Black Sunday

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I cannot lie, I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with fam last week on that one day. My dad surprised us by flying into town and we kept dinner small and intimate with my mom, sis, nephew, cousins and a couple family friends. I was invited to a “Feast of Gratitude” [basically a vegan potluck dinner to bring friends together that understand the crock that is Thanksgiving but still want to come together and enjoy some good eats] by a newfound friend here in the A, but you know. Mom. “Traditions.” Family time. Sigh. #sideeye.

I did whip up and deliver some peach cobbler cookies for my friend’s feast, but I would have much rather spent the day binging on documentaries and ordering some pizza in my pajamas.. No human contact would probably have been quite lovely. It was fun, but I’m glad it’s over. Now I’m impatiently waiting for Christmas to pass..

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Anyway, my sister told me about this real holiday she discovered on the Black twitter [yea, she’s one of those] and I did a little research on it to find out more so I could share with you all:

via Kwanzaa: Black Power and the Making of the African-American Black Holiday and Pride and Joy: African-American Baby Celebrations:

Umoja Karamu [Unity Feast] is a holiday that is celebrated the fourth Sunday of November and symbolizes unity within the family, community, nation and race. Umoja Karamu is celebrated through the presentation of food with narratives of African-American historical periods.

The host can read about and serve foods representing those periods. The first period Black people in Africa before slavery represented by black foods like beans or blackberries. Second period Blacks in slavery represented by white foods. Third period Black people after emancipation represented by red foods. Fourth period The Black family’s struggle for liberation represented by green foods. And the fifth period The Black family and hopes for the future presented by orange or foods gold in color.

 

[read more about it here]

Umoja Kamaru is basically a holiday of our very own that wasn’t birthed from a fairytale,  violence, disease, destruction, colonialism or genocide. Just a man who saw a need for his people to just say no to the misgivings of thanksgiving.

Like most holidays or anything truly amerikkkan, we’re usually only included and appreciated if it means spending our hard earned money, the permittance of wool being pulled over our eyes, getting killed or fitting a stereotype. None of that unity or happiness or empowerment or Black pride crap.

With this unity feast, we are not bogarting our way into something that clearly was not made for us. Implementing Umoja Karamu, holidays like it and rebuilding from within would be a great start to something bigger and better than all of us. And now that I think about it, I unknowingly celebrated by participating in another potluck last Sunday at the beautiful Nuba Palace Loft [with our famous vegan peach cobbler cookies in tow, of course]. It was with a fun group of Black vegetarians I’d never met in person, and although sis and I are not vegetarians, we were invited and warmly welcomed. And we fit right in. There were lots of laughs, good food and such a great atmosphere.

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If I can’t find myself relaxing on the warm sand of a beach this time of year, I really want to make this a thing. I want to dress in ankara prints and cover my table with a kente cloth and have everyone bring a theme-fitting dish. No talk of a job we hate or neighbor we can’t stand, only real issues that will matter in five to ten years. Maybe a group meditation followed by a game of Scrabble or two. And there must be a drummer and/or guitarist. A little Erykah and incense and dancing. And a palm reader.

Black people do not need the approval of the white community to celebrate our holidays.. and even if those Black people who did not participate this time will think long and hard about not participating on future days. Black people have tremendous power when we act in unison. -Carlos Russell, professor and creator of Black Solidarity Day

 

 

 

 

A Time Before Crack

I read about this amazing book and its predecessors [as well as its brilliant photojournalist Jamel Shabazz] over the summer while combing the internets for Black men with style. And, doggonit, I just love how I stumble upon things like this. It was meant to be. Of course the wonderful images stopped me in my tracks and made me smile, so you know I had to share.

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Amazon’s synopsis: Once upon a time before crack, inner city communities were blighted by poverty and unemployment—but not by the drug wars that tore families apart, destroying lives with needless violence and mindless addiction. Once upon a time before crack, pride and style were as inseparable as a beatbox and mixtape, or as a pair of shoes and matching purse. Once upon a time before crack, Jamel Shabazz was on the scene, working the streets of New York City, capturing the faces and places of an era that have long since disappeared. 

Best known as Hip Hop’s finest fashion photographer for his blockbuster best-selling monograph, Back in the Days (powerHouse Books, 2001), Shabazz revisited his archive and unearthed an extraordinary collection of never-before-published documentary photographs collected for his third powerHouse Books release, A Time Before Crack, a visual diary of the streets of New York City from the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties, Shabazz’s distinctive photographs reveal the families, the poses, and the players who made this age extraordinary.

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And we all know, in gist, why crack was created and how its use saturated Black and poor America; just as Black people were really regaining their strength and solidarity and love for their fellow man, the other man came in and said “fuck that!” and skillfully paved yet another dark avenue to destroy us-make us weak, useless and severely addicted. Imprison us. Break up our homes and obliterate our families. Kill us.

That is why this book is so beautiful.

A Time Before Crack and Shabaaz’s other works remind us of our true beauty, style, pride. Power. Strength. It displays our freer moments in American history. Not to erase or discredit our struggle, but so much of our history in America glorifies our  plights or the same few triumphs, like Rosa Parks’ story or Dr. King’s speeches are as good as it got.

But this at this point, slavery had been abolished. We were no longer fighting for integration or the right to vote. We were happy. We could relax a little, put our feet up. Shabaaz shows a time when things were much better -GREAT even- in the Black community. Albeit some of us were poor, we had each other and we had plenty of love. For us, there was hope. There was a bright bright future. We had more reasons to smile.

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It is always disheartening to be reminded that we have always been fighting-that we will always have to fight-just to be human. Just to be. But on the other side of the same coin, it brings me joy to see our sweet moments in history and know we are such a strong, resilient people.

[all photos ©Jamel Shabazz]

week 47 // 2015: it ain’t about the likes

Likes are cool, but really, what value do they have if my visuals + words don’t resonate with you?

I had a ‘reader’ come thru and ‘like’ maybe 38 [ok, maybe just fifteen..] of my posts, including some of my more lengthy rants, in a matter of less than two minutes. [I knew because I was logged in at the time.] Now, unless he’s a speed reading super genius, there is NO way he could have thoroughly read what I had to say and formulate a liking for that many posts that quickly. Or maybe there was a major lag in the realtime notifications…

Anyway. This bothered me. A little. I try not to overthink such trivial matters but, as you can read, it did trigger slight annoyance. [But it also triggered this post, so I still kinda win.] I know I can’t control how people interact with me, but I’d much rather a reader also comment their point of view[at least every once in awhile] or give a little more insight on the topic, start a meaningful conversation-whatever! I appreciate those things and they feel so much better than a dozen thoughtless clicks on the like icon. It’s like giving a gift instead of a gift card. A hug instead of a handshake. Lets me know that my late nights and early mornings spent typing away is not done in vain. And who knows, maybe he did thoroughly read what I had to say and really enjoyed every word, yet couldn’t articulate his deep love for my superb writing style. But it still got me thinking about the affect various numbers have on us when blogging + logging into social media accounts. [That’s a whole other post tho..]

My point?: I’m humbled that people tune in. I’m grateful for feedback from actual readers. But as much as I appreciate them, I don’t do it for the likes. I do it because I have to. I have so many thoughts that this here journal of sorts is a means to release and keep them organized. Selfish right? But it’s comparable to doing laundry or cleaning out your garage. A sense of relief and accomplishment. Or when you help your friend move-you participate in making the world better for at least one person, so you both win!

My goal is to enlighten, empower, encourage or at least give a giggle to my readers. If I’m not doing that, then I’m doing it wrong. And if you’re in it just for the likes, you’re doing it wrong, too.

Thanks for READING. End rant. ❤

Black on Black Love

The standard. The answer.

Is it June yet? This track just gives those beautiful summertime vibes- so warm and positive and fun and sexy.

More visuals and lyrics like this please.

Black Every Friday

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I was inspired to start my Black Every Friday posts just after the last holiday season. Dubbed super consumersBlack people spend a ridiculous amount of money every year yet only a minuscule percentage of that is spent on Black-owned brands or stores. [This is partly why we’re still in the situation we’re in.] Sadly, I’m pretty certain that I used to be one of those super consumers. But I recognized the problem and have taken some huge leaps in my spending habits to become a much more conscious shopper, always asking myself:

  • Can I get this product or service in my neighborhood?
  • Does the company that I am about to do business with or spend time with hire people that look like me?
  • Do I see positive images of myself in the content or the advertising of these companies?
  • Does the company actually support causes that are important to my community?
  • If any of those first four questions had a no, are you still going to spend your time or your money with that company? [via newsone]

Over time, Black Every Friday has evolved into much more, but my initial goal was to shop smarter, save money, support + shed light on smaller companies that get overlooked by those widely popular, big box stores. [You know, the ones with all the air time and ad takeover in the sales papers that open at 4am or don’t even close for Thanksgiving..] We only make the rich richer by continuously purchasing from these million and billion dollar companies. [It’s very telling when a store doesn’t even close for a major holiday, even if it is built off some Amerikkkan bullshit fantasy story.] Regardless of if their employees celebrate it or not, this would otherwise be an extra, well-deserved day or hours off instead of taking on the stress of crazy, desperate sheep that think they’re getting a deal. Time that’d be better spent relaxing with the family or binge watching some shows + movies on your Netflix list.

But buying Black and shopping small equates to supporting your neighbor, a distant cousin, a friend of a friend- people working hard everyday to hone their gifts and live their dreams. The go-getters who hope to change the world for the better, even if it’s just a little. Folks just like you. Not a lazy, greedy, heartless puppet master who sleeps on a bed made of money in his third mansion on a private island.

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If you’re all the way down for the cause and are completely boycotting Black Friday and Christmas/Christmas shopping, right on! This is how you do it! Instead of freezing your face off camping out like a loser for that 96″ flat screen, hit em where it hurts! [Which, if you don’t know, is their pockets.]

But if you do have a few names on your nice list, I’ve created a short directory of awesome, Black-owned places to shop online for gifts without having to give into the unnecessary hype that is Black Friday:

clothing+jewelry

Cali Bakers

It’s Poppin’ Vintage

The Wylde Life

Halls of Art

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handbags

Love Cortnie

ZAAF

T. Tarice

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face+body

Honey Bee Goods [+candles]

Asim Supreme Products [Support this brother!]

Astrida Naturals

Wenchcraft

Abiyah Naturals

Bobeam

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goodies

Little Urban Tea

Delectable Candy Creations

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books

for long-term partnerships: I Got You

for a cool kid: Full, Full, Full of Love, Happy Hair, Naturally Me!

for the poetry lovers: Word

for the fiction fiend: The Town Dance

for the doodler: Color My Fro

not really small or unknown, but anything by Amos N. Wilson

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artwork

by yours truly!

Tabitha Brown

Brianna McCarthy

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and a few more..just so there’s no excuses.

Clearly my gift-giving motto for the holiday season is shop small or don’t shop at all! These brands and stores may or may not have Black Friday or Small Business Saturday deals, but I’d still give them a gander throughout the year [because all their stuff is amazing]. Even though there are plenty of things I want, I will be spending $0.00 on Black Friday. And I have everything I need so, instead, I plan on just giving thanks to that.

week 46 \\ 2015

journey

Maybe the journey isn’t about becoming anything.

Maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t

you so you can become who you were meant to be

in the first place.

Atom | India Ame’ye

Maybe. ❤

[photo cred]