09Feb/19
Etymology of Self-Love

The Etymology of Self-Love

Etymology of Self-LoveLove. Throughout the ages, sages, philosophers, and religious teachers have proclaimed it as the greatest of virtues. In 1 Corinthians, we learn that faith, hope, and love are to be extolled, but love supersedes all. Surah 14 commands us to fill the hearts of man with love. In the Madhurashtakam, Lord Krishna urges us to do everything with “love, compassion, humility, and devotion” in our hearts. Countless axioms prompt us to love our fellow man; but what do they say of loving ourselves? Must we love and value ourselves to best be a servant and light to the world? Are we not called to love our neighbors, as we love ourselves? The wisdom of the ancient world tells us it is equally as important to be good to ourselves as it is to do well by others. Today, this philosophy has a name: self-love. The American Heritage Dictionary defines self-love as “the instinct or desire to promote one’s own well-being” or “regard for or one’s self.” This, of course, is simply a connotation. But what is the origin of “self-love”? Who was the first to espouse its tenants and give it a name? Has the quest for self-love always been a journey to securing our own happiness? Through etymology, one can dig deep to answer these questions and gain more insight into self-love.

One might be surprised to learn that “self-love” was originally synonymous with selfishness and vanity, as noted in the first Americanized edition of Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases (1965). But this idea goes back much further. Greek philosopher Plato said to avoid the “excesses of self-love”, while Roman statesman Cicero considered self-love or sui amantes sine rivali to be a great sin and a sure path to doom and folly. Francis Bacon builds on Cicero’s 1 perspective in his essay “Of Wisdom for a Man’s Self” when he says “it is the nature of extreme self-lovers, as they will set a house on fire, and it was but to roast their eggs.” With this notion, self-love could easily be viewed as a precursor to narcissism.

However, Aristotle, a student of Plato, rejected this notion. In Nicomachean Ethics, he notes that while self-love can represent selfishness, it can also be the love of ourselves in striving for “moral nobility”. That is, the best kind of self-love is that which comes from our ability to love others. This is akin to the message in Leviticus 9:17, where Moses wrote that we should “love thy neighbor as we love ourselves”. Key to this directive is loving and honoring ourselves — not in selfishness, but in seeking the greater good for man.

Today, most understand self-love to be an affirming of one’s own happiness, thanks in part to the works of German psychologist Erich Fromm. In The Art of Loving, Fromm reminds us that if an individual is able to love productively, he loves himself too; if he can love only others, he cannot love at all” (1956, 55-56). Not only does he reject the notion that self-love is selfishness, but then goes to say that they are opposites. This seems to jive with what the ancients taught — it seems as if Fromm is reminding us that it is both good and necessary to value ourselves. This is not vanity, but rather a tool of survival. Particularly in a world in which we are encouraged to meet standards of beauty and success that are far-removed from ourselves. True success is the love of self rivaling the love of others happiness; and happiness can only come from self-love. With this as our foundation, we can then go out and heal through the power of lovem — both others and ourselves.

Etymology of Self-Love

Author, Brittany Selah Lee-Bey

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Works Cited
Aristotle (340 BC). Nicomachean Ethics (H.Rackham, Trans). Hertfordshire: Wordworths
Books Limited
Fromm, E. (1989). The art of loving. New York: Perennial Library.
Mayor, Joseph B. (2016). A Sketch of Ancient Philosophy: From Thales to Cicer. Cambridge
University Press.
Rogetm Peter Mark (1965) [1852], Dutch, Robert A. ed., The Original Roget’s Thesaurus of
English Words and Phrases (Americanized ed.), New York: St. Martin’s Press
Self-love. (n.d.) In American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Retrieved from
https://ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=self-love&submit.x=0&submit.y=0

07Feb/19
Santia Beck

Olympian Hopeful, Santia Deck, Says Self-Love is Self Care

It was Florence Griffith Joyner (U.S. track and field Olympian) who said, “When anyone tells me I can’t do anything, I’m just not listening anymore.” These are the same words that echo in the mind of athlete, author, and fitness influencer, Santia Deck, as she leaves her opponents, both male and female, in the dust. She jukes them with Barry Sanders-like finesse during flag football and rugby games. As she runs past her opponents on the field and gives it her all during workouts, her vision is set on her biggest goal: the Olympics. Taji Mag was able to chat with Santia to discuss health, self-love, and her journey to Japan 2020.

Self-Love is How You Treat Yourself

Santia Deck

Santia Deck is a motivational speaker, author, trainer, and social media fitness influencer. She also appeared on shows like Steve Austin Broken Skull Ranch TV show.

Dapper Dr. Feel (DDF): How important is fitness to self-love?

Santia Deck (SA): I would put the two in the same category because how you treat yourself correlates to how you value yourself. If you are someone that doesn’t care about working out, eating healthy, and making sure that you are putting the proper nutrition in your body, it shows that there are some deep rooted issues within yourself. I personally think taking time for health and nutrition, is taking time out for self-care.

DDF: You are in great shape, what made you choose to be a vegan and what changes did you experience once you made the change?

SD:  Well, I was vegan about nine months ago and I just recently decided to go back. My life changed physically, emotionally, and mentally. My skin cleared up, my energy level skyrocketed (I felt like I was a kid again with unlimited energy), I slept better, I had a healthy bladder and intestines, and I felt like I was in tip-top shape. I was competing on a higher level than some of the pro athletes I was training with.

I would eat avocados and mangoes for breakfast before training, then after the workout, I would still feel pretty good but the NFL athletes would be on the ground dying. I realized then that what you put in your body does matter. People think that you have to have all this meat and carbs to gain muscle mass but there are a lot of vegan athletes who are doing well in their respective sports.

Santia Deck

Santia in action on the field.

DDF: What are men’s reactions when they see you on the field and/or guard you?

SA: I usually get questions like “Who are you?” “What are you?” “What kind of girl are you?” and “Why are you like this?” Of course, you have those people that are mad and/or those guys that claim they weren’t giving 100%. I get a lot of different reactions.

It’s funny, people think just because I am a girl that I am not supposed to be super athletic and compete on the same level as a man. Of course, I am not saying that I can go on the football field and be one of the guys, but I do think that my footwork and moves are pretty good for any athlete.

Santia Deck

The first African American woman to win a gold medal Alice Coachman.

“I always believed that I could do whatever I set my mind to do.” – Alice Coachman

DDF: Who taught you about sports and how did they encourage you?

SA: Definitely, my older brother because I grew up with boys. I have three brothers and one sister, one of my brothers is actually my twin. So when I was younger I was always competing with my twin and my older brother would make us compete in various activities. He created that competitive spirit and the reason I am able to do the things I can do now athletically. I was doing footwork drills and running routes when I was five years old. I was never the girl that played with dolls, I was always outside doing something athletic. I was a tomboy doing everything my brothers were doing.

Mind, Body, and Soul 

DDF: What made you practice celibacy?

SA: I was in an abusive relationship and had stayed in the relationship longer than I needed to. I think it’s because I had sex with this person, which created an attachment, and I am very spiritual, so I believe in soul ties. I felt like I had a major soul tie with this person that was created through sexual intimacy.

Then there was a point when I thought that I wasn’t going to be here anymore because of the abuse and I remember praying to God that if He were to get me out of this situation, then I would make a promise to be celibate. Never have sex with someone that doesn’t deserve me. After God got me through that situation, that is when I decided to commit to being celibate.

There are a lot of spiritual demons when you have sex with people and I felt that was something going on with me. Honestly, I just want to have a blessed marriage, I want my children to grow up in a two-parent home, and just do what I feel is the right way.

DDF: Are there some difficulties being celibate?  

Santia Deck

Santia Deck aka Track Baby. FYI: Santia wears mismatched socks in honor of Flo Jo.

SA: It’s been tough while I’ve been dating. I have only had one person that respected me enough not to explore dating with me because of my decision, but a lot of men have tried to act like they can hold out and eventually try their hand anyway.

It is tough trying to find someone when you decide to be celibate but I have avoided so much drama and people I didn’t need to date because they are scratched off my list once I tell them about my decision.

DDF: Have your followers given you a lot of praise for being such an inspiration?

SA: I get a lot of messages about how I have influenced people to workout, chase their dreams.

DF: How do you feel about all the support that you get from your followers?

SA: I am grateful and thankful to have a platform to give people daily motivation. To be an inspiration to the kids that they can do whatever they want to do. Reminding them that there is no limit except the limit you put on yourself. I’m just grateful to God.

Big Goals and Small Worries 

DDF: How do you react to some of the negative people and comments?

SA: I have thick skin and people are going to feel the way they feel and have negative things to say. To me, it’s just ignorance and I don’t care because I love myself the way that I am. I look the way I look because that is the way I am supposed to be… a professional athlete. It’s like the thing that Serena Williams goes through, you can talk about her but she’s a millionaire.

Santia Deck

Tennis player Serena Williams.

“Think of all the girls who could become top athletes but quit sports because they’re afraid of having too many defined muscles and being made fun of or called unattractive.” – Serena Williams

DDF: What is your biggest goal right now?

SA: My biggest goal right now is the Olympics because it’s right around the corner. Of course, I want to have success in all aspects of my life but the biggest goal is definitely the Olympics, Japan 2020.

Santia Deck

Victoria Folay Team USA rugby athlete.

DDF: What are your next steps to get there?

SA: It’s a process to make it to the Olympics. I just need to be seen by a USA coach and that is accomplished by going to camps, games, etc. I’ve been doing those things now and just waiting to get a tryout but I will keep grinding until I do.

As many of us watch Santia make countless plays on the field via social media, we may see her alongside current players for the women’s USA rugby team like Victoria Folay. Better yet, we see her being like her biggest Olympic inspiration, Flo Jo, and standing with a gold medal around her neck, mismatched socks and all. Follow Santia on Instagram.

Santia Deck

Florence Griffith Joyner (Flo Jo), U.S. track and field Olympian.

All photos of Santia are taken by Enka Lawson and Jeffery Mustache.

04Feb/19
the safe place

I am Black, I Have Mental Health Issues, and This is How it Feels for Me | The Safe Place

the safe placeJasmin Pierre is an activist, author, mental health advocate and creator of The Safe Place app. It’s an app made for people in the African Community to learn more about mental health and serve as a resource for those who need help getting the information that they need. Taji Mag was able to catch up with Jasmin to hear about her creation that can help educate people and, in some cases, save lives.

Dapper Dr.Feel (DDF): What inspired you to develop this app?

Jasmin Pierre (JP): I deal with mental issues myself. I was diagnosed with clinical depression at the age of 20. So, I’ve been comfortable talking about mental health for a long time because of the stigma it got from the Black community when it comes to mental health. We often hear we are supposed to be strong, Black women are supposed to be strong and just pray about it.

After finally dealing with my mental health and coming out about it, I realized there are many other people out there like me. I want to see those people talk about their mental health and get treatment if they need it.

“We need to accept that mental illness is a disease — and like any other disease, it needs stronger research, early screening, and treatment, especially for young people,” – NFL Reciever Brandon Marshall

DDF:  What is your biggest hurdle dealing with mental health?

JP: Some of us in the Black community have been told: “What happens in this house stays in this house.” It was really hard opening up to a stranger about my mental health issues. To admit, yes this going on with me, yes I need to talk about it and can you help me. That was the biggest problem for me.

FYI: Stigma and judgment prevent Black/African Americans from seeking treatment for their mental illnesses. Research indicates that Black/African Americans believe that mild depression or anxiety would be considered “crazy” in their social circles. Furthermore, many believe that discussions about mental illness would not be appropriate even among family. – Williams, M. T. (2011)

DDF: What are the key steps for getting help?

JP: My step wasn’t the best one because when I finally realized I needed help, it was because of a suicide attempt. I don’t want people to get to that point. That is the reason I made the app in the first place, I want people to get help before they even think about suicide.

the safe place

DDF: How important is mental health to self-love, in your opinion? Do you think people separate the two?

I think it is really important. I see it as self-care. If we don’t take care of ourselves and we are constantly pouring into people and we have an empty cup, its just going to hinder us in the future. So I feel like we should have our cup full first before we pour into others.

DDF: Explain more about your #HowBlackDoesItFeel hashtag?

JP: I am a person of faith and I pray but I’ve also been dealing with mental health for over a decade. I feel like I’m in recovery now so far as my mental health issues but recovery doesn’t mean you are cured.  If I can still go through depressed stages and now I know I can take something for it, I still pray through all of that. God gave us resources for a reason and the Bible even says work without faith is dead. So why are we only telling people to pray about mental health issues, when the bible says you have to take steps forward to getting what you asked for?

We don’t do that with any physical illness. I mean if you have cancer, of course, the church is going to pray for you but they still expect you to see the doctor.

DDF: Explain self-care during police brutality. What made you approach this perspective?

I think that racial trauma is linked to mental health issues. Every time we see an unarmed Black man gunned down by the police, that is affecting our mental health issues. I remember seeing Alton Sterling being gunned down in Baton Rogue, LA. I live in New Orleans, that’s not too far from me. I felt anxious, sad, depressed and worried, and a lot of people felt the same way. I can’t imagine the people who are victims that survived police brutality, just imagine what they are going through mentally. I felt it was important to put that in there because I want people to realize that when this happens that it affects our mental health and we have to think of ourselves when it happens.

On July 5, 2016, Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, was shot dead at close range by two white Baton Rouge Police Department officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

JP: I wanted people in the Black community to express how Black does it feel to have mental health issues in America. Not only do we have to deal with racial trauma and all these other issues as Black people but also, within our own community, we are downplaying mental health.

We are saying mental issues are not serious and therapy is just for white people. I wanted to take time to say I am Black, I have mental health issues, and this is how it feels for me.

FYI: Per Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, while implementation of the Affordable Care Act has helped to close the gap in uninsured individuals, 15.9 percent of Black/African Americans, versus 11.1 percent of whites Americans were still uninsured in 2014.

DDF: You have free classes offered on your website, what should people expect from it?

JP: Readers should expect to be more informed about mental health, that specifically deals with the Black community and how to erase the stigma in the Black community. The classes are to also spread awareness in the psychology and therapy community. A lot of people don’t understand that those books are westernized, a lot of those issues don’t cover too much on Black culture. We need more minority-based resources out there and that’s is what I aim to teach in my classes.

FYI: Per the American Psychological Association, because less than 2 percent of American Psychological Association members are Black/African American, some may worry that mental health care practitioners are not culturally competent enough to treat their specific issues.

Terry Crews the safe place

Actor Terry Crews shared a story about being sexually assaulted by a Hollywood Executive last year.

DDF: How do you feel about Terry Crews coming out about his sexual assault story, how difficult do think that was for him and his mental health? 

JP: I can relate the whole Terry Crews to the R. Kelly situation. These women aren’t being believed that they were sexually assaulted by R. Kelly.  I feel it was just as bad for Terry because his people believe that just because he is a Black man, that he is just supposed to take that and be strong about it. People think “Oh, why didn’t he just fight him?” I feel like more stigma was put on him because he was a man and he decides to speak about this.

DDF: Out of the many people that reach out to you, what majority reach out to you most, men or women?

JP: Women tend to reach out more to me but there is a good percentage of men too and I am happy that they feel like they can. I just wish there were more. I feel like women are ok with speaking about their issues and receiving feedback. As we mentioned before though, men are expected to be strong all the time and suppress their emotion. They are not even expected to cry. It may be a while before we see more Black men opening up, but it needs to happen.

DDF: What advice would you give to anyone afraid to reach out?

JP: Do not be ashamed that this is happening to you, it’s nothing you have to be embarrassed about. Even if someone in your family or friends tell you that you shouldn’t get the help and support that you need, don’t believe them. You do deserve the help, the support, and therapy if you need to.  

Jasmin Piere hopes to develop more partnerships and keep spreading the word about Black mental health awareness as a black mental health advocate. You can download her app here for android or apple.  Check out her personal page.

the safe place

the safe place

Jasmin’s book ” A Fight Worth Finishing”

Some of the facts and stats were provided by Mental Health of America.

03Feb/19
Self-Love

Self-Love Is Not a New Concept, Self-Care Just Happens to Be Trending

It’s weird that self-love is trending at a time when most of the Black women I know are struggling so acutely. On the flip side, some of the most toxic people on my timeline are boasting about their ability to cut out people who don’t “spark joy”. It feels like Black women aren’t allowed to be depressed or vulnerable. There’s so much filler out there, but how can we truly practice self-care and self-love with the weight of the world on our shoulders.

Here are 5 tips for self-care. These self-care tips are broken down into the physical projection, spiritual healing, intellectual release, mental deflating, and aromatherapy. These are small, actionable steps that can lead to a much healthier disposition.

1. Self-LoveHit something: There is so much going on. And for those of us in the corporate space, we have to code switch so many times a day, it can literally make us sick. Between juggling a career, a family, and a dream, there are so many instances where we want to slap someone but have to repress the urge. That energy doesn’t just disappear though. Instead of letting it fester, just hit something. Kickboxing is an excellent way to let that stress go. This sort of physical projection can be really fun too. You can even tape a phrase (or face) to a punching bag and hit it. Maybe it helps you to growl out your racist supervisor’s name with your tennis racket hits the ball. Regardless of what it actually represents, I encourage you to hit something. Hit it hard and hit it often.

2. Self-LoveSay “AH”: When I lived in DC, singer Tamika Love Jones taught a toddler class for Black children in Anacostia Park. One thing she said to me years ago when my son was in her class was this: “Just about every spiritual practice says “ah”. That ‘ah’ sound is in every God’s name I can think of. Allah, God, Buddha, Jah, Ra. Chanting the sound can bring you to a place of peace. Let it serve as an anchor.” Sometimes the world’s insanity is raining down and hitting you harder than a hail storm. It may take everything in you not to break. In those moments, sometimes you call on your God, your ancestors, the universe, and whatever centers you by just saying “AH”. Allow yourself the room to meditate on the sound. Whether you do it for 30 seconds or 30 minutes, you owe it to yourself to say “ah.”

3. Write it out: You know on Insecure when Issa gets in that mirror and pumps herself up or has one-sided rap battles in the bathroom? Well, you too can stretch out those tired latent gangster muscles with a verse, prose, poem, song, or limerick—yes, I said limerick. I’m a nerd. It doesn’t stop there though. Journaling is an excellent way to practice self-care. Doing it before you sleep can help ease anxiety. Dr. Joy of the Black Girl Therapy podcast even has a breakup journal! If you write it out, you’re one step closer to working it out. Continue reading

02Feb/19

5 Do’s and Don’ts when Taking the Leap to Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is trendy right now. You may be feeling the need to “create multiple streams of income” and “become your own boss.” To many, that sounds like a dream come true. Entrepreneurship will show you who you are and challenge you in ways you’ve never imagined. However, many entrepreneurs become frustrated with a lack of quick success, and many customers become frustrated with a lack of quality products or service. The following five tips will help your transition into entrepreneurship, whether part-time or full-time, be as smooth as possible.

Do: Focus on the right product or service

This is particularly important if your business will rely solely on you, at least starting out. To make sure you are providing a quality product or service, you must focus on something for which you possess sufficient talent and that you enjoy. Think about it: if you absolutely love playing the piano, but the extent of your skills is Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, then you should not become a piano teacher. Conversely, if you hate playing the piano but are an exceptional player, could you really be an effective teacher? Find something that you can do every day and do well.

Don’t: Reinvent the wheel

Once you figure out your product or service, focus on making sure the core of your business is exceptional. It may be tempting to want to make your business that takes a standard product and shares it in a way that the world has never seen before. Don’t. Yes, there may be twenty other cake designers in town, but you already have one thing that none of the others have–you! You will be different from everyone else. You have your own network. You have your own style. You have your own experiences. Lean on those, and your business will naturally stand out.

Do: Be consistent

Consistency is the key to achieving anything you want in life, including being a successful entrepreneur. If you want to grow, develop business, and make money, it is going to take more than a couple of hours per week in your spare time. You are going to have to commit to making the time to work on your business, and some things may have to take a backseat to your business. A few options for encouraging and tracking consistency are setting a schedule, writing a list of weekly goals, and having some progress benchmarks. Whatever you want to accomplish with your business, you will not get there without consistency.

Don’t: Get discouraged

You spend months doing market research, writing a business plan, developing your product, building a website, and finally launch your business. Then nothing. Or worse, someone buys your cake or hires you to decorate their home and are dissatisfied. You get a bad review. Maybe one of your clients can’t pay you. Maybe you miscalculated your expenses, and can’t pay your expenses for the month. Do not be discouraged! Every business, including yours, is going to face challenges. Instead of looking at challenges as setbacks, focus on how you can use those experiences to create systems to solve problems in the future. What can you learn? How can you move forward? The more challenges you face, the better you will get at bouncing back, and in the end, you’ll be a better entrepreneur because of it.

Do: Rely on your network for support

Your friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, and social media acquaintances will be essential to the success of your business. From the research stage to selling your product or service, make sure you keep them involved and aware. They will be your first customers. They will provide your first referrals. They will encourage you when you face challenges, and cheer you on when you succeed. Do not passively include your network in your business, be strategic and intentional. Know when and how to reach out to each person. Your parents may not receive information or have the same needs as your coworkers. Throughout your entrepreneurship journey, your network will grow as your business does.

Making the decision to become an entrepreneur is a major commitment. Whatever your product or service, whatever your goals, these five do’s and don’ts will start your business off right.

With the right network, success is always possible.

31Jan/19
Ashley McDonough

Ashley McDonough, Howard Grad & Journalist Behind Articles of Self Love and Media | Self Love Series

Ashley McDonoughMartin Luther King once said “Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve.” Which is true, all of us can be great by giving back and being the best version of ourselves.

Ashley McDonough is one of many examples of this as a Howard University grad, producer, journalist, media professional, and modern-day renaissance woman.  She has utilized all of her talents to inform, celebrate and entertain. Taji Mag was able to talk to her about self-love in the many aspects of life.

Dapper Dr. Feel (DDF): What is self-love to you and how can people better practice it?

Ashley McDonough (AM): Self-love is an appreciation of yourself, you have to know who you are and what you deserve. Self-love is appreciating the promise you made to yourself. Living your life accordingly to the promise that you made. 

DDF: How do you practice self-love?

AM: It is a day-to-day basis of being kind to yourself. I, myself, am a very busy person and I have a lot on my plate. I can be hard on myself with completing things in a timely manner. To me, it’s truly about being patient with yourself. Just take time out to talk to yourself in a positive, uplifting way.

Relationships & Self Love 

“You’ve got to learn to leave the table when love’s no longer being served.”- Nina Simone 

DDF: You have some great articles about dating. Advocates say you should love yourself first before entering a relationship but when do you know you are ready?

AM: It’s just a matter of self-healing. When you are healed enough and your mental health is in order, then I think that is the right time to date. A lot of times I think that relationships don’t work because everyone’s walking around with these traumas and insecurities that they haven’t healed from.

Once you have healed fully, know what you want out of a partner and you know what you deserve out of that partner and know what you are willing to give that partner in return, I think it’s a healthy ground to go out there and see what the dating world has to offer you.

DDF: Let’s say you are in a relationship, how do you maintain that self-love? 

Ashley McDonough

AM: I’ve definitely been in that situation before. You can really get caught up in the idea of love but you have to understand that you can’t love someone if don’t love yourself.

Understanding that you deserve a certain type of love, your partner should understand and be respectful of that. Also, you have to understand what you want out of life, its a beautiful gift from God. You are whole by yourself, I don’t believe in that whole “you complete me” thing. I really think you need to be complete before you get into relationships.

DDF: Can situation-ships be included in self-love?

AM: If that works for you then ok. I think every person is different, I’m not going to say that this is the ideal relationship because sometimes that freedom is a form of self-love. It depends on the person, some people are looking for long term commitment and other people just want to have fun, be free, have options. Society can put these ideas/beliefs on people and that can cause relationships not to work a lot of times.

Work to Live, Not Live to Work

“Even if it makes others uncomfortable, I will love who I am.” – Janelle Monae

DDF: You have an article about the importance of setting boundaries, how important is that to self-love?

AM: You can get caught up in everyday life sometimes and you need to set boundaries in order to keep your sanity. You don’t want to spread yourself too thin, sometimes we treat ourselves like superheroes… we are not. Setting boundaries in every aspect of your life is important for your sanity and overall mental health.

DDF: Pursuing your passion or desired career is also a version of self-love, agreed? Why do so many struggle with it and what did you do to keep moving forward?

AM Definitely because it’s safe. It’s scary to follow your dreams. It’s not something for everyone. Everyone can’t do it and everyone is not in that space to do it. You have to have a strong sense of faith, you have to believe in yourself.

I was born and raised in New York but I took a leap of faith and moved to L.A. because I felt it in my heart to do it.  You really have to believe in yourself, work hard and know that God is going to take care of you.

Articles of Self Love and Media

“You are your best thing.” – Toni Morrison

DDF: You have written some great pieces about people embracing the beauty in themselves, what inspires you to write pieces like these?

AM: What inspires my writing? Well, even before I went to college, I knew I wanted to produce and create content that I thought the world needed to hear. I really like doing the backstories of the people that are seen as the overnight successes because I feel like those stories are important and need to be heard by everyone.

Social media has changed the mind state of success and the hustle and the grind. To hear those stories change perspectives.

DDF: Out of the articles you have written, which is your favorite?

Ashley McDonoughAM: One of my favorite stories was about Jessie Woo, she is a comedian and singer. She’s amazing! Her story is so inspiring because of her journey to success. Everyone on social media was seeing her as an overnight success but in reality, it took her some time to get in her position.

She told the story about her start in New York, becoming unemployed within the first two months and not having enough funds to buy a plane ticket home but through it all she made it. Jessie’s story encourages people to follow their own dreams, whatever path may be for them.

DDF: How much of an influence do you think the media has on self-love?

Ashley McDonough

Ashley in her Howard grad cap and gown.

AM: Howard gives you a sense of self, I don’t think many of the students have. It’s the overall experience because you are surrounded by such Black excellence and you are being taught by the most amazing professors with extensive careers.

They are teaching you to love yourself and appreciate your history. A lot this stuff you don’t get see growing up. I grew up in Queens, NY so I grew up in a very diverse area and went to public school my whole life, we learned the basics of Black history.

That changed when I went to Howard University because we learned everything, the good and the bad. The experience taught me how amazing my people are!

See more from Ashley via her website!

30Jan/19
Taji Mag Vol 18 Embrace the Black

Taji Vol18: Embrace the Black

Release Mar 7 2019 | Vol18 of Taji is packed full of Black Beauty & Culture fulfilling its theme of Embrace the Black! This volume’s cover features the #SlayBells of model Jennifer “Milk” Laloi. Gracing the pages are the Editor’s Pick on The Laya Center, a Plant-Based Preventative & Rehabilitation Center; our Community Spotlight; our highlighted Hair Feature; “Solo Travel: What Does Your Travel Say About You?” by D. Carrie; “Everyday Spiritual Teknowledge Everyday” by Jashua Sa’Ra; “Representation in Education” by Janelle Naomi; Our Vol 18 theme “Embrace the Black;” Fitness Feature on Athlete, Actress, Wife, and Mom, Gillian White; Vegan Fun with Delliz the Chef; Black Business Grant Winner: The Unique Foodie Witchery; “#BlackLoveConvo: “Fennell Adventures: A Family of Authors” by Dapper Dr. Feel;” Featured art piece by Will Focus; Must Have Graphic Novel: “Cypher Team i01” by Tyrone Jackson/SoveReign Comics; Black Business Highlights; Taji Mag Model Contest Winners; and more!!

Purchase your copy now at ‘Shop Taji’!

Taji Mag Vol 18 Embrace the Black

Purchase Taji Mag | Vol 18

Taji Mag is the epitome of the positive Black experience. Our brand embodies the traditional and modern royalty of Pan-African people via our quarterly digital and print publication and live events.

13Jan/19
APAP Conference

The APAP Conference, and Why You Should Go

I don’t even know where to start when it comes to the APAP conference, there’s so much going on! If your work falls within the world of performing arts, this is a conference you should attend at least once. First of all (as per to NYC fashion), there are 3 important music events that are intersecting at this time of year: APAP (Association of Performing Arts Professionals), Winter Jazzfest, and GlobalFest.

The Basics of the APAP conference

There are 3 floors of expo hall full of booths — it’s pretty crazy and can be overwhelming so it’s best to attack it in segments! Exhibitors range from management companies and booking agencies to touring groups and performing arts venues. My suggestion is to know who you are looking for — know the type of people you are looking to meet. The best way to maximize an expo is to search the list of exhibitors (ahead of time if possible) and see which booths you definitely want to visit. Next, there are professional development workshops on a variety of topics in breakout rooms on the lower level of the hotel (Hilton New York in Midtown). On the printed schedules, you may not see the actual breakdown of workshop locations so it’s best to go down to the lower level and check the signs near each room and decide if you want to sit in for the presentation. I didn’t find too many workshops that piqued my interest or applied to me, but I pretty much check out anything that has to do with fundraising. So once you figure out the workshop times, you will know what time you have to spend at the expo hall and showcases. Speaking of which, that’s where the real magic happens, in the rooms dedicated to performances by APAP member groups like independent bands and dance companies. Landing a showcase at APAP is great exposure for up and coming artists who are hoping to catch the attention of venues and talent agencies for booking opportunities.

The Important Stuff

Networking can make or break your career in any industry, especially entertainment and performing arts. You can end up meeting a booking agent, record label, or potential manager. You could even run into an artist that you’ve wanted to collaborate with. I met some interesting people at APAP, like representatives of organizations that support independent artists. The Center for Traditional Music and Dance, for example, provides resources and technical support for artists who work within their communities and traditional culture. I also spoke to some booking agents and received the inside scoop on what they look for when taking on a new client: the keyword was “authenticity” especially for agents who work in music like Chris Mees, President of talent agency B Natural Inc. “I like to see that the artist has done their homework on the history of the music they play, and who isn’t trying to be like an artist we already know. I also like a level of mystique to an artist, I need to be intrigued. Having a great work ethic and being a good human being are important too.”

The for real for real important stuff – the music and art!

APAP ConferenceOkay, so, in my mind, the performances I saw are a whole separate article (who knows if that will actually happen but we’ll start with this). The showcases I went to were mostly jazz and international artists, like my Haitian brotha, Wesli! ( @wesli2 ✊🏾🇭🇹🙅🏾♀️ Yea, I’m extra)! I saw him perform 2 years ago at AfroJam (by @afromondoproductions), and he is still touring the world and bringing energetic Afro-Caribbean fusion music to the stage. I was able to catch a quick interview with him and ask about how he got started and how he’s been able to continue. Wesli got his first major break by winning a contest by Radio Canada that led to him winning a prize to fund his participation in a major showcase in France where he connected to international talent agents and managers. He even took classes at the School for Show Business in Montreal, and he suggests that other artists do the same: “I recommend artists take charge of every aspect of their business. There’s plenty of talent out there, the person who doesn’t wait for others to handle their business gets further.” I’m always happy to see an indie artist who is always leveling up his/her grind.

APAP Conference

I was invited to attend some shows for the Winter Jazz Festival after APAPing all day (sidebar: I can’t hang with musicians noooo more), and I heard some great music from impressive artists. First stop was to see vibraphonist Joel Ross at Subculture with his jazz ensemble. It was a mix of traditional jazz elements with the modern sound of the vibraphone, I dug it. Next stop was at LPR (Le Poisson Rouge) to see the legendary Richard Bona. The textures of the instruments and vocals carried you to a different place, a whole romantical mood even. There was even a flamenco dancer to amp up the vibe. I wanted to hear and see more, but alas the show was over. I finally took my arse home after that.

APAP Conference

APAP ConferenceOn the second day of the APAP conference, my wannabe-dancer spirit was blessed with a performance by the Hiplet Ballerinas! I didn’t check all of the performance schedules in advance (again, there was too much going on) but I had gone into that showcase room to see the Cirque Zuma Zuma African Acrobats, which was a treat too! Both groups were blackity black black, super talented, and beautiful! The performance by Zuma Zuma incorporated African dance, musical instruments, and balance tricks. And Hiplet is by far some of the coolest dancing I’ve seen in a long time. the costumes were beautiful, the movement was a mixture of classical and in-the-club. They created a visual experience and had dancers working in different shifts so when one group went off stage the other group came right on so there was a continuous performance. Homer Bryant, the creator of hiplet, has done an excellent job with these dancers and I hope to see hiplet become a staple dance style.

APAP Conference

That was a lot to read.. I know. it was a lot to write 😏 and experience but again attending this conference is totally worth it if you’re a performing artist, a manager, booking agent, or aspire to be any of the above. Here are some links to the people and organizations mentioned in this article. Shout out to the APAP media coordinator for having me out. Stay tuned for my next adventure, peace!

APAP Conference:  https://www.apap365.org/Conference

Center for Traditional Culture and Dance: https://ctmd.org

Wesli: http://www.wesliband.com/en

Joel Ross: http://bnatural.nyc/project/joel-ross

Richard Bona: http://bnatural.nyc/project/richard-bona

Hiplet Ballerinas: http://hipletballerinas.com

Cirque Zuma Zuma African Acrobats: www.ecetouring.com

06Jan/19
Bourne Brilliant

3 Sibling Kidprenuers Own Plant-Based Patisserie, Bourne Brilliant LLC, for Over 5 Years

Bourne Brilliant LLCLyrica, Zaira, and Nadira, ages 11, 10 and 7 respectively, are a budding sister trio of kidpreneurs. In 2013, the eldest, Lyrica, started a bread ministry at the age of 6. She would bake bread and other goodies to distribute them throughout their community of Woodville, FL. In order to fund their generous donations, she pitched the business venture to their parents. Over the years, the trio has created their own recipes and branded their business into Bourne Brilliant LLC.

Lyrica, Zaira, and Nadira are now the CEO’s and founders of Bourne Brilliant LLC. They handcraft plant-based baked goods, beverages, and other tasty treats. They have even “hired” their Mom and given her a host of titles and duties. The goals of these multi-award-winning culinary creatives include promoting healthier eating habits to entire families and to see kids participating more in the kitchen. They are also passionate about encouraging other youth to find and create their own business enterprises. With the help of their parents, they have managed to own and operate this venture for over 5 years while maintaining a charitable and philanthropic component to their module.

Bourne Brilliant Bourne Brilliant Bourne Brilliant

To find out more about them and to see more work from Bourne Brilliant, visit their website and pages on Instagram and Facebook @bournebrilliantco.

Bourne Brilliant Bourne Brilliant

01Jan/19

That Suits You has Suited 8000 Black Men For Success

That Suits YouFirst impressions can be vital in this life and have a major influence on our journey in the career world. We live during a time when individuals are judged on the basis of their outward appearance, especially young Black men, which is why it is important that we are given tools to break any stereotypes and show our talents. That Suits You does just that — provides information, training, and clothing to Black boys and men to increase their odds of success.

That Suits You is a Black-owned organization based in Brooklyn, NY that focuses on not only providing suits for Black men from high school students to the elderly but gives them the training and tools required to compete in the fields of their choosing. I had the opportunity to speak with Brooklyn native and brainchild of the That Suits You organization, PK Kearsy, to receive more insight about the program.

Dapper Dr. Feel: How did That Suits You originate?

PK Kearsy:  That Suits You formed while I worked as a manager for the Department of Motor Vehicles. It was there that I noticed that some of the young men that I interviewed were not dressed properly and they didn’t have the tools needed to give an impressionable job interview. After doing these interviews for so long and seeing so many men not get hired, I wanted to do something about it. I started working with my brother, Jamel Thompson.

With his 12 years of experience in banking and my experience working with the government, we decided to put our resources to good use. We started to get our old suits and prepared young men for their job interviews. As a result, they started getting hired and developing more self-confidence and positive changes started to occur.

DDF: What do young men have to look forward to when entering the program?

PKK: We have a workshop called Choices where we focus on change, habits, options, image, communication, and effort which all equal success. We talk about networking, relationships, interviewing, social media, building solid relationships and not just using people on their resources. We talk about anger issues and how to manage them because some of these young men have anger issues that hinder their overall growth so we help with that.

That Suits You

DDF: What impact has the organization had and how long has it been helping the community?

PKK: We started in 2013 and so far we have helped over 8,000 men. We have seen them get jobs, develop important/professional relationships. We have made many connections and relationships as we continue to meet our goals. We have great working relationships with HBO, New York City government, Verizon, Red Bull, Via Comm, Banana Republic and many more organizations that have community outreach.

We teach a lot about self-building in these classes that many of the young men thank us for. We teach about the 7/11 rule where within the first seven seconds of meeting a person, we develop 11 judgments about what we see and those judgments don’t even have to be true.

DDF: Have the men you’ve helped come back to be apart of the program or volunteer?

PKK: A good number of them come back to help out providing mentorship or to volunteer. We had a special event, Fundraising February, where a few guys came out and spoke about their progress. It’s really been a blessing to see the cycle, to see what men do after they receive help, to see them take the lessons and blessings they have received and to pass them on to someone else.  We love to work with the guys that have been through our program because they understand the process.

DDF: What are the goals for That Suits You?

PKK:  The short-term goal for That Suits You is to continue to get our book out, Suited For Success. The book has about 25 Black authors and what it took for them to succeed in whatever field they are in (Television, Doctor, Fireman, etc.). Some of these men have had terrible beginnings but have had much success. We want to get the book out and continue to have it within our program for the men in the program to read.

Our long-term goal is to continue to build and form relationships with other organizations. We just formed a relationship with an organization, Dress for Success: Worldwide. We want to learn from them and model them since they are doing so well for women. We want to do the same on the men side. Our goal is to grow and expand, taking our organization from New York to all over the country.

That Suits You

DDF: What is the age range of the men that you help?

PKK: Originally we started with men coming home from prison, that age range is 18 and up. Then we gained a partnership with AARP so we started working with men that were at least 60 years old. Then we wanted to be more proactive with youth so then we went on to help juniors and seniors in high school. Next, we decided to go even younger and help middle school boys. Teaching them to tie ties and providing them with information, even though we don’t have suits for them yet. Sometimes we participate in Career Day in grade schools.

We are also helping men in homeless shelters and provide our services there. They may be living in a homeless shelter but have job interviews coming up. We noticed there are a lot of men living in these homeless shelters. Some of these men may have children that may be around or even in the shelter with them, so it’s important that we help them. When you can empower a man and teach him, not just tell him, suit him up and give him something, it does wonders to his self-confidence. These are the things that can help push him to success.

That Suits You is continuing to grow but looking to connect and form partnerships with other organizations. If you are looking help or become part of the That Suits You movement, email [email protected] or they be contacted here. For more information, visit their website, ThatSuitsYou.org.

That Suits You

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