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Your Contribution: Adriela offers her Voice to the World

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Passion is a driving force for young dreamers, and with it they can overcome any obstacle or doubt. Adriela Inniss, the 24-year-old singer-songwriter has fought to overcome her own personal difficulties and doubt through the power of music. Her politically conscious record Inaugurated, touches on the disorienting times that we are currently facing with Trump in power. In the record Adriela channels her frustration with the election, singing “I am standing here with my hands in the air, you see yet you turn your back for my life you don’t care.” Through her empowering lyrics she proves that music can serve as an escapism from strangling affairs. Read below to find out why this 24-year-old has zero fucks left to give.

We thank you Adriela for standing in your truth and contributing your gift to the world, we hope you continue to create inspiring music.

I don’t make music to satisfy other people or with intent to touch on social issues, but because I feel strongly about these issues I will sing about it.

When did you realise music was your passion?

I’ve always had a strong love for music. I’m pretty sure I came out the womb singing. My house was always filled with music growing up, from caribbean music to pop, hip hop and jazz etc. Any genre of music you could imagine has been played in my house aside from heavy metal.

My first big recital was during first grade when I attended the Montessori school in Brooklyn New York. We had performed a selection of songs from The Sound of Music. The moment I hit the stage I knew that was where I belonged. At that moment I realized music was my passion. Although I realized music was my passion at a young age, I didn’t start taking the necessary steps to accomplish my goal until I was in college. Throughout my life I had always been diffident when it came to my voice. I was never afraid to tell anyone how much I loved singing and that I would be a star one day, but as soon as they put me on the spot I would shy away giving every excuse in the book as to why I couldn’t sing right now. A lot has has changed since then.       

Do you have a particular routine that you undergo in your writing process?

I do have a routine when it comes to my writing process.  It all starts with finding the right beat. I don’t play any instruments yet so I rely on the beats that I find on youtube. The process of finding the right instrumental can take anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple days. Once I’ve found a beat that makes me go “oooo”, I know I’ve found something good and I just start free styling.

I make sure to record myself every time I freestyle to the  beat and then I listen to the recordings, take notes on parts that I really like and use that as the framework for my song. Most of the time the chorus is what comes to me first. I use to think that I should only work on music when I feel inspired and something comes to me but now I designate a certain amount of hours per day that I am required to work on music.

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image from https://www.instagram.com/adriela__/

 How do you find the strength to be vulnerable and open in your lyrics?

I don’t have to find the strength because my music comes from the vulnerable side of me. If  that makes any sense. I get this weird feeling in my gut when I hear a beat that really moves me and when I start to freestyle its very raw uncut emotion. My lyrics come straight from the heart. However, I do get a little hesitant when it comes to the more personal songs that I’ve been working on lately, but I know there is someone out there who needs to hear it.

I get this weird feeling in my gut when I hear a beat that really moves me and when I start to freestyle its very raw uncut emotion.

Who are some of your musical inspirations?

Some of my musical inspirations include Janelle Monae, Beyonce, Whitney Houston, Lauryn Hill, Michael Jackson, Billie Holiday, Badu, and Jhene Aiko. All  of these artist have played a role in my growth as an artist. Janelle Monae was there during my big swift in focus in college. I had listened to her music before, but I became a big fan after Electric lady. I would listen to her album  every day throughout the day and I would fantasise about me being on  stage singing them.

Listening to her music, in addition to other factors, motivated me to really start focusing  on my career as a musician. I had always thought that one day I would go  to an open mic, perform one song and get discovered, but that’s not how it works. You have to really put the time in to see results. These artists, their stories and their music have all helped me to realize how possible it is to make your dreams come true.

 

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In your song ‘Inaugurated’ you touch on current political affairs. Do you think  that it is artist’s responsibility to reflect controversial/social issues in their music?

This question brings about a paradox because I do think it is the artist’s responsibility to reflect controversial/social issues in their music because when you have a platform you should  try to use it for the greater good. At the same time, I don’t think it should be forced, it needs to be genuine. I don’t make music to satisfy other people or with intent to touch on social issues, but because I feel strongly about these issues I will sing about it.

Inaugurated was written on the night of Obama’s farewell address because I was in a very emotional and fragile state. Like many, I took Obama’s presidency for granted and when it was time for the Obama’s to leave it really hurt, especially with Trump taking his place. Writing Inaugurated was my way of  coping with the travesty that the US has been burdened with.

What advice would you give to young aspiring artist?

Just follow your dreams and be true to you. Make music for you and just be glad if one person listens and genuinely likes it.  I’ve spent so much of my life being insecure and worried to much about everyone’s opinion rather than my own.  Three days away from 24 and I have zero fucks left to give. Be happy, be you!

Being a superwoman, doesn’t mean you cannot cry sometimes.

From one brown woman, to thousands of brown girls

It’s been a while since the Strong Black Woman narrative has been exposed for its problematic nature. It robs women of the right of being vulnerable and denies the strength in vulnerability. Yet what happens when we have internalised this narrative, and it is no longer the world telling us to be strong all the time but ourselves?

Kamaria Fleary is a graduate with a Masters Degree and a Bachelors degree in Psychology. She is a millennial woman with a mission to get young women to talk about their mental health and wellbeing. Her company works to overcome regressive narratives such as the SBW by providing a series of fun and forward-thinking programs and workshops. Kamaria is passionate in helping women of colour achieve personal growth, self love and success. With her work she proves that strength comes in all different guises, and allowing ourselves to shed tears as brown women, can be as refreshing as a baptism.

Black feminism for me is saying that I do not have to choose between identifying with my race and identifying with my gender.

-Tell us a little bit about yourself and your company.

I decided to create this space as it was a way to share my love for psychology and personally help people in a fun, free and de-stigmatising way. It was born from a series of conversations that I was having with various friends whom I then realised were all talking about similar struggles stemming from the black experience. Having also worked in the NHS on an in-patient psychiatric ward, it suddenly dawned on me that such smaller problems – if gone untalked about and I acknowledged – could possibly result in much more problematic mental health and wellbeing.

-What made you decide to take up a career in psychology?

It all began with me studying psychology at A-Level. I was captivated by how broad the field is and how it draws on such a range of areas from neuroscience to child development to cognition to evolution. I was pretty much interested in the vast amount of perspectives to explain how we develop and behave as human beings and how these different approaches can be used to help people in a variety of areas in their life – from relationships, to childhood trauma to mental health, to learning disability.

I remember initially wanting to be a journalist, because I loved to write, but psychology provided me with all the interesting perspectives to write and talk about. That was kind of how my blog was born – writing about my own personal growth through psychological perspectives. Then I found out that you can also earn the title of “Dr” through becoming a charted psychologist and I knew that would be convincing enough to keep my education-passionate dad happy.

-Can you give us a brief explanation on black feminism and what it means to you?

For me, black feminism is the acknowledgement of intersectionality. Intersectionality is a term coined by the wonderful Kimberle Crenshaw (whom I had an opportunity to meet at BBC 100 women’s ‘does feminism include you’ event). It is the idea that our identities are multifaceted and nobody fits into any one box. I think for a long time the perception was that you are Black first before you are a woman. These ideas emerged due to racism taking such precedence in the history of the United States, the UK and many countries around the world.

Black feminism for me is saying that I do not have to choose between identifying with my race and identifying with my gender; and acknowledging that sometimes both of those elements often interact to create a unique experience of its own. It is acknowledging that there is inequality in the feminism movement which is supposed to be about fighting for equality.

kamaria 2.jpgimage from: kamariafleary

In my programs I share these psychology research findings in a simple and fun way to help other people see that there is science to support the ideas around “black girl magic.”

-How did you find out about black feminism?

I feel like I was always aware of black feminism, but it was only in the recent few years where I felt like I discovered a name for this thing I was experiencing. I would say that I got re-introduced to it through my women of colour coffee club when I was undertaking my Masters at UCL. I was the only black person in my whole faculty and I was looking for that space to meet other Black students.

Through this club put on by the Students Union, we all talked about our experiences and I was at first puzzled by a lot of the terminology thrown about such as “intersectionality” and then I did my research for myself and discovered Kimberle Crenshaw’s work. It was also the year where Beyoncé dropped the Lemonade Album which basically gave even more meaning and understanding to everything I had been reading.

-You are very much about empowering women and ‘helping them blossom into their best selves’, you say on your website ‘it’s time to start loving you…’ how did you get there yourself?

I am still getting there to be honest! It’s an on-going project. Life will throw things at you just when you think you got it all figured out. I was always brought up to have a strong sense of pride and to value natural beauty and have a high level of self-belief. But there were times when I doubted that, there were times when I questioned myself and let the inner critic get the best of me. I learned to get here by learning to stand up for myself, by believing in who I am and knowing that I am enough in everything I do.

I got tired of the code-switching – pretending to be one person at work and one person with my loved ones. I just decided that I was going to be Kamaria 100% of the time and whoever didn’t like it – oh well that would be their problem. Reading a lot of psychology literature helped me a lot too. Especially literature surrounding ethnic identity. I wrote my dissertation on the benefits and protective elements of ethnic identification and finding that it was positively associated with academic achievement, high self-esteem and being protective against race-related stress, I knew that this was something I had to stop being so afraid of showing off in the working world.

In my programs I share these psychology research findings in a simple and fun way to help other people see that there is science to support the ideas around “black girl magic.”

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We spend far too much time worrying about working for other people and meeting all these demands and we need to put as much of that effort into ourselves.

-Mental health is still a taboo in the black community, despite many efforts to change it, how do you tackle this?

I tackle this by simply talking to people about it in such a causal or even in a fun way. In my blog I’m very open about my own self-doubt, my own worries and fears and I talk openly about how these ways of thinking had affected the way I feel about myself. I recognise that my experiences may not have had such detrimental effects on my wellbeing as per say someone suffering with schizophrenia, but it’s letting people know that we all struggle in some way that helps to break down the barriers.

Many people are surprised that I talk so honestly and openly about personal experiences and I think that is the first step in removing stigma. In the Black community the idea of being “strong” has been well intended to be a positive attribute to us, but this hasn’t allowed people the space to be human and sometimes say -“today I cannot be strong, today I need to cry, I cannot do it today or tomorrow or even next week.”

However, I do feel that in the present movement we are creating these spaces and it is only a matter of time before the stigma has to stop. I also worked for a period of time in community psychiatric services in Ghana, West Africa and it opened me up to the way that mental health stigma manifests in different ways. For some, just being a mental health professional came with its own stigma, so we can only imagine the stigma placed upon the patients.

However I do think that we do have to also recognise our resilience as a people and be proud of how much adversity we have withstood and learn more about those coping strategies in our community that have also allowed us to have a strong sense of wellbeing and determination.

-What top tips can you give our readers on how to reach the best version of themselves?

Always make time to work on you. You have to be a project for your own self. We spend far too much time worrying about working for other people and meeting all these demands and we need to put as much of that effort into ourselves. Don’t be afraid of facing those inner troubles, experiences and deep rooted feelings. Once you unpack them and acknowledge them, then you can soon work out a way of managing them.

My second piece of advice would be to find out what it is you truly value and that will inform who you are and how you respond to things that are not in alignment with your values. Once you know who you are it’s so much easier to say no to things that do not serve you and focus on engaging yourself in the things that you deserve.

My last tip is to face your fears and stop being afraid. Challenge yourself, undertake new experiences that are going to help you think differently and give you the confidence to develop your passions and yourself. I feel that fear is one of the biggest causes self-defeat and everything always comes down to mindset first and foremost.

“High school will be the best years of your life”

If there is one thing I am sure of, it is that the statement above is telling only half the truth. High school, in some ways, is important. You are exposed to a variety of personalities and with those personalities, a variety of conflict arises. In constant conflict, you learn how to communicate. Or at least, that is what I got from high school. At this moment, I am reminded of a senior quote that one of my peers had said. It went, “you never know how strong you are until you have been tested.” That statement should be more popular than the one that tells us high school is our pinnacle of happiness. My whole schooling experience, I visualize, was like a huge standardized test. Each year flowed past like the turning of packet’s page. Senior year was fittingly the written portion.

It is hard to fathom that I could spend four years in an institution and gather no real life insight from the classes I have taken. I have learned more out of class, if anything. Let’s begin with my first lesson- introductions matter. I came into my school thinking it would mirror the lives of those protagonist I have seen in the movies and television shows. Freshmen year hosted a lot of 8th grade angst that somehow poured over from my transitional summer and rudeness stemming from my unjustified anger.

Sophomore year was the time of realization. I realized that I had wanted to change and here is where lesson two comes about. You are what you perceived yourself as being. Unknown to me, the abuse I had dealt with in my freshmen year had left scares underneath my skin and as my skin shed with renewal, the scares stood prominently. This was the year where my body dysmorphia had sky rocketed and I felt as though I was the ugliest thing I had ever seen. It is strange looking back on it because I don’t think I had ever let any of my issues show.

I had been keen at codeswitching, feeding people what they wanted to hear and see. It was around the middle of the school year when I realized that I could no longer be a chameleon and had to find myself. Better said than done, I suppose. My reputation was determined for me at that point, freshmen year being the “write your name here” portion of the test. For so long I lived with what was given to me, be the person that everyone believed I was and who I was trying to make myself out to be.

Junior year, the major lesson I learned was to embrace my own change. Sophomore year I realized I had a problem and junior year was the time I needed to correct said problem. I became nicer, more respective of my peer’s feelings. I started to embrace my appearance. This is was a new beginning.

And now we are here. Senior year, where I am currently anticipating graduation. I would like to say that everything is fine and dandy, but that would be the greatest lie I have ever told. My body dysmorphia has its flare ups and I have taken on some situational depression, but nothing I can’t handle.  A lesson I have learned thus far is that there is no exact happy ending, not in high school. There is only progression.

By Morgan Dezum

 

Thank you Morgan for sharing your voice with us. If you would like to share yours email us at lambbofficial@gmail.com for a chance to be featured on the website.

5 Tips to ensure Healthy Natural hair under wigs

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Wigs to a black girl is like a basketball to Jordan. It is the enabler that allows us to be Solange on one day and Beyoncé the next. Whether your hair is relaxed or natural, one thing we all own as black girls (other than a comb) is a wig. Wigs do more than keep your co-workers guessing which of your hairstyles are real, it is also a great protective style for when you want to reduce manipulation to your hair. However, it is important to not become complacent with wigs, and throw your hair routine out the window. Below I share with you my top tips to maintaining the health of your hair, whilst wearing a wig.

1. Moisturize – this is particularly important when wearing a protective style because your stands are hidden in conrows or braids. Using water-based sprays that can penetrate the braids would add the daily moisture your hair needs. Depending on your hair type, you might need to moisturize your hair more frequently, but typically once a day or every other day is a good amount.

2. Massage the scalp – massaging your scalp frequently stimulates growth as it encourages blood flow. It is best to do this with an oil that also stimulates growth and soothes the scalp.

3. Co-wash weekly- co-washing is a great and easy way to add moisture to your hair. It cuts a wash-day in half, yet still produces the same results. This is also a great time to add direct moisture to your ends outside of the cornrows.

4. Let your hair breathe- If your anything like me, you take off your wig as soon as you enter the front door! Throughout the day wearing a wig can become irritable, especially in this weather, so it is nice to give your hair some air until the morning.

5. Don’t over lay your edges- laying your edges has become a phenomenon, and leaving your house without an S-Shaped swirl in your sideburns is a big problem. But overusing gels can affect your edges and cause tension to your baby hairs. It is best to use an edge control instead, or dare and go outside without laying your edges!
If you want more tips on how to take care of your hair after you take out your cornrows, check out my video below:

Prelude: Jade offers her Art to the World

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Prelude;
Art portrays me exactly the way I see myself
Something of value, full of potential, adorned in light
A primary colour, in coexistence with others
I am never just one thing
But an amalgamation of many things
The perfect portrait

J C Cowans

 

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Prelude was an opportunity to invite friends, family and the curious to see my work in one room for the first time.

 

-How long have you been creating art?

I picked up my paintbrush again last summer. Before then I had experimented at school like we all do, but never even considered how fulfilling or how important painting, portraiture in particular, would become for me in the following years.

 

-What inspired the creation of Prelude?

For me, sharing is something that sits close to my heart. As artists, I feel we are challenged with the idea that we must not show anything which is unfinished or imperfect, but it’s the process of painting which leads to the end result that inspires me.

I had been going to lots of arts and culture events and kept bumping into people who expressed how much they loved my work and would ask when I was exhibiting. For me an exhibition was something only an artist could do and because it was so early on in what I now consider to be my artist journey, I had shyed away from the idea. Prelude was an opportunity to invite friends, family and the curious to see my work in one room for the first time. I also wanted to introduce a few new works from my debut art series Common Thread.

I created the Prelude piece specifically for the event, a self portrait with a stem of Iridaceae Gladiolus and a single bloom that framed my face. Native to sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa and Asia, its name derives from the Latin gladius meaning sword. The flower represents strength of character, faithfulness, sincerity, integrity and a spirit that does not give up.

New ventures shouldn’t be taken lightly and the first steps are always the hardest but I knew how passionate I was about creating a space where people could be inspired, connect with the like minded as well as have a personal experience with my pieces. It was like welcoming everyone into my art studio.

 

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image courtesy of Instagram/ @farfromjaded

 

-Why was the use of watercolours important for Prelude?

Watercolours can be manipulated in so many ways, for me they are dream to work with. I guess it’s like marmite, you either love it or hate it! The transparency and delicacy of the medium itself lends to how I view the subjects I am painting, whether muses or myself; open, honest and made up of many layers. Being able to overlay different colours is like a visual representation of the characteristics and personal traits of a human being. Sometimes these mix well, sometimes they are compatible and other times they conflict but never reject. We are who we are. Watercolour perfectly depicts that for me.

-How do you get to the stage as an artist, where you aren’t afraid of being transparent?

I have never been taught that I was perfect. But I have always been taught that this is completely and utterly okay. It’s always been easy to be transparent. But with art. I remember speaking with my friend and telling him that sharing art in a public space is like having an honest conversation with yourself in front of strangers. If poetry is feelings and thoughts spilled onto a page in the form of words, then art is the same just with colours and marks.

 

Sharing art in a public space is like having an honest conversation with yourself in front of strangers.

 

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-What do you hope people take away from your art?

I hope people, women in particular, can look at my pieces and see how beautiful we all are. That they can see their true selves, with all their layers both visible and hidden, in all their colours both dull and vibrant, that in their entirety they are invaluable.

 

Singer-songwriter Saie offers her Voice to the World

Asides from music sensations and viral memes, the internet is a home to many havens for marginalized groups. Through her uplifting lyrics and vibrant visuals, 21-year-old singer-songwriter Saie has managed to cultivate a haven for black girls and women. The singer-songwriter is based in London, but has cultural heritage in Sierra Leone. Following the release of her song ‘Blackness’, Saie has manifested a sisterhood which celebrates black girl magic. The record carries a timeless message to stand in your truth no matter how hard society tries to shape and tame you. Saie is unapologetic in her approach, and her confidence in the video is magnetic, as she sings about ‘feeling so strong in my blackness’, in a rich and nostalgic tone. Through her music Saie proves that she isn’t interested in following patterns that are already formed, but is instead working to carve out her own space in the industry. With her perfectly picked afro, effortless style and conscious spirit that is aware of her offering to the world, it would be foolish to doubt her.

We thank you Saie for standing in your truth and contributing your gift to the world, we hope you continue to create uplifting magic.

 It’s not that its important to me to be unapologetic I have NO choice but to be because there is NO way I am not going to enjoy my beauty and fulfil my purpose on this earth.

When did you decide to pursuit music as a career?

I decided to pursue music as a career when I was 15 years old, after I got over the embarrassment of wanting something that I felt was so cliché, I said to myself just face it Saie, being an artist is all you’ve ever wanted to do so go and get it!

How did you nurture your gift from a young age to turn it into the skill it is today?

I didn’t intentionally nurture my gift from a young age due to a lack of opportunities but I will say that my love for music and self expression nurtured itself somehow and only now am I beginning to nurture my gift with the hopes of becoming a master of my “thing.”

The video for ‘Blackness’ is packed with beautiful and striking visuals. Tell us about the creative direction behind the video.

Thank you, I really appreciate your appreciation for the video. The creative direction behind the visual was based upon my desire to be a confidence booster for all the gorgeous black girls who haven’t yet come to self realisation. So I tried to capture some attributes that we posses – SOUL, BEAUTY, GRACE & CHARM.

The brightness of the video, the use of colour and the little dance moves symbolise in some way The Soul. My choice to wear an afro was to show the natural beauty we posses just by simply being ourselves. I also tried to touch on the topic of black love by collaborating with Chris (The male model in the video) just because I personally desire to see more of it, I thought it would feed others visually. I don’t want to bore you with the details but I’m also an advocate for healthy eating which is why I wanted to include the fruits and calling my two friends to be in the video just to again, feed others with the image of sisterhood. That is the purpose of my visuals to feed melanated beings using aesthetics as well to feed myself.

 I just want to be engraved in everyone’s heart as a light and comforter in their dark times, as well as that boost people need when its time to fight for justice and get what belongs to them.

The song ‘Blackness’ is an uplifting celebration of black girl magic. How important is it for you to be unapologetic in your blackness?

Well in general being unapologetic is something I am currently striving for as its been a journey. I like the idea of peace and in society being unapologetic has a scent of rebelliousness attached to it. But when it comes to my blackness I don’t play any games, I will take the rebellious title any day because my “blackness” is deeply infused with my essence. So its not that its important to me to be unapologetic I have NO choice but to be because there is NO way I am not going to enjoy my beauty and fulfil my purpose on this earth as others are intimidated by what I possess or do not understand it and I want other girls to feel this way too.

Congratulations on your recent partnering with GUAP magazine! Talk to us about how that came about.

 Thank you! Well one of the founders of the magazine Jide Adetunji spotted me online and reached out to me, we had a meeting and the vibe was just right and now he is my manager!

Just take the time out to observe yourself and become your own mentor, basically take yourself as an A-Level.

Let’s take it 50 years into the future! What is one thing you would like to be remembered as?

In all honesty, I just want to be engraved in everyone’s heart as a light and comforter in their dark times, as well as that boost people need when its time to fight for justice and get what belongs to them. I guess overall I would love to be a spirit that people can call upon when they need it.

Saie

image from https://www.instagram.com/theafroromantic/

What advice would you give young girls who are still trying to find their confidence and their voice?

I’m not sure where to begin there’s so much that needs to be discussed, but something that would be useful is for girls and boys to just study themselves, watch their habits. How often do you go on Social media? How does it make you feel? What Triggers you? What makes you happy? What feeds your insecurity? When do I like myself the most? How does your relationship with your parent(s) influence your behaviour in romantic relationships? Just take the time out to observe yourself and become your own mentor, basically take yourself as an A-Level.

Do you have any upcoming projects we can look out for?

Well I am about to get cracking on my first EP entitled The AfroRomantic: GENESIS as well as gigging around! So look out for me on social media to stay updated, because honestly nothing goes to plan! So online is the best way to see what I’m up too!

 

Self-Love: A Healing Suggestion

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I spent the day within the walls that first nurtured me, not a room, or the womb but the sheets of a book. The only four corners I know to be straight and not crooked. I read the lines that were orchestrated with love for someone like me in mind; someone seeking healing from a haven. I located my heart between the metaphors and similes, and I cried at how beautiful it was to be home again, to be restored, and to be found. I am here with half of myself; the other half is floating away. I’ve come to remind myself to always be lovely and not to let the world and her people turn me cold.

I start my days with a smile, thanking God for the new day. Sometimes I tell Him to take me back.

I practice affirmations like these in the mornings: I am a well, filled with blessings and good things, love, light and abundance. They’re friendly reminders that keep me sane throughout the day. It does get hard because people are so difficult to deal with. I think God has the hardest job of loving us all unconditionally. I think people are terrible beings by default and whenever they realise the power they have over another they abuse that power. Sometimes we want to hurt each other, even the people we love.

I sent my love out as a healing offering, but a friend returned it back, unrequited but opened and used. I know I am not an angel, but I try in all my friendships/relationships to bring a light and energy that I can only hope will be reciprocated. The relationship becomes lopsided when one person is giving more and the other is just taking, unaware of how draining they are. Everything is energy; it’s what we trade as humans before gold and coins. I am devoted to my spirit and owing to my happiness, so I actively work to protect my energy from takers who do not give. Sometimes that means removing people from your life if they are causing an imbalance and that isn’t selfish it’s self-love.

By Naomi

A Self-love Declaration

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I am mine before I am anyone else’s. I do not belong to anyone except to myself. My worth as a woman is not contingent upon how desirable you find me. I am my own standard of beauty. I am art.

Art that doesn’t require an audience. To hell with your restrictive gender binaries.

I refuse to be your stereotypical, submissive, respectable African woman. My body is mine. My femininity is mine. Being a Black woman, I am expected to suppress my intelligence, my power, my voice, in order to be easier to swallow — in the words of Warsan Shire, “I tried to be softer, prettier, less volatile, less awake” — constantly expected to bend myself into shapes in order to fit societies one dimensional perception of us.

I refuse to bend myself backwards to appease those who exploit me.

To be Black in a white dominant society.

Double consciousness.

To be a black woman in a white dominant patriarchal society.

Triple consciousness.

The constant fear of being deemed the angry Black woman, the fear of being subjected to misogynoir, the fear of the constant denial of our complexity and nuance — in order to combat these fears I find refuge in fellow Black women. I find refuge in myself. Because we are all we have. I have so much love for Black women. I have so much love for myself, and I no longer give a damn if my comfortability with myself makes others uncomfortable.

 

By Ayomide

Your Contribution: Morgan offers her Photography to the World

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Millennials are proving to be a lot more than the narcissistic consumerists the older generation deem us to be, and Morgan Dezurn is living proof of this. At only 18 years-old she has created an impressive portfolio and she is working towards increasing representation of marginalised groups. She uses photography as her form of expression, to explore different colours and shadows with her subjects and expand on the notion of women as art. Morgan’s exploration of femininity is particularly notable, as she exposes a vulnerability which isn’t often connoted with black woman. She carries this same approach with the males she photographs, which challenges stagnant ideas of hyper-masculinity. There is a softness to her photography, almost as if she is capturing the image from a birds eye view without interrupting the subject.

We thank you Morgan for standing in your truth and contributing your gift to the world, we hope you continue to capture pure moments.

I want to be uncomfortable as an artist, always evolving and never playing it safe or downplaying myself.

When did you first realise you had a skill for photography?
I think it was my sophomore year of high school, I’m a senior now. I had always been interested in art, especially cinematography and fashion. I really loved the way I could create a different work inside of a film and that wearing certain clothes were an outward expression of your personality, or at least it was for me at the time. Unfortunately, my sophomore year was the year that I slowly started losing a passion for those two mediums, but fortunately I gained a passion for something else at the same time. That passion was for photography.

The contrast between photography and cinematography really intrigued me. In cinematography, you get to create this whole sequence of events and allow them to play out in order to convey a certain emotion/theme/ message, but in photography you have to work within frames. You have to encompass a whole emotion/theme/message in a single shot and that really is a challenge. That is what really made me good at photography, I guess, being able to comprehend that I can create a whole cinematic world in a frame if I shot it correctly. I think my understanding is what made me realize I had a knack for photography.

Are you in school for photography or are you self-taught?
I would say both. I was first shooting photography with my old Toshiba camcorder and don’t get me wrong I created some beautiful work with that little camera, but it wasn’t really teaching me what I needed to know to be a great photographer. To do that, I need to have a “real camera.” (I really hate saying that. A “real camera.” A great lesson to be learnt is that you do not need an expensive name brand camera to be a photographer. I wish I had known that when I was younger.)

My sophomore Chemistry teacher overheard me saying that I was interested in photography and I don’t remember how the conversation went, but it ended with me being able to borrow one of his expensive cameras for the duration of summer. That summer I taught myself a lot about aperture, shutter speed, focal length, and such, but I still felt like I was lacking some. I don’t know if that was the ideals of the American school system telling me that I need to be formally taught in order to understand an art, but by next school year I signed up for Photo Studio. There I was taught about composition, tonality; and all the little intricacies of photography really. I am currently in Advanced Placement Photography and I am learning how to construct a concentration photograph series, which is exciting.

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images from Morgan

A lot of your subjects are women/girls. Do you make it a point to explore different types of femininity?
It has always been a goal of mine to give representation to marginalized and misrepresented individuals. For example, within the community I live in right now is predominately Black and Christian. Due to this, there is a huge lack of understanding/empathy with our Asian population and Jewish population, so I made it a point to take photographs of my Asian and Jewish friends in a way that captures their personality truthfully. I want to show that yes, they are different from us, but that is not a bad thing. Diversity is crucial.

In regard to my subjects being women/girls, I think it is because I connect well with them. I know a woman’s struggle because I live through it every day and because of that I am able to connect with my subjects beforehand. In the shoot, we are allowed to be completely vulnerable with each other and those are where the great photographs come from, trust and openness.

I want to get to a point where I make such good photography that I don’t have any self-doubt.

On set what type of interaction do you have with your subjects?
I enjoy making my subjects feel safe. Like I am just one of their annoying best friends that love taking pictures of them. I have modelled in the past and some of the experiences I had were very strict, borderline hostile. I remember how uneasy I was and how that affected the shoot. I keep that in mind whenever I am shooting with someone, that what we are doing is a two way street. We both have to bring in 100% to make the shoot work.

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Something I enjoy from your photography is the use of colour and shadows. Do you have particular themes that you explore in your photography?
Firstly, thank you. I have never gotten a sweeter compliment. I am very sporadic with my work, I don’t really stick to one technical theme because I do not want to get too comfortable with it. Though I do love monochromatic images, I don’t want to fall into the path where all my images look the same because I only know how to do one thing. I want to be uncomfortable as an artist, always evolving and never playing it safe or downplaying myself. I can’t say I am exploring any themes in particular because I am exploring all things I can think of.

Create as though those things are a reflection of you and if you find them looking similar to everyone else, change yourself.

How do you find inspiration for your shoots?
I gather information from anything, as cliché as it sounds. It could be a word that I hear in a discussion, an article, or clothing that I see someone wear, a song, a dream that I had, or a minute moment in a television show. I have become receptive of my surroundings in the last few years and allowing some tendencies of synaesthesia to run free.

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You’re only 18 and you’ve already created a beautiful body of work. What are some of your future goals in terms of photography?
For myself, I want to be able to look back on my work and feel no regret in the way I produced the photo. Currently, I reflect on my work and think “oh, I could have done better on that” or “this could be better” or simply “I hate this, why did I do this.” I want to get to a point where I make such good photography that I don’t have any self-doubt.
In a time of increasing trends and uniformity, what advice would you give for people to stay true to themselves?
Create as though those things are a reflection of you and if you find them looking similar to everyone else, change yourself.

Review of Blueberry Bliss Control Jelly

blueberry bliss control jelly

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Product description:

Define, Defrizz and Hold Your CURLS in one snap! Your New Go to Styler… Formulated with organic blueberry extract, and raw castor oil, Blueberry Bliss Curl Control Jelly will define, defrizz and hold your curls in place.

Weight:

8.00 oz

I may be a little bit late to the Blueberry bliss bandwagon, but better late than never! This is one of those products that every naturalista has in her bathroom, and thanks to Treasure Tress I was able to test out the product. Treasure Tress is a subscription box specifically catered to young girls with naturally kinky, curly, or frizzy hair.

My love for this product came after some trial and error! When I first used the jelly, I found it to be quite drying to my hair, but this is because I used the product just by itself. I have seen some naturals do this, but as I have 4B/4C hair the jelly alone didn’t moisturise my kinky hair. The control jelly is more like gel than a curling cream. The second time around I tried a different approach. Here’s a tip: always try a product or style more than once before you give up on it. This time around I paired the Jelly with a leave-in conditioner, which added the moisture to my hair, and left my hair feeling bouncier. Curls do have a line of leave-ins or you can use one of your choice; it is about choosing the best product to pair with the jelly.

The blueberry bliss control jelly defined my curls and it didn’t weigh my curls down as it is a very light product. I find that the best results are attained when you use the product after washing hair, it isn’t enough to just moisturize with a spray bottle. Also it is good to be generous with the gel, don’t be afraid of squeezing out the product, especially for thick kinky or curly hair. The jelly provides lots of slip because it contains castor oil, which would allow you to rake the product through your hair for extra definition. Another thing I learnt through trial and error, is to put the jelly on from root to tip, this avoids your roots puffing up. Depending on the type of natural you are (I would say I’m a semi-lazy natural) you could also shingle your hair if using for a wash and go.

The blueberries do more than just leave your hair smelling like a tropical island, they are also great for the overall health of hair!

Benefits of Blueberries:

Proanthocyanidins, the plant chemical found in blueberries, interacts with hair follicles to accelerate growth and slow down hair graying and loss.

Blueberries, rich in vitamin C and B complex are good for increasing hair growth by improving oxygenation and circulation of blood in the body, particularly the scalp.

Prevents hair breakage, too little Vitamin C your diet can lead to hair breakage