UNAPOLOGETIC HAS NO BOUNDARIES

I can vividly remember the day in late 2012 when Rihanna released her 7th album, Unapolegetic. The enchanting sounds of "Phresh Out the Runway" spoke to my soul as Rih talked that talk. A subtle voice in my head pronounced itself & suddenly there I was catwalking down the hallways of my school a la Naomi Campbell closing an Alaïa runway show. A few head nods and hand gestures freely escaped my body as the sound waves traveled from my iPhone 4S "My jewelers are diamond rollers, my rock chinchilla, some more for the fun, I'm rolling like rockstars, I got 50 muthafuckers in my watch with my Benz down". I felt the stares beaming on me, but you couldn't tell me I wasn't that bitch.

 That day it registered to me what being unapologetic truly was, an "aha" moment is what my auntie Oprah would call it. Pieces of a puzzle in my mind connected as I ran down the list of my most favored figures: my mother & her bomb crew of besties, Kelis, Aaliyah, Rochelle from The Craft, Missy Elliot, Trina, Maya Angelou, Lil Kim, Tiffany Pollard, Rihanna, and the Knowles sisters all had something in common; they were all unapologetic.

Though they all had different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, there was an infectious aura that beamed through them which I gravitated towards. Not only were they mirrors of truth, but they sought after it and lived it. Easily defining them is impossible and even with unlimited access to all of the tools in the world, you'd still be unable to build a box to put them in. That strength, that charm, that swag, that fearlessness surmounted all boundaries. Like my shero's, I wanted to be an unapologetic black girl.

After that revelation, it dawned on me that the confidence these women all possessed came solely from knowing who they were. It didn't matter what they wore ( though, it was a great enhancement), or how much money they had, or the fame they acquired;  what I praised them for was their essence, their soul, them living their truth. 

As I emulated the metamorphosis process, though I battle with the inevitable insecurities that come with this human experience, I realized something about myself. The people that I was drawn to and the people closest to me, were unapologetic black girls. Aphorisms like "The apple don't fall far from the tree" and "you are who you attract" replayed in my head and I realized that I, too, was an unapologetic black girl. I made a mental note that I had experienced yet another "aha" moment shaping my livelihood- my auntie would be proud. From this point on, I also might have mistaken myself for Solange with the spirit animal of goddess Kali, but that is neither here nor there. 

If you've experienced or can relate to being one of the only black girls in the workplace or school, you travel with this void that doesn't seem to fade away. You're yearning for more..blackness. I don't need the scent of grandma's peach cobbler to linger EVERYWHERE I go, but damn, can I have a lil' something? 

The power of the mediasphere connected me to women with that same spirit and demeanor. From black girls who can recite Diamond & Princess' verses pound-for-pound on "Knuck If You Buck" to black girls that code better than any man I've ever encountered. Our path's might be different, but being unapologetic is what binds us. Thanks to you, I don't feel as alone anymore.

Being an unapologetic black girl supersedes a fetching Instagram hashtag , it is a lifestyle. A lifestyle defying the stereotypes, standards, and stigma's that seem to follow us on our journey; even when we're ten steps ahead. The movement of being "unapologetic" or "care-free" is a declaration that we're recognizing these implicit brandings and challenging them by living our most authentic lives, on our own terms, with absolutely no fucks given. We've taken these brandings and reduced them by collectively embracing all of the elements that make us different. There is absolutely no recipe to being a care-free black girl, Michelle Obama and Cardi B are illuminating hues in our spectrum. 

We may not have the physical brandings that scarred on our ancestors, but society has made sure to perpetuate this cycle of abuse in other ways. It's empowering to know that despite these cyclical obstacles, we can brush our shoulders off, flip our hair and carry on. What's a hashtag , when you're really about that life? 

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WHO DO YOU LOVE?

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45 is that unique age where your descent into middle age can be described much like The Fast & Furious. Time seems to speed up as your bucket list seems to get longer. The notion of mortality becomes clearer as death announcements of those in your age range haunt you daily. But oddly enough, all of these things seem to put life into perspective… And at the ripe age of 45 I can say that, “it’s just not that serious!"

My enlightenment journey has forced me to address myself in a manner much like a scientist probes an experiment. I view the world from the perspective of LOVE or lack of LOVE and it’s just that simple. I accept responsibility for my life and I am no longer a victim of circumstances; as I understand that I am always exactly where I need to be. I acknowledge myself as a soul having human experiences and I allow myself to lovingly accept the good and bad experiences as necessary lessons in order for my soul to evolve.  

My most important lessons have been that self-love is the most important love and that all that I am seeking is within me. That deep yearning, that something is amiss, something is lacking… It sends us seeking, searching, feeling less than whole, feeling empty. That feeling that urges us to find a partner and then find another one when that one is no longer able to fill us. The church will teach you that God is really what is missing and what you should be seeking and I will attest to that as truth and take it a step further and say that God resides in all of us. Once we realize that and learn to release the trauma and pain that we carry within and love ourselves, we will also learn that the answers that we seek are within. The validation that we seek is within. We need not go any further than ourselves to fill the void, to heal the abandonment issues, to get “unstuck”. Love is all we need and that love starts with ourselves.  

I didn’t just wake up one morning with this awareness, it was a process; in fact quite a long process that was painful and repetitive until I learned to listen to that voice within me. Call it intuition, call it God, it really doesn’t matter how you address it, but at 45 I’ve learned that the voice is always right and all I need to do is listen. Upon reflection I see cycles and patterns in my life; similar situations that kept coming back around. My unenlightened self thought of them as coincidences. My enlightened self knows that it was the universe’s response to me neglecting that voice and not being receptive to the lessons that were presenting themselves. They kept appearing and the voice got louder and more harsh until the lessons hit me over the head. Needless to say at 45, I’ve become less hard-headed and I seek the lesson in everything , because my soul purpose leads me to explore life with all three of my eyes open.  If that went over your head, its ok, you’ll understand one day. 

The process of learning to love myself has shown me that my life and my relationships are a reflection of my thoughts and beliefs about me. Lack of self-love attracted people who also didn’t love themselves and were unable to love me. When I began to shift my thoughts and beliefs, the relationships and experiences also began to shift and reflected the growth. I am a work in progress, but progress is the key word. Forward movement is what I constantly seek, happiness is what I choose and LOVE is my motivation and inspiration. Love is easy and even easier without conditions; self-love is the key to attracting universal love; it is healing, it is the response to all that is wrong with the world and it is in you, ready to work for you. All we need to do is just allow.

EDUN: CONSCIOUSLY COOL

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Aside from the obvious physical attraction, trends like Corporate Social Responsibility ( CSR) initiatives attract loyal consumers to brands that integrate social and economic issues into their business plan. According to this study, 9 out of 10 consumers expect the company to address these issues when making a purchase. Though I love and respect the planet, I can't front like I'm a "go-green" type of chick. However, over the years I've been more attentive to brands whose identities are organic and the producers are treated and compensated fairly. It's embarrassing enough to think that at some point it went unnoticed in my life. 

About five years ago, I interned for a production company during New York Fashion Week and had the pleasure of working backstage at Edun & the imprint was made. They were founded by Bono & Ali Hewson in 2005 with a mission to "promote supporting manufacturers, community-based initiatives and partnering with African artists and artisans".  

Fashion is merely defined by the clothes, but the style and attitude presented is what grasps my attention.  From personal experience, companies with similar missions often hyper focus on the mission and the product itself get's neglected. But, this isn't the case with this brand. Though owned by two non-POC, I respect that there wasn't an agenda to whitewash these pieces created by African artisans, but in fact enhance the style created by them, which is reflected through the models, to the branding as a whole. 

HAIR ME OUT

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All brown women across the globe are connected by a multitude of commonalities, but girl this thing we have with hair is all consuming. Natural, relaxed, weaves, wigs, caesars, TWA's, tapered cut’s, braids, twists, bantu knots… need I go on? This subject can get pretty touchy, especially when we get into textures and typing; you know the 3’s and 4’s…

 Hair is a personal thing, it’s part of our identity just as our eye shape and color, the shape of our nose and the curve of our lips. We aren’t able to choose our features or our hair; genetics does that for us and despite the fact that our beauty is undeniable, many of us spend the entirety of our lives learning to love ourselves. Why is hair such a struggle when so many of us are having the same experiences? Most likely, because all brown girls are bombarded with daily images from birth till death that represent beauty as anything other than us. It’s no secret that European hair and features still rank highest on the beauty scale; hence the closer to European on the scale, the more attractive “society” deems us. When looking for validation from the world, these Eurocentric views can be damaging to how us brown girls perceive ourselves.

So the struggle commences…We combat the exclusion with self-love and validation! The Natural Hair Movement takes the world by storm. No it’s not new, but it’s betta than eva! Natural hair is not the enemy or competition to relaxed hair; I so hate that mentality. Natural hair is the response to those who project their complexes on to those whom are different from them. Different does not equate to inferior, despite what they try to make us believe. Natural is an acceptance of oneself without the need or desire to alter. It is a statement that I love who and what I represent, as I am, despite how anyone else feels about it. Now that doesn’t mean that brown girls whom relax feel any differently, because quite frankly the beauty of our hair is the flexibility and changeability. It’s all about choices and what makes you happy, comfortable and sometimes even convenience.

What I will say is that it is important to fall in love with your natural hair, despite how you choose to wear it, because it is part of who you are and to love it, is to know and love thyself. Says the woman who refused to wear anything shorter than 22 inches of the best Indian wavy that money could buy, for years… And I still love a good weave, but my self-growth journey, has been a self-love journey that led me to my natural girl journey and all I can say is that I love the looks that my sunkissed, 4B, wiry, wild but highly moisturized twa (teeny weeny afro) garnered me. So much so, that I decided why not cut it all off and go platinum;  you want Facetime, I'll give you FaceTime. It makes me feel that I’ve not so much changed, but more so evolved into my true self.

So in the true spirit of #BGA, let’s validate ourselves, because we are the truth, the coldest and the baddest. Relaxed, natural, baldies; no matter, We run tings. Now run along and create some new trends, so the world can continue to follow.