CultureFestDMV: The Recap

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This teacher is SO ready to call it a wrap, throw in the towel, hang it up, ditch School Year 18/19, or however you prefer phrasing it. I’m ready to get my summer on! And what’s synonymous with summer??? Festivals! CultureFest DMV was the perfect preview for a summer filled with friends, family, food, fun, and festivals (insert smile huge smile here). The location was perfect and the weather even better. Parking wasn’t a challenge and the venue was open enough (this year) where if you needed a moment to take a breather and a break from all the hype, you could easily do so and just people watch from the sidelines.

CultureFest brought artists and dj’s from various locations throughout the diaspora to rock out for and with us…8EA5F4DD-5651-497F-99E0-ACDA70ECD94BIn addition to the main stage, there were two party “tents”, smaller in size but large in “turn up”. I was supposed to just be poking my head in one, then heading out. However the music and fun were flowing so I found myself hanging out until the event was just about over.

If I had to pick 3 (just 3) things I enjoyed most about CultureFestDMV 2019 I’d have to say:

1. The Energy

You ever go someplace and can literally feel good vibes in the air, oozing off and out of everybody? People are smiling at each other and being extra nice just because. Worries and concerns are left at the gate. So everybody’s traveling lighter. Looser. Friendlier. Happier.  That kind of energy is so inviting, so contagious. So intoxicating.

2. The Music

Duh! Music has the power to take us to another dimension. It boosts our moods (the right music), takes us back to the good old days while giving us hope for the future. And if you listen, for hours, to feel good music, accompanied by a rack of other folk also feeling amazing and hopeful, it’s impossible not to become “intoxicated” (high off the vibes).

3. The Fashion

Festivals are synonymous with fashion. I love an opportunity to see how my fellow black girls put it together. We’re just so “ YAAASSS Girl!” with it. Bright colors, cool patterns, shoulders out, crop tops, shorts, flowy dresses, ripped denim, curls, twists, and lips poppin, shades. Man…all of it. You name it. Knowing what you what to express, then expressing/communicating it without saying a word…that’s the definition of style and fashion to me. And Black girls (yes I’m biased…but I’m also telling the truth) are LOADED with it. It’s like…our birthright. The girls were on point Saturday. And I can’t front, the fellas were too. While some preferred the typical summer day uniform for fellas (T-shirt, shorts/denim), others came out in their print button downs, attire to represent home, and slip ins. I peeped them looking oh so “swaggy”.

If I could make just one small request moving forward it would be to include even more representation from throughout the African diaspora (African-American, European, Haitian, South American, etc.) in the spirit of Doing-It-For-The-Culture (Doing-It-For-The-Diaspora).

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In closing, I’m hoping your summer calendar is filled with loads of activities centered around family, friends, food, fun, and of course, a festival or two…

 

Fun Fact: I repurposed this head wrap and wore it bandeau style Saturday. Looking forward to sporting this look all summer…

 

WCW: The Lioness of Africa

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It took me a whopping thirty seconds to realize…Wow! I like this girl. She’s got spunk! I was initially intrigued by her physical presentation. The “rock star” hair, badass outfits, vibrant accessories, super fit bod, and that silky-smooth, Hershey chocolate skin of hers. And then she started to speak. I went from being intrigued (pleasantly) to being totally captivated and under Wiyaala’s spell. Amongst other things, she shares with us the reviews she received as a young girl. That she was ugly, boyish looking, too muscular. Her response was everything. “I don’t care.” Similarly, later in life when Wiyaala was encouraged to try Beyoncé or Rhianna’s look, she kept that same (I don’t care. I’m doing me) energy. She shades no one, but confidently affirms that although she’s in an industry that glorifies a particular “look”, she will not be conforming–she’d rather rock out in her own way, in her own lane. It’s as if self-confidence and self-awareness are just oozing all over and out of this girl. I LOVE that! The confidence to say, “This is who I am and I am not changing.” Being comfortable enough in your skin to own who you are, to not need anyone’s stamp of approval. To me, this is the epitome of living your best life.

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In addition to being uber comfortable in her skin, Wiyaala is a determined and talented artist, dedicated to giving back to her community. I’m a total fan of “The Lioness of Africa”! She’s got beauty, grit, confidence, and a kind and giving heart. In a nutshell, she’s Dope AF. And my #WCE.

Black.Girl.Magic

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“Black Girl Magic”. It’s evident our magic exists well beyond graphic tees and social media hash tags. When we see fellow black girls making moves, stepping into entrepreneurship, uplifting communities, creating, speaking out against injustice, demonstrating resourcefulness, living fearlessly, and more we swiftly and proudly exclaim, “That’s that black girl magic right there!” I have a pretty clear understanding of our magic as a collective. Simply put, WE LIT. We have a certain swag, a particular élan about us. And that’s not to say others don’t have swag, style, grace. But…ours…is just different. I have to credit a significant portion of the magic oozing through our veins to the women who came before us. Those we’ve had the pleasure and honor of knowing as well as those who laid the foundation for us many moons before our births. The Black Girl Magic torch has been passed down from generation to generation since the beginning. I’m forever indebted to all those who came before me. Additionally, I’m eternally grateful to be a member of such a premiere squad of collective magical-ness.

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As mentioned earlier, I know what makes OUR squad magical but I had a little extra time this weekend to consider my own, unique magic, to consider what and how I’m contributing to the team? What’s my magic exactly?

My MAGIC: MY magic exists in my grateful spirit, and in my zest for life. It rests in my understanding and appreciating that my being alone is a gift. I see it in my ability to love…even still. My magic is in my giving and in my willingness to help others. It exists in my inclination to see the glass as half full, in my preference to make sweet tasting lemonade instead of sucking on sour lemons. My magic exists in my quiet strength and will. If I get knocked down 99 times, I’ll stand up 100. My magic finds residence in the principles I hold dear to my heart. Be trustworthy. Be loyal. Do the right thing. Be kind. Be good to people. My magic’s in my confidence, in my belief that no matter what…I’m gonna be good. It’s in my belief that God is bigger than the box many try to hold Him captive in. My magic’s in my smile, a smile that brightens moods. It’s in my laughter and in my kindness. It’s in my creativity. I see my magic every time I put pieces from the Goodwill together and still manage to look like something. My magic exists in my curiosity and willingness to learn new things. It’s in my genuine appreciation for Black culture (cultures), my desire to connect with my folk. Lastly, my magic is how I can navigate between soft, sweet and girly but you’ll regret crossing me and back to soft, sweet and girly effortlessly. And there you have it. My magic summed up in a paragraph. (Insert smile and a sense of pride here)

I really enjoyed this exercise in self-awareness. I’m confident you will too. I’d like to encourage you all to take a moment, or two, and reflect on the question: What’s my magic? If you’re up for sharing, I’d love that! I always love hearing from you. If you opt to keep your findings to yourself that is totally understandable as well.

Signing off here Ladies. Until next time…

Peace. Love. And Magic. Black Girl Magic.

Demetria Obilor

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Demetria Obilor isn’t the reflection of standard beauty–standard white beauty that is. She’s not rail thin, blonde haired, and blue-eyed, with porcelain colored skin.  Instead, she’s thick and curvy (AF), big and curly-haired, and brown-eyed, with flawless fawn colored skin. In other words, she’s FREAKIN GORGEOUS. The fact that Channel 8 has secured her as their traffic anchor indicates the news channel hasn’t “taken leave of its senses” at all. Channel 8 has gathered its senses in realizing the American (white American) standard of beauty, that fails to capture the beauty of SO many others, is some BS and deserving of dismantling.

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Facebook user Jan (Big Mad Jan) exclaims she will not be tuning into Channel 8 anymore because our girl (everyone who’s on #teamdemetria) is cute (gorgeous)  in the face, slim in the waist, and blessed in all the right places. Jan basically tried to body shame Demetria for being a thick and curvy woman. Jan’s behavior is sad, but not surprising. “When you look a little different, people think they can talk to you a little different.”, says Demetria in response to Jan’s body shaming.  I love how so many people have and are coming to Obilor’s defense. Her clap-back squad is real and ready. And it appears not only black folk are on her team.  I appreciate how so many are realizing and accepting that no particular group monopolizes in the area beauty.  And y’all already know I love how black women continue to walk confidently and boldly in their beauty.  We know, despite everything (historically being told and led to believe we were ugly, with our thick lips, wide noses, dark skin, wide hips, thick thighs, fat butts, and nappy hair)  that we’re our own special kind of beauty.

Lastly, Obilor has handled this body shaming (embedded race/culture shaming) with so much grace. This graceful and unapologetic beauty has gained a new admirer– me.

Happy Naturaversary!

 

I still can’t believe it’s been an entire year since deciding to Big Chop! In all honesty, it wasn’t that much of a big chop being that I’ve always been a fan of short hair. Nonetheless, it was scary and thrilling at the same time. The initial plan was to refrain was relaxing, blow dry and flat iron my hair until I thought it was at a reasonable length for natural styling (I guess this was my attempt at avoiding stage TWA). And the plan was working like a charm! Until the DMV’s scorching summer heat made its debut. I then considered braids, but someone who shall remain nameless indicated not liking braids and “fake hair”. “Fine! I’m just going to cut it off then”, I remember blurting out. “Do what you want to do.”  And that was the end of it for about a week or so.

I remember wanting to wait until the summer program I was coordinating came to a close. You know, just in case I looked a hot ass mess. Kids (particularly MY students) can be brutally honest and the last thing you want after getting a hair cut you’re not particularly happy or confident with is to have to listen to little people talk your head off about said haircut.

The day of my big haircut I asked my hairdresser a gazillion questions as she chopped. I tend to be extremely talkative when I’m nervous. She was so patient with me. I sent pics to a few friends sharing a few steps of the process. They cheered me on, via text, as I anxiously awaited to see my “curls”. Oh…I even added color (burgundy) to the top my of my hair for a little extra spice. When I was finally swirled in the direction of the mirror, with most of the hair that was once on my head resting lifelessly on the surrounding floor, I almost cried. What. The. Fuck! It wasn’t what I expected. At all. I expected more length. I haven’t relaxed my hair in months! This is all the new growth I got? I expected juicy, lush 3A-ish curls.  But nah, my hair was doing something  totally different. “This is it!?  Where are the curls?”, I needed to know.  I felt as if I looked like a boy.  I sent one friend the final product. She took way too long to respond. Ahh shit! This was a bad idea. Should’ve just gotten braids! I was a nervous  wreck the entire ride home. This man already indicated not being in favor of this move and now look at me, looking all boyish.  Breathe Rhonda. Breathe. Why are always so impatient?! Just relax girl. Breathe.

When I arrived home no one was there. Yes! Thank you Lord for this much needed alone time so I can sit with my decision and, more importantly, play around with my hair a bit (what was left of it). I may have added a part on the side (or taken it away), added a little more water and gel, and started finger styling my teeny-TWA. Finally, it was starting to look like something.  Thank you Lord. Relief. I was no longer in panic mode. After putting on some earrings and red lip color, I really started to feel as if I had my swagger back. I can do this. I can totally ROCK this! I knew I was feeling myself because I posted up on The Gram.  Aye! When the guy I was with at the time saw my new do, he was not as impressed as the friends from IG and Facebook. “I hate it. Don’t ever do that to your hair again.”, if my memory serves me correctly, were his exact words. And I guess those words could’ve taken some of the wind out of my sails, but they didn’t.

I was a hair junkie at first. But not so much anymore. My go to’s now: Shea Butter and Amla & Olive Heavy Cream by Qhemet Biologics. I miss the wash and go days occasionally, where I’d load my hair up with gel and see something like curls, but I’m loving my present style and length. And I’ve recently learned I have way more love for dry twist outs than I do wet twist outs.  Don’t ask me what I’m going to do with the four tubs of gel hanging out underneath the bathroom sink. I’m not certain what else this journey has in store for me. Maybe color. Maybe not. For now, I’m loving my funky-short-hair-don’t-care cut , with the retro parts on the sides. I’m loving my thick, wooly texture. Loving the fact that I’m no longer allowing chemicals to sit on and burn my scalp. Loving the fact that I’m creating my own definition of beauty. “Well, this is how my hair grows out of my scalp”, I told him. In other words, this is me…naturally.

I honestly can’t remember a time feeling more confident, more empowered, and more liberated than while on this new hair journey.  I intend to bask in this territory a while. For a good while.

Happy One Year Naturaversary to me…