Category Archives: News

09Aug/20

Ending the Black Woman’s Emotional Taboos

Why don’t we cry in public? Why do we, as Black women, feel that we can only express our emotions in solitude?  Why is it that our only safe space? Well, the answer depends on the woman and her personal experiences. However, the answers all tend to be rooted in similar childhood experiences.  

In the majority of households of color we heard things like:

“Don’t you dare cry!”

“Fix your face before I fix it for you!”

“If you cry I’ll give you something to cry about!”

“Don’t let one single tear fall from your eyes!”

“Close your mouth!”

“Whose doors are you slamming?”

“You mad now? You better get over it.”

“Why are you mad? You don’t pay any bills around here!”

We were brought up to stifle our emotions. From childhood, we are taught to suppress our tears and we learned the lesson that crying shows weakness.  We are taught that any emotion other than joy should be kept to ourselves. This way of thinking is problematic and fosters shame and self-denial.  Each is unhealthy in its own right, but severely detrimental when combined for generation after generation. Our enslaved ancestors were beaten until their backs were raw, yet they didn’t cry out for fear of increased retribution.  Our mothers and aunties stifled their cries so they wouldn’t be next.  The children who were a witness to such horrific acts of brutality, and oftentimes the victim themselves, were told to be brave and show no signs of weakness.  Those days are over (well, kind of over but that’s an article for another day) but the suppression of our emotions continues to be the only way of life for far too many of us.  

Today, in the Black community, crying in public is still seen as a taboo. It is seen as unacceptable. As Black women, we have to hide in order to find a safe space where we can shed our emotions without judgment.  In bed alone.  In our mirrors. In the car. In the shower. It is while we are alone that we find solace in our tears. It is there that we give ourselves permission to be weak, fallible, sad, or angry. It is there that we give ourselves permission to have the wide range of emotions indicative of the human spirit. Here, it’s ok to be human. Here, alone with our thoughts, it’s acceptable to be who we are.  However, there is a high price to pay for the suppression of our emotions. Living life in such a way that it diminishes who we are for the sake of what others may think is detrimental to say the very least.  

As Black women we are subject to a double standard that isn’t applicable to other women. We aren’t afforded the luxury of being seen as competitors in business; rather, we are seen as emotionally unstable and we are labeled as such.  Despite those labels, we have more power than we give ourselves credit for.  Moreover, those who label us as such, see our power as well and do all they can to prevent us from realizing it.  When we are assertive, they call us aggressive. When we are truthful, we are labeled as difficult.  When we lead effectively, we are labeled as bossy. When we cry, we are labeled as weak and ineffective. When we demand answers, we are said to be “too much.” The most disheartening label that has been stitched into our collective psyches is given when we stand up for ourselves and speak our minds. It’s then that we are called an “angry Black woman.”  Whereas these labels may seem irksome, remember that the people who label us do so in an attempt to diminish our power.  

I’m here to tell you, fuck that and fuck them. No, for real; there is no mandate that says we must conform to the box others insist on placing us in.  How many times have you had to hide your emotions because you didn’t want to seem weak?  How many times have you changed what you were going to say solely because you were worried what someone would think of you? How many times have you needed to break yourself into bite-sized pieces just so someone else could feel whole? Even if your answer is “only once”, that was one time too many.  It’s high time that we reclaim and embrace who we are and how we must handle our business. Someone else’s opinion of you is none of your business.  That is their issue and, as such, it should rest on their shoulders.  What becomes of a pressure cooker when the release valve is glued shut? What happens when you shake up a bottle of carbonated drink with the top on? Just like the pressure cooker and the closed bottle, suppressed emotions will build up behind the mask you use to hide how you feel.  Pent up sadness and anger can and will breed discontentment and resentment.  

Let me ask you this: Where do you cry? Where do you feel safe while crying? Where do you vent your anger? Do you wait until nighttime? Do you immediately separate yourself and find a place to safely let it all out? Do you wait until the next day? Or are you among the growing number of women who continually hold it in with the hopes that it will all go away? Many of us refuse to shed a tear even if we are alone. Why is that so? Is it because we have been conditioned to believe that tears, even in solitude, are a weak spot in our armor? We are such believers in the idea of “not letting any cracks show”, that we beat ourselves up at the first sign of what we perceive as weakness. Our internal narrative is abusive and toxic. We are harsh in our attempts to soothe ourselves. Soothing words shouldn’t be abrasive yet we whisper our self-contempt daily: “What’s wrong with me? I’m acting like a baby! Get it together Sis, you can’t let them get to you! Toughen up. Stiff upper lip. Knock it off, you’re better than this!” We swallow our tears, we suck it up and keep it moving. What many of us don’t understand is that regardless of how long it’s been since the triggering event, that emotion is still sitting in our psyche, building and festering. It will keep doing so until a seemingly innocuous incident triggers us, unlocking the emotional floodgates. It’s at that point we are accused of overreacting. Maybe so, but if we give ourselves license to freely express ourselves regardless of the opinions of others, we wouldn’t find ourselves in said position to begin with.  Let’s unpack this further.  

What would it take for us to ignore the societal restrictions and cry when it’s warranted? What would it take for us to feel safe enough to vent our anger in a healthy manner? What would it mean for us to have the power to express ourselves at will?

Pssst…come a little closer, I have a secret to tell you.  You already have the power to express sadness or any of the myriad of emotions we have at any time, anywhere, ever.  Don’t let these people fool you into believing that you’re limited in your public interactions.  Our emotions are natural. It’s the suppression of them that’s unnatural and unacceptable.  

Let’s make an agreement with ourselves that each and every time we need to assert ourselves, or express any emotions, that we do so without pause or reservation.  Crying is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, crying is cathartic; it’s healthy.  The repression of our emotions is what’s detrimental. Expressing how we feel freely means we are in touch with who we are at our core. Expressing our emotions releases stress. It opens up a pathway between our hearts and our minds. It creates connectedness and allows for clarity in the end.  

We as Black women are our most powerful when we give ourselves permission and space to be human in all of our experiences. We have both strengths and weaknesses but it’s when we accept the totality of who we are that we are our most powerful selves.  So, how do we handle our interactions with coworkers or colleagues? How can we hold space for ourselves? First, we have to give ourselves permission to be unapologetically authentic. We have to be more concerned with our progress and our own mental health than we are with what anyone else has to say about us. Suppression of our emotions is damaging to our health and our psyche. Changing how we respond to judgmental people in an attempt to placate them, fosters a sense of inadequacy, frustration, and eventually resentment.  Their opinion of you is their problem and theirs alone.  

In the instances where the person passing judgment is the same person that pays your salary: 

Be polite.

Be professional.

But do not back down. Do. Not. Back. Down. 

The same strength it takes to soften your words to appease someone is the same energy it takes to say: “I said what I said.”  It’s the same energy it takes to reply: “What words did I use that made you uncomfortable and doubt my ability to perform my duties?” Ask this and then wait for an honest answer. Their judgments of you are more a reflection of who they are than anything else.  They are not the reflection of who we are, they are only a reflection of who they are, their limited views, and experiences.  You are the reflection of their inadequacies and a constant reminder of your superiority. They see our power and they use demeaning labels in an attempt to subjugate, diminish, and belittle us, thereby removing our power.  

The strongest defense is to shine brighter. Blind them with your brilliance. Smile with the knowledge that they see what we are capable of and they seek to eliminate it. Again, that’s their problem. Go around them. Go over them. Go through them if you must. No matter how they counter you, just keep at it until they shut up, sit down, and voluntarily move out of your way. You’re better than they are, now I want you to act like it.  

Photo by Jessica Felicio

06Aug/20

Filmmaker Tamara Shogalou’s animation, ANOUSCHKA, is a #BlackGirlMagic XR Experience

SYNOPSIS: ANOUSCHKA is an animated mixed reality (XR) experience inspired by the Black Girl Magic ethos and all Black girls around the world. In this interactive story, we follow Amara, a Black teenager from Amsterdam’s Bijlmermeer (Bijlmer) neighborhood, as she embarks on a magical journey of self-discovery through time and space. Amara must travel back in time and connect with generations of women that preceded her in order to save her grandmother and twin brother from a multi-generational family curse. She discovers her family’s ancestry and magical powers along the way and reconnects with her roots while also learning more about her present.  

The 2019 Tribeca Film Festival’s Virtual Arcade featured a lot of talented women filmmakers, but one Black woman director stood out the most…Tamara Shogalu. The international award-winning director gained attention with her successful hybrid animated documentary and VR game, Another Life. Now she has started production on her new project ANOUSCHKA. A project that promises to be more than a virtual reality medium, it will be a Black Girl Magic experience. Taji Mag was able to catch up with the skilled filmmaker and get more details ahead of her Kickstarter launch.

Dapper Dr Feel (DDF): Can you please explain what XR reality is and how effective it is at bringing the project to life? 

Tamara Shogaolu (TS): We define Anouschka as an XR experience that utilizes virtual and sensory technology to promote a more engaging and immersive experience for the user. We do not classify this experience as VR since our goal with this project was to create immersion without the need for VR headsets, consequently allowing for a more sensory-rich, collective adventure. We do not use holograms, but instead, the audience will interact with wall projections, motion sensors, and voice recognition. We developed the Bemmbé Interactive™ platform for new ways of interactivity and engagement in a highly stylized space. We like to describe this form of experience as a story room or a magic box. The most important aspect of the technology is the use of immersive, 3D audio, that will create a tangible yet magical aural landscape. We want users to live the story, rather than just observe it. 

Tamara Shogaolu
Director/Producer/ Founder of Ado Ato Pictures

DDF:  What are some of the short term and long term goals for the project?

TS: First and foremost, one of our main goals is to create content that tells Black stories, about Black girls, written by Black women, and directed by Black women. 

Following four generations of women of color across time and space, this project will serve to increase visibility and representation of women of color in general. The migration and diaspora stories of people of color continue to be unjustly sidelined. ANOUSCHKA celebrates and encourages engagement with this culturally rich heritage while bringing the positive message of Black Girl Magic to the forefront. 

As well, we are telling this story through our Bemmbé Interactive™ platform.

The Bemmbé Interactive™ platform harnesses the power of multi-sensory technology to create powerful and immersive experiences. In Bemmbé Interactive™, bulky gadgets are discarded for the story to take center stage. The audience will experience the story in the room while wearing headphones. The technology also allows for custom audiovisual interactions, with projected visuals through infrared motion tracking and 3D spatial audio. By allowing full story immersion, the platform grants audiences the power to collaboratively explore, interact with, and participate in the narrative and deeply bond with the characters of the world of Anouschka or of other stories. 

Since the beginning of time, humans have been fascinated by the magical power of narratives and storytelling. Exploring the endless possibilities of the imaginary has always been of special interest to us. This passion for storytelling drove us to create Bemmbé Interactive™—an audio-driven story room platform that uses multi-sensory technology to create powerful and immersive experiences. 

ANOUSCHKA will utilize the Bemmbé Interactive™ platform to allow its users to live the story and its world without the gadgets traditionally required by VR technology. However, the platform can be adapted for different narratives, providing unique and meaningful experiences. It is also scalable and flexible, allowing for different audience sizes and the use of different physical spaces.  

Amara, a Black teenager from Amsterdam’s Bijlmermeer (Bijlmer) neighborhood

Since I was a child, I have been yearning and dreaming to see and create a story like ANOUSCHKA, a story about a smart young Black girl raised in a world of magical Black women like those in my world. I am even more thrilled that I get the opportunity to make a story that is written by talented Black women, produced by Black women and directed by a Black woman. “ – Tamara Shogaolu

DDF: Are there any Black female directors in animation who inspire you? 

TS: Currently, and heartbreakingly, there are no Black female directors in animation. But on this note:

Years ago, as a student in film school, I was told by a writing professor that a studio would never greenlight a film about a little Black girl. The professor asked me to change my script to incorporate white leads or else I would fail the class. I was forced to write a story that wasn’t mine and swallow a pill that said, “stories about people like me don’t matter.” This experience lit a fire in me. I refused to believe that stories about Black girls didn’t matter and made it my mission to dedicate my life and career to sharing stories of and lifting the voices of marginalized people and communities around the world.

As I grew professionally and expanded into working with new and immersive technology like virtual reality and augmented reality, I saw many of these same tropes being used to shape the new medium.  Until today, there has been no major studio animated feature film directed by a Black woman and there continues to be a glass ceiling and barriers to entry for Black women in tech, among many other fields. As a Black and Latinx woman working at the intersection of film, animation, and technology, I want to believe that I can contribute to shattering those ceilings by allowing Black girls like me to see themselves and their magic come to life while re-imagining how technology can help us tell stories.

Since I was a child I have been yearning and dreaming to see and create a story like ANOUSCHKA, a story about a smart young Black girl raised in a world of magical Black women like those in my world. I am even more thrilled that I get the opportunity to make a story that is written by talented Black women, produced by Black women and directed by a Black woman. I hope that you will join us in bringing ANOUSCHKA to life so that there is a space and a place for stories like ours.

Tamara is collaborating with spoken word artist Sandy Bosmans and playwright Elle Vanderburg. With all these Black women coming together and the rest of the Ados Pictures crew, Anouschka will be another award-winning project that may propel Black female filmmakers in animation to new heights! Check out the Kickstarter and join in the Black Girl Magic animation experience. 

ADO ATO Pictures is an award-winning media studio based in Amsterdam and Los Angeles. Following an ambition to produce the unexpected, their international team approaches creation with a pioneering spirit, always pushing to compose the most diverse and engaging experiences for audiences who crave fresh, boundary-pushing, and meaningful storytelling. 

05Aug/20

A Letter To End The Food Apartheid

We are tired of struggling and we refuse to stand down. Kroger and other multi-billion dollar corporations post #BlackLivesMatter, but don’t even have the decency to treat Black customers like human beings. I will not bow down and accept their crumbs. This is a movement. I am proud to share our most recent call for food justice. Much love to all the Black folks in Louisville who fought these same battles. I look forward to speaking with our elders about past Black supermarkets.

In the meantime, join us. Email/text/call/tweet Kroger and demand that Black folks be given reparations for the historic disenfranchisement of our community. If CEO, Rodney McMullen, can post about #BlackLivesMatter, then he should be held to that standard. Read our letter below and help us hold these executives accountable for the harm they continue to do in Black communities.

—–

Peace,

My name is Shauntrice. I am the director of #FeedTheWest. Over the last 2 months, we have served more than 14,000 West End residents who currently live in a food desert. I am also the owner of the Black Market KY, a West End home owner, and author of the Bok Choy Project.
Since you responded to our social media post today (and not the calls or emails made to Kroger directly over the last few weeks) we’d like to speak candidly with you about about food justice and racism for a moment. Kroger must do much better. The mobile market is not sufficient. The partnership with Dare To Care is not sufficient. Here are some highlights from the #BokChoyProject:

From 2011-2015, there were 335 infant deaths in Louisville Metro, out of 49,577 total births. Far and away, preterm births, low birth weights and infant mortality disproportionately affect Black babies. This is important because infant outcomes can impact health throughout the rest of one’s life. While infant mortality has slowly been falling, the death rate for Black babies from 2011- 2015 was 1.95 times higher than for Louisville Metro; 2.31 times higher than for White babies. (Louisville Metro 2017 Health Equity Report).

Black residents in Louisville are much more likely than white residents to have diabetes and heart disease. Black children are more likely to suffer from health issues, which lead to truancy and incarceration, but the Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR), reported fiscal 2019 sales of $122.3 Billion. We invite Kroger to join us during our Press Push tomorrow (Wednesday, 5 August 2020) to respond to our Antiracism and Equity Commission‘s recommendations outlined below:

  1. Kroger should publicly admit to discriminatory food apartheid practices in the West End
  2. We ask that Kroger gift $5 million in unrestricted funds to #FeedTheWest
  3. Since many Kroger workers in the West End are facing eviction, we support an increase of all non-management workers’ wages to a living wage by deducting the difference from executive level Kroger representatives including the CEO.
  4. Increase Black farmer support by sourcing at least 30% more of your produce from the following Black farmers: Kentucky Greens and Cleav Family Farm.

Please respond by 11:00 am tomorrow (Wednesday 5 August 2020). We look forward to hearing from you.
For transparency and accountability, I have CCd a number of community members.


All the best,
Shauntrice L. Martin

#FeedTheWest Director

Change Today, Change Tomorrow

03Aug/20
Black Dance Stories

Black Dance Stories August 2020 Lineup

Black Dance Stories

Black Dance Stories announces its August 2020 lineup featuring dancers and choreographers who use their work to raise societal issues, strengthen community through their programming, and use history as a source of inspiration. This month the story sharing and discussion series brings together yonTande and Meredith Rainey (Aug 6); Sydnie Mosley and Raja Feather Kelly (Aug 13); Zane Booker and Oluwadamilare “Dare” Ayorinde (Aug 20); and Leslie Parker and Wanjiru Kamuyu (Aug 27) in discussion. Black Dance Stories will also present the world premiere video of nora chipaumire’s new work—[another] township manifesto (Aug 27). The piece was created specifically for the digital platform in response to our current world environment where Black artists are finding innovative ways to continue to address the politics of Black bodies and connect to their audience. The series streams live via Zoom every Thursday in August at 6pm.

For full schedule and artist bios click here

The Black Dance Stories team consists of Black creatives in the arts, including Charmaine Warren, Kimani Fowlin, Nicholas Hall, Cynthia Tate, and Gabe Dekoladenu. The series is consistent with the tradition of Black artists finding a way for their voices to be heard during turbulent times. When civil, moral, and social freedoms are challenged and at times stifled, Black artists find ways to use their talents as activism. Black Dance Stories upholds, highlights, and celebrates Black creatives.

The series launched in June 2020. Previous artists include Ayodele Casel, Stefanie Batten Bland, Jamar Roberts, Tiffany Rea-Fisher, Cynthia Oliver, Marjani Forté-Saunders, Lorenzo “Rennie” Harris, J. Bouey, Kyle Marshall, and Okwui Okpokwasili. Each session will be archived on the Black Dance Stories YouTube page.

Black Dance Stories streams live on Zoom, every Thursday in August at 6pm. For more information visit @BlackDanceStories or email [email protected]. Sign up for updates here.

Taji Mag Vol 24 Curves & Serves

Taji Vol24: Curves & Serves

Release Sep 7 2020 | Vol24 of Taji is packed full of Black Beauty & Culture fulfilling its theme of Curves & Serves! This volume’s cover features the #SlayBells of @ruby_glam (Hair by @hairdoctor_locs, Photo by @PascalChikezie, Wardrobe and Accessories by @udiahgebi and @householdofjewellery1). Gracing the pages are the Editor’s Pick, organic holistic health detoxes, teas, and supplements from Earth’s Cabinet LLC; our Community Spotlight on Budda by Yvee body butters; our highlighted Hair Feature by Angela Plummer; “Solo Travel: The Adult Gap Year with Stephanie Perry of Vaycarious.com” by dCarrie; “Resolution: Does the Earth Need Surgery?” by Jashua Sa’Ra; “#BlackLoveConvo: Alexis Chikaeze Chats about her Character in Miss Juneteenth” by Dapper Dr. Feel; “Education in the New World Order” by Janelle Naomi; Our Vol 24 contributed photo story, “Curves & Serves;” Fitness Highlight; Vegan Fun with Earth’s Pot’s Mac & Cheese; “Black Honey Toys for All of Your Erotic Needs”; “Forq You Up is Adding Some Flavor to the Spice Game;” Featured Art Piece; Comic Appreciation with “Okemus” by T.J. Sterling; Black Business Highlights; and more!!

Purchase your copy now at ‘Shop Taji’!

Purchase Taji Mag | Vol 24

Taji Mag is the epitome of ‘Cultural Drip’ – elevating Black brands, narratives, and imagery to new levels of Black Excellence. We embody the traditional and modern royalty of Pan-African people via our quarterly digital and print publication and live events.

25Jul/20
old guard

Old Guard Was a Great Film but Would Be Better as a Series

old guard
THE OLD GUARD (2020) – (L to R) Matthias Schoenaerts as Booker, Marwan Kenzari as Joe, Charlize Theron as Andy, Luca Marinelli as Nicky, Kiki Layne as Nile. NETFLIX ©2020

Synopsis: Led by a warrior named Andy (Charlize Theron), a covert group of tight-knit mercenaries with a mysterious inability to die has fought to protect the mortal world for centuries. But when the team is recruited to take on an emergency mission and their extraordinary abilities are suddenly exposed, it’s up to Andy and Nile (KiKi Layne), the newest soldier, to join their ranks, to help the group eliminate the threat of those who seek to replicate and monetize their power by any means necessary. Based on the acclaimed graphic novel by Greg Rucka and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (LOVE & BASKETBALL, BEYOND THE LIGHTS), THE OLD GUARD is a gritty, grounded, action-packed story that shows living forever is harder than it looks. 

First off, I want to say that I was excited to see the film, Old Guard, was directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood. If her name sounds familiar it’s because she helmed the classic film, Love and Basketball, one of my favorite films. I also saw the trailer featuring budding actress KiKi Layne and the talented Chiwetel Ejiofor as the co-stars, thinking “Oh, Netflix might have a nice action film on their hands?” As I read more about the comic-based film, I knew I had to see if I would recommend it or tell my friends to pass on it. 

What Worked? * Spoiler Alert *

The opening action scene with the immortal protagonists was awesome, one of the best fight scenes I have seen in a Netflix film. I mean it was crazy how the crew revived a la wolverine style and beat the living mess out of the special ops unit sent to “kill” them. Charlize Theron has done some decent action scenes in previous films, but Gina Prince-Bythewood had her looking like she could be Neo from the Matrix. 

Nile, Kiki Layne’s character, was also well developed. Seeing her character struggle to accept her newly developed immortality and adjust to killing was interesting and made the character more compelling. If I spontaneously became immortal and had to leave my life behind, it would definitely cause some inner turmoil. Especially knowing that I would have to watch people around me die and kill people for the rest of my life, that would be crazy! 

The plot twist involving Booker and Copley was one of the best parts. Their hope was to utilize the immortality as a means to find cures for diseases and ailments. I found this twist to be something that would cross my mind if immortality existed. Working in healthcare and experiencing the loss of loved ones due to aliments is rough so if we help people live longer through science, why not try to use the immortals DNA to help the medical world? The only problem, which is explored in the film, would be the greed and possible monopoly involved. I was truly irked by Booker and Copley for their betrayal but I could understand their perspectives. 

THE OLD GUARD – CHIWETEL EJIOFOR as COPLEY in THE OLD GUARD. Cr. AMY SPINKS/NETFLIX © 2020

“It’s such a universal story and it’s certainly been a theme in my work. But also inherent in my work is the normalcy of women being warriors. I love to reframe what it means to be a female, and I feel that movies can absolutely change the narrative and the conversation. Courage has no gender. Badass has no gender. It just is.” – Gina Prince-Bythewood.

Why It Would Be Better As A Series? 

The time travel element could be explored more and there are so many stories that could be told without giving away too much of how the heroes possessed immortality. I really felt act two of the film was a bit slow and had the interesting storytelling of the soldier who was left behind. I can imagine how great these stories could be explored in a series, like Highlander, you could span the centuries following each of our heroes’ origins. I understand Netflix is doing a sequel but I think they could pull off a series that would be just as interesting and would draw an excellent fan base. 

THE OLD GUARD (2020) – KIKI LAYNE as NILE. Photo Credit: AIMEE SPINKS/NETFLIX ©2020

I would love to see Nile’s life before she becomes one of the immortals, I would love to see Andy’s travel through time as a badass fighter and I would love to see the how each character dealt with the relationships they had (and lost). There was so much in the film that would be interesting to see in a series and director Gina Prince-Bythewood could bless the audience with more of her talents. 

In the end, Old Guard had some great action, strong plot points and the fight scenes were on point. I just felt, going into the third act of the film, Old Guard would’ve been better as a tv series. There was a whole world to explore, so many great stories to tell, and the film did an awesome job of covering it all, but a series would do the franchise more justice. I still enjoyed watching Gina Prince Bythewood put together a dope action film and can’t wait to see the sequel. Check out Old Guard now on Netflix.

Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood 

Screenplay by Greg Rucka 

Based on the Graphic Novel Series by Greg Rucka and Illustrated by Leandro Fernández

Starring: Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, Harry Melling, Van Veronica Ngo, with Matthias Schoenaerts, and Chiwetel Ejiofor

25Jul/20
pink paradise

Pink Paradise Co. Encourages Women to be Their Best Selves

Fadrea Thomas is a 25-year-old mother of two and the owner of Pink Paradise Co., an online clothing boutique for women that wants to set trends while encouraging the protection of women. In addition to the apparel in the boutique, Pink Paradise sells self-defense keychains for women’s safety. Fadrea is also the author of an ebook, “Affirmations For Success,” which taps into spirituality and manifestation. The ebook is printable and has pages for its readers to manifest their own success. “I’m a woman of God first, mom second, and business owner third.”

Kynniah Rodriguez (KR): How did you come up with the name of your company? 

Fadrea Thomas (FT): Pink is my favorite color. Paradise means the state of consciousness. Since I’m very into manifestation and speaking life, I figured this name is perfect for my company. 

Kynniah Rodriguez (KR): How do you balance your personal life and your work life?

Fadrea Thomas (FT): I meditate and stay true to myself. I know when I’m overworking myself and I know when I need to push harder. Meditation has helped me become a better woman, mom, and business owner. I have to meditate to stay focused, especially because things can get overwhelming at times when trying to balance them all. 

Kynniah Rodriguez (KR): What are some mistakes that you learned from?

Fadrea Thomas (FT): I wish I would’ve invested into a mentor sooner. Many people feel as though in business they don’t need a mentor but, for me, it’s imperative for my business. My mentor is not only there to keep me on track, but to push me to greater lengths that I never even imagined. 

Kynniah Rodriguez (KR): What are three tips that you can give to someone who wants to start a business?

Fadrea Thomas (FT): 1. Practice self-discipline 2. Focus on your own business 3. Stay consistent 

Kynniah Rodriguez (KR): If you had a magic stick, what are three things you would change in the world?

Fadrea Thomas (FT): If I had a magic stick, I would change racism and police brutality, the idea that manifestation isn’t real, and the educational system. 

Kynniah Rodriguez (KR): What are your goals for 2020?  

Fadrea Thomas (FT): I only have one and that’s to become a better me. I know if I become a better me, change my thinking, my actions, and words, then that will ultimately change everything around me to greater heights. If I am one with myself and God, then whatever I touch is already Gold. 

Kynniah Rodriguez (KR): What’s a quote that you stand by?

Fadrea Thomas (FT): “You are only confined by the walls you build around yourself.”

Kynniah Rodriguez (KR): According to you, what is your greatest strength and what is something you need to work on?

Fadrea Thomas (FT): My greatest strength would be my ability to uplift and encourage others. I give amazing inspirational speeches. I would say I need to work on being a better listener. Being able to listen to understand instead of listening to respond.

Kynniah Rodriguez (KR): Who is your inspiration?

Fadrea Thomas (FT): Kendra Cooksey & BankRoll Freddie are my biggest inspirations. They come from the same the state and it’s inspiring to see the things one can accomplish if you put your mind to it.

Be sure to shop with Pink Paradise Co. on their Website and follow them on Instagram!

Crystal Benefits

African Yellow Jasper holds and supports during times of stress, bringing a sense of completeness and tranquility. Jasper facilitates in balancing and aligning the physical, mental and emotional bodies.

Agate is a very stable crystal that’s great for grounding and brings forth emotional, physical, and intellectual balance. It enhances self-confidence and concentration and helps to overcome bitterness and resentment. It stabilizes the aura, eliminating and transforming negative energies. Placed on the heart it will heal the emotional dis-ease that prevents acceptance of love. It stimulates the digestive process, relieves gastritis, heals the eyes, stomach, and uterus, cleanses the lymphatic system and pancreas, strengthens blood vessels, and heals skin disorders.

Amazonite has healing powers to help with physical ailments, emotional issues, and chakra balancing. Amazonite is primarily associated with filtering out stresses, healing traumas, and soothing energies in the home and workplace. It calms the brain and nervous system and aids in maintaining optimum health. It’s beneficial in osteoporosis, tooth decay, calcium deficiency, and calcium deposits. Amazonite balances the masculine and feminine energies.

Amethyst is a powerful and protective stone.  It guards against psychic attacks, transmuting the energy into love and protecting the wearer from all types of harm, including geopathic or electromagnetic stress and ill wishes from others. Amethyst is a natural tranquilizer. It relieves stress and strain, soothes irritability, balances mood swings, dispels anger, rage, fear, and anxiety, alleviates sadness and grief, and dissolves negativity. Amethyst activates spiritual awareness, opens intuition, and enhances psychic abilities. It has strong healing and cleansing powers.  Amethyst encourages sobriety, having a sobering effect on the overindulgence of alcohol, drugs, or other addictions. It calms and stimulates the mind, helping you become more focused, enhancing memory, and improving motivation. It relieves insomnia. Amethyst boosts hormone production, tunes the endocrine system, and metabolism. It strengthens the immune system, reduces pain, and strengthens the body to fight against cancer. It destroys malignant tumors and aids in tissue regeneration. Cleanses the blood. Amethyst eases headaches and releases tension. It reduces bruising, swellings, injuries, and treats hearing disorders. Amethyst heals dis-eases of the lungs and respiratory tract, skin conditions, cellular disorders, and dis-eases of the digestive tract.

Aventurine is one of the premier stones to attract luck, abundance, and success. It has a particularly soothing energy behind it and is recommended for working through unresolved emotional issues. It comforts, harmonizes, and protects the heart. Aventurine benefits the thymus gland and nervous system. It balances blood pressure and stimulates the metabolism, lowering cholesterol. Aventurine has an anti-inflammatory effect and eases skin eruptions, allergies, migraines, and soothes the eyes. It heals lungs, sinuses, heart, muscular and urogenital systems.

Black Jasper is considered a highly defensive stone which is great for grounding energies. When it comes to physical healing, this stone relieves pain and even stomach ailments. Black Jasper will offer you protection from harmful energies, danger, and bad spells. Apart from that, it supports you as you drive through your professional and personal trials. When you are working in a dangerous area, this stone will keep you safe as well. Black Jasper, on the other hand, is related to the base chakra, and take note it keeps you grounded. With this stone, you will become more productive on an emotional, spiritual, physical, and mental level since Black Jasper will increase your enthusiasm.

Bloodstone is an excellent blood cleanser and a powerful healing stone. It heightens intuition and increases creativity. It is grounding and protecting. Bloodstone draws off negative environmental energy, helping to overcome influences such as geopathic or electromagnetic stress.

Blue Lace Agate is a great nurturing and supportive stone, neutralizing anger, infection, inflammation, and fever. Blue Lace Agate helps to strengthen and accelerate the repair of bones, thyroid deficiencies, throat, and lymph infections.

Bronzite has an energy that helps to promote peace and harmony and will assist the growth of feelings of compassion and forgiveness. In stressful situations, it will help you to remain calm and may assist you not to lose your temper when you are feeling challenged by life situations.

Carnelian restores vitality and motivation and stimulates creativity. It gives courage, promotes positive life choices, dispels apathy, and motivates for success. Carnelian is useful for overcoming abuse of any kind. It helps in trusting yourself and your perceptions. It brings healing energy to the organs in the area of the lower body within the sacral chakra.

Clear Quartz is known as the “master healer” and will amplify energy and thought, as well as the effect of other crystals. It absorbs, stores, releases, and regulates energy. Clear Quartz draws off negative energy of all kinds, neutralizing background radiation, including electromagnetic smog or petrochemical emanations. It balances and revitalizes the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual planes. Clear Quartz cleanses and enhances the organs and acts as a deep soul cleanser. It aids concentration and unlocks memory. It stimulates the immune system and brings the body into balance. 

Coral gemstone imparts courage and helps in overcoming fear and nervousness. It can boost the self-esteem of the wearer and has amazing healing effects including overcoming various skin related problems, like boils, acne, and more.

Fire Agate has a strong protective function, especially against ill-wishing. It brings security and safety and has strong grounding powers to support during difficult times. It builds a protective shield around the body and returns hate back to the source so the source understands the harm that it’s doing. It aids in sexual endeavors, fires up base chakra, stimulates vitality, and dispels fear while instilling deep security. Encourages introspection to resolution. Helps to eliminate cravings and destructive desires and can be useful for treating addictions. Aids in relaxation, enhances meditation, aids in the evolution of consciousness. Heals the stomach, nervous and endocrine systems, and circulatory disorders. Strengthens night vision, Reduces hot-flashes, and removes heat from the body. 

Fluorite absorbs and neutralizes negative energy and stress. An excellent learning aid, Fluorite increases our powers of concentration, self-confidence and helps in decision-making. It encourages positivity, balances the energies, and improves balance and coordination, both physically and mentally.

Garnet revitalizes, purifies and balances energy, bringing serenity or passion as appropriate. Garnet regenerates the body and stimulates the metabolism. It treats disorders of the spine and spinal fluid, bone, cellular structure, and composition. It purifies the heart, lungs, blood, and regenerates DNA.

Green Lace Jasper acts as an energetic tonic for anyone recovering from long term illness and boosts the immune system. Green Lace Jasper assists the body to restore cellular tissue. Green Lace Jasper can be useful in treating urinary system, lower digestive system, reproductive system tissue dysfunction.

Green Onyx is the symbol of restfulness and purity. This green soothing stone has the power to relieve all worries, tension, stress, and fears. It is believed to provide a positive feeling, strong mental support, and helps to make wise decisions during difficulties.

Hematite possesses astounding balancing and grounding energy. It has immense protective energy and is great at helping those who lack courage. It powerfully assists with stimulating the mind and may heighten self-confidence, self-esteem, and willpower. It dissolves negativity and prevents you from absorbing the negativity of others. It detoxifies the body and regulates blood flow.

Howlite is a calming stone. It teaches patience and helps to eliminate rage, pain, and stress. It facilitates awareness and encourages emotional expression. It can aid in self-awareness and is helpful in calming the mind. It provides support in releasing attachments to old emotional pain and can ease stress and anxiety.

Imperial Jasper, metaphysically, is known as a spiritual and healing stone. Like other types of jasper, it is a strong healing and protective stone. It is also known to help one get organized, relax, and reach tranquility.

Indian Agate is known to help prevent the fear of aging. Its energy vibrations transmit serenity and patience and decrease stress because it helps carry peace and tranquility. Indian Agate is also known to provide security, protection and stimulates concentration.

Jade, as a protective stone, keeps the wearer from harm and brings harmony. Jade attracts good luck and friendship. It stabilizes the personality and promotes self-sufficiency while soothing the mind and releasing negative thoughts.

Labradorite is a stone of transformation that is a useful companion through change and imparting strength and perseverance. It balances and protects the aura, raises consciousness, and grounds spiritual energies. It’s excellent for strengthening intuition.

Lapis Lazuli encourages self-awareness, allows self-expression, and reveals inner truth, providing qualities of honesty, compassion, and morality to the personality. It stimulates objectivity, clarity, and encourages creativity. Lapis Lazuli assists to confront and speak one’s truth and inspires confidence.

Mahogany Obsidian strengthens the aura, protecting against repeated problems. Wonderful at providing both grounding and protection, Mahogany Obsidian encourages strength in the time of need. It eliminates energetic blockages, relieves tension, and helps to stimulate growth on all levels.

Malachite provides spiritual and energetic protection. It overcomes phobias, encourages risk-taking, and boosts your mood (particularly if you’re depressed). It soaks up plutonium pollution, guards against radiation of all kinds, clears electromagnetic pollution, and heals earth energies. It clears and activates the chakras and attunes to spiritual guidance. It’s a stone of transformation, life is lived more intensely, encourages risk-taking and change. It shows what’s blocking your spiritual growth, breaks unwanted ties and outworn patterns, and teaches how to take responsibility for one’s actions, thoughts, and feelings. It alleviates mental disturbances and combats dyslexia. Placed on your solar plexus, it facilities deep emotional healing and releases negative experiences and old traumas. Particularly useful for cramps and facilitates childbirth. Lowers blood pressure, treats asthma, arthritis, epilepsy, fractures, swollen joints, growths, travel sickness, vertigo, tumors, optic nerve, pancreas, spleen, and parathyroid. Enhances the immune system. Stimulates the liver to release toxins, reduces acidification of tissues. Treats diabetes when worn around the waist. Resonates with feminine sexual organs and treats any dis-ease. Caution may cause heart palpitations, in which case remove immediately and replace with rose quartz or rhodonite. It absorbs negative energy and pollutants easily from the atmosphere and body. It should be cleansed before and after with each use by placing it on a Quartz cluster in the sun (do not use salt, will damage the surface). (Only use in polished form, otherwise toxic.)

Mookaite is a nurturing stone that supports and sustains during times of stress. It brings peace and a feeling of wholeness. Mookaite helps with decision making, especially when having a difficult time. It encourages versatility and helps to accept change.

Moonstone, great for “new beginnings”, is a stone of inner growth and strength. It soothes emotional instability and stress, and stabilizes the emotions, providing calmness. Moonstone enhances intuition and promotes inspiration, success, and good fortune in love and business matters. It aids in lucid dreaming and calm sleep. It deflects negativity and eases emotional trauma.

Obsidian is truth-enhancing. A strongly protective stone, it forms a shield against negativity. It blocks psychic attacks and absorbs negative energies from the environment. Obsidian draws out mental stress and tension. It stimulates growth on all levels, urging exploration of the unknown and opening new horizons. It brings clarity to the mind and clears confusion. Obsidian helps you to know who you truly are.  It dissolves emotional blockages and ancient traumas and promotes qualities of compassion and strength. Obsidian aids with digestion and detoxifies. It reduces arthritis pain, joint problems, and cramps. It warms the extremities.

Onyx, a powerful protection stone,  absorbs and transforms negative energy, and helps to prevent the drain of personal energy. Black Onyx aids the development of emotional and physical strength and stamina, especially when support is needed during times of stress, confusion, or grief. Onyx gives strength. It promotes vigor, steadfastness, and stamina. It imparts self-confidence, helping you to be at ease in your surroundings. Onyx banishes grief, enhances self-control, and stimulates the power of wise decision-making.

Orange Jade is an energetic and stimulating crystal which brings joy and helps us to see the good in people. A protector against danger for children, Jade can help to undo physical harm. A prosperity stone, Orange Jade improves health and assists with past life recall and ancient wisdom.

Orange Quartzite enhances creativity and is helpful when working with emotional issues. It energizes and cleanses the lower chakras and works especially well with removing depression.

Red Jasper increases emotional stamina, self-confidence, self-trust, emotional protection, courage, balance, calm, and relaxation. Red Jasper can also be used for increasing sexual vibrancy. It works great for healing root chakra organs.

Red Tigers Eye has the power to send higher energies through the organs of the lower half of the body. It aids in enhancing confidence and self-esteem. It provides motivation to the non-motivated and energizes those who are feeling lethargic.

Rhodonite is a stone of compassion, an emotional balancer that clears away emotional wounds and scars from the past, and that nurtures love. It stimulates, clears, and activates the heart. Rhodonite grounds energy, balances yin-yang, and aids in achieving one’s highest potential. It heals emotional shock and panic.

Rose Quartz is the stone of universal love. It restores trust and harmony in relationships, encouraging unconditional love. Rose Quartz purifies and opens the heart at all levels to promote love, self-love, friendship, deep inner healing, and feelings of peace. It can improve circulation, boost neuron connectivity, and even accelerate healing. helps prevent thrombosis and heart attacks. The stone has protective effects for the chest, ovaries, uterus, and testicles. Laid under a pillow, rose quartz protects from depression and sleep disorders. Rose quartz also has benefits for fertility.

Sodalite encourages rational thought, objectivity, truth, and intuition, along with the verbalization of feelings. Sodalite brings emotional balance and calms panic attacks. It enhances self-esteem, self-acceptance, and self-trust. Sodalite balances the metabolism, boosts the immune system, and overcomes calcium deficiencies.

Tigers Eye is traditionally carried as a talisman against ill wishing and curses. It brings out integrity, assists in accomplishing goals, recognizing inner resources, and promoting clarity of intention. It grounds and facilitates manifestation of the will, anchors change into the physical body, and aids in mentally collecting scattered information and making it a coherent whole. It’s helpful for resolving internal conflicts, mental dis-ease, and personality disorders. Heals issues of self- worth, self- criticism, and blocked creativity. It alleviates depression and lifts moods. 

Tourmaline (Black) is “the” stone when dealing with negative energy. Not only does Black Tourmaline help to get rid of negative energy, but it also works on attracting positive energy. 

Turquoise promotes self-realization and assists with creative problem-solving. It is a symbol of friendship and stimulates romantic love. Turquoise aids in the absorption of nutrients enhances the immune system, stimulates the regeneration of tissue, and heals the whole body. Turquoise is also a calming stone that can induce internal serenity and lift depleted spirits. Not only will turquoise help to flush negative emotions from the mind, but it is also said to support the detoxification of the body.

Unakite supports convalescence and recovery from a major illness. It treats the reproductive system and stimulates healthy pregnancies while facilitating the health of the unborn. Unakite enhances weight gain, where required, and aids the growth of skin tissue and hair.

Yellow Aventurine fills us with compassion and understanding. Its reassuring energy balances our emotions and alleviates grief and suffering. It eases anxiety and expands the flow of creativity. Physically, Yellow Aventurine can be used as an anti-inflammatory, as well as easing migraine headaches, allergies, and sinus issues.

Note about gemstones: Remember that the power is always in us, our consciousness is more powerful than any outside sources. When using gemstone balancing, do not put all of your faith into the objects.

19Jun/20

Celebrate Juneteenth with these Black-Owned Businesses

IG Discount SaleJuneteenth

Taji, there was no way Juneteenth was rolling around without a Taji Mag Shop Event! Save $5, $10, $15, and $20 off on Adornments and 5-25% off of most other Shop items like wall prints, tote bags, notebooks, duffle bags, and bookbags. No discount code required. Go gift yourself or someone you love and Get Adorned in Taji!
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The Situation’s Black Business Features

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Frances Vicioso is an instructional coach, motivational speaker, large group facilitator, and STEM and robotics instructor.
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In the wake of the online boom of events and their early on predictions, COVID-19 has ushered in a new wave of events and happenings that you can tune into straight from the comfort of your own home. Aligning with this concept, until we are fully in the clear to be in a safe space without social distancing, MLN8NG will be promoting specific events for our community. Promotion during this time is Free.To be promoted via their newsletter, simply email [email protected] with a promotional image with event details and we will include it in our next newsletter. These are one time promotions so capitalize on it swiftly before time is up.Remember, it starts and ends with us. We are our own keepers. Love on one another, watch over your elders, and stay amazing! www.MLN8NG.com

19Jun/20

Why I Miss My Mother on Father’s Day

It doesn’t hurt as much to not have a father when your mother gives you double the love.

Spike Lee’s film Da 5 Bloods recently debuted on Netflix. Whether Spike Lee is cancelled or not, his characters speak to my existence in ways that I would be hard pressed to express without his artistry. Da 5 Bloods juxtaposes two absentee fathers–one who was physically present, but emotionally abusive and another who didn’t know he had a child. I cried watching their relationships unfold and without spoiling the film I have to say that it influenced me to dig deeper into my feelings about my own father.

All the repressed depression and feelings of worthlessness flooded every part of my soul when my mother died. I remember sitting in her room upstairs with my sister while we cleaned and packed her things before the funeral. I found a stack of love letters between my parents. There were trinkets, and photos, and books, and bottles, but the letters stood out to me. The words reflected an innocent and promising passion that I had no recollection of. 

My parents were married at one point and there are photos of us together, but my father was–and is possibly still–a dope fiend. The term is harsh, but I don’t say it with malice. I actually find comfort in the possibility that he was not in my life due to addiction or mental instability. That doesn’t cut as deep as the idea that he just didn’t want to be my father.

Over the years he blamed me for our lack of a relationship. My mother always encouraged me to reach out, but I would usually refuse. Who wants to chase someone who doesn’t want to be caught? I try to find closure and I have even tried reaching out to him, but we always hang up on bad terms because he insists on blaming my mother for his mistakes. I am a huge advocate for Black women’s self care, so why do I keep reaching out to someone who hurts me?

Periodically when I hear my friends talk about how corny their dads are or I watch a movie with a tumultuous father/child relationship, I think back to being in my mother’s room. My parents had me when they were teenagers and the letters were dated before I was born. It was a mirror to all my relationships at the start: seemingly pure and irrevocably simple. So how did they become the people I knew? 

I held the letters in my hand and decided to call him. Getting his number usually involved calling around until I found someone who had seen him sober. I had his contact information within the hour. 

Before I dialed, I paused to think about the time he was supposed to help my Great Aunt Mary Ann move. She has lived in Brooklyn my whole life and my father’s whole life before that. She was a religious woman and I only saw her once as an adult. When I visited for Thanksgiving she was nervous about me staying the night because I was my father’s child. And everybody knew my father would steal as soon as he looked at you, so I could tell that she wondered the same thing about me. After dinner she told me about how he packed up her tiny apartment to help her move to a different part of New York, and instead drove back to Kentucky with all her furniture.

Why would I call a man who would trick an old woman and steal her furniture?

But I did it anyway. I dialed. It rang. He answered. 

I am still not connected to my father beyond sharing DNA. My mother died ten years ago, so when I made the call, I was a different person. At that point, I had still never purchased a real mattress (#futonlife), I didn’t have a driver’s license, and I wasn’t a mother yet.

And, after the awkward call that was one part scolding and one part obituary, he didn’t show up to the funeral. This man couldn’t even bother to come by the wake or say sorry. I mean, it was definitely on brand, but damn.

There are some very obvious, unclever cliches I can attest to about the daughters of absentee fathers and the sorts of men we date. It is tempting and easy, but I don’t want to do that. While interacting with my son’s father is an exercise in insanity, I still make sure that he calls his father. I’m sure that if his father read this, he would say I don’t do enough. But my own longing for a father drives me to push through my irritation and be a decent co-parent. My son is seven now and I think about when I was seven. My father would randomly show up with gifts I didn’t want or offer to take me shopping. All I really wanted was to know he would be there when I lost a tooth or got an award. That is something that still bothers me and somehow I feel like if I can forgive him, then I can forgive others in my life. Forgiveness is not my strong suit and if I feel betrayed, it’s a wrap for that relationship. I don’t want my son’s love to be as conditional and fearful as mine.

The challenge for me is forgiving and letting go. I talked to my therapist about the intruding sense that I am perpetually behind–like I am not good enough. I crave praise. Sometimes to my detriment. There have been times when I’ve rationalized my father’s absence by blaming his addiction or experience in the military. Similarly, I’ve also done this with romantic partners. In one relationship, my partner was still living with his ex. Eventually he cheated with her. In another relationship, I was pressured to have sex and after I finally gave in I felt terrible. I tried to talk to him about it and he ghosted me for a week. When he finally called, he dismissed my feelings and asked to come over. I actually agreed. I compromised over and over because I didn’t want to be considered a bitter Black woman. I didn’t want to be the irrational or unreasonable Black woman. My friend Minda told me once that I was too reasonable. But the way through this grief is to be unreasonable. 

Which makes more sense? Should I make peace with losing my mother and having no father to pick up the pieces? Or should I try one more time to see what all the hype is about with this Daddy’s Girl situation? Is it pointless? Will it make me feel better or worse? Am I even capable of that version of love where I forgive him, then allow him to be part of my life?

I know one of the men who sells (or at least used to sell) my father dope. It would only take a little effort on my part to get in touch with my father. Whether he is his usual revisionist aficionado or a completely different person ready to apologize, I can only control how I show up in the space. I am definitely not ready to sit down with him today, but I am preparing myself. I’m gearing up to be someone who is capable of forgiveness. My anger and resentment and defensive insults are the armor I built to protect myself from that original shot to the heart when my father rejected me. When I was bullied I realized I had hands and the arsenal expanded. Over time I realized that I could use my words like grenades which kept people from getting close enough to hurt me. But I don’t have to be at war all the time. I am not ready to put away all my armor, but I can at least drop one of my swords.