All posts by Africa Jackson

Africa Jackson

About Africa Jackson

Africa Jackson is a politics and culture writer from the deep South now living as an international nomad. She is a fervently nasty woman who spends her days offer unsolicited whistles and comments to construction workers. In her spare time, she volunteers by working with at-risk adults and randomly calls white people the “C” word. (It’s ok, her best friend is white.) Her critically acclaimed multi-national lecture series is a figment of her imagination. She specializes in making the best of poor decisions (#lemonade), but doesn’t let that get in the way of her mission to amplify the voices of marginalized groups. As a Black Chahta scholar, her research focuses primarily on the arts. Africa is a staff writer for Black-Owned Taji Magazine. Her writing has also been featured at Black Girl Dangerous, Role Reboot, and The Tempest. Her articles about anti-Black microaggressions piece and Self Esteem Among Girls of Color have been published by The Establishment. Africa is currently working on her non-traditional anthology about the power of unearthly orgasms as a natural remedy for anxiety and depression. Her #MustLoveBeards series featured on Taji Magazine celebrates entrepreneurship. You can follow Africa Jackson on twitter @AfricaJwrites and on Facebook: AfricaJacksonWrites. Or don't. Jerk.

03Feb/19
Self-Love

Self-Love Is Not a New Concept, Self-Care Just Happens to Be Trending

It’s weird that self-love is trending at a time when most of the Black women I know are struggling so acutely. On the flip side, some of the most toxic people on my timeline are boasting about their ability to cut out people who don’t “spark joy”. It feels like Black women aren’t allowed to be depressed or vulnerable. There’s so much filler out there, but how can we truly practice self-care and self-love with the weight of the world on our shoulders.

Here are 5 tips for self-care. These self-care tips are broken down into the physical projection, spiritual healing, intellectual release, mental deflating, and aromatherapy. These are small, actionable steps that can lead to a much healthier disposition.

1. Self-LoveHit something: There is so much going on. And for those of us in the corporate space, we have to code switch so many times a day, it can literally make us sick. Between juggling a career, a family, and a dream, there are so many instances where we want to slap someone but have to repress the urge. That energy doesn’t just disappear though. Instead of letting it fester, just hit something. Kickboxing is an excellent way to let that stress go. This sort of physical projection can be really fun too. You can even tape a phrase (or face) to a punching bag and hit it. Maybe it helps you to growl out your racist supervisor’s name with your tennis racket hits the ball. Regardless of what it actually represents, I encourage you to hit something. Hit it hard and hit it often.

2. Self-LoveSay “AH”: When I lived in DC, singer Tamika Love Jones taught a toddler class for Black children in Anacostia Park. One thing she said to me years ago when my son was in her class was this: “Just about every spiritual practice says “ah”. That ‘ah’ sound is in every God’s name I can think of. Allah, God, Buddha, Jah, Ra. Chanting the sound can bring you to a place of peace. Let it serve as an anchor.” Sometimes the world’s insanity is raining down and hitting you harder than a hail storm. It may take everything in you not to break. In those moments, sometimes you call on your God, your ancestors, the universe, and whatever centers you by just saying “AH”. Allow yourself the room to meditate on the sound. Whether you do it for 30 seconds or 30 minutes, you owe it to yourself to say “ah.”

3. Write it out: You know on Insecure when Issa gets in that mirror and pumps herself up or has one-sided rap battles in the bathroom? Well, you too can stretch out those tired latent gangster muscles with a verse, prose, poem, song, or limerick—yes, I said limerick. I’m a nerd. It doesn’t stop there though. Journaling is an excellent way to practice self-care. Doing it before you sleep can help ease anxiety. Dr. Joy of the Black Girl Therapy podcast even has a breakup journal! If you write it out, you’re one step closer to working it out. Continue reading

11Dec/18

Health: How Can Start Ups Partner Responsibly?

Health and technology are intersecting in interesting ways lately. Coping mechanisms like group therapy are more socially acceptable. Now is the time for Black tech developers to carve space in the health field to ensure diversity & inclusion remain a top priority. Solome Tibebu is a  Investor for  and founder of  501c3. Sis is also the co-author of  behavioral IT Innovation. She shares some behavioral health start up tips for emerging entrepreneurs.

Original health expert & writer: Solome Tibebu.  This article was re-posted with the author’s permission – you can read the full article HERE.

How Behavioral Health Startups and Payers Can Partner Successfully

Solome Tibebu

Over the last five years, a plethora of mental health and substance abuse startups has skyrocketed. And rightly so. Many of these solutions are finding ways to reduce the cost of care delivery, improve quality of care, reduce inappropriate healthcare service utilization. [They also] increase PCP usage, and increase staff capacity in an area where qualified professionals are few and far between.

Many payers still aren’t very sophisticated about implementing digital behavioral health tools yet. Innovators must be prepared to offer considerable education for payers to adopt such offerings. Payers are complex organizations to navigate, and launching a new solution of any kind isn’t easy. This post is intended to equip both innovators and incumbents to partner in addressing our society’s most pressing behavioral health issues.

Now, payers have moved from “it matters” to “now what do we do?!” with many still struggling with the best course of action. Payers are recognizing the value that frontier technologies and startups with new care delivery models can make on their businesses, such as:

  • The ability to improve patient outcomes via tech-enabled delivery of evidence-based practices
  • Access to local and regional mental health care professionals and delivery networks employed by the behavioral health startups
  • Reduced cost of care delivery through AI, machine learning, chatbots and other automation tools
  • The right solutions to continue adding value to members at any acuity or stage of care
  • Enhanced data, analytics and care coordination from their existing health IT tools
  • Overall more consumer-friendly experiences
Too much of what payers are adopting today are made up of one-size-fits-all models.

When it comes to behavioral health, payers need to offer condition-specific solutions and provider networks for a wide variety of mental health and substance use issues. Today, you can find a huge list of professionals listed on their provider network portals, most of whom appear as experts in many or all behavioral health conditions. Adding more specialty areas to their profiles will get them more referrals, after all. But this comes with several issues:

  • Of course, not all behavioral health professionals are experts in each and every behavioral health condition. Behavioral health is an umbrella term for many specific conditions, each with their own evidence-based treatment modalities. Providers with such experience in certain specialty areas may be few and far between in many parts of the country
  • Payers have very little ability to actually determine who’s really good at treating what types of members
  • Payers cannot verify whether or not these providers are using evidence-based practices
Historically, these networks have been built to meet employer/Medicaid geography and credentialing requirements. As a result, [they are] stuck in the old ways of doing things.

mental health and stressDon’t treat behavioral health as one homogenous disease state. Payers need the tools to support the many diverse subsets of behavioral health. There is an opportunity for payers to adopt new tools which more accurately look at behavioral health as the wide umbrella that it is, offering condition-specific solutions that match up with condition-specific provider networks.

Tech startups can enable a future where payer networks can transform from local, multi-specialty providers to national, tech-enabled providers with the ability to deploy local, high-touch clinicians within their own specialized delivery systems. With better technology and analytics, payers will also be in a position to operate their own provider clinics. The opportunity is further supported by new payment models offered through CMS, including new Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) codes and proposed expansion on current substance use telehealth coverage.

To capitalize on these opportunities, it is critical for internal and external stakeholders to navigate complex payer organizations, especially as it relates to partnering with startups.

Clearly, both parties want to go to the dance, but will they ever connect?! Below, I’ll outline three key areas to keep in mind when partnering with an integrated health system: the Prep, the Pitch and the Plan, and accompanying tips for each.

THE PREP

How does one start a conversation with a payer? Early-stage entrepreneurs can get a head start navigating their prospective payer partners through these steps:

Where to look:

When it comes to partnering with certain departments within a payer organization, you may be tempted to focus on the Innovation department exclusively. Innovation departments are important partners for startups, oftentimes greatly helping the startup navigate to the correct department internally. But beware, they don’t typically have their own P&L, so you may find yourself in Free Pilot Land indefinitely. If they’re a tech-enabled provider, plan to approach clinical and provider network leadership. Expect to contract with behavioral health specialty companies, or the behavioral health specialty business units within the integrated payer systems. Sometimes a connection through non-traditional paths will get you to the right department, e.g. sales team members who are sympathetic to your cause. But sooner than later, identify the right person who can make decisions and write checks.

Understand your market, solution and impact better than anyone else.

This includes the ability to communicate each of these clearly and succinctly to the person in leadership who actually has your pain point. What motivation does this specific payer department leader have to pick up the phone? Just because you are saving dollars in the overall healthcare system doesn’t necessarily mean it hits this individual’s bottom line.

Consider smaller organizations first.

These smaller payers want to offer competitive offerings and may not already have a solution in place. The smaller organizations with smaller executive teams may be far more nimble than an organization like Kaiser or Mt Sinai. Consider starting with one of these first and get your proof of concept up and running there initially.

Consider getting outside support.

Remember, payers are complex organizations. There are a number of healthcare accelerators who have existing relationships with many healthcare organizations. These organizations can provide seed funding, coaching and connections to health systems to shorten the sales cycle. While advisors, board members, and other entrepreneurs can make a huge difference, someone like a dedicated, vetted consultant with a strong track record can help save startups months if not years by making outside connections very quickly.

Identify the key person who will drive your startup forward internally.

It is best practice to identify an internal champion at your payer prospect. [This will] help move your startup forward within their organization. If your champion isn’t willing to give you what you need to be successful (e.g. certain claims data, information for integration, etc), then they aren’t your champion. How do you find a champion? Leverage advisors, board members and other digital health entrepreneurs in your network to introduce you to payers of interest.

Know how decisions get made.

Ask your champion what their typical process is for working with organizations like yours. Sometimes the smallest hiccup can kill an entire deal, so be sure to stay close to the process all throughout.

Engage decision makers and influential non-decision makers alike through the entire process.

Make sure there is alignment among executive, clinical, or any other type of leadership critical to the implementation and adoption of your solution throughout the procurement and implementation process.

Once various preparations have been made about your specific solution, it’s time to dig into how you’ll position your offering with the payer and where your each parties’ assets and gaps are in the partnership.

THE PITCH

Save tons of time and resources down the road. Here is a high-level list for what startups should review before charging forth with a partnership with a payer organization:

  1. Know what specialty offerings the payer already offers their member base.
  2. Understand where behavioral health sits in the payer’s ecosystem.
  3. Think through your approach to data.
  4. Evaluate your strengths vs what the payer can bring for the most fruitful partnership.
  5. Know your outcomes, now and in the future.
  6. Be realistic about what your capabilities truly are, especially with the most complex patients.

THE PLAN

Now it’s time to start exploring an actual partnership. While there are many ways structure a partnership, we will cover some common themes.

  1. Business models should align with incentives. 
  2. Thoughtfulness required for integration: technically, operationally, and clinically. 
  3. Implementation as a process. 

In conclusion, all of the simple, low-hanging fruit tools and technologies have been tried. Payers desire novel, evidence-based solutions. With the right people at the table and a laser-focus on the clinical and financial impacts the partnership will make, there is a lot of promise for novel behavioral health solutions to transform care delivery and patient outcomes in the near future.

Solome Tibebu is a healthcare investor and former mental health tech startup founder.

Her work as an investor, entrepreneur and health and human service technology expert has been featured in The Huffington Post, Forbes, TEDx, Inc Magazine, Upworthy, Psychology Today and more.

14Aug/18
Blackkklansman x Uncle Spike

Blackkklansman and Double Consciousness

Blackkklansman. Wow. My face is still hot.

As I am sitting outside the theater in my car, the images keep flashing. The movie was phenomenal, to say the least. But it was also too much for me.

Is it because I too deal with this double conscious? Struggling between wanting to work within the system to change it and wanting to burn the whole thing down. Worrying nonstop about whether my son will become a hashtag.

If you’re not familiar with W.E.B. duBois’ understanding of double consciousness, it is basically the way Black people have to straddle between being too white and too Black. You know how we switch between our job interview voice and our “get it girl” voice? That is a part of double consciousness. It is the difference between the boardroom and the barbershop. This film explores double consciousness masterfully.

Set to a spectacular score by Black composer Terence Blanchard, Blackkklansman will transport you to an era when #TeamNatural was a movement and not a meme.

Spoiler alert.

Since the 80s, I’ve looked up to Spike Lee’s work for a reflection of the emotions I had trouble expressing when it comes to race. I have been Mookie: frustrated with how messed up the world is while simultaneously trying to navigate it. As much as everyone wants to be Mookie at the end of Do the Right Thing, I am Mookie at the beginning. I have been Betty Shabazz: ready to rise up and sacrifice myself while still wanting to protect the people I love. Now I am Ron Stallworth: trying to defend and protect and uplift and hide my Blackness at the same time.

Weirdly enough–I think I was the only Black person in the theater (I saw it on a Monday). It felt the same as any other day being the only Black person in a room where Black people were the topic of discussion.

Blackkklansman x Uncle Spike

And props to Jordan Peele as well. Peele brought me back to that place of fear from Get Out. John David Washington PLAYED HIS ASS OFF. From the beginning, Laura Harrier had my attention every time she was on screen as BSU president and chief agitator Patrice Dumas and Corey Hawkins gave me chills as Kwame Ture.

It was Spike’s signature cinematic touches that resonated most with me though. I felt the intentional uplifting of the faces of Black beauty displayed in the crowd, with their features prominently celebrated in close-up shots. When Kwame Ture is speaking at the Colorado College Black Student Union event, it reawakened something that I have been suppressing–that fight in me from college. The hidden hood rat in my heart who I have actively ignored to make way for a more acceptable negro that can gain access to the master’s tools. I thought hiding under the radar was the move.

But there is no such thing as under the radar for Black people. We are under the gun from birth. I once heard a poet in DC say that doctors wrote Black babies’ birth certificates on the backs of toe tags.

As much as people complain about his, I am grateful for Uncle Spike.

Two scenes stood out because they directly parallel to my professional life.

The first part is when Stallworth feels there may be a delay in getting the official klan member card. Stallworth called David Duke and talked his way into getting the coronation pushed up. This cognitive dissonance is astoundingly relatable. There was a clear juxtaposition.

The second scene worth mentioning is when he actually receives the card in the mail. That card is a symbol of his acceptance into whiteness. It is a coveted position in our community; it is a survival strategy we have been taught for decades. Generations of sharecroppers prayed that integrated schools, the right to vote, and general respectability politics would save our Black souls. Regardless of how many times that sentiment is proven wrong, we still cling to it like white supremacists cling to the ridiculous notion that they are superior. The genius of this film stems from the fact that it is based on the true story of Detective Ron Stallworth.

In the last ten minutes or so of the film, I saw the flashes of Black death and white hatred I have avoided on social media for so long. I have never watched any of the police killings. I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Blackkklansman forced me to confront brutality. It was a call to action.

I cried at the end of Blackkklansman because it hurts. I am in pain. We are in a seemingly unending pattern that both cripples and propels us. While I was in that theater, I cried because I am sick of shrinking myself until I am small enough not to bother Becky. I cried because my future husband is more likely to be a felon than a philosophy professor. One weight was lifted and another was placed on my shoulders. I cried because it is hard to believe in God when my people are targeted like we’re demons and people still defend cops.

“Not all cops”

“All lives matter”

I cried because I am tired of this matter-of-fact racism remixed and reborn in 45’s image.

I am so sick of this.

At the same time, I am grateful for Black artistry in the midst of all this ignorance. What I have loved about Uncle Spike since Crooklyn was his ability to take something I thought only I felt and turned it into a universally understood reality. His free-floating dolly shots have long captivated me.

  • Malcolm X (the scene right before he died)
  • School Daze (Laurence Fishburne screaming ‘wake up!’)
  • Crooklyn (Troy floating away in her dream)

…and now in Blackkklansman (the last scene before we fast forward to the Charlottesville attacks). The film is visually stimulating and incredibly insightful.

As if the acting and filmography weren’t enough, the soundtrack is so on point to the double consciousness that runs through the script.

Blackkklansman will have you questioning your contribution to the cause and our collective position in this anti-Black world.

12Jul/17
Jay Z by Myke Archie

Tidal, Jay-Z, and the Employment Discrimination Problem

Jay Z by Myke Archie

Jay Z x Myke Archie, Work Force Comics

Does Jay Z’s TIDAL support Black economics or not?

(Co-Written by Professor Jason Nichols)

This month, 4:44 was released on Tidal. Hova, Jigga, Jay Z, Shawn Carter. Over the years, his music has meant different things to different people. With Tidal on the come up, a great deal of us celebrated their milestones as achievements for the Black community at large.

Whether you’re a loyal fan or not, one thing is clear: Jay-Z has some of the most loyal African American fans in hip hop history. His largely African American base has held it down for him from his humble beginnings when he played second fiddle to Jaz-O. Black hip hop heads consumed his music through the 90s and 2000s. These same fans stuck around after he lost the historic battle to rival turned collaborator Nas. Many rappers get vanquished after a loss. Jigga’s loyal African American fans still lined up for his next release. The loyalty continued through Jay-Z’s trial after a nightclub stabbing. African American fans put Jay-Z in his Maybach, so you can imagine the surprise of some when he chastised his Black audience for not supporting Black businesses on his critically acclaimed new release 4:44.

This week, photos have surfaced of Jay-Z’s major venture, the music streaming service Tidal. The first thought for most African American fans?

Jay-Z’s Tidal staff is overwhelmingly white.

Jay-Z is not completely off base in many respects and his message is consistent with his earlier work. Black businesses require Black patronage. Our communities in turn need Black businesses to grow and employ Black workers.  Black unemployment and employment discrimination are obstacles for Blacks at every level of education. Even when a Black college graduate seeks work, they face discrimination; Black college grads face unemployment at nearly double the rate of white college grads. Evidence show that the darker a person is, the harder they must work to attain the same privileges as their white counterparts. Black businesses are more likely to employ Blacks. The Institute for Research on Poverty noted that Black employers are more likely to hire Black employees because having a Black person in such a leadership role suggests substantially less discrimination in the workplace to potential staffers. Moreover, research shows that hiring practices are much more rigorous and strict at Black owned firms. Essentially, this means that Jay-Z’s decision to knowingly celebrate Tidal’s lack of diversity represents his abandonment of the very people he chose to criticize.

Yes.

The picture was taken at an office in Norway where the Black population is less than 5% Black.

Yes

Jay-Z bailed out Ferguson activists in Baltimore.

Yes

Jay-Z started dating Beyoncé when she was 19 and he was 31. (This is true, though non-essential to the thesis of this argument.)

African American fans still feel betrayed Norway is one of the whitest places on earth. It’s not just about the lack of diversity. Seeing that photo had the same impact as Bill Cosby’s infamous line.

With names like Shaniqua, Shaligua, Mohammed and all that crap and all of them are in jail.”

Fans supported him for decades (well before we found out that self-hate was only one of many faults in his repertoire). Cosby still made the statement. Jay-Z hints at being conscious while tearing down the Black community for doing exactly what he has done. It is hypocritical at best.

Many American corporations hire American workers and relocate them overseas. Companies like Bain, Google, HBSC, and Texas Instruments all send Americans abroad. The location is no excuse for such an astounding lack of diversity.

The photo was a reminder that wealthy Black folks can sometimes be as neglectful to our community as non-Black folks. While some may need his advice, even more need the opportunities he can provide. Ambitious Black twenty somethings depend (in part) on their elders to pave the way. Though there is a dearth of Black computer programmers, they exist. Jay-Z is in a perfect position to highlight them and encourage more Black youth to consider careers in STEM.

 

24May/17

May Maven: Elle’s Elations

For today’s #WCW we’re featuring the lovely + talented Tarrin Davis, creator of Elle’s Elations. As many Black women entrepreneurs before her, Tarrin showed love for and respect to her ancestors by naming her company after her great-grandmother (Elease). Tarrin is a scientist by trade and an artist at heart. She makes her soaps entirely from scratch using cold and hot press. 98% of her products are vegan too!

Join us for a review of Elle’s Elations and use the coupon code TAJIMAG for a great discount this week!

FEATURED PRODUCT: Luxury Coffee Scrub 

First of all, when this coffee scrub was first described to us as a “luxury” product, we rolled our eyes. In this age of artisan paper clips and $300 romphims, there’s no telling what the next click on the internet will bring. When we actually tried it though? We agreed wholeheartedly. This caffeinated coffee scrub has the perfect thickness, created by its unique blend of organic, fair trade, dark roast Arabica beans and essential oils. After just one use, you can feel your skin getting firmer.

Coffee can do more than just wake you up for your daily grind. It has properties that significantly reduce under-eye puffiness,, battle cellulite, and prevent premature aging of your beautiful melanin-rich skin. This coffee scrub is also great for anyone who has to work around smoke or other smells that kind seep into your skin. As a natural odor defense, this coffee scrub from Elle’s Elations will work wonders. As an added benefit, this unique body scrub is packed with antioxidants to help ward off wrinkles.

If you’re worried about oily skin, this creation by Elle’s Elations is perfect because its emulsified. That means you don’t have the burden of dealing with stirring some messy concoction.

Use the Coupon Code: TAJIMAG to get a discount on your Elle’s Elations coffee scrub purchase

OTHER PRODUCTS WE TRIED (AND LOVED)

Strawberries & Bubbly

The lovely & elegant gold dusted Strawberry soap is worth gushing over. The bubbly champagne adds a touch of elegance to the already decadent beauty product. This soap is gentle and effective. The only down side is that over time, the gorgeous hand-crafted shape/design will shift. Maybe we should stock up before it sells out!

Pearberry Everything

Listen, if there is a product with the word “pearberry” in the name at the Elle’s Elation store, do yourself a favor and buy it. This has to be one of the most natural smelling and intoxicated scents. It puts Bath & Bodyworks to shame. We spent 10 minutes just smelling it. It goes on smooth and feels light on your skin. This is a great gift for someone on the go who love tElle's Elation Cremeo feel their best when they step out.

In addition to having a wonderful, high quality product line, Elle’s Elations also offers free advice, skin care solutions, and other beauty resources for free. Most notably, subscribers can access the blog and special discounts so you always look + feel your best.


This month only, use the Coupon Code: TAJIMAG to get a discount on your next Elle’s Elations purchase!

You can catch Elle’s Elations on Social Media to learn more and stay updated on new products!
Facebook: facebook.com/elleselations
Instgram: @elles_elations
Pinterest: @elleselations
Twitter: @EllesElations
Email:
[email protected]

 

15May/17
Black man Chance

Because You Need Black Men on Your Timeline

If our #MustLoveBeards series taught the internet anything, it’s that we love Black men. Blue collar Black men, creative Black men, Black men climbing the corporate ladder, Black men taking care of their families, activist Black men, and poetic Black men all have a place in our hearts.

This week, for #MCM we decided to bless your timeline with 3 Black men doing great things.

RASHID CAMPBELL – OAKLBlack menAND, CA

This 25 year old Oakland activist and father leads a youth program dedicated to supporting youth of color in the Bay area. He teaches students about how to incorporate history from the African Diaspora into their everyday lives. Rashid completed his studies at Oklahoma State University on a debate scholarship and he won top speaker at the National College Debate Tournament. His peers admire the way he talks about the importance of Black love in our community. His students are grateful to have a coach who is so dedicated to helping them be successful. Long hours and frequent trips across the country take up a lot of his time, but it seems to be worth it when you look at his track record and the passion he has for young Black students and their success.

CHANCE THE RAPPER – CHICAGO, IL

Who doesn’t know Chance the Rapper at this point? This Black man is gifted, philanthropically inBlack man Chanceclined, and charming. The Chicago native often speaks of his commitment to family and Christianity in a way most rappers don’t.  His powerful verse on Kanye West’s ‘Ultralight Beam’ shows just how talented he really is. Chance the Rapper has an uncanny ability to walk the line being humble and confident. We love the way he navigates his fame.

Chance is also beautifully flawed. On multiple occasions, he discusses mental health, addiction, and self love. While most people, no matter their level of fame, tend to shy away from personal flaws or mistakes they’ve made, he puts his history on display for the world to see. He made hip hop history at the last Grammy Awards show and will surely continue to impress. Beyond his professional accolades, he continues to offer his music to fans for free and has devoted over $1 million of his own money to youth development programs that benefit children in Chicago. All we want to know now is who he is referring to when he says that his “ex looking back like a pillar of salt”.

JUDGE OLU STEVENS – LOUISVILLE, KY

Becoming a judge is no easy task. First, you have to earn a college degree. Next, you need to get a decent LSAT score. Next, you have to actually get into law school and become a good attorney. Only then can a person attain a spot on the bench. Judge Olu Stevens graduated from the prestigious Morehouse College, then went on the complete his juris doctoraBlack man judgete at George Washington University Law School. He was a circuit court judge for the 30th Judicial Circuit in Jefferson County (Louisville, Kentucky).

Judge Olu Stevens did something that most professionals wouldn’t dare do–he put his career on the line to stand up against white supremacy. Specifically, Judge Olu Stevens denied all-white juries from taking over his courtroom. It was a bold move and we appreciate him for the stance he took against racism. Of course, no one is perfect. Though mainstream media outlets have accused him of being a reverse-racist, his act was meaningful. Judge Olu Stevens, we applaud your efforts!

Much love to all the Black men out there walking in their purpose. We appreciate you all and we are happy to see you shine!

06Mar/17
Minda Honey is NOT Your Negro

#WomensHistoryMonth: @MindaHoney

Minda Honey is our Women’s History Month feature

Black women are brilliant; Taji Magazine knows and celebrates that every month. For #WomensHistoryMonth this year, we will profile four women who embody the talent that makes us smile.

First up is the fashionable and witty Minda Honey, creator of WrMindaa + Issaite Louisville and all-around amazing woman.

Minda Honey is a writer, editor, and Louisville native. She writes about love, relationships, and food. The common denominator for her work is consistently critical analysis that lends visibility to marginalized intersections that would otherwise be ghosted. She has introduced us to other stellar Black women like Issa Rae and Cynthia Bond. From earning an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of California, Riverside to founding Write Louisville, she is a southern woman with a global heart. Minda Honey was recently featured in Teen Vogue. The article explored the hair discrimination Black women face in the workplace.

Scholar, Agitator, Lover

When others shied away from addressing the Nate Parker rape accusations, she took the issue head on:

Yes, Black women on Twitter held Nate Parker accountable…Black women were also the majority of filmgoers who saw and supported Birth of a Nation—but of course we don’t get credit for that part. (Well, I don’t deserve credit for that part because I refused to go see it).”

But did anyone really expect less from a woman who shares a birthplace with Muhammad Ali, CJ Fletcher, and bell hooks?

In a 2016 piece, Minda Honey explores the audacity of whiteness and encourages us all to do us. She urges us to have “the confidence of a mediocre white man”.

Minda HoneyMinda Honey is a columnist and regular contributor for The San Diego CityBeat, The LEO (Ask Minda Honey), The Establishment, Thrillist Louisville, and The Voice-Tribune. Her company, Write Louisville, has recently taken off. Minda Honey is not just a another writer; she is the Zora Neale Hurston of our time.

You can follow her all over social media on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. She also writes website copy, blog posts, infographics, and more. We are exciting to be first in line for a copy of her memoir-in-progress, Anthology of Assholes.

11Feb/17
Cultural Appropriation

Here’s When Cultural Appropriation is OK

Cultural Appropriation: A Beginner’s Guide

Curtis M. Wong at Huffington Post celebrated Ben Yahr, a gay white man who thought it’d be cool to inject cultural appropriation into Beyonce’s maternity photos. He thought wrong. While Wong is no critical race scholar, it is still surprising he finds Yahr’s behavior celebration-worthy. Just like it’s never okay for gay white men to call themselves “Black women,” Yahr is not functioning as an ally in this series of photos where he appropriates Beyonce’s Black body. It’s disappointing that the Huffington Post has chosen to give this microaggression a platform. It’s time for white people to fall back.

In the article, Wong quotes Beyonce by noting that Yahr’s series of photos is flawless. Here I agree with Wong, these photos are a flawless. They are a flawless example of how gay white men can be racist too. Congratulations.huffpo cultural appropriation For Wong to suggest that this effort by Yahr encourages everyone to embrace body positivity is another way of telling us our Black bodies are not good enough or that some white man can perform Blackness better. As a Black woman who struggles with body positivity, Yahr’s work only silences the joy I felt when I saw Beyonce’s photos.

We collectively smiled at Blue Ivy kissing her mother’s belly. It was a contrast to of the way pregnant Black women were tortured during chattel slavery. Seeing Nefertiti in the background of her photo inspired the hope of resurrection for our culture. I thought about last Black History Month when she performed at the Super Bowl in a way that made me forget all the trauma we face on a daily basis as Black women.

Yahr attempted to desecrate that.

This is the norm: ignore Black culture until it is legitimized by whites. For example, there is an unlimited supply of young Black girls twerking, but white girls are often credited with popularizing the dance. Andy Cohen is an excellent example of a gay white man who appropriates Black women, yet fails to acknowledge his racial bias. The Bravo “Watch What happens Live” host called Amandla Stenberg a “jackhole” after she commented on Kylie Jenner’s cultural appropriation. This ignored the undeniable ways he has directly benefitted from the work of Black women: his show only came into existence after the predominantly Black Real Housewives of Atlanta, despite several all white Real Housewives series.

To say Yahr’s appropriation “slays” is an overstatement at best. What he really does is get a little more famous on the back of a hard working Black woman. That is not innovative. That is simply cultural appropriation. Please miss me with that.

Many of us remember Laganja Estranja whose cultural appropriation rivaled that of Elvis Presley. Estranja, a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race, was the epitome of appropriation. This is a person known for twerking like Beyonce and fake code switchingIsobel DeBrujah notes that this is all “an obvious imitation of black voice/speech patterns, specifically black female voice/speech patterns, specifically black, southern, speech patterns popularized by white people at black people’s expense.”

The lack of respect and outright unwillingness to accept when they are called out is rampant.

Why do white men–especially gay white men, who in a better world should be our allies–feel like it’s ok to use our bodies without our knowledge or permission? There are ways to prove your point without the unapologetic cultural appropriation Black women. Any intended commentary is invalidated when you represent the same disregard for our existence as the people/systems Cultural Appropriationyou criticize. This is not some one-off incident. There is a litany of gay white men who enjoy our Black womanhood, while routinely dismissing our grievances.

We have been telling white gay men about their blatant cultural appropriation for years, but the message hasn’t quite sunk in for the Huffington Post. The proliferation of polite racism is why we can’t have anything. White supremacy persists because of the invisible privilege that white LGBTQ communities ignore. Yes, there are some people coming to Yahr’s defense and adding context, but this blatant disrespect will never be ok. There will always be white people who apologize and make excuses for their racist peers. Cultural appropriation and its apologists are not new and they are not acceptable.

I know what some readers are thinking, though. Can’t we celebrate everyone? Why does it have to be racial? What if we just enjoy the culture? These are all completely natural questions.

So when is cultural appropriation of Black women OK?

Try February 31st.

31Dec/16
Good Black Man x Africa Jackson

Good Black Man Profile: Nestle Snipes

A Good Black Man is Easy to FindGood Black Man x Collis Torrington

Today is bitter sweet. Bitter because this is our final #MustLoveBeards profile of 2016. Sweet because we are bringing back our Taji Mag crowd favorite: Nestle Snipes. This Good Black Man is the lead photographer of Made For a King Photography. A lot has happened since we last spoke with this bearded dapper gent.

Since our last encounter, Nestle Snipes recently shot 8-Time Olympic Track & Field Medalist & Fellow Jamaican Legend Veronica Campbell-Brown and Mr. Fly Malcolm X himself was once again featured in the Hunks 4 Hope calendar, and Made For a King photography has grown its client base. You might have caught a glimpse of our bearded brother on an episode of the breakout Netflix series Luke Cage.

We already know about his stunning portfolio and philanthropic work. This time, we want to look more closely at the man behind the lens.

Africa Jackson: Last time we spoke, it was such a meaningful conversation. It was great to learn about your work to stop domestic violence and your clearly superior artistic eye. We focused a lot on your business before, and now we want to focus more on you. What makes you happy?

Nestle Snipes: (smiles) A lot of things — a healthy bond with others, experiencing nature, laying in the grass, meditation, doing something meaningful with my hands. Giving gifts and seeing the recipient smile. Laughing — I love a good laugh. I enjoy partying. If people want to be jovial, I’m down. Spending time with my mom also makes me happy.

“Our potential is limitless.”

Good Black man x Tish Ferguson

AJ: Ok. You’re in film school, you volunteer, you’re an activist, you party, you run a successful business, you stay fly, and you let fans like me ask questions for 2 hours… but how do you take care of yourself?

Nes: Easy question. In the morning I have an hour of silence. Total hour of appreciation. Daily mantras are vital. I look at my vision board. When I come home, I listen to inspirational music with powerful frequencies: Afrobeat, electronica, jazz.

Taking care of myself also involves proper sleep. I want more people to realize that grown-ups are not exempt from naps.

AJ: Let mainstream media tell it, a good Black man is still hard to find. We know that is a myth, but in the midst of the negative energy thrown at yall, I want to know something. What is the greatest thing about being a Black man?

Nes: Our potential is limitless. We are often so revered and appropriated, but our resilience in uncanny. We convert sunlight into energy (metaphorically and literally).

AJ: So much of the miscommunication between Black men and Black women comes from lack of knowledge or lack of understanding. Black love is powerful and has the potential to grow even stronger. What is one thing you wish Black women knew about Black men to help cultivate that growth?

Nes: The Black man you interact with is only working with what he has at the moment. Don’t infringe on his freedoms based on your own desires. For example, getting work done is paramount for me at the moment. I don’t want to cheat myself or anyone else, so I may not pursue a woman. Please don’t say “all men” or “yall men”. We are trying. Don’t be disheartened by certain men who receive you wrong. Young Black boys deal with trauma that may stem from unresolved issues. Many of us had no clear definition of manhood.Photo Credit: Nestle Snipes + MFK Photography

“Little gestures mean a lot, yes, but I know it is not enough.”

AJ: What is one thing you wish you knew about Black women?

Nes: How can I be more of an ally beyond taking you out [to dinner]? How can we help? Little gestures mean a lot, yes, but I know it is not enough. We are at a loss without you telling us. The best way for Black women to communicate their needs to Black men is to do it without being condescending. Please don’t project the pain from other men onto us. In 2017 I want people to stop negative blaming and projecting insecurities. We have full autonomy. the transfer of energy matters.

“I want Black men to start protecting Black women.”

good Black men x Collis Torrington

Visit Made For a King Photography and Bearded Dapper Gents to learn more about the upcoming projects of this undeniably talented good Black man. You can also treat yourself by following him on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. His new blog “Simply Snipes” is set for an early 2017 release.

Congratulations on your recent and continued success, Black man. We look forward to your next great project.

20Dec/16
Myke Archie, WorkForce Comics

#MustLoveBeards Profile: Myke Archie

Get to know a brilliant emerging artist named Myke Archie

Happy #MCM Taji readers! Taji Mag is happy to introduce Myke Archie because we love his work & now you will too.

First of all, we’ve been fans for years. Myke Archie is the Perfect Man to buy a holiday gift from If you’re looking for a unique option this season. Check out our #MustLoveBeards profile features a down to earth Southern brother with a knack for creating beautiful works of art. He is the creator of WorkForce Comics who has been stirring up controversy all over social media. Today’s #MCM is a comic prodigy with a lot to say. His work has beeJ. Dilla x Myke Archien featured by Polite Conversation, All Real Radio, and now Taji Mag. Especially relevant is his drive to make economic autonomy a stronger part of how his fans live.

Graphic designer Myke Archie is on the rise. He illustrates book covers, album art, posters, and logos. This Atlanta native earned his BFA from Georgia State University. Consequently, he is not the biggest fan of traditional education. He prefers to think critically rather than follow trends. Perfect Man Designs, his privately owned company, has lots of fans. The first volume of his critically acclaimed series WorkForce Comics was released 2014. It looks at the crazy ways we think about life, making money, and politics while scratching and surviving in a society that cares more about loot than love.

Art x Myke Archie

His work has a certain quality that is not the same as other designers. The style, the stroke, and the scope is different than any comics out there. Other influences for his work include classics like Ice Cube’s film Friday and another favorite: old school Sci-Fi thriller called They Live. Myke invites fans to listen to his playlist of artists like Isaiah Rashad, Yani Mo, Denmark Vessey, and Knxwledge. The man something special.

#MustLoveBeards feature Myke ArchieMyke is part of the #BlackBusinessSelfie campaign via Nay Marie’s Black Owned Business Collective. He showed off several businesses including: Freedom Paper Company, Rooted-N-Nature, Dash Motor Oil, The HXLM Collective, and of course Taji Magazine!

Support Black Owned Business – Buy WorkForce Comics

WorkForce Comics Volume 4 is set to be released this month. Until then, customers can buy copies of volume 1, 2, 3, or all three on his blog: Perfect Man Designs. Like his fan page for the latest news and exclusive content. In conclusion, respect the man’s grind.