Beauty is Melanin
Business owner, Coretta Ryan shares her podcast series titled, NY to Paradise: Creating Your Own Success. Launched August 31st, the monthly audio series highlights various entrepreneurs from around the world who haven’t been afraid to reshape their daily experiences by taking risks, staying true to their personal stories and living their lives intentionally.
The show was created and co-produced by Coretta Ryan to be used as a tool to motivate aspiring and fellow entrepreneurs in their journey. The idea behind the concept is in finding out the “WHY”. The reasons behind why entrepreneurs may create businesses or the source of the passion they have for their work. Coretta says “I wanted to share the process, the thinking behind what shapes the ideas that develop into businesses.”
New company Love Afrique launches their line of African-inspired head wraps, handbags, and jewelry. The new brand works to help women feel great and express their culture through their collection. “We aim to have women of color glamorously and unapologetically reflect their roots,” said the Love Afrique team. Via their website, customers can peruse and purchase the full range of Love Afrique items. Customers can receive an exclusive discount on their first order when they sign up for the Love Afrique newsletter.
None other than Being Mary Jane herself; the grossly talented and radiant bombshell, Ms. Gabrielle Union’s new book, We’re Going To Need More Wine, has been picking up quite the buzz. Sweetheart of black cinema and star of some of our favorite movies, she is now vying to become one of our favorite authors as well.
“Throughout my life, I’ve often wondered aloud ‘how the hell did I end up here? Why me? Not sure I’ve found the answer to those questions but in this book, I share my journey. The good, the bad, the WTF. You will definitely need more wine for this one.” – writes Union in her Instagram post announcing the upcoming release of the book.
A ‘powerful collection of essays about gender, sexuality, race, beauty, Hollywood, and what it means to be a modern woman’, the book has already garnered praises and accolades galore. En lieu of her book release she has given several interviews and has snatched a few magazine covers. With a matching book tour starting in New York City the day before the book debuts, she has even released an exclusive excerpt of the book. A longtime activist for women’s reproductive health and against sexual violence, in the book Gabrielle opens up about her personal experiences with both. With topics such as her on-going fertility struggles with hubby Dwyane Wade, it seems that her writing will be an expression of what it truly means to be Gabby. A Black Woman and an Artist, now an open book.
To that I say: Bring It On.
We’re Going To Need More Wine releases on October 17th and is available for pre-order.
Stay tuned for my review of the book, coming later this month.
Let’s say some shit happens between you and somebody else. I’m talking have you wanting to throw hands, or had one too many drinks while listening to ABoogie all night type shit. Because of what happened, it’s automatically considered a bad day. At the end of that day, if I was to ask you how your day was, instead of talking about all the negative stuff, ask yourself these three questions.
1. Did it take any money out of your pocket?
2. Did it take the roof from over your head?
3. Are you or anyone you know in any physical pain or danger?
If the answer to all these questions is “NO”. Then guess what, IT DOESNT FUCKING MATTER. Why do we insist on being so ready to decide that it’s a bad day overall? Things happen, and the reality is, they’re going to keep happening. People my age have what, maybe a good 60-70 years left in this world? Come on, it’s unrealistic to think we can ever progress or move forward in life if we direct so much focus and energy towards the negative.
I won’t lie, I dead used to be that way. It was a really hard habit to get rid of, but I started to ask myself, do I really wanna be mad or sad, or any other negative emotion everyday? Hell no. I got tired of it, and I knew if I continued allowing myself to choose the negative, I would start doing that in everything else that I do. Whether it was dance, work, this blog, relationships… anything. I would always be negative.
It had to become part of my morning ritual to literally say out loud to myself, “I’m choosing to be happy today, and I’m going to make sure today is a good day”. Regardless of anything that happens, if it didn’t take your life, there’s no reason to sweat the small shit.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Now 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.
Sexy, fun, sophisticated. Abyssinia.
Royal | Abyssinia Campbell
Photographer | Joey Rosado
MUA | Marshalle C
Stylist | Abiodun Dosu
Creative Director | Devena Smith
IG @ _devena_
Designer | Queen E Collection