Top 5 of 2015

It’s that time. The good ole end of the year where I will read a million, “New year, new me” post before noon. You guys know the routine and you should know that I am always going against the grain. Screw the New Year and deep posts about what I’m going to do and change. (I’m probably not gonna do it anyway so why lie?) This year I wanted to focus on my favorites of 2015. Things that helped me to grow as a person, laugh, and just helped keep my sanity. Last year, I wrote a post on some of the top positive black representations in the media, https://iamjeaninenicole.com/2015/01/02/positive-black-representation-makes-waves-in-2014/, and this year I want to keep that trend going. So here we go…my Top 5 favorite’s of 2015.

5. The Wiz Remake

I will be the first to admit that I was very wary of this remake. I absolutely loved the original and didn’t want those memories tattered with horrible acting and singing. When I learned it was a remake of the actual Broadway play, I was a little more at ease. That night, I was so excited. I actually made my kids go to bed so that I could enjoy on my own without a million questions being asked. As soon as it started, I was in awe! (I discuss it more in full length here: https://iamjeaninenicole.com/2015/12/04/the-wiz-live-40-years-later-it-is-still-needed/) The reason that this was one of my faves is because it came at a time where it was needed. Our community needed to see something positive and uplifting. After what seems like 24/7, negativity against Blacks, it was nice to see us being US for a change. Us being funny, us singing, dancing, being beautiful and vibrant. It was a great change and I don’t mind saying I cried at the end.

4. Cooking Bae’s

So, you should know by now that I love to cook. I love exploring different flavors and jazzing up old boring recipes. This year God blessed me to somehow follow these two lovely ladies and I have fallen in love more and more, with each tweet. Angela Davis, @MissAngelaDavis, is a personal chef that reminds me of a soulful Ina Gartin. Like Ina, Angela cooks amazing hearty dishes that look absolutely stunning. I’ll admit that I was very intimidated looking at her pictures because it just seemed like it was something I couldn’t accomplish. But slowly, I became very intrigued with her flavor choices and even more intrigued with her as a person. She is very much a strong woman and a loving mother. In my head, she is that big sister that will kindly snatch someone in place while kneading biscuit dough. And anyone who can finally show me how to properly fry chicken is a fave to me.

(For more insight on Angela and her recipes, http://www.kitchenistadiaries.com/ and check out her E-book at http://www.blurb.com/user/store/kitchdiaries)

My second cooking bae is the sexy and hilarious Resha aka @kanYebreast. Now, I have always saw this lovely woman retweeted on my TL, but never thought anything of it. She was gorgeous and funny, so I figured that’s why so many people loved her. It wasn’t until Chef Roble, my other cooking bae, said he was working with her that I decided to check her out. LORD BLESS THE GODS FOR THIS!! This woman here is more than a chef. She is pure comedy in a bottle. I love her multi dimensional personality  and the fact that she gives zero fucks about what she says and who she says it to. When it comes to her cooking, she is hands down the best teacher. She doesn’t just tell you the stuff to buy and follow a recipe. She breaks down the science to why you are doing it and you remember that when preparing other meals. Simple things like turning the pan off when you cook eggs to drying your meat before searing it are life changers!

(For more with Resha and her cooking you can visit her website at http://carnaldish.com/ and follow her on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/user/carnaldish)

3. Black Twitter

Yes, I said it. The infamous Black Twitter has definitely been my sanctuary of sanity and self care. It is the place where I go to be reminded that there are intelligent people in the world, and they are quite witty at that. Black Twitter is a place where people can instantly find receipts on someone faster than the FBI, a place where we come together and talk shit about the ignorant reality stars who claim to be musical geniuses, a places where phrases like, “Meet me in Temecula,” and “$200 dates” are common knowledge. You can go there and find comedy. You can find the ratchet.  You can find a bearded bae. You can find advice that you didn’t ask for. And most importantly, you can find comfort and solace. Black Twitter is home. It’s just that simple.

2. Unapologetically Black Attire

Among the tragedies against black lives in this year, there has been an uprising of ways to show your love of being black. From promoting more black businesses to showcasing black art, black pride is on the rise and it couldn’t make me happier. You ever just felt so proud of something that you wanted to shout it to anyone within range? Share it with every person you came into contact with? What better way than a t-shirt! They are bold, make a statement, and everyone will see it and understand exactly what you stand for. It’s that simple and I absolutely love it. Here are a few of my faves, including one of my own, that I think should be in everyone’s closet going into the next year. Many of us feel like we cannot do much to help when it comes to the injustices that are done, but that is far from the truth. Being Black and PROUD is more of a weapon than anything.

 

Here are the links for the shirts if you would like to purchase. Please beware of any FAKE copies and make sure you are buying the original. Support the creators.

“Boldly Black for the ’99 & 2000”- http://www.teespring.com/boldlyblack99

“I love my Blackness and Yours”- https://teespring.com/i-love-my-blackness-hoodie?tsref=search

“Black by Popular Demand”- http://www.hautegreekscouture.com/collections/urban-pitfalls

“Magical Black Girl”- https://teespring.com/magicalblackgirl?tsref=search

“Pure Black Nutritional Facts”- https://teespring.com/Black-Nutritional-Facts?tsref=search

“Because of Them We Can”- http://www.becauseofthemwecan.com/products/signature-t-shirt

1.  MJ Crying Face

Okay, because yall know I am goofy I had to end it this way. A lot of people don’t think this is still funny, but you cannot tell me that this damn face is not the most hilarious thing of 2015! Black Twitter will literally put this on anything and I am in tears. Seriously, they just had it on someone’s flat tire and I was doubled over. This notorious face has been on everything from losing sports teams logos to actually body parts. Anyone or thing taking an L this year has had this face superimposed on to them. There is no limit for this face and I honestly don’t see it staying in 2015…until we get another one of course. Here are a few of my faves. Enjoy!

So that is it! My Top 5 faves of 2015. I know 2016 will bring even more and I cannot wait to see what is in store! Enjoy your New Year’s Holiday!

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How Protest and Boycotts Can Be Successful

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Just hours away from the resignation of the University of Missouri’s president that was initiated by a hunger strike, by Mizzou graduate Johnathan Butler, and a boycott from the black Mizzou football players, it is finally being shown that protest and boycotts can actually produce real change. Some would argue that the president did not decide to resign until the boycott of the football players because of the amount of revenue that would have been lost and fines that would have accrued. Some would say that it was the gain of social media attention that helped put more pressure on the school to actually do something instead of sitting around like they had before. The hashtag, #ConcernedStudent1950 was started after a few racially charged incidents took place on the Mizzou campus. Once word got out about Butler’s hunger strike, more people began to use the hashtag in their support for his cause. Regardless of how it happened, the big thing is that it did happen.

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Through support and acknowledgment of the bigger picture, a change had ensued. Should it have taken such dramatics? Of course not, but sometimes you have to go to extremes for something to really happen. Once you acknowledge that what you are protesting or fighting for is a real, tangible thing then you will have no problem doing whatever it takes to have something effective happen. I have always admired those who boycott and protest because it takes a really selfless person to do such a thing. To put themselves in harms way for the betterment of a community has to be the most selfless act anyone can perform. Many times we can get discouraged when looking at the news and feel that protesting might not be working. We see the continuous killings of innocent black lives with no repercussions. We see the way that they try to pacify us with seemingly new laws that may work in our favor, but really are still used against us, i.e. body cams. This can make you feel like protesting or boycotting is not worth it. It can make you feel like what little difference will you make by making things a little more difficult in your life by boycotting something of the norm. As you can see, it is making a difference. Our generation is saying enough is enough and actually putting in the work. I salute anyone who is able to do something like this. We must continue to rally and support those in these moments because encouragement is the best way to keep the movement going. No one else is going to tell them good job, so it is our duty to do so. Protests and boycotts have been proven effective in the past and it is time that our generation continues the legacy of our ancestors. We can not get too complacent in thinking that we cannot make a change when it has been proven that we can. Many times we do not see the positive results of protests due to the lack of media attention, but know that it is happening. There are strides being made to have a more racially justice world and it starts with moments like these.

For more on the Mizzou protest, you can read here http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/jonathan-butler-how-grad-students-hunger-strike-toppled-university-president-n460161

Photo credits: http://www.columbiamissourian.com and http://www.usatoday.com

Single Moms Are T-shirts

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After writing the “Single Moms Are…” post I decided to create a t-shirt to further enforce my message. I want all single mothers to feel that they are strong individuals and not those derogatory words that were pulled up in the search. We have to be the change that we want to see and with that more positivity needs to be put out there about what single mothers really are. You can purchase the t-shirt at http://www.teespring.com/single-moms-are.

Empire…Using it’s Platform or Making a Mockery of the Movement?

So we all know, or should know, by now that Empire is our own little Black telenovela that comes on every Wednesday night. Because of this, we let the overly dramatic and loosely written scenes go over our heads and still become enthralled in the music and storyline of the show. For me, I see it as a form of self care. Something to watch that takes me away from the everyday headache of society. Everyone needs that mental release from the world and this is my little guilty pleasure. With that being said, Empire has a looooooooooottttttt of explaining to do with the recent “support” or acknowledgment of the “Black Lives Matter” movement.

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With the season opener, there is a huge concert with the hashtag #FreeLucious. This was strike one for me. Unless you have been under a rock, or stuck in some type of privilege and refuse to acknowledge the real issues of society, Black Lives Matter has been a movement that has been going on for some time now. It began over the countless killings of young black men at the hands of white cops. What started as hashtags turned into protests and rallys for these innocent bodies. Let me say that again, INNOCENT BODIES!! Empire…what? How are you going to have a protest reminiscent of the movement, but it is for a man who was clearly guilty??? This already shows the mockery because now it makes it seem like the work that people are doing to fight against innocent people being killed at random is a joke and they are really protesting against nothing. Oh wait…and let’s not forget Cookie coming out in a gorilla suit. (I don’t think there is an explanation needed for why that was wrong in so many ways. But hey, Fox is gonna Fox, right?)

Now, when I finished watching that episode I will say that I had to shake it off. They obviously were trying just a little hard and they did use their platform to bring some type of awareness. Also Jussie Smollett,(Jamal Lyon), is very active in the “Black Lives Matter” movement so they got a little bit of a pass. I needed this show to not turn into THAT show. I wanted to support my Black actors and actresses, but I needed them to stay aware of what they were putting out there. So, I’m watching last night and everything is going smooth. It’s the normal, all over the place, Lusious hates Andre because of his mental issues and the mental issues his mother has, Jamal just wants someone to love him so he can write his music, Cookie is being loud and crazy, we are great! Credits roll and I am able to keep Empire on my watchlist. And then it happens. They show scenes from the next episode and Cookie is put in the backseat of a car. “If I die in police custody, I did not commit suicide.”  giphy-facebook_s

“Nah…that didn’t just happen did it?” I asked invisible bae, who was just as dumbfounded as I was. Did they really just use a Sandra Bland reference…on this show…as a means to be funny? Now, once again for those privileged rock dwellers, Sandra Bland was a Black young lady who was wrongfully taken into police custody and found dead in her cell a few days later. Many people protested this event because they did not believe that it was a suicide and suspected foul play. From the dash cam of the police car, Bland was very adamant about fighting her case in court and did not seem at all like she was ready to go down without a fight. The phrase, “If I die in police custody, I did not commit suicide,” was something that was started after the death of Sandra Bland and a way to show a united stance with her and her family. This is something that has me very conflicted. There are several people who have been fighting hard…HARD…for our rights and for the world to see what is really happening when it come to police brutality against people of color. To throw it randomly in a scene with no real care, is just foolish. This is where I begin to lean more towards the mockery aspect with Empire. This is not like the time when Shonda did her “Mike Brown-esque” episode on Scandal. Shonda did an entire episode on the matter and in no way made fun of the movement. Scandal is not a comedic show and hence the appropriate platform for it. Empire is doing this all wrong. Everything that comes out of Cookie’s mouth is pretty much a joke, we love her for it, but still.

If you want to bring awareness, there are ways to do so without throwing jabs and random twitter sayings and hashtags around in every scene. Wear a “Black Lives Matter” shirt or throw a benefit concert for families affected by the police brutality, but don’t just give references out of the blue and say you are “bringing awareness.” No…you’re not. You are doing the complete opposite. You are turning this into a minstrel show and discrediting those who are out there every day fighting. Those who have actually been arrested for simply protesting, those who have been shot with rubber bullets, those who have been attacked with tear gas. You are dehumanizing people involved in the movement and making it look like they are all just foolish characters, fighting for something that isn’t a real cause. Fox…I mean I guess we should have expected this, but at what moment do we start holding our celebs accountable? You can’t tell me they read that and didn’t feel a certain way. And, honestly, if they did read it and thought it was okay…that’s a problem in itself. The same problem that we always have when it comes to our people on TV. I don’t want to see a shuck and jive show with pointless references. I want to see real acting. The show doesn’t have to say a thing about the movement at all if it cannot do it properly. Don’t think that just because you have a show full of Black people, you have to throw it in somehow, because you are doing more damage then you realize. All in all, Empire needs to get it together…QUICK…before next Wednesday it’s going to be a collective, “same phone…who dis?” from their biggest audience.

Photo credits: kontrolmag.com, sheknows.com, giphy.com

“The Rebranding of Black Fathers” Documentary

Rebranding of Black Dads Group Photo

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!

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.