11Feb/17
Cultural Appropriation

Here’s When Cultural Appropriation is OK

Cultural Appropriation: A Beginner’s Guide

Curtis M. Wong at Huffington Post celebrated Ben Yahr, a gay white man who thought it’d be cool to inject cultural appropriation into Beyonce’s maternity photos. He thought wrong. While Wong is no critical race scholar, it is still surprising he finds Yahr’s behavior celebration-worthy. Just like it’s never okay for gay white men to call themselves “Black women,” Yahr is not functioning as an ally in this series of photos where he appropriates Beyonce’s Black body. It’s disappointing that the Huffington Post has chosen to give this microaggression a platform. It’s time for white people to fall back.

In the article, Wong quotes Beyonce by noting that Yahr’s series of photos is flawless. Here I agree with Wong, these photos are a flawless. They are a flawless example of how gay white men can be racist too. Congratulations.huffpo cultural appropriation For Wong to suggest that this effort by Yahr encourages everyone to embrace body positivity is another way of telling us our Black bodies are not good enough or that some white man can perform Blackness better. As a Black woman who struggles with body positivity, Yahr’s work only silences the joy I felt when I saw Beyonce’s photos.

We collectively smiled at Blue Ivy kissing her mother’s belly. It was a contrast to of the way pregnant Black women were tortured during chattel slavery. Seeing Nefertiti in the background of her photo inspired the hope of resurrection for our culture. I thought about last Black History Month when she performed at the Super Bowl in a way that made me forget all the trauma we face on a daily basis as Black women.

Yahr attempted to desecrate that.

This is the norm: ignore Black culture until it is legitimized by whites. For example, there is an unlimited supply of young Black girls twerking, but white girls are often credited with popularizing the dance. Andy Cohen is an excellent example of a gay white man who appropriates Black women, yet fails to acknowledge his racial bias. The Bravo “Watch What happens Live” host called Amandla Stenberg a “jackhole” after she commented on Kylie Jenner’s cultural appropriation. This ignored the undeniable ways he has directly benefitted from the work of Black women: his show only came into existence after the predominantly Black Real Housewives of Atlanta, despite several all white Real Housewives series.

To say Yahr’s appropriation “slays” is an overstatement at best. What he really does is get a little more famous on the back of a hard working Black woman. That is not innovative. That is simply cultural appropriation. Please miss me with that.

Many of us remember Laganja Estranja whose cultural appropriation rivaled that of Elvis Presley. Estranja, a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race, was the epitome of appropriation. This is a person known for twerking like Beyonce and fake code switchingIsobel DeBrujah notes that this is all “an obvious imitation of black voice/speech patterns, specifically black female voice/speech patterns, specifically black, southern, speech patterns popularized by white people at black people’s expense.”

The lack of respect and outright unwillingness to accept when they are called out is rampant.

Why do white men–especially gay white men, who in a better world should be our allies–feel like it’s ok to use our bodies without our knowledge or permission? There are ways to prove your point without the unapologetic cultural appropriation Black women. Any intended commentary is invalidated when you represent the same disregard for our existence as the people/systems Cultural Appropriationyou criticize. This is not some one-off incident. There is a litany of gay white men who enjoy our Black womanhood, while routinely dismissing our grievances.

We have been telling white gay men about their blatant cultural appropriation for years, but the message hasn’t quite sunk in for the Huffington Post. The proliferation of polite racism is why we can’t have anything. White supremacy persists because of the invisible privilege that white LGBTQ communities ignore. Yes, there are some people coming to Yahr’s defense and adding context, but this blatant disrespect will never be ok. There will always be white people who apologize and make excuses for their racist peers. Cultural appropriation and its apologists are not new and they are not acceptable.

I know what some readers are thinking, though. Can’t we celebrate everyone? Why does it have to be racial? What if we just enjoy the culture? These are all completely natural questions.

So when is cultural appropriation of Black women OK?

Try February 31st.

If you love this, share it 🙂Share on FacebookTweet about this on Twittershare on TumblrPin on PinterestGoogle+Email to someonePrint this pageDigg thisBuffer this pageFlattr the authorShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditShare on LinkedIn
10Feb/17
Elegant Evenings Boutique

Spotlight: Elegant Evenings Boutique

Michelle Ragland is the owner and founder of Elegant Evenings Boutique. She has been in business for four years. In conversation she reflects on when she was a little girl and how she use to dress her dolls up and have “fashion shows” and from there, at the age of nine, she discovered fashion was her passion.

The first design Michelle did was a dress that her cousin wore to a formal event. She showed it to one of her seamstresses that she currently works with; she was so proud of herself, and excited because her cousin looked absolutely gorgeous. The person who inspired her to start her brand was Monif C, and God. She always prayed and listened to what God was telling her before she took a leap into anything. Her brand caters to all types of audiences from bridal, elegant events, pageants, kids, and couture clothing. Her latest fall fashion style are designs with a lot of orange and browns incorporated in her designs. She has attended 20 shows since her brand has been released.

One of Michelle’s major setbacks’ was trying to get her brand out to the world while not having enough family and close friends believe in her vision. It was only her mom and herself financing her vision and the cost of getting her brand out to the world was really expensive. With the help of God and the determination of herself and her mother, they made Elegant Evenings come to life.

During Michelle’s time as a Fashion Designer, the best advice she was given was: “You must crawl before you walk.” She uses that advice to inspire other models and during her selection process. She does have a method of choosing models. She loves to chose models who are passionate and serious about their career. She knows with those models they will be loyal, and will make her designs look more beautiful. She also uses models that are given to her, but, she prefers to do casting calls and speak with the models.

Elegant Evenings Boutique

Elegant Evenings Boutique

Elegant Evenings Boutique

If Michelle could design for any supermodel it would be a mixture of these amazing models: Kimora Lee Simmons, Tyra Banks, Naomi Campbell, and Roshumba Williams. She sees these ladies as powerful and independent women. If she could do a photo shoot anywhere in the world to represent power, she would do the shoot in Africa.

Michelle would love to thank everyone who has believed in her and her brand. She would love to thank her mom Josephine Brodie, her son Javon, her aunt and assistant Beatrice Gill, best friend Tracy Andrews, and Antoinne Duane Williams for the amazing networking and shows they have done together. She would also like to thank Aly Camara, and Alvin AJR Imagery for the amazing photo shoots that they have done together over the years. She would also like to give a thank you all the beautiful and dedicated  models she has met over the years.

Instagram

If you love this, share it 🙂Share on FacebookTweet about this on Twittershare on TumblrPin on PinterestGoogle+Email to someonePrint this pageDigg thisBuffer this pageFlattr the authorShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditShare on LinkedIn
03Feb/17
Bella's Adventures in Africa

Young African Sisters write Pan-African Children’s Book, Bella’s Adventures in Africa

Bella’s adventures in Africa is a self-published Pan African children’s book by British Zimbabwean sisters Rutendo Muzambi and Rebecca Darko, which is beautifully illustrated by Guy Stratton. It follows a girl who leaves England to embark on journey across Africa with her parents. It is a collection of nine short stories based in eight different African countries – Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Côte d’Ivoire, Tanzania, Egypt, and Ethiopia.

Bella's Adventures in AfricaRutendo’s inspiration for writing the book was derived from a number of experiences. One of the key reasons, was her passion for African culture and the need to promote more positive views of Africa. She has always been passionate about celebrating and embracing her African heritage. During her years in secondary school, she was awarded the Jack Petchey Award for her 5 year contribution and commitment to the annual black history competitions. However, she encountered negative stereotypical views from friends and colleagues, who would innocently ask whether Africans lived amongst wild animals and in tiny huts. These views were a far cry from the fun and happy childhood she and her sister had experienced and the modern Africa that we know and love. It appeared to them that some people did not realize that Africa is a continent of many nations, languages, cultures and values. Thus they wanted to write a book that moved away from the stereotypes and showed African children having fun adventures.

Like many other African young people, Rutendo and Rebecca followed the traditional route of going to university and gaining their educational qualifications. Rutendo gained her Masters degree in pharmacy whilst Rebecca also completed her Masters. However, they both still had a passion for writing and wanted to share their love of the African continent with other people. Thus during Rebecca’s maternity leave they began to write short adventure stories set in Africa and completed the book in December 2016.

With over 100 illustrations and adventurous short stories, this book shows African children having adventures. It is important for children to develop an understanding and appreciation of other cultures and to also foster a positive attitude towards people who are of a different background to them. When children of African heritage see themselves reflected in books, it enhances their self-esteem and builds their confidence. It also enables children of African heritage to see their continent in a more positive light, learn more about different African countries and to be proud of their African heritage.

Bella’s Adventures in Africa published on the 17th of January 2017. It is available on Amazon and on their website www.riverfrog.co.uk

Bella's Adventures in Africa  Bella's Adventures in Africa

If you love this, share it 🙂Share on FacebookTweet about this on Twittershare on TumblrPin on PinterestGoogle+Email to someonePrint this pageDigg thisBuffer this pageFlattr the authorShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditShare on LinkedIn
03Feb/17
Kenneth McDuffie

Chef Kenneth McDuffie is Young & Hungry

Kenneth McDuffieKenneth McDuffie makes his brand known in the city where it all began… His Philadelphia. McDuffie, Philadelphia native, is an independent, motivated, and strong believer in God. With a big personality and an even larger heart, he has given his time, energy, love, and his passion for food to becoming an educator of the art of cooking. Being raised by his Great Grandmother, the late Esther A. Smith, who taught him everything that he needed to know about food, McDuffie began catering baby showers, church banquets, weddings, and later landed himself a job with a popular cruise line. He moved to Hawaii where Kenneth could share his passion for food on a greater bicoastal scale.

Kenneth McDuffiePrior to moving to Hawaii, Kenneth had already started his own catering business in 2009. He recently revamped his brand and changed the name to “Young and Hungry.” Young and Hungry has already cooked for celebrity clients such as hip hop artist Juelz Santana and Senator Vincent Hughes and his wife actress Sheryl Lee Ralph. McDuffie is a weekly guest with his own segment WCW (WE’RE COOKING WEDNESDAY) on the Big Nate & Da Big Bang Morning Show on URU Radio, he’s a guest on Moment with Purple Queen on PQ1Radio, and has also became a sponsor for the Philadelphia Democratic

National Convention BLK out Social Mixer. He cooked his well known Fish Tacos for Philly’s legendary radio DJ and philanthropist Ms. Patty Jackson. This past summer, McDuffie also became the 2016 Bell Award recipient at The Philadelphia Black Expo.

‘Don’t take criticism too personal. You are a wonderful person!’ – Kenneth McDuffie

Currently working towards opening his own restaurant, McDuffie is ready to make his big dream into a larger reality. His goals are to give back to his community, educate up and coming chefs, and advise the young chefs on thriving in their positions whether it is cooking or not. With a mission to encourage the

youth to stay humble and faithful, He also embeds in their minds to grab a bite of great opportunities offered in this world until they’re full and make sure to pay their blessings forward onto others. Check his hashtags #WIKJM #YoungandHungry #ChefKenny

Kenneth McDuffie

If you love this, share it 🙂Share on FacebookTweet about this on Twittershare on TumblrPin on PinterestGoogle+Email to someonePrint this pageDigg thisBuffer this pageFlattr the authorShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditShare on LinkedIn
02Feb/17
Fashion On Belmont

3 Black Cats Café Announces Fashion On Belmont Event Feb 18th in Brooklyn

Fashion On BelmontOn February 18th, 2017 an exciting fashion event is coming to Belmont ave., Brooklyn. Fashion On Belmont, sponsored by progressive Brooklyn businesses 3 Black Cats Café, BGUConcepts and Georgia Stitch, is a night of fun, high fashion and community building.

Fashion and Brooklyn can come hand in hand. Three Brooklyn women owned and operated businesses are celebrating this idea on February 18th, 2017 at 3 Black Cats Café on Belmont ave, Brooklyn. The special event is titled Fashion on Belmont and is proudly being sponsored by 3 Black Cats Café and fashion trendsetters BGUConcepts and Georgia Stitch. Excitement surrounding the event is high.

“Helping empower community businesses and individuals is a big part of our vision,” commented a spokesperson from 3 Black Cats Café. “BGUConcepts and Georgia Stitch aren’t just making amazing fashion, but they are also inspirational example of what can be done when our community puts our mind to it. Fashion on Belmont shouldn’t be missed, it’s going to be a great experience.”

According to 3 Black Cats Café, the combination cafe/bakery and community space is the dream of three Brownsville sisters come to life. Proud to be a “cafe with a purpose”, the eatery has quickly become a Brooklyn “third space” that’s showing love to Brooklyn every day they are open. Fashion On Belmont is the latest expression of this drive.

Fashion On Belmont co-sponsor BGUConcepts is another proud Brooklyn women owned business. Since 2002 the fashion company has been a trendsetter and ground breaker in the plus sized community, respected for their fun, sexy and innovative designs and attitude. Well known for often being a choice for some very well known celebrity curves, their participation in the February event certainly adds to the excitement.

Third sponsor of the event, Georgia Stitch, has taken the art of custom designed clothing to the next level. Exceeding the expectations of everyone from high school girls wanting the perfect prom dress, community organizers and empowerment speakers, all the way to first ladies of the church, the Brooklyn-based fashion business never disappoints. Fashion On Belmont is certainly a great venue to see what Georgia Stitch is offering, both as a business and as a proud part of the community.

Fashion On Belmont takes place on February 18th, 2017 at 3 Black Cats Café. The cafe is located at 3 Belmont ave, Brooklyn, NY 11212. The event starts at 7 PM.

For more information be sure to email fashonbel@gmail.com.

If you love this, share it 🙂Share on FacebookTweet about this on Twittershare on TumblrPin on PinterestGoogle+Email to someonePrint this pageDigg thisBuffer this pageFlattr the authorShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditShare on LinkedIn
02Feb/17
ii-Kaya

Black Beauty II-Kaya as Mami Wata

II-Kaya Embracing the essence of Mami Wata

One brief glimpse is all it takes
to become enchanted by her mystery.
created exquisitely, she moves fluidly
within and throughout the living waters.
She may only appear for a moment,
but a single moment is enough
to influence one toward becoming
fully immersed in her aqueous realm.
Searching for nautical miles;
following her song of sweet serenity.
Many would be unable to see it through.
Though there are few who would never
set foot on dry land again;
who would forever
hold their breath and swim
along side her for eternity…

As she investigates the surface,
she does not succumb to the shallows.
She remains free to come and go as she pleases.
It is in her nature to manifest
that which her heart desires.
However simple or extraordinary it may be.
From time to time she ventures to the shore
and makes a splash
before returning to the sea.
Like the waves that crash on the sandy beach,
she brings with her many treasures
but takes a part of it when she leaves.
Tidal movements guided by lunar Inergies.
Those who are fortunate enough to feel her presence
would be unable to forget;
While others sail around the world to find her
but never catch her in their net…

Her depths, they are uncharted,
there is another world in her eyes.
She travels across oceans,
navigates the estuaries;
journeys up streams and rivers.
She is known around the globe by many names:
La Sirene, Mama Glow, Madre de agua,
Yemoja, Oshun, MamiWata…
For millennia her legend has been told.
A deity in the mortal world;
many see her as a fantasy.
She piques the imagination.
However, this mystical being
is no mere mythical creature.
She is divine, yet misunderstood
so she changes form
and remains hidden from the unworthy man.
Those who betray and hurt her;
they who cannot honor her with fidelity
will never sight her again once she has submerged.
Yet there need only be one to recognize her
and create a sacred space; a safe haven
for the Goddess to re-emerge!

Royal | II-Kaya – @ii-kaya_ises, @model_ii_kaya_ises
Photo | @Jahrevealdesigns

ii-Kaya  ii-Kaya ii-Kaya

If you love this, share it 🙂Share on FacebookTweet about this on Twittershare on TumblrPin on PinterestGoogle+Email to someonePrint this pageDigg thisBuffer this pageFlattr the authorShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditShare on LinkedIn
02Feb/17
cloudy visions

Taji Artist Lounge: Cloudy Visions

Cloudy VisionsCloudy Visions, born Danai Graham, is a painter based in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Taji Mag: How did you discovered my craft:
Cloudy Visions: I discovered art at a young age. I remember really trying hard to copy cartoon characters and finally getting that “S” with the the lines down packed. I used to not want to go out and hang out and lay with the other kids. I would rather draw cartoons and make up characters. I’ve always drawn, but never really did anything with it, it was a hidden talent that nobody really knew about. After taking school trips to museums and then later in life doing lots of research on dope artists such as Michael Jean Basquait, Miya Bailey, Justin Bua, Funny Tummy, Kaws and others helped me fall in love with art. I moved to Denver in 2015 for work, didn’t know anybody there. That’s where I painted my first canvas out of boredom and loneliness. It was pretty bad, lol, but I enjoyed the process and I’ve been doing it ever since. I have now been painting seriously for 2 years, started my Instagram page on 1/2/16, and did my first shows and events all in 2016.
Taji: What inspires your work?
CV: The inspirations for my art work are usually from conversations, real life occurrences, a lot from music, and my family.
Music: Music is big influence on my work. I listen to A LOT of music, it tells the stories that I’m not able to tell verbally. While painting, I am usually listening to instrumentals with a jazzy soulful vibe. This then allows me to make the words or the emotion that I would put on the track through my painting. In my art, it really is the thing that puts me in a creative space. Painting without music probably won’t ever happen. I am that guy who finds random artists from all over the world and digs for music. Its a passion of mine; I can’t live without my music.
Real Life and having my own style: I’ve gone through some stuff. Being an only child has made me a “loner” so being able to say it without saying anything is a big help for me. I really try to put something personal on every canvas I do, even if it’s just the color that I paint a character or a random place, that color will be an emotion I felt or feel. My style is different. Growing up in London, England exposed me to different cultures and lifestyles so you will see that in my art. Sometimes I will paint someone Black, other times the person will be blue but you can still see that it’s a Black person. To me that’s just saying we are all the same in ways even when we are different in color. I love being labeled a Black artist but I don’t want to be boxed in. I can do a bunch of everything. Just like in life, we all want to grow, don’t box me into anything, I’m a  free spirit. I am also a grown man with real world  issues like everyone, a husband, a father, etc., my aim is to let you know that.

Website | Instagram | Facebook

cloudy visions cloudy visions cloudy visions

cloudy visions

 

If you love this, share it 🙂Share on FacebookTweet about this on Twittershare on TumblrPin on PinterestGoogle+Email to someonePrint this pageDigg thisBuffer this pageFlattr the authorShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditShare on LinkedIn
27Jan/17
Vol10

Taji Vol10: Revolutionize

Release Mar 7 2017 | Vol10 of Taji is packed full of Black Beauty & Culture fulfilling it’s theme of “Revolutionize”! This volume features Pan-Africanist and Entreprenuer EmpressAK on the cover. Gracing the pages are the Editor’s Pick: Fruiggie is Making Painting Fun & Safe; the community feature on the powerful Ezekial’s Divine Oil; Hair Feature by Mz Lady Lox; “Multiple Streams of Revenue = Wealth” by Nay Marie; “The Root of Travel” by M’Bwebe Ishangi; the delicious seafood catering and pop ups of KnicknacksBK; unique eyewear from 9oclockteeparty; the sensual scrubs, butters, and jewels of TheCelestineCollection; #CareFreeBlackKids2k17 & Beyond” by Tajh Danielle Sutton; “#BlackLoveConvo” with Africa Jackson & Dapper Dr. Feel; our Health & Fitness Advice Columns with Trainer Clint & Delliz the Chef; Featured artist Will Focus; Must Have Comic Book: Is’Nana the Were-Spider by Greg Anderson Elysée; the Taji Model Winners; and more!!

Purchase your copy now at ‘Purchase Taji’!

Vol10

Purchase Taji Mag | Vol 10

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

If you love this, share it 🙂Share on FacebookTweet about this on Twittershare on TumblrPin on PinterestGoogle+Email to someonePrint this pageDigg thisBuffer this pageFlattr the authorShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditShare on LinkedIn
27Jan/17

We Are The Universe Pretending To Be Individuals/As Per the Airport Detainees

It isn’t as if POTUS Cheeto has managed to clone himself and send his minions to enforce the executive order. Those that are implementing these shameful and immoral dictations are citizens like you and I (saying that as referentially as possible, fully acknowledging the entire rank and system is one big delusion of grandeur). They are people who have to work for a living, rely on their jobs for healthcare, and likely have immigrants no more than 3 generations removed. If there was a twinge of consciousness and concern, it was likely overruled by instinct to maintain their own livelihood first. This delusion has become the means by which we are made to feel that standing for what is right risks our own survival.

In any war or oppression, the citizens are the ones to carry the burden of some power-hungry, greed-stricken aristocrat. It could be said that the armed forces and the like are just ‘doing their job” but not speaking against what is wrong silently reinforces it. An injustice to some is an injustice to all, with the opposite being true as well. We as humans have such a capacity for love that we do not necessarily get to exercise within this manufactured society. I don’t believe that true freedom is in being able to choose which color refrigerator we want or which ecosystem disrupting fuel we use to heat our home. I truly believe that true freedom is not a solitary movement.

What if majority of those who are responsible for carrying out these tyrannical sanctions simply refused? What if the man power that is necessary to abuse and oppress were to fully awaken to its TRUE power? It may seem far-fetched, but it is entirely possible sine what a man can think, he can do. Why “squabble over pieces of the Earth”, when in our truth we ARE Earth. We are slowly coming to realize that our true freedom lies in the fortification of the collective and our ability to outwardly manifest the sanctity and oneness of all. We are crawling towards awakening, but there are plenty who are still mired in darkness. For now, that is okay, as they are as necessary to our advancement as our own vertical movement is. We can spread our light simply by continuing to be that light, but it is going to take a lot more than just doing so for ourselves. We have to be as adamant and soaked with conviction as those of us who choose to preserve hate. What if we ALL found ways to show and share our light consciously so for the benefit of Humanity? Especially within our own Cultures and Communities where we have adept influence. How much more powerful will we be when we choose to put our lights together and perpetuate a greater good!

It is easy to wish the climate were more conducive to our growth but if man had nothing to resist him, he would not exist. More so now than ever, I am consistently asking myself how I can contribute to our united ascension. We must each pick our avenue; for some it will be fiery protest while for others it will be watery ritual and visualization. Some will plant the seeds and some will build the shelter, but we all must do something. I am glad you are on your electronic device reading this, but in knowing better, we are required to do better as well. I know you have a life to live and a self to preserve but your soul is eternal and you are a part of the whole. What will YOU do? We need you.

If you love this, share it 🙂Share on FacebookTweet about this on Twittershare on TumblrPin on PinterestGoogle+Email to someonePrint this pageDigg thisBuffer this pageFlattr the authorShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditShare on LinkedIn
26Jan/17

Photo Story: “Helios” The God of the Sun

Helios
Photography & Set Design |
Jefferson Ariaga @haremgraphia
Royal, Makeup, Styling |
Emma Theresa @emma_eazyliving

“Helios is known as the god of the sun in greek mythology. I always show the paramount nature of the black woman. With the defined and unyielding beauty which Emma has, I had no other in mind to show what the god of the sun looks like.”

Jefferson Ariaga is a Nigerian Boston based fashion photographer.

helios

If you love this, share it 🙂Share on FacebookTweet about this on Twittershare on TumblrPin on PinterestGoogle+Email to someonePrint this pageDigg thisBuffer this pageFlattr the authorShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditShare on LinkedIn