Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Do Black Americans Miss Africa and They Don't EUNO It?


Our guide at Lesedi Cultural Village (in Johannesburg, South Africa) knows that his heritage is of the Zulu tribe. He is pictured here dressed in traditional Zulu attire.

"I just feel there's a certain yearning and lost feeling that many blacks that are the product of the (Trans-Atlantic/) European slave trade have that many of our (black) African brothers and sisters don't."

This post is one of me pondering many things. It's not coming from an intellectual or scholarly place or with scholarly language, wording and writing style. This is not an essay. This IS a black [American] woman with a mind and curiosity wondering about things she's had time and experiences to ruminate on. Simply put, I'm thinking out loud and wondering if anyone has felt the same way or thought similar thoughts. I can only speak from an African American/black American standpoint because that is who I am and that is my experience. These are solely my opinions and you will not be regarded as a "hater" if you do not agree with them. I want to have a conversation and learn your thoughts and takes on this.....

I want my people to have more pride and it not be from white people "approving" of us or from them treating and viewing us as equals. I want us, black Americans, to have a pride in ourselves that's similar to what I feel our (black) African brothers and sisters have in them. I want for my people to have a pride in being of African descent, have a wanting to know about it and reconnect with it and all of us visiting African countries as often as we can. I'm aware that the experiences are different. Slaves' cultures of their respective ethnic groups and tribes were stripped away and erased from them in most cases. Africans who weren't captured got to continue on in their cultures and grow and evolve with them but they had to deal with colonialism which effected them in other ways. I'm aware of the different experiences effecting the pride, level of pride and energy behind the pride but I've often wondered what would happen if all black Americans knew what areas and/or ethnic groups in Africa our ancestors came from? How would it affect our collective self esteem and sense of self worth? Would it effect/change our role in American history if we were able to (or fought to) hold onto our cultures, traditions, languages, etc? How would it have effected the history? Would we have upraised against slavery? Would we have moved back? Would we have been sent back? Would we have simply migrated somewhere else and never returned to Africa? Would we view "afrocentricism" differently? Would afrocentricism even be a concept?! Would we support each other more?
What I wore to a brie I attended in JoBurg. South Africans call a BBQ, a brie.

I also often wonder if all black Americans got fed up with "racism" in America and migrated to countries in Africa, like today in 2014, how would the cultures, traditions, infrastructures and technology change? Would racism leave our [black American] psyches? Would Africans happily receive us with warmth and open arms or reject us? Would it make things better or worse? 

I do think it would be nice to be in a place where your "race" wasn't a thought, constant reminder or real concept because everyone looks like you. You're hated because maybe you really are a bad person, not because of the color of your skin. You're judged by the color of your shoes or if your shirt is wrinkled and dirty not because of the color of your skin. Your intelligence is judged by school grades or thought processing, not by the color of your skin. You'd be called dumb because maybe you really are dumb, not because of the color of your skin. People feel threatened by you because you've got an AK-47 in your hand, not simply because of the color of your skin.

I wonder. These are my opinions and now I want to learn yours. What do you think? What are your thoughts on any of my questions? I welcome any of you posing questions too, if you're moved to do so. I'd love to hear from blacks all over the globe. I just feel there's a certain yearning and lost feeling that many blacks that are a product of the (Trans-Atlantic/) European slave trade have that many of our (black) African brothers and sisters don't. Maybe we still really miss [Africa] home and we don't "euno" it. Please chime in.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sanbonani!!!

Me and Uncle Al at Cape of Good Hope in Capetown, South Africa


Sanbonani!!! That is Zulu (an ethnic group in South Africa) for hello!

How is everyone?! How was your summer? What did you do? I left you all last month sharing some hairstyle ideas that I was torn between to don during my upcoming adventures in South Africa. I went the end of July for 10 days with family and family friends. It was a beyond amazing experience and I will write about it another post. The trip totally changed my life and inspired me in so many beautiful ways. What style of the three I was torn between did I end up choosing? How about none of them. Lol. I didn’t make the time to make a decision and I ended up rocking my hair loose. Thankfully, since they are on the other side of the equator, it was winter there. The climate was cool, low humidity and dry. I wore my hair up in a bun or out in a fro. Easy peasy. Once I came back, the whirlwind of everyday life and the ever growing to-do list took over, I got sick (yucky summer cold) and then it was back to work. Now that all the dust has settled, I’m back in action.
Me and my mommy, Carole Gary Staples, by her quilt that was in the "Conscious of the Human Spirit: The Life of Nelson Mandela" exhibit in Johannesburg, South Africa

Wanted to also share that before the trip I was working diligently on a special project: an e-Booklet for us women with fine, medium to low density natural hair! I have completed all the writing and am currently adding the finishing touches on it to be released mid-late next month. I’m super excited. This is my first foray in the publishing world, so once this is released, I will continue to work on improving it and making it widely accessible. For the initial release, it will only be available on the site here through PayPal. I’m so excited to release this, finally literature that caters specifically to us fine hair, medium to low density, natural hair ladies! I often feel like there is a voice for us ladies and instead of scouring forums and blogs for morsels of info, why not put it all in one place! I will be giving out some free copies for constructive feedback so that I can later further improve and enhance the book. So stay tuned for details on how you could snag a free copy.


Also, I haven’t hosted a giveaway in God knows how long but I am planning one to celebrate AGrlCanMAC’s very belated May birthday. This May just passed marked 6 years! This blog has chronicled my growth in so many avenues of my life from the physical to the metaphysical and spiritual. I've met amazing people through it and encountered wonderful opportunities and experiences through it. I hope I've inspired and helped some people along the way too. Don’t have a time secured for this giveaway just yet but I’m thinking to do it the same time the eBooklet is released. We can celebrate both at the same damn time! Exciting things coming to close out the year!

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What are everyone’s plans for the fall? Though I love spring and summer, I enjoy the fall too. The dressing is totally fun: sweaters with shorts, booties and peep toe wedges, light weight infinity scarves, etc. I have my fall adventure list ready and can’t wait to go apple picking, run through corn mazes, drink homemade hot chocolate and put pumpkin spice in everything.

Be well. More to come! Thank you for your positivity, enthusiasm, love and support, it never goes unappreciated.










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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Traveling // How to Wear My Hair for South Africa!!

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I'm headed to South Africa in two weeks! It's so surreal that the trip is almost here and I'm getting more and more excited with each day that passes. Aside from packing (which I haven't started yet! Yikes.), the next question I still haven't answered is what to do with my hair. Traveling internationally always inspires me to choose a hairstyle that I won't have to fuss with or do everyday. I want to spend as much of my time as possible experiencing the trip, not styling my hair. I try pack as light as possible because you never know how much shopping you are going to do and you want room for your newly acquired treasures without incurring any additional costs on the way back. That means keeping my toiletries, hair supplies and styling tools at a minimum. I will be between Johannesburg and Cape Town for 10 days and am contemplating three different and low cost hairstyles that I wouldn't really need to fuss with my hair much nor bring any hair supplies with me outside of a hair tie and head scarf for bed. Below are the three I'm choosing from.

Loose Twists: This style never fails me and doesn't take long to install (like 2.5 hours). A set of loose twists lasts me up to 3 weeks and since my hair is pretty long now, I can pull them into a ponytail and create other hairstyles with them.

Me rocking loose twists back in January/February of this year


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Music That Can MAC // Asante Amin x Fly Union

Happy 4th of July's Eve. We made it to the long weekend! Why not have some good music to jam out to over the holiday weekend? These two artists I have talked about on here before but they both recently dropped new projects and they're fire! Both albums are sure to turn up your weekend. Wishing you all a safe, healthy and happy 4th. Support good music so we can hear more of it, they have bills to pay just like we do. :-)

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Small Victories is Fly Union's latest project that just dropped. It's grittier than they're previous projects but if you like good hip -hop, you will enjoy this. Can't wait until they come back to New York!


I just recently talked about Asante Amin on here and his new album, The Visitor: Alter Destiny, dropped not much longer after that post. OMG. I was playing this at work yesterday and was straight. Jammin. HARD. It's that good. My absolute favorites are "Love", "Make Love" and "Higher" but the whole project is great for the ears.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Fantastic Four // Awesome Hair Moisturizers for Fine, Medium-Low Density Natural Hair



Yay, a hair post! I know it's been a while since I talked about anything hair related so let's get into it. Today I'm sharing some of my favorite daily hair moisturizers for my fine, medium density natural hair that I happily drop my hard earned cash on. If you have fine, medium-low density hair, try these out if you're on the hunt for a moisturizer that's light yet effective and won't weigh your hair down. I love that all four of these a little goes a long way so you don't have to apply gobs of it to reap the benefits and they can also double as leave in conditioners. Please note, the order I listed them does NOT indicate the order in which I adore these moisturizers. I adore them all the same, give or take, and I'm glad that I have options.

I learned of the Sweet Nature by Eddie Journey Hair Milk (pictured to the right) from one of my favorite Youtubers from back in my early natural hair days. I don't think she makes videos anymore but I loved her spirit and learned a lot from her videos. She gave a review on this hair milk back in 2010 (or late 2009) and I loved it immediately because it smelled great (like cherry vanilla! The guy I was dating at the time couldn't get enough of it.), was light and effective. A little goes a very long way with the product as well. This hair milk gives my hair that juicy feel even though it's glycerin free (it has cetearyl alcohol which a is a fatty alcohol that acts a humectant- draws moisture from the air to your hair in this case). I find that this one does influence my hair to shrink up a little more than the other moisturizers I share but I don't mind it because my hair feels juicy the next day. :-) The other great thing about this being uber moisturizing is that it kind of acts as a mild styler for setting a style. It will not replace true stylers and gels for hold, but this moisturizer creates slight definition for twist outs, braid outs and bantu knot outs more than the other moisturizers listed. This can be purchased at SweetNaturebyEddie.info.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Learning My African Heritage: Rwanda

Mountain gorillas at Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park. Up to 8 people at a time can see them in their natural habitat! {Image Source}

I'm learning about my Rwandan heritage so you all are going to learn with me! If you follow me on Youtube or Instagram, then you saw that not too long ago, I was able to trace some of my lineage on my mother's paternal side all the way back to (the Tutsi tribe of) Rwanda! I was so excited and immediately started the journey to learning about the country and culture. I can't tell you, as a Black American that's a byproduct of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, how much more pride I have now that I have a more intimate connection to Africa. Maybe I should write a post about it, because not that it would save the world, but learning just a fraction of where some of my ancestors came from gave me something back that I feel was taken away from them.
Rwandan flag (since 2001)

Any who, onto the topic at hand, sharing what I'm learning about my heritage.... One thing I find very cool is that many Rwandans are multilingual. French and English are the country's official languages but the principle language, that practically every Rwandan speaks, is Kinyarwanda. Many easily speak three languages. I'm determined now to learn French (I took Spanish in my formative years) and eventually Kinyarwanda. 
Intore dancers {Image Source}

Friday, June 20, 2014

Music That Can Mac: Asante Amin

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 It's Friday again, we made it! If your week was anything like mine (read: CRAZY BUSY), you are so ready for the weekend. I haven't shared any good music will you all in a while so let's get to it. This artist is a super talented dude and I have had the pleasure of meeting him. Asante Amin is wildly talented, he plays the saxophone, teaches music and lessons to kids and is a super creative mind. Check out his Soundcloud page . The song shared below is an older track but it's so silky, smooth, funky and delicious. Get into it!



Who is NYC is going to the Curl Fest this Sunday in Prospect Park? I will be there with many of my curlfriends enjoying the day and event. Hope to see some of you there. Be safe and stay naturally fly. Have a wonderful weekend!

Milan

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Maleficent Messages: My Review and Thoughts on the Highly Anticipated Movie

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WARNING: If you haven't seen the movie and plan to see it, you will NOT want to read this post until afterward because I talk about parts in the movie and I also talk about the ending so you've been warned!

I kept hearing nothing but good reviews about Maleficent from friends and co-workers so when I got invited to see the movie with some friends, I obliged. Maleficent was the evil lady in the Disney classic, Sleeping Beauty (she's the antagonist in the classic) so in this film we get her side of the story to learn why homegirl was so damn evil and had it out for Aurora aka Sleeping Beauty. I always like to hear all sides of any story if I can; I'm so fascinated by how events are interpreted different ways by each person that's a part of it. It's the psychology lover in me that likes to understand how different factors affect and shape the mind and outlook on life; why people act the way that they do. The quality and imagery of the film was beyond amazing, the costumes and effects were great and from a professional makeup artistry standpoint, I totally loved the makeup and prosthetics like her ears, contact lenses and the extra cheeks to create those severe cheekbones for Maleficent. I loved the imagery of it all because I love fantasy type of stories that involve mythical adventures, creatures, fairies, etc. Outside of the great visuals, I appreciated the film's important messages portrayed. Below are some prominent themes I picked up and liked right away from the movie.


Revenge May Feel Good Immediately but Doesn't Dissolve the Pain Long Term: What You do or Say in Moments of Pain or Anger  Cannot Always Be Undone

Monday, June 16, 2014

Liebster Award Recipient

I was nominated by Robbie of Brave Turquoise to receive the Liebster award last month, thank you! I haven't participated in one of these things in forever but I'm feeling talkative so here goes. I have to answer the questions she left and share 11 random facts about myself so let's get into it.


1. What’s your #1 fear?  Fear of not being in control (of things in my life). It's like I know better but I still have to remind myself from time to time that just because things don't play out the way I thought them out in my head doesn't mean they won't happen. I have to trust God/the Universe, they know my desires and want what I want more than I do. :-) 
2. What’s the strangest thing you want to do before you die? Hmm, I don't think I have anything strange, per say, that I want to do before I die. I just have A LOT of things I want to do. One big thing I want is my own scholarship fund for students of color to pursue degrees in the arts, the fund would eventually be able to send 1-4 students to a university or college for their art studies all 4 years.
3. What is one song that people would not expect you to know all/most of the words to?  Any song by Rick Ross!  

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Most Subversive Thing I've Ever Done

Color Run Queens 2014 with my Partners in Crime

I recently became a contributing blogger with the wonderful organization, Bodybinds. Yay! Bodybinds creates handcrafted, bondage style lingerie and accessories for women and their brand is a lifestyle that encourages us to take pride in our bodies and femininity.  The models on their site are everyday women, not professional models and I love that because it reinforces and celebrates that don't have to subscribe to a certain look to be fly enough to wear lingerie. We fly innately, simply because we're women- hello! Their items can be worn behind closed doors or out in the world as fun accessories with your clothing. I'm so humbled and excited to be a part of the team and share my words with the community there. They had a 'meet the bloggers' mini series of posts for each contributing writer and one of the questions was, "what is the most subversive thing you have ever done?" As a woman with a voracious appetite for reading and writing, I think I'm very well versed and have a pretty large vocabulary but I wasn't familiar with this word or the meaning behind it. I even looked it up in the dictionary, but at the time, I still didn't understand it and said so in my response to the question.

I took the time to look up the definition again recently and was redirected to the word subvert. According to Merriam-Webster.com, it means to 1. overturn or overthrow from the foundation: ruin. 2. to pervert or corrupt by an undermining of morals, allegiance or faith.  I realized that I had basically been asked what's something I've done where I colored outside of the lines or social rules lines; what's the most bold thing I had done.

The more I thought about it, one of the most subversive things I've ever done is let go of striving to be or appear perfect in aspect of my life:

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