For the Culture

Things I Would Add to My Resume if I Could

It’s been a while since my last post. Part of that is because of election day anxiety (Jesus in God, the Saints, all of the Orishas, and more). The better part of that is because #BookMe2016-2017 has really been fruitful. I’m absolutely loving the projects I’ve been able to take part in and many of them have had me thinking about my own “professional identity”, both online and offline.

During my time at Kansas State University, I talked a lot about how we can use socioculturally centered theories to assist us in our career process. It was a two day stint of thinking deeply about this notion of “professionalism” which many scholars posit can be inherently rife with issues. Writer, Carmen Rios, says “Often, the way professionalism dictates we should act at work also falls in line with stereotypes and predetermined roles based on our race, sex, gender, or class” (2015).

My initial foray into Student Affairs work was in the realm of Career Services. So, I know all too well how delicate of a dance this is… especially when it comes to advising. For example, general advice posited that we should tell women to keep their hair off the face in interviews. But as a woman with natural hair that is not easily “swept up”, I realized that this advice isn’t always inherently helpful. The same went for gender and professional dress. The same went for the affordability of formal business wear. Lordt.

Yet, these are the waters we often find ourselves navigating and *sigh*, it gets deep. 

Earlier this week, I spent a few days talking with students, staff, and administration about some of these nuances. I spent the rest of the week thinking about how I bring my own identity into the work that I do (both formally and informally). So, today, we’re going forward with a light-hearted post, if I can help it.

Resumes are often used to navigate current and potential forms of work (I’ll leave it to you to interpret what that work is / could be / looks like). However, here are some of the things I would add to my resume if I could:

  • Interdisciplinary bridge-builder – Because all of my seemingly random interests and levels of expertise would probably fit really snugly under this title. It’s pretty much like when I studied “Integrative Arts” in college. Folk didn’t usually know the details of all it meant… but I could always say it like I was out here doin’ the damn thing.
  • Language

    Because if I could add that, I would. I’m also conversational in Beyonce gifs. Beginner’s level in all other gif forms. (Because when you’re fluent in Prince gifs you have a large spectrum of reactions to choose from). One of my personal faves:

  • Teaologist – Do you have a headache? I have a tea for that. Folk on your nerves? I have a tea for that. Your hands ashy? Tea. And lotion. But first, tea. I didn’t get the nickname “The Apothecary” for naught.

    (Head over to Amazon to purchase the Lionel Richie mug and the Mana-tea infuser).

  • Musichead – It has been a longstanding value of mine to spend as little time as possible listening to trash music. Live instrumentation is important and I feel like our ears need it. In just a few minutes, I can likely come up with some dope music recommendations to fit your preferred style and genre. I will also encourage folk to stay on their note, and that’s important in life. It builds teamwork competencies. Cause don’t nobody want you jumping up on their note all the time.
  • Natural hair and organic beauty product tester – If there were a such thing as a “tab” at Lush Beauty Products, I would have one. If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me about natural hair care regimens and products I use, I would be sending big bucks to my past student loan providers. Sooooo…
  • Petty Theorist & Petty Flow Chart Co-Curator – I don’t talk much about #pettyflowcharts here but it’s one of my favorite side projects. However, I literally spend time with a good friend curating flow charts to help people get clear on a variety of things. I can’t add it to my resume because… well… petty. But it sure is fun!
    petty-flowchartYou can check these out on IG:
  • Churchy Linguist – Fluent. Can I get a degree in this? I feel like that’s a possibility. Being raised in an eclectic nondenominational Black church afforded me an entire lexicon of churchisms that I randomly use in everyday life. Last heard at a keynote speech: “I’m feeling moved in that direction”. Announcing a performance, as an MC: “Please clap for them, as they come”. Recently seen on Facebook: friends and I have a running joke that I am “Culturally Churchy, Theologically Complicated” because my spirituality includes sacred texts, rituals, and practices from quite a few traditions. However, I just cannot shake churchy linguistics. Pray my strength.
  • Crystal Collector – Beginner’s Level. Because who is tryna be out here with their chakras out of balance? Not I. Go talk to my friend Ebony Janice of the Free People Project about why it’s so important to balance those chakras.
  • Headliner for the Shower & Car Concert Series – Some of you may know this, and some may not. A few years back (like… a GOOD few), I provided background vocals for a few local Philly artists. A while before that, I was the director of the student-led gospel choir in college. I don’t sing formally at the moment. (Bae does though, check him out). However, my car concerts are on. point. To me, at least.What would you add to your resume if you could? Leave it in the comments below! Or you know, wherever else you find me on these Internet streets.

Featured Photo Credit:

BET Awards Recap (and Petty Encouragements)

It’s been a while, and while I’ve got a few posts queued up for you… I’ve also been working through a nasty season of Writer’s-Block-Prompted-By-Life-Blocks.

Suffice it to say… this month sucked.

Now, there were some bright spots – my 10 year high school reunion, being one of them. However, all in all, it’s been a rough one. I encountered the thoughts that SO many writers, bloggers, and freelancers do: Do I have the strength, the time, the resources to keep on blogging? Should I be writing more for this platform? Less? Have I gotten away from my original mission? Closer? Am I coasting? WHATISIMDAWN?!  Typically, when I get there, I remind myself that “I’ve got the juice” and free-write until I’m clear on my thesis. This time it just didn’t seem to work…

Until I saw the BET Awards.

Ya’ll know that in the midst of these essays, I LOVE a good recap! (Click here to see my recap from The Wiz Live). I love reading them. I love writing them. And let’s be honest… since I basically wrote one from the couch as I was watching the BET Awards yesterday… I figured I’d share here. So, let’s get into it.

Overall, I enjoyed the show. I really did! I watched it with my petty singer friends and our only sort of bougie snacks (think wine and cheese puffs). I mostly watched it because I wanted to see how they would honor our ancestor, Prince. So, I won’t go into detail about each performance or each facet of the show.

But before I get too ahead of myself, let’s get into the opening.

The opening. The friggin’ opening.

Beyonce said, “I’m going to stand here in this wade-in-the-water realness and sing my song. And when Brother Kendrick gets up here, we are giving you the Freedom Frolic you never knew you needed”.

Was I the only one near tears?!?! I think not. Trust me, I WILL be frolicking in my shower tomorrow morning… ya’ll pray my safety.

After that, there were brief blurs of bad writing (those jokes… mercy), folks obviously reading from teleprompter, and cuts to MC Lyte with her stage manager binder.

I did appreciate the Philly hometown love in the opening Prince tribute set featuring The Roots and Bilal! Ya’ll will stop making fun of Bilal’s sew-in prep cornrows (Black Twitter has had me cackling about that all day)… because he sang the SNOT out of that song! Are. you. kidding. me?! Ya’ll thought he wasn’t going to commit to rolling around on the ground in honor of Prince? Well, his pre-emptive hip thrusts and choice of kitten heels at should have warned you that he was going all. in. 

What goes up, must come down. And the vibe took a significant dip when A. Keys got onstage…


Who. Is. RESPONSIBLE?! #Crine!

I held my breath as she found the note. I visibly cringed when she pushed over the synthesizer after the ending ‘hit’. I later found out from prolific bassist, Justin Raines, that the synthesizer was not just any old synth… it was a $4k Moog synthesizer.  My final sentiments below:


It may seem like I was a bit harsh on this (but I’m still bumpin ‘Diary’ though, so I feel like I’m good). Between A Keys, Desiigner, and Usher, I left feeling strangely encouraged!

Here’s the thing… I’m not willing to say that I haven’t danced to Panda a time or two or ten. However… my statement still stands. We don’t really know what Desiigner is saying, yet he has a rap career. Be encouraged! You can follow your dreams too! (Also, if you haven’t seen the memes done for Desiigner by the genius that is Black Twitter and IG, you NEED this cackle)

Let me pause here and say, I LOVE Usher. His runs are CLEAN every time, and have you heard his collabs? He will outsing an artist on their own song 80% of the time! The strobe lights were just a lot for me on this go round (doesn’t mean I don’t still love Usher)!

There were a lot of highlights from the show, so I want to get into those. Let’s break down these tributes first and go from there.

  • Maxwell – *bows head, “Lord, I thank You for Maxwell. I thank You that he consistently is on the note. I thank You for his swag. I want to cry out against him because he’s had us waiting on his new album since I was but a fertilized egg in the eyes of the Universe… but seeing as how he continues to do great live performances, I’m just going to take this time to say, ‘Thank You”… and thank you, Maxwell.
  • Jennifer Hudson’s Purple Rain – So, here’s the thing. I know a great deal of folk that absolutely loved the rendition! Jennifer Hudson is definitely a powerhouse. However, I was desperately hoping that there might be a mic toss to Fantasia as well. Deep down, my soul was crying out for Fantasia. Did you see her face as the camera cut to her? She was in deep worship, and I needed their energies to meet on that stage!
  • Janelle Monae – YAHS LAWD! Listen… I can’t even! The stamina! The RANGE!  The hair! The attention that she’s so very clearly paid to Prince’s music and career trajectory. Janelle Monae is amazing to me. The end. (Also, the outfit cheek cut outs kind of cracked me up because it was lowkey churchy. Is anyone going to talk about how the cut outs had a sheer panel over them because #modesty? And before you think I’m clowning, know that I’m not because I’m lowkey churchy too and would have done the same. exact. thing. It would have sounded like this: “Oh, you want cheek cut outs?! For Prince?!?! Oh absolutely! Bet… please tell the Mother’s Board of Mt. Sinai Baptist to sew in my sheer modesty cloth across them. Kthanxbye!” I. love. Janelle! *For my real thoughts on the subjective shenanigan that is modest dress, click here after you’ve finished the recap)
  • Sheila E THE QUEEN!
    Sheila E came out with that band and the games IMMEDIATELY ceased. She came out there with her shoes off, her hair out, her sticks in her hand, ready. to. slay. Sheila E came out and brought Jerome from The Time, and Prince’s ex wife Mayte with the hip shaking realness. Sheila E came out and told us to GET IT DAGGEVA FOR ANCESTOR PRINCE. The background singers were amazing. The band was doing their GOOD playing. And life was given. THAT is how you do a tribute, and I’m just here to take notes.
  • Jesse “Teach the Word” Williams
    I know that this wasn’t a Prince tribute, but it was definitely one of the show’s highlights. So, I’m putting it here. First of all, I want you to see the look on his face BEFORE he gets up. This is the face of someone that has a word just simmering on the inside:
    A recap of what he said honestly would not do his speech justice. The only quote that I shared on social media were these bars, “Gentrifying our genius” (because #barz), and “Just because we’re magic… doesn’t mean we’re not real”. The reason that I only quoted those pieces was because I was still in deep awe and appreciation for the way that he OPENLY acknowledged Black women. Ya’ll don’t understand… I legit stood up in the living room! Please, PLEASE do yourself a favor and get into his commentary on race, racism, capitalism (you could almost hear the edges being snatched when he got into this piece), movement building, and more!

A Final Note:
I want to share this final cackle with you because I know you’ll appreciate it. This is not a show highlight, nor is it commentary on any given performance. I just need ya’ll to understand that one of my petty friends said that Jermaine Dupri and Fat Joe were in prime “Auntie at a wedding” fashions. And I. almost. fell. over.

(P.S. Who was responsible for the choice to have geishas with swords in the background though….? I’m crying out against that because like… really? *Rolls eyes and tries not to write 1k more words in the key of think piece about cultural appropriation and turning culture into caricature. *Logs out)

What were your favorite parts of the show? What was your least favorite part of the show? Leave them in the comments below!

Chance the Rapper Got Oil*: What I’m Learning about Faith via Coloring Book

Oil* – (working definition) The concept of ‘having oil’ occurs in many Black church contexts and is attached to both the practice and the praxis of anointing someone with oil. To ‘have oil’ means to carry a special anointing or grace to do whatever it is that you have been charged to do.  Although this is primarily used in scenarios where people are offering musical gifts (singing, playing an instrument, etc), this also could mean that a certain person has a particular way about them that facilitates freedom, openness, and joy.

Chance the Rapper got the oil.

Chance the Rapper released his newest mixtape, Coloring Book, last Thursday, and suffice it to say that I was. HYPE. There are two rappers, currently, that have my unending support. These two rappers that could release an album, a literal coloring book, a designer line of Sharpie pens, a recyclable fork (you get the gist) and I. would. buy. it. Those two rappers are Kendrick Lamar (whom I’ve already written a considerable amount on) and Chance the Rapper.

I appreciate Chance’s overall musicality, the way he hears songs and how it is evidenced in his interpretation. I appreciate his flow and how he communicates emotional realities alongside clever rhymes. However, I also appreciate Chance…

Because churchy folk know churchy folk like real recognize real.

Let me give you an example. When my partner played Chance’s ‘Good Ass Intro’, from his previous Acid Rap mixtape, I immediately noticed both the piano stylings and the shout / bump track looming in the background.


^My FIRST inclination, when I heard the Good Ass Intro – you cannot deny the ring-shout realness.

In his SNL debut of Sunday Candy, Chance was both musically signifying a Sunday church service and alluding to a sacred text, namely John 6:51, where Jesus tells the people to eat the bread that symbolizes his flesh.

But Chance reached oil* status with Coloring Book. Let’s talk some specifics:

On the record, Chance channels a practice of many Black church spaces by taking a mainstream Christian contemporary tune and adding on vocal / cultural / musical signifiers i.e. re-interpreting  Chris Tomlin’s How Great is Our God . (I cracked up because my previous church sang it with those exact harmonies).

It was an intentional choice to feature Kirk Franklin, one of the absolute game-changers of 90’s gospel music. We also saw Chance add the lyrics on Fred Hammond’s chorus of  Let the Praise Begin to his song, Blessings.

Chance demonstrated some of this oil* in his lyrical content, which explicitly acknowledges his understandings of the Divine:
“Jesus’ Black life ain’t matter / I know, I talked to His Daddy”
“I do not talk to the serpent / that’s that holistic discernment
(Come through, Chance, and channel the favorite word of church mothers across the States).


Apart from these specifics, Chance has oil because he can teach us a great deal about faith and spirituality. I find in Chance’s Coloring Book, a creative and freeing way to engage with the Divine – outside the proverbial lines of how Christianity (as an institution) prescribes. It is, in my opinion, a healthier way.

I grew up in a church context that loved to focus on  “going right or getting left”. For those who are unfamiliar, this meant doing things the “right” way, according to the standards and edicts of the church or being abandoned in the case of a literal rapture. Needless to say, I was a bit stressed in my youth about what it meant to be a ‘good Christian’.

In 2010, I begun a very long crisis of faith. By 2011, I realized that you can’t just pray those things away. You can’t just place a few Scriptures over your already crumbling theological frameworks. There aren’t enough church services or pithy sayings to adequately address the angst of reconsidering your expectations of the Divine. By 2012, I realized that relationships between humans and the Divine have always been complicated (to say the least).

So, in Coloring Book I hear Chance the Rapper alluding to a comprehensive understanding of what it means to be a human in relationship with the Divine. Coloring Book invites us into a conversation about a faith that affirms us. Through this lens, we are not just spiritual misfits waiting to be judged – but that there is the possibility and reality of mutual love and respect. As one example, Chance offers:

I speak to God in public, I speak to God in public

He keep my rhymes in couplets

He think the new shit jam, I think we mutual fans

Blessings, Repraise

Coloring Book illustrates a faith context that has space to dialogue about the sexual, the juke, the twerk – the sensual, the drink and enjoyment – the social, intimate relationships, family, romance, geographic context – and the transcendently spiritual. Coloring Book is a working theology of what it means to live.

Featured Image Credit:, Cover Art for Album by Brandon Breaux 


Chile… Ms. Lauryn Hill Was Late Again.

Pre-Reading Disclaimers:

  1. Chile… Ms. Lauryn Hill was late again.
  2. She issued a public statement, explaining her chronic lateness and attributing some of it to the challenge of “aligning (her) energy with the time, taking something that isn’t easily classified or contained and trying to make it available for others”.
  3. I’m not here to talk about isolated incidents. I want to talk about the chronic arc of Lauryn’s relation to time… and perhaps, to trauma.

All clear? Let’s go.

In an open letter regarding Hill’s lateness, Questlove starts with a recap on what it takes for artists to have business acumen when it comes to putting on a show. He explained general artist-to-audience etiquette but then made the ‘Boom’ statement:

“… on the other side of the coin (and not wanting to put people’s business out there) this is prime psychological sabotage fear in motion. This is the embarrassment of that Newark 4 lawsuit. This is age fear talking loud and clear. This is resentment of having to now do this to survive (I mean we all “do it for the love”—but this is survival) the embarrassment of now being a one album legacy artist and the possibility of not mattering anymore in this disposable society. People will kill something before it grows.

This is prime example of that”

I’m not advocating for Ms. Hill’s actions because they are inexcusable. Holding a toxic relationship to your audience’s time is just… not okay. At the same time, I want to explore this theme of “psychological sabotage” and / or trauma.

There are very real implications about what trauma does to the body, the heart, the mind, the music, and daily functions… such as showing up on time. There have got to be some very real outcomes for the mind, body, and spirit after enduring Danbury Federal Correctional Institution, financial troubles, legal battles for songwriting credits, and a tenuous relationship to the first and premiere album you’ve written.

In Ms. Lauryn Hill’s 2009 Essence magazine interview, she states:

“For two or three years I was away from all social interaction. It was a very introspective time because I had to confront my fears and master every demonic thought about inferiority, about insecurity or the fear of being black, young and gifted in this western culture”

Might it be that she is still dealing with this in her backstage / offstage life? Might it be that this is what is spilling over to her onstage life?

In her written apology to fans, she referenced her “perfectionistic tendencies” and her need to “align (her) energy with the time”. Might she be limited by the trap of perfection (as Brene Brown OFTEN talks about)?

I’m not altogether sure why I have this need to figure out what in the ham-sandwich is going on to make her consistently and chronically 2-3 hours late for shows. After all, this really is not just about her. It’s about the audience, as well.

Audience members are traveling, gathering seats, navigating their accessibility needs in the same moments that Ms. Hill is aligning her energies. Gathering coins from each week’s check to put towards an artist’s tour schedule. Finding ways to get to the venue… even if it takes some ‘doing’ to do. Standing. For four hours. Sitting for two hours before she even gets onstage. This is something that not everyone is physically capable of doing.

I imagine there are quite a few audience members who struggled with these levels of demand on their bodies. Perhaps it also took some time for her audience members to also ‘align their energies’: push past the anxiety of crowded venues and to work through whatever ‘psychological sabotages’ would have hindered them, so that their bodies could show up in that space. These scales hold in the balance the time and effort it always takes for her fans to get there too. And that should be honored.

And yet… I understand (more than I really want to) her post on lateness.

I live with chronic illness (which I have talked about at length on this platform). It made me late for a lot of things before I knew how to properly manage it. This was not necessarily my fault. Undergoing traumatic processes to the brain, body, and psyche are not Ms. Hill’s fault. However, as writer Tammy Perlmutter says, “it is our responsibility” to address. I learned that in order to thrive, I needed to find systems, exercises, and positive coping mechanisms so that I could show up as close to time as possible… and slay when I got there! And let me note: it was hard as hell.

I don’t know Ms. Hill, what she does / does not have access to, or how she is understanding her personal mind / heart / soul journey.  I can only see what the public sees. But I’d like to believe that she isn’t doing this on purpose.

It’s really easy to mock Ms. Hill’s reasoning, her chronic lateness, and her somewhat erratic behavior. Yet, when does this mocking become the easy way of not actually SEEING her humanity, seeing the trauma that she has been through, and understanding the layers that are there. Yet, I think there are some real layers to why things are happening this way. We don’t have to excuse her specific behavior to note that. We also don’t have to excuse this behavior to practice empathy in our own lives. So here’s where I’ll start: with the simple hope that everyone (Ms. Hill AND all of the audience members who keep on showing up) gets what they need.

Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons, Original posted using Flickr upload bot on 26 May 2013 (UTC), by Stefan4

#Lemonade: Was Bey in My Art Therapy Sessions? (Also Titled: Beyonce Did That, Also Titled: “Who The F*^% Do You Think I Ih…”)

“Let’s try not to discount anger as a valid emotion…”
“Expressing anger is okay. How can we do that with color and imagery?”
“Let’s try to answer: How did the emotion of anger assist you in the moments that you needed it to? Did it protect you from something? Did it make you aware of something?”
“Let’s talk about why you choose the image of the woman’s clenched fist for your collage?” – My art therapist.

“Who the f&&% do you think I ih….?!” – Beyonce, Don’t Hurt Yourself

Ya’ll. Ya’ll.

I think sitting with art is important. Reflecting on art is important. Unpacking the nuances of art is so important… and Queen Bey has given us A LOT to unpack in her latest work, Lemonade. I will refer to Evelyn from the Internet to break that down for you briefly:

The strong imagery and the odes / poetry / healing songs for Black women that she presented in Lemonade are still dealing with me at a heart-level at the moment. I would love to write an intellectually-based thinkpiece on how meaningful this work is in the entertainment industry (you can read Dr. Birgitta Johnson’s reflections on that here). I would love to break down all of the images that she’s used to signify to and conjure for Black women (you can learn about that by following #LemonadeSyllabus on Twitter). Yet the response that’s come up for me has been a very personal and emotional opening.

It would take countless hours to express my feelings about the entire project. This project was about the interpersonal and sociocultural relationships that Black women hold. This project was about healing and wholeness for Black women. This project was about finding ways to rebuild. However, what spoke to me the most was Bey’s expressions of anger and grief. The songs and imagery for ‘Hold Up’ and ‘Don’t Hurt Yourself’ are still dealing with and working on me.

Here’s why seeing that was so powerful for me:
I was raised churchy church. (I’ve written that sentence at least 4 times on this platform). I was raised within a setting that taught that we were to be “slow to anger”, that “fools give full vent to their anger”, and that “anger resteth in the bosom of a fool”. It was a bit more socially acceptable to see men giving voice to their anger, both inside of that context and given the patriarchy that America so adores. However, it was not as socially acceptable for young girls and women to express emotions of anger, rage, wrath. These were seen as destructive and out of place.

So, I learned to stuff my anger. I learned to swallow it whole and throw up smiles and forgiveness without accountability. I did this most often in my romantic relationships. #TellYoBusinessThursdays

“When you play me…. you play yo’self” -Beyonce

It’s taken years of learning ways to nuance Scripture as well as art therapy to learn how anger can be an absolutely important emotion. This emotion tells you, “Something is wrong!” It tells us when someone has been mistreated, duped, left behind, or taken advantage of. It moves us to action on their behalf or on our own behalf. It reminds us that when one of us is mistreated… it doesn’t often bode well for any of us.

“Who the f&&% do you think I ih….?! You ain’t married to no average b!tch, boi…” – Beyonce

I joked with a friend that I wanted to get that quote re-interpreted as a tattoo so that I could walk around and people would immediately remember who they were talking to.

Petty flowchart
Image Credit: @PettyFlowcharts, Instagram aka my petty side project

It’s no secret that women of color are often ‘presumed incompetent’ (Gutiérrez et al, 2012). We have to prove what we are saying is valid in our professional lives and our personal lives. Our brilliant work is often quoted without citation or attribution. Our labors of love are often taken for granted. We are often expected to bend into painful shapes due to toxic masculinity, racism, sexism, classism, ableism, and other forms of oppression [see: for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, The Color Purple, Salt Eaters, the entirety of #LemonadeSyllabus, and the oral histories and lived experiences of Black womyn].

While it may seem that ‘Don’t Hurt Yourself’ orbited around the storyline of romantic betrayal, Beyonce was crystal clear in incorporating quotes from Malcolm X. She is also speaking to a palpable, documented, and lived sociocultural reality on a broader scale.
Before Bey showed us images of healing, she showed us images of anger and wrath. I appreciate her for that.

Blogger, writer, and scholar Ebony Janice has always said, ‘Beyonce knows‘.

I’ll add that Bey knows that mis-recognition and mistreatment by American society and by those who claim to love us brings about grief and anger. Through Lemonade, she shows us that anger is an absolutely valid emotion to feel and to express after being mistreated. She also shows us that finding space to express anger is a step that cannot be skipped on our journey to wholeness. We cannot simply rush toward reconciliation without dealing with what ‘is’. Before you can see the possibilities of lemonade, it’s okay to find healing spaces to lament over them sour @$$ lemons.

Image Credit:, Beyonce “Lemonade” Preview Review

*Please be sure to download the #LemonadeSyllabus! It is a resource, curated by Candice Benbow, that holds 200 resources (including books, articles, music, film, etc.) to further unpack the themes of Beyonce’s Lemonade. I’m so honored to have been asked to contribute to this work and encourage you to download and share!

Download here:

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Prayers for Natural Hair Care

I’ve unpacked a little of my journey of growing up in churchy spaces (of various denominations). So, if you’re familiar with the Faith & Spirituality category of this page, you’ve seen my more formal processing around the topic. I’ve also written quite a few serious posts about natural hair care. (I passed out about 5 times when I got a feature on Curly Nikki!)

But, to be clear… this post ain’t that!

This is sheerly shenanigans and peak cultural churchiness. My hope is that you get a few good cackle-laughs, though I have not comprehensively covered all of the “dangers, toils, and snares” that naturalistas face.

Wash Day Supplications
“We come to You, knee bowed, body bent, hair tangled and / or stretched… asking You to bless this wash day. Let the soap lather appropriately. Let not mine eyes experience the troubles of shampoo burning them. Strengthen my arms, even now, so that I can lather on and see what the end gone be. Let the conditioning and sealing of my hair ‘be acceptable in Thy sight’ 1. The strands that Thou has wrought together, no breakage shall tear asunder. It is so”.

Prayer for a Set Style:
To the One Who Watches Over All Late Night Perm Rod Sets,
It’s been years since we’ve connected. However, I’m hoping you remember the true-to-the-gameness that I once possessed. You saw me through many sets before the natural hair vlogging craze and even before there was a Youtube. Should I have waited until dark o clock in the morning to embark on such a venture? No. But as I sleep, let this 3b-3c-4a blend curl reach its maximum potential to Slay. Thank you for the naturalistas across the world. To you belongs the fleekness, both now and forevermore. A-yaaaaahs”.

Bonnet Blessings
“Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord, my bonnet on to keep. And if it falls before I wake, I pray the Lord my rod set takes. Amen”

Declaration for the Restoration of Edges:
“God is a God of restoration. They that have laid their edges down by the riverside (or gotten them snatched) shall recover them one hundred fold. Every lace front, braid extension, too-tight ponytail, trace of chlorine, winter dryness, wool hat, etc. that has tried to come against thine edges will not be able to prosper! It is so”.

Photo Credit: J.O., Group Chat Shenanigans

Psalms, Hymns, and Shenanigan Songs
“Blessed be the gel that binds / Our coifs in peak Coif form”2
“I come into Target alone / While the sales are still on the rows… es”. (Walgreens and Target = natural hair product central for me)3
“I stretch these braids to Thee / Protective style, I know / If it withdraws mine edges from me / Ah! How then shall they grow?!” 4

Length Check Thanksgiving:
“In this time, in this space, in this moment, we pause to say Thank You. In this year alone, I have given a good measure to Carol’s Daughter, Miss Jessie, and Kinky Curly products. Now, my hair is ‘pressed down, shaken together, and running over’ 5. We just want to say Thank You”.

A Note on the Practice of Anointing With Oil:
Readers, do you think there is any way we could start requesting that ministers anoint with coconut oil? Do they understand how healing that oil is for your skin, your hair, your entire life? Because this would basically be me… at altar call… once I stop fellowshipping at Bedside Baptist and 11-o-clock Brunch Ministries on Sunday mornings:

Found this deep in the InstaGram archives. Readers PLEASE tell me who the prophetic person is that initially made this piece! Also, shout out to Trader Joe’s for having the $5.99 jars of Coconut Oil.  

This list is nowhere near exhaustive, but I have actual life-things to do. So, perhaps there will be a part two because… options: Prayers for Lost Bobby Pins, Loc Maintenance, Praise for Protective Styles, etc. For now, I would love to hear your natural hair care prayers! Leave them in the comments below!

Photo Credit:, Additional quotes and materials are hyper-linked




Kendrick, Bey, the Dragging Fest, & the Think-piece Machine (also Titled “Have We Looked at The Art Yet”?)

It’s been uncharacteristically quiet here at, so let me explain why. On February 6th, 2016, Queen Bey released her latest (and in my opinion, most epic and socially conscious) video, ‘Formation’.

Suffice it to say… I was hype…

Beyonce was making a very clear statement. Her video was simultaneously a celebration of Black life & joy, a cry out against police brutality, a nod to Black culture specifically as expressed in New Orleans, a photographic hearkening  to the ways government failed Black people in Hurricane Katrina. This video incorporated Black queer culture, encouragements for Black femmes to #slay, and THEN ended with the drowning of a cop car.


It didn’t take long for both the think pieces and social media critiques to begin:
Beyonce was problematic because [insert diatribe about her support of capitalism given the line “the best revenge is your paper”, insert diatribe about the ways the lyrics “did not match” the imagery, insert diatribe about…] There were some very solid critiques / analyses offered in regards to the art (favorites including Shantrelle Lewis’piece for, Dr. Yaba Blay’s work on, Dr. Zandria Robinson’s post on

However, meaning-making patterns around the art and the artist have seemed to morph into what I now identify as a “dragging-fest” (forms of continual one-upmanship through written word, gifs, memes, etc.) Yet in the busy-ness of cranking out critical analyses and peppering pages with “reads” (pun intended), it seemed we (myself, included) had not given more than a few days (hours, even) to actually sit with Beyonce’s musical choices and / or artistic work. Moreover, I had not seen much of this work being done by artists, musicians, and creatives.

I took a couple of days to let the social media blocks simmer down and to discern whether or not it was worth adding my .02 to an already saturated topic…

But then…

Flash forward to the 2016 Grammy’s where Kendrick “Chakra Balancing” Lamar performed. for. his. life. (And if you haven’t seen it… pause, and view it)

Again, suffice it to say, I was hype. Let’s be honest: most of my readers already know how I feel about Kendrick Lamar Duckworth. There is an in-the-works series happening on this platform to discuss To Pimp a Buttefly. I knew Kendrick was going to come with art that, as Nina Simone described, “reflected the times”. But I couldn’t have guessed what that interpretation would look like and when I saw it, I was absolutely moved.

When I woke up the next morning, there were additional critiques on the work he’d done, why it was problematic (to the tune of: a) Kendrick primarily situates Black men in his work, and b) Kendrick signifies a lot of respectability politics in his music / performance art). There were also (let me be proactively clear here) valid questions about how misogyny gave Kendrick a “pass” from the dragging-fest and shade that Beyonce received for Formation. Peers, colleagues, and friends raised (again) these points and questions; conversations that need to be furthered as time goes on. But again, I realized that it didn’t take more than a couple of days to begin analyzing. Very little commentary took a multi-faceted look at both pieces of performance art sans the other. In comparison pieces, very little commentary looks at the respective arcs of both of their careers and how that may have impacted the reception of both performance art pieces. I have yet to see a piece on how the mediums (film versus live performance) affects our reception of the messages. We could look into why hip hop / trap music genres work for these kinds of messages (cue L.H. Stallings, 2013). There was little on what musicians were saying about the music industry itself in their art. The musical and theatrical purpose of the band’s placement seemed overlooked after K.L’s live performance, though they were also an integral part of the imagery that Kendrick was asking us to sit with. Those notes become clearer if we choose to engage the art and dialogue with artists.

We consume media and artistry and the focus becomes thinking about it before feeling it.

We consume media and artistry faster than we can actually sit with it and let it speak to us.

We consume media and artistry faster than we have respectful dialogue to understand what the artist’s messaging is and seeing how our reception of the message depends on (but is not limited to) the artist, the medium (live, film, etc), the genres, and the arc of that artist’s respective career over time (not to mention our own mood and ethos at the time).

We analyze media faster than we can learn the lyrics to the media we’re analyzing.

The voices of the artists, the creatives, and those that write primarily about arts & entertainment often get lost. It feels rushed and hurried at the low end of the spectrum and disrespectful at the high end.

India.Arie writes about a time she was “dragged” in a series of essays surrounding what she calls SkinGate2013: the accusations she faced regarding skin lightening / bleaching on her SoulBird album cover. While the circumstances are vastly different as Kendrick or Bey, what these artists have in common is that they create art that speaks to their own sociocultural identities and also signifies to the Black community. What’s also common is that they are all performing artists. India.Arie writes about her experiences:

“The most important artists, the most creative, the most imaginative artists, are the most sensitive, and they are generally self-medicating just to MAKE IT through! True artists have MAGIC and LIGHT that people are rightfully drawn to. When too many hands grab at such a delicate thing, the light is extinguished…”

How do I know this is true? Because I know what it is to be an artist in my own lived experience. Of course, I’ve never reached the caliber of Kendrick & Bey! But in order to give an authentic response to their work as of late, I have to call forth that side of myself as well. In a recent and public Facebook status, I mused:

“I was trained in a Theater tradition where being the “triple threat” (singing, dancing, and acting) was the lens. I was a Creative Writer, focusing on Poetry, before I ever wrote a think piece.

And here is what I know about art: Your art reflections where YOU are in your internal process and evolution, and your art is a byproduct of love for self and love for your community. It’s amazing to read the analyses and critiques, but at the same time I’m sitting with their contributions as artists and as the primary makers and creatives of the content we’re critiquing.

As Rev. Dr. Lee Butler Jr. states(1), “Black rage is expressed in Black creativity”, and if we don’t want anyone policing what our Black rage looks like, I’m not sure why we’re so interested in dragging Bey or Kendrick for what it looks like in their lives.

“Our faves can be problematic”(2). And I’m grateful for the ways that that is lovingly & creatively ‘called out’. But there’s a difference between asking for accountability and dragging folk”.

So, I want to pivot here just a bit from the artist themselves. I want to hear the thoughts of other musicians, art historians, ethnomusicologists, creatives, artists, singers, and makers (I know many are still breaking down the performances and that’s okay; we actually can wait). I want to pivot here and ask a few questions that I hope you will engage: When and how do we find constructive ways of holding artists accountable in ways that don’t dissuade them from creating in ways that attempt to speak to us? When and how do we also find constructive ways of holding  other consumers-of-art accountable in both their analysis and their appreciation of artistic works? Finally, what weight do we give expertise in writing specifically for and about musical and art itself?
(1) Butler, Lee. “Black Rage”. Visionary Care: Black Mental Health and Economic Justice [Conference]. Chicago, IL. 12 Sep. 2015.
(2) From a public post by Danielle Stevens, Visionary behind ‘This Bridge Called Our Health’


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Jade’s Faves: WOC in Music to Look Out for in 2016

Music is one of my first loves. I come from a musically-inclined family of singers, drummers, and more. I have chosen every. single. romantic partner based on their musical choices… (amongst other things but best believe that is a top priority).

Though music isn’t something I blog about often here, I’ve covered a few projects / artists at length a few different places and often contribute to the Music Makes Me Happy platform. I’ve got my ear tuned in to a few singers, songwriters, musicians, and women of color that are killin’ the game and set to do great things in 2016.

Laura Mvula:
Laura Mvula is a singer / songwriter from Birmingham, UK and her tone is unlike anything I’ve heard. Her songs are heartfelt, warm, and beautifully executed with layers of vocal harmonies and live instrumentation. (And when I say live I mean… she cut a record with the Metropole Orkest… #friggindope). If you’ve never heard her music, please do yourself a favor and listen. Here’s a quick sampler of her last project:

Today, Laura Mvula released a quick teaser snippet for her latest single, Overcome, and it’s the #BlackGirlMagic that is needed for 2016.

Alex Isley:

If that last name sounds familiar, it’s because this artist is the daughter of Ernie Isley and as her bio states, “her uncles are collectively the Isley Brothers”. Her sound is absolutely original… almost ethereal. She is a singer / songwriter with a truly otherworldly quality about her music and her clear, clean tone. This past December, she released her newest project called Luxury, which seems to be already making a statement on the Independent Music scene.

The first song I’d ever heard from her was F.D.A. and if you’ve never heard her work before, it’s truly a great introduction:

Jaime Woods:
A few months ago, I attended an Emily King concert (and was absolutely swept away). In Emily’s live interpretation of the song ‘Out of the Clouds’, she made space for her musicians and background vocalists to use a few bars and go. AWF! As soon as Jaime Woods started singing, I was enraptured by her tone and how her voice seemed to almost glide over the music. So, I did what I always do when that happens… hit up google! I came across her Soundcloud page and let me tell you, it gets me through a work day like none other! Upon finding her website, I learned that she’s worked with so many acclaimed vocalists (and it’s no surprise because she killllllls vocally)! Her project, TROY, is available on Bandcamp now and I’ve shared one of my favorite songs from it below, entitled “If You Were Mine”:


KING is comprised of three women (which, pause, because I love that concept), “Twins, Paris and Amber Strother and musical sister Anita Bias”. They sing. They play. And their blend is out of this world! Their music is equal parts fun and thoughtful. It’s experimental in many respects, but carries with it a whole lot of soul! They’ve been on the Independent Music scene for quite a while, upon their initial release of their first EP. After that point, I could easily pick out their vocal & musical stylings on Robert Glasper’s project Black Radio and more. This February, they will be launching their first full length project, and trust… it’s already gotten a lot of buzz. They are currently touring in the States (I’m going in February and I am HYPE) and have recently released a new single called “The Greatest”. One of my favorite tracks from them is their sultry-sounding song, “Hey”, a track that feels like and sounds like falling in love. Here’s the acoustic version:


Brandy has solidified her spot in R&B for life! From her early “I Wanna Be Down” until now, she has consistently given us unique vocals and the RIFFS. OF. LIFE! However, I want to focus a bit more on what she’s doing now. Even after her time as Roxie Hart on the Broadway show, Chicago, Brandy hasn’t stopped creating for a moment. She’s now slated in the new BET series Zoe Ever After and has released her supppperr-siicccckkkk song, ‘Beggin and Pleadin’.

So, let me pause here to tell you that from the moment I heard the blues sample and her ‘Good God, Almighty’ opening riff… I had one response…


SANG THE SONG, BRANDY!!  If this is how she’s STARTING the year off, I’m surely excited for what’s to come.

Chantae Cann

Singer, songwriter, Chantae Cann has a tone that’s as clear as a bell. She sings background vocals for India.Arie (I mean… I really can stop right there because ya’ll know India.Arie has some AMAZE-ing background singers). She’s been featured with bands such as the Jaspects and collaborated with jazz band, Snarky Puppy. Suffice it say… the woman’s got vocal chops and she’s making music with some heavy hitters. If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m usually attracted to vocalists who have a very unique tone and Ms. Cann’s lilting soprano is one of a kind. This March, she will be releasing her first full length project entitled Journey to Golden.

I’m excited for all that these women will do in this new year and beyond! Stay on the lookout for their projects! Since I’m always looking for new music, let me know who you’d add to this list. Who’s capturing your ears these days?


The Wiz Realness Recap!

Last night, the melanin pop-age was present and accounted for on NBC’s live airing of The Wiz! Shanice Williams made her debut as Dorothy and the cast was star-studded, including Uzo Aduba, Queen Latifah, Ne-yo, Elijah Kelley, Amber Riley, David Allen Grier, Mary J Blige, (Mutha) Stephanie Mills, and Common. Seeing the representation of Black Theater, Black talent, and Black culture live on NBC… gave me my life! It was a magical 3 hours.

As a note, this recap is written in dialect, unlike many of my other pieces… because only AAVE will do it justice. #SayinithowIfeelit. Also, this recap will show the pieces that stood out to me the most (so don’t get in your feelings if I don’t mention your favorite part).

First, I will admit that I was skeptical at the beginning. You have to understand that many-a-weekend during my childhood was spent watching the 1978 version of The Wiz with Diana Ross, Nipsy Russel, and Michael Jackson. (Don’t judge me… I needed my Ease Down the Road Realness Levels to be stable).

However, from the moment that Mutha Stephanie Mills (who originally played the role of Dorothy in the 1975 Broadway debut) opened her mouth to sing “The Feeling We Once Had(written by Charlie Smalls), I knew it was going to be a great production. And when that WIND got to blowin’?!?! TWIRL! Erin Logan, writer for, said that “the tornado sequence and everyone’s reaction to it” was “#2 on the list of a definitive ranking of the 8 Blackest moments of #TheWizLive”. Erin is right. I literally started shouting when they came out.

One of my FAVORITE moments from the show was Amber Riley’s performance of He’s the Wizard. It’s one of my favorite songs in the show (those movements… yes) and Amber Riley came to sing the damn song with that fierce blue lippie that I actually need in my life (does anybody know where I can find a dupe?). Sheridan Watson wrote a Buzzfeed article about the greatness of Amber Riley’s facial expressions alone… and you need to read it after this because it’s hysterical. #SINGAMBER 

NBC – #MOOD when you know you about to sing the house down

Now, before people think I’m throwin’ shade, let me speak on Shanice Williams, who played the role of Dorothy. She can sing. She has a key soprano that fit in well with the grandeur of this production. But her tone isn’t one of my favorites. With that said, I’ll repeat what I told my Facebook cousins yesterday:  “I ain’t mad (at her) tho cuz she’s up there and I’m spectating so… #gogurl”.

I knew that the temptation was going to be to compare Elijah Kelley’s rendition of “You Can’t Win” to the incomparable Michael Jackson. But for me, Elijah Kelley has been bae since his role in the film version of Hairspray so #youcanttellmenuffin. So, shoutout to his interpretation of the song. Shoutout to the fact that he busted out a back handspring and then proceeded to sing the dang song. Shoutout to the scarecrows who were in. character. the entire time – come through head tilt and wing span realness! Who’s mad? Not me.

Do you have an older relative, an uncle perhaps, that always regales you with tales of how they were ‘back in the day’. You may have believed them. You may not have. But then one fine day, at the family gathering, they just bust out with whatever their talent was… and they kill it.

That’s that David. Allen. Grier. Realness.

He came to sing. He came to dance and body roll. He came to give us the lipshakesnarl. He came to win. And he won. (Also, because I’m churchy, I was tempted to do a medley from “Be a Lion” into Donald Lawrence’s Encourage Yourself. Click the links later, hear it, and cackle. And if you do it on Sunday, I’m expecting a shout out).

Speaking of church, Common did a good job as the quintessential church usher… I mean, Emerald City bouncer.

Credit: Karlton Humes aka @notkarltonbanks on Vine and Instagram

Quick recognition to choreographer Fatima Robinson and the Poppies whine-up-ya-waist-and-werk sequence.

OH but when they got into the Emerald City (cue Hammond B3)… VOGUE REALNESS was being served! Not only did the ensemble cast come to dance, strut, and vogue, the costume designer Paul Tazewell did his GOOD work. If anyone wants to get me the geometric jumpsuit with the triangle hat for Christmas, I will wear it gratefully.


Next up… the Queen! I SO appreciated Peter Tazewell’s decision to nuance The Wiz’s costume. On NBC News, he describes it as “androgynous, angular, a showman (showperson?) and definitely GREEN”. Come through inclusion. Queen Latifah did an awesome job and she’s no newcomer to the musical scene. I was proud of her interpretation of the Wiz and proud of that mean side-step she did on her song “So You Wanted to See the Wizard”. Also, pit orchestra for the win.

I haven’t forgotten about Ne-Yo as Tin Man but you’re probably wondering why I waited until now to bring him up. I was surprised by Ne-yo’s performance. I didn’t love the character choice he made with the accent but that really doesn’t matter because when he opened his mouth to sing “What Would I Do If I Could Feel”… #SINGTHESONG #CONVEYTHETEXT. He performed that song and I allllmost shed a tear.

In the spirit of transparency, I was low-key worried about Mary J. Blige (and I do love her).

I was so scared the Mary-bopness would take away from the character, but I have to give it to her. She made BOLD choices with Evilene’s character. She sang. the. dang. song. (Don’t Nobody Bring Me No Bad News). Her braids were on point. And Mary won. She just won. Because when she said, “This lil’ gurl think I’m still playin with her…” I realized she was talkin’ to me for lowkey doubting her. Come through, Mary! LOL!

Everybody Rejoice / Brand New Day, originally written by Luther Vandross, is another one of my absolute favorite songs in the musical, and I appreciated the gospel choir backup, and Elijah Kelley’s distinct harmonies (they thought they were slick and were going to slide that in like we weren’t gone know). But from that entire scene, I have to take special notice of the ensemble member with the bald head and the beard. Does anybody know his name? I didn’t get a progrum… He took those 8 seconds and said “I have to come to hold this note and who’s mad…”?!!! Sing, sir. Somebody send me his name so I can thank him for that.

Uzo Aduba. OH MY STARS. That tone. The smoothness. The richness.

Finally, I need to know who is responsible for this:

Black Twitter has NO. CHILL. I laughed hysterically because of the amount of #FreeToto and ‘Where’s Toto’ posts I saw!

WHOOO is responsible?!?!?! LOL!

So, when he popped out the side at the end, my heart was filled with joy unspeakable!

All in all, it was an absolutely wonderful production and I’m left with so much pride and joy! Many of you know that I went to a Creative & Performing Arts High School and majored in Theater, so this production meant a lot to me on so many levels. I appreciated every note and nae nae, and you better believe I’ll be re-watching and singing along at my earliest convenience. #BlackExcellence!

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A Womanist Album Review: Jazmine Sullivan’s Reality Show

I’m crafting up some fresh new blog posts for you all & can’t wait to share them! As you know, a part of my mission is:

  • To encourage, inspire, & empower readers to thrive in spite of systems that are not inherently set up for their success & affirmation.
  • To offer information, ideas, & counter-cultural narratives  towards these purposes.

Last week, I carried that mission over to, and posted about the system of arts & entertainment. The focus of the piece was Jazmine Sullivan’s latest & brilliant work, “Reality Show”. This piece was specifically important for me to review, as Sullivan unpacks some really deep womanist themes in her work & provides a landscape of the realities of a number of Black women in America today. Check out my review here!

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