Interesting how this industry chooses what controversy it wants to exploit and publicize. When Birth of A Nation came out, there was a deliberate plot to destroy it and it's creators. Mind you Nate Parker was acquitted, he didn't settle out of court like this dude did. And he was honest about what happened years ago in a White, extremely racist college town. But where a White man walks a Black man has to fly. Nate got noooo mention for his movie and he put up his own money to create a film so many of our Black moguls were scared to back: one of few films that depict slaves as liberators of self instead of a White savior, a real hero. It's unfair, unjust and so obviously systemic.
#5YearsLater #TrayvonMartin #restinpeace
If it were me
The silent darkness
Would not have made me cross the street
Tighten my walk
Quicken my speed
It's the south so I'd like to think
We'd have exchanged some pleasantries
Maybe a 'G'nite' or nod as you passed me
Your mother seems like she
Would have taught you when you pass an adult
It's proper to speak
You were perfectly preteen
The type of kid
Who always picked the wrong moment to laugh
Who had cloudless dreams
Teachers mistaking passion for sass
Called you "Bright boy"
But tossed it behind "difficult" and "distracts others in class"
Maybe they didn't see the canvas in you
Just as they refuse to
With multitudes of Black students like you
I could have been one of the people
To help them see you're the foundation of something beautiful
While you sketched your life
They painted your hands red
Refused to let you be primed
Before the blood in the Florida concrete dried
Maybe if I saw your fight
Through my window
Maybe I wouldn't have stayed inside
Or maybe I would have just watched and cried
Maybe I would've done something heroic
Maybe you wouldn't have died
Maybe you wouldn't have been another lost Black life
Maybe the world we live in wouldn't have felt it justified
I look at your picture and think
Maybe I might have called you one of my babies
As I do every young person I meet
Maybe there are too many maybes
Not much certainty
When it comes to how long our children's hearts are allowed to beat
109 years!! Happy Founders Day to my Sorors of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated!!! Founded at Howard University on January 15, 1908, 20 women led by Ethel Hedgeman Lyle created the FIRST Black Greek letter sorority that would grow to have a membership of more than 250,000 women. We are charged with the calling to be of service to all mankind.
So blessed for my organization to be able to see another year of service, success, sass and class. Fine as wine, good as gold, the Phirst and the Phinest for all to behold... Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated has had a major impact on my life both in my ability to serve my community and the world, and I'm blessed to be in my 12th Year of membership in this illustrious sorority.
#aka1908 #1908 #J15 #aka109
We should ask ourselves this question regularly, even daily. What are you doing to better the world around you? What are you doing to earn your breath? What are you doing help make someone else's day a little brighter?
"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
Thank you, Dr Martin Luther King, Jr for dedicating your life to love and freedom that we may be able to do the same.
I can't imagine America having anyone like you again.... You are human. You are complex. You are not without your flaws. You are constantly tried and tested. You rose. You inspire. You lift. You grow. You are democracy. You are Black. You are loved. You are love. You are a legacy of cotton dipped in steel and Motown. You are smooth. You are whole. You half of another beautiful half. You are father. husband. You are history. You are change. You were called, you answered. You are and will always be my President. #aimhigh #obamafarewell
This past Saturday, I was blessed to be the opening performer for the 6th Annual African Diaspora Awards at the Florence Gould Hall on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Hosted by comedian and Instagram sensation, Dulo (@iamdulo), the show recognized some powerhouses who've made great contributions to the African community and the world around us.
I was asked to write a poem for the event which is below. It was great to see the other performers grace the stage including Ayo (who was EXCELLENT and a privilege to meet), Afrobeat artist Owen, soulful singer Mayoa as well as the internationally known Sarcodie.
I opted to wear a dress that formerly was my mother's. It felt appropriate thinking about legacy and ancestors within the Diaspora who've bestowed their spirit to us in their passing. Check out the photos below!
"If you wan chop frog, make you chop better frog, make you chop better frog, make you chop better frog"
I found this saying odd/ until I learned the importance of/ always doing things big/ huge/ tremendous/ If you gonna do it/ then you better do it/ in some cases less isn't considered more/ especially when it comes to hands, to hearts/ to black skin/ that melanin that holds fast to the legacy within/ call every tribe kin/ whether naija or Brooklyn/ whether from the soul of the Congo or the streets of Chicago/ we're not as different as we seem/ the same history/ the same painter but varied color schemes/ your heart pumps fire from heaven just like mine/ and it's a waste of time trying to keep us divided by bloodlines/ we're in the same family connected by ties that are divine/ whether African or African-American/ Caribbean/ or if you Reside in another nation/ you're still the Diaspora's foundation/ and if we come together/ imagine the trails we'll blaze/
So let's be butterflies y'all/ but with caterpillar ways/ flap our wings always shine but never forget the ground from which we came/ take the hard world around us and turn it into silk/ no reason bridges crossed and broken can't be rebuilt/ whether it's by plane or via ship/ whether dropped off at islands during the trip/ whether hands were bloodied with liquid, solid gold or sugar cane strips/ whether cotton or coffee/ we lived to see this/ we breathed to be this/ We fought to be this/ unified by clenched fists/ unified by clenched fists/ unified by clenched fists/ Let them know we were born to be this/ we were born fly like this/ yes we woke up like this/ yes we woke up like this/ we rock our crowns like this/ and we're united like this/ we dragging a painful past/ together reclaiming our worth/ Baanu so a emmia/ When two carry, it does not hurt/ So here's to he Diaspora united/ Sprinkling our blessings on this earth
You know 2016 is over once (the holiday formally known as) Thanksgiving hits. I can't help but be thankful for the blessings in my life: watching my niece get a perfect score on her spelling test for the 6th time, graduating my first cohort of students at the life skills and job training program I work for, finishing a song with the great folk at JahRock'n Productions, the upcoming events I'll be performing at, and reflecting on the past. Man, I'm blessed, and I know 2017 will be even more amazing. NYC, check out these events, one of which will be streamed live on Facebook for my non-New Yorkers. Also, check out some videos you may have missed.
The 2016 African Diaspora Awards Saturday, 12/3 @ 6pm
Florence Gould Hall (55 East 59th Street New York, NY 10022)
This Saturday, I'll be performing at the 6h Annual African Diaspora Awards, a special initiative that aims to celebrate exemplary individuals who have made a significant difference in the African community in the United States. This black tie event will be hosted by African comedian/Instagram sensation Dulo (@IamDulo) and will be honoring some amazing movers and shakers in the community. Oh, and with the promo code "ADA2016" you can get 30% off your ticket!
Upcoming Performance: WWOC Coat Drive & End of the Year Reading (Thursday, 12/8 @ 7pm)
#DECOLONIZETHISPLACE Gallery (55 Walker Street, New York, NY) & LIVE Facebook Stream
Performing a poem of my own and one from my favorite woman writer of Color on Thursday, Dec 8th @ 7pm at the #DECOLONIZETHISPLACE gallery in downtown Manhattan. Hosted by The Women Writers of Color Group & Reading Room. This event will also be available via Facebook live. It is free and for the people. We ask that you bring coats and/or offer a donation to the shelters we'll be supporting. Hosted by Mahogany L. Browne, and also featuring Lynn Procope, Crystal Valentine, Venessa Marcos and more.
Throwback: "Damn Near" Official Music Video
In case you missed it, this was one of my FAVORITE songs off of my second album, AIM HIGH. The video for "Damn Near" was done by Broadie from Wasted Imagination Productions and has some DOPE visual effects at the end. Shoutout to model Krystal Garner and stylist Q Diva (on the keys) for making cameos, as well as Therapy Wine Bar for hosting us. Check out the video here and lyrics below: https://youtu.be/alYhiKy_TrQ
You've been the spring in my step
7 months of intimate breaths
You say I'm the one but not yet
(You might be my next regret)
Priority to me
Yet you can't say the same for me
Sayin what will be will be
(Like we don't shape our own destinies)
I'm damn near your everything
As if damn near is comforting
Got my heart on string
On your words dangling
Given you the world
I don't understand
Why I'm not your girl
You're not my man
But I'm damn near it
Ain't that some...
Damn near (4x)
Poem: Tired of orbiting around your world but never landing/ Made you my galaxy/
Thought our love would come crashing together/
but you got me drifting/ You know what...
My patience is running thin
You say wait but I don't think I can
Asking me to give you all of me
(Like getting half of you should make me happy)
You say what did I expect
Well we didn't damn near have sex
My heart you didn't damn near protect
You're just another regret
And I'm supposed to act like it's all fine
When damn near's just a freaking waste of my time
Damn near doesn't even make you mine
This is it, it's the last time I settle for…
Ooh, I want it all baby (repeat 8x)
Collecting broken women to make yourself whole
This type of game I pray gets old
This kinda lovin' you can't afford
It's high risk but high reward
Thank you for being a friend. Keep in touch on social media!
HBO Def Poet/ Singer/ Activist & Lupus Advocate
#DubChallenge Four years ago today, I lost my mother, the beautiful Beverly Rembert, to cancer. I figured I'd let her hold down this challenge for the day. Thankful I had her in my life. Rest In Peace, mommy.
Join me and the official host Tiffany Peterson (@Tiffanyandlupus) for a #LupusChat on Sunday, November 13, from 3:00-4:00 PM ET on Twitter. GSK is pleased to sponsor and participate in the #LupusChat, which will focus on tools and tips lupus patients can use now to improve the patient/physician dialogue. Details are posted @Lupus_Chat and @GSKUS. Feel free to share!
Through it all, our job as educators, parents, aunts and uncles, godparents, and community members is to teach our children resilience and determination. For too long, we've hidden the pain of racism from the sun in the smiles of our children, only to have them unequipped with for the challenges they will have to face as they go through life. Let this election be the beginning of re-education on the true state of America, one that with Jordan sneakers and Obama, people tried to hide. We scream Black Lives Matter not just because the police don't always understand it, but because the each branch of government has never fully accepted that we as a people are full human beings deserving of the opportunity our country claims to offer. We should teach them not to be surprised, to expect the setbacks so they can move forward. We have to continue to teach our children that they matter, how to handle situations when people want to destroy their dreams, and how to push through in a world that's set up for them to fail. #blm #blacklivesmatter #teach education #children #future #goals #strength #fortitude #ambition
Out of nowhere, I was selected to attend the first festival to ever be held in the White House called South By South Lawn this past Monday, October 3rd. South by South Lawn, an event inspired by Austin, Texas' South by Southwest, gathered a dynamic group of creators, innovators, and organizers who are working in their own unique ways to better their communities and the world. Other attendees, speakers, and performers included Common, The Lumineers, Baratunde Thurston, Ryan Leslie, and more with a closing conversation between Leonardo DiCaprio and, the man who's backyard we gathered in, our President Barack Obama. It was so surreal walking through the White House only to arrive at the beautiful Lawn filled with so many interesting people and new friends!
I was able to get a few quick photos with Nick Cannon and Brooklyn's own Senator Kevin Parker but it was dope having a conversation with producer/entrepreneur Ryan Leslie and shaking Common's hand. I was so geeked to explore the exhibitions presented including two virtual reality simulations, one that took viewers on a trip through Yellowstone Park (narrated by President Obama) and the Guardian's disturbing 6x9 which places you inside a US solitary confinement prison cell and tells the story of the psychological damage that can ensue from isolation. All of this plus great food, perfect weather, and some laughs while "Swag Surfing" in front of the White House made this day epic.
Being able to be a part of this event was life changing and humbling. Being numbered among the vast sea of people connecting, building, and doing amazing things in the community, I felt a sense of duty to figure out the impact God wants me to have on this world. It was an honor to have been selected to attend, and it is still unbelievable that I was present to see history being made. I don't know who will be President next year (Not TRUMP!) but I doubt there will ever be another opportunity for me to Swag Surf in front of the White House building. Blessed...
We did it again! It was a sold out crowd at S.O.B.s and I had a blast sharing the diverse mix of cover songs I performed with my band. Check snippets from the show below:
There are times when I neglect my lupus so much that someone could call ACS on me. Lupus is a part of, and like a baby, I should nurture my health. But I go through these seasons where I pretend lupus isn't a part of me. I mean, I never asked for this cranky child that changes lives, expects me to plan around it, makes me go to bed early, stay up late, cancel dates, stop drinking, sit still, and pacify it with meds. I'm expected to keep my lupus close to my chest because at any point in time, it can wake and it will scream into my joints and bones.
I think anyone with a chronic illness has seasons where they want to pretend it doesn't exist. We watch our friends giggle and chat during a day at the mall, not wanting to be the one to say that your body is ready to go. We let the adrenaline take over as we ignore the late hour, keep dancing, and pretend that, coupled with the dehydration from your friend's birthday shots, we won't feel it the next day...and probably for the next two days. We forget pill boxes on the counter, reschedule doctor appointments when they conflict with work, and miss infusions. We wish our Lupus fog would help us forget we have Lupus instead of forgetting where we put our keys. This brat of a disease sometimes quiets down. But as with real children, quiet can feel like it's getting into something and trouble is a'coming.
Lupus is so unpredictable. But honestly, sometimes it isn't. We know our triggers and what we should do to keep it from acting up and showing out. But it seems easier to try to live life like the young parent whose mom is always down to babysit. Drop lupus off and keep the party (or just the regular life) going. Sadly, it doesn't work that way.
Our stints of disconnecting our lives from our illness, as if the two can't work hand in hand, can put us at risk for severe flares and hospitalizations. Sure, we can have a couple long nights and fun days. But pretending Lupus doesn't exist can cause it to bawl at your joints, keep you up at night, leave you drained during the day, and throw a tantrum so terrible, you'll only desire to be in fetal position for weeks.
I understand wanting to hold on to the life you had when you were single and not paired with a chronic illness. But learning how to have it, grow with it, hate it but still live with it will only benefit me in the long run. Neglecting lupus meant I was neglecting myself. It took a lot to be able to remember that Lupus is something that forces me to listen to my body's cries and nurture my body (something we all need to do with or without an illness). I don't feel guilty for needing to take breaks, power naps, and saying no. I realized the parties I missed were the same as the last ones, and being sober made everyone seem even more hilarious. Even though this brat called Lupus continuously tries to mess up my good time, I still truly believe I can still have a life filled with joy if I just paid it a little attention.
The video of my feature at the R&B Edition of TrapKaraoke (sponsored by the 2016 BET Awards) is below this email and here: https://youtu.be/SmS-5l09C7c
Enjoyed it? Sad you missed it? Well, after a nationwide tour, TrapKaraoke is back in NYC and I'll be headlining again at SOB's. Get your tickets ASAP! They sold out a week before the show last time!
(Friday, 9/23 @11pm)
S.O.B.'s (204 Varick Street, NYC) $25
This is new
For sale sign removed from
Awkward playground kiss
Leaning back in heated seats
Kicks wiped with licked fingertips
I'm treasuring this
This is fresh
Or just picked out
Hand on hips
Neck rolls and bent wrists
Back spins and windmills
Flat tops with the part
You too fly
This is love like
Wet noses and protection
A seat on the train after a long day
Broken windows turned to stained glass
Your favorite song sung on a stage
Finding a missing piece to a game you once played
A piece of you you didn't know you missed
This is life
Loving this fresh newness
Timely paragraph in "Black Look- Race and Representation" by bell hooks. It's going to take White America to admit there's a problem, that they've partaken in, benefitted from, and ignored the colonization and destruction of an entire group of people in history and today for real change to happen. Liberation is not just for the oppressed. It frees the destructive mind of the oppressor and opens their hearts to the joy of loving humanity.
She's been stressed lately
Can't always run from her problems
So she barbell presses
the weight of the world off her shoulders
Deadlifts what's holding her down
Getting her life in full Kettlebell swing
Doesn't give a Squat who is in her way
Not looking for kick backs
She earned what's hers
Only lunging forward
Raises her hands to the sky
Her existence has never been a skip and a jump
Left to workout life solo
Support came and then dipped
Roped into dark places
Where most people would curl into a
But with every fall she pushes up
Remembering that targeting weaknesses
Leads to greater gains
Rather to raise the bar
Than live as a dumb belle
Worried over 5 pounds
Potential gathering dust on a shelf
She would rather lift the
Iron that sharpens iron
Never cared about
Being TOO strong for a man
This gym is life
Where who she is gets defined
Tell them they're worthless
Then tell them they're perfect.
Tell them their flaws are their strengths
And their strengths are their flaws
Tell them the world is there's
But leave out the part about
It being hard and unfair
Let them feel like everything they want
Is on the bottom shelf
No need to climb
To fall would be too risky
Make these poor black and brown lives easy
Tell them about their rights
Sing songs about equality
Label their disrespect as freedom of speech
Let their tongues run free
Don't expect thought or self-control
Teach them to ignore authority
Skills they'll need when
Approached by police
Called out by bosses
Bend rules frequently
Consequences are too hard a concept
Let them believe someone will always
Be there to protect
Keep on trying to save them
They are the teddy bears you cuddle
Destined to sit on a prison barred shelf
Let them learn to expect the coddling
So many years of cotton picking
Only to have this generation
Filled with cotton stuffing
Forgetting the strength of steel backs
That silenced a whip's crack
Teach them slavery is a thing of the past
That there's nothing they lack
Tell them the world is colorblind
Tell yourself you see no skin
Give the kids only bones
Barely scratch their surface
Make graduating their only purpose
If they're not complacent
Tell them they're worthless
Separate them based
How well they fit the status quo
Create futures for those who's tongues
You can hold
If they question you
Or suggest that you don't know what you think you know
Hold them in contempt
Silence their recognition
That somethings wrong with their education
Blame their struggle on themselves
It's their fault if they don't do well
Regardless of hunger pains,
Misdiagnoses, and family strains
They should be able to excel
Suspend and expel
Anyone not compelled by your rhetoric
those that challenge your thinking
Suppress anyone who knows they don't need
Another pillow to catch them
That Brillo pad type of scrubbing
To be made to shine
To be able succeed
Through the subconscious destruction
Within every human interaction
And an inherently racist system
Watch them bleed their potential
Choke on the White guilt
You shove down their throats
Give them your smiles
Give them your soft touch
Your praise and hi-5s
And pray that it will be enough
To keep them alive
To keep them free
To keep them employed
To keep them warm as an adult
Wandering through life