Jade’s Faves

Feature: Taylor Johnson-Gordon, Food Healer, Herbalist, & Urban Gardener

Taylor Johnson-Gordon is a Black womanist, food healer, herbalist, and urban gardener. Her work intersects food sovereignty, healing work as a form of political resistance, and the Black Church. Taylor believes that the body is our first site of resistance and her mission is to help black women and girls heal and build physical resiliency through real, affordable food.

I met Taylor Johnson-Gordon at the #BlackChurchSex convening. I immediately noticed t an effervescence that was so refreshing. Upon our conversation, we realized just how many mutual friends & connections we had. Her good work proceeded her, as well as the praise of our mutual friends on just her generous spirit!

It has been a wonderful journey as I’ve become more familiar with Taylor & her work in food healing – adjusting my own diet & herb cabinets to include some of the staples she’s introduced me to! So, I wanted to e-introduce her to my readers here because I truly believe that her passions & thoughts around healing as resistance are integral to us getting free! Text below is largely her own, to preserve the integrity of her words.

sistah-of-the-yam

The break down of Taylor’s work is extensive. It includes adult nutrition in corner stores, supermarkets, churches, housing complexes, farmers markets, and community centers in North Philadelphia with The Food Trust. Taylor is also an afro-vegan and founder of Sistah of the Yam, a webspace and a series of community programs for Black women and girls that prioritize healing, nutritional wellness, and self-sufficiency through the act of growing food and cooking. The target audience of her work is clear: Black women & girls. To this, she states:

“I unapologetically center the lives and needs of Black women and girls, because we are routinely told that we are not deserving of being at the center.

I unapologetically center Black girls and women because I believe that we as Black people are only fully free to the extent that our Black women and girls are free.

Black women are known for lighting the torch for freedom and doing the work by any means necessary, yet we are routinely erased and abused in the process. Our self-sacrifice leaves us with broken hearts, reproductive disease, emotional eating disorders, low-self esteem, deep loneliness, and unresolved anger.

So, my work involves creating a space for Black women to engage in Black liberation work by concretely focusing on themselves via the food they eat. My tools are my hands, a good knife, and a cast iron skillet. In my experience, saying “yes” to prioritizing physical health has been the biggest obstacle for the women that I interact with. As a result, I rarely interact with a Black woman who has not had a diet related illness or dis-ease. This a result of a white supremacist system that is anti-black and that positions black women at the bottom. This is also a result of a lack of community support. I often think about how Black women are the most churched demographic in our pews, yet we are the poorest and least supported and visible. In my work, these are the very women that I am accountable to. This is why my approach to health and nutrition is always through the lens of affordability and practicality. I encourage making homemade stews/soups and eating beans and rice and leftovers, because these are affordable and highly nutritious. I don’t encourage buying specialty vegan meats because they have a lot of sodium, additives, high processing, and they are  also expensive. I try to teach the art of cooking intuitively, using substitutions for things they don’t have, and knowing how to listen to what their body is telling them that they need.

Taylor’s path to facilitating healing through healthy food is as interesting as the work itself!

“This work really chose me (via God and my ancestors). Growing up, I always thought that I was going to become a medical doctor. I entered college with that determination, studying biology and spending half my time as a pre-med student. Midway through my sophomore year, I realized that it wasn’t “me” (though I couldn’t necessarily pinpoint the “why”). I quit the pre-med program but continued with my biology degree.

My sophomore year was an extremely intense and dark time. I had to create a new identity for myself – outside of what I had thought my chosen path was. Now, almost 10 years later, I have the clarity to see how that experience was preparing me for my current work. To be clear: I think we still need Black doctors in the health care system and medical field. However, my path towards becoming a healer outside of this system (through food education, integrative nutrition, black foodway history, and herbalism) has allowed me to go through the growing pains of healing first hand. The fact that this work is very personal to my own wellness and healing allows me a greater level of authenticity in my work.

Taylor formally received her Bachelors in Biology and a Master of Arts in Christian Education. Currently, she is pursuing her Master of Science in Nutrition & Integrative Health with a focus on Herbal Medicine.

castor-bean

From @sistayoftheyam #BlackHistoryEats food nutrition campaign on IG

She leaves with us the following information, ideas, and tips:

1. Food is inherently political. Eating real, nutrient dense food is a deeply political practice. When we eat real food we are saying that our bodies matter … not only to us, but to God, our community, and our ancestors.

2. Cooking nutrient rich food from scratch doesn’t require fancy tools. Don’t spend your money on fancy sauces and dressings; those things can be made at home with half the amount of sodium and no trans fat or additives — save that money for something else. Get yourself a good, sharp knife (Ross and Marshall’s sell pretty great marked down ones!), a cutting board, and a good skillet. Start building up your spice and herb cabinet and getting a couple of great heart-healthy oils on deck (I recommend always having one for low heat/baking and one for high heat).

3. Black women can be vegan and/or vegetarian and still have curves! Some many sisters are really nervous about dropping a ton of weight if they choose a plant-based diet. While that may be true for some, it is by no means everyone’s reality. Being a Black woman who is thick, curvy, healthy and vegan is in itself a paradox for most folks. I am not what many folks picture when they think of veganism (or nutrition for that matter)! Even though I have struggled with this in the past, I have come to realize that it’s also one of my greatest advantages in the work that I do. It makes me relatable.

4. I am convinced that being well is our birthright as black women. I believe that wellness through food can be developed and expanded to include every black girl and woman, regardless of class and economic status.

Taylor lives in Philly with her husband Jason (they are both amazing) & you can follow Taylor’s work at http://www.sistahoftheyam.com and @sistahoftheyam on Instagram!

taylor-2

Taylor Johnson-Gordon, @sistahoftheyam, enjoying the fruits of the earth!

Feature Photo Credit: Jason C. Johnson-Gordon

Feature: Sojourner Zenobia, Healer & Performing Artist

I met Sojourner Zenobia during one of the community events she curates called Stillness: A Meditation for Women & Femmes of Color. It was my first time engaging in group meditation (of any kind) and it was certainly my first time seeing something so targeted towards my own sociocultural identities. This was back in July… and I have barely missed one of her meditations since that time. Sojourner has helped to facilitate for so many women / femmes of color (myself included) “a spiritual return”. From Sojourner, I learned that there was space to dig deeper into my individual self, spiritual self, and sociocultural self – at the same damn time!

It is in this moment, given the shit-show of this current election season and all of the feelings that are surrounding the upcoming inauguration, that I find Sojourner’s words to be incredibly helpful and timely. So, I want to e-introduce ya’ll to a woman who has become a sister and teacher to me this year. [Text below is largely her own, to preserve the intent behind her words].

sojourner-pic-2
SOJOURNER ZENOBIA began practicing Samatha (peaceful abiding) meditation in 2004 at Naropa University a Buddhist inspired school. In 2006, Sojourner received a BFA in Interdisciplinary Performance and a minor in Buddhist studies. She has studied vipassana (insight meditation) at Amaravati, a Theravadan Monastery in England. She currently a resident artist at Life Force Arts Center in Chicago where she studies energy work through strengthening ancestor/guide relationships and vision journeys. She facilitates a bi-monthly meditation for women and femmes of color at the Shambhala Center in Chicago’s West Loop.

As noted above, her work  in both guided meditation and performance art centers women and femmes of color. She notes:

“I have been in ‘spiritual’,’New Age’ communities since 2004. These communities, more often than not, are populated by white people who have no consciousness of anyone else’s experience but their own. Spiritual practices tend to center the individual – this leads to the valuing of one’s own bliss over dismantling any ingrained perceptions and actions that are oppressive to marginalized groups. Since there are generally only one or two token people of color (POC) in these spaces it might seem that there is no need to expand ones understanding of spirituality beyond a personal agenda – which is projected onto the world as a “saving grace”. Often, if token POC have anything to say about their personal experience (and sociocultural realities), they get into a cycle of having to convince masses of white people in this community that a) they are telling the truth and that b) the white spiritual bubble will need to change completely in order to actually have an impact on anyone other than themselves…

I left these communities highly traumatized and with a damaged sense of self worth. This is why I create spaces where ain’t none of that”.

*(This is where your friendly narrator-blogger pauses to snap and YAAAHHHS all over the screen)
giphy

Sojourner finds inspiration for her performance art and meditation practice through / from formative life experiences:

“I grew up in white spaces. I had one particular ‘last straw’ experience and I looked around saw that I was surrounded by whiteness. I was very hurt. I read bell hooks’,Rock My Soul: Black People and Self Esteem and it revealed everything I had ever felt about being the token black my whole life. I embarked on a healing journey that included the trauma of my mothers lineage around self worth and power. I decided that I wanted to cultivate my art and my spirituality to hold space for my black self. In doing this, I can offer my findings to black and brown femmes who are deepening their own self healing work.

The Stillness Women and Femmes of Color meditation is a place where women and femmes can come and workshop themselves. I do have very clear ideas about the mind. I do believe that silent meditation is a clear and effective way to know how our minds work. When we can see that, we have more options beyond habitual patterns. However, I also don’t like telling people what to do in regards to their spirituality. I think there are infinite ways that people can talk to spirit. No person has the same experience of being in a body. So, this combination of training the mind and opening to spirit gives us access to our inner worlds.

sojourner-pic-3

Sojourner Zenobia, in performance mode!

I think our bodies hold all of the wisdom! All of the secrets! In our world, we (especially brown and black bodies) are forbidden from going inward unless it is in a way that is super controlled through religion or media. I want to give our bodies back to ourselves. I hold spaces where women and femmes can listen deeper than we ever do to “The woman who whispers”- Luisah Teish. We sit in meditation, light candles, draw our hearts, ask questions to grandmothers, write letters to past selves and fall in love with breath. I hope people will grow this space of creative self and community love. It will give us ways, never seen before to protest, love, express, resist and evolve.

Her advice to readers is something I will also follow – ESPECIALLY in the weeks, months, and (4) years to come. It is:

Pause.
Slow down.
Cut your pace in half.
take your bath.
restore…
These slower places are where spirit comes to us.

dismantle busy-ness. If possible, make self-care a part of what is making you “busy.”

The inner voice will scream.
Loud
everyday, telling us what we need.
If we never slow down, listen with them, create with them
we lose the opportunity
to become who we came here to be.

To learn more about Sojourner Zenobia and her practice, visit http://www.sojournerzenobia.com/

Click here for more information on / to get involved with Stillness Meditation for Women and Femmes of Color.

Jade’s Faves Features: Coriama Couture

Amazing initiatives have the power to bring amazing people together. This past fall, I facilitated a Beauty Breaks workshop session on style & resilience. [Beauty Breaks is is a life-giving and innovative series on Black beauty & holistic wellness, founded by artist Amina Ross (who is one of my favorite people, truly)]. Coriama Couture was also presenting on affordable grooming & beauty practices. [You can click here for the recap].

Since that time, coriama couture has taught me a great deal about the ways in which we can de-stigmatize sexuality, beauty tips for Black women / femmes (especially ones that can fit my budget), and more. Of course, I wanted my readers to meet her too and get a chance to see her work! Text below is largely her own, used with permission, in order stay true to the heart of her work & mission.

1072578_10151750990290359_966736907_o

Photo Credit: Kamali Whitney, 2015

Coriama Couture is an Artist, Activator, and Aesthetician who utilizes the ABCS (Art, Beauty, Culture, and Sexuality) to encourage radical dialogue and community building. She sees the ability to explore and challenge taboo topics within culture as a rite of passage; a necessary element for liberation and freedom that should be celebrated. Currently, she is curating a community popup forum called sex KiKi and hopes to encourage more radical dialogue and safe spaces for queer black femmes* in Chicago and beyond. sex KiKi is inclusive space that privileges the spectrum of black femininity so trans* and cis women are welcome, as well as allies.

Her work primarily serves femmes of the Black diaspora, ages 21+, as she notes:

The Beauty Industry is constantly bombarded with images of a European aesthetic, the policing of the black femme body, and an overall lack of resources for us. For example, the beauty industry is saturated with beauty advisors who often don’t know how to color match for foundation or choose to tell black femmes anything (in terms of beauty practices / products) to get our dime. In addition, we already deal with economic oppression, so the resources we have might be limited and contingent upon what is necessary to live.

In this field, sometimes I deal with community members (black femmes) who prefer to only see white colleagues / beauty advisors to find the proper cosmetic products. My hands-on experience has been that this may be connected to deeper issues of acceptance (and internalized pop-notions of “beauty”). I have much compassion for that, since I have had to deal with my own issues with embracing my black beauty.

Honestly, I believe your trauma can often be connected to your work! I grew up with serious self-esteem issues. I hadn’t grown into my full lips and feared my melanin. The beauty industry happened to be one of the first places I landed a job; since my temper in my younger years caused me to switch jobs often.

Now, I believe that beauty is a tool for empowerment. I continue to challenge myself to utilize it for that purpose and not to mask insecurity (as it can be / has been used). I encourage with warmth and enthusiasm. I always lead with kindness and compassion in these situations because I have been them and see myself in this process toward liberation. I am still undergoing the decolonization of my own lifestyle and mind, as well!

15542005_10154682070065359_428841069688336092_n

Educating & brow mapping at Beauty Breaks workshop, Photo Credit: Ally Almore, 2015

Coriama Couture is also the curator for pop-up community forum, titled, sex KiKi. In regards to this area of work, she says:

“Sexual liberation is really important to me. Sexuality was always apart of my life. In my late teens, I can recall enjoying lesbian porn (the good kind; there is a difference)! Yet, there can be a lot of trauma that comes with being a sexually free person. People can equate / conflate freedom with having no boundaries at all, which isn’t true!

Oppression and internalized oppression is also a part of the battle when it comes to sexual wellness and conversations about sexuality. For example, we can deal with some very problematic ideas – about gender, gender roles, notions of what family is / can be, harmful views about homosexuality. I’ve also seen misogynistic views expressed, even coming from cis-het* (cisgender, heterosexual) black femmes in the space (I understand much of this phenomena as a coping mechanism, to somehow fit into the constraints of the patriarchy while simultaneously being denied access). These challenging conversations have their pros and cons but ultimately, I believe are powerful and pivotal when breaking the mental chains of colonization”.

Her advice to readers:
“Exploration is apart of growing and sometimes the worst judgements we experience are the judgements we put on ourselves. It can be liberating to do things for our own lives! Keep a beauty journal, a sex journal, or just journal. I feel fresh and renewed each day that I decipher my own thoughts from those of others. The more I worry about others, the less effortless my life becomes… the less I am able to live on my own terms. This process is difficult but I feel less anxiety living this way.

Find rituals that help ground you – music, chanting, dancing, or bitching in front of the mirror for 10 minutes to get the bull out! Hey, it works! Lastly, don’t be scared to explore another lifestyle option. I’ve found that hetero and married doesn’t always equal happy and in love (as is often suggested). So, we have to be sure to love on our OWN terms”.

15589775_10112430887528634_7182359530809915803_n-1

Facials, brow waxing, and refreshments from coriama couture’s Wax Day Off

Check out more of her work on http://www.coriamacouture.com/ and if you live in the Chicagoland area, check out sex KiKi or Coriama’s Wax Day Off! 

Jade’s Faves Features: Depressed While Black

I met Imade Nibokun during the first conference for digital and print publication, Heed Magazine. We were both contributing writers and I ended up sitting by her during lunch. I was struck by her ease in providing social and cultural commentary on a range of topics. A few years later, we reconnected through mutual friends and writing interests, and this is where I heard about her in-progress book and social media initiative “Depressed While Black”.

Imade describes herself as ‘a music journalist turned non-fiction writer discussing mental health treatment and African-American culture’. She has presented at the National Black Women’s Life Balance & Wellness Conference at Spelman College and teamed up with Brunch Culture podcasts to talk about her work. She shared her story on BET Network’s video initiative called ‘What’s At Stake: 60′ and her in-progress, nonfiction book, ‘Depressed While Black’, will provide commentary on life at the intersections of race, gender, spirituality, and mental health.

I sought her work out specifically to feature on this platform and appreciated its alignment with the mission of this site. Typically, I ask for quotes to use in the Faves Features as I further explain the work. However, Imade’s writing is profoundly beautiful, so to stay true to her voice and mission, all text below is hers, used with permission:

15370151_10153918537266470_266872244840793141_o

“My name is Imade and was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder in December 2012, days after I sped on a Los Angeles highway wanting to die. I honestly thought I was diagnosed with disease that only White people experienced but I later found out that 1 out of 10 African-Americans experience depression in a given year. The biggest lesson I learned is that mental illness isn’t a sign of inferiority, spiritual or otherwise. I got a therapist and despite being told I didn’t pray enough, I started using antidepressants. If I didn’t ask for help, I’m not sure I would be alive today. I decided to share my experience in my work-in-progress book, Depressed While Black, to create a safe space where others can ask for help. Through social media channels, I share articles and my own story in hopes of de-stigmatizing mental illness.

Depressed While Black was birthed out of my need for help as I was scratching and clawing for the will to live. I needed people who were consistently aware of what I was going through so they could encourage me when depression was saying I’m worthless and alone. Depressed While Black is simply one black woman asking for help, and finding a supportive community.

My target audience is African-Americans dealing with depression who are searching for a community that normalizes their experience. In my own journey as a black woman, I faced stigma that prevented me from having a language to describe what my mind was doing. When I did identify the depression, I was told that I should have prayed and asked a pastor to pray for me. I did both of those things and still struggled with depression. I had few people I felt safe to talk to without fear of victim blaming. I experienced therapists who did not understand black culture and advised me to do things that were not applicable to my life. Once I got over the stigma, I didn’t have the money to be hospitalized or have outpatient therapy. I also had no one else to consult when it came to using antidepressants. Once I graduated, I lost my health insurance and in my unemployment, I lost a safe space to live where I was not shamed for what I was feeling.

There is a myth that black people are superhuman. That only white people cry or are depressed. There is a myth that if our ancestors endured slavery, then we have nothing to complain about. There is a myth that we should just talk to our pastors, although not all of them are trained to deal with the treatment of mental illness. My most important counter-cultural narrative is that every African-American is worthy of mental healthcare. From the strong black woman single mothers, to our ancestors who experienced unimaginable torture, to the pastors who have to preach one funeral after another. We do not have to earn self-care by struggling the way our ancestors struggled. Just by our sheer existence, we are deserving of mental wellness.


Pictured here with co-presenter, Dr. Simone

African-Americans need affordable mental health treatment from culturally competent mental health professionals. We need skills to counter what depression and society tells us. We also need safe healing spaces where we can recover from the micro-aggressions we experience daily.

So, I encourage, inspire, and empower by speaking on panels that despite how much you struggle, you’re worthy of receiving help. Depression doesn’t have to be a death sentence. I share stories of people who have hit rock bottom, including myself, and found ways to prioritize self-care on the journey to recovery. In speaking out about depression, I challenge the lies that African-Americans are not intellectual beings or that we are immune to pain and suffering. We hurt, we cry, and we become weak even as we present our strength to the world. African-Americans deserve mental health treatment that is tailored to our needs”.

You can read an excerpt of Imade’s upcoming book, ‘Depressed While Black’ here and follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/DepressedWhileBlack, on Twitter @DepressedWBlack. I also encourage you to read more of her writing over on Tumblr! Special thanks to Imade for this brave work!

Want to have YOUR work featured on JadeTPerry.com? Click here to access the Submission Form for Features!

Jade’s Faves Features: The SBG Code

When I first started this blog, I knew that I wanted to use it as a platform to share both my thoughts and the work of others that mirrored the mission of JadeTPerry.com. I wanted to feature people, organizations, sites, and initiatives that:

  • Encouraged, inspired, & empowered readers to thrive in spite of systems that are not inherently set up for their success & affirmation
  • Lovingly & creatively challenged sacred & secular systems (and their participants) toward greater inclusion and cultural validation
  • Offered information, ideas, & counter-cultural narratives towards these purposes

I am beyond excited that our first feature comes from a colleague I met in the blogging arena: Whitney Barkley, the creator of the website, The Skinny Black Girl’s Code. Whitney is a blogger, photographer, digital media strategist, and the recipient of the Black Women Career Network’s Millenial Visionary Award.

Hearing about her work was eye-opening for me. I have always been drawn to seek out resources on body positivity for women who are thick and curvaceous a woman who has, for the better part of my life, been a card-carrying member of #TeamThick. So, when Whitney approached me with the information for The Skinny Black Girl’s Code, I was excited to learn about and to see another nuance of the body positivity movement.

The Skinny Black Girl’s Code is “an online platform to help women and girls gain confidence and self-esteem”. Under the leadership of Barkley, the Skinny Black Girl’s Code uses media & imagery to promote body positivity and acceptance. She explains,

” I began to understand the importance of self-love and confidence in college, after dealing with self-esteem and confidence issues in my childhood and teenage years. I created The Skinny Black Girl’s Code due to the lack of resources available for thin women of color and to offer the world a perspective that is often overlooked.

I interview women who identify themselves as ‘thin or skinny’. I discuss their journey and ask them to highlight the challenges they’ve faced and what they have done to overcome them in relation to body image and self-esteem. My goal is to interview 100 women and create a guide based off of the themes found within the interview”.

Critical themes that Whitney has already seen in her work include a) the need for greater understanding, awareness, & advocacy around eating disorders and b) the dangers of intrusive / problematic comments around women’s bodies. She states, “I think it’s critical for others to know… there are eating disorders that are prevalent for women who are discontent with being skinny and attempting to gain weight (using harmful ways / methods). Society needs to understand how it influences low self-esteem among skinny women (of color) when jokes and negative comments are offered…”

Through her life experiences and her work with The Skinny Black Girl’s Code, Whitney Barkley has noted that beauty standards are often culturally bound and that many women also feel pressure to achieve a “…thick or Coke bottle shape. Additionally, there is a perception that women who are thin or skinny do not have problems or self-esteem issues…” Thus, Whitney hopes that The Skinny Black Girl’s Code will bring some of these issues to people’s consciousness, as well as offering tips for women of color who “want to overcome obstacles related to their body image and perception”

Outside of the Skinny Black Girl’s Code, Whitney blogs on Career & Lifestyle topics at http://thewritegirlblog.com. She currently resides in Cincinnati, OH with her husband Jerome and cat Rosie and believes, “an un-examined life is not a life worth living” (Socrates). You can follow her @TheWriteGirl_ and follow The Skinny Black Girl’s Code @SBGCode
Check out the full site here!

Want to have YOUR work featured on JadeTPerry.com? Click here to access the Submission Form for Features!

Jades Faves: Get Into these Blogs & Sites

I found these blogs on my epic journey & quest to “get my life” through blogs & vlogs! I’m always looking to find fresh perspectives that also remind me of why I’ve chosen to blog: to offer information, ideas, & counter-cultural narratives that empower readers to thrive and to lovingly & creatively challenge secular and sacred systems toward greater levels of inclusion!

I appreciate the work being done through each of these sites & talented bloggers. Add them to your list when you get a chance!

1. DressProfesh.com – I stumbled upon this website last week because Twitter is a magical place that gives you recommendations based on your interests. As many of you already know, navigating identity politics in higher education & in the workplace is… one…of…my… things! I talk about it. I write about it. I read about. So, when I saw what Katie Manthey was doing over at DressProfesh.com, I could hardly contain my excitement. This site exists as a photo gallery that

showcase(s) images of the various ways that people (regardless of industry) dress “professionally.” (The) goal with this gallery is to collect images that, together, will reveal that “professional” is not a monolithic idea—and that the idea of “professional dress,” like any dress code, is inherently racist, sexist, abelist, sizeist, etc.

It didn’t take long for me to submit my own photos, showing how I #dressprofesh in a myriad of different ways! Check out the site and be sure to submit a photo of your own!

2. Conditionally Accepted: A Space for Scholars on the Margins of Academia

I am always looking for materials for my mentees to read in terms of being successful in academia and in their post-grad work (if chosen). I was searching for a few readings when I found Advice on Applying to and Choosing a Graduate Program, written by Dr. Zandria F. Robinson for conditionallyaccepted.com. Her perspective on finding, applying, and accepting entry into a graduate program was refreshing and real. I found myself literally agreeing out loud as I began clicking through the site that weekend, reading post after post.

If only I had this key as an add-on when I was reading!

The purpose of this site is to serve as

a space for academics who exists at the margins of academia. We will provide news, information, personal stories, and resources for scholars who are, at best, conditionally accepted in the academy. Conditionally Accepted is an anti-racist, pro-feminist, pro-queer, anti-transphobic, anti-fatphobic, anti-ableist, anti-ageist, anti-classist, and anti-xenophobic web community. http://conditionallyaccepted.com/about/

3. The Write Girl – Whitney L. Barkley is doin’ the dang thing over at thewritegirlblog.com as she provides timely career advice for millenial women. If you’ve been following my site, then you know that I like speaking to and about millenial woman of color in the workplace: what helps, what promotes, what fosters our growth, what hinders… and what’s just plain tacky. At The Write Girl, Whitney “is taking her experiences and translating them into career advice that helps with job retention, online branding, job searching, and career advancement (http://thewritegirlblog.com/about/)”. Her posts will make you think about how generational identities change the game for millenials in empowering ways!

So, I’ve given you some good lunchtime reads for the week! Check them out and comment below to tell me what you think!

Jade’s Faves – Getting My Life through Blogs & Vlogs

As of late, my morning routine has been to brew a nice hot cup of Oprah Chai (that blend will help you get your breakthrough), read a piece from one of my favorite bloggers, or watch something from a vlogger I enjoy. I think that what draws me is the fact that they communicate in ways that are interesting and profound, while also speaking to my personal mission & the mission of JadeTPerry.com:

They encourage, inspire, & empower readers to thrive in spite of systems that are not inherently set up for their success / affirmation. They lovingly & creatively challenge systems & individuals… and they offer information, ideas, & counter-cultural narratives towards these purposes. Although our writing / speaking lenses may be different, I appreciate the work being done in each of these blogs & vlogs. Here are a few to add to your list:
The Girl With the Black Pearls – Blogger, Ashley Burton, is a full time graduate student in professional counseling, who uses her writing “as a means of transparency and healing”. Her topics include self love, growth, positive risk-taking, deep faith, family, and more! She writes with a warm tone and consistently includes positive takeaways or points of reflection that resonate long after you have finished reading. Hear some of these reflections on her post, #TopTen: Major Personal Lessons from 2014.

PhDisabled – PhDisabled is a platform that shares counter cultural narratives on “what it’s like to doing academia with disability & chronic illness.” In 2009, both of my feet temporarily gave out due to severe pain. Since then, I have been through the processes of relying on a wheelchair, cane, and / or walking apparatus, on to physical therapy, and back to walking with little trouble but chronic pain after prolonged periods of time. Since then I have also obtained an M. Ed and worked in my chosen field. However, dealing with chronic pain or disability is typically a hush-hush item within higher education. So, it was not something I talked about or really even heard about… until stumbling across this blog. This blog offers stories of PhD candidates who are striving and coping with disabilities, seen and unseen. It offers advice, affirmation, and resources for self advocacy for those in academia and navigating post-graduate professional experiences.

K.Y.N.D. (Knowing Yourself in Need of Devotion)
– I was introduced to Rev. Kyndra D. Frazier’s blog through the Move & Shake initiative by Dr. Alisha Lola Jones.  KYND served as a guide and compass during one of my most profound faith shifts & career transitions. Rev. Frazier explains, “Knowing Yourself in Need of Devotion (KYND) was birthed out of my commitment to support  individuals and communities in thriving. Often ‘kind’ is relegated to a docile adjective, however KYND is much more. To be KYND is to be aware of the areas in your life that are in need of devotion and healing, where awareness transitions into transforming action. To be KYND is also to balance the practice of self-care privately and publicly. Hence, taking care of ourselves is taking care of our communities, and taking care of our communities is a way of taking care of ourselves…” Topics include social justice, devotion to self and community, as well as reflections on faith and freedom.

Rachel Held Evans
– Rachel Held Evans is the prolific and witty author of  Evolving in Monkey Town (Zondervan, 2010) and A Year of Biblical Womanhood (Thomas Nelson Oct, 2012). Through her blog, she tackles subjects such as gender equality in sacred spaces, theology, and the expansive nature of faith. She often features authors, clergy, and professionals from varying faith traditions & perspectives and her Sunday superlatives posts are like my personal bright-and-shiny-spot on the Interwebs! She explains in her initial post that “Spiritual pride is always a temptation for the believer, and I sincerely hope it is avoided on this blog. No one’s journey is the same. There is much to learn from one another. So instead, I would like this little spot on the Web to serve as a sort of traveler’s forum, a place for exchanging adventure stories, survival tips, and those priceless hole-in-the-wall recommendations that make a journey memorable. I look forward to sharing my own ideas, and I look forward to hearing from you.” Learn more about her blog here!

Beyondbabymamas.com
-Founder, Stacia L. Brown, “writer, educator, and mother” understood that unmarried mothers who are women of color unjustly bear shameful stereotypes about their journey to motherhood.  Thus, she built an online site and comprehensive brand that “seeks to provide greater context… by inviting the discourse of single mothers of color. Beyond Baby Mamas was founded in September 2012 as a way to talk to minority unmarried mothers, not just about them. It’s an initiative that seeks to form a base of support, education, communication, and encouragement, rather than an environment of condemnation”. This site offers philanthropic opportunities, cultural critiques on the media perception of unmarried mothers, uplifting stories, and more.

Ebony Janice Peace
– Vlogger, Ebony Janice, is all “about that Peace life. (She) makes videos to empower people… but really is here for the laughs and shenanigans”. She offers that and more through her uplifting & inspirational videos on self love, cultural commentaries (her commentaries on Beyonce are laugh-out-loud doses of everything), music reviews, comedy, social justice slam poetry, and other fierce fashion /  beauty tips. Ebony Janice is one of those vloggers that quickly becomes your bff in your mind (ha! don’t judge me) because she consistently cracks you up and challenges you toward empowerment at the same time.
So feel free to browse and show these sites some love as you sip your morning coffee or tea!