All posts by Dapper Dr Feel

About Dapper Dr Feel

Felipe Patterson aka Dapper Dr. Feel, #BlackLoveConvo & Entertainment | @dapperdrfel Dapper Dr. Feel is a burgeoning Southern gentleman looking for love in all the wrong places while applying to medical school. He volunteers with autism awareness projects and hopes to mentor other young Black men.

09Dec/18

NATURAL BORN LEADERS

Black women have often been seen as a liability rather than an asset in many careers. This can be especially true for Black women with natural hair. As the year comes to a close, Taji Mag reflects on two strong Black women leaders with natural hair.
Shauntrice Martin and Wyllene Turner come from different backgrounds, but they are both Black women focused on improving the lives of young people. They are both leaders within an organization called the Bay Area Urban Debate League (affectionately known as “BAUDL”). There are dozens of urban debate leagues across the country and BAUDL has the most diverse staff along with such accolades as National Champions, League of the Year, and Champions of Diversity. They are truly making moves. I was able to interview these brilliant young women recently to learn more about what it means to be a leader and part of #teamnatural.
DapperDrFeel: Tell me a little about your organization.
Shauntrice Martin: The Bay Area Urban Debate League is an after-school program focused on marginalized youth in Title I schools. The goal is to engage students in policy debate to improve academic performance and college acceptance.
DDF: What are your titles?
SM: I am the executive director
Wyllene Turner: I got involved in Baudl in my 10th grade of high school. Then when I graduate in 2011 I came back to work and a regional coordinator until I worked my way up to Program Coordinator.
DDF: Ok, let’s get right into it. What does it mean to be a Black woman in a leadership role?
WT: It means that I have the opportunity to show represent, especially in a sport that is primarily a white male sport like debate.
SM: More than half of my time is spent on fundraising and development. Most of our donors are affluent white males and a lot of the “experts” in the field don’t look like me or the students we work with. I’ve dealt with microaggressions (being asked how I learned to speak so well, assumptions that I never met my father, etc.). When confronted with these issues, I’ve had to make decisions about whether to react in the moment and what the consequences might be. While this is not unique to a person of any race in a leadership role, my actions are seen as a representation of ALL Black women. As a Black woman, I have the added responsibility of representing the entire race as if we have monthly meetings of the Black Monolith.

 

Three students holding trophies after a win. Hesten, Ne’Jahra, and Jessica.
DDF: So how does being a Black woman with natural hair impact your work?
WT: I’ve been natural for about 7 years now! And I decided to go natural to find my self again, as I see it black women are so held back by their hair because it is seen as a symbol to show a multitude of things. Growing my locs where a way to take my crown back and make my own image!
SM: It gives me confidence. I know I will usually stand out in a crowd. At the same time, I went natural in college because I had people around me who celebrated me without trying to change me. We all deserve that feeling. In that way, it has a positive impact on my work. Conversely, I have been told to “tame” my hair in previous positions. I have been hyped up by white colleagues and supervisors when my hair was pressed straight as a signal that my naps were not welcomed in the workplace.
DDF: Speak more on that Shauntrice–are you saying that it is a bad thing to have natural hair in a corporate environment?
SM: I’ve had hundreds of white colleagues over the years and many of them don’t know how to react to my hair. I’ve had strangers reach out to touch my hair. I’ve had donors comment on my skin tone. Several years ago, before I had my son, I was asked in an interview whether I planned to wear afro puffs to the office. There is nothing but love growing out of my scalp so if someone attributes negative characteristics to my hair, it means they have a problem, not me.

 

Executive Director of BAUDL Shauntrice Martin
DDF: Ok, right on. In what other ways does being a Black woman in a leadership role present challenges?
WT: The challenges I face are people in different spaces act as if I don’t know what I am doing…which is funny because they’ll usually do that at an event I’m hosting.
SM: Yes. Hiring Wyllene was one of my best decisions as an executive director. She was hired based on merit, and as she said, she worked her way up to a full-time position. Because of the way she looks (dark-skinned woman with natural hair) people underestimate her. I have seen people disrespect her in situations and they end up looking like fools when she comes through. She cares about her job and if people could stop projecting their bias onto Black women, they would see that.
DDF: I noticed your organization is quite large for an after-school program. How many students do you serve?
SM: This school year we are on track to work with almost 1,000 youth in the Bay.
DDF: That is impressive. How do you maintain a program like this?
SM: Having people like Wyllene is absolutely essential. Our staff is one of the most diverse groups in the country. Most of the people who work at BAUDL graduated from the program. Our budget is just around half a million dollars and thankfully we have a dope volunteer base. I also do this really innovative thing when hiring people–I trust Black women.
DDF: Well there you have it. Now how can people get involved and support the work you do?
SM: The two biggest things we need right now are volunteers and donors. We have an end-of-the-year campaign called the #MakingMoves campaign. This is a Black-run organization and we hope to keep it that way. If you want to donate $5, $50, $50,000 use our link: www.tinyurl.com/wedebate. You can also share our story and encourage others to support.

Wyllene Turner

07Dec/18
Fit Grandpa

Exploring the Benefits of Mental and Physical Wellness with Titus aka Fit Grandpa

Fitness enthusiast, Jean Titus (@titusunlimited), has been an internet sensation and inspiration to many for his approach to fitness. Not only does he push himself physically but he also takes into account his overall wellness. His Instagram page is filled with health quotes, demos, and information for a healthy lifestyle. Taji Mag was able to speak with Titus, aka Fit Grandpa, about his keys to overall wellness.

Taji Mag (TM): What keeps you motivated towards a healthy lifestyle?

Titus: It is the belief that I haven’t reached my peak yet. I take the responsibility of being a profile name on social media seriously. When you see 181k followers on your account that you have inspired and motivated, it makes you feel accountable. That is because you don’t know how your actions might impact others. I believe that what you put into the universe comes back to you. Given that responsibility to be a good example is what motivates me.

TM: Besides exercising, what other areas do you concentrate on to improve physical wellness? 

Titus:  I meditate, detox my environment, and clear my mind because I believe that fitness is all-encompassing. You have to be fit mentally before you are physical. If you are not fit mentally, then, sooner or later, your physical follow suit. Like I mention in my 28-day plan, detox is not only a physical thing it’s also a mental thing as well. You have to detox your contact list, your situation, and your environment.

TM: Some people use fasting as a form of detox, what is your standpoint on fasting?

Titus: I did a wellness Wednesday on fasting on my Instagram account. When done correctly It is something that I recommend. If you can properly deprive yourself of food it can test your mental will and if done properly it can be to your benefit. Intermittent fasting does work, but the problem is that people use it as a quick solution. People say they are going to fast for a couple of days after leading an unhealthy lifestyle for a long period of time. That is not what fasting is meant for but if you are going to have it as part of a systematic thing I would advocate that. You can’t out train a bad diet. People think you can go to the gym and only put an hour’s worth of work but that is not going work by itself. It is the other 23 hours with that workout that help determine how healthy you are going to be. First, we make our habits and our habits make us.

TM: Can you give us an example of how you detox outside the physical?

Titus: For example, if you are in a toxic relationship or have a toxic friend. You will only go so far while you are existing in that toxicity. It’s like living in a house that has asbestos. No matter how much treatment or medication I give you after you leave that house, you won’t get any better unless you remove yourself from that environment completely. You have to extricate yourself from those toxic things and toxic mentality.

TM: Can you be fit on a budget? 

Titus: Not having the financial means to be fit is an excuse. At the end of the day, people will buy what they want. Healthy food is expensive but you see those very same people paying $8 for a cup of coffee. Other people may say that they don’t have enough time to make breakfast but will go wait in a drive-through line at McDonald’s for 15 mintues. They justify their choices with excuses. Living healthy is an investment but people will try to make it look like an option. Being healthy should be your primary obligation because if you are in the hospital you can’t help your family. So your health should come first, it should be your primary objective to ensure that you are capable of helping your loved ones. You do that by taking care of your overall health and wellness. Anything short of that and you are doing a disservice to you and them.

TM: What is your advice to those seeking occupational wellness? Can this affect your working out or should you let it?

Titus:  I would never tell one to quit their job because everyone is not in the financial situation to do so. But if you are going to work your job and not work on an exit strategy, then it becomes a choice that you are making. Unlike A couple hundred years ago, when you had people that were enslaved, you have a choice! I don’t care what job you have, you don’t have to stay there unless you are in prison. The problem is that people in those job situations complain but when they go home they do nothing. That in itself is depressing. When you are actively working on an exit strategy, you are working on an endgame. Even if the endgame is 2 or 3 years out, keep trying and eventually you will succeed. I did a post that says “Your salary is a bribe to give up on your hopes and dreams.” Your job doesn’t have to be a bribe, it can be a means. If you are using your salary towards your dreams then it is a means.

TM: Regardig your clients, what do they look forward to while participating in your program?

Titus: The 28-day plan is about building a better, healthy lifestyle. I made the plan easy to follow and easy to duplicate. It is not overly restrictive and it’s not a fad. Anything taken out of diet should remain out of your diet. It’s not one those diets like the cabbage diet, that is not sustainable. My plan is sustainable and it’s balanced. The key to success is to have balance.

You only have one body and it is wise to take care of it. To quote Carrie Latet, “If you don’t take care of yourself, the undertaker will overtake that responsibility for you.”

Make sure to check out Fit Grandpa on Instagram for health information and updates.

06Nov/18

If Beale Street Could Talk Cast Explain How to Support Black Women

Beale Street Street Could TalkIf Beale Street Street Could Talk, directed by Barry Jenkins, is a film that explores the dynamics of Black love. The foundation of love in the film is women who are shown supporting their male counterparts which prompts the question, how can Black men show more love and support to Black women? Taji Mag spoke with the cast at the film premiere in DC about some successful ways they can go about it.

Ki Ki Layne discussed the importance of Black men being more vulnerable stating, “I think it starts with really allowing themselves to give and receive love. I think with Black men there is a cutoff, the need to do so much on their own and to have everything together to take care of the household. I think the support will come when Black men make more room to give love and to be loved by Black women.”

Beale Street Street Could TalkAward-winning actress, Regina King, expressed the importance of supporting Black women saying “First of all, start with the love you feel with your mother. That energy and love you feel for your mother, some of that should be present. Obviously, you love your mother differently than you love your woman, but that is where the genesis exist.”

When asked what Black men could do to better show support she explained, “I would suggest they see this film If Beale Street Could Talk if they don’t have a clue. And tell Black women they are beautiful and really mean it.” When asked if Regina raised her 22-year-old son with those values she explained, “My son is taking off his hat, opening doors, and calls his mom every day and tells me he loves me every day.”

The leading actor of the film, Stephan James (Race), also expressed the importance of his mother and the support of Black women, explaining, “My mother has had a great impact on my life. The best woman in my life, that’s a no-brainer because she raised my two brothers and me. She was definitely a great influence on us.”

Black women have been the backbone for many families, especially in a world of male dominance in the workplace, unequal pay, etc. We as Black men have to continue to step up and show our support. If you need help figuring out how to do so, follow the advice of Regina King and go see If Beale Street Could Talk in theaters everywhere November 30th.

30Oct/18
Sprinter Film

Storm Saulter’s “Sprinter” is a Guide to Black Mental Health

Director/Writer Storm Saulter

The Jamaican born director, Storm Saulter, put together a masterful film entitled Sprinter. The film has received tons of positive critiques for both its acting and content. Without giving too much away, the film follows the lead character, Akeem Sharp, a Jamaican sprinter who has aspirations of becoming the best sprinter in the world and using the sport of racing to escape poverty and unite his family since his mother resides in the U.S.

The film consists of elements that explore some of the struggles of the emotional and mental health plaguing Black men. It’s extremely relatable considering all of the current issues that Black men face every day. Furthermore, the film lets its viewers know that these issues are global for Black men. How does Sprinter accomplish this?

 

3 Ways Sprinter Explores the Mental Health of Black Men

It’s in the Culture

During the film, there are issues that the lead character Akeem, played by actor Dale Elliot, struggles with. They include both mental and emotional health. Given that both his father and older brother deal with their issues negatively at the beginning of the film, Akeem goes into a downward spiral once a family secret is revealed to him. Acknowledging that Akeem had some fragility in these areas and needed help is pivotal. The lack of exemplary male role models displaying how to deal with mental health can lead to horrible results.  This is a universal issue that most black families suffer from which leads to men harboring emotions and not dealing directly with those issues.

Akeem, played by Dale Elliot, winning a race in the film.

Ego is Thy Enemy 

To quote Neil deGrasse Tyson, “If your ego starts out, ‘I am important, I am big, I am special,’ you’re in for some disappointments…” Many Black men have fallen victim to their egos and have lost due to it. When he starts dominating at his craft, we see Akeem begin to become popular. Just as in real life, many celebrate him and want to be in his presence to benefit from his success and this further feeds his ego.  This is short-lived as Akeem’s declined humbleness begins to cost him relationships and more. His actions while his ego is inflated is resemblant to some of the Black male celebrities we see today that struggle with success and have fallen off.

It Takes Support to Get Through

Although Akeem and his family struggle coping with their mental health, we see that, once help and support are available, he is able to better combat his issues. This is something that Black men are doing better with as many are fighting the stigma and receiving treatment for mental imbalances. The examples can be seen in some of the most influential sports in the United States like professional basketball and other male-dominated sports all over the world. NBA athletes are revealing their issues with mental health and discussing the ways they are treating it, being positive reinforcements that Black men shouldn’t be ashamed of admitting their issue and finding positive solutions to treat it.

“Sprinter” is a great film and does an excellent job of evoking an emotional response. This Overbrook Entertainment (Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s production company) produced film will not only win more awards but also the hearts of many moviewatchers.

19Sep/18
CBC Black and White Gala

The CBC Black and White Gala is Grown & Sexy Networking Fun

CBC Black and White GalaThe CBC (Congressional Black Caucus) weekend is purposed for people from various backgrounds to come together, network, and exchange ideas. There are panels with political figures, intellectuals, and creatives alike that strive for progression in the Black community. Dinners are also held and naturally there galas and parties. One of the more popular galas is The CBC Black and White Gala housed at the Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel.

The CBC Black and White Gala

From the moment I first arrived, I could see that this event was going to be fun and full of positive social engagement. There were women elegantly walking into the event in gorgeous gowns and there were men decked out in nice tuxes, everyone smiling in this exciting atmosphere. The crowd was full of professionals and mature adults.

One of the young ladies I ran into, AJ Jamison, was kind and explained to me the experience of the event. Not that I had not been to a gala before, I just had never been to this highly talked about CBC event. Her welcoming personality set the tone for what was to come.

The CBC Black and White Gala

Jean Titus (Left) and Me

I made my way into my hotel with my friend. The hotel was huge, the lobby itself had a lounge area that could easily be confused as a part of the gala. The contemporary decor, cool hues, and smooth music set a relaxed vibe. I asked the hotel staff where The CBC Black and White Gala was held and he pointed us to an escalator where we waited in line to receive our event bracelets. It was there we saw fitness guru and health enthusiast Jean Titus. This was a treat for me because he has been a huge inspiration for me health wise and meeting him was like meeting a celebrity.

We walked around and continued to eye the stylish outfits the attendees were sporting. I noticed there were other Instagram health influencers, like @fitnezzgenie, that mingled amongst the crowd. The music selection was nice and varied, from reggae to hip hop, appropriate for the 21-and-over crowd. Music that everyone can dance to and not feel out of place.

The CBC Black and White Gala

DJ D-Nice

The event became even more lively when Dj D-Nice got on the turntable. Electrifying the crowd with the hit by Frankie Beverly feat. Maze, “Before I Let Go”. It would seem the music maestro DJ D-Nice kept everyone on the floor with his selection, ceasing the networking and making everyone dance. This is no surprise because he performed at the Luke Cage Season 2 premiere in DC that I attended and he had the Kennedy Center jumping.

The crowd exploded once again when the host of the evening, Larenz Tate, came out. Being the hype man he is, he pushed the crowd to greater heights mentioning his show Power and then requesting music the crowd loved! Of course, many ladies crowded the stage area to catch a selfie with the seasoned actor.

All in all The CBC Black and White Gala was a great experience and safe fun for people to network. If you are in the DC area next year, you should attend.

The hardest part of the night was leaving the dance floor because everytime my friend and I tried to leave, DJ D-Nice would spin another great song that would keep us dancing.

05Sep/18

Roses In Words to My Salvation, My Mom

My brother on the left, Aaron. My mother Amanda Smith, middle. Me on the RIght

It may be difficult for some men to be vulnerable, to openly express heartfelt words of appreciation, but I have no shame in doing so. In fact, in this case, it is needed. The appreciation and love I have for my mother far exceed words. She has been the salvation for me since birth and more of a protector of my dreams than I have been myself.

My mother, Amanda Smith, is something of a beautiful phenomenon. Enduring years of racial prejudice as a teenager, putting her life at risk to give birth to my brother, displaying great work ethic, beating breast cancer, and taking care of multiple people while holding a job. The time she spent juggling a hectic work schedule while taking care of my little brother and my niece was inhuman. My brother and niece were in a terrible car crash, they both were in and out of the hospital from injuries yet she put on her cape and pressed on. She showed even more strength becoming the guardian of my niece after my brother passed. The strength she has is comparable to Superman and Samson (from the Bible) combined.

Even when she siphons her strength to others when they need, her endurance seems infinite. I am guilty of this at times because most times she is my salvation. There are times when I try to reciprocate but it never seems to be enough, yet still, she smiles.

When it comes to my goals and dreams, she has been a great supporter, no matter how big they may be. Just recently I have explored the world of writing and had some success. This had prompted me to take a break from medicine and go after a bigger goal – becoming a screenwriter/producer. Some have questioned my decision because the medical field is a more stable job market, but my mother has encouraged me to go forth in my pursuit with no hesitation. I have done so and have been blessed with opportunity after opportunity because of her support.

I value her, she is truly an amazing human being. Any given opportunity, I speak and display genuine love. I thank God every day for the angel my mom has been to me while I have been on this earth. She is royalty, strength, and savior. She is… a queen.

These are my roses in words to my mother.

My mother, Amanda Smith

18Aug/18
West Louisville Little League Baseball

West Louisville Little League Baseball Team Saves Lives

The West Louisville baseball team 2018

No, the West Louisville Little League Baseball team (ages 13 and under) aren’t health care providers but they are providing hope for the youth in the community. Over the years West Louisville, KY has had its issue with homicides and other crimes. This is why it was important for the West Louisville team to make the Little Babe Ruth World Series. Not for just the exposure but for other youth in the community to join an activity that can lead to opportunities and away from the lure of the streets.

With the area being known for the greatness of Muhammad Ali and basketball (notably the University of Louisville Basketball and the University of Kentucky Basketball), it allows the youth in the area to dream outside of playing for the NBA where it has been reported that only 1.2% of college players make it to the league according to the NCAA.

Being a native of the area and former player of the league, I have seen the effects of players being active in the sport and the player that has left it without participation in any other activities. Those players that stop playing baseball, and didn’t find an alternative, were susceptible to the streets. There were a few cases where players lives were taken via gun violence and others who frequented the court system.

I can only wonder if some of the guys would have stayed in baseball, would they have been lured into the situations they were in? More so, if we were like the West Louisville baseball team this year and made the Babe Ruth World Series, would we have brought in more youth into America’s favorite past time, thus creating more opportunities for success and fewer opportunities for the alternative.

1995 Courier-Journal covering the Drew Corson little league baseball tournament.

Back in 1995, my father, Furlin Patterson, put together a baseball tournament that featured teams from around the area like Cincinnati and Tennessee.  It paid tribute to Drew Corson, a young player that died on the basketball court. His family donated funds to the West Louisville baseball league for uniforms. After all of these years, the Corson family must be delighted to see the progress of the West Louisville team and their efforts to bring home a World Series title.

Current LA Lakers guard Rajon Rondo

Some of the notable players from the league that I played with and against were Keenan Burton (Receiver for UK Wildcats/ LA Rams), Michael Bush (Running back for UofL Cardinals/LA Raiders), Rajon Rondo (LA Lakers), and Jamon Brown (LA Rams) who donated money to the West Louisville little league team this year in their World Series Championship pursuit. All of these players became prominent in other sports like basketball and football, but were great baseball players.

Although the West Louisville baseball team was eliminated from the Babe Ruth World Series last week, they still serve as an inspiration to others in the community to participate in positive activities and away from the negative desires of the streets. Maybe one day the West Louisville baseball league can produce a future MLB Hall of Famer or a few MLB all-stars who encourage more youth from the area to get into baseball – achievements that would be more newsworthy and valued than another statistic to gun violence. 

08Jul/18
Toree Alexandre

Actress Toree Alexandre Talks Playing Young Mariah on Luke Cage

Toree AlexandreWhen it comes to bright new talent in entertainment within the Black community, many of these creatives can be found at or have attended the American Black Film Festival in Miami. I found myself attending the film festival and I wanted to hear from Mr. Black Panther himself director Ryan Coogler speak about his journey to the being one of the hottest directors. While there I experienced the positive vibes from being around all of those in attendance. It was euphoric and energizing, Black excellence at its finest. There were many activities going on for attendees to partake in, one of the most entertaining was the HBO comedy competition hosted by Yvonne Orji aka Molly from Insecure. Before Yvonne’s comedic talents slew the audience, I happened to meet two actresses; one very charismatic Amber Jones and a very shy, jovial Toree Alexandre. We spoke about projects and exchanged business cards, little did I know one of these actresses played the younger version of the villainous Black Mariah on season 2 of the hit Netflix series Luke Cage

Dapper Dr. Feel: How did you get into acting?

Toree Alexandre: My mother was a ballerina in England, and she put me in dance classes growing up, so I was performing in dance recitals from a young age. The turning factor, however, was when I played Johnny Appleseed for a history assignment in my second-grade class. When I put that metal pot on my head and got up in front of my class to perform, I knew I wanted to play Mr. Appleseed in a feature film one day.

DDF: What was your reaction to getting the Black Mariah role?

TA: I was at my desk at work and I screamed (internally), and cried a little! People at work already see me talking to myself daily, whether it is to memorize lines, or just a friendly convo with me, myself, and I – so they didn’t think anything of my strange behavior.

DDF: You mentioned you love classical theater, what made you get into it?

TA: The juiciest part of getting to know my characters is text analysis, and many classical pieces give you tons of text to sift through. From the metaphors to the parallels to the allusions to the rhymes to the symbolism to the imagery, it all gives you an inkling of how the playwright created the truths of the characters you are portraying, and how you as the actor can then insert yourself into the mix and do justice to those fully-realized characters. The depth, backstories and the intelligence of the Shakespearean characters are absolutely enthralling. I write poetry and am working on a few scripts, so I definitely take notes from great writers!

DDF: What was your process of preparing for the role?

TA: I watched the first season of Luke Cage, studied Mariah and her habits, imagined all of the things Mariah would do if she were on vacation in Jamaica, looked deeper into her relationships with Mama Mabel and her Uncle Pete, and how that played into her interactions with people and her hopes and dreams for the future of Harlem… also, dissecting what snapped inside her head for her to pitilessly pulverize her cousin to a pulp was a trip and a half… Ms. Woodard was captivating in that scene; I loved it!

DDF: What is the difference between theater and film?

TA: It’s just a different medium, so the scale is changed and you make adjustments accordingly. There is no real difference; it’s all acting! It really depends on the style of the show itself, that is part of what informs an actor’s choices.

Toree Alexandre

Actress Alfre Woodard as Mariah Dillard on TV show Luke Cage

DDF: Did you get to meet Alfre Woodard (Adult Black Mariah) or any of the main cast?

TA: Unfortunately, I didn’t get to meet Ms. Woodard (yet), but I was so grateful to have met LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Curtiss Cook, Jayden Brown (and his granddad), Chaundre Bloomfield, Mehki Hewling, Shannon Harris, and Jeff Auer. A lovely group of people!

DDF: How does it feel to be apart of a series that celebrates Black women?

TA: Black women are an integral part of how and why we are all here today. I celebrate Black women daily, so Luke Cage fits right into the puzzle! It feels like I am honoring the influential women in my life, so if I can honor them and pursue my passion simultaneously, what could be better than that?

DDF: What are your goals short term and long term?

TA: I am going to be a full-time actress and writer. I will be on stage and on the silver screen! I will travel the world. I will go back to school to study medicine, or mathematics, or both! My ultimate goal is to be of assistance to those in need.

DDF: What is your advice to young women in entertainment?

TA: Wah fi yhu, cyaan unfi yhu, as my grandmother would say. In other words, what’s for you is for you. Be your best self, work hard, be happy wherever you are and in whatever you are doing, and God and the Universe will take care of the rest.

Make sure to follow Toree Alexandre as she makes her way towards stardom in Hollywood and theater.

21Jun/18
Luke Cage

Luke Cage Celebrates Juneteenth in D.C.

Juneteenth is a day that pays tribute to the freedom of slaves and their opportunity to establish themselves as respected people. What better way to celebrate Juneteenth than spend the evening at the Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.)  watching one of our greatest Black fictional heroes, freedom fighter Luke Cage, a bulletproof Black man who fights for Harlem’s people. Netflix and Spotify hosted an advanced screening with an afterparty filled with old-school hip-hop, jazz, and other genres of music featured in the Luke Cage series.

Luke Cage Season 2: The Screening dived into the mysterious past of Luke and other characters like main villain Mariah which turns out to be intricate in the development and existence of the characters. The new villain this season, the Bush Master, has been featured in the trailers and looks to be a challenge to Luke Cage both mentally and physically. As we discover his connection to the city of Harlem and Mariah, he looks to be a foe that will have Luke Cage teaming with the antagonist Mariah. In this case, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, really holds true in this season.

One of the major themes in season 2 is self-reflection – what are the true identities and morals of Luke and some of the other characters. It is something that we all can relate to as we partake in this journey called life. I think that by the end of the season, we will truly be able to see growth and self-discovery in the characters. We may also be able to see the facades of these characters finally be revealed. With all that said, Luke Cage season 2 will definitely keep audiences engaged. Beware, you may be tempted to binge because of all that this season has to offer!

The Teacha: KRS-One

Luke Cage

KRS One

Followed by the screening of Luke Cage, the infamous and rhapsodist rhymer KRS-One gave a short concert that provided energy to the crowd with his flows and hype freestyle. His words consisted of knowledge, influence, and support of the unified people. KRS-One covered oppression, deportation, and strengths of unity. KRS-One showed that he is not only a lyricist but a teacher as he went into the some of the backgrounds of deportation and illegal immigrants. To sum it up, no human is illegal which many in the audience agreed is a valid statement. By the end of his concert, he showed why he is a major part of hip hop culture. He provides entertainment that is laden with substance and quality content.

Midnight Hour at Harlem’s Paradise

Luke Cage

Midnight Hour

While watching Luke Cage, some of us fans dreamt about exploring the Marvel world in real life. Well, Netflix did just that by recreating Harlem’s Paradise in the Kennedy Center’s Atrium. Decorated with purple and red hues with white decor, copies of the Notorious B.I.G painting that can be seen in Mariah’s office were placed around the space. The mood really set the atmosphere as if Mariah herself was watching us network and dance with her lover/partner ‘Shades’ at her side.

Luke Cage

Joi

The entertainment was opened by the music group and soundtrack directors the Midnight Hour, a group consisting of producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad and composer Adrian Young. They performed jazzy tunes that bring back the feel of Digable Planets with a hint of Wynton Marsalis. During the show, they brought acts Joi, known for her unique and groovy tunes under the Dungeon Family and talented guitarist, aka B.B. King 2.0, Kingfish.

The night ended with a surprise guest no one expected, Mr. God MC himself, Rakim. When he got to stage the crowd erupted and the evening was set for another explosion of hip hop culture fun. From his hits ” I Ain’t No Joke” to ” Paid In Full,” his lyricism echoed, what seemed to be, across all of DC combined with the crowd that rapped in unison. Well, close to it anyway.

One of the best lines from the night came from KRS-One. He said that bulletproof Black men do exist and those are the ones that are intelligent, educated, and not doing negativity in the streets. As we watch Luke Cage fight for his Harlem people in this next season on Netflix, let’s fight for each other in a positive way.

Check out Luke Cage Season 2 on Netflix June 22, 2018!

24Apr/18
Derrick Jaxn

“You Are Attractive, but Are You Good For My Mental Health?” with Derrick Jaxn

Derrick JaxnThere is a reason that the online dating industry makes over $3B each year since 2010 according to IBISWorld.com. Most of the population is looking to find a partner to share our lives with. Along with that comes the difficulty of learning people and what we can deal with. One of the biggest hurdles to overcome in a relationship is the mental aspect of love and, in some cases, it’s difficult and, sometimes, scary. This is why oftentimes we ask ourselves “Are you good for my mental health?” whenever we find a possible suitor we deem attractive. Taji Mag interviewed author and self-love/relationship advocate Derrick Jaxn about his thoughts on love, dating, and mental health.

Taji Mag: There is a quote circulating on social media that says “You are attractive, but are you good for my mental health.” What does that mean to you?

Derrick Jaxn: I think it is adult and a mature way to look at it. While dating we focus so much on instant gratification that we forget what happens on the back end and we end up paying for it in the end in a lot of instances. A lot of people need to take that approach. It’s kinda like when you get food, it may look good, it may smell good,  but what is the nutritional makeup.

Taji Mag: In terms of maturity level, is there any noticeable development in judgment while dating that you have noticed with yourself?

Derrick Jaxn: It’s kind of like the bible verse (1 Corinthians 13:11) When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. In our youth, we are products of our environment but when you grow up, you no longer have that excuse and so now, as an older version of yourself, you are a product of your experiences. Now I have experienced women on a different level, more than what they can do for me sexually or whatever way I can use them. I know that’s a dark description of how we can objectify women, but we have to grow to see them as more valuable because society does not condition us that way.

Taji Mag: Can you give a good example of what you are talking about?

Derrick Jaxn: If you have a mom and dad that are both good influences, the media will inundate with images of women that are strictly for our consumption in the perspective of a man. On the other side of that attractive woman is a heart and a lot of trauma comes when you break that heart. It creates damage when you manipulate the mind and I have grown to know that especially now that I speak on behalf of relationships. A lot of times, it is women who are asking me to speak on their situations and it’s a sobering reality to hear about the things we put them through so casually.

Taji Mag: Sounds like you take to heart what women say and it’s very concerning what they go through.

Derrick Jaxn: I am very passionate about what I talk about because we have to change that culture. We can’t wait until our daughter is 16 about to go on a date to pull out a shotgun to care about women. We have to do our part now and shape things into the way we want them.

Taji Mag: How can you identify when you are in a mentally unhealthy relationship?

Derrick Jaxn: I have my bouts with mental health that I don’t play with. I am married now but, while I was dating, whenever situations blurred the line of toxicity or compromised my mental health, I made sure to nip it in the bud. I can’t afford to be played with because I already have a daily struggle. If you know anyone that struggles with mental health, they don’t always feel in control of their thoughts, moods, or emotions. You don’t need another opponent when you have that daily challenge. For me, I have never been in an unhealthy relationship, if there were situations where I felt whomever I was dating was playing with me or my emotions it got nipped in the bud real quick!

During the journey to find love it is important to listen to your heart and seek emotional tranquility than to fall ill to mental toxicity from another. It is easier said than done but that is the beauty of life, to learn as we go and discover what makes us happy.

“Unlike many other journeys, when it comes to finding self and matters of the heart you’ll swiftly find yourself lost if you follow someone else’s” – Rasheed Ogunlaru