“The Rebranding of Black Fathers” Documentary

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When it comes to Father’s Day, so many raw emotions are shown throughout this day. From love to anger to frustration. When it comes to the Black father, the media portrays them as pretty much nonexistent. We are here to stop this misrepresentation of our Black men. There are more Black men who are awesome fathers than the media shows and we are here to shed light on this issue and honor those who have taken this responsibility head on. “The Rebranding of Black Fathers” documentary is about doing just that. Changing how society views the Black father. Created by Antoinette “Toni” Warren, founder of Cotten Kandi Media, LLC., this documentary was produced to provide a platform for the dads who remain present and active in their child’s life. As Warren states, “Let’s become the change we want to see in our own communities. Let’s offer a narrative that is often under or misrepresented. Give these every day, involved, loving, and hard working Black dads a voice and a platform to share their stories.” Ronald Joseph(46), Theodore McDonald(27), Omar Kingston(43), Steven Barnes(30),  Jermaine Jones(29), and Jamell Mack(31) are the amazing dads who discuss their different and unique journeys, from the single fathers to first timers.

As a single mother, I understand how hard this day can be. But as a Black woman, I want to do nothing more than uplift our men who are great Fathers. These men are not shown enough respect. I honor every Black man who has broken the stereotype and are actively raising our beautiful Black children. It is time to stop the cycle and that happens with first, respecting and acknowledging those who are doing the opposite. Help to make THIS the representation of the Black father, not the crap they show us. We have to support our own instead of expecting others to do it for us. Share this with others, using the hashtag #RebrandBlackFathers, and make sure to join us right here on Fathers Day for a viewing of the documentary. Let’s be the change that we want to see!

Love… It Ain’t for Everybody

Maybe I should rephrase my title a little. Love is for everybody…but relationships aren’t. (That doesn’t make for a catchy title so hence why I didn’t change it.) When it comes to relationships, I really feel like it just isn’t meant to be for everyone. The fact that people try to push relationships on others or the fact that people stay in shitty relationships just to keep up appearances proves this notion. Society makes you feel inadequate if you do not have a “bae” or someone whom you deem your MCM every Monday. If you are single and, God forbid, over 30, you’re trash. This makes people jump into relationships at the speed of light so they are not categorized. It saddens me that so many people are doing this nowadays. Speaking for myself, I fell into this sad space. I wanted to build my family and be a perfect wife because I knew I could do it. I wanted to feel what love was and have someone love me unconditionally and be able to post pics of date night and shit…then he cheated…and tried to move her in. I immediately retreated from the word love and went back into hiding. Now that time has went on, this man is still in my life. We were friends for years before and somehow just can’t shake each other. He often jokes about one day settling down with me and leaving everyone else. I laugh uneasily because I do not want this at all. I do not want the relationship…with anyone.

Let me explain how I am in relationships. I lose my entire self. I am no longer Jeanine Nicole. I am this person’s everything. His mother, his cook, his maid, his sex slave, his designer, his financial advisor. I am all his. I have nothing left to give to myself because I become consumed with making his life better. It’s a horrible trait that I have and will be damned if I fall into that trap again. Reasons why I say it’s not for everyone. Some are able to be this type of person for their mate and still be successful in their own endeavors. I am not that person. I honestly did not write for the entire time that I was with him. Writing is my air. That alone showed me that I am not equip for a relationship. I often would argue with myself when I came to the realization of this. I wasn’t upset with the fact that I didn’t want the relationship. I was more concerned with knowing that I deserved it. I deserved love. I deserved a nice beautiful wedding that I have had planned since the age of 10. I deserved a gorgeous bearded man tearing up at the thought of me being his forever. I deserved the perfect family and nice house. Saying that I am not right for relationships had me feeling like I was saying I wasn’t worthy of it. Now that I am older, I see this as completely opposite.

When it comes down to it, love comes in various forms. I feel like I have more love being shown to me since I broke up with my ex than when we were actually together. Does this mean I am settling for his bs? Hell no. But at this moment in time, I am happy with what we have. There is no pressure. There are no titles. I am focused on myself, my career, and my kids and if he wants to come over and we have amazing sex, that just happens. It’s that simple for me. After I broke up with my son’s father and was actually free of him, I went two years without even thinking about love or relationships. I had been tethered to someone emotionally since 12th grade and I was free to do as I pleased now. In those two years, I published 2 books and was the happiest I had ever been. I mean truly happy. I look at old pictures and would remember how free I was. And I envied that. Now, I am back there. I am her again. That to me matters more than a relationship or having someone’s last name.

Love is beautiful. Period. I love seeing people joining together and being truly in love and happy. It’s really an amazing thing when it happens and it is pure. But with that being said, those two are actually ready for that union to happen. They are both in a place where they are comfortable enough with their own selves to join with another. I am not there yet. And I honestly, probably never will be. This doesn’t mean I can’t have the family that I want or experience date nights. It just is on the terms that I have set for myself. I don’t need a boyfriend or husband to be happy. Sorry society. That does not equate my value. My happiness is what drives me. That is what I care about the most. Do more to make you happy and stop worrying about how others will perceive you. At the end of the day, you are the only one who gets in that casket when it is over. You are what matters. Not what others think. Figure out what works for you, with any aspect of your life, and simply do it.

The End

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“Today is the end, seriously the fucking end. One shot to the temple will finally be the end. End of…” (Because my handwriting is atrocious.)

Before I explain the beginning of what I was writing, I’ll give you a little brief history of how I got to that point. I had been stressing over finances for probably a good two months. Trying to figure out how I was going to pay this bill and that, while training for a new job (non paid training, mind you), and literally waking up to each day something being turned off and taking away the money that I was saving. Every time I thought I was okay, something else would come up. This particular week was my hardest. I had finally opened up and asked for help from “friends” and received nothing…not even phone calls. So, I did what I always do. Break down and pull myself back up. I woke up that morning convincing myself I was going to have a positive day. Yes, I had something due that next day and had no idea how it was going to get taken care of. Yes, I was finally working but had no idea what I was doing and had several technical issues. But these were things I couldn’t control. I was not going to let them defeat me that day. I was ready to have a great day…until I sat down at my computer, preparing to clock in and realized my cable was off. That was it. Nothing could stop the tears and onset of panic attacks. If I didn’t work, I would get fired. If I got fired, I would lose my place. If I lost my place, I would be homeless again. Hence, my breakdown. I was done. There was no money saved up to take care of this situation. No money to get on the bus and try to reach my mother. No way I could contact her. I had nothing. So, I laid in the bed and did nothing. Several conversations played around in my head. Some voices cursed me out, others comforted me. Finally, one said to end it all. This was the loudest. I grabbed a pen and paper and began to write. As you can see, I didn’t finish because when I wrote the second line (which took a good 5 minutes to actually put on paper), my phone rang. Yes, my phone that was off rang. It was her…my mother. The only one who could get me back to where I needed to be. The only one who could reach me on a phone that had no service.

Now, let me state this and be very clear about it. I am a writer. I was writing, “The End,” to get my thoughts out. I would never do harm to myself. Let me say it again. I WOULD NEVER DO HARM TO MYSELF! Not that I haven’t thought about it because it’s a thought I have often, but I am far too chicken to do anything. I will cry for days if someone playfully punched me in the arm, so harming myself has never been an option. “The End” was basically me saying that  I was done. I was done with everything. I was done with people. I was done with believing. I was done with trying. It was the end of me trying to remain faithful and a believer. It was the end of me trying to do something with my life. I was done in every aspect. My kids would be fine. They have my mother, who they probably like more because she has juice and candy lol. My lack of career would be fine because who really is buying my stuff anyway. What most would say are accomplishments, 3 books published and a production company, I say are failures because what revenue are they bringing in? This is what I meant by “The End.” I normally am able to talk myself out of getting to that moment. I am always able to bring myself out of it and continue to fight on. But that voice was dead(hence the bullet to the temple line). But God understood that voice was gone and sent me another. The one voice that has always been there. Even when I don’t want it, it’s there. That miracle brought me back. Yes, I was still depressed and upset for that day, but I recognized the sign and was able to bounce back the next day.

My main reason for writing this is not to tell someone how to feel. When it comes to mental health issues, that’s the worst thing you can do. I just want to let others know that they are not alone. In the “perfect” world of social media, it can be paralyzing to watch so many people seem so happy and successful. While majority, if not all, of it is fake, it is still hard to find someone who can relate to what you are feeling. ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE BLACK. Depression or mental health issues and the Black community don’t mix. It is one of those things we sweep under the rug until it blows up in our face. Writing for me is therapeutic and you never know who you are reaching or what impact it has. That is why I am so open about things in my life. There has been times where I have been at my worst and think no one else feels how I feel and I’ll read something that shows otherwise. I just want people to know that they are not the only ones. Giving up is not the answer, but I can understand why someone would. I can understand and sympathize with that person for feeling that way. No one can tell you to keep going. It is something you have to find within yourself, but I can tell you that you are not the only one feeling this way. Some times you have to step away from social media and people in general and get a better grasp on reality. And for those who have no faith or believe in God, I’m sure you will come up with some scientific reason as to how my mother was able to call me on that phone. But, for me, I know exactly what that was and who it was and that’s all that matters to me. We all have our “The End” moments, but it is up to us to come out of it and know that even though you may end up there again, it is okay. You. Are. Not. Alone. It will be okay, even if it is not today.  :)

An Open Letter to the Citizens of Baltimore

To the people of Baltimore,

When knowledge of Freddie Gray’s death, at the hands of Baltimore police hit the streets, YOU were there. YOU stood peacefully and protested against another one of our unarmed brothers being killed by law enforcement. YOU did not back down. YOU continued to fight against a system that has been set up to see us fail. When tensions rose, YOU were there. YOU fought against the silent voice that Blacks have in this world. YOU continued to hold your ground as they defamed you and called you “thugs.” With violence and death staring you in the face, as the National Guard stood their ground, it was YOU who would not back down. YOU refused to let this continue. YOU wanted the world to see the pain, the injustice. Too many lives have been lost for trivial matters, while others yet still breathe. YOU screamed out, “BLACK LIVES MATTER!”, through tear gas and a barrage of rubber bullets. It was YOU who put pressure on the system and ultimately, got these officers charged. Something that would not have happened if YOU were not there. Doing the footwork. Day in and day out. As a young Black woman, my heart swells with pride as I think about what has happened today. My people…my young Black people…YOU DID IT! YOU did not wait for the hierarchy of Black leaders to come and lead you. YOU lead yourselves. YOU organized with each other and stood together. This is what we need to continue to do. Everyone has a role they can play. YOU have shown others that the youth are not a bunch of mindless “thugs.” We are more than that. We are people who have been hurt, time and time again. To the rioters, even though no one else will say it, I thank you. Yes, violence is wrong. Yes, rioting is wrong. BUT, who am I to tell a victim how to react? Who am I to tell someone how to express their emotions? YOU have opened a door for discussion for the root of the problem. YOU have been peaceful and they still have killed us. YOU have been marching and bringing in new laws and they still use it against us. Body cams were a joke, a slap in the face. If there were no riots, there would be no attention. No one was there when YOU were protesting this peacefully. Rioting may be wrong, BUT I am more concerned with the action that caused the riots. I will not blame YOU for reacting to a horrible act. YOU elected a beautiful, strong, Black queen in a position to serve her people. YOU showed others how small elections matter. Today, was the beginning of justice. The fact that it is a shock that these officers are being arrested is the very reason why we must continue this movement. YOU have given us hope…the black community. Because of YOU and YOUR actions, the movement lives on. There is promise. From the bottom of my heart, I thank each and every person in Baltimore who did not give up when they said go home. Who did not stay inside because of a ridiculous curfew. Who did not become broken when they began to hurl rocks, but fought back. Who decided that this is the time for people to truly realize our lives matter. My people…my young Black people…I thank YOU!

 

Why “Black Girls Rock” Is Still Needed

IMG_5576Cosmopolitan magazine recently published an article with these four makeup trends. The pictures are showing women of color doing the trend wrong whereas the women of non color have hit the nail on the head. -_- This is the exact reason why shows like “Black Girls Rock” is still needed in today’s society. Some would argue that the recent events like The First Family being Black or number 1 television shows featuring exclusively Black actors are starting to appear, would show that racism is going away. But we all know that is a lie. Even if you take out the constant police brutality against black men, the constant dehumanization of people of color when it comes to the media is abundant and thrives. These pictures not only signify that Black women are getting it wrong, they should die in the process. This is something that should have never been thought about nor gotten to the publishing stage. But it is ideas like these, little slight nuisances that continue to shove the story of Black women not being good enough.

Watching “Black Girls Rock” last night was a powerful moment. I watch it every year and am always inspired and motivated by the beautiful women of color, young and old, that continue to make waves in society. This year, I decided to watch it with my oldest son. He asked me why were only Black girls on the show and I hesitated. He’s only 8 and I wasn’t sure how to answer his question in a way that he would understand. I then replied, “How many Black girls do you see on the shows that you watch?” He immediately got it. He expressed that he doesn’t see any Black girls on the shows he watches and if he does it’s only one or two but they aren’t always on there. This misrepresentation is the reason for this show. This is the reason why “White Girls Rock” is not a thing. “White Girls Rock” is an obvious statement everywhere you look! Every media ad you see is a woman of non color claiming to be beautiful or powerful. If you see a Black woman, she is always on the side. Never in the forefront. We have to continue to push shows and agendas like these for our community. These positive images are what our youth need to see. It is what we all need to see. That no matter what, we are not what they paint us to be. Black women are the most powerful women in this world once we tap into our brilliance. We create the trends, we motivate the masses, we have the ability to do anything with nothing. We are the original creators. So, I implore everyone to tell a Black girl or Black woman that she rocks each and every day because just turning on the TV or flipping a page in a magazine states otherwise.

Artist Spotlight: Kiwi The Beauty

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I am a firm believer in constantly supporting the creatives in this field. We need to uplift one another so that we can truly make a mark in this world. This month’s “Artist Spotlight” is focused on the world of blogging. Kisheyna Durham aka Kiwi is the mastermind behind the blog, http://www.kiwithebeauty.com. Blogging since 2006, Kiwi has finally settled into her own lane of bringing beauty and lifestyle together in a fabulous way. Featured in several magazines, gracing billboards, and becoming the spokesperson for a variety of brands, including Travel Divas and Miss Jessie’s, Kiwi the Beauty is ready to take the blogging world by storm.

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1. How did you get started in your craft?
Blogging I have been doing since 2006. I didn’t consider it a craft in the beginning, it was a hobby. I had no idea blogging would be something that could grow to this magnitude but I am happy it has developed into my craft.
2. What is something that inspires you to stay motivated?
Other bloggers who are doing really big things. Who are working with big brands, getting almost celebrity like endorsements and even being featured on commercials. That motivates me…that bloggers can go really far in this industry!
3. Where do you see yourself and your craft 5 years from now?
Five years from now I would love to see my brand grow and it evolve into a 6-figure business. I want my blog and brand to be well-known and provide me opportunities far beyond my own personal goals and dreams.
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4. What sets you apart in your craft from others?
Just being myself! I have my own personality and drive. There are millions of blogs with a lot of niches…but I just set my own standards. Although I am inspired by some and even learn from other blogs, I still just do my own things to make “Kiwi the Beauty”…my voice and in alignment with me.
5. What do you love the most about your craft?
The opportunities that have came with it. I get invited to a lot of fun events and I have some great brand ambassadorships because of it and I am so happy all of it is in alignment for what I got my degree in which is Mass Media Communications.
 
6. What is the main thing you want people to learn or to get from your craft?
That blogging is a business and it is not just a trend or new thing. While it is fun and glamorous sometimes, it is still WORK! I feel like I do 5 different jobs being a blogger…its not just taking pictures and putting them in a post. The blogging industry is growing and we are also slowly but surely getting all the recognition we deserve!
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Make sure you check out the blog at http://www.kiwithebeauty.com. You can also follow Kiwi on Twitter, Facebook. and Instagram under the handle Kiwithebeauty. Remember, true success comes with the ability to support others. Whether it is a like or a follow or a simple share, it all helps! :)

The Easter Challenge

Okay, so before you get excited, there is no real challenge. Per say. There won’t be a prize at the end and you racing to do ridiculous things. The title is actually a challenge between mind and spirit. My mind and spirit. It is one that I have been battling for quite some time and have just now developed an understanding to. It may come to a shock to some because you know how it goes when Black folks bring up any questions against religion, but eh. It won’t be the first time I have ruffled some feathers. :)

My mother always had me in the church and involved. We weren’t there 24/7, but I knew God and Jesus as my savior since I could remember. I loved going to church and hearing my pastor preach. He fed so much life into me, at such a young age, and I attribute most of my sanity to his preaching. As I became older, 18, I didn’t go to church as much. And after my pastor died, I really didn’t want to period. We soon settled into another church with a pastor who was actually my youth minister at my previous church. I felt at home because he was an amazing preacher as well. But, I would find myself feeling a certain type of way when certain passages were read in the Bible. I often had questions but knew that it could go one or two ways. Either I would find out a truth that I would not be comfortable with or I would be looked at as different because I was challenging the word of God. So, I kept it to myself. Telling myself that I could enjoyed the sermon and take from it what was needed and move on. Years later, with kids, I  have been conflicted again. As my oldest is coming to the point where he wants to be baptized, I am questioning myself again. I have always vowed to allow my children to learn things on their on and never push my opinions on to them. This is with anything, food, clothing, and religion. But I also wondered if this was the right thing. As a parent, you are suppose to lead your child in the right direction. Was there a way that I could introduce him to God without overly pushing religion on him?

As stated before, I grew up in the church. If it wasn’t for my knowledge of Him and knowing that He could get me through anything, I would not be where I am today. It is my experience with God, my daily conversations, my knowing of his grace and mercy that allows me to believe in Him. This is what I want to instill into my children. I don’t necessarily want them to believe in man or an institution or a religion. I want them to believe in Him and Him only. But, as kids do…they have questions. It is hard to answer these questions without a bias opinion and this has been my biggest problem. I don’t want him to ask, “Why should I believe in Jesus?” and my answer is because I said so. I want him to come up with these answers on his own because everyone’s journey is different. What I believe in and what works for me may not be what works for him and his life.

Then, I am challenged with what do I fully believe in. I believe in God. I believe that He created everything and He has a plan and purpose for everyone’s life. I believe that He is the reason for any and everything that is happening and will happen to me. Here comes the conflict. I do not believe in the Bible. I actually never have. As a writer, I can’t shake the thought of several creatives sitting around and writing an entertaining self help book. There are things in the Bible that I cannot agree with and therefore, I feel like I can’t believe in the full book. Can’t just pick and choose what you want to believe. So because of this, I often question my belief in Jesus Christ. The only thing saying that he is possible is the Bible and I have already denounced believing in that, so therefore I should not believe in Jesus. See, that’s where it gets tricky. Because I believe in God with every fiber of my being, I can easily believe that Jesus is real. I can believe that it is possible that he died and rose. God is that powerful. He may not be real because of what is written in the Bible, but I do not deem it ridiculous if he was. Does that make sense?

So, with this Easter Challenge, I am challenging myself to be more open with my beliefs. Easter is a holiday dedicated to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As someone who somewhat believes in this story, should I still fully celebrate it? Should I allow my children to celebrate it and educate them on what it means without putting my two cents in? I have decided to teach my children both ways. If they have questions, they will be answered wholeheartedly. I will give them my full and honest opinion and let them make their own decisions on what to believe. I will instill God in them and as they become older, they will choose their own paths. While it is still in the early stages of thinking, I am still praying and adjusting as I go. One thing that I have made certain is that I will not participate in the Pagan part of this holiday. There will be no Easter baskets full of candy. There will be no Easter egg hunts. I have no clue what this has to do with Jesus’ resurrection and I refuse to play into it any longer. I want my sons to be fully educated and not just go with what society deems is correct. Society wants us to spend money for a holiday that is suppose to be solely based on something spiritual. Nope! Not anymore.

Being more open with my beliefs allows me to be closer to Him. I am seeing things more clearly and He is allowing this to happen. It is nothing better than being awakened, in your own mindset, and not being afraid to share it with others. With so many people and different religions, I have never been one to judge. I can only speak on my experiences with God and what He has done in my life. I can only do what is right for my life and my journey. This “challenge” is not so much a challenge, but an opportunity to realize who God is in my life and being okay with that.