I Am Not From Wakanda



I absolutely loved black panther. The thoughtful and beautiful showcase of black people, black beauty, black strength, black ingenuity, unity, and power were real things that few writers and directors prioritized showcasing before. I applaud Marvel, director Ryan Coogler, and all those involved to bring such a project together. This movie made history, but more importantly, it allowed black people, black children to see their image exalted on a major platform. They saw their image reflected back at them in a way that highlighted black people and black culture — african culture — in a positive light.
With that said, I would absolutely love it if Wakanda were a real place, even more so, I would love it if I were ACTUALLY from this amazing country. But here’s the truth —
I am not from Wakanda.
I don’t know what’s been going on, but lately men — black men — have been making comments jokingly suggesting that I am from Wakanda. 

It’s story time.

Story#1: About a week ago, My girlfriend and I decided to go out to this club/lounge in downtown L.A. The lounge was real cool and the crowd there was very diverse. There were latino people, asian people, black people, white people — it was cool. We were all there to get our groove on to some 90’s R&B/Hip-Hop. So there we were — me and my friend — getting our lives on the dance floor, when suddenly I was approached by this white guy who wanted to dance with me — let’s call him Eric. Eric had a really positive vibe about him and he was interested in just having fun and dancing. I welcomed Eric as my dance partner and we had a good time, we danced to, like, five songs which is unusual for me.

Then Eric’s black friend comes up to us and starts dancing with us — let’s call him Michael. After introducing himself, Michael begins to brag about Eric, “Yea my boy here is about to graduate from UCLA Medical School!” I respond, “Wow, that’s awesome, Eric, Congratulations.” Then another R&B jam comes on and Eric and I start dancing again —with Michael standing by. Michael keeps urging me to dance with Eric. However, keep in mind that I’ve been dancing with Eric for the past FIVE SONGS. What Michael really wanted me to do was “back my ass up”. He wanted me to twerk, to break it down on Eric. But I was not about to do that.

Then, gesturing with his arms, Michael says to me, “Come on Wakanda! Come on Wakanda!”
I stopped in disbelief.
Did he … did he just say, “Come on Wakanda!” to me??!! As if that were the motivation I needed to back my ass up on his friend?! Oh, hell naw!
Meanwhile, Eric was so busy getting his life on the dance floor that he didn’t even hear what Michael said. I had two options at this point. 1st option: I could set Michael straight and give him ALL the words he had coming to him. 2nd Option: Ignore Michael and dance with Eric like I had been doing all along. I chose the latter. First of all, it was way too loud in there, and If I were going to read Michael and set him straight, then I needed for him to hear EVERY SINGLE word. Second of all, addressing Michael meant that I would have to disengage with Eric who I was having a good time with, and I didn’t want to kill my own vibe.
But I have time today. So I will address Michael and all the other “Michaels” out there:

1). I would expect that comment to come from an ignorant white person, but not by a black man — someone from my community who shares the same culture, history, and plight as I do in this country. Someone who I would assume would not make a statement like that because they know how dumb that would be.

2). The Black Panther is an awesome project , and the women in the movie are bad asses. So DO NOT associate me with Wakanda unless you are referring to the intelligence, beauty, and strength of black women, which the movie showcased. Do Not associate me with Wakanda in a mocking tone as to suggest that I am some type of caricature from the movie. I am not a caricature. I am not an exaggeration, nor were the women in the film.


3). As a man — especially a black man — don’t you EVER push me up onto your white friend as if I am some type of black exotic that he should sample or partake of. I am not a sample. I am not some black fetish to promote. I am not here to fulfill some type of black stereotype that would have me twerk or gyrate for your buddy. I am not here to perform or dance for you. I am not on some auction block to be examined. I am no Hottentot Venus. You have me all the way twisted!

4). As my black brother, the hope and the expectation is that you would protect me and stand up for me the way black women have always done for black men. Instead, you subject me to being nothing more than a piece of ass, a body that has less value in the eyes of society and, therefore, gets no respect, no protection, and no love.

5). You are an embarrassment.

Now I don’t want to make it sound like there are no black men out there who wouldn’t protect and value me and other black women. However, there are also men like Michael who simply don’t value us and this read is for them.

This was not the first time a black man used a Wakanda reference with me. Prior to the first story I just mentioned, I had another encounter.

Story #2: It was All-Star weekend here in Los Angeles and I decided to attend a day party that had an Afro-beat theme. I was excited because I really enjoy dancing to Afro-beat music and I knew the DJ well enough to know that the music would be good. Given the theme of the party, there was a large African attendance — Nigerians, Ghanaians, Cameroon, Senegalese, etc. I was walking towards the bar and I was stopped by a Nigerian guy named Uche. Uche stops me and with a pretty thick Nigerian accent he says, “Excuse me, excuse me … but are you from … Wakanda? Me and my friends have been wondering.”

His question caught me off guard and I chuckled a little bit. I told him that I was not from Wakanda and then Uche says, “Me and my friends, we are intimidated, I don’t know why.” I kindly tell Uche that I didn’t know why he was intimidated either, and that it appeared to be a personal problem that he had to reconcile. Uche seemed pleasantly surprised by my answer. He then proceeded to ask for my number. I kindly told him no. He persisted. So I told him I would take his number. We chatted for a bit, he told me he was a doctor, I told him what I did and then after a few minutes of idle talk, I excused myself.

Now the interaction I had with Uche was different than my interaction with Michael. The interaction was different because the energy and the implication behind their comments were different. Michael’s comment associated me with a black female stereotype which prompted that I dance and back my ass up on his friend. Uche’s comment associated me with black womanhood which had to do with beauty and strength. They both connected me to Wakanda, but the consciousness by which they did it was different.

I need my black men to remain conscious of how they interact with black women and to understand that their actions and their words actually MEAN SOMETHING to us. We need their support and love. We need them to have our back. We need them to see us for who we really are: Black Queens.

Stay woke my brothas. 


Valentine’s Day Special: “I’m Still Here”


Well, folks, it’s Valentine’s Day. And instead of talking about more pressing issues like police brutality, global warming, the wage gap, or the incessant news coverage of Donald Trump’s stupidity, I have decided — for the sake of my sanity and the desire to unplug from worldly drama — to dedicate this post to Valentine’s Day.

Now, I’ve never paid much attention to Valentine’s Day. Although I appreciate the concept behind it, Valentine’s Day was just another day for me. I mostly looked at it as a commercial holiday and nothing more. Perhaps, it’s because I’ve never celebrated the occasion with anyone I was romantically involved with. This year won’t be any different. I am single, therefore, it will be just me and my single girlfriends choosing to acknowledge the love we have for ourselves and our friendship, rather than anything romantic. 


For some, it might sound sad. The idea of single women on Valentine’s Day sounds much sadder than the idea of single men on Valentine’s Day. Lord knows how much pressure our global society places on women to have and keep a man. Women are sent daily signals about how our worth is dependent on a man choosing us and publicly claiming us, which, of course, is complete bullshit. Despite the bullshit, it’s hard to ignore the impact this conditioning has on women and our self-esteem. So when Valentine’s Day comes around, and we are still without a “bae”, it can lead to women feeling sorry for themselves and worrying about their romantic futures. I understand, I’ve had those same worries, not because of Valentine’s Day, but just as a result of running into guys that I never fully connected with.

However, don’t cry for me Argentina, because I am not sad about being single on Valentine’s Day. Not having a “boo” has been the least of my concerns. This past year has been such a learning experience for me. Stepping out on faith to lay the foundation for my own business has revealed both my strengths and my weaknesses. I’ve made mistakes, I’ve made great strides, I’ve cried, I’ve doubted myself and the gift God has given me, I’ve met some great people, I’ve considered quitting and going back to a stable job, I’ve cried, and I’ve ugly cried, I’ve considered securing a sugar daddy, and I’ve cried some more. But I’m still here. Granted, I’m not where I want to be, but I’m still here, and I am entering a new level of self-acceptance. I love who I am and that is something worth celebrating.

Growing up, I never had an issue loving myself, but this past year sent my self-love into question. Walking my path as a motivational speaker and dealing with adversity along the way made me question the love I had for myself and my talents. But I have chosen to not only embrace my growing pains, but to also embrace all of who I am: the parts of me that are great and the parts of me that are still in development. I have chosen to see myself in my entirety, proclaim my beauty, understand my perfect imperfections, and love myself again. I choose to love myself unapologetically, and during moments of insecurity, and with more passion than any man professes he can.e88cbf0e412471bc844088ac9b9b5efd--black-women-art-black-girls

I choose me.

I now know that when I thought I was breaking, I was actually shedding the pieces of me that I outgrew. I was having a break-through, not a break-down. I will acknowledge Valentine’s Day and every day henceforth as a day of triumph for self-love, instead of self-loathing. I will toast to this journey, how far I’ve come, and how many times I chose to stand back up after crumbling down. I’m still here.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Cheers! 



A Reputation Scorned



Ya’ll, I Love Netflix. From binge watching episodes of my favorite shows while eating talenti ice-cream from the container, to catching up on thought-provoking documentaries in the wee hours of the night…Netflix is “bomb”. With that said, I was tuned in to the conversation surrounding comedian Monique and her very public conflict with Netflix regarding the deal they offered her for a comedy special. They presented Monique with a pretty low, insulting deal, and she refused it. In the court of public opinion, everyone has various thoughts on how Monique should’ve handled the situation. Some were on her side while others were not. She was either respected for what she did or heavily criticized — which tends to be how the court of public opinion works. Whether or not you agree with what Monique did is not the focus of this blog post. The focus is, instead, on the importance of one’s reputation.



Monique is a comedy legend with many accolades attached to her name, however, her public beef with members of Hollywood (i.e. Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Lee Daniels, Lions Gate) has tarnished her image in the public eye and to those who would consider working with her. This slander has impacted her livelihood and has made people think twice about doing business with her. Whether or not her tainted reputation is embedded with truth, I see her fighting against this negative image, but to no real avail — and I feel bad for Monique. Not to mention, simply being black and being a woman can be seen as two strikes against you. Sometimes it can be harder for a woman — especially a black woman — to re-claim her image in the public eye than it would be for a man.



But all of this got me nervous about my own reputation and how others perceive me. I am an author, motivational speaker, a new entrepreneur and, of course, the concept of “branding” has been brought to my attention on a few occasions. In my eyes, your brand is your reputation and I started thinking about how I wanted people to view me. Granted, no matter what one does, everyone will not always have the best opinion of you. This is fine because you can’t please everyone at the risk of losing who you are. However, I started thinking about how a lie, a misunderstanding, or someone simply disliking you can have an impact on your reputation — if you allow it.
I feel like the best way to counter a negative opinion is to operate past it. You can’t always stop unfavorable chatter, but you can continue to showcase yourself in a way that best represents who you are. Eventually, the consistent image that you portray of yourself, coupled with consistent action, will strongly oppose all the non-sense that is said about you until it completely over-shadows the gossip. Your good reputation has to be stronger than the negativity, and only you are in control of that. I have to keep in mind that as I continue down this journey of entrepreneurship and motivation, the best thing I can do to thwart any potential slander is to remain true to who I am and be myself. I believe my inner light is equipped with enough brilliance to chase away any darkness.


All Counsel is not Good Counsel: My review of “The Last Black Unicorn” by Tiffany Haddish



Like many people, I have come to love and adore Tiffany Haddish. Her authenticity, her simple joy in being herself is what makes her captivating, and it’s why we cheer for her and want her to win. She is real. She is one of us…a reflection of “everyday people”.
As a new fan, I was excited when her book came out and I readily went to Barnes and Noble to purchase my copy. I enjoyed learning about Tiffany’s story and how she ultimately triumphs and overcomes her hardships.
However, there was one part of the book that I found somewhat surprising and troubling. In this segment of her book, Tiffany shares a dialogue that she has with Jada Pinkett-Smith. Jada offers Tiffany advice on how to acclimate to her new fame — it was Jada’s advice that I found surprising and troubling.

Some of the dialogue goes as follows:


” When I was in LA, I posted a picture of myself on Instagram in a dress I thought was nice. Jada hit me up on text:

Jada: Get a better dress.

She sent me all these links to these designer dresses, but they’re like $500.

Tiffany: Jada I feel fly in my $85 dress.

Jada: Who made it Tiffany?

Tiffany: Who cares it looks good

…. She gave me three more Givenchys and a wallet…she left the price tags on everything.

Tiffany: Why are you leaving the prices on if you got it free?

Jada: So you know the value of what you’re carrying around. You got to carry yourself like you’re valuable, and you need to have valuable things. When this movie comes out, you’re going to be an A-list person. This is what I was talking about in that text I sent you.

Tiffany: What do you mean? I like my $85 dress.

Jada: Tiffany, you want to wear designer clothes, because people are going to be seeing you, you’re gonna be in the eye of the public and they’re gonna be like, What are you wearing? If you say Chico or Ann Taylor, that’s not going to work. You need to be wearing designers. It sets you apart from everyone else and puts you in a certain class level. If you want to be considered top-notch, you need to wear top-notch things.

Tiffany: But Jada, this stuff costs money. I appreciate your gifts, I really do, but I can’t buy this myself. I have to be smart with my money, and save it. I gotta stack my chips, not spend’em.

Jada: You absolutely should be smart with your money! If it makes you feel safe to stack your chips, and stack’em. Most people in Hollywood don’t do that, that’s smart…I’ll introduce you to some people, but really, all it boils down to using your fame to get the stuff…most places will give it to you for free, or very cheap.

…I definitely have a very rough mentality, a broke person’s mentality…I can’t be living that poor life anymore, I can’t be thinking that way…I want my money to make me money, but what Jada is teaching me is that how you look in Hollywood can often make you money. Opportunities in Hollywood will open up if you are sending the right signals about yourself. Fashion is part of how to send the right messages…By wearing cheap, low-class, knock-off stuff, I’m telling people that they can treat me low-class. That maybe I don’t belong on that higher level. I have to value myself properly.” 


I was disappointed after reading all of this. I believe Jada genuinely wanted to help and offer her advice, but I whole-heartedly disagree. Now, I don’t believe there is anything wrong with buying expensive clothing in addition to other items that you want and can afford. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with valuing yourself and knowing your worth. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with change and growing into your best self. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with wanting to look nice. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with shedding a “broke” mentality.
However, what you wear does NOT dictate your value. You don’t need a designer label to let the world know you are valuable. This is the mindset that is hurting our society: placing more value on what you can acquire rather than the person you are evolving into. This is why you have kids and people out here stealing and killing each other over meaningless expensive items because they feel like it adds value to them. It’s why you see people on Instagram holding stacks of money to their ear and showcasing expensive watches and cars, etc. thinking that these “top-notch” things somehow validates them. It’s completely backwards.


Listen, Tiffany wearing an $85 dress never made you less valuable than someone wearing a $2,000 dress. It doesn’t mean that you are not “top notch”. Wearing a “cheap”/affordable dress does not translate as “low class”, unless you carry the mentality that you are somehow inferior. And what message is this sending to people who wear and can only afford “cheap” clothing? It teaches them to correlate their self-worth to their attire, and — although I’m sure that’s not the idea you meant to convey in your book — that is a damaging message for your readers to interpret.

No one even knows how much your clothes are or what designer labels you’re wearing unless you say it, otherwise they would have no idea and they probably wouldn’t even think about it. You command respect not by what you wear, but by how you carry yourself — that is what “high class” means. Similar to “low class”, “high class” is a mentality, it’s not a Givenchy bag, or a dress, it’s you. By respecting yourself, you command that same respect from others, regardless of the clothing brands you sport. YOU control how people will treat you based on your actions and your behavior. And after reading your book, Tiffany, I highly doubt that you would allow anyone to disrespect you or look down on you. You are already “high-class” because you respect yourself and you respect others.

As a comedian, the audience could care less about the designer label you’re wearing. All they care about is whether or not you can make them laugh — they care more about what you have to offer — your skill. Your Givenchy bag won’t save you from bombing on stage. Tiffany, you made it this far without all of that stuff.
F*%k Hollywood and their perceptions. If this past year has taught us nothing, it’s taught us that the Hollywood industry needs a spirit cleanse because it has way too many demons that its needs to be set free from. Don’t place so much weight on the opinions of an industry that has no moral or ethical foundation.

As an L.A. native, the people who I’ve run into that were really wealthy never flossed their diamonds or their cars or their clothing. At first glance, you wouldn’t even assume that they had lots of money. It’s the ones who are bragging about their money and what they wear that are the ones who are trying to impress and fit in — and they usually don’t have the money to keep up their appearances and their life-style. They are fake. They are plastic — man-made, homogenous, and lacking depth.


Tiffany, you don’t fit in with Hollywood and that’s why we love you. You are better than Hollywood. You remind people — especially celebrities — of who they were before they became jaded and the fame stripped them of their authenticity, and they lost who they were while trying to be someone else — someone they deemed as being better than who they already were. Don’t get lost or fooled by the smoke and mirrors of Hollywood. There is nothing wrong with looking good — we all enjoy looking nice and dressing up. However, you can look just as good in an $85 dress, as you would in a $2,000 dress. I would hate for you to lose yourself and become disconnected all in an attempt to fit in with people who don’t truly care about you. Remember that even those with the best intentions may not provide the best counsel, and you still have to pick and choose what advice will serve you best — this blog included. I hope that you continue to grow and evolve into the best version of yourself, but don’t forget who you are.

You’re a star Tiffany, you don’t need a label to remind people of that.
I wish you all the best.



Keep Me Off Your Pedestal



This blog is in response to a comment that an acquaintance made. I told him that I have made mistakes in my life just like everyone else has. He said, “I don’t see you making any mistakes.”

I am a Motivational Speaker. I have been blessed with the opportunity to pour love and encouragement, along with some personal advice, into the people to whom I speak. However, sometimes people forget that I need that same love and encouragement poured back into me as well. I think the assumption is that as a motivational speaker, I don’t need others to encourage me because I can motivate myself. I think the assumption is that we, as motivators, have everything figured out. Well, I will speak for myself when I say that I do not have everything figured out. If I did, I would be walking on water like Jesus did, but I can barely swim.



The truth is that I am not perfect. Do not make room for me on any pedestal that you have carved out to place me on. As a matter of fact, don’t put anyone on a pedestal; this would be a horrible mistake. I am simply a human being who has decided to accept “the call” to share some life lessons based off of personal experiences. I am not perfect. I am a vessel — an imperfect vessel — allowing my voice and my imperfections to serve as road maps for others. Hopefully, by displaying my journey, I will help someone else along theirs. I am a human being, which means that I am susceptible to all the emotions that human beings experience: joy, doubt, fear, peace, worry, sadness, glee, confusion, anger, etc. And on those days when I am emitting low vibrations, even though I am aware of what tools to use to counter them, I still need love to be poured into me. I need words of affirmation that will dissipate those moments of doubt. Fortunately, I am blessed to have loving, supportive people in my life who are there to lighten my load on days when I feel too weighed down.

As a speaker/teacher, the best moments are when members from the audience come up to me afterwards and share how they related to what I said and how they appreciated the message. It’s the moment when a student comes up to me being extremely vulnerable and boldly exposes all of their insecurities in front of me. They trust that I will be gentle with their wounds, that I will not judge them for how they came to be so emotionally bruised, and that I will be the sounding board of approval and confirmation that they desperately want. Those moments, as overwhelming as they can be sometimes, lets me know that what I said resonated and is relevant to what they are experiencing. It reminds me that I am here to use my gift to continue serving others — that me being honest about my growing pains aides others in understanding that they are not alone and that they can/will move past the stages and into something much better and much brighter.
It’s during these short exchanges that we affirm each other, we pour into each other and lift our vibrations higher.


So, no, I have not mastered life just yet, I am still learning. But as I learn, I share. I am operating as a vessel that is allowing God to use my voice and my imperfections to deliver a powerful message of self-love.





Colorism?…But at the Club, Though?



darker_lighter_skin  There’s nothing like going out with your girls: twerking, two stepping, hip swinging, waist winding, all while singing loud and off key to all your favorite songs makes for a truly magical evening.  So, on this particular night,  I was excited to hit the city of L.A. with my favorite dance partners. We decide to explore the busy streets of Santa Monica, and so far, our night was off to a great start–we didn’t have to pay to park and there was no cover charge, which is not always easy to find in Los Angeles.  We stepped into one of the many bars/clubs on the block that was recommended to us and were surprised to hear some hip-hop music playing. The bars in Santa Monica are mostly inhabited by young white people, so typically there’s a lot of house and pop music. So upon entering this particular bar, we knew that this place was probably our best bet and decided to stay.
There we were, dancing our lives away on a crowded dance floor, enjoying every minute of it. We had made friends with another group of black folks from out of town, and one of my girlfriends ended up dancing with one of the guys we met. My friend and this guy — we’ll just call him Dante — had taken a break from dancing and were talking, while I was standing by the wall next to them. Dante motions me over, so I walk to him.  He leans in to my ear and says, “Hey, go talk to my friend over there; he’s kinda awkward. He told me he was feeling you, so you should go talk to him.”  I felt like Dante was just trying to get rid of me so that he could be completely alone with my friend. I was getting ready to tell Dante that I was just chilling and probably wouldn’t go over to talk at that moment, but before I could say anything, Dante continued, “Yea, my sister told me that I should dance with you, but, no dis to you, but I like light-skin girls”. My stomach dropped. My friend and I gave Dante a serious side eye like, WFT??!!



Now, comments like this are not new to me. I’ve heard some black men say how they “prefer light-skin” girls and, normally, I just shrug off their ignorance and keep it pushing. But for some reason his comment was the final straw and I broke. I walked away from them and sat at the far end of the bar trying my hardest to hold back tears. I was really hurt.  The build up of these types of comments had finally taken its toll, yet I was embarrassed that his words had affected me to the extent that they did.

I was hurt by the fact that it is 2017, and the Black community is still dealing with colorism. The fact that we, as Black people, have yet to appreciate and truly see the beauty of all the hues we come in is extremely frustrating, and the fact that some Black people are completely clueless to the effects of slavery and social conditioning on their romantic “preferences” is enraging. I was hurt because for the first time I really felt unattractive and unwanted. I was unwanted by a black man whose skin was just as brown as mine. It is beyond bewildering. I felt like I had been transported to another world where everyone was asleep except for me. There I was operating amongst zombies who had no idea they weren’t “woke”.

My question is, why did he feel the need to say anything at all?! He didn’t have to continue his spiel. If that is the mindset you carry, then there is no need to say it aloud and reveal your foolishness to the public. He literally told me that the reason he didn’t dance with me was because my skin was too dark. Why the f*%k would you actually let those words come out of your mouth?! Did I mention that his beloved sister was just as dark as me?  I’m sure that he thinks his sister is beautiful, but you mean to tell me that he wouldn’t date someone who had the same skin tone as his sister?!!  I just don’t get it! How could he not see that there was something seriously wrong with his comment


I was done. Exhausted. Defeated. And at that moment the only thing I wanted to do was go home, lay down, and cry.
Luckily Dante’s friend, Eric, came and sat next to me and started talking to me. Even though a part of me wanted to be left alone, I greatly appreciated him being there, if only to preoccupy my mind with idle chit-chat and to prevent the tears from dropping onto my cocktail napkin. Eric was not like Dante and expressed a great appreciation for all things black. Thank you, Eric. You saved me at that moment with your conversation and you had no idea.
We stayed until the bar closed and then made our trek back home. I didn’t speak a word of what I was feeling to my friends. I wanted to keep the evening fun and light and I thought that I could move past the experience. However, the next morning when I woke up, I still felt the emotional weight of the previous night and I surrendered to that feeling and cried. I told my girlfriends how I felt and they expressed their empathy and said that Dante was an asshole. They allowed me to break and they used their loving words to piece me back together. Thank you to my girlfriends, my squad, my sistas … you know who you are. 636006945613581481-1906458683_image
I spoke to my mother as well, she is always there to remind me of who and whose I am. She was sad that I had to experience the same ignorance she had to endure during her younger years, but she reminded me that there are men out there who see and appreciate my blackness. She said, “Now Beth, if you are woke and can see the beauty in our people, then you have to know that you are not the only one. You have to know that there are other black people — black men — who feel like you do, who see the beauty, your beauty. You have to know this!”
My mother was right, deep down I did know. I know that there are black people out there, black men in particular, who are awake — who see the beauty within the spectrum. I know that there are men out there who would not dismiss me because I have dark skin, but who would be ready and more than willing to embrace me. Thank you, mom, for building me up and for reminding me that there is nothing wrong with me — for reminding me that I am beautiful. Thank you for straightening my spine and helping me to stand tall and proud in my black skin. Thank you for reminding me, that as I stand, I’m helping others to stand too.



Smile? … But Why??


A woman modeling a 'bag' dress.  (Photo

Cat-calls can be annoying, but, currently, there’s one particular word that I’ve heard men say that really gets under my skin. I stopped by Leimert Park one weekend where there was an event with drummers, music, and food and merchandise vendors — it looked interesting, so I walked through. As I was walking, a man with a beard, long locks and dark shades, blasting music from his speakers, leans over and shouts to me, “Why don’t you smile? Smile.” And like a puppet, I complied and smiled. Immediately afterwards I was like, “Wait. Why did I do that?” Another question to ask is: Why did this guy tell me to smile??
Now, there are those that might say, “Well he meant no offense by it, he just wanted to see you smile. No big deal. Chill out.”

Here’s my response to that: 1. I am very chill … chill to the point of freezing. I am cool as ice. I know that this man meant no offense. However, just because he meant no offense doesn’t negate the fact that his statement was odd and unnecessary. I am not enraged by his comment… simply annoyed. 2. Why does this guy need me to smile??? There I was, happily living my life, minding my own business; yet he felt like he needed to make a suggestion — rather yet, an improvement — on how I should carry myself.


Now, normally, I would have brushed it off, but he is not the first man to say this to me, and my girlfirends have experienced the same thing. He didn’t nearly leap from behind his speakers to tell the man walking behind me to smile like he had done to me, nor was he an enthusiast passing out fliers suggesting that the whole world smile. He picked me out and decided that I was the one who needed reminding. What’s also interesting is that I have yet to have a woman shout at me telling me to smile, nor have I ever felt the urge to tell anyone else to smile.
So why do men say this to women?


I’ve thought about it and I have drawn two possible conclusions:
1. Perhaps it’s their way of simply trying to get a woman’s attention, and perhaps even start a conversation with a woman they find attractive.
2. Perhaps a woman who is not smiling really throws off their sexist idea of how a woman should carry herself, and that, in their less-expanded minds, a woman should always be wearing a smile. I feel like this idea stems from the 1950’s housewife image that was heavily promoted during that time and continues to be promoted today. Without ever prioritizing her own wants and needs and the vital self-care that is integral to a happy, healthy life, this woman raises the kids, manages and cleans the house, tends to the husband, and cooks… She does this all with impeccably-styled hair that never seems to have a strand out of place, an hour-glass figure that seems to require no real effort to maintain, wearing a perfectly ironed dress that accentuates her small waist with heels and, of course … a nice, bright smile.



This is bullshit. Guess what, as a human being, I am allowed to experience whatever mood I like and sometimes I’m not in the mood to smile. Often, I’m not overcome by any mood at all and I’m simply going about my day, not even thinking about whether I am smiling or not. I’m just being. If me simply being makes a man feel uncomfortable because I am not accessorized with a beaming smile that would place him at ease, then that is a personal problem and has nothing to do with me. I do not have to smile for anyone. I don’t have to be anyone other than who I am, and I don’t care how that makes you feel.

Therefore, to all the men out there who have made the repetitive mistake of broadcasting this command to women: STOP! We are the ones in control of our emotional/facial expression — not you. So, unless you are on some kind of spiritual campaign to get the world to smile and live in a state of gratitiude, unless you are telling the men to smile as well, then you should take it upon yourself to kindly smile at me and say absolutely nothing, your silence will be GREATLY appreciated. I know it’s hard, but I believe it’s time you experience being seen and not heard …ssshhhh… just smile baby.



Kendall & Kylie: Stolen Genius

Ok, so I knowozzy-kendall-kylie-music-tees-4 I said that I would never post anything else about the Kardashians due to the fact that I have yet to understand their relevance.

However, this whole T-Shirt fiasco really pissed me off and I had to say something…
…and I must say, these girls have balls of steel. They are blatant, unapologetic thieves who will take your god-inspired creations, cross your name off of it, and showcase it to the world as their own …and, of course, charge a hefty price for them.
Now these girls — all of them — have stolen from African American culture, more specifically, African American Women. From the cornrows, to the thick lips, round butts, and fashion style, they mimic everything we produce and make money off of it. They want to be black so bad and, unfortunately, they have no personal culture to pull from and, therefore, take what they can get from ours.
Who can blame them? Who doesn’t want to be black when it comes to our swag, our cool, our very nature? Black people create dope sh*t. I’m not just talking about music, fashion, and beauty of which our influence is undeniable, but we’re also scientists, business moguls, and intellectual giants that never seem to get the credit we have always deserved for being pioneers in various lanes. The reason our contributions are rarely acknowledged is because our ideas get stolen. Unless our creations or ideas are showcased on a white body or are supported by white people, we are rarely seen as the inventors or catalysts of great things.

For example, a couple of yrs ago in Marie Claire magazine they had a picture of Kendall sporting 6 small cornrows on the side of her head and Marie Claire reports: “Kendall Jenner takes bold braids to an epic new level”.

kendall cornrows  Seriously??!! First of all, those braids were neither bold nor epic, Second of all, how LONG have black women worn their hair in cornrows??!! Since Forever! Kendall didn’t start some new hair trend, she took this trend from the black community. Wearing her hair in cornrows was not an issue, it was the fact that she was being advertised as some hair innovator, which simply wasn’t true. What Marie Claire really needed to do was fly in to Atlanta and attend the Bronner Bothers hair show and see what “epic” and “bold” really mean.

But again, it’s just one of many examples of how what we do gets taken, called a new name, and made into something “epic”. But these aren’t the only examples, just research how these girls have stolen from young, black, female fashion designers and then sold the clothes on their sight for money. They are pirates.

These T-shirts follow this same pattern. To have the audacity to plaster your face and name across the image of Biggie and Tupac is absolutely disrespectful. They literally used their faces to cover the images of these musical icons. Exploitation? Yes. But more than that, it felt like they were actually trying to erase these icons and their cultural contributions by obscuring their images. It was like they were literally pushing them aside, or, better yet, like they were trying to suggest that they were just as relevant or that they have contributed to culture to the same degree that Tupac and Biggie did. They were using the legacy of these artists to sell f#*king t-shirts and to make themselves appear just as important.


Kendall_and_Kylie_tee_shirts_Tupac_Metallica_Biggiekylie over tupac


In the words of Remy Ma: “Are you dumb?!”
Have you lost your mind?!  Did Kanye approve of this sh*t??!

I’m sure that neither Kendall nor Kylie even know the music or lyrics behind these artists that they claim to love so much, which makes their actions even more unbelievable. And the fact that kendall and kylie steal from a culture that they know nothing about and don’t publicly defend only adds fuel to the fire. Where were y’all during the marches and protests of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Philando Castile, and the countless others? Where were your words of support for black lives? Where were your words of condemnation against police brutality and murder? Or did you simply remain silent as you continued to strategically ransack our brilliance?

You take with no intention of giving back.
You take with no empathy for the lives who serve as the genius for your cash flow.
You take with no understanding of history.
You take with the desire to make yourselves look creative.
You take because you have nothing to give.

The apologies don’t mean anything because they apologize without having any clue as to the deep significance of their transgressions. Being “huge fans” of someone’s music doesn’t mean you use your image to fade out theirs, that’s not how you show appreciation for someone else. I don’t buy it AT ALL. Their ignorance only goes so far with me; they are old enough to do better. So to kendall, kylie and other transgressors who pattern them: Keep your disingenuous apologies and stop stealing our sh*t.

kendall bamboo earings

For My Fellow Creatives …



I was on my way to one of my favorite places – The Coffee Bean – to meet with a new co-worker who was rapidly becoming a good friend of mine. My friend’s name is Jimmy — he is a young man with an old soul. I swear after talking to Jimmy, you would think that he has lived a few lives already lol. In addition to working for the same organization as me, Jimmy is a creative and has just developed his own Vlog on Youtube called P.O.C. Today (People of Color Today) which is dedicated to shining light on the various stories and perspectives of people of color in America. He is someone who is using his time to focus on those people who would normally go unrecognized and unheard.


Jimmy and I start talking and the conversation flows from one thing to the next and soon we start talking about relationships. He tells me that it’s important that he gets into a relationship with someone who understands he doesn’t have a regular 9am – 5pm job, but that he is a creative and that the work he is doing is important to him. Jimmy explains that there are some people out there who question and negatively judge what he does. I can attest to these types of responses considering what I do for a living : writer, speaker, teacher. When you choose an occupation that is “unconventional” it can be difficult for some people to understand. The first question that comes to their mind is, “Well how are you going to make a living doing that?!” It can be especially difficult for creatives to walk through the trenches of other people’s doubt.


But I reminded Jimmy – and myself — that we are visionaries. As visionaries we can’t allow the thoughts and opinions of others who are not visionaries to weigh us down. Also, we should not become upset or get offended by those comments because they are not the visionaries and it is not their fault that they can’t see what is so clear to us. Those type of people have to see to believe, but creatives see the vision first and then manifest it. Our only role as creatives is to manifest our vision and provide the nay-sayers with what they initially had trouble seeing and believing. As artists we have a very important role in society because, not only do we reflect what’s going on in our communities, but we bring life, culture, enlightenment and beauty to the world. We shape the world. With our music, poetry, dance, paintings, vlogs, cuisine, books, fashion, designs, podcasts, movies, etc. we revive and rejuvenate those who come into contact with our art, and the creative energy and foresight that we have been blessed with has a ripple effect and can serve as a catalyst for positive change.

video guy

So to all my creatives, hold on tight to your vision and do what you can to bring it to life. To deny the expression of the creative energy within you would be to deny a major part of who you are. I’ve met creatives who stopped creating in order to do something more “professionally appropriate” and they were so unhappy and unfulfilled. It would also deny the specific gift that God has given you, and the gift that was given was not for you to conceal but to reveal for the elevation of humanity. Your gift is to be used to serve others. Now get up and go out and let your light shine, bring someone out of the dark.



Honestly, you don’t have to go to college


college   I was getting my things together, about to head out the door, when I get a phone call from a friend. Being that I’m an author, he wanted to share a book idea he had been chewing on for a while, and, of course, I was very eager to hear what he had to say and to share my thoughts. Our conversation soon trailed off into new directions and the subject of school came up. We both graduated from universities and we both expressed our frustrations about school. Going to college is heavily promoted in our society, however, for many millennials, acquiring a college degree doesn’t lead to a life of financial prosperity , security, and peace of mind like we had been told.

We heard it from our parents, “Go to college!” We heard it from members in our community, “Go to college!” We heard it from our teachers, “Go to College!” Our parents wanted a better and brighter future for us, which is why they pushed so hard for us to attend a university — we understood and adopted their enthusiasm.  College was idealized to be this oasis of academic wonder that would quench us awake, where we would be exposed to so many new ideas and evolve into these well-rounded, highly-educated citizens who would take the world by storm. We were told that our success was guaranteed with a degree. Well, it didn’t quite happen like that.



Millennials graduated with the idea that now they would be catapulted into success, and were extremely disappointed when that didn’t happen. We couldn’t find jobs, most of us had no idea what we wanted to do, we were drowning in debt, and we lived at home — in our eyes, we had failed. Gravely ashamed of our perceived lack of progress, we didn’t share our feelings with our peers, completely unaware that they, too, were enduring the same challenges.

Let me just say that I am all for quality education, I am simply opposed to paying hundreds of thousands of dollars, and getting into debt for a piece of paper that didn’t greatly propel me forward as I was promised it would. We all made a great investment, only to leave just as broke, clueless, and with no job prospects in our field of interest as the day when we first walked on to campus. I am opposed to not receiving in return what I put in. I told my friend that I don’t know if I would promote going to college to my kids to the same degree that it was promoted to me. It would all depend on what my child was aspiring to be. If they want to be a doctor, lawyer, teacher, social worker, therapist, etc. then I would definitely understand why they would want and would need to go to college. Those types of careers, along with others, demand that you acquire a wealth of academic knowledge — I get it. But what if you don’t want to be any of those things?? What happens to the rest of us?


After navigating through that super rough transition into the “real world”, some of my peers are still trying to figure out their next career move, while others are doing things that they enjoy, however, it really didn’t require them to go to a 4 year university to do. It appears that happiness and financial prosperity is not solely restricted for those who are heavily degreed, but it also comes to those who are simply the most creative, inventive, consistent, and bold enough and gritty enough to move forward with an idea that they’ve conjured.

My suggestion would be to go to a community college for a year after high school. Take some prerequisites, decide if what you intended to study is what you actually want to study. When I think about it, it seems unfair and a bit illogical to have 18yr olds come to a conclusion about their future so soon by picking a major they are not 100% sure about — they’re still babies for crying out loud. Some of them haven’t even gotten the opportunity to vote in their first election, not to mention, they aren’t even old enough to get into any clubs, or even rent a car, or are emotionally/mentally ready to deal with the twists and turns of life just yet. So why would we trust them to fully know what they will do for a good portion of their adult lives when they are still growing?
So to all those young people out there, here’s some advice I wish someone else had shared with me: College is not the only way to a better life. If you decide to attend one, then that’s great, if not, don’t fret. Just know that your success is not solely dependent upon whether or not you have a degree. If you still need clarity as to which way to turn, then take the time you need to gain that clarity and then decide if a university is the right path for you. Honestly save your time. Save your money. Save yourself the stress, frustration, and unnecessary pressure. Stand still, wait till the fog clears, and then move.