All posts by Lauren "Lola Valentine" Jones

About Lauren "Lola Valentine" Jones

Lola Valentine is a creative Jacque-of-all-trades hailing from Brooklyn, NY. As a Creative Soul, she currently expresses herself artistically through dance, writing, and craft work. She uses her talents to bring more beauty, joy, and harmony into the world.
https://www.facebook.com/LolavalentineTheDreamcatcher/

28Oct/17
K is for Kahlo

New Children’s Book ‘K is for Kahlo’ Spells Out Excellence: Taji Mag Book Club

Making Art as easy as ABC’s: Literally.

Can you name 26 influential international Artists? Well, thanks to the new children’s book, K is for Kahlo by Dr. Tamara Pizzoli, we’ll all have the chance to learn.

Presenting artists from different disciplines, each is introduced within the pages of the book as a placeholder for a corresponding letter of the alphabet. Depicted in the bright color and simplicity typical of a children’s book, the illustrations done by Howell Edwards Creative are anything but typical. See for yourself. Available in hardcover and paperback from Amazon (and paperback on her website),  the book is described as ‘An artistic tour of the alphabet featuring notable artists from all around the world’. No stranger to accolades, author Dr. Pizzoli is best known for her critically acclaimed previous book, ‘The Ghanaian Goldilocks’, which received several awards. Recently released, her new book is already receiving praises, including a nod from the likes of Afropunk, which is known for lauding black excellence.

K is for Kahlo(image sourced from Afropunk)

This book is definitely going to be in quite a few of my holiday gifts this year. (Insert Oprah GIF here) You get a book. YOU get a book! EVERYBODY GETS A BOOOOOK!!!! Here’s why.

As essential as it is to teach our children the fundamentals of learning, such as the ABC’s, it is also our responsibility to inspire them. Dr. Pizzoli has dedicated herself to enriching the lives of children for years as a teacher and, now, also as an author. It is said that creativity fosters creativity and I believe this applies to life, not just art. The system in charge of educating our children outlines an overwhelmingly narrow path to success that often does not foster individuality nor artistic gifts as a mainstay. So efforts that successfully bring these elements together are worth noting. Talk about #Winning. This book puts into form the notion that we should be encouraging our children to take stock of their abilities and use them to create a life that is rich in texture and depth. It is never too early to show a young mind that it can dream in its own color.

Actually, all of her books encourage kids to live out loud. As an artist and someone who also works with children, I am so here for this! Using what we know to capture their bright-eyed attention, we can begin to mold together their emerging sense of self with their imagination. Not to mention the bonding that comes with reading to a child (cuddles. am I right?) and the fulfillment we get from knowing we are giving them wonderful tools for life. Honestly, I’ll be buying one for myself as well, just as much for myself as to share with the children I care for. You’re never too young, or too old, to be captivated and inspired by Art. Besides, you never know: you might just find out you’ve got a Baby Basquiat on your hands. You’re welcome.

Check out this book and 8 other titles from the Author here.

Social Media Links for the Author:

Instagram: @tamarapizzoli | @theenglishschoolhouse

Facebook: The English Schoolhouse

Twitter: @engschoolhouse

Until next time, keep reading ya’ll.

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05Oct/17
Gabrielle Union book

Taji Mag Book Club | We’re Going To Need More Wine with Gabrielle Union

Gabrielle Union bookNone other than Being Mary Jane herself; the grossly talented and radiant bombshell, Ms. Gabrielle Union’s new book, We’re Going To Need More Wine, has been picking up quite the buzz. Sweetheart of black cinema and star of some of our favorite movies, she is now vying to become one of our favorite authors as well.

“Throughout my life, I’ve often wondered aloud ‘how the hell did I end up here? Why me? Not sure I’ve found the answer to those questions but in this book, I share my journey. The good, the bad, the WTF. You will definitely need more wine for this one.” – writes Union in her Instagram post announcing the upcoming release of the book.

A ‘powerful collection of essays about gender, sexuality, race, beauty, Hollywood, and what it means to be a modern woman’, the book has already garnered praises and accolades galore. En lieu of her book release she has given several interviews and has snatched a few magazine covers. With a matching book tour starting in New York City the day before the book debuts, she has even released an exclusive excerpt of the book. A longtime activist for women’s reproductive health and against sexual violence, in the book Gabrielle opens up about her personal experiences with both. With topics such as her on-going fertility struggles with hubby Dwyane Wade, it seems that her writing will be an expression of what it truly means to be Gabby. A Black Woman and an Artist, now an open book.

To that I say: Bring It On.

We’re Going To Need More Wine releases on October 17th and is available for pre-order.

Click Here for her book tour.

Stay tuned for my review of the book, coming later this month.

 

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23Sep/17
hurricane

Disaster in the Diaspora – Helping Hurricane Survivors | We Are The Universe Pretending To Be Individuals

In case you’ve been missing the news, let’s start with numbers. On September 6th Hurricane Irma, a category 5 storm, swept the Atlantic whipping sustained winds of up to 185 mph. Within 2 days, those in her path suffered disasters of varying degrees, all widespread and devastating to say the least. Lands affected include Barbuda, Anguilla, Dominica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos, and Cuba; the list, however, is continual. The one assumption that can be drawn is that help is needed.

hurricaneOf all of these beautiful places decimated by the storm, Barbuda and Anguilla were the hardest hit. To give you an idea of the destruction, the hurricane was recorded at 348 miles wide – the island of Barbuda is a mere 62 square miles. Declared uninhabitable, evacuation of all residents to its sister island of Antigua was the only option. With 70% of evacuees having been taken into homes of Antiguan citizens, the other 30% remain in emergency evacuation centers such as Antigua’s sports stadium, converted nursing homes, and the like. The people of the island of Anguilla were not so lucky as to have a place and the means to leave. The first delivery of aid from the island’s parent government, The UK, arrived SIX DAYS after the storm passed. There is no running water, barely any electricity; many of the residents are without supplies to repair their damaged homes or even food. With Tourism providing over 60% of the Islands GDP, there is very little chance of it being able to rehabilitate on its own. The Four Seasons resort, which is the Island’s largest private employer, has stated that it will take at least 6 months to reopen. All things considered, these countries need more than the hope that the world will come to their aid; they need the PROOF.

I am currently in Barbados, and the community here is taking efforts, very seriously, into their own hands. The slogan of one of the major radio stations has been “One People, One Caribbean”, and the people have been calling in to pour out support—and funds. Local businesses and foreign businesses based on the island have donated in major ways, with two major banks of the island already giving close to $1M. Individuals are sending care packages and the like, with some tradespeople packing their tools and setting out themselves. The motion has been both beautiful and compelling. What a force to be reckoned with! Imagine if a majority of the aid for these countries came from us, the people?

As Africans of the Diaspora, we SHOULD be caring for our people. We constantly speak of Unity; is there a better time to show it than now? The U.S. government provided a mere $100,000 to relief, which seems to be a slap in the face and is only a drop in the bucket. There are more than 42 million of us in the U.S., (and as much as I’d hate to sound stale but) imagine if each one of us gave just a dollar…  We are one collective, the sooner and more frequently we act like it, the better off we will all be. It is past due time for us to become more responsible for ourselves as a whole because if we all help those in need, no one would be in need for long.

The most immediate need is for food items (particularly non-perishable), baby items, generators, blankets, mosquito tablets, construction materials, school supplies and pet food. No donation or contribution is too small! I’m volunteering here in Barbados and have opened an account to receive donation funds. The Paypal link is www.paypal.me/STCDisasterRelief and the associated email is StregthenTheCollective@gmail.com. Feel free to email me in regards to volunteering your time and skills as well! Links to other reputable Organizations and Addresses for care packages & supplies will be listed below. As a last resort, by all means, plan your winter vacation this yr to be spent in Antigua, as tourism is the country’s mainstay for sustenance. See you there!

Barbuda/Antigua Donations

Antigua Commercial Bank
Barbuda Relief and Rebuilding Fund: Account No. 100004717.

Caribbean Union Bank
Barbuda Relief & Rebuilding Fund, Account No. 100 013 72.

Official Barbuda Relief Fund
https://www.gofundme.com/officialbarbuda

 

Anguilla Donations

APANY (Founded by the US Anguillan Diaspora Association)
https://www.apa-ny.org [501 ( c ) 3 Tax-Deductible]

Help Anguilla Relief Fund
http://www.helpanguilla.com

Blanchard’s Hurricane Relief
https://blanchardsrestaurant. com/bacf-donation
(264) 497-6100

Supplies
c/o Thomas Kelly
APLO Relief Initiative
110 Wall Street
New York, NY 10005

Pet Supplies
c/o Debbie Tabor
9715 Dahlia Avenue
Palm Beach Garden, Florida 33416

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27Jan/17

We Are The Universe Pretending To Be Individuals/As Per the Airport Detainees

It isn’t as if POTUS Cheeto has managed to clone himself and send his minions to enforce the executive order. Those that are implementing these shameful and immoral dictations are citizens like you and I (saying that as referentially as possible, fully acknowledging the entire rank and system is one big delusion of grandeur). They are people who have to work for a living, rely on their jobs for healthcare, and likely have immigrants no more than 3 generations removed. If there was a twinge of consciousness and concern, it was likely overruled by instinct to maintain their own livelihood first. This delusion has become the means by which we are made to feel that standing for what is right risks our own survival.

In any war or oppression, the citizens are the ones to carry the burden of some power-hungry, greed-stricken aristocrat. It could be said that the armed forces and the like are just ‘doing their job” but not speaking against what is wrong silently reinforces it. An injustice to some is an injustice to all, with the opposite being true as well. We as humans have such a capacity for love that we do not necessarily get to exercise within this manufactured society. I don’t believe that true freedom is in being able to choose which color refrigerator we want or which ecosystem disrupting fuel we use to heat our home. I truly believe that true freedom is not a solitary movement.

What if majority of those who are responsible for carrying out these tyrannical sanctions simply refused? What if the man power that is necessary to abuse and oppress were to fully awaken to its TRUE power? It may seem far-fetched, but it is entirely possible sine what a man can think, he can do. Why “squabble over pieces of the Earth”, when in our truth we ARE Earth. We are slowly coming to realize that our true freedom lies in the fortification of the collective and our ability to outwardly manifest the sanctity and oneness of all. We are crawling towards awakening, but there are plenty who are still mired in darkness. For now, that is okay, as they are as necessary to our advancement as our own vertical movement is. We can spread our light simply by continuing to be that light, but it is going to take a lot more than just doing so for ourselves. We have to be as adamant and soaked with conviction as those of us who choose to preserve hate. What if we ALL found ways to show and share our light consciously so for the benefit of Humanity? Especially within our own Cultures and Communities where we have adept influence. How much more powerful will we be when we choose to put our lights together and perpetuate a greater good!

It is easy to wish the climate were more conducive to our growth but if man had nothing to resist him, he would not exist. More so now than ever, I am consistently asking myself how I can contribute to our united ascension. We must each pick our avenue; for some it will be fiery protest while for others it will be watery ritual and visualization. Some will plant the seeds and some will build the shelter, but we all must do something. I am glad you are on your electronic device reading this, but in knowing better, we are required to do better as well. I know you have a life to live and a self to preserve but your soul is eternal and you are a part of the whole. What will YOU do? We need you.

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09Dec/15
Messiah Ramkissoon

Messiah Ramkissoon | Poet, Artist, Activist

Messiah RamkissoonThe Twenty-First Century has indeed been full of trying times. Despite tons of intentional division and propaganda imagery, there has also been a banding together and a notion that we, as a people, must foster our own growth and progression. It is said that in the midst of turmoil, the air is ripe for the likes of a prophet; one who can ingest the struggle and obstacles of the time, and in return paint a portrait of a prosperous future. It is no easy task to be able to rise from police brutality, genocide and institutionalized racism, while still being able to see Nirvana and rouse others to do so as well. Insert: Messiah Ramkissoon.

A spoken word artist by way of Trinidad, this young man has accepted elevating the collective as his life calling. He started writing as a young child, and with the support of his family he has honed his skills. Idolizing the likes of Muhammad Ali, he has chosen to also use his skills to improve the world we live in. Thrice a ‘champion’ of Showtime at the Apollo, he contributes his successes to consistency. Much as his name suggests, his efforts truly reflect his desire to enlighten and uplift.

En lieu of enlightenment, he has gifted us with his latest work, a mixtape named ‘The Reminder’. A grail of sorts, Messiah intends for his work to ‘restore awareness’ to where we have been, where we are, and where we need to focus our efforts for the future. He addresses everything from recalling the loss of our civil rights heroes to rallying pride and unity in combat of recurring oppressive forces. In his own words from the mixtape, “As a collective, we are much more effective/ Kill the social contraceptive/ To live and let live is the ultimate incentive.”

When it comes to uplifting the collective, Messiah takes an approach even more personal. He has dedicated much of the past 8 years to prison outreach in Washington, DC, Baltimore and NYC. Coming face to face with our incarcerated males, he chooses to stand in where, often enough, there has been no one. A major part of the process is in fact within his ability to articulate conversation. In giving the young men a platform to express and reflect upon all aspects of self, true progress is made. His worlds often tie together. On ‘The Reminder’ he has dedicated a track to the late 16 year old Kalief Browder, who took his own life following wrongful imprisonment. In another case, a young man by the name of Asad Giles spent two and a half years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Upon his release, Messiah continued to provide support and resources. Asad is now employed and due to start school in 2016. He says of his philanthropy, “My goal is to empower each young brother I encounter… not only making change but taking the… example back to our own to duplicate this process of progress.”

An Artist in his own right, Messiah has not only chosen a life of dedication, but it seems to have chosen him. “I would like to leave a legacy as someone who loved his people, was passionate about his work, exuded excellence with each opportunity and [was] fearless… Fearless enough to accept any challenge which may arise on the road to providing true liberation and a better lifestyle for the babies! That would suffice.” Ashe, Messiah, Ashe.

Show him your support by following Messiah on IG & TW at @AllMessiah and www.facebook.com/messiah.ramkissoon. Visit his website, www.AllMessiah.com, for more on Messiah’s endeavors! Shine on King!

Written by Lola Valentine
Photo by NayMarie Photography

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09Aug/15

Sistahood by Evelyn D. Hall

Sistahood

 

Different sizes, shapes and colors,

Yet we have some of the same problems:

Male problems, children problems, family problems,

Mental and physical problems.

You name them, we women have them.

We comfort one another, we share with each other,

and we get on each others nerves.

Sistahs helping sistahs, is there anyone like us?

You give me your shoulder to cry on,

I give you my helping hands.

You give me a listening ear,

I give you my advice and strength.

You give me me your friendship,

I give you my support and unconditional love.

 

By Evelyn D. Hall

 

Image: © NayMarie Photography | Black Beauty: Isha Rae | Makeup: Daphney Guillaume | www.NayMarie.com

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17Jun/15
Radiant Child

Radiant Child by Lola Valentine

Radiant Child

Radiant Child

They take your innards and make you into a tragedy
Hang you on the wall, stuffed, for all to see.
Just so they can reminisce
Speak of how much you touched them
And how there hasn’t been anyone since.
A public condition — they like their heroes dead.

To Jean-Michel Basquiat and every other who delivered their gift and left

You genius child, you born martyr
If the world had known would they have loved you any harder.
You lost soul.
Lost your soul. Still
You gave your whole
Knew you had something inside to give the whole
World.
Must’ve got your beat from the street
And bought your spirit antique.
Cuz we
Hadn’t seen anything like you
You collaboration of culture and breath
Beauty and death
Silence and depth
Rebel against uprights
You hung left
Not worried about going hungry
When you’re so full
Soulful.
So they starved you.
Til you were nothing but brushes and jars
And your smock hung loose
You still refused.
Cope is a 4 letter word
often used
to describe
Whatever is used
Normally depends on what part of you is bruised.
I pray that in your second coming you die a death you choose.

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11Jun/15

Serengeti Teas and Spices: A Harlem Fav

Serengeti Teas and Spices: Rushing down the street battling the wind and zig-zag walkers, I sigh in relief seeing the unmistakable ‘S’ sign a few feet ahead. Stepping through the door, I get the same feeling as if I were stepping into a sanctuary. The street and the wind are way above the frequency of the hushed tones and background music inside. With the door closing behind me, I notice that I too am on a higher frequency and need to come down. There are chairs to my left, chairs and tables to my right, and low counter seating ahead, all of which are filled by people who seem to issue a silent welcome. The natural lighting, the dark brown of the wood and walls coupled with the Black and White tiles, gives this place a warm and old school charm like only Harlem can. Floating on in, there are wall to wall shelves filled with canisters of—you guessed it—Tea. I can’t help but take slow steps to read the names on each group of differently decorated and colored metal cylinders. “Tanzanian Usambara Breakfast Tea” “Nairobi Street Chai” “Masai Hibiscus Berry Fruit tea” “Tanzanian Dragon Claw Black Tea Rose Blend”. The two Men behind the counter—yes, Men—have a certain agility about their movements that you know they know exactly what they are doing. One even has on a shirt that says ‘I love my job’ and I can’t help but think ‘I love your job too’. Opening the menu handed to me I cannot believe how many teas are on each page and how many pages there actually are. As an avid, almost fanatic, tea drinker, I am beside myself with excitement; that is until I realize that I have to pick just ONE. Decisions decisions; fine, okay, I want Chai (My Defaultea—get it?). I love Chai tea; there is just something to the spice and full body of the flavor that encompasses my soul. Anyhow, even having narrowed it down to a category, I am left with multiple choices that I simply cannot handle; time to ask the experts. Waiting at the counter, I do not want to interrupt the craftsman (you have to see it for yourself), but before I can build up the nerve, he lifts his head and comes to my rescue. What can I get for you?” I wish I knew. I panic and ask him for the Spiciest Chai they have, and he asks me if I want milk. Of course! Would I like it sweet? Of Course! Is there any other way to drink Chai? With a chuckle and a retort, he is back to the far end of the counter to concoct my potion. It is now a few minutes after my arrival and having played hop-scotch with the women walking to the bathroom and Mr. “I Love My Job” carrying full pots of tea to tables across the room, I decide to take a seat. I am in the far left corner of the space, which seems to give the best view in totality. I almost feel tucked away, as if someone saved me this spot, next to the glass jars of curry powder and Cocoa for sale. The door opens a few more times, and with each entrant, their bustling is adjusted by the calm and ambiance of the Teas. The couple off to my left, seated at the ‘bar’ below the large clear vats filled with bright iced teas with lemons, is deep in conversation over their pot to share. Those sitting at the two-person tables across the room seem to have found space for privacy while still remaining a part of the over-all feel. Continuing my gaze back toward the counter in what seems to be perfect timing, my cup is ready. One of the best things about tea is often the smell, and with one full inhalation through my lid, I know I am in for a treat. First sip: Heaven. I asked for Spice and got more than I imagined. Second Sip: Heaven and a scolded tongue. I think I will wait; I did order a tea to go, right? Payment is made and Thank you’s are given, of course there is a ‘come again’. “I live in Brooklyn; you all are going to have me traveling to Harlem for tea!” And with a light laugh, I am back onto the street, in the wind and stream of people. I grasp my cup of tea holding on to my bit of peace (an unexpected gift from Serengeti) and stride toward the train station; I will definitely be back soon.

Written by Lauren “Lola Valentine” Jones about a windy day in late April of 2015 at www.serengetiteasandspices.com.

Serengeti Teas and Spices

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10Mar/15

Negros Americanos: Bilingual Rap Duo

Negros AmericanosNegros Americanos succeeded in carving out a niche in a culture that oftentimes forces its participants to assimilate. They are an unmistakable embodiment of what Hip Hop was born to be; genuine, socially charged, and full of self expression. They navigate between the happenings of their personal lives and sounding off on social matters, drawing inspiration straight from the source; their hearts. From traveling across the globe and setting their dreams in motion, to returning home in order to share the wealth acquired, It is a wonder to watch them journey together so effortlessly. This is something they were born to do, and from the looks of it, they are having the time of their lives doing so.

As an Artist, I especially appreciate the journey of Negros Americanos. As Creative Souls, they are doing what we all wish to do; to follow our dreams. I feel they are so far above just being called Rappers that they are, in fact, returning the word to its original meaning. They speak from the heart, and that is missing in today’s music. Their songs take me from heavy, soulful beats that carry weighted lyrics, to more playful vibes that leave me thinking nonetheless. Their music says to me that it’s okay to be a Witty, Over-analytical, Love-struck Philanthropist of a Revolutionary who’s a sucker for a mean groove; they lead by example. They are of the few who have restored my faith and love in Hip-Hop.

Look out for their dope upcoming album “Take Flight” this Spring as well as their bilingual documentary “Lost in the Wilderness: The Story of Negros Americanos.”

Follow their musical journey at www.NegrosAmericanosMusic.com and join them on social media at @NegrosAmericanos on facebook and instagram!

Written by Lauren “Lola Valentine” Jones for Taji Mag.

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