Wednesday, July 31

Sometimes Half The Battle is Getting Your Partner to Accept Your Natural Hair

The decision to transition to natural hair is a difficult one filled with questions of acceptance – will my workplace consider my look “professional”, what will my family say, will I still feel beautiful and attractive when I look in the mirror? This is a dialogue that goes through many converting sistas’ heads as they release their previous standard of beauty and create a new one defined on their own terms. But, a conversation that is not often brought up but is so important is how supportive you partner is through this process and also how the transition will challenge their definition of what they see as beautiful.

I read a fantastic blog post on Black Girl Long Hair written by a husband who went through the natural hair journey with his wife. He describes how initially, he was upset and felt insecure about his wife’s decision because he was taught that long, flowing hair was the “cream on top” for dating a black girl. Now, he loves and encourages other womyn to join the natural hair journey as well.

Check out the post over at Black Girl Long Hair.

What are your thoughts, have you had a difficult time getting your partner to accept your new natural look?

Monday, July 29

MONDAY MOTIVATION: Support Positive Stories in Our Community

I'm so glad to hear that recently released movie, Fruitvale Station, had a good opening weekend. It's great to see that people went out and showed their support for such an important film. I didn't get a chance to see it over the weekend, because I was preparing for my event on Sunday in Atlanata but this week I will definitely take a little break to check it out at the theatre.

What I think is the brilliance of this movie is that the story really tries to show the reality of Oscar Grant's character. He was neither a saint or a "thug", he was a young man trying to figure life out the best he could. Was he perfect? No. He made mistakes and did things I'm sure that many would disagree with. But, did he deserve to be killed? That's the story that director, Ryan Coogler tries to answer in this film.

We don't often get to see many films that portray black characters, especially black males with such complexity. Often, black characters are one dimensional falling into characters on either side of "good" or "bad". So, I can't wait to see and support this film. As I think, we should all make an effort to support films or any type of production like this so that we show mainstream that we have a voice too. And, also show our buying power.

Did any of you see Fruitvale Station this weekend? What were your thoughts?

Happy Monday!

Friday, July 26

Secrets of a Black Boy Hits the Toronto Stage Tomorrow!

1 more sleep until the men of Secrets of a Black Boy reveal what they have been working hard on for months. And, I promise you all that you will not be disappointed. The stories that develop in this production are definitely pushing the envelope and going to have audiences talking about it for days! We also announced an awesome panel called "Sharing Our Secrets" featuring some of Toronto's most respected community activists and artists, who will be discussing the issues and frustrations with being a young black male in Toronto today.

I don't want to say too much though!If you haven't done so yet, purchase tickets here:

Wednesday, July 24

What Does it Mean to Be a Black Male Today?

Sharing Our Secrets Panel: Brandon Hay, Amanda Parris, RT!, Rich Kidd

I'm very excited about my brother's play, Secrets of a Black Boy, hitting the stage in Toronto this Saturday July 27th! He's worked hard on making sure that each of the characters that he has created portrays the truth of the young black male.

If you only used the media as your source for who a black man is you would probably come to the conclusion that black men are violent, arrogant, sexual beings who are absentee fathers. Secrets of a Black Boy aims to answer the "why" behind some of these perceptions and also flips this stereotypical image so that audiences will leave seeing black men as so much more.

Darren recently spoke with Urbanology Magazine about the truth that he needs to tell with this play:
I’m very in your face; I’m not sugar coating anything… I think with seeing this piece, this will probably change your perspectives on black males. And I know that’s brave to say, but at the end of the day, I know my culture, I know myself, and I know my peers, and this is basically a window into our lives… I feel like there are a lot of negative images of black males in the media as well as some of these storytellers and I definitely want to put an end to that.
There has been a lot of dialogue and feelings of fear for our black men, especially recently, due to the verdict in the Trayvon Martin/Zimmerman case. A lot of anger and frustrations have been expressed, or expert opinions on news programs but not enough dialogue amongst youth and the people that these issues affect the most. Darren has created an awesome forum called "Sharing Our Secrets" that will be offered exclusively for audiences of the 2pm performance this Saturday. The forum is for the youth of the community with a panel of some of Toronto's most respected community leaders and artists. The amazing lineup has just been announced and it will include - Brandon Hay of The Black Daddies Club, Award Winning Director RT!, community activist and founder of the Lost Lyrics Amanda Parris, and the much buzzed about producer and performer Rich Kidd.

This panel is truly awesome because all 4 of these individuals really put time into their communities inspiring, motivating and working with our youth. So they know exactly what issues they face and steps to creating solutions.

The play and this panel is definitely a MUST SEE for all you folks in Toronto! I promise, it will be a play that will have you laughing at one point and then really thinking about your life and the lives of those closest to you in another. We need to keep the dialogue going in our community!

The "Sharing Our Secrets" Forum will be after the 2pm show at 4pm for those who purchase tickets for that afternoon performance.

For more information about the play, click here:

Monday, July 22

MONDAY MOTIVATION: Reverse the Negative Words That You Tell Yourself

What is the story that you tell yourself when you get alone with yourself? What are the words that you use to label who you are? I was watching the episodes of Oprah's Lifeclass dedicated to "Daddyless Daughters" and there was a part of it that Iyanla described as the "UNs" that we tell our self  that struck me. I realized that this is true especially for daddyless daughters but can also be applied to other womyn who may be filled with guilt and shame for any other difficult and life changing issue that she has been through.

We often have as Iyanla said, "a treasure chest of Uns" that we tell ourselves. The ones that she listed are: Unwanted, Unloved, Unloveable, Unacceptable, Unimportant, Unattractive, and Unworthy. Now raise your hand, how many of you have caught yourself saying one of these words about you, if not all of them. I sure as hell have! I have allowed these words to creep into my spirit and find situations in my life that would affirm and reinforce what I told myself - that I really was unattractive, or "yup, I knew I was unloveable".

I think the most important thing that needs to be mastered to live a successful life (emotionally, spiritually, physically, career, etc) is that you really have to police the stories that you tell yourself and the words that you use to define you. If the words you use are negative, then its guarenteed that negativity will find a way to creep into your life. You've created and prophesized that for yourself.

So, this week I want us all to examine the words that we use to describe who we are and what we deserve. Be brutally honest and real about what you say. Write them down and describe how they show up in your life. For example, "I tell myself that I am unloved, so therefore I hide from and reject anyone who tries to show me love. I stay guarded and don't open myself to allowing people to really get to know me." Once, you write these stories and behaviours down, it's time to do the work to reverse it. I'm a big believer in affirmations. Create a statement that tells yourself something different about who you are and keep repeating it until you believe it and live your life that way.

I wrote about learning how to be a black girl in love wither herself a few months ago. And part of falling in love with yourself, is being able to look yourself in the mirror and like what you see. Not just how you look physically, but can you look yourself in the eyes and really like and appreciate the womyn that you see staring back at you? 

I wrote:
If I was a black girl in love with myself
I would actively work on being less critical of myself. I would look in the mirror and not wish you away. Instead, every day I would loudly declare, "I'm going to take care of you! You are beautiful! I'm proud of you! I love you! I love that KINK in your hair your beautiful nose, your wide spread grin, your crooked tooth, that scar on your belly. I would exercise, walk a few steps daily to just honor you! I would not compare you to other womyn's bodies. I would give thanks to God that he gave me another day with you. 
Change the message that repeats in you head. It's not something that you will get over in a day, it will take continuous and daily work. You will want to go back to telling yourself these stories, but press pause on it, acknowledge how you feel but then tell yourself a new story. Keep doing it until you start to feel better.

Watch the video of the "UNs" that Iyanla descibes that we often tell ourselves, here: 

Happy Monday!

Friday, July 19

A Different Look For Rap? A Song Dedicated to All the Natural Girls

A Harlem rapper by the name of Qu'ality is celebrating all of the natural sistas with his song called, "Na-Tu-Ral". The video features womyn rocking natural 'dos from locs, to braids, to 'fros as he raps along that "She's got that Poetic Justice. That Badu. That India Arie. Jill Scott, too."

I like the video because it's nice to see a change from typical rap videos and what is deemed to beautiful. The song is not bad at all but I of course love the concept behind the lyrics. He even name drops Carol's Daughter products!

Looking through the comments underneath the video, most reactions were positive and happy to see a new face of beauty in rap. But, there were a few comments that suggested this guy was just an opportunist who sees natural beauty as the next thing to cash in on. Well, I think if that's the case he' smart first of all. And secondly, it's about time people started recognizing the beauty of natural in these music videos. I can't call his intentions, but if it makes at least a few womyn feel beautiful and celebrated, then I'm all for it!

Wednesday, July 17

Rachel Jeantel Gets Offered a Full Scholarship to HBCU of Her Choice

This week has been a great week for Rachel Jeantel, witness for the prosecution and Trayvon Martin's  friend. She had a great interview on the Piers Morgan show on Monday where viewers got more of a chance to see her personality. Seeing her personality brought a sense of humanity to her for some people. For me, I have been rooting for and supporting her since I saw her take the stand because I can only imagine how difficult it would be to be the last person to speak to your friend who has been killed and then have to sit in court defending your story and proving your credibility.

I was saddened when people, especially other black people, attacked this young woman after her testimony. I was disgusted with the insults that called her every version of fat, ugly, stupid, ghetto and so much more. It was unbelievable what people had to say, but I really hoped that she would get her chance to shine at some point.

Yesterday, radio personality Tom Joyner had Rachel on his show and told her that he would like to offer her a full scholarship to go to any HBCU of her choice. He saw something special in her and was moved by her Piers Morgan interview. I'm so happy for her! And, I'm glad that Tom decided to invest in her in a way that will benefit her future. She is not a stupid girl, she just needs support and someone to invest, not even money but time as well. That is what all children and youth need, not people that will count them out at the sight of any struggle, disability or difficulty. We need to support our youth and reach them where they are at to help pull them up to their potential.

I'm so glad that Rachel is getting that opportunity to prove her haters wrong. She said she is interested in studying something in law enforcement. Who knows, maybe she will see that Don West very soon but in a different way than expected!

Monday, July 15

MONDAY MOTIVATION: A Conversation We Need to Have with Our Sons

My heart has been heavy since the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case came back not guilty. My social media feeds were immediately filled with people expressing everything from outrage, to shock, disappointment, justification and joy. It's honestly in times like these that you really get to see the minds and hearts of the people you choose to surround yourself with in life and even in your social media life. Many, expressed how appalled they were by the insensitivity of many of their friends or followers. Thankfully, my friend list is filled with people who are like minded so I only saw comments expressing the same kind of hurt that I was (regardless of their race).

This case was a very controversial and charged case because it had people on such polar ends of the spectrum with their thoughts and opinions. The case dug up issues of race, class, white privilege, stereotypes, and so many more 'isms' and limitations that many thought were problems of yesteryear. This case and the final verdict proved that there is a long way to go before these issues will be gone for good (if ever).

The one thing that became dramatically clear throughout all of this is that there is an important conversation to be had with our children (especially our young boys) about what this all means for them. I think all races and cultures need to have a conversation but the content of the discussion will vary from household. From this verdict, it is easy for young black men and boys to feel that their life has no value here. That even when they are the victim, they will be persecuted and treated as the criminal. Leading to many internalizing issues of self worth and creating an attitude where they do not want to cooperate with authority (because what's the point?). There is an important conversation that needs to be had in black households that reminds our children that yes we have come far because we have a black president and many more positive representations of black people in top positions, but there are still many ignorant people out there that still on see the color of your skin as a threat.

Black boys need to be told that there is always a possibility that they will be tried by someone who sees their skin color as a threat and as a criminal. In these instances, they need to keep their wits about them. Focus on surviving.

We need to remind our boys that the best way to shift people's views about you is to create excellence in yourself. Be educated, be talented, be your best. Also, be educated about the legal system and know your rights (very important!).

And, the last thing that we need to tell our boys is that they do have value and they are worthy. No matter what anyone says or society tries to make you feel, you are important. Racism is a complex issue that is part of a larger social context that is ingrained in the minds of many people but that is something wrong them not you.

I'm so heartbroken for Trayvon's family and for the message that it sends our children but I have faith and believe that this is a teachable lesson for us all that we need to continue to have these conversations and mentor our youth. Keep them close to us.

Darren Anthony's play, Secrets of a Black Boy, will be on stage in Toronto on July 27th and he is introducing a community forum for the first time after his matinee performance. In light of the discussion that has been brought up again  with the Trayvon case, Darren along with community activists want to create an open discussion with  youth in the community to share their struggles and frustrations.

To find out more info about the play and forum or to purchase tickets, go to:

Happy Monday!

Friday, July 12

Justice for Trayvon Martin


What can I say about these past few weeks of the trial for George Zimmerman and the senseless death of a child? I have been following the updates everyday and I think the things that has been most upsetting to me through out this process has been the shift in in focus from the real reason why everyone is there (because George Zimmerman killed Trayvon) to everything about how great or not great of a job the legal teams are doing and attacking the credibility and poise of witnesses (my heart still goes out to that young womyn Rachel Jeantel).

I have watched coverage on CNN and HLN nightly and have been disappointed with the way the trial has become almost a spectator sport that these legal analysts excitedly debate over which side, defence or prosecution, were more strategic.  The heart of this whole issue has slipped away and become a case of may the best lawyer win.

It's sad and this case has definitely shed light on the injustices and limitations on the legal system that are not inclusive of diversity in race, class, etc. But, I am believing that justice will be served for Trayvon. His family will finally get the closure and peace that they deserve.

Many people are using their social media accounts to black out their profiles in a show support of for #justicefortrayvon.

What have been your thoughts about this trial?

Monday, July 8

Monday Motivation: Follow Jay-Z's Blueprint and Create Your Own New Rules

With the release of Jay-Z's new album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, there has been a lot of discussion about the idea of new rules. The concept and marketing angle behind this release was on raising the bar on not only the rap industry but the music industry overall as well that he created his own set of rules for the sales and release of the album. From the Samsung app, to the million in sales before its release, to as I wrote about on Friday the use of 16 year old Wondergurls's beat for a track, it's very clear that Jay-Z continues to find ways to be at the forefront of creating change and inspiring the new generation to find ways to write their own rules.

I've realized that this doesn't have to do with the music industry at all, but can be applied to all of our lives. I always say that when you are reaching for your dreams, in whatever field, you should find someone who is at the top of that field and follow their blueprint. Do what worked for them! But, in learning and following their blueprint it is important to tweak it to your own style and your unique angle. 

I've been so inspired by my brother Darren. He's been working hard on his play Secrets of a Black Boy, as it will be hitting the Toronto stage this July 27th and then headed down south to North Carolina on August 3rd. His hard work and hustle make me proud because there is every reason why he shouldn't have been successful with this play or have even created it but he did and he is. Darren created his own set of new rules because as a young black man, who didn't go to theatre school he's not supposed to be the thought leader behind a new generation of theatre that features our voices and the voice of the new generation of young urban males. The topics that he addresses in such a real and authentic way - sexuality, abuse, gun violence, interracial dating, etc., many people would not be brave enough to address out of fear of others opinions or judgements that he is letting  "our secrets out". You know how tight lipped the black community can be when it comes to certain taboo topics. But, Darren has always stuck to his vision and declared that if it's not real and doesn't push the boundaries enough so that it incites dialogue, he didn't want to do it.

When it came to theatre, the voice of the young, urban generation was silent. There was plays for the older West Indian generation but nothing that spoke to young adults that looked and spoke like Darren.

He followed my blueprint of 'Da Kink in My Hair, but trust me, Darren is blazing is own trail.

Start thinking this week of what you can do in your own lives to push the envelope and create positive change by creating your own set of rules to live by or conduct business with.

Purchase your tickets for Secrets of a Black Boy I promise, you won't want to miss this!

Happy Monday!

Friday, July 5

16 year old Producer, Wondagurl, Shows Us That Dreams Can Happen at Any Age

16 year old producer, Wondagurl proves that age ain't nothing but a number when it comes to chasing your dreams. Her story spread throughout the Internet this week with the release of Jay-Z's much hyped album release Magna Carta Holy Grail, as it was discovered that a 16 year old producer from Brampton produced a track on the album.

Talk about defying any limitations - she's a female (how many womyn producers can you think of?), she's young and she is North of the border farrrrr away from the life of Jay-Z. So how did she make this happen? She visualized what she wanted and then took action to get there.

In a Toronto Star article, she explained that she got started because she saw a video of Jay-Z and Timbaland in the studio working on beats and she wanted to do what they were doing, she wants to be one of the greats. So, fast forward a bit and she may still be working on establishing her name but her hard work landed her on the album of one of the very greats that she first visualized.

She is more proof that you can make whatever you want happen as long as you have a dream, a plan and are committed.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, July 3

I Don't Like this Situation With B.Scott and BET

I am not impressed with BET's actions this past weekend at the BET Awards involving popular blogger B.Scott. If you haven't heard about the situation as yet, the Cole's notes are that B. Scott was invited to attend the awards as a red carpet correspondent. But, once the carpet festivities were underway, he was pulled from his duties and asked to change out of the heels and clothes that he was wearing as well as pull back his hair into a ponytail. When he complied to this request, he was eventually replaced by another correspondent.

See, the problem that I have with this more so than BET's decision to restrict the clothes that he chose to wear is that they knew exactly what they would be getting when they invited him to take part in the festivities. B. Scott is known for his beautifully made up face and long flowing hair. His brand is "glamour". So knowing his brand and what he is about, it is confusing to me that BET would even invite B.Scott if they were not willing to accept his style of dress. I understand that there are such things as dress codes when you are working with an employer and representing them publicly, but perhaps this should have been a conversation had before hand?

Afterwards, B.Scott wrote a letter to speak out about his experience. Read his statement below as well as BET's statement.

A part of B. Scott's letter:
“It’s not just about the fact that BET forced me to pull my hair back, asked me to take off my makeup, made me changed my clothes and prevented me from wearing a heel. It’s more so that from the mentality and environment created by BET made me feel less than and that something was wrong with who I am as a person.”

BET's statement:
“BET Networks embraces global diversity in all its forms and seeks to maintain an inclusive workforce and a culture that values all perspectives and backgrounds,” the statement read. “The incident with B. Scott was a singular one with a series of unfortunate miscommunications from both parties. We regret any unintentional offense to B. Scott and anyone within the LGBT community and we seek to continue embracing all gender expressions.”
What are your thoughts on the whole dress code situation between BET and B.Scott? Is BET justified and restricting the style on the red carpet?