire edge, against an outer frame painted in gold.

I didn’t even know James painted this image of Oshun until last week. The more I looked at it, the more I needed know about the artist but the signature on the low res image I saved was hard to make out. I recognized Laura, made up what I though was her last name and let google do the rest.

Laura James 2.jpg

I learned that she is an Brooklynite of Antiguan heritage! YAAAAAAAAZZZ!!! She Blackity Black! And she has painted a series of religious, spiritual and secular images in the same style. She calls her art, “Art for the People.” I have to keep my eye out for her next show because I would love to see her work  up close. Anything more I turn up or discover about her, I will happily report here.