Tag Archives: taji mag

01Oct/17
Bravery not Perfection

Bravery, not Perfection

Coming to terms with the importance of striving for bravery instead of perfection is what forced me to start writing. One thing all humanity shares is the acknowledgment of the certainty in the phrase, “Perfection is an illusion.”

We all understand that perfection cannot be personified. In fact, it bathes in non-existentialism:

It is as unattainable as the promises of someone who has passed away… as unrealistic as composing a 10-page paper in under an hour…And as mythical as a pill that promises a snatched waist in less than a week.

However, we still remain subconsciously attracted to, and even driven by what ends up being its shadow: we buy the diet pills and waist cinchers; and wait until Sunday night to start a paper that is due the following morning, (assigned two weeks prior).

This phenomenon affects our productivity tremendously. With the fear that the perfect outcomes we envision could possibly never prove themselves evident, we choose comfort at the expense of discovering all that there is to our own abilities. We device amazing plans, but quickly deviate at the sense of any awry possibility.

We purge our lives of the glory in the journey, forgetting that the experience itself almost always trumps the end results.

It is imperative to recognize the tremendous rewards in simply participating: if not for us, then for all who are observant of us.

“Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection,” a TED talk by Reshma Saujani, an American Lawyer, and politician, is leveraging not just for girls, but everyone. It puts much emphasis on being ok with taking a leap simply in the name of bravery. Ms. Saujani highlights the idea that even if one does not arrive at the most favorable results, they would still have confronted their doubts, and discovered much more strengths along the way.

Making perfection the end goal has the might to render us crippled with fear of attaining the reality of something less than perfect. We would then cowardly choose indolence, and reach the end of our lives only to realize that we never really lived.

The ghost-count of books not written, speeches not made, lives not impacted, continuing to overwhelm our archives of “could-have(s).”

So, Dear hidden gems: In skepticism of whether or not taking a leap is worth the outcome, think “bravery,” instead “perfection,”  The origin of starting this blog alarmed by the possibilities of everything going haywire is my way of jumping on this wagon. I hear it guarantees an odyssey of refinement that “perfection” can never measure up to.

So as if there is no next week, once the door of that airplane has been opened, rest assured that your breath alone guarantees the necessity of your footprint. The urgency in fueling your potentials must start at the end of this post.

So on the count of three, dive into that open sky…

or better yet, do it on two.

Bravery not Perfection

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30Sep/17
Nanii Acosta

Afro-Latino Nanii Acosta Releases Her Single “Sittin Sideways”

Nanii Acosta is an Afro-Dominican singer/songwriter based out of Brooklyn. She has released her single “Sittin Sideways” that is an interpretation of everything that she is – a woman of strength, bilingual tongue, and a strong inclination to music and spirituality. All of which have been cornerstones of Black culture.

“Growing up I had always struggled to maintain an identity to be proud of my Afro-Latino heritage. Because I didn’t fit the mold of what a “Latina” person looked like I was always told “you’re not Dominican, you’re black”, or  “you’re lying”. Unknown to the ignorant ones, Black people come in all different shades and speak a spectrum of languages. We are creators of life and therefore our culture and variants of it can be found in every corner of the globe.

Those comments and ones similar formed deep cuts that lead me to dislike myself. There were instances when I wanted to sit in bleach or pray to God that my hair would be straight and long. The emergence of black culture across the internet and media has been a godsend and a form of healing. I am not only proud of my bronze skin and thick coils but also the excellence that my people represent.”

Nanii’s song can be found on iTunes and Spotify!

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28Sep/17
identity crisis rhisa parera

Identity Crisis : Road to Unapologetic by Rhisa Parera

My parents told me when I was born I was so white the hospital thought they gave my mother the wrong baby until my father was called in to prove he was my dad. Growing up I was the only Black/Hispanic girl in the neighborhood. I remember the small block parties we had. My mother worked Saturdays so I’d be with my dad and the other kids with their fathers. Everyone knew when my mother was close to home because she would come flying down the street blasting her Gilberto Santa Rosa through the windows. At the time, part of me felt embarrassed to be the mixed one but deep down I felt this sense of pride to be different from everyone else having this mom who made an entrance in the neighborhood. I couldn’t put it into words how I felt about my mom. She was fierce and strong and held her head high. I wanted to be just like her but I was scared to stand out more than our Black skin already did.

The white men in the neighborhood would tell me how gorgeous they thought I was and that I should be a model. They would touch my hair and sometimes hug me a bit too tight for my liking. My elementary school was probably 95% white. The Black kids were known as the troublemakers. They were in a different class then I was and I never understood why. They would call me a white girl for not being in their class. I wasn’t sure where I belonged or why I was kept so far away from people who looked like me.

My Mom said, “We are not Black, we are Puerto Rican. Y ciento por ciento Boricua and don’t forget de pura sepa! (100% and pure)” Then one day this kid asked my dad why he had a Black child and in my head, I’m over here thinking, “I’m not Black, I’m Puerto Rican!” My father responds, “because her mother is dark skinned” as if it was a mistake or something. “She’s Puerto Rican but she’s Black.” That sentence haunted me for years.

In junior high, I remember being bullied by other Black girls. I was confused as to why the girls who looked like me didn’t want to be friends with me. I went into a phase of fearing Black people even though I wanted to be part of the group. I longed to be like them after being in a school with no one who resembled me, but I felt like an outcast again. I went home one day, took a knife out of the kitchen drawer, and put it against my wrist, wondering if I sliced it straight across would I die instantly or would it take a while. I didn’t know much about suicide and, honestly, I don’t even know how I knew that, all I remember is my mom opened the front door and I threw it back in the drawer.

In high school, I wore a Puerto Rican flag every day, whether it was a bandana, a book bag, shirt, purse, whatever! It was my way of not having to explain what I was when people asked or having to give them a history lesson of Black people in Puerto Rico. I started to speak Spanish more and part of me didn’t even want to speak English. I just wanted to be surrounded by Latinos who understood me. Or anyone who understood me at that point.

I remember having a discussion in college and saying exactly what my father said about my mother’s skin tone and a professor asking me, “what do you mean, BUT she is Black?” He told me that I didn’t have to apologize for being Black. I’m about 20 or 21 sitting there like, “wow I knew I was Black!” It may sound stupid but it’s true…

From that day on I began to identify as Black and not feel the need to explain that I am half this or that or why I’m Black or how the hell we became Black or what fuckin ship my family came on or how they ended up in PR. I was negra and it made me feel proud, the way I did when my mom drove down the street in the whitest neighborhood ever in Staten Island with her salsa blasting.

Written by Rhisa Parera
Facebook  | Instagram

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25Sep/17
get gold, Taji Mag

Fuck Clay, Get Gold

Aight so boom, you went to pottery class because, why not? You get home and because you might be just as clumsy as I am, you drop the bowl and realize its cracked. You don’t throw it out because we don’t have money to waste and you take it down the block and have them perform Kintsurkiurio and repair it with liquid gold. Now that bowl is fire, I mean it has liquid gold in it now, so why wouldn’t it be fire. After being broken, it’s even more beautiful than it was when you bought it home.

get gold, Taji MagNow try applying that to self. We go through shit all the time. Sometimes every day, sometimes every hour, and sometimes it seems like we can’t keep it together for even a minute. But with all of these things that happen to us, we are like that bowl we made, broken, but never too far gone to the point of not being able to be repaired. I thought I was too far gone countless of times. I thought I had no more hope and no more reasons to be repaired. I figured, damn, I’m at rock bottom so often I might need to change my address. Until I realized, yo, fuck clay, get gold. The more shit I went through, I started thinking I had to be going through it for a reason. If not to help someone else around me, then to become even more fire than I was before.

So go through it. Feel those hard times, let it get you down, let it tear you apart, hate it, love it, because when you come out of that shit, a survivor, a warrior, a beautiful/handsome ass piece of golden structure, you’re gonna be proud of that struggle. In my hardest times, I always had people telling me that my feelings and tribulations would pass. Honestly, I thought they were full of shit. BUT, they were right. It doesn’t go away because whatever happened, happened. But at all times you have to remember that bowl. The more you drop it, and get it fixed; the more you go through and make it out, the more gold you become. Keep your head up Shorty. Fuck Clay, Get Gold.

Kintsurkiurio – to repair with gold; the art of repairing pottery with golden lacquer understanding that the piece is more beautiful having been broken.

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25Sep/17
Abyssinia

Black Beauty | Abyssinia

Sexy, fun, sophisticated. Abyssinia.

Abyssinia Abyssinia

Abyssinia

Royal | Abyssinia Campbell
IG @abyssiniacampbell

Photographer | Joey Rosado
IG @islandboiphotography 

MUA | Marshalle C
IG @bellisima81

Stylist | Abiodun Dosu
IG @abzstylz 

Creative Director | Devena Smith
IG @ _devena_ 

Designer | Queen E Collection
IG @queenecollection

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23Sep/17
hurricane

Disaster in the Diaspora – Helping Hurricane Survivors | We Are The Universe Pretending To Be Individuals

In case you’ve been missing the news, let’s start with numbers. On September 6th Hurricane Irma, a category 5 storm, swept the Atlantic whipping sustained winds of up to 185 mph. Within 2 days, those in her path suffered disasters of varying degrees, all widespread and devastating to say the least. Lands affected include Barbuda, Anguilla, Dominica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos, and Cuba; the list, however, is continual. The one assumption that can be drawn is that help is needed.

hurricaneOf all of these beautiful places decimated by the storm, Barbuda and Anguilla were the hardest hit. To give you an idea of the destruction, the hurricane was recorded at 348 miles wide – the island of Barbuda is a mere 62 square miles. Declared uninhabitable, evacuation of all residents to its sister island of Antigua was the only option. With 70% of evacuees having been taken into homes of Antiguan citizens, the other 30% remain in emergency evacuation centers such as Antigua’s sports stadium, converted nursing homes, and the like. The people of the island of Anguilla were not so lucky as to have a place and the means to leave. The first delivery of aid from the island’s parent government, The UK, arrived SIX DAYS after the storm passed. There is no running water, barely any electricity; many of the residents are without supplies to repair their damaged homes or even food. With Tourism providing over 60% of the Islands GDP, there is very little chance of it being able to rehabilitate on its own. The Four Seasons resort, which is the Island’s largest private employer, has stated that it will take at least 6 months to reopen. All things considered, these countries need more than the hope that the world will come to their aid; they need the PROOF.

I am currently in Barbados, and the community here is taking efforts, very seriously, into their own hands. The slogan of one of the major radio stations has been “One People, One Caribbean”, and the people have been calling in to pour out support—and funds. Local businesses and foreign businesses based on the island have donated in major ways, with two major banks of the island already giving close to $1M. Individuals are sending care packages and the like, with some tradespeople packing their tools and setting out themselves. The motion has been both beautiful and compelling. What a force to be reckoned with! Imagine if a majority of the aid for these countries came from us, the people?

As Africans of the Diaspora, we SHOULD be caring for our people. We constantly speak of Unity; is there a better time to show it than now? The U.S. government provided a mere $100,000 to relief, which seems to be a slap in the face and is only a drop in the bucket. There are more than 42 million of us in the U.S., (and as much as I’d hate to sound stale but) imagine if each one of us gave just a dollar…  We are one collective, the sooner and more frequently we act like it, the better off we will all be. It is past due time for us to become more responsible for ourselves as a whole because if we all help those in need, no one would be in need for long.

The most immediate need is for food items (particularly non-perishable), baby items, generators, blankets, mosquito tablets, construction materials, school supplies and pet food. No donation or contribution is too small! I’m volunteering here in Barbados and have opened an account to receive donation funds. The Paypal link is www.paypal.me/STCDisasterRelief and the associated email is StregthenTheCollective@gmail.com. Feel free to email me in regards to volunteering your time and skills as well! Links to other reputable Organizations and Addresses for care packages & supplies will be listed below. As a last resort, by all means, plan your winter vacation this yr to be spent in Antigua, as tourism is the country’s mainstay for sustenance. See you there!

Barbuda/Antigua Donations

Antigua Commercial Bank
Barbuda Relief and Rebuilding Fund: Account No. 100004717.

Caribbean Union Bank
Barbuda Relief & Rebuilding Fund, Account No. 100 013 72.

Official Barbuda Relief Fund
https://www.gofundme.com/officialbarbuda

 

Anguilla Donations

APANY (Founded by the US Anguillan Diaspora Association)
https://www.apa-ny.org [501 ( c ) 3 Tax-Deductible]

Help Anguilla Relief Fund
http://www.helpanguilla.com

Blanchard’s Hurricane Relief
https://blanchardsrestaurant. com/bacf-donation
(264) 497-6100

Supplies
c/o Thomas Kelly
APLO Relief Initiative
110 Wall Street
New York, NY 10005

Pet Supplies
c/o Debbie Tabor
9715 Dahlia Avenue
Palm Beach Garden, Florida 33416

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18Sep/17

WNBA Playoffs: Minnesota Lynx Hold Off Washington Mystics to Advance to WNBA Finals

The energy in the Capital One building in Washington, D.C. was filled with excitement as the Mystics fans prepared to cheer on their team to continue into the WNBA Playoffs. Little kids around the arena danced and laughed while hip hop tunes filled the air. Many of the adults were dancing like they were at a neighborhood block party. This painted scene of positivity and fun continued despite the outcome of the game.

The Mystics were down 2 games to 0 in a 5 game series. They needed a win and with the all-star caliber play of Elena Delle Donne (team-leading scorer and 2016 WNBA MVP) and Kristi Toliver, it would be possible. Even with the firepower of the Minnesota Lynx consisting of Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, and 2017 WNBA MVP Sylvia Fowles, they stood a chance.

The first half started off with Maya Moore and the Lynx catching rhythm shooting 46.2% from the field and an incredible 57.1% from 3-pt range. Both Fowles (Lynx) and Delle Donne (Mystics) had 7 points at the half. With the Lynx’s great defensive play, they held the Mystics to 35.7% from the field and 33.3% from 3-pt range. Don’t be fooled by the numbers though, the Mystics were up by 1 point at the half, leading 39-38. They needed to be more consistent on their offense if they wanted to not allow the Lynx to pull ahead.

wnba playoffs mystics lynxDuring Half Time, the Mystics fans were still motivated and encouraged that their team would win. I talked with these beautiful ladies about how fun it was to attend the game and how they loved supporting the Mystics.

wnba playoffs mystics lynxAt the player’s entrance, little girls waited to greet the players into the second half. They were filled with joy as they hi-fived each player as they came out.

The 3rd quarter started out with Seimone Augustus hitting the first two shots for the Lynx, which would begin her great performance for the second half. The Mystics stayed within reach with others players, like Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, stepping up for them offensively. The Mystics managed to keep the lead three times and even kept the game close, but with Augustus and Fowles catching fire adding to the All-Star performance of Maya Moore, the Mystics would succumb to defeat 81-70.

Although the season ended for the Mystics, they still kept their heads high. They had played against a team that was offensively superior only due to the injuries that had plagued them this season. Yet in all, they still played hard and with much passion. The Mystics look forward to preparing for the offseason training, relaxing, and some are even heading overseas to play.

wnba playoffs mystics lynxElena Delle Donne looks forward to not just working out, but exploring Washington, D.C. With her first year on the team, she primarily stays in the routine of preparing for the season and just hanging out at home. Ivory Latta has a busy summer ahead of her. She stated, “I’m getting my body together, doing some book tours, doing some camps, and helping my mom take care of my father.” Latta has been acknowledged for doing community work and assisting foundations. Both her parents have Parkinson’s which is why she serves as an ambassador for the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. WNBA athletes like Latta show how great and inspirational they are by motivating children to be the best versions of themselves and to give back. Their sportsmanship and fundamentals are something all that youth should witness, not only to become better athletes, but better people in the future.

wnba playoffs mystics lynxWNBA MVP Sylvia Fowles of the Minnesota Lynx is looking forward to the WNBA finals, stating “Looking forward to a lot of physicality.”

Watch Fowles and the Minnesota Lynx as they take on Candace Parker the Los Angeles Sparks for the WNBA championship Sunday 3:30pm on ESPN.

Photos by: DapperDrFeel

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17Sep/17
Chidinma Obinnakwelu

Poetic Justice | “Hair Me” by Chidinma Obinnakwelu

“Hair Me” submitted by Chidinma Obinnakwelu

What exactly is wrong with my hair?

Do you not realize you are in the presence of an African Queen?

My crown defies gravity

Reaching for the skies to high five the gods

My crown is handcrafted by the

Sweet goddess Ala Herself

Each coil twisted in such sophistication

Each coil in love with one another they intertwine

Again I ask

What exactly is wrong with my hair?

My hair is not limp and lifeless

For it embodies the spirit of the African goddess

There is absolutely nothing wrong with my hair

There is absolutely everything wrong with

Your perception of what

You think my hair should look like.

 

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16Sep/17
Terri New

Poetic Justice | “Humility” by Terri New

“Humility” by Terri New

My misinterpretation of the word humble
handcuffed me.
The keys were inside of me.
I swallowed it, along with the words:
“I can do that”
Instead I told myself:
Sit down child.
Be quiet.
Just act like you don’t know.
Be teachable.
My humility humiliated me.

 

Terri New is a Ghanaian living in Pittsburgh, PA | IG @terridiaries
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09Aug/17
Maimouna Youssef

Shine Your Light with Songstress Maimouna Youssef

Grammy nominated music artist Maimouna Youssef has just released a new hot single “Shine Your Light” with DJ Dummy. Bringing back the old flavor of fun fueled concept music that had blazed the air waves in the 70s. Talented and beautiful, Maimouna Youssef allows listeners to escape melodically to an acoustic utopia. Taji Mag had the opportunity to interview her about her new single, her influences, and her sage like wisdom on life.

Taji Mag: What sparked your influence for your new single?
Maimouna Youssef: I wanted to develop music to make people feel good about themselves. Being that I grew up informed about the struggle through my family, I have not been surprised by today’s hardships. I feel like people that didn’t have similar upbringing, don’t know how to deal with some of the issues of today. I hear people say that they don’t know what to do with all this negativity going on in the world and I want them to know that it is going to be ok. That they can keep moving forward because what we are going through is nothing new.
TM: How did you combine dance and concept music in your new single “Shine Your Light”?
MY: I took influence from the 70’s that fused concept and dance music together for people to enjoy. Music shouldn’t have to be really serious or just dance music, it can be both and the 70’s were good for that.
TM: Would you ever consider doing a socially conscious album similar to Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On?
MY: I would love to do a concept album like that. The beauty of being an independent artist is that you are able to put whatever you want to put out without any questions. I love making whatever music I feel moves me. Instead of having someone tell me I can’t put out certain types of work, that limits me as an artist.
TM: How did you learn to keep self love?
MY: My mother inspired me and taught me to love myself. She told me no one else is going to give me that love, so I needed to learn to give it to myself. Everybody should have that love for themselves. I think that it is important now especially with what is going on today that you really have to have that self love.
TM: What advice do you give to your son about life? Women? Society?
MY: I talk to him everyday about his experiences and dealing with emotions. That’s why I have him in boxing in Baltimore with his uncle. To teach him about discipline and dealing with his emotions. I feel like some men of color don’t have that. A way to let out their emotions and not have it bottled in. You see a lot of men with good careers, lots of degrees, money, and are able to function externally but internally they are dealing with a lot of anger and frustrations that they don’t know how to handle. I don’t sugar coat things with my son and keep it real with him. I homeschooled him because during his time in pre-school I felt he wasn’t learning some of the things I wanted him to learn. An Example, in kindergarten he had the daily lesson of differentiating similarities and differences between objects. One day the assignment was to circle all the clowns with red noses and put an X on the ones with different colored noses. I noticed that he had a positive attitude towards the clowns that he was circling because clowns with red noses are the norm but when he had to X out the clowns with different colored noses, I noticed his attitude towards those clowns were more aggressive and dismissive as he was X’ing them out. Then just as an experiment, I asked him instead of using X’s which in our society connote something negative to be excluded and Circles to be something positive to be included, I asked him to use triangles and rectangles which don’t have social connotations neither positive or negative. So, he began doing the assignment and his whole attitude changed. He was feeling positive to all the clowns no matter what color noses they had. I knew right then that that assignment he was being asked to do everyday was teaching social intolerance in the most subconscious and insidious way. Its also teaching self hate because as a boy or color in this society, he’s going to routinely be the one that is different that society will want to X out. If we don’t have self love we didn’t have anything.

TM: Which artist made you fall in love with music?
MY: My mother and grandmother both made me fall in love with music. Especially my grandmother having a gospel background. They kept me exposed to artists like Mahalia Jackson and Donny Hathaway. I wanted to listen to groups like Total back in the day and they kept me on artist like Ella Fitzgerald. Both of them kept me into old school good music, that helped shape the artist I am today.
TM: Which other Artist influenced you?
MY: I have done some background work Lalah Hathaway who inspires me because she is awesome! There have been times where I have not been able to focus on my part as background vocalist for Lalah because she was so great during the performance. I also worked with Cody Chesnutt and I love his work as well. I always try to pick his brain and seek his mentorship because I think he is so talented and has great musical skills. I love working with Eric Roberson, he is another gifted artist. All these great artist are my mentors and I’m always asking them for advice to make my skills better.

Maimouna Youssef’s newest album “Vintage Babies” will be out soon and she also has an album release tour coming. Follow her on twitter @maimounayoussef and @mumufresh on instagram.

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