Featured image by Make a perfect image

 

Why is Makeda Smith an inspiration?

She’s one of the few women her age that can work a pole better than most 20-year-olds!

Reading this amazing woman’s story on XO Necole, I couldn’t help but dig deeper to find out more about her. According to her website, Smith found her calling with pole dancing at the age of 50, after a string of bad luck, including the loss of her business, her home, and her man.

Instead of wallowing in self-pity, Makeda turned her life around, mind, body, and spirit with self-healing and self-love through pole dancing. The pole has been, in Makeda’s words, an “instrumental axis” and she “stepping out of the box” has definitely proven that all it takes is for you to believe in yourself.

 

I started poling when I turned 50. I am 56 now and getting younger by the moment. I hope to inspire people, but especially women and particularly older women, because it is true, we can do any thing we put our minds, heart and spirit into!

 

Click here for more on her story

When you have community members who are tired of the senseless killing in their city, you also get a group of passionate folks willing to make an effort for peace.

As of August 2017, Baltimore City has more than 195 homicides. Erricka Bridgeford and her team of organizers are planning a murder-free weekend, urging folks not to kill.

Via The Baltimore Sun:

Bridgeford and other neighborhood leaders are drumming up support for a three-day ceasefire the first weekend of August to quell Baltimore’s violence. She admits that such peace is a tall order for a city that’s seen 188 killings this year. 

Organizers aim to stop the shooting from Friday, Aug. 4, through Sunday, Aug. 6, with a unified and blunt message: “Nobody kill anybody.” 

Their message has been printed on T-shirts and flyers. They designed a website and held community meetings. More than 1,600 people visited their Facebook page. The grass-roots campaign has swelled since it began in May.

“I’ve seen the momentum build over the past several weeks,” said T.J. Smith, spokesman for Baltimore police. “We are all in this together, and we’re 1,000 percent supportive of the efforts.” 

The campaign urges people to put aside their guns and join weekend events for healing, from a peace rally Friday evening to a vigil Sunday where participants will read the names of every person killed in 2017.

“The Baltimore Ceasefire was not declared by any one organization,” organizers wrote on their website. “This ceasefire is the product of Baltimore residents not only being exhausted by homicides but believing that Baltimore can have a murder-free weekend if everyone takes responsibility.”

More than 600 people have pledged to keep the peace, they wrote. Among them are some of the young men Bridgeford has met on the corners.

“You just talk to them like they’re your little brother,” she said.

A professional mediator, neighborhood volunteer and part-time Uber driver — “Everyone who gets in my car leave with a flyer and a speech” — Bridgeford says her younger brother was gunned down a decade ago in Southwest Baltimore. His killer was never caught.

 

It’s so refreshing to see a community come together for an important cause. The Ceasefire organization sets a wonderful example for other cities troubled by record-breaking killings. Despite the courageous responsibility these organizers have taken, there are a few who question why they’re calling for peace for only 72 hours. My response…It takes a person with an optimistic viewpoint to understand that the call for peace doesn’t have to end after 72 hours. We as a community have the power to prolong peace if we truly want it.

Watch video below of Erricka Bridgeford’s interview with Eze Jackson of ‘The Real News Network’.

In the next video, Erricka answers the most common questions that folks have about Baltimore Ceasefire.

Image courtesy of Creative Soul Photography

 

The last time we told you guys about Kheris Rogers, we shared her incredible story as a bullied girl, who turned her pain into passion. The 10-year old was bullied in school for her dark skin, but instead of allowing those bullies to negatively affect her, she created a T-shirt line, celebrating her gorgeous skin color.

The young entrepreneur-turned-model is now BREAKING THE INTERNET with images that are out of this world! Photographed by  Creative Soul Photography,   the delicate, yet powerful imagery of this beautiful little girl displays such a confidence that you cannot help but be in awe.  You can just stare at her images without blinking an eye because they are fierce!

For the longest time, I have battled with my weight, because I believed that I actually had weight to battle. Because of that damn BMI, I was convinced that I was “overweight”. Maybe to doctors, I am. However, I no longer feel like I am, so screw doctors!

If you’ve never heard of Body Mass Index, it’s a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters. Obviously, this index doesn’t take into account the health, flexibility, strength, and muscle mass of a person. It certainly doesn’t pick up on a person’s self-acceptance, confidence, and the ability to look beyond numbers on a scale.

I don’t feel obese, or even overweight for that matter! In fact, I feel beautiful and I embrace every inch of my curves. As long as I continue to eat healthy and work out to the best of my ability, I’m good.

I don’t meet society’s standards of normal weight, but society is not going to tell me I shouldn’t be happy and confident with the skin I’m in because I’m not 5’9″.

This is why people are suffering in silence with an eating disorder, becoming addicted to fat loss surgery, and forming other unhealthy habits that could be destructive to one’s mind, body, and soul.

I say stay off the scales, unless you really want to know how much you weight. Remember… not becoming obsessed with the number on the scale keeps away that inevitable pressure to live up to the standard of others and not your own.

It’s time for us to be REAL with ourselves in a world full of FAKE.

No…I’m not a new mother. My youngest child is 11-years-old. I’m just slim-thick in a short package and have been for some time, and you know what? I plan to stay this way, despite what society says.

Yes…I have thick thighs, a belly, and stretch marks…and YES….I’m STILL feeling myself.

The unrealistic pressure on women these days to get their figures to a certain level annoys me to no end. It’s my belief that not only society, but media also has a lot to do with how it negatively impacts the body image and self-esteem of women and girls.

The depiction of women in media are held by certain beauty standards. As a 160 lb.woman, short in stature, and a woman of color, I can’t relate to most of them. Am I bothered by it all? HELL YES! Will I let it negatively affect how I feel about my body? HELL NO!

Body image is both internal (personal) and external (society)

This includes:

How we perceive our bodies visually
How we feel about our physical appearance
How we think and talk to ourselves about our bodies
Our sense of how other people view our bodies

External forces, including a BMI, should never tell you how to view your body. Society should never make you change how you see your physical appearance. Unless your weight could affect you health wise, I say rock your thickness unapologetically. F*^k what a BMI chart says. F*^k what society says you should look like.

Self-love suppresses lack of confidence and external negative influence.

Love yourself

Since the release of Jay-Z’s 13th studio album, ‘4:44′, there has been lots of interesting discussion about his obvious response to Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade’. Jay has definitely revealed being unfaithful throughout the history-making musical project. However, I feel compelled to remind many folks that ‘4:44’ is so much more than what some of us already assumed.

‘4:44’ was in my opinion, his best work to date, because he’s the most honest and transparent he’s ever been throughout his 20-year career. His lyrics reflect that of a man who has gone through self-reflection/revelation as a husband, father, and son. He also expresses the importance of financial empowerment and touches on lack of black leadership.

 Because of the direction the Hip Hop culture has taken, this album was released at such a crucial time. It’s an album we need so desperately.

A lot of the discussion surrounding ‘4:44’ is  more on the artist delivering the message.  People are too focused on the cheating scandal and the fact that others before Jay-Z preached the same message. Apparently, Jay has “done nothing new”, according to some folks who seems less impressed with the new album. Then you have the rest who simply doesn’t like the beats.

I get that we all have a musical preference, but if you’re a true music fan and a true lover of art, you’d hear what’s beyond the beats and get in tune with the message accompanying the beat.

I say kudos to ANY artist who uses their art to spread the message for our people to level up. I don’t care who spread the message first or last, who said it, and how. We are too busy focusing on who said it first, instead of appreciating the man for the message he’s incorporated in his music.

Via ABC News:

 

“Kill JAY-Z”
The title of the first track on the album is a complete metaphor. The rapper explained to I Heart Radio that the song is “about killing off the ego.” JAY-Z also talks about his relationship with celebrities, including his former best friend, Kanye West. He raps, “But if everybody’s crazy then you’re one that’s insane.” He also addresses his sister-in-law, Solange, and that headline-making elevator fight after the 2014 Met Gala. He raps that he was egging her on. “All you had to say you was wrong,” he added, referring to himself.

“The Story of O.J.”
JAY-Z uses the story of former football player O.J. Simpson as a way to talk about the highs and lows of success, especially as a black man in America. “O.J. like I’m not black, I’m O.J…OK,” he raps unconvinced. The rapper, seemingly addressing young entrepreneurs, also talks about building financial wealth such as by buying property instead of blowing it in nightclubs.

“Smile”
This bluesy feel-good track simply reminds listeners to take a beat to smile. “Bad times turn to good memories/Smile/Even when I’m gone you’ll remember me/Smile,” he raps. JAY-Z also reveals that his mother Gloria Carter identifies as a lesbian. Still, he makes it clear to the listener just what he thinks about it. He raps, “Cried tears of joy when you fell in love/Don’t matter to me if it’s a him or her.”

“Caught Their Eyes”
JAY-Z explained to I Heart Radio that this song is about “just being aware of your surroundings.” He points to a verse where he raps, “Your body language is all remedial, how could you see the difference between you and I?” He also addressed his streaming service Tidal being sued by Prince’s estate after they claimed he streamed the late singer’s catalog without permission. JAY-Z said: “I sat down with Prince eye to eye/ He told me his wishes before he died.”

“4:44”
Many are calling the title track a response to his wife Beyonce’s “Lemonade” album where she tells the painful story of a woman being cheated on. On this song, JAY-Z raps: “I apologize often womanize/Took for my child to be born/See through a woman’s eyes/Took for these natural twins to believe in miracles/Took me too long for this song/I don’t deserve you.” The rapper also said he was “emotionless” during their relationship before apologizing again.

“Family Feud”
JAY-Z is clearly addressing younger rappers on this song, saying he doesn’t understand the new rap culture. “You rather be old rich me or new you,” he raps. “Nobody wins when the family feuds.” He also addresses the lack of black leaders, pointing to shamed comedian Bill Cosby and Al Sharpton.

“Bam”
Back on his typical Hov talk, JAY-Z collaborated with Damian Marley on this bass-heavy track. It seems that the rapper is reminding himself that despite his missteps and transgressions, he’s still the man. “F— all this Shawn Carter s—,” he says, referencing his birth name. “Sometimes you need your ego/Gotta remind these fools,” he adds on this track.

“Moonlight”
Even JAY-Z was inspired by this year’s Oscars when the best picture announcement was flubbed. On the hook, JAY-Z raps: “We stuck in La La Land/Even if when we win, we gonna lose.” The rapper is commenting on the music industry for hip-hop artists, saying that it needs to progress further. He questions aloud why younger artists are “still signing deals” when record labels often “run off with your masters.”

“Marcy Me”
This track is clearly an ode to Brooklyn and the Marcy Projects, where JAY-Z grew up and which he often raps about. “I’m from Marcy Houses/Where the boys die by the thousands,” he raps, before adding, “Yeah, that’s where it all started.”

“Legacy”
If you had any question just where JAY-Z’s head was, he makes it clear on the final song on “4:44.” His daughter, Blue Ivy, helps on this track that talks about his desire to create generational wealth from his success, rapping, “that’s the key.” Jay-Z adds that if he could make this happen, it would be a first for his family. “Black excellence, baby, let them see,” he raps.

 

‘4:44’ is a breath of fresh air and again, perfect timing! I’d like to think that my people will have an open mind and an open ear to take in the messages in this project that’s most important. It’s more than just his apology to Beyonce for cheating. It’s more than the instrumentation.

‘4:44’ is a musical template for us to strengthen our culture as a whole, as well as enhance our personal way of living.

In this day in age of Hip Hop, it’s awesome to see an iconic Hip Hop artist use his platform to create something that’ll make us want to level up on our black excellence.

Don’t downplay Jay-Z’s efforts to spread the message to his people. He’s done something that some of these new-age rappers WISHED they have the balls to do.

 

 

As of now, ‘4:44’ is exclusively available to Tidal subscribers with pre-existing accounts before the release date and Sprint customers. It’s reported that the album will be officially released next week.

 

Image courtesy of Getty Images/Christopher Polk

When you think of the word, “intimacy”, what is the first thing that comes to mind?
Closeness?
Sex?
Romance?

What if I told you that the meaning of intimacy goes deeper than all of those.

Let’s look at Webster’s definition of intimacy…
the state of being intimate; a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group; a close association with or detailed knowledge or deep understanding of a place, subject, period of history, etc.

Intimacy is openness, transparency, acceptance, being candid and honest, and sharing all of yourself beyond the physical. Intimacy is also self-revelation and being comfortable with sharing those revelations with your partner. To openly share your thoughts, your attitudes, and your feelings without feeling like you’ll be judged says a lot about how mature your relationship is.

Kendrick Lamar is the perfect example of a man who displays that kind of maturity. In a 2015 interview with ‘Billboard’, he had this to say about his fiance, Whitney Alford.

billboard

 

Kendrick perfectly illustrates what goes down in the truest form of intimacy; vulnerability, transparency, and obviously not being afraid to be any of that with his woman….his best friend 🙂

 

We have to distinguish the difference between true intimacy and false intimacy, as well.

False intimacy is lust, physical attraction and admiring the exterior of a person without truly knowing who they are on the inside. False intimacy can be tricky and it can lead situationships, as opposed to a healthy relationships.

 

Intimacy is about being emotionally close to your partner, not just physically. Allowing your partner to let their guard down is the best feeling in the world, because they are showing you that they’re trusting you with their inner most secrets and desires. That’s the kind of intimacy that will keep a relationship solid. A relationship without true intimacy can be boring and uninspiring.

 

 

 

 

 

The Legends Ball, which was inspired by Oprah Winfrey’s desire to pay homage to those before her, gave me many levels of inspiration and generous amounts of motivation. To see all of those beautiful talented black women under one roof was beyond amazing. I only wish I could have been a part of such a historical event.

The blessing behind all of this is that Oprah was able to honor women such as Coretta Scott-King, Maya Angelou, and Ruby Dee before their untimely death.  Watching this momentous celebration, I felt proud.

Although I have yet to do anything much profound and awarded for such as these ladies, I felt proud to be a black woman doing what she love…writing. Oprah’s Legends reminded me to keep on keeping on and never quit. They’ve reminded me to stay proud of who I am, my talent, determination and will to become better while celebrating the next sistah before and after me.

Whatever ambition we carry and whatever goal we set ourselves to achieve is created from the fire in our hearts. Oprah’s legends remind me that the only way we lose that fire is believing that no one will appreciate what we’re striving to do or become. We all have at least one person who is rooting for us, observing us, and look up to as inspiration. That’s all we need to keep going. That one person could be your daughter, your mother, your sister, or that young lady you’d never thought was paying any attention to you.

Oprah’s legends also remind me of how soulful, powerful, strong, beautiful, and talented black women are. No matter what the music and film industry does to undermine the beauty and talent of the black woman, we’ll always admire our singers, actresses, authors, journalists, dancers, and political leaders before us and after us. Their boldness led them to enhance their God-given talent, so they could share them with the world. I’m pretty sure they’ve all came across a few doubters and naysayers during their journey. Obviously, they didn’t let them stop their journey, or they wouldn’t have been invited to the Legend’s Ball, sitting with the likes of Diana Ross, Maya Angelou, Angela Bassett, Leontyne Price, Michelle Obama, and so many countless women we’ve all admired from entertainment, literature, and politics.

Although I wasn’t there, Oprah’s Legends Ball left me wanting to do more, to be more, to become better by enhancing any God-given talent I have.

Just like Oprah celebrated her sistahs, I’ll continue to celebrate my sistahs who are all doing the damn thing!

If you have 40 minutes to spare, please watch the events of Oprah’s Legends Ball.

 

 

 

How cool is this?

Former Tennessee Titan player, Myron Rolle, traded in his shoulder pads and jersey for a stethoscope and lab jacket! The recent Harvard grad took to the ‘gram to announce his latest achievement…becomng a neurosurgeon!

 

 

 

In 2013, Dr. Rolle announced he’d be leaving the NFL to pursue medical school. As an Oxford MSc holder in Medical Anthropology, it’s no surprise  Doc wanted to leave the NFL.

Congratulations, Doctor Rolle!!

With the endless amount of hair inspiration for black women all over the internet and magazines, it was only a matter of time before an app would be a part of the equation. It took three brilliant women to come together with the unique idea to create an app for hair inspiration for black women. Whether you’re relaxed, natural, long, short, or loc’d, the app, ‘Tress’, has all the ideas and tips provided by the app’s members that you could use.

Via The Root:

Three black software engineers and entrepreneurs—Cassandra Sarfo, Esther Olatunde and Priscilla Hazel—have created ‘Tress’, an app they hope will become the one-stop shop for all your black hair needs, inspirations and appointments.

“We do this all the time: We see a hairstyle that we like. We stop people on the street just to ask them where they did their hair, how much it cost them, or ask them for their stylist’s number,” Hazel told The Root. “And my mom, she takes pictures of her TV screen and [messages] me and asks me where she can have it done. It’s a habit that we have that we do all the time.”

So the women put their heads together to come up with a solution for what they saw as an obvious demand, and the app Tress was born. The long-term goal is to make Tress a one-stop shop for all things hair, and for the platform to be a seamless integration between someone seeing a hairstyle and knowing all the products and procedures (and even people!) used to create it.

Currently on the app, women can find hair inspo and filter hairstyles by the type they’re looking for, or even by cost. Women can also upload and share photos of their own hairstyle, adding whatever information is necessary, and contribute to community discussions about best hair-care practices and other tips. You can see what’s trending, and even bookmark hairstyles for later viewing.

The women behind the app hope that within the next six to eight months, users will be able to purchase products through the app directly. A little further into the future, the next priority will be enabling women to book hairstylists. 

Read full article here

 

Dopeness

A popular Youtuber, Landon Moss, is touching souls all over the internet with his Sergio Valencia-directed video titled ‘Cherish Every Moment’.

It took me a moment to catch on at the end until I realized the unexpected.

Just like real life…we come across situations unexpected. That’s why it’s important to cherish every moment with the people you love. Don’t take anything and anyone for granted, because one day, an unexpected situation may take place and change everything….forever!

%d bloggers like this: