Category Archives: Lifestyle

23Oct/18
Africa Comes Alive

Lindi Roaming the streets celebrating “Africa Comes Alive”

Africa Comes Alive is a celebration of the spirit of Africa through the arts. At its core, the event is intended to inspire an African Renaissance. Each event kicks off with a drum circle to center and prepare the audience for an amazing line-up of live bands, poets, dancers, visual artists, and African crafters. The event is organized by Afridrum Productions and takes place at the African Beer Emporium.

                  

Afridrum is a self-funded organization that identifies and develops extremely talented creatives from underprivileged communities. Through Africa Comes Alive and a circuit of other events, Afridrum exposes the talent it has unearthed to audiences that are likely to book and commission the various artists and performers.

This monthly event is one of the unique ways Africans are uplifting their societies.

David Magatsela Ntsweng (also known as Magatsela More) is a South African musician, songwriter, orchestrator, dancer and actor that started writing his own music in 2009 just after his high school.

He later became a co-founder of an events management company in Atteridgeville in which he also worked as an artists recruiter and set/lineup manager. His love and passion for the arts urged him to go study Musical Theater (at Tshwane University of Technology 2013 { was cast in Sarafinah in Black and White: Directed by Josias Molele }). He then joined a band called Blacque Soul as a lyricist, percussion/guitar player, and vocalist where he performed alongside artists such as Brian Themba, Tribute and Monique Benham to name a few.

Magatsela More’s career ventures on as leading cast in Izwi (The African music celebration), being a member of Main Acts, a co-founder/orchestrator of Wi Ahr band, and as a solo musician with his first hit single “Lepotjotjo” that won the first Road to Evening of Love 2018.

#africacomesalive
@afridrumpta (Facebook, Instagram & Twitter)
Afridrum Productions (YouTube)

TC Maila is a South African born travel photographer.

He was born in a small village in Limpopo called gaMaila. His interest in photography began when he started analyzing body language and behavior in people. The love for art and telling stories can be traced as far as his childhood days in his village. Just like most photographers, as a beginner, he would capture everything until his interest in rural life emerged. He started revisiting such places once again and investing more resources and time in such adventures.

Ever since he noticed that people remember things and events based on how deep their emotions are involved and engaged, he then saw an opportunity to use photography as a tool for story-telling and for sharing information. “When I take a picture my aim is to capture the moment that can help tell a story well… most importantly, the picture must be able to make people think and make people question”.

TC Maila has one of South Africa’s most recognizable styles and approaches and is nothing short of breath-taking.

Each frame is frozen for you to pause, contemplate on the visuals presented, plunging you in emotion, with each image holding a story of its own. Besides his personal work, TC uses photography as a vehicle for change with projects such as “One Click, One Smile” geared towards inspiring and motivating young children across some of the most remote villages and townships in South Africa.

He was one of Africa’s biggest film and photography events “Photo & Film”, keynote speaker back in the year 2015.

     

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.

06Sep/18

Black Girls Rock Shows-off This Sunday

Fate allowed me to attend the taping of the 2018 Black Girls Rock awards show, which took place at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark this past Sunday. This year, awards are given to Dancer & Choreographer Judith Jamison, Queen Mother Janet Jackson, Writer Lena Waithe, and Queen of R&B Mary J. Blige, to name a few. Believe you me, the stars presenting the awards are of the same fan-moment inspiring caliber as the honorees. The likes of the incomparable Phylicia Rashad, Ava DuVernay, Ciara, and Misty Copeland are far more superior than anything else likely to grace your screen. Yes, ever.

Photo Credits: FashionSizzle.com

I refuse to ruin anything for you dear reader, especially regarding the opening, but I definitely suggest that you prop yourself up before the show begins. I pretty much keeled over in my seat watching it live. You have been warned. With the door having been immediately blown off its hinges, you will soon realize that it was just to make way. Behold, the mogul MC and Black royalty, Host Queen Latifah. Black Girls Rock and we get to rock with the Queen for the entire evening. Stunning and attention demanding, suited in an almost tangible coolness, the Queen commands the stage just as you would expect.

With praiseworthy performances (plural, yes) from Yolanda Adams, a goose-bump raising ballad full of swagger soul by H.E.R., and the dipped-in-honey vocals of none other than Tamia, the announced performers will give you the show you are expecting. The soul-stirring performances will leave you with more to say than ‘Great gowns– beautiful gowns’. Okurrr? But what you’re NOT expecting though? The sheer force of the performances that WEREN’T announced. While there are no spoilers here, the good news is that you don’t have to wait long in order to experience it for yourself. ‘ Black Girls Rock ‘ premieres on BET this Sunday, September 9th, at 8pm ET/PT. Check your local listings.

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. 

16Aug/18

Art ‘n Pool Party: Come Party Like Basquiat in the Hamptons

Close out the Summer with one of the hottest parties in the Hamptons, ya’ll! Yes, the Hamptons– like Beyonce’ and Jay Z– Hamptons. Art ‘n Pool is set to be a sexy pool party showcasing New York’s finest emerging Artists. The art exhibit will be featuring the work of Melosa Basquiat, Ben Moon, Cee Love, Justin 32, Jaime Zevallos, Eddy Bogaert, Sunhe Hong and Marcus Glitteris. Who doesn’t want to be surrounded by the best artists while taking a sip and a dip? So come prepared and hope to snag a piece from one of the next big names in art. Like Jay said, “Two years later that **** worth $2 million”. Okurrr!

Art ‘n Pool will be taking place at Oreya, one of the trendiest locations in the Hamptons; this event is seriously not to be missed! Exquisite Events NY is hosting with Beautique, alongside Jaime Zevallos, and INN-A-CIRCLE productions, and they are pulling out all the stops for this fashion forward event! Sponsored by Marcel Fine Wines and featuring the sounds of Dj Marcus GlitteriS, guests are promised a night filled with live entertainment and music. So put on your sexiest pool attire, and wear that ‘for when I go out’ outfit that you bought but haven’t shimmied into yet. Summer is ending and this is going to be the night to remember.

Slay you there.

Sunday, August  26th, 2018 from 2:00 pm to 8:00 pm at Oreya                            (281 County Road 39A, Southampton, NY 11968)

This event is open to the public.

No Cover.

Dress to Impress.

14Aug/18
Blackkklansman x Uncle Spike

Blackkklansman and Double Consciousness

Blackkklansman. Wow. My face is still hot.

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

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

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

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

Spoiler alert.

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

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

Blackkklansman x Uncle Spike

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Not all cops”

“All lives matter”

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

I am so sick of this.

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

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

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

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

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

13Aug/18

Essence CEO Launches Funds for Black Businesses with Queen Latifah

Have you heard? At last month’s Essence Fest, Essence Ventures CEO Richelieu Dennis announced the official launch of the $100 million New Voices Foundation. Dennis, also Founder of the Shea Moisture Brand, had already invested more than $30 million in the 6 months prior to the announcement. “What many of you may not have known all these years is that when you were buying Shea Moisture products you weren’t just investing in that business,” said Dennis during the event’s opening press conference. “We need you to continue buying Shea Moisture so [that] we can continue putting that money back in[to] the community.” The New Voices Fund, dedicated to funding Black Women in business, was originally established in 2017.

Essence

Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Essence

As if that were not enough, the CEO also took the opportunity to announce the new Essence Creators and Makers Fund. Essence Ventures, the parent company of Essence Communications, has already invested $20 million into that fund under the guidance of Dennis. Focused on curating African-American content, production company ‘Flavor Unit Entertainment’ lead by Queen Latifah and Shakim Compere is the first partnership on the bill. Appropriately so, being that during the announcement Dennis gave credit to the duo for developing the idea in the first place. During a later panel discussion on Entrepreneurship, Queen Latifah spoke about the financial obstacles that new ventures often face. “One of the most difficult things is struggling to find the capital to continue your ideas. So by supporting us, you are going to keep this engine running in a way you [can’t] even imagine.” Flavor Unit Entertainment will both create and finance film, television, digital, and documentary-style content that reflects the lives and experiences of Women of Color. The Essence Platform — including print, digital, and live events — will be used to market and promote projects taken under the fund.

Essence

I truly respect Dennis for his direct actions against the disadvantages plaguing Black Economics. So far concerning the Makers and Creators who need to “own our content and not just be work for hire” and the Black Women Entrepreneurs that will receive funding for their businesses, I can’t wait to see what else is in store. “Essence and the vision… speaks to Black Women, but also that creates an economic engine through which… we can reinvest back into our community.” Dennis leads by the example that, with initiative, each of us can take part in the collective growth. I’m convinced that, in finding his purpose, Dennis has our backs for the long haul. That’s almost enough to make me grow back out my hair to support Shea Moisture again. Almost.

Essence

Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Essence

Stayed tuned for surfacing news about The Essence Creators and Makers Fund.

Applications for The New Voices Foundation are not yet open, however, you can initiate a profile on the site here.

The New Voices Fund is a 501( c)(3) Non-Profit Organization. Tax-deductible contributions can be made here.

12Aug/18

Singer Mya Talks New Album + Being Vegan on FuseTV’s ASMR Video

Rnb Bombshell Mya’s recent album, “TKO” (The Knockout), has an absolutely accurate title. As her 8th studio album, it was released just a day shy of the 20 year anniversary of her beloved self-titled debut album, Mya. She was a boss then and not much has changed. The artist executive produced and released the album via her independent label, Planet 9, with teaser singles like ‘Ready for Whatever’ that surfaced in September 2017. With heat like the track “Damage” (my jam already) and “Open,” that features Goldlink, Mya takes us on a sexy, heartfelt journey yet again. Single ‘You Got Me” is just that–HEAT. With writers like Kevin McCall and Marsha Ambrosius, I’m sure that’s exactly what she intended.

In this video with FuseTV, Mya gets to be the first Vegan to make an ASMR video. Honest moment: I had no idea what ASMR was. Once I started watching the interview I instantly remembered having seen a video of another woman whispering and eating a head of lettuce into a podcast mic. I had dismissed it as some fetish trend for people who liked whispering and watching others eat food. I know, irresistibly sexy right? But this is Maya we’re talking about. Sweetheart, darling diva, supremely sexy but sublime. So… what’s up?

For those of you as curious as I was, ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. It is centered around the practice of listening to a variety of spine-tingle inducing sounds like whispering and crunching. With quite the following, ASMR is generally used for meditation, sleep, and in aiding anxiety, insomnia, and depression. Surprisingly non-sexual. Of the several theories I read surrounding the practice, it seems that whispering both relaxes and stimulates by triggering a reflexive sense of intimacy. Who knew? I’m surprisingly here for it and I’m pleased that Mya was the one to break me in. In the video, we get to watch as Mya speaks (or whispers) about being Vegan, her new Alkaline diet, and shares some veggie tips. I’d tell you why she chews and then spits out Carrots like Tobacco, but that would spoil the video.

Catch it here and of course check out Mya’s new album, TKO, available everywhere.

03Aug/18

‘Nappily Ever After’ FINALLY Has A Trailer — It’s Amazing.

This is a bigger reveal than when Sanaa first posted pictures of her #Baldie Cut. We had the title for a while, but yesterday Netflix released the Official Trailer for Nappily Ever After. Ms. Lathan will be starring in the Netflix film based on the Best-Selling book from Author Trisha R. Thomas. Alongside the likes of Halle Berry, Lynn Whitfield, Ernie Hudson, and Ricky Whittle, this is stacked to be a good one.

Nappily Ever After follows Sanaa as Violet Jones, a Woman who is obsessed with Perfection. Not limited to her hair, if it isn’t perfect Violet wants nothing to do with it. But as we all know, it’s not always about what you want, but what wants you. Out of respect for not giving the ENTIRE story away, let’s just say that the gods giveth and they taketh away. Violet’s hair is simply the straw that breaks the Camel’s back. After cutting her hair in a (seemingly intoxicated) act of furious desperation, she is left to face the truth (and the mirror): She doesn’t know who she is without it all. Mix in external pressure and disapproval and you have a story that reeks of resonance. I have a feeling that, Bald or otherwise, most of us Women can relate and even tell a similar story or two. While Women also cut their hair as an act of joy, celebration, and rebellious freedom, this story is one of inevitable truth.

“My Hair was like a second job… Now I’m forced to focus on Myself.”

Coincidentally enough, Sanaa released the pictures of her fresh cut alongside the growing momentum of the #BaldCut and the Black Panther film (btw: Wakanda Forever and ever). There were already ongoing conversations concerning the beauty of Black Women, our hair, femininity, identity, and our imminent liberation from the stereotypes and limitations placed on all of that. Director on the bill is Haaifa Al-Mansour, the first woman Saudi Director and controversial legend of her own country. Being even slightly aware, there are interesting ties to hair and femininity in Saudi Arabia as well. So, with my disappointment at her not being of the Diaspora aside, I am interested to see how she weaves such truths together. In Nappily Ever After, we will get to watch as Violet struggles to recalibrate her entire life and embrace who she is without her preconceived notions of perfection. I have a feeling that it will be just that in the end: Perfect.

Film premieres Sept. 21 on Netflix.