Other Places to Follow


Other Places to Follow


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Avatar is Ourstory

I love sci-fi movies. I grew up watching them, as well as martial arts and westerns, with my father. However, I was immediately enamored with James Cameron's Avatar.


This movie was like the African Diaspora meets Star Wars. The phenotypical makeup of the Na'Vi, the deception of a people to gain their trust in order to take their mineral wealth and land, the emphasis of ancestor and nature veneration (among other things) were proof enough for me that this movie had a lot of underlying inferences to how African people, and other indigenous groups, were treated during western colonization, exploration, imperialism, and slavery. 

I must say this was a very bold movie, not just for its cinematic technological innovations. This film tackled a lot of socio-cultural, political, and historical issues that many movies set on this planet would dare not even mention. What message do you take from watching Avatar? There are many. One is that you cannot decieve a people without feeling their retaliation in response to that deception. Another is that sometimes love requires you to turn your back on all that you know. A final message, my favorite, is that no matter how much our science and technology advances us, there is a greater force at work. The Na'Vi called her Enywa. Although that greater force or being cannot be studied under a microscope, it is what holds the ultimate power. Like the Na'Vi, we must never forget that this ultimate power does not come from us, but from a greater source. That is the greatest part of ourstory ever told.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

There's a Little Bit of "Precious" In All of Us

If y'all haven't seen this movie go and see it--I repeat--GO AND SEE IT! I'm not going to lie, it was a tear-jerker and a bit depressing, but it shed light on a story that was untold to many. I'll try not to give away any spoilers, but dark-skinned, morbidly obese, Precious was a girl that suffered a lot of parental abuse. Her fantasies were the most intriguing part of the film; they were a form of escapism and covertly revealed the self shame Precious may have developed due to the abuse she suffered.

I want a light-skinned boyfriend.
I want to be skinny.
I want long hair.

These were some of the things Precious dreamed about. However, what irks me is that some of us sistahs have dreamed of some of these things and have not endured half as much as Precious. What does light skin represent in society? How many of us sistahs are bulimic or anorexic on the low? Have we waited for everyone to fall asleep only to gaze into our mirror and whisper, "Grow hair, grow?"

If there's a little bit of Precious inside you, HEAL HER! Tell her its okay to be as dark as midnight. All skin tones are beautiful. Show her healthier ways to lose weight and keep it off. Teach her patience and how to care for her natural hair and love it, no matter the length. Finally, show her some love; after all, she is Precious.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Am I self-hating because I rock a weave?

NO! Well it depends.
Weaves and wigs are not an invention of contemporary American culture nor of 17th century Europe where men powdered those poodle-looking wigs on their heads. The origin of wigs and weaves date back approximately three thousand years ago to Ancient Africa, particuarly Kemet (Ancient Egypt). Wigs were often used because the Ancient Egyptians shaved their heads to prevent lice. In fact, shaving the heads (particularly among the young) and rocking wigs and extensions is still practiced throughout parts of Africa.

Left: Two women whose braids have been lengthened to their ankles through the use of sinew (eefipa) extensions, Mbalantu of Wambo group, Namibia, Africa Photo: M.Schettler, 1940's. From the book Hair in African Art and Culture

So do we say the Ancient Egyptians had natural body image shame because they rocked the--do I dare say it?--WIG! Certainly not.

Below:  royal child with plait;
New Kingdom Ancient Egypt. Source: V. Easy
                                           Below: Boy with plait. Himba, Namibia, Africa
                                                         Photo dated: Anneliese Scherz, 1940's
                                                         From the book Hair in African Art and Culture

However, why do we, as women in the African Diaspora, wear wigs and weaves?

  • To give our hair a rest from daily manipulation?
  • To change up the do?
  • To hide our natural hair 24/7 because we're ashamed of it?
                                           Right: Namibia Wigs

Now there are women (of all ethnicities) out there that rock prosthetic wigs because they may suffer from alopecia. These are NOT the women I'm talking about. I'm talking about those of us sistahs with a head full of hair who wear Wiggy and her sistah Weavisha.                                 
Ancient Egyptian Wig: Royal Ontario Museum, Canada

I'll rock kinky twists in a heartbeat, but not because I hate my natural hair. In fact, I feel a bit "hairsick," missing my natural hair while its in the protective style. However, our natural hair thrives in protective styles, and kinky twists are my way to protect my crown.

Part of my journey to learning ourstory is discovering new protective styles I can wear for (2-3 months) with my natural hair. If y'all have any ideas, let a sistah know!

Now I don't believe every woman who relaxes their hair or rocks a weave hate themselves. Goodness gracious--I'd be talking about half of the women in my family (and since kinky twists is weave) that would include me too. I am all for embracing one's cultural heritage, and weaves/wigs is part of our ancient cultural heritage. Just know ladies, if you do wear wigs/weaves take a deep look within to determine why. If it's because you can't stand the sight of your natural hair, then you are suffering from Natural Body Image shame.

So the last thing I'll say is...

Love the real you and do you!

Don't Bite the Apple Eve because its bombed the AAA Effect!

Restaurants: The Good, The Bad, and Downright Nasty

Food is truly for the soul among black folks. Family recipes, potlucks, holiday traditions are all ways we keep ourstory alive and kicking. I'm not greedy, well maybe I am just a little. Ha! However, I do love great food and restaurants that provide authentic African Diapora dishes. Ghanaian red red, Haitian griot, Down south sweet potato pone, Jamaican ackee and saltfish, are some of the numerous foods our people prepare.

(I believe this is Ghanaian Red Red over Fish. I don't remember...but lawd have mercy, it was good!)

When choosing a culturally-themed restaurant, look for the Triple A Effect:
  • Atmosphere: A restaurant can have the best food in the world, but if it looks and smells like there is live-in roadkill, KEEP IT MOVING. Also culturally relevant ambience is super important. When I go to a Jamaican restaurant I expect to hear reggae music. I love Celtic and even rock music, but if Evanescence is blasting from the speakers, KEEP IT MOVING!
  • Artery-Friendly Alternatives: Restaurants that are culturally and health conscious are a must. If a restaurant only serves fried food and nothing green, KEEP IT MOVING. I love restaurants with a diverse menu that includes healthy choices. Nutrition is extremely important. Be kind to your arteries and they'll be kind to you.
  • Authenticity: I enjoy soul food dishes that are cooked by our hands. We must preserve our food culture by preparing our traditional dishes. Traveling has given me a greater appreciation for all types of food, like Portuguese cuisine; however, if a Portuguese restaurant is whipping out "American food" just to attract tourists, that repels rather than attracts me. If I fly all the way to Portugal, give me Portuguese cuisine, please. Keep the food real or I will have to KEEP IT MOVING.

Jerk Hut

MY RATING: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Jerk Hut is truly an underdog. The ambience was simple yet cozy with its vibrant color scheme and intimate booths. The music was excellent. Great dancehall and reggae "Love Boat" theme music here. For your money, they give you plenty of food which is something, unfortunately, I cannot say about Bahama Breeze. I've eaten at restaurants in Jamaica and Jerk Hut truly provides authentic Caribbean cuisine. However, they get snabbed 1/2 point for the metallic skirt wearing, beer holding girls on their website's home page. I can tell momma or auntie about this amazing restaurant, but would they be attracted after seeing the website? Probably not.
view their website for more information:
Bahama Breeze

MY RATING: 3 out of 5 stars
Bahama Breeze is in the big leagues compared to Tampa's Jerk Hut. They have numerous chains throughout the US, yet Jerk Hut outshines them in the authenticity arena. The menu does have traditional dishes (though it may not be prepared traditionally or by traditional hands). Some American dishes have made their way onto the menu. They do have live Caribbean music, although "The Love Boat" theme was a definite turn off. This is a restaurant I probably would go to again, but I won't break my neck to get there.
view their website for more information:

Cultural Heritage Preservation: A Cure for NBI Shame

I am a firm believer that the shame (and that's a nice way of putting it) of our natural selves stems from not knowing about our rich cultural heritage as black people. Like any people, our cultural heritage involves periods of greatness and sorrow. Hands that once built great civilizations were bound by shackles. Bodies that once danced ceremoniously, adorned in cowrie shells, gold, and beads were broken under the lancing sun. Tongues that spoke of a people's history, and passed down tradition that spanned milleniums, were silenced by foreign words.

Who where we?

During slavery:
What were we becoming?

What are we now?


That's what we are.

Our cultural legacy did NOT begin with slavery, nor did it END in slavery. Chattel slavery was a chapter in ourstory that must be told. However, there are other chapters that predate slavery and other chapters that have yet to be written.

Ourstory is an ancient and ongoing one. We must stop recycling the same chapters or tossing new chapters in the slush pile because we don't want to talk about them. We must remember the good, the bad, and downright nasty.

So if our story is all of that, how do we tell it?

Your way. Toni Morrison uses powerful words to tell it. Erykah Badu uses her hypnotic voice to tell it. India Arie uses her guitar to tell it. Alek Wek uses her runway walk to tell it. Food Network Star Gina Neeley (with her husband) uses cooking to tell it.

It does not matter how you tell ourstory as long as IT IS TOLD! If it is not told, we will stop remembering; humankind as a whole will forget. Our natural body image (NBI) is a manifestation of ourstory. If you know who you are, it shows.

NATURAL BODY IMAGE: Ourstories. Our bodies. Loving our natural selves unapologetically

Natural Body Image Shame

Why we don't talk about it and why we should.

Let the conversation begin. Body image is something we constantly hear women, regardless of color, struggle with.

I'm too fat...I'm not thick enough

I want a butt is too big

My breast are huge...they're not big enough

This can go on but I'd probably run out of space. Females from every ethnic group have to make their peace with the Natural Body Image the creator blessed them with. For us sistahs, we are not exempt. Now we all know the media perpetuates a certain type of black beauty. Rarely do we see Alek Weks, India Aries, or Jill Scotts. Often times many of the women we DO SEE in the media are like an Alek Wek, India Arie, or Jill Scott in their natural state.

Skin bleach

Cosmetic Surgery

Hair chemicals

These things, and more, certainly keep our Natural Body Image a secret. Do black women who use these products hate themselves? It depends on how these questions are answered:

Do you use skin bleach to fade discoloration from acne, pregnancy, or hyperpigmentation? Or do you use it because you want to look like Casper's sister?

Do you get your nose surgically altered to breathe better or because you think its too big or too wide?

Do you relax your hair because you want to or because you think your natural hair is a hot mess and you can't get a job or a man unless you have "good hair?"

How we perceive our natural body image should not be dictated by Eurocentric standards of beauty nor personal or professional relationships. If you look in the mirror and you can't stand your complexion, your eye color, or hair are suffering from NBI Shame.

Love the woman in the mirror and let the healing begin.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Black Atlas: A Great Resource for the Black World Traveler

Gathering those puzzle pieces to discover ourstory began when I started traveling. Now I'm not apart of the Sky Club (if u got the connect...hook a sistah up lol) but I can say I'm becoming a bit of a world traveler. I love world cultures in general, but I'm always especially thrilled when I get to see black folk practicing a different culture than myself thousands a miles away. The diversity within our community is wonderful, and I have been blessed to see the oneness we all share despite our differences. However, to find that oneness I had to first find where all the black folk were at.

If you guys love world traveling like me, you are constantly googling cool sites and blogs that'll make your jounrey more comfortable. You'll peruse the travel section in bookstores or watch Travel Channel while sipping on a veggie smoothie (lol). Well I found a gem, like no other.


check out this video on Kingston:

While driving to work, I split my time listening to the Steve Harvey and Tom Joyner morning shows. That's when I learned of this great resource. Black people who world travel or would like to travel need to check this site out. It's informative and easily navigable. It gives you all of the ethnic places found in numerous countries (Portugal is full of black brothers and sisters, which was a complete surprise to me). From spoken word joints, clubs, restaurants, hair salons, theaters, and for nerds like me...bookstores. Black Atlas is a gem because it's one of the few travel resources that speak to black folks wherever they are!

You are the missing ankh...goodbye!

The day before I left for Lisbon, my ankh ring fell down my bathroom sink. I'm like: "Is this a sign?" I've only taken it off to bathe or wash dishes, but within a matter of seconds...POOF! Since I started my journey to becoming AFROconscious, I wore my ring as a constant reminder to myself of what Africa was at its peak.

The Ankh has numerous interpretations:

* a symbol of life
* the female womb
* the first trinity (i.e. man, woman, child)

I carried all of these meanings with me, wrapped around my finger. So was it an omen, my ring disappearing? Nah. I think it propels me to a higher strata in my journey. Although I'm gonna buy another one (it's a great ice-breaker when sistahs notice it), I don't NEED it to remind me of my Africanness; I am my own reminder.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hello Blog world!

AFRO (African Females Remember OURstory) is a vision I have always had from my adolescent years, even though putting it into words (i.e. the acronym above) came fairly recently. Too often, I would find my Africanness as a black woman in America systematically (yet covertly) supressed by the society I have been enculturated in. My journey to becoming AFROconscious is ongoing; so far I have encountered potholes and sharp turns along the way. Despite the obstacles I have encountered, I have been strengthened and enlightened by them, which has made me grateful.

So what is OURstory?
That is something this blog will seek to explore. As black women (in the motherland, the Americas, Caribbean, Europe etc.) we have a forgotten legacy that is rich yet humbling. Learning about ourstory is a journey for me; I'm no know-it-all and am not trying to be. I do want to share the puzzle pieces of ourstory as I find them. I find those pieces everywhere from how we do our hair, to our grandmothers or aunties telling us stories from "Back in the Day," to those folk medicinal remedies for the common cold and PMS. Words are power, so I definitely want this blog to be a place where we can share ourstories about love, life, culture, history, work, beauty, fear...everything. From creative writing, vlogging, spoken word, photography, art, ethnography etc. I want AFRO to be where we, black women, begin to tell our stories, our way.

Now hold up. Before anyone even asks, I am NOT trying to put us on a pedestal above other women. I do want us to know what our rich legacy was and continues to be as African women on the continent and in the Diaspora. Somewhere down the line ourstories went underground (thank you slavery, colonialism, Jim Crow, gentrification etc). AFRO is about digging beneath the rubble to uplift and preserve those stories (I know...horrible archaeology analogy :)

Just remember:

Within every black woman is a story. If she never tells it, you'll never know the woman.

Peace and many blessings to those who come across this blog. I'll be in touch.