Category Archives: News

19Dec/16
Fatou and the Kora

Children’s Book Fatou and the Kora is a Modern African Fairy Tale

Fatou and the KoraOur children — all children, deserve high art and high quality literature.  How important is it for children to see not only themselves but the world around them accurately in the stories they read and are read to them?  At The English Schoolhouse we believe that so much of a child’s beliefs not only about the world, but themselves, is shaped by the imagery and stories they are exposed to from an early age and throughout childhood.  We’re pleased to share our eighth title from our boutique publishing house, Fatou and the Kora.
Fatou and the Kora is a modern West African fairy tale set in Dakar, Senegal.  Fatou, a young Senegalese girl, resides in a region where it is thought by many that the kora, or the African harp, is an instrument that is not to be played by girls.  Fatou follows her instinct and discovers a generational gift within herself, while also teaching her father an unexpected lesson.
Enjoy the audiobook for Fatou and the Kora on YouTube bit.ly/FatouandTheKora and read along with the story, which can be purchased at www.theenglishschoolhouse.com
18Dec/16
Pan African Children's Books

29 Pan African Children’s Books!

 Tallulah the Tooth Fairy CEO

Pan African Children's Books

Add ones we’ve missed in the comments 🙂

List somewhat compiled by www.binoandfino.com
“Here at Bino and Fino, we are always on the look out for things that will help nurture young minds.  Finding children’s books for kids that have a black girl as the protagonist or the main character can be tricky. This is because of the fact that there is very little visibility of black & brown kids in the world of children’s books.  This is changing with campaigns such as We Need Diverse Books calling for more diversity in children’s books.

If you like any of these books and are looking for similar titles check out Tutu’s Storybook’s. They specialize in selling a wide variety of Pan African children’s books that celebrate black heritage & diversity for early readers.”

17Dec/16
yeezy

Is Yeezy Season Over?!

 You seen Yeezy’s new line?! That s%#t is ugly bro!

..says the guy trying to convince me while contradictly standing in a distressed sweater from a popular Euro brand. It’s insane how the same people who disrespect one’s art surprisingly have the audacity to purchase mimicry. Now, I’m not saying Kanye’s prices for Yeezy pieces aren’t outstandingly ridiculous, that’s another topic for another day. I guess what I’m trying to convey is, how does one depreciate his (Kanye’s) designs, then, with the same mouth, say to the cashier “Yeah, I want to buy this” while presenting a garment literally inspired by Yeezy. It’s okay, I will ask Yeezus to forgive them of their blasphemy, they know not what they do. 

Here’s an interesting question; What about the individualistic stylish people who’ve been wearing distressed garments before Yeezy season?! To those I say, there are two things you can do in these times of abused trends. One, box up and store away all the pieces that are obvious participants of the “distress” trend. The only other thing one can do is separate themselves from the doppelgängers by staying true to the style before it became a trend. People who are trendy-chasers are like “wave surfers”… when the “wave” dies, so will their “surfing”. In other words, when the trend dies, the ones who were true to the “distress” style by it being their lifestyle (because there’s a difference – style v. lifestyle) will continue being… themselves!

Unfortunately it’s continuously growing, top fashion-retail companies, of affordable pricing for the majority of society, are producing Yeezy mimicry pieces and more and more people are absorbing the trend. So, will the abuse of the trend heat up so much that it ends Yeezy Season quicker than expected? Will you pack away your distressed garments until Yeezy season passes along with the creation of its disasters (people abusing the trend)? Or will you stay genuine and fight through the disasters Yeezy season has involuntarily created? These aren’t jabs at Kanye West for the awesome creative direction behind this season of Yeezy, but definitely stabs at those who trend-surf and don’t have a life-style which kills fashion as quick as it’s launched. Choose your fate and may Yeezus be with you.

17Dec/16
Jollof Rice

The Joys of Jollof

The Joys of Jollof

Jollof Rice

If you’re planning for the holidays and you’ve never tasted Jollof rice, stop everything. Taji mag is giving you another great reason to love the continent. Africa is full of culture, beauty, knowledge, and history. Some of the best food also comes from the motherland. Although a number of West African nations argue about who created it, we can all agree on one thing for sure: it is delicious! If you like Jambalaya, you’ll enjoy Jollof (Jambalaya is actually a derivative of Jollof that came to fruition when Africans were taken from their homeland as a result of the transAtlantic slave trade). All Jollof rice around the world is not the same, but it all started in Africa because our motherland is the  genesis of everything beautiful.

You can spice it up with a bit with more cayenne. Furthermore, as much as I personally like adding chicken or shrimp, you can make it vegan by omitting the chicken bullion and butter (substitute with olive oil or vegan butter). It can compliment a protein as a side dish or be the main course. Another thing to note is that everyone does it their own way. Consequently, Jollof rice is simple and flavorful because of that diversity. So, here is a version I’ve made below with my great grandmother’s instructions, because Taji is different:

Total Time: I say about an hour, depending on how slow yuh chop
Prep: Like 10 min
Cook: 45 minutes (more or less)

Ingredients
1 pound parboiled rice (no other kind, either)
2 maybe 3 large tomatoes, chopped fine
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 onion, sliced
3 maybe 4 cloves of garlic
4 teaspoons olive oil
3 large red bell peppers, seeded and sliced
1 bunch fresh thyme, leaves picked
1 teaspoon white pepper
8 chicken bouillon cubes
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon smoked paprika

Directions
1. Blend together yuh garlic, tomatoes, onions, and red pepper til it gets real smooth.

2. Put in your fresh thyme and white pepper.

3. Add the oil up in there, then put it to the side

4. Fill up yuh pot with 4 cops of water (preferably alkaline, but sick water is fine too I guess)

5. Wash yuh rice in hot (not boiling) water til it come out clear. Drain it real good.

6. Pour alla yuh rice into the hot water with that blended mix you set to the side earlier, stir it with a wooden spoon (any other type of spoon and yuh not doing it right, maybe yuh don’t want real jollof afterall)

7. Put the stove on like a nice heat (not all the way up high, just medium or so) and cook it like for…I say about 45 minutes or so. A good while so the flavors with amalgamate the right way. Keep your eye on it while it cooks and stir every 15 minutes.

8. Eat yuh soup

12Dec/16

#MustLoveBeards Profile: TheOneWillFocus

TheOneWillFocus x Taji Mag

© NayMarie Photography | www.NayMarie.com

This week we are grateful to feature an immensely talented Afro-futuristic graphic designer and brand expert TheOneWillFocus. His work is an uncanny display of ingenuity and historical veneration. He focuses on effectively shaping perception.

We sat down for a virtual conversation with TheOneWillFocus about his work.

Africa Jackson: What is the best thing about being a Black man?

TheOneWillFocus: I’m not sure if there’s just one answer to this question for me, but let’s see… me being a Black man alone is symbolic to strength, durability, spirituality, and limitless potential. It also allows me to attract the type of queen that only a Black man could attract.

AJ: What makes your work unique?

TheOne: My work is focused highly on the uplifting of our people and more so on the Black woman. She is highly undervalued and overlooked and if I have the power to change her visibility via my art, why would I not pay her respect? So, I take an approach to show the Black woman in a way which SHE can be proud of, representing her strength, intelligence, and perseverance through imagery. I call my illustration style Satabu, which is a combination The words Art and Book in Swahili. I made this term simply because we do not have a representative category of art under which Black people create, although other cultures do indeed have theirs. We need our own category, our own sect, that is all our own. Satabu is just such a thing.

AJ: Who do you credit for the success of the Black Owned Business Collective?

TheOne: Honestly, I had no parts in the creation of the Black Owned Business Collective, that was all the work of the always innovative NayMarie, but I was all for helping. When I saw that she began looking for a means to collect business information, I wanted to create a central hub outside of facebook, something that would allow us to no longer excuse our lack of support for black businesses by saying we are unable to find them. Creating OBW (Our Black Web) was a natural progression… we can now search businesses and get directions to them, as well as filter them by business types and keywords worldwide. No more excuses. We can work towards financial freedom/economic empowerment through group economics.

AJ: Why is Black love important?

TheOne: Black love is important because the world around us will do everything in its power to convince us that it does not exist. This creates a need, dependency, and desire to seek out love that does not LOOK like us. Black love is a love that understands, that comes from a very familiar place, and makes the road you are traveling together that much easier due to your mutual understanding of one another. This also allows our children to understand that Black love isn’t something to be avoided, but to be embraced and that with it brings strength to the home and the community. We are a communal people so family is at the center and Black love is essential to our survival.

The One Will Focus Original Art

AJ: When did you realize you were talented?

TheOne: It was never something I realized, but more so was ingrained in me. My mother told me every day since I can remember that “You can do anything you want and noone is smarter than you”. As a result, my talent was something I assumed was something normal that I had to cultivate. I remember being wowed by my mother taking my cousins and I into the dining room, sitting us down with lined paper, and drawing each of us individually. This was the point in which I knew what I wanted to do, but as I started to do it, drawing day by day, the more I did it, the more I realized how amazed people were and THAT was when I realized I had a talent. I was probably about 9 years old at that point.

TheOneWillFocus is currently working on (and super excited about) his upcoming comic book. He decided to push forward after ten years of work, reflecting on his life and eyes opening to the world, as well as how well received his art and coloring books have been after showing them to the public. The comic will go by the name of “Tension” and will feature his character “Eternity”, which can be found on his Instagram. He is also building a collective that we are all eagerly waiting for.

You can find TheOneWillFocus all over the internet: Facebook, Twitter, and IG: @TheOneWillFocus. You can also email him and inquire about commissions: [email protected]

02Dec/16
Wear All Black

Why Do People Wear All Black? – Trends vs Staples

“I’m about to wear all black for a year straight..” said Jay-Z on “Death of Autotune” which released in 2009 off of his Blueprint 3 album. So why is it that now, eight/nine years later, wearing all black has become so trendy throughout the entire world –especially New York City! Maybe it was Kanye West with his monochromatic looks he’d wear and inspire various celebrities to wear as well. Did Ye’ do it again? Is Kanye to credit for yet another trend swallowed by the fashion forwards? Or is it a lackadaisical effort for depicting ones mood of “I didn’t know what to wear.” Don’t get me wrong, the black monochrome look is pretty artistic when pieced in an artsy manner. But let’s be honest, not everyone who wears all black seems to be reflecting it in a form of fashion, which is also considered art. I wonder how the Gothic society feels that their “uniform color” is now looked at as trendy by larger society. There was once a time where you only wore all black if you were attending a funeral, working for a particular retail company, or considered yourself emo/goth. Well, that has all changed now hasn’t it.

Last week, I randomly stopped a woman wearing the monochromatic black look and I asked her “What about all-black do you like?” She explained how deeply she perceived the color, while also clarifying with me that “it’s a shade, not a color.” She then stated how all-black provides a sort of mirror for the observer. Further explaining how black allows the public to perceive however they feel, so if you feel their look is sad and depressing then that says more about yourself, same as if you perceive it as rich, said by the fashionable young lady awaiting her Uber. She then concluded, “It’s like a painting… I am fashion therefore I am walking art. There is no right or wrong when perceiving a piece. Either you have a vision of some form of the art or you see… nothing.” I’m not sure if everyone has the same cognitive likeness for wearing all-black but I can say, I definitely appreciated her creative way of thinking. It allowed me to then perceive the many other black outfits I later witnessed that day, and even now. All black has become a staple within fashion by being more than just a trend. I mean, it’s been what, nine years since Jay-Z rapped the lyric which is the epitome of today’s no. 1 trend. How will you wear it? Lackadaisicalness of “I didn’t know what to wear” or artistically allowing observers their own perception as “a piece of walking art”?

I’ve complied this look to give you an idea of how to put together an all-black look in an artistic manner:

img_5435

—Calvin Chandler

14Nov/16

#MustLoveBeards Profile: ALAN KING

Happy #MCM everyone! This week, Taji Mag sat down with the talented brother Alan King, author of the new book POINT BLANK. Alan King has worked with the Baltimore Afro-American Newspaper. King has also been an outspoken housing rights advocate. He has also served as a researcher with the Center for Public Integrity. In addition to his impressive resume, he is a devoted husband and father. Mr. King has an upcoming book tour, and took a break to talk to us about his work, love, and the perseverance it takes to be an artist.

POINT BLANK

Africa Jackson: What do you love most about being a Black man?

Alan King: I love being another line in the legacy of Black people. I’m juggling two legacies as a Caribbean American. I’m inspired by the writers that come before me. Writers who are ancestors now like John A. Williams, Clarence Cooper Jr. and Chester Himes. Oh yeah, and Langston Hughes and Ralph Ellison. Let me throw some women in the mix: Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, Wanda Coleman, Octavia Butler. I also love Black culture.

poet, husband, father, visionary

poet, husband, father, visionary

AJ: You mentioned ‘legacy’. What does that word mean to you? In what ways have you seen that manifest in your career and/or personal life?
AK: There’s a heritage that connects us to the diaspora. There [is] rhythm, history. There’s a beauty in our culture. Being a husband and father allows me to pass on the best of myself. I was a teacher. That role allowed me to be an example to my students. I taught a class, where I was the first married black men the young women encountered. This was middle school. They kept staring at my wedding band asking about what it’s like to be married.
AJ: The “wicker” reference from the latest Point blank trailer is indicative of Black culture. Have you ever been discouraged from being too Black? If so, by who? How did you respond?

AK: I had a higher up, during my work study placement, who asked me to read poems, but then said “Don’t get too back with it.” That came from a Black man. I wasn’t sure if I should still read poems. It was for an office party.
But my writer friends encouraged me to do it. They said by me going through with it, it would show him that his biases are wrong. As a writer, I don’t worry about being too black in my work. White writers aren’t asked not to be too white. I feel I should have that same freedom to explore various types of blackness in my work. In Point Blank, more of my Caribbean heritage comes through. Rereading the poems, I was surprised how present it is.
AJ: What advice can you offer to other artists struggling with double consciousness?

AK: My advice to other artists is to be true to yourself.

AJ: Did you ever seriously consider another career?
AK: I’m a Communications Specialist for a living. I’ve always been a writer at heart. There was one time, in college, when I considered being a programmer. I later found out from my mom that she thought I was making a mistake. She knew my passion is writing. My dad kept pushing me to do something that makes money That’s why I went the programming route. But I don’t regret my decision. I’m also open to learning other skills that might mesh with my writing.
AJ: Switching gears, there is this belief that Black men don’t love Black women. What are your thoughts about that?
AK: I know there are some brothers who date outside the race, but so do some black women. It’s touchy to assume why those folks do it without knowing the whole story. I know for me, it was important to be open to however love presented herself. I had no idea that I’d meet my wife, a passionate Nigerian woman, the way I did. I think it’s important to be open to love, whatever way it presents itself. I don’t think someone should be with someone because the community feels that way.
AJ: Audre Lorde taught us that self-care is revolutionary. As an artist, father, husband, and Black man has self care been part of your life? 
AK: My family is part of my self care. I draw strength from my wife and my daughter. I hit the gym when I can and go for walks to clear my head. The important part of self care is having friends, people you can vent to when needed.

AJ: If someone were to choose between your new book and Starbucks, what would make them pick up POINT BLANK over a Frappuccino?

AK: The image of the young man on the cover. I purposely chose it because he embodies what people of color are going through in this country. The picture is powerful. He’s on his way somewhere. Depending on the point of view , he could be up to no good or just minding his business. I thought it was powerful how the photographer, Ewholomeyovwi Jeroro, captured him. The young man is in the photographer’s scope much like how people of color are in the scope of law enforcement.
CLICK HERE to purchase his book of poetry and learn more about why we love this Black man!
13Nov/16

Happy Birthday Whoopi Goldberg

I hated Whoopi Goldberg growing up.

Whoopi Goldberg

#teamnatural

I know that’s a messed up way to start off the birthday celebration for her. When The Color Purple came out, everyone thought I looked like her. Back then, Black gums, Black skin, and nappy Black hair were the perfect recipe for a depressing childhood. I was all kinds of African booty scratchers, skillets, and midnights. It was one of the things that made me miserable growing up. I only had two real friends during that time–my right hook and my mother. Needless to say, I fought a lot and wrote a bunch of angry poetry. Whoopi Goldberg represented (and still represents) everything I hated about myself.

whoopi-goldberg

Between elementary and middle school I got in dozens of fights over the way I looked. My main goal was to make the pretty white girls as ugly as I felt when they teased me about being so dark. I hated looking in the mirror. My mother was a kind and candid woman who reminded me that I was not ugly everyday. She asked me if I thought she was beautiful and of course I said yes. My mother was a striking, bold woman with high cheekbones and mahogany skin that glistened. She would laugh and tell me that I looked like her, so by default I must be beautiful. It made logical sense, but when I looked in the mirror I did not see her reflection. Instead, I saw what kids at school called me–shit skin. I was faster on the track than all the children who teased me. I was consistently ranked at the top of my class academically. I won awards. I earned internships while still in middle school. I was invited to special events for gifted children. None of it made up for my skin insecurity though. It was like running a long distance sprint that never ended yet I still lost.

At some point in high school I announced to my mother that I was too dark to run in the Olympics, so I was going to be a writer and stay in the shadows. My mother was tired of the decade long pity party so she showed me a movie she promised to God I would like. (My mother refused to swear to God). Those were the be kind, rewind days so she pushed in the tape and pressed play. The Associate changed the game for me.

In the film, Whoopi Goldberg stars as a brilliant investment banker whose talent is dismissed by a white male dominated financial world. First of all, Whoopi Goldberg plays the quintessential Black woman. She has a full time job and she owns a rental property. Before this film, I didn’t know Black women owned places to rent out. It blew my mind. One of her older tenants told her as she came home one night: “It’s nice you young girls have your your careers. But when you come home to an empty apartment what do you really have?

Without blinking an eye, her character replies: “Independence”. I was hooked.

When she tried to start her business, the bank almost denied her a loan, but she risked her home to make it happened. I came from a place where faith was too expensive. From there the movie got better and better. Instead of learning golf last minute to impress a client, she pulled in a golf celebrity to win the client over. She was the original spook who sat by the door. No one could have ever brought that character to life the way she did. She was slick, quick-witted, and dark-skinned. She had the confidence I never dreamed imaginable. Even pre-presidential Donald Trump was following behind her. She had a box of ideas she saved over the years–something i still do today with my pitches. She taught me that rejection is never the end. I won’t spoil the whole movie for you, but just know that I cried during the climax scene. She says what I think!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmHr8L0KRg4

Whoopi Goldberg was equally phenomenal off screen too. She is an interracial relationship pioneer (as fr as I knew at the time), natural hair advocate, and human rights activist. Like me, she was raised by a single mother. She embodies resistance. Her critically acclaimed, award-winning one-woman show about Moms Mabley. Whoopi’s impact on me was parallel to Moms Mabley’s impact on her.

All those years people idolized Halle Berry we could have been praising the original sexy beast.

Before her brilliance graced the big screen, she was a stand up comedian who rivaled the likes of Eddie Murphy and Redd Foxx (for those who don’t recognize those names, that’s like saying she was up there with Kevin Hart).

Whoopi is still a force. Her guest star appearance on this terrible ABC show called 666 almost coerced me to become a fan. When her character flew away, though, so did I. She has worked with undeniable talents like Ernest Dickerson (Good Fences Director), Angela Bassett (duh), Danny Glover, and others over her career. This woman has won a Tony, Grammy, Emmy, and Academy Awards. People sleep on her resume.

My top 10 favorite Whoopi Goldberg films

  1. Soap Dish (Rose)
  2. The Associate (Laurel Ayres)
  3. Corrina, Corrina (Corrina)
  4. Sister Act 2 (Sister Mary Clarence)
  5. The Lion King (Shenzi)
  6. Color Purple (Celie)
  7. Ghost (Oda Mae Brown)
  8. How Stella Got Her Groove Back (Delilah Abraham)
  9. Sister Act (Sister Mary Clarence)
  10. Good Fences (Mabel)

In honor of all she has done and continues to do, I proudly exclaim: “I’m poor, Black, I may even be ugly…but dear God I’m here. I’m here!”

07Nov/16
Melonie

Black Royal: Melonie Torres in LES

Melonie Torres having fun being sexy in LES, NY.

Melonie

Model: Melonie Torres
Photographer: Gerald Deus
Stylist: Unconventional Labels Boutique
Set direction/Concept: LJE Model Agency
Agency: LJE Model Agency
IG/Twitter
Model: @Melonieeeeeee
Photographer: @GeraldDeus
Stylist: @UnconventionalLabels
Agency: @LJEModelAgency
Melonie Melonie
Melonie Melonie
IG/Twitter
Photographer: @fly_imagez
Make-up artist: @GlamMakeupDiva
07Nov/16
vol9

Taji Vol9: The Body – Anniversary Issue

Release Dec 7 2016 | Vol9 of Taji is packed full of Black Beauty & Culture fulfilling it’s theme of “The Body”! This volume features actor, model, mentor, and fitness professional Clint Walker on the cover. Gracing the pages are the community feature on Maia Crown Williams and her unapologetically Black events; Black Men Smile and how they are reclaiming the narrative of Black men; “Why Shopping Black is Essential” by Nay Marie; “The Immersion Excursion: Akan Ceremony, Ghana” by Inez A Nelson; the sensual scrubs, butters, and jewels of TheCelestineCollection; “The Invisible Entrepreneur: On the Businesses We Forget and the Women Who Run Them” by Tajh Danielle Sutton; “The Significance of Dawtas of the Moon Black Witch Convention“; “Harlem Fashion Week Slays Their Inaugural Event”; “The Blackest Business Block” by Africa Jackson; our Health & Fitness Advice Columns with Trainer Clint & Delliz the Chef; the Taji Model Winners; and more!!

Purchase your copy now at ‘Purchase Taji’!

Vol9

Purchase Taji Mag | Vol 9

Taji Mag is a Black Beauty & Culture specialty publication highlighting the artistry of our essence.