I Love Africa Designs

ILA ( I Love Afrika Designs) has been an household name for my husband and I for 2 years now. So it was no surprise when my husband requested them as the final touch to his wedding attire. ILA is a online boutique from Trinidad that sells Loc Caps, Crochet Tops, and much much more. My husband and I both decided our dreads would be wrapped on the day of our ceremony. Since we had a summer wedding we both needed something thought would make us sweat too much. ILA loc caps are my husbands go to because they allow your head to breathe even on hot summer days. After purchasing the loc cap I personally reached out to inform them that we needed the loc cap for our ceremony and she graciously mailed it out the next day.  I love how personable ILA is which their costumers. They inform you how long shipping will take due to the fact that it is being shipped from another country which did put me at ease. The loc caps come in different sizes depending upon how long your dreads are. Also you have a choice in how long you would like the elastic band to be for the perfect fit. There are loc caps for men and women alike as well as knitted hats. Once it arrived my husband was so excited. Thank You ILA for making my husbands day and for being the finishing touch for my husband on our Wedding Day.

For more information on I Love Afrika Designs Click Here.

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Empressive Finds For An Empress

Every little girl has this fantasy of how she will look on her wedding day. As for me my vision changed over the years. It wasn’t until I knew who I was that I was able to see myself for who I truly am. Luckily I came to that realization before wedding bells started to ring. Once I evolved into the woman that I am today I put much thought into my attire for our ceremony. I knew the attire must be symbolic of our union as well as my families history. Another huge factor was that my husband and I address one another as Empress and King; I wanted my attire to symbolize not only a royal but also a spiritual union.

Once the time came to go dress and accessory shopping I was already captivated by a beautiful woman by the name of Empress AK on Instagram. Without hesitation I personally reached out to her for ideas and inspiration. I have followed her for a little over 2 years and watched her grow as a woman and brand. When it came to supporting her business I was waiting for the perfect time and occasion.  What influenced my look for the ceremony was the love of my heritage within the African Diaspora and our cultural attire across the world. Woman such as Nefertitit, Queen Makeda, Empress Menin, Oshun, and many other African Queens. For me our ceremony signified my rights of passage as an Empress as I begin to create my own dynasty along side my Emperor. I knew that I could only got to Empress AK to make that vision manifest. Alli was such a joy to work with and so humble the entire time. The first day I got into contact with her she sent me so many adornment ideas and consulted me about how I should wear my wrap. Even though she is located in New York she made it a point that we communicated back and forth up until the wedding day. It meant a lot to me because I wanted her to see the final look with everything put together.  These moments alone felt like a dream come true. I will never forget trying on the full attire at Impressions Bridal with Empressive Finds jewelry adorning my head. The entire bridal shop was completely quiet; everyone was in complete shock because everyone said this look couldn’t be done in a classy or elegant way. Well The Empress AK proved them wrong. I am forever grateful .

What I love about Empress AK is she informed me on when she shipped the adornments and in the package she takes the time to write a thank you card which is personalized. Empressive Finds boutique has a variety of things. She is known for her glossy head wraps however she offers bases wraps as well. Aside from wraps she has third eye jewelry, earrings, and much more. Her card brought tears to my eyes and put me to ease. Alli puts time and love into her work which overflows into how she interacts with her customers; or as she calls us her cousins.  Again Allie is so humble, real, and sweat. She will forever be family in my eyes. Thank You having a hand in making our ceremony magical. I am not sure what I would have done without her.

For more information on Empressive Finds Click Here.

Shopaholic Ghana

The Groom has to look as good as the Bride right??!!!

Well thank to Etsy that was possible. Etsy has been the talk of the town over the past year. For much of my planning people have referred the site to me for things such as invitations and decor. However I have always been skeptical about using the site and any other online shopping site. When it came to our ceremony my husband wanted something cultural yet different. Often times when looking for African Attire unless you look online or at a Middle Eastern shop you pretty much see the same thing at each store. Our primary drawback when shopping was that we couldn’t find anything in all white. Each attire had gold or silver embroidery. When looking at different designs at other cultural shops it just wasn’t what we were looking for in a cultural garment. When shopping we were going off of a design I found on the internet however we never looked to see who the designer was. All I knew was I didn’t want him to have to buy something offline. After doing some digging I found the shop on Etsy.com. My husband decided to order the attire with high hopes and expectations. I was on pins and needles because I had never ordered from Etsy. Once everything came in he was thoroughly impressed with everything. I tried my hardest to find the man or woman behind the brand yet I couldn’t find anything. The attire is made in Ghana with very light material and is made to order if you send in your own measurements. My husband was comfortable the entire ceremony and was able to wear it through the reception. He truly looked like royalty.

Shopaholic GH is a etsy boutique that specializes in African Clothing. There is attire for men, women, and children. You will find that some of the attire is a matching set for the entire family. Shipping does not take long to arrive at your home and you are able to track the shipment.

Thank You Etsy and Shopaholic GH

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CoCo Hut Catering Blues

As a bride you want to start wedding planning as early as possible to be able to lock certain things in such as venue, catering, and any other vendors that may need a early deposit. Which is why my husband and I took a winter trip to New Orleans. Originally we went to lock in a location for the ceremony and reception; we tried food  just to give us an idea of what we possible wanted our menu to be. One afternoon we stumbled upon a Caribbean restaurant by the name of CoCo Hut.  A very small family owned business where the food is made to order. Thoroughly impressed we asked if they catered and was told yes on the spot. Once we returned home I called CoCo Hut as I was instructed to recieve a quote for all that would want at the wedding. Our reception menu was based on there menu and specifically what we ordered on our visit. After speaking with CoCo Hut I was told I should expect a call to confirm by Friday.

The Catering Blues begins here……..

A we goes by and we never received a call back.  Each time we reach out we are told the owner isn’t in she will call back. Unfortunately the owner is the only person able to discuss catering matters. During this time we are going into Christmas and I decided to wait until the holidays die down before continuing with vendor confirmations. The second week of January I am calling twice a week yet I can not get in touch with CoCo Hut. Once February comes I am a little on edge as I am calling and continually being told the owner is out of town or not in yet. I assume Madi Gras may have taken up some of her time; so again I wait. March there is no call back and we are 3 months away from our ceremony. By the middle of March we are over the waiting game and decide to make a trip to New Orleans to finalize everything for the wedding. By this time we have everything for the ceremony and are dropping things off for our cake and doing a final walk through of our venue. Yet and still we have nothing for our guest to eat. We decide to visit CoCo Hut in hopes that the owner is in for us to speak with.

As we arrive the owner is in casually talking to her brother.We greeted the owner and expressed we would love to have a moment of her time and she was instantly defensive and ask, ” For what?”.  Unfortunately she was not willing to have a seat and discuss our catering menu which we gave her months in advance. After explaining we had been trying to call about catering our wedding she asked us to, “come back tomorrow”. We were willing to come back however she refused to give us a definite time she would be in. While trying to engage she continued to have a side conversation with her brother. The entire experience was extremely frustrating. While at the restaurant we considered waiting to grab a bite to eat. As we waited I was able to take in the entire restaurant kitchen area included and I was dissatisfied  with some of the conditions the kitchen was in. My husband and I decided to look else where for a caterer and to never eat at CoCo Hut again. Livid doesn’t express how upset we were when leaving the establishment. However, we cancelled our order and left in peace.

CoCo Hut was very unorganized and unprofessional which  put us in a very uncomfortable position. I would have appreciated and respected the establishment if we received a phone call let us know they were unable to accommodate us. In the months leading up to our final visit we were scrambling in search of a Plan B for catering. Having to deal directly with the owner has ruined our experience with the business establishment. The cashier as well gave poor customer service that day as well while taking the orders of others. Perhaps it was a bad day? However, we chose to take our love for Caribbean food elsewhere when in New Orleans.

For more information on CoCo Hut Click Here

Johnny’s Jamaican Grill To The Rescue

People visit New Orleans for 2 things. TO EAT & DRINK. Everything else is usually a plus. I have been to New Orleans a few times over the years and I thought I knew just about everything I needed to know about the beautiful city. However, what I didn’t know is that there is a huge food truck culture.  I found this cool fact out on our final trip to New Orleans when we went to save our wedding reception from hunger. If you don’t remember anything from a wedding you remember the food; usually because of how bad it was. Needless to say we were on the hunt for the best food in NOLA but not your typical Cajun Cuisine. We wanted Caribbean Food!!! Unfortunately we had a rough time finding a reliable caterer and was down to the wire. Not to mention there aren’t a lot of Caribbean restaurants in New Orleans.

I found Jamaican Johnny’s Grill on Yelp a site I was very skeptical about depending on. We sent someone to New Orleans to scope the restaurant out and to everyone’s surprise it was food truck. I was intrigued off of that fact alone so my husband and I took a trip to meet the owner. Before leaving we got in contact with the own and sent our menu request and informed Johnny’s Jamaican Grill we were making our way back to New Orleans. Our first time Jamaican Johnny’s Grill we felt like family. The Food Truck is located at Deja Vieux Food Park. The atmosphere is that of an outdoor restaurant or food court with amazing food and drinks. When the owner Mr.Johnny heard our experience with finding a caterer he stepped in with nothing short of refreshing energy.  Mr. Johnny also offered to show my husband the inside of his food truck and what he would be using to cook everything. We also had the luxury of trying quite a few of his dishes while visiting and was blown away.  Johnny’s Jamaican Grill has great customer service and an open line of communication. Mr. Johnny was extremely open and transparent which made our experience unforgettable. We knew each others schedule which put one another at ease when we were not in communication for periods at a time. What I love about Johnny’s Jamaican Grill is all foods are made to order and come in big proportions. Outside of that all ingredients used are fresh; each dish is authentic Jamaican cuisine.

The day of the wedding Mr. Johnny cooked all dishes the morning of the wedding. Everything was fresh and the food arrived on time. Each pan of food  was devoured rather quickly. Everyone enjoyed the food and had nothing but good things to say about each dish. We wanted the food to be buffet style because the reception was an informal setting where everyone could relax. Our main concern was that there would be left overs; safe to say there was no food left behind. Thank You Jamaican Johnny’s Grill for saving our wedding reception.

To see more about Johnny’s Jamaican Grill Click Here

Fanm Djanm

When it comes to scarfs, head wraps, and hejabs I am all in. Often times I consider wearing one for everyday of the week. However, being a yoga instructor you sweat a lot and I tend to sweat in my head. Nevertheless when I dress outside of yoga 90% of the time a head wrap is in tow. So it was only right that my head be covered for the most important day of my life. The colors for the ceremony were Turquoises and Silver and I wanted my wrap to be the accent of Turquoises. Finding the perfect wrap was pretty hard. Many of the wraps I came across were Turquoises and orange or had patterns that clashed with the ceremony. My vision was simple and elegant and Fanm Djanm had exactly what I was looking for. My biggest concern was that the color wouldn’t be the exact shade that I wanted considering the fact that Turquoises comes in many shades. However, the wrap matched everything perfectly and I was able to wear it the entire day because the material isn’t heavy.  The wrap fit perfectly over my base wrap creating the perfect amount of height and fullness I was looking for. Shipping was easy to track and actually came earlier than expected. Fanm Djanm wraps was another major factor in creating the vision for the ceremony. I can also wear the wrap multiple times because it is a solid color which was the deciding factor when making the purchase.

Thank You for beautiful wrap.

For more information on Fanm Djanm Click Here.

 

Constina’s Boutique & Design

Constina’s Boutique is filled with beautiful authentic clothing and much more. The boutique makes you feel like family the moment you visit with them. Their pricing is very reasonable and there is something that caters to every style you could imagine. I had the opportunity to shop with them at an amazing event and I was in heaven. I love the fact that everything is often an one of a kind piece with the exception of a few things. Therefore it is few far and in between that you will cross paths with someone that has on the exact same outfit as you. As vendors they were so personable and they pulled out all the stops. The owners are such beautiful souls and their shop reflects just that.

Both tops you see featured below have a loose fit that allows for comfortable movement.

You can shop with Constina’s Boutique at:

11333 Fountain Lake Dr; Stafford, Texas 77477

or visit their Facebook and Instagram here

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Dressed By: Reggae Bodege and Constina’s Boutique

 

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Dressed By: Constina’s Boutique
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Dressed by: Constina’s Boutique

The Revolution Has Come by Robyn C. Spencer

 Although the text is extremely well written and easy for the non-academic to read, Spencer fails to adequately discuss the most important term in its title: gender. Some attention is given to women in the BPP but the text does not give a voice to the women in the Black Panther Party. Writing the text through the lens of a Black women would have made this text applicable to disciplines such as Feminist Studies and a growing interest in Black women’s studies in local communities. With the author being a Black woman, the silencing of Black women’s voices is not only unacceptable, but depreciates the value of the text (as far as the title is concerned) and leaves the reader unsatisfied.

         As someone interested in organization development and management, texts such as The Revolution Has Come are necessary to push Black institutions’ toward a more radical and communitarian framework. For many, the Black Panther Party has served as an example of what a militant framework might look like. Robyn Spencer eloquently depicts the militant activism of the BPP by charting their historiography in Oakland, California. In her 2016 text The Revolution Has Come: Black Power, Gender, and the Black Panther Party in Oakland Spencer, Associate Professor of the History Department at Lehman College, utilizes manuscript collections, interviews, FBI records, and organization records to illustrate the political influence of one of Black America’s most radical organizations in the latter 20th century. With special emphasis on internationalism, Spencer argues the BPP in Oakland had a “commitment to making linkages with the revolutionaries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Caribbean [making] it one of the most effective ambassadors for Black Power” (Spencer, 3). This text also establishes the blueprint for revolutionary thought in Black political consciousness.
Spencer writes her text specifically to activists and community builders grappling with incorporating the legacy of Black Power in today’s Black Freedom Struggle. She asks her readers “What does Black Power have to offer in the context of drone warfare, deepening poverty, unemployment, immigrant detention, and a criminal justice infrastructure that is an engine of destruction in Black and Brown communities?”—all questions that can be directed to social justice organizations of the 21st century (Spencer, 5). Chapters one and two paint a geographical landscape of Oakland while providing insight to the community concerns that birth the BPP in Oakland. Spencer makes a point to highlight the academic genius of the BPP explaining the theories and world views that birth Black radicalism in the city of Oakland. From the identity crisis of the Black Panther Party of Self-Defense to the Sacramento incident, Spencer’s thorough research illustrates the developmental challenges of being a radical organization in the 1960s. By the close of these chapters, the BPP shifts in the consciousness of the reader from an all-black wearing, gun-toting troupe, to a group of Oaklanders promoting humanitarianism and dedicated to preserving their community (the complete opposite narrative most people have of the BPP).
Chapters three and four further transforms the BPP from a “local organization to a mass movement” while exploring the extremities of covert state-sanctioned harassment (Spencer, 61). These chapters dissect BPP coalitions and discuss the significance of increasing diversity in membership that ultimately, lead to political repression. These chapters also make a point to illustrate the flaws of historical figures such as Huey Newton. Readers obtain a comprehensive depiction of this Black leader and visualize him in human form. Activists and community builders can stop touting historical Black leaders and understand the importance of the good and the bad aspects of Black leadership. Lastly, chapters five and six bring the BPP into its demise revisiting the challenges of the BPP’s development. Spencer focuses on ways the BPP dictated community control—schools, health clinics, newspapers, and new relationships with the church. But, despite this hard work and short lived thrust into local politics, the BPP ended in 1982 with the close of the Oakland Community School.
Despite not digger deeper into the women of the movement, the reader does walk away with the ability to re-imagine radical organizing. Coupling this text with The Revolution Will Not Be Funded by Incite, can give readers a new and contemporary critique of ways “humanitarian” efforts have been co-opted by the non-profit industrial complex. Spencer’s text serves as a great precursor to The Revolution Will Not Be Funded because it explores the demise of the last radical organization in the Black Power Movement, the era immediately preceding the boom of the NPIC. The Revolution Has Come is extremely beneficial to the emerging field of Organization & Management Theory, as well as History, International Studies, and the Social Justice/Human Rights fields. The Revolution Has Come is also a very timely text given the current political condition of the nation. It seems as if every day, activists are being targeted for stepping outside of the boundaries of conservative advocacy. Spencer, with the evidence and history of the Black Panther Party, has given us the keys to imagine ourselves outside the realm of conservative community advocacy. Activists and community builders have the ability to learn from the mistakes and glorify the successful measures of the BPP. All we need to do as a people is follow in the footsteps of the BPP: keep the community first, create national and international coalitions, and trust in the power of unprecedented mobility.

 

Jalyn Gordon

Afrocentric Organization adviser

To order book press link below:

Spencer, Robyn C. The Revolution Has Come: Black Power, Gender, and the Black Panther Party in Oakland. Durham: Duke University Press, 2016.

Sojourning for Freedom by Erik S. McDuffie

Sojourning for Freedom creates “new” history and new perspectives of Black women that epitomizes them as the trailblazers and warriors they rightfully deserve to be.

     To many African-Americans, Communism has long been associated with a domineering government, McCarthyism, and fear. Miniscule comprehensive information is given to readers regarding how Communism relates to their cultural experiences. Eric McDuffie’s Sojourning for Freedom: Black Women, American Communism, and the Making of Black Feminism provides a detailed account of the achievements, struggles, and significance of Black female Communist warriors and their often discounted contributions to the black liberation movement. McDuffie utilizes personal papers, civic club records, historical papers such as The New York Age, The Messenger, and the Atlanta Daily World, and interviews to argue “the Communist Left provided a theoretical and empirical template for appreciating how the international Left served as a key site where black women in the United Stated forged an innovative radical black feminist politics during the early and mid-twentieth century” (McDuffie, 3).  McDuffie’s text seeks to recover and define “Black Left Feminism” – “a brand of feminist politics that centers working-class women by combining black Nationalist and American Community Party positions on race, gender, and class with black women radicals’ own lived experiences” (McDuffie, 3). Bringing light to lesser known Black Left Feminists, such as Louise Thompson Patterson, Thyra Edwards, and Grace P. Campbell, and the triple oppression they faced from black men and members of the CPUSA, this text serves as a “conceptual framework” to the identity politics of Black Left Feminists during the twentieth century (McDuffie, 3). McDuffie has several intentions for this book. His first goal is to illustrate the Black communist woman’s relationship to Black radicalism during the Old Left Period. He also aims to define the Black communist woman and how she influenced feminists of the 1970s and 1980s. Lastly, McDuffie emphasizes the familial, mental, spiritual, and internal pains Black women endured as activists in the communist movement.
The Sojourners, the Black Left Feminists McDuffie honors in his text, not only predate, but also craft many of the ideas associated with black feminism of the 1980s. Claudia Jones’s 1949 essay “An End to the Neglect of the Problems of the Negro Woman” is a pinnacle accomplishment of Black Left Feminists that includes several arguments made by later and more known feminists groups such as the Combahee River Collective. Claudia Jones essay outlines the “triple oppression” black women face regarding race, sex, and class during the Cold War era. This triple oppression permeated majority of the grassroots efforts led by the Sojourners during the twentieth century. Through literary works such as Jones’s essay, Black Left Feminists sought to force their visibility not only to the CPUSA and the white population, but their black male counterparts as well (McDuffie, 167). Jones’s theory of triple oppression would later evolve into Kimberle Crenshaw’s theory of intersectionality in the late 1900s. McDuffie characterizes the work of these specific women as “community feminism”. One can appropriately utilize Ula Taylor’s definition of community feminism to describe McDuffie’s Sojourners. Taylor contends community feminists are “women who may or may not live in a coverture relationship [. . .] their activism discerns the configuration of oppressive power relations, shatters masculinist claims of women as intellectually inferior, and seeks to empower women by expanding their roles and options” (Taylor, 64). These women continued to break barriers with their activism engaging in activities not commonly paralleled with women: from joining men in the stepladder circuit to leading “The Revolt of the Housewives” demanding the prices of meat decrease (McDuffie, 40 & 1). Through these heroic acts, Black Left Feminists served as examples of progressive leadership in their communities while disrupting power relations and demystifying gender roles. Additionally, their communities included more than the inner city of Harlem. Black Left Feminist leaders traveled internationally, broadening their scope of community to include everyone who believed in their values and were willing to fight for their cause. Trips to Spain and the Soviet Union, in some cases unsupervised, illustrates the determination of the Sojourners to expand the opportunities for women, even outside the United States.
McDuffie’s text introduces critical concepts and perspectives in the ever-evolving and fluid Feminist discourse. The integration of community feminism, black female radicalism, and “oppositional consciousness” are all relevant to current black socio-economic movements. With an increase in coverage of police brutality and focus on identity politics in the LGBTQ community, black women and their struggles are often lost in both academic and community liberation efforts. Sojourning for Freedom provides not only historical context, but action-steps black women can take in their own communities to increase political visibility and efficiency in activism. It is particularly essential that scholars utilize each other’s definitions to create consistency and validity in theories and definitions. McDuffie’s integration of Ula Taylor’s definition of community activism increases his text’s scholastic relevancy and the ability to cross-reference feminist strategies in future research. While the research for this specific text is very thorough and highlights several unknown Sojourners of the Communist movement, it leaves readers wondering what other unknown Sojourners lie in the crevices of historical movements. McDuffie suggests there is always a group of people who serve as outliers in every movement and new research must be done to bring them to the surface. This fact highlights why there are few texts on the subject of black female communism or communist movements. Black Communists Speak on Scottsboro: A Documentary History by Walter Howard brings light to a smaller subsection of this text concerning Black Communists involvement in the Scottsboro Boys case. Black Internationalist Feminism: Women Writers of the Black Left, 1945-1995 by Cheryl Higashida can serve as a complementary text to Sojourning for Freedom, however, contextually, there are few texts that focus on Black Left Feminists.
The biographical information and the level of research it took to develop the lives and work of these women for such an extensive amount of time, is much appreciated. Biographical sketches assist readers in contextualizing the actions and thinking of an individual in a much more comprehensive lens. With Feminist scholarship on the rise, McDuffie’s biographical sketches add historical context to the characteristics and work ethic of Black Feminists. Feminism does not belong to a certain ethnic or racial group, a specific portion of the world or socio-economic status.

 

Jalyn Gordon

Afrocentric Organization adviser

To purchase this book please click link below:

McDuffie, Erik S. Sojourning for Freedom: Black Women, American Communism, and the Making of Black Left Feminism. Durham: Duke University Press, 2011.

YSF Catering Co.

If you are looking for a good home cooked meal on the go or catering for your next big event look no further Houston. YSF Catering Co. is a Black Owned Business with quality food and customer service. YSF Catering Co. puts their heart and soul into every meal that is prepared. I have had a great experience ordering lunch from this wonderful establishment. The food is exceptional and the service is nothing short of family vibes. You have the option to pick up your food if you stay near or you can have it delivered personally to you home or work place. All forms of payment are accepted and YSF even adjust the order to fit my none pork or beef life style. All in all I support YSF 100% and look forward to ordering even more delicious food.

Immediately after graduating from Lamar University with a B.S. from the Lamar culinary program Zoia Taylor started the business with her partner Jamilah Thompkins. I have had the pleasure of attending college with this beautiful soul and order a meal or 2 myself. YSF Catering Co. will be celebrating their 1 year anniversary December 6th and they aren’t showing any signs of stopping.

For Order Vist Their Facebook Page here.

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