BLACK & CREME

Gorgeous drum skin color for hair,
She reminds me why we have queens
Standing on stage with that crown on her head — falling everywhere

I’m dancing from the base in my chest,
I wonder what the sound from her lips would do to match the rhythm in me

Erykah Badu has been my goddess,
But tonight in a black room with neon lights
I think I’ve got a girl crush on the tatted lead singer who grooves through time

Katrina Rose
Katrina Rose Tandy. Photo: @rozettandy
Advertisements

Dear Dr. King, your legacy is the source of our revival

The other night i watched our first black president address his nation for the last time

like you, he spoke to millions of faces — white and black faces that just seemed to blend together

through the glowing screen i watched your dream personified

his optimism echoed your message, Dr. King, but in the wake of November 8th i found myself angry, scared, defeated

and in that moment Barack was not enough

in that moment your dream was not enough

and so i began to sing

my country tis of thee, 

sweet land of liberty,

of thee i sing; 

land where my fathers died;

land of the pilgrim’s pride;

from every mountain side 

let freedom ring! 

i am reminded that— we are not free until all Americans can walk in equality

though unshackled and legs moving

we are anchored to a rock

a rock of injustice, racism, fear, intolerance

a rock colored red white and blue

when guns melt black bodies to tarred streets

I say let freedom ring! —-red white and blue

when the soil drains justice, peace, love and decency from the very fabric that stitches the American people together as one

I say let freedom ring! —-red white and blue

when the rock solidifies hatred from every nook and cranny of our government

I say let freedom ring! —-red white and blue

red white and blue

i want to let freedom ring but i often see only, you — red white and blue

but freedom we often forget

freedom we often forget until about this time of year when we honor your words, Dr. King

this is the time of year when your presence illuminates every news channel, choirs sing aloud, parents pull theirs kids up on eager laps and tell your story

we tell a story of a heroic man who towered over injustice

a man who proclaimed words from a wellspring of love and wisdom

a man who knew his legacy would inspire 365 days a year

but lately, in the face of overt hatred and bigotry we have reverted to a hopelessness

some might say it happened after your dream was realized through Obama

others might say it was never realized because you still had much to do

whatever it may be we’ve come to a place where the weight of struggle has become a heavy burden again

but even as i write this i remember your very words

“we must continue to struggle through legalism and legislation” 

it was not an easy road that brought us here, and it is not an easy road that will take us to freedom

but freedom does not ring without fight

not a fight that calls for retaliation or burning what is left of red white and blue

but one that calls for unity and courage

today and everyday, Dr. King, you remind us that the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice 

everyday we need to act justly and move toward the light

our journey has to start small, right here in our backyards

i am reminded that before your assassination you moved to yet another grassroots effort — Dr. King, you found your way to Memphis and worked with sanitation workers

so, even in the face of major national losses, we have got to fight for justice within our neighborhoods —  here — in Delray

we have to choose between right and wrong right here in our community

that’s how the fight for justice prevails

Dr. King, you taught us that oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. the urge for freedom will eventually come. 

we, the American people will not idle in a castle awaiting another civil rights knight to save us. we will have to take action. we will have to turn our anger, sadness, and defeat into freedom for every single American so that your legacy can truly live on each and every day

Written by Flose Boursiquot, author of Close Your Eyes, Now Breathe 

*This original poem was written for Spady Museum’s 17th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast and later appeared in the February 2017 issue of the Delray Newspaper.*

Everyone Deserves A Chance To Trap In This Life 

“In 2010, my uncle passed from AIDS related complications. Our family didn’t really know that he had the illness and I’m not really sure that he knew until his health declined. It’s interesting because if someone has cancer, you cry, and you feel sad. With him, I saw different types of emotions from people.”

Seeing a relative in hospice is a tragic experience. Young Kim felt powerless watching someone she loved suffer at the hands of a disease that, at the time, she didn’t understand anything about. Watching her uncle’s health decline so quickly scarred Kim, but she did not simply allow the wound to fade, she came into adulthood with fresh skin and a passion to advocate for others like her uncle. Kim says, “I have found comfort in knowing that I am dedicating a chunk of my life to fighting this disease. Yes, it has an impact on your health, but you can live long and healthy. You can still have a family and children. You can live just like everyone else. I just wish my uncle knew that.”

Despite the progress our society has made, HIV/AIDS is still seen as a tragedy that diagnosed individuals bring on themselves. It is assumed that the one with the disease was reckless in how they lived their life, and because of that contracted something that will inevitably kill them. We do our fellow humans a disservice with such a mentality. HIV/AIDS is a disease of a behavior; not one that impacts one particular type of person. Kim understands the difficulty that people living with HIV/AIDS face with their health.

“I am becoming the professional that people living with HIV come to. No one should face HIV or AIDS alone, so I am happy I can be that person. There are a lot of struggles people with HIV deal with. Healthcare in this country is challenging for everyone, but its a greater challenge for those with the disease. Part of my job as a medical case manager is helping people living with HIV/AIDS navigate the healthcare system, but a big part of it is helping them realize that they are still a whole person.”

While advocating for people living with HIV/AIDS, Kim, whose full name is Kimberly Huggins, is also receiving her Master’s in Social Work and PhD in Human Sexuality from Widener University. It’s only natural to wonder how she manages everything on her plate.

IMG_0285
Kim received her Masters degree from SUNY Downstate Medical Center School of Public Health

“I call myself a trap scholar, because essentially, I’m trapping too.”

For those unfamiliar, trap is a verb, it means selling dope to support oneself and/or family. Check-out Future, Trap Nigga and Fetty Wap, Trap Queen for further study. Kim, much like those who spend their time hustling, is setting shop in grad school, moving books, grinding with papers, and knows that her degrees are her big payout.

“It’s a grind trying to get good grades, make the right connections and soak in all the information. It’s not easy. Being in grad school, I feel like I have way less time to sit back and kick up my feet. In my previous graduate program, I worked full-time, went to school, but I was still able to be ‘turnt up on a Tuesday’. Now that I am in the last phase of a my academic schooling, there’s a lot more pressure. Whatever steps I take now will have an impact on my career moving forward. I aspire to be a sex therapist, professor and public advocate in the public health realm, but I know I need to be strategic because there is no blueprint for success.”

Although Kim feels pressure to be great, she does not go without support. She speaks highly of her parents, a group of really good friends, her boyfriend, and God. They are the ones there with her when doubt sets in.

“When you’re in grad school, you realize you are becoming the next expert. It’s a lot of pressure to realize that you are the one becoming the next expert in the field.”

I know what you’re thinking—wow, this Kim person is a rockstar. She is in fact a rockstar! Not only is Kim pursuing higher education while counseling people living with HIV/AIDS, but she has also co-founded, Kimbritive.

11899907_10153514279144417_7844761230126605686_n
Kim pictured with her business partner, Brittany Brathwaite, who is pursuing her Master of Social Work and Public Health at Columbia University.

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, outside of her mother who Kim speaks fondly of, she did not have many women to look to.

“It’s sad that we don’t have enough women who look like us. You go to a predominantly white institution; you can count on one hand the number of black professors. There is something powerful about seeing someone from the same community as you being successful. I didn’t have many role models growing up and it motivated me to be better.”

Kimbritive, a vision that began in a Starbucks with Kim’s business partner, Brittany Brathwaite, has taken off. The women just held a workshop for young African American girls in New York City called, “How to Be A F.L.Y. Girl: First, Love Yourself.” Kimbritive sailed to California, Virginia, and Atlanta, and plan to visit Syracuse in March as they continue to empower young women through their life’s journey with knowledge about “sexual health, reproductive justice and everything else in between.”

IMG_1423

The work Kim does in the classroom, on the streets, and at the office is inspiring. She speaks proudly of her peers who she describes as role models, but she herself has set an incredible bar, and many are watching.

“My goddaughter wants an American Doll for Christmas, with natural hair that looks like mine, and it doesn’t exist. She asked for an American doll that looks like me and it doesn’t exist. Her request touched me, you have to live a life of purpose because you don’t know who is watching.”

It’s safe to say that many are watching Kim as she grows in her journey. She hopes to plant seeds in people, to create change that benefits society, and I have no doubt that she will in fact do it.

ABOUT KIMBRITIVE: 

We are two dynamic, passionate and energetic agents of change from Brooklyn, NY who unapologetically believe in the importance of having real conversations with the goal of educating and empowering communities about sexual health, reproductive justice and everything in between! With backgrounds in Public Health and Social Work, we merge our experiences and schools of thought into interactive skill-building workshops to service the emerging needs of young people, youth service providers and adults.

FIND KIMBRITIVE

http://www.kimberlyhuggins.com/kimbritive/
Twitter: @kimbritive_
Instagram: kimbritive
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kim.britive

Ineye: Her Afro is a Crown of Knowledge and Unity

Ineye Komonibo & Friends

There she is, Ineye Komonibo (pronounces in-NAY-yay), a gorgeous carefree woman. She is standing on the far right in this image with two of her college roommates. All three women wear their hair out in huge afros, are dressed beautifully, and wear accomplishment on their shoulders with the same strength that they carry their black skin.

This image is floating in the virtual Twitter world with over 11 thousand likes and eight thousand retweets. Under it, the caption “the carefree black longhorn grads who ‘stole’ your admission #StayMadAbby.”

Thieves. How could these three women be thieves.

“I posted the picture [with that caption] because it was amazing to hear someone say that black students—not Latino, Asian, White—but that black students are not capable”

That someone, Abigail Fisher, the young woman who does not want race to be considered in college admissions, because her sub-par academics didn’t get her into the University of Texas over black students.

“It’s a form of psychological terrorism to tell black students that they are not enough.”

Terrorism. That’s a big word. Ineye is not shy to use it, because the way she sees it, the American education system is “fundamentally anti-black and black people constantly have to prove themselves.” Every single day when a person of color wakes up, they walk the streets in a society that “does damage to their psychy.”

Abigail Fisher is not an anomoly, she is a small part of a larger system that Ineye believes in anti-black.

Unfortunately, Ineye isn’t dreaming up an anti-black world, even U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia partakes in psychological terrorism. Justice Scalia speaks the same language as Abigail Fisher. In his eyes, black students are not ready for university education at a place like the University of Texas, which is where Ineye received her undergraduate degree in Public Relations with a minor in African American Studies, they belong in “lesser universities.” You’d think this U.S. Supreme Court Justice has enough knowledge to know that America has a pretty bitter history of giving black people lesser treatment, but here he is quoted in The Guardian backsliding.

Ineye doesn’t just have a say about the serious stuff going on in American news, like Affirmative Action, she also dabbles in social media sensations. Before we get into that, I’d like y’all to get to know Ms. Ineye Komonibo some more!

IMG_3927

The recent University of Texas at Austin graduate is 23 years old and from Houston. Ineye describes Houston as an international community with a strong Nigerian population. She herself is Nigerian, but in the last couple of years has adopted a black radical identity.

“I’m at a very interesting place in my life where my perspective about a lot of things turned out to be wrong. Anyone familiar with Nigerian culture knows that it is patriarchal. We are socialized from a young age to see the world in a specific way,” she goes to describe her upbringing as very conservative. However, a couple of years ago, Ineye experienced a shift.

“I realized that I was black. That as a woman, my gender is something that can hinder me in society. I realized that a lot of people are oppressed.”

IMG_2315

Ineye describes herself as the kind of person people get tired of, not because she’s always hyped up on sugar, but because she’s very conscious of oppression and her mind is constantly at work—she’s the kind of person who is “super aware.”

“I’m Nigerian, but I am a black feminist. I’m a Christian, but I believe everyone deserves rights. My parents, sometimes, I think they get tired of hearing me talk about race and sexism.”

Earlier, I mentioned that Ineye partakes in what some would call social media hype.

About two weeks ago, Ayesha Curry sent out this tweet:

Ayesha Curry Tweet

Since then, the social media world has been afire. Some women support her modesty, while others feel that she is shaming other women for choosing to show more skin. Men, for the most part, have praised Ayesha though their reason for uplifting her may indicate more implicit thoughts about a woman’s body, sexuality, and the male gaze than we think.

What does Ineye think. Well, here’s what she shared on Twitter.

Ineye Response to Ayesha.png

“I’m cool with Ayesha Curry. I think she’s awesome,” she goes on to discuss that Tia Mowry is among the list of woman who have shared sentiments about modesty being sexy. What struck a chord about Mrs. Curry’s popular tweet is how she phrased it. “There was a tone like ‘I like to do this for MY man and y’all other HOES could do whatever,’ That’s fine, you have a husband. But, as a woman, it is your job to support all women.”

Those comparing Ayesha Curry and the Kardashians aren’t on the same team as Ineye, because she’s about supporting all women in the skin and life that makes them happy. Really, Ineye feels that we all should be able to live freely.

“When I think of an ideal world, I think of a place where people are allowed to be different. A world where people are encouraged to exist in the way that they are. A situation where people can exist happily. Imagine a world where everybody acknowledges that we are all different, but decides to worry about other stuff, we would become a giant machine ready to change the world.”

Keep up with Ineye on Twitter as she works for change @eyekomology.

IMG_2932

How a diva cup took me to the moon

A few months ago while at a work conference in Ohio, I was having a conversation with my colleague, Jacqueline Nye, and she mentioned how annoyed she was that she forgot her diva cup.

Diva cup?

Images of a gold encrusted pink pimp cup with the word “DIVA” carved out in gold lettering popped in my head.

As it turns out, a “diva cup” is a small silicone cup inserted in the vagina to collect menstrual blood. After that conversation, I did some Googling and found that women are using more sustainable ways to “period.”

It seems that although sanitary napkins, known as “pads” in the streets, and tampons are quite popular they are not the best option for women or this gorgeous planet that God has blessed us with. To find out why sanitary napkins and tampons are so yesterday, visit: http://sustainablecycles.org/sustainable-menstrual-products/ and http://sustainablecycles.org/menstrual-cup-basics/ but make sure you come back and finish reading my post!

After more googling and a Facebook post about sustainable periods, I was sold! Yes, I post stuff like that on Facebook. Why? Because periods happen, dude, and it’s not something that should be hidden under a dark cloudy sheet. We should communicate comfortably about period products in the same way that we discuss makeup removers.

Anyway! I learned about Mooncups which are much like diva cups, and I also stumbled upon information about cloth pads. There’s a demographic of women who have ditched the silly ways of sanitary napkins and tampons because…

over 13 billion pads and 7 million tampons are used and disposed of every year! (Tree Hugger Cloth Pads)

I’m all about trying to do my little bit to conserve this planet so I paid $30 for my Mooncup and $35.89 for a shipment of four cloth pads from Tree Hugger Cloth Pads. Both products will last several years before needing to be replaced.

What is it like to use a Mooncup for the first time?
Frankly, it’s kind of like the first time you put anything foreign in your vagina. I was like oh, this feels weird. Huh. Not bad. Once I stopped focussing on the fact that I had a tiny cup inside of me, I didn’t even feel the thing in there! 100 times better than any tampon I’ve ever used including those tiny compact ones from Kotex that are better for the environment than the ones with a plastic applicator.

How do I get it out?
Okay! This part was scary. The Mooncup has this little stem that sticks out like a tampon string would. Well, I just pulled on the thing. Lord! I thought my vagina was going to come out with the cup. Little did I know, the Mooncup functions with awesome suction power. Don’t just yank it or your vagina will be hella pissed. (Ha! Vagina. Hella pissed.) Here’s what you do… squat over your toiled seat, like you would to take a tampon out and squeeze that bad boy out using those vagina muscles. While doing your kegels, use two fingers, one on each side, and squeeze the bottom of the cup. It’ll start to slide out, then and only then do I recommend pulling the stem. Most of the time, I just take it out directly from the sides without using the stem. I credit this section to my future cousin-in-law Tiffany Freeman, if it were not for her advice I wouldn’t know how to kegel my Mooncup out.

What do I do with it once I get it out?
Just dump the bloody contents out in the toilet. It was a cool experience to actually see my period blood in all its glory for the first time. I thought I’d be grossed out but instead, I felt so close to my body. But, enough with the sentiments. Flush the blood, wash the cup and put that sucker back in. ALWAYS WASH YOUR HANDS BEFORE YOU PUT THE CUP IN AND AFTER YOU TAKE IT OUT, unless you’re into getting infections.

Should I use soap?
I just use water until it’s clean.

What about leakage?
I didn’t experience any. But! I did put on one of my Tree Huggers just in case.

Tell me more about them Tree Huggers, girl…
They are like any pad except they are made with water-resistant fleece and are re-usable. There’s no smell and it feels like I’m sitting on soft carpet all day. They soak up an unbelievable amount. I would recommend having two large overnight ones, and two regular ones–for sure. There are also pantyliner sizes. After use, I put it in my bathroom sink and turnon the hot water, then I squeeze all the blood out until the water is clean. Afterwards, I use some soap to do a pre-wash and hang up in my shower. Once dry, I throw them in my hamper. During the day, I carry a leather pouch I once used as my sanitary napkin and tampon carrier to keep clean cloth pads and to store dirty ones. The brand I have come with a snap, I ordered mine with a second snap which makes for a snug fit.

What I learned about periods after using the Mooncup and Tree Hugger:

  • Our periods don’t smell. That bad period smell comes from using a tampon or sanity napkin, because they do not allow our vagina to breathe. I didn’t experience any of my typical period smell using these sustainable alternatives.
  • Our periods are not gross. It is a natural process that women undergo; embrace it, love it.
  • Sharing with other women and asking them questions makes the process of transitioning to sustainable menstrual items easier. There’s tons of information available on disposable period materials like sanitary napkins and tampons, but very little about sustainable alternatives, so share what you know.
  • Try using a Mooncup, Diva Cup and/or cloth pads before you decide sustainable methods are not for you. I know it may sound gross at first, but just give it a try the next time Mother Nature comes knocking.

I’m here for questions and things, please don’t hesitate to ask below or e-mail me at letitflose@gmail.com. I look forward to having you join me on the moon next month 😉

IMG_2099 Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 12.43.35 AM

It’s more than just a popular trend

A few months ago, I had a heated text message exchange with my good friend Samantha Shaw about the insignificance of fashion. I, a young woman who doesn’t know the difference between Adidas and Balenciaga, made some bold generalizations because I view fashion through one lens. To me it is inaccessible, doesn’t care about humanity, and rather than creating space for equality it separates us. However, my Instagram newsfeed turned me into a hypocrite because I began to fall in love with Ivy “Coco” Maurice and how she does fashion.

“I want people to understand me and who I am because we all have a story. I don’t want to be seen as the girl who just takes cool pictures and wears cool clothes, I want people to understand that I tell a story. I sometimes feel that people need to hear or read something that can help or push them. Our style isn’t just the clothes we put on everyday, it is part of who we are and what we have experienced.” 

That is a quote from the recent Syracuse University graduate who now spends her days blogging, growing her brand, working on an eyelash extension company, modeling and will soon begin consulting at a fashion firm. So, she’s saying some interesting things there about using style to tell a story, to speak a message and that intrigues me.

Why does Coco care about speaking a message with her style? 

Coco was born in Los Angeles, California, where she was the “lightest” in her immediate family. However, that light complexion didn’t make her any less of an outcast at her predominantly white private school where she was often picked last in kickball because she was “the weak black girl.” With those experiences in mind and her own confusion about what being “mixed with exotic features” meant, Coco began to explore her heritage. Her mother is a Black American woman with Caribbean roots while her father has some French and Indian mixed in with his Blackness. As you’ll see on her blog, Coco embraces all aspects of her heritage, but she identifies as a “young Black woman.”

“My heart is deeply engrained within Black Culture. In college, I started talking about race openly with friends and I became comfortable with identifying as a young Black woman.”

Young Black woman, you say… well, what’s her relationship with her hair?

“My hair and I are very close, together we are always changing. I have always felt that I can do anything I want and I feel that my hair can do the same. If I want to wear it in its natural curly state, I can! If I want to straighten it, then I can! If I want to wear braids, I can! And if I want to wear a weave, I can! I do what makes me happy with my hair. I have learned to take care of myself and that includes my hair. My hair shapes me, it shapes my attitude, my face, and personality.

If you want to know why a Black woman’s relationship with her hair is so important, personal, as is the case here with Coco and many others, visit Ashley.

As I said earlier, Coco’s style intrigues me. The relationship she has with her hair is in part why I pay extra attention to her Instagram posts. She has gorgeous long curls, but I have also seen her with straight hair or a weave. In truth, the first time I saw her rock a weave I took a step back, I didn’t get it. Why? Well, society, that’s why. It has taught me that only a certain type of Black woman wears a weave, one who is unhappy with her natural beauty. Another close friend of mine, Ola Idowu wears weave and under that weave, she has what I think is gorgeous hair. And at first, I didn’t get it. However, I’ve grown to understand what being a young Black woman means, and Coco’s point about doing what she wants with her hair because she can is an important part of that identity.

Following Coco’s style blog and Instagram account will make it clear that #BlackGirlMagic cannot be contained in a box. That we have a story, and the tales we tell may be as a complex as we choose to make them, but we shouldn’t put each other in boxes. We shouldn’t put each other’s professions in boxes, and we certainly shouldn’t make assumptions. Along that line of encouragement, another important message that I get from following Coco is that there is enough sunshine for everyone.

I asked her whether she is motivated by competition and this is what she said…

“My mother always told me that someone will always be taller than me, smaller than me, prettier than me, and smarter than me, but no one will ever be me. I feel I was born to stand out, so why try so hard to fit in. Competing with others can make you lose sight of who you are and can set you off balance.”
Our peers are coming into adulthood with social media, and Coco sees that our generation can become obsessed with social media lifestyles, forgetting that we all have the power to be great if we keep ourselves balanced rather than attempting to mimic someone else’s life or trampling on them for the sake of competition. Her message to us is that, “life is all about creating ourselves and a journey of our own.”
Coco has followed her own advice. She is creating her own path independent of her famous mother and mimicry, and because of that she has shown me that fashion, style, is more than a diamond encrusted box where the wealthy disenfranchise the masses. That fashion can be a tool to help people grow into their own while expressing important parts of themselves like what it means to be a young Black woman living in today’s times.