Category Archives: Lifestyle

04Jul/20

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.

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. 

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. 

Flourite 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.

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!
www.TajiMag.com/shop
Instagram | @AdornedinTaji

SPEND YOUR DOLLARS WITH BLACK BUSINESSES
The Situation’s Black Business Features

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BLACK BEARD BRIGADE

Tame the whiskers, never the man. Your face is your first impression—so put your best beard forward with our Premium Beard products.Beard Oil offers the perfect solution leaving your skin and beard looking healthier than ever. With added shine and a fuller body, your beard will be one to be respected.
www.BlackBeardBrigade.com

AMUNAR

Kelsey is a professional Palm, Oracle card, and Lenormand Tarot reader who has practiced spiritual consultation for 9 years in Brooklyn, NY. She is self taught through books, experience, intuition and continuous enthusiasm from satisfied clients. She has a variety of experiences with spiritual readings in face to face sessions, events and online reports.
www.amunar.com/shop

CHECKMATE SWEETS

Luxurious truffle desserts that ignite your taste buds allowing you to enjoy your dessert experience one piece at a time. They have non-dairy/vegan options, gluten-free, alcohol-infused, and edibles and they ship nationwide.
tinyurl.com/checkmatesweets

THEONEWILLFOCUS

Will Focus is both Graphic/Web Designer, Illustrator (Specializing in Satabu/Mwenaa), and Systems builder with a focus in Branding/Identity and Sustainability. As the owner of Melanating, BlkAlchemy, and co-owner of OurBlackWeb, Will currently focuses on creating high impact virtual systems that create an intellectual and financial liberation for people of color.
www.theonewillfocus.com/store
www.MLN8NG.com

LOVELY LEO SKINCARE

Feed Your Skin Everyday It’s Heavenly Made Just for You! Fuel A Dream and Shop Small Business! Whipped Body Butters, Hair & Scalp Oil, Beard Oil & Scalp, Fragrance Oils, and more!
www.etsy.com/shop/LovelyLeoSkincare

EARTH’S CABINET LLC

Alternative & Holistic Health Service | Master Clinical Herbalist, Aromatherapist, Phytotherapist
100% Organic | @EarthsCabinetLLC
Sister Company – @EarthsPotLLC

UNIQUELYWIREDM

Jewelry
Bralette Making Workshops
1 On 1 Private Classes
Collaboration
Hair & Makeup Services
Photography
Host
www.uniquelywiredm.com

ONPOINT ACADEMY

OnPoint Academy Of Music & Movement is a non-profit performing arts school dedicated to educating its students on Hip Hop as an art form and a culture.
@onpointacademymm

Queen TuT

Paige “Queen TuT” Stewart is from Queens, New York. Working as a dance teacher at various public schools, dance schools and arts centers as well as all over the Tri-state area instructing the youth in the movement & dance. Diagnosed with Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis since the age of twelve she continues to move through the oncoming challenges as well as continues to inspire and evoke passion through everything she does.​What Does She Do? Dance, Dance Instructor (Specialties: Hip Hop, Step, Ballet, African, & Contemporary), Choreographer, Spoken Word Poet, Web Design, Video Editor. | www.thequeentut.com

JANELLE NAOMI

Janelle Naomi Rouse is an artist, educator, and speaker currently residing in New York City. She has over 10 years of experience as an educator and is currently speaking on the importance of decolonizing education and Black educators in the classroom.
www.janellenaomi.com

VERSE COMICS USA​

Verse Comics USA (VCU) is a startup company based out of Detroit, MI. The focus of VCU is to develop the most diverse, compelling, and unique stories imaginable in graphic novel and comic book format. We also aim to turn these completed works into motion comics and independent films through our parent company Strait City Productions.
www.versecomicsusa.com/shop

THE STEM UNIVERSITY

Frances Vicioso is an instructional coach, motivational speaker, large group facilitator, and STEM and robotics instructor.
Instagram | @newlyengineeredme & @thestemuniversity

HAVE AN ONLINE EVENT, SHARE IT WITH MLN8NG!

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.

19Jun/20

Alexis Chikaeze Chats about her Character in Miss Juneteenth

Synopsis: Built like a bird, Turquoise Jones is a single mom who holds down a household, a rebellious teenager, and pretty much everything that goes down at Wayman’s BBQ & Lounge. Turquoise is also a bona fide beauty queen—she was once crowned Miss Juneteenth, a title commemorating the day slavery was abolished in Texas. Life didn’t turn out as beautifully as the title promised, but Turquoise, determined to right her wrongs, is cultivating her daughter, Kai, to become Miss Juneteenth, even if Kai wants something else.

Miss Juneteenth is a compelling film that debuts on VOD just in time for Juneteenth, the most celebrated commemoration marking the end of slavery. The film stars Nicole Beharie (42, Sleepy Hollow), Kendrick Sampson (Insecure), and newcomer Alexis Chikaeze. Alexis is not only an up-and-coming actress, she is also an activist against racial injustice. The soon to be HBCU student took time from her busy schedule to talk to Taji Mag about her new film Miss Juneteenth. 

Dapper Dr. Feel (DDF): What does Juneteenth mean to you and why is it important? 

Alexis Chikaeze (AC): It is about the end of slavery, it’s about our freedom to speak about what is right. Back in the day, we weren’t able to, but now we can speak up for change. 

FYI: Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Also known as Emancipation Day and Black Independence Day. On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, TX, and announced the end of the Civil War and the end of slavery. The Emancipation Proclamation was dated January 1, 1863, however, many slave owners continued to hold their slaves captive after the announcement. In turn, Juneteenth became a symbolic date representing African American freedom.

Alexis Chikaeze

DDF: Was this your first film?

AC: This is my first big role ever and my first audition ever. It’s surreal, a week after I signed with my agent, I got the audition. 

DDF: How much of the Kai character was relatable to you? 

AC: Honestly, we are just about the same. It made embodying the character a little easier. Kai is outgoing, she’s headstrong, she is willing to do just about anything to make sure that she can do what she loves. Kai loves her mother and I feel she was set on showing her mother that dancing was her passion. She is really trying to convince her mother just as I had to convince my parents that I wanted to pursue acting. My parents are Nigerian immigrants and the preference that was given career-wise was Doctor or Engineer. Venturing out into other professions is not really something to consider. When I first started, they were skeptical. They were questioning if acting would secure my future. It’s similar to how Kai’s mother wants the best for her. 

“Hold those things that tell your history and protect them. During slavery, who was able to read or write or keep anything? The ability to have somebody to tell your story to is so important. It says: ‘I was here. I may be sold tomorrow. But you know I was here.” – Maya Angelou

DDF: What was it like working with Nicole Beharie and Channing Godfrey Peoples?

AC: Both of them are very humble individuals. It was a wonderful experience working with Nicole, she’s kind-hearted and high spirited. She was so happy to help me and, even before shooting, we would do some exercises to make sure we were both ready mentally and physically. Anytime I felt like I needed help or had to ask Nicole a question, she was more than happy to assist me in any way she could. As for Channing, she allowed me to put into the character what I thought would fit the character and use my own perspective. During the times I was frustrated and hard on myself she reassured me and gave me words of encouragement. 

Nicole Beharie

DDF: What do you think people will take away from the film?

AC: I really hope that people take the time to learn about Black History, the Black community, who we are as Black people, and how rich our culture is. I think more people, myself included, are taking time to learn more about Black history because we don’t learn enough in this educational system.

Miss Juneteenth is a must-watch that I found to be similar to Mommy Dearest but better and more relatable. So much so, that after the film I had to call my mother to tell her “I love you and thank you for your sacrifices.” With Nicole Beharie’s ability to pull the audience in through her character’s obstacles and Alexis’ charm, this is a film many should enjoy on Juneteenth. 

Directed and written by  Channing Godfrey Peoples 

Starring Nicole Beharie, Kendrick Sampson, and Alexis Chikaeze

13Jun/20
TajiMagChallenge

#TajiMagChallenge Cover

Here are the how-to steps to create your own #TajiMagChallenge Cover via Canva and PicMoney:

Canva App

  1. Download CANVA for iOS or Android. You can download it for your desktop too.
  2. Select your custom size to 8.25 x 10.75 inches.
  3. Upload your preferred image for your cover.
  4. Upload our logo available in Black or White. Each logo is on a transparent background. Download here.
  5. You can drag our logo on top of your image. To resize the logo, pull from the corners to retain the quality for the logo.
  6. Add your cover lines, name, etc. Don’t add text too close to the edge to ensure it’s not cut off on Instagram. Use the expand button on IG to show the entire image.
  7. Download as PNG. Post on Social Media. Tag us: @tajimagazine using #TajiMagChallenge hashtag.

PicMonkey

  1. Download PICMONKEY for iOS or Android. You can download it for your desktop too.
  2. Select your custom size to 8.25 x 10.75 inches.
  3. Upload your preferred image for your cover.
  4. Upload our logo available in Black or White. Each logo is on a transparent background. Upload our logo available in Black or White. Each logo is on a transparent background. Download Here
  5. You can drag our logo on top of your image. To resize the logo, pull from the corners to retain the quality for the logo.
  6. Add your cover lines, name, etc. Don’t add text too close to the edge to ensure it’s not cut off on Instagram. Use the expand button on IG to show the entire image.
  7. Download as PNG. Post on Social Media. Tag us: @tajimagazine using #TajiMagChallenge hashtag.

We will randomly select our favorites to post on our feed and Stories. Use the logo for entertainment purposes only. We want the #TajiMagChallenge to be a fun experience and not sure for misrepresentation of placement.

THANK YOU to Obvious Mag for laying out the blueprint for Black mags to participate in this challenge and represent us without worry.

11Jun/20
da 5 bloods

Spike Lee’s, Da 5 Bloods, is Reflective of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement

DA 5 BLOODS (L to R) Director SPIKE LEE, ISIAH WHITLOCK JR. as MELVIN, DELROY LINDO as PAUL, JONATHAN MAJORS as DAVID, CLARKE PETERS as OTIS and NORM LEWIS as EDDIE of DA 5 BLOODS. Cr. DAVID LEE/NETFLIX © 2020

SYNOPSIS: From Academy Award® Winner Spike Lee comes a New Joint: the story of four African-American Vets — Paul (Delroy Lindo), Otis (Clarke Peters), Eddie (Norm Lewis), and Melvin (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.) — who return to Vietnam. Searching for the remains of their fallen Squad Leader (Chadwick Boseman) and the promise of buried treasure, our heroes, joined by Paul’s concerned son (Jonathan Majors), battle forces of Man and Nature — while confronted by the lasting ravages of The Immorality of The Vietnam War.

From the very start of the film Da 5 Bloods, the tone is set with a clip of Muhammad Ali’s disagreement with the Vietnam war. Issues of racism, selective patriotism, poverty, discrimination, greed, and mental health awareness were covered throughout this film – and are pretty much a sign of the times. The film even had its moments making fun of Donald Trump and how the world mocks his leadership. There were times I felt reflective, upset, and disappointed, but overall the film was one of the better high profile films I’ve seen.

Da History

I always love when Spike Lee puts history into his films, some things I have to google to make sure there is accuracy, and sometimes it’s just comforting knowing he gives a damn about our history and Black culture. I was highly impressed with the story of Milton J. Olive III, the young soldier who was awarded the medal of honor after sacrificing himself covering a bomb to save his fellow soldiers. Spike will later pay homage to this in the film. He also mentions the story of Crispus Attacks and his sacrifice for injustice, which also serves as motivation for them to get gold years later.

“My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn’t put no dogs on me, they didn’t rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father. … Shoot them for what? How can I shoot them poor people?” – Muhammad Al

The appearance Hanoi Hannah, a Vietnamese radio personality who was most known for her broadcasting during the Vietnam war, was an interesting segment. The five soldiers listened to her speak via radio about the assassination of Martin Luther King and racially driven crimes that really had me connect with the characters. It was as if she was saying while you are over here killing people of color, the rights you claim to fight for are being stripped and Black people are being killed in the very same country you are fighting for.

DA 5 BLOODS (L to R) ISIAH WHITLOCK JR. as MELVIN, NORM LEWIS as EDDIE, CLARKE PETERS as OTIS, DELROY LINDO as PAUL, JONATHAN MAJORS as DAVID in DA 5 BLOODS. Cr. DAVID LEE/NETFLIX © 2020

I was intrigued by the French character’s interaction with the lead characters and the discussion of the French involvement with America during the war. It just made me think of how Americans perceive war and our reasons for war. 

Da Cause *Spoiler Alert*

The MacGuffin of the film, the gold, was definitely a reward the soldiers deserved. Just like many Black people feel today after the blood spilled, lives lost, ideas stolen, land stolen, etc. They don’t get to enjoy the riches of a thriving economy? Damn right they made a smart call to return for that fortune. To me, it was a way they were fighting to receive their overdue reparations. 

By the end of the film, it was compelling to see how it compares to what we are all experiencing right now – the importance of family and other people. I am not going to lie, during the parts where Chadwick Boseman’s character was talking about giving the money back to the people I thought, “Look at Black Panther over here taking some of the Killmonger beliefs!”

It was even cool seeing how the #BlackLivesMatter organization received some the money to help their cause…much like they are doing now after the lost lives of innocent Black people. 

DA 5 BLOODS (L to R) ISIAH WHITLOCK JR. as MELVIN, NORM LEWIS as EDDIE, DELROY LINDO as PAUL, CLARKE PETERS as OTIS and JONATHAN MAJORS as DAVID in DA 5 BLOODS Cr. COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2020

Da Relationships

The relationship between Paul (Delroy Lino) and David (Jonathan Majors) I found intriguing because of the exploration of mental health and display of masculinity. Although I did want a slightly better ending to the characters, it was still good. Paul suffered severely from mental issues and internal struggles, which is later discovered. I still think it’s funny they had him supporting Trump. 

Eddie (Clark Peters) and Tien was another interesting relationship, having an interracial relationship and child during the 1960s in Vietnam. Talk about a challenging time and tough situation? It was a twist I did not expect. 

Da Blackness

Spike Lee always represents Blackness in his films, it’s the little things that other executives, writers, and directors don’t show. Take for instance the Moorehouse paraphernalia the character David wears or the mention of Black Lives Matter, these are things Black people need to see. How things are organic, not token, not stereotypical but the effortless display of Black culture. Hollywood should do a better job with all representations, otherwise, it diminishes the integrity of the film.

I found the use of video clips from historical events and people to be satisfying. It really gave me a reason to have a connection to the characters and to feel their pain.

Da 5 Bloods will be released June 12th on Netflix and is definitely worth watching. It does have a lot of gore during the gunfights but that is all overshadowed by the storytelling, character relationships, and conflicts within the film. Spike Lee has definitely provided the viewers with a film we will be talking about for the upcoming months.

da 5 bloods

Directed by Spike Lee

Starring Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, Isiah Whitlock, Jr., Chadwick Boseman

DA 5 BLOODS releases globally on Netflix JUNE 12

09Jun/20

Tribeca Selection “Tangled Roots” Documents Attica Scott’s Fight Against Hair Discrimination

Kentucky House of Representative for the 41st district

Tangled Roots follows Attica Scott, the only black woman in the Kentucky state legislature, as she fights to dismantle a system of discrimination against black people penalized for something seemingly innocuous – their hair.

The lost lives of those like Breonna Taylor due to police brutality have been more than enough to encourage protests around the world. There have been many activists, such as Kentucky State Representative Attica Scott, who have been fighting on the frontlines against discrimination and injustice long before most recent events. 

Tribeca Film Festival selection and Queen Latifah produced documentary, Tangled Roots, follows Representative Scott in her fight for House Bill 33. House Bill 33 would ban the discrimination of hairstyles associated with African Americans and Kentucky is one of the last states to pass and not have an active bill against hair discrimination. Support from many around the world, activists, and filmmakers like Matthew Cherry (director of the Oscar-winning short film, Hair Love), have influenced states across the country to pass bills that ban hair discrimination. Tangled Roots shows the importance of this bill and the future of minority representation in legislation. Representative Scott was able to take time from her activism and participation for protesting in memory of Breonna Taylor for an interview with Taji Mag. 

Dapper Dr. Feel (DDF): How did you become involved in the film? 

Attica Scott (AS): I was contacted by the documentarian because she has seen my daughter’s issue of hair discrimination at her school and was interested in the bill I had filed against hair discrimination. 

DDF: What are the latest House Bill 33 updates, I can only imagine COVID-19 having some impact on things? 

AS: It’s interesting we find ourselves with COVID-19, the protesting, and uprising against discrimination. It’s a reminder for me how important it is that I work on legislation that is about us being able to show up as our whole selves and not have to fear discrimination.

DDF: What do you think it is going to take for people to realize this needs to be enforced? 

AS: We need to have people share their stories more. While Sam Knowles (director of Tangled Roots) was here during the shoot, I was able to get some people to share their stories with her. We’ve got to have more of that because it is part of how we make it real for people. It’s sad to say but we still, as Black people with our natural hair, are almost always justifying our existence and our humanity. We also need more people to understand that injustice is injustice, we have to have people that want a different world. 

As a legislator, I am going to support a bill I think has nothing to do with me because it affects the people that I serve and represent. I need more of my white colleagues to do that. I want them to know legislation shouldn’t be about you, it’s about making things better for the people of the Commonwealth. 

DDF: What reaction do you expect people to have once people see the film? 

AS: I am hopeful that people around the world will see how important it is to tell the story of advocacy for colored policy in southern states. I don’t imagine people around the country not seeing Kentucky as a place for human rights and social activism. I am glad to lift up that story for people right here in the Commonwealth. I am hopeful people get inspired and energized to help the passage of this bill during the next legislation. I am also hopeful our governor will see how important this is and make it a priority to support bills like this.

We’ve been talking about the impact of COVID-19 on Black people around country and support for Breonna Taylor and her family, it shows that white people and white people in power can no longer ignore us and think it is ok.

DDF: How have you been active during the protesting and police brutality cases? 

AS: Three years ago, my second year as representative. I had actually sponsored a bill related to independent investigations of police shootings and I will continue to file the bill. I will continue to be a champion of police accountability. One of the attorney’s who has been working on Breonna Taylor’s case and Kenneth Walker’s (Breonna’s boyfriend) case, is the same person that brought the bill to my attention because he was working on a case involving a young man named Darnel Wicker who was shot and killed by police. 

I have been currently sharing information about the Breonna Taylor case via social media because I have people who go to my page for information that they may not get otherwise. I’ve also been working with our legislation research commission on a suite of bills to address things like “No Knock” warrants across the Commonwealth and repealing Stand your ground laws. 

I also think it’s important to show up, to have my body in places where it’s needed, and be in the community where my people are in pain.  

DDF:  What is your advice to Black people during these times of the protest?

AS: I want Black people to know that you are beautiful, your skin is beautiful. What we are seeing right now comes from a deep place of love. People are in pain, people are hurting because they love. Keep leading with that love, keep showing up, keep resisting, and keep making white people uncomfortable because it is only in those places of discomfort that white people move. They do what they are supposed to do when they are in elected positions to make a difference in our lives so we don’t have to keep doing stuff like this time after time. 

Tangled Roots is a well organized short film that shows the struggle of minority support from the Kentucky government. With the increased support of Black Lives Matter, Attica Scott will hopefully have the support she needs to pass House Bill 33 and other bills to help improve the lives of many Black people. 

Tangled Roots

Directed by Samantha Knowles

Starring Attica Scott and Ashanti Scott

Tangled Roots is a QUEEN COLLECTIVE Film

The Queen Collective – a program developed in partnership with Queen Latifah, Procter & Gamble, and Tribeca Studios – aims to accelerate gender and racial equality behind the camera by opening doors through mentoring, production support, and creating distribution opportunities for content by the next generation of multicultural women directors.

06Jun/20

You Mad or Nah?

#DearSistaGirl;
I had a conversation the other day and the subject of self-honesty came up. Being not so honest with ourselves in regards to the relationships we find ourselves struggling in, tends to be overlooked. So let’s unpack this, shall we?

Sis, are you really mad at him, or is he not living up to the fantasy you concocted in your mind about who he is and how he should behave? Can we discuss this fantasy building tendency we have? We need to unpack why we do it and the inevitable emotional fallout it causes. We need to discuss it in order for us to avoid the pitfalls that will always follow.

Oftentimes, we as women tend to tie our self-worth and identities to a relationship. We don’t see ourselves as complete unless we are in a relationship. Many times we see being in a said relationship as a way to validate our existence. Societal pressures play a big part in forming this mindset. Statements like: “What do you mean you don’t have a man yet?”; “Why are you still single”; “No one’s scooped you up yet?”; “Stop being so independent so you can settle down!” Sound familiar? From the time we are young, we begin to dream of the time when we walk down the aisle to get married. We dream up scenarios about the perfect boyfriend. We not only daydream about his looks but we also daydream about how he will treat us, the adventures we’d share, how much money he’d make, and how he will make sure we want for nothing. These teenaged-girl dreams subconsciously follow us into adulthood.

However, what awaits us as we become women are timelines and more intense societal pressures to achieve the perfect career, home, and relationship. We begin to actively seek out ways to accomplish each goal. We have an idea how we’d like our homes to look, so we diligently put our dollars aside and start to look for just the right spot. We decorate it much in the way we had dreamed of. We craft our resumes in such a way that we will land that perfect job so that we can easily finance our lifestyle. We plan everything, every detail of our lives. We even plan our relationships, and this is where we can get stuck if we aren’t careful. We are so accustomed to planning how we want things to be that we forget that we can’t plan how someone else will behave.

When we enter a relationship we have preconceived notions about how things will be. However, we are still influenced by societal pressures for perfection. We expect that our partners will live up to the ideals we’ve had since childhood. We expect that knight in shining armor who will sweep us off our feet. We expect to be showered with gifts and to be spoken to in dulcet tones. We expect that once in a relationship, your partner’s drive and ambition will match or exceed your own. You expect your dreams to come true. But sometimes it’s not that simple. Sometimes we enter into a relationship with someone based on sexual compatibility, yet we failed to date them long enough to discover if they are:

1. Emotionally available
2. Financially stable
3. Emotionally stable
4. Employed/Self-employed
5. Ready to be in a relationship
6. Intellectually compatible
7. Raised on love or survival

We are so excited to be in love that we fail to discover how they show love. They may profess love with their words but not know how to do so with their actions. So here you are arriving home from a stressful day at work expecting your partner to greet you with a hug, a kiss, and soothing words. But what you find is him sitting on the couch playing his game system where he’s been all day. He looks up for a split second and asks, “What are you going to cook, I’m hungry.” This isn’t the first time or even the second and now you’re mad. Sound familiar?

How about this: For his birthday you bought him a gift that he’d been eyeing for quite some time. He was so hyped that he called his boys to brag about you. Months later, your birthday (or any other gift-giving holiday) rolls around and all he gets you is a card. Now you’re mad, hurt, and feel unappreciated. What is the common denominator in each scenario? Lack of clear communication early in the relationship. It’s not him you’re mad at. You’re mad that he’s not living up to all of the preconceived notions you formed years ago? You’re angry because he didn’t abide by the non-existent conversation you should have had from the beginning. Did you fall in love with who he was or did you fall for who you hoped he’d be? Falling in love with an idea or with potential, as opposed to who he really is, can be disastrous.

Let’s be real, having various in-depth conversations during the dating phase is a crucial step that we often miss. We base an entire relationship on sexual compatibility without even once asking important questions. The answers to these questions could very well be deal-breakers, so skipping this step is a huge mistake. So, what can you do if this is the situation you are currently facing? You can rectify it by having a serious heart to heart/face to face conversation with your love interest. Discuss what’s upsetting you. Talk about what you need from them but also be willing to listen to what they need from you. Be patient when having this conversation. Allow it to flow naturally as opposed to you controlling the narrative so it can move in the direction you hope for. If you two can make compromises and work the kinks out of your relationship, then great. If not, respectfully part ways and chalk it up to a lesson learned. And PLEASE learn the lesson! It’s not good to move on to a new relationship holding the same hidden expectations that ended your previous one.

Take your time dating. Date him for several months until you’ve exhausted your list of questions. Date him for several months to observe how he handles stress, his money, and how he treats the women in his life, among others. Find out if he’s kind-hearted and note if he was raised on love rather than survival. If he was raised on survival, chances are he won’t know how to love you properly and his responses to everyday scenarios will be askew. Your love languages matter, Sis!! Go into a relationship fully informed about who he is and what he is about, as opposed to holding on to the fantasy you want him to fulfill. There’s no rush. Societal pressures will be there whether you jump into a relationship or whether you don’t. But which is better? Getting into a relationship that adds to your joy or one that disrupts your peace? I want you to choose joy. Why? Because you deserve it.

30May/20

They are not Supremacists, Masters, or even Oppressors

Words have power. What you think and speak, you start to believe, even on a subconscious level. Words tend to manifest in our lives. A form of magic is at work when you are “spell-ing.” Most successful people will tell you to write down your goals and read them out loud daily. Spell-ing. If this works for success, it must also work for the opposite and adverse results. As an American Descendant of Slavery (ADOS), I cannot refer to a European descendant as a supremacist, a slave master, or even an oppressor. I REFUSE to allow them that power.

African descendants are supreme beings. The oldest known human on the planet is an African woman. We call the continent Mother Africa for a reason. Thus, it would be blasphemous for me to refer to the hatred sweeping through European Americans as supreme.

They are white inferiorists.

* Added to Spell Check Dictionary *

Fully functional, rational thinking adults do not hate someone based on their skin color. They do not participate in the unjust beatings, lynchings, and shootings of people just because their skin color differs. That’s childish, egotistical, jealously. The ‘I want what you have so I’m going to take it’ complex is deep-rooted in their DNA.

They hate our skin. Our noses. Our lips. Our a** and d***. Our creativity. Our divine connection to the Universe. All too bold and too large for them to ever achieve so they do everything in their power to make sure we hate ourselves and prevent us from reaching our fullest potential. They hate us because, despite our lack of resources, we still shine bright and turn coal into diamonds. Instead of congratulating, they shoot us in the back, raid our homes, choke us with whatever body part is available, and threaten to do the same to anyone to attempts to assist us. Inferior.

They cannot be my master.

They may have mastered pillaging, raping, looting, and deceiving, but they are not my master. Owning another human makes you trash, not a master. An enslaved-owner, because my ancestors were not slaves but enslaved, is a despicable title some wear as a badge of honor. That is inferior.

They may have worked their hardest to keep my people down and actually be oppressors, but I still will not call them by such – they’re just bullies and bullies can be dealt with. I will not allow them to think that they hold any power over my life or my community or that I need to beg to be seen as a whole human (because three-fifths *eye roll). I will not plead with them to get their foot off of my neck, I will instead break their ankles.

Period.
Stateless

Stateless: The Systematic Denaturalization of Dark-Skin Haitians Born in the Dominican Republic

SYNOPSIS: In 1937, tens of thousands of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent were exterminated by the Dominican army, based on anti-Black hatred fomented by the Dominican government. Fast-forward to 2013, the Dominican Republic’s Supreme Court stripped the citizenship of anyone with Haitian parents, retroactive to 1929. The ruling rendered more than 200,000 people stateless, without nationality, identity, or a homeland. In this dangerous climate, a young attorney named Rosa Iris mounts a grassroots campaign, challenging electoral corruption and advocating for social justice. Director Michèle Stephenson’s new documentary, Stateless, traces the complex tributaries of history and present-day politics, as state-sanctioned racism seeps into mundane offices, living room meetings, and street protests.

The 2020 Tribeca Film Festival selection, Stateless, is an extremely compelling film that touches on a discrimination narrative I find to be all too familiar. Watching the film, I could not help but feel emotionally drained by the actions of the Dominican Supreme Court’s decision to strip people of their nationality, rights, and life altogether. Given the state the United States has been in concerning immigration politics, I can not help but see a possible future where people in our country will meet the same demise.  

“As a child, growing up in a Haitian and Latinx household and diasporic communities in North America, I continued to overhear stories about the history of my birthplace relating to race, color, class, colonialism, and human rights. Those observations formed the basis of how I made sense of the world that surrounded me, especially as those notions collided with the racism, segregation, and discrimination that we faced in our adopted countries. Those experiences fueled my passion to dig deeper into the consequences of our deeply painful common history of slavery and colonialism and how we continue to internalize such self-hatred.” – Michele Stephenson 

I was really impressed by the work of young attorney Rosa Iris and her pursuit of justice for those wronged by the system. Her effort to free her people of oppression and discrimination so admirably left me rooting for her the whole documentary. I could see the drive in her eyes and the passion for her work pouring from her heart so badly and her wanting only the best for her people. Stephenson was very fond of Rosa’s efforts stating “I fell in love with Rosa and her vulnerability. She was an all-in collaborator, which you could not ask better for a project. She told me that when you get into a relationship of trust with your collaborator, they end up helping you find the story. They know what you are looking for and it’s that kind of exchange.”

It was heartbreaking to watch the system reject Rosa’s cousin, Teofilo Murat, who was one of the unfortunate stateless people displayed in the film. 

“She (Rosa) is the one that told me her cousin, Teofilo Murant, he’s stateless and he’s leaving for Haiti. He was a working-class guy, able to pay his rent, and one day to the next he lost his papers, he lost everything. So, we reached out to him and spent time with him before he moved to Haiti. He said I’m outta here because I’m suffering too much,  it’s too dangerous, it’s too precarious and he left for the mountains of Haiti. For me, there’s this flipping the narrative of what Haiti means to folks, there’s this idea that refugees have no place and they are in destitute situations. But for me, Teofilo represents a modern maroon. He’s escaping this oppression to what he perceives as freedom in the mountains of Haiti. You can see in the film that Rosa still has faith in the system when Teofilo does not believe the country has his best interest,” explained Stephenson about the origin of Teofilo’s involvement in the film. 

Rosa Iris with Juan Teofilo Murat

“The question of what citizenship means is shaken up in this beautiful documentary. Also, watching anti-immigration bias alongside garden variety racism spread globally, you realize how timely this film is. I’m proud to work with Michèle and bring this story to the world.” – Jennifer Holness, Producer (Hispaniola Productions)

Gladys, another featured person in the film, is a right-winged Dominican of Haitian descent who has a strong dislike for Haitians. When asked about Gladys, Stephen stated, “A couple of years into the project, I felt very strongly about Gladys. The whole right-wing nationalist in the country was so profound and I felt that being there I couldn’t ignore that narrative, that presence, but also I had to challenge myself as a light-skinned person that could have potential access to that narrative in a more intimate way that others may not be able to. I never really confront Gladys with my own ideology because I wanted to get what I could get. I challenged myself to be uncomfortable to get to the point where I can grab the story that Gladys had to tell because she really wanted to tell her story. I barely had to ask questions because she really wanted to make her point.”

Stephenson said she and producers did a casting and they approached a couple of people, who in her opinion were way too aggressive. She didn’t know if she could spend half a day with them. They were men, they were very aggressive when they talked about Haitians with great disdain. She said “their hatred was virulent, it was like spitting out of their mouths. It’s like here in the U.S., do you want the stereotypical hater to be the one to represent the other side and lose the complexity and the depths of the hatred?”

Gladys and the national mouvement group

Stephenson also said that when she met Gladys, she thought to herself, “here is this woman that presents a paradox. She presents a certain way, she presents as Black, and yet the hatred she has is hatred for Haitians.” She went on to explain how her friends and colleagues who watched the film in New York immediately recognized Gladys as an archetype. 

Filmmaker Michele Stephenson put together a powerful and enlightening piece, that will challenge you to think about the state the U.S. is in when it comes to immigration laws and the awful conditions that some of the Haitians and Dominicans with Haitians parents are in. The imagery and art used to display the sugar canes are visually pleasing and serve as short intermissions from the harsh realities within the film. 

My objective is to connect the film to a network of committed partners in the Caribbean region, Latin America, the U.S., and internationally, to utilize the film as a platform for their work on protecting the rights of migrants, and citizens, and to deepen people’s understanding of the intersection between anti-black racism, migration, and citizenship rights.” – Michele Stephenson

Hopefully, Stateless will be widespread and will inform people about the injustices some of the people in the Dominican Republic are facing. I also hope Michele achieves her goal to involve more people and organizations that can help give these people their rightful lives. This film encourages people to work together in this fight against oppression and discrimination worldwide. May this film tap into the viewers’ cores and enlighten their minds.  

Stateless Trailer

Hispaniola Productions and the National Film Board of Canada present

A Rada Film Group and Hungry Eyes Media film

Director: Michèle Stephenson

Producers: Michèle Stephenson, Jennifer Holness, Lea Marin

Screenwriter: Michèle Stephenson

Cinematographers: Alfredo Alcántara, Tito Rodriguez, Naiti Gámez, Nadia Hallgren, Pedro Arnau Bros Santana, Jaime Guerra

Editor: Sophie Farkas-Bolla 

Executive Producers: Joe Brewster, Anita Lee, Sudz Sutherland

Cast: Rosa Iris Diendomi-Álvarez, Teofilo Murat, Gladys Feliz