Black Like Me By John Howard Griffin

The country seemed to be awakening to the depth of injustices suffered by black people. Hundreds of college students white and black, poured into black areas to register black citizens for the vote. In areas outside of the south, students on campuses were deeply concerned and picketed local businesses that continued to practice discrimination.- John Howard Griffin (Black Like Me)

If you’re a quick read you may haven’t thought this was talking about today’s current climate. However, in actuality this quote was taken from John Howard Griffins’ first book ” Black Like Me”. This book is a timeless gem that details his experience as he navigates the south as black man. Before the strange now norm of bleaching, tanning, and realistic mask Mr. Griffin took it upon himself to become a part of the struggle to get a better understanding of racism. Black Like Me is written in 1959 before the late great Martin Luther King and Malcom X became neighborhood and household names.

As a journalist Mr. Griffin is one of many whites at the time who does not support nor condone racism. However, he doesn’t know how to help nor does he understand what we and people of color go through on a daily bases. He wants to get in the mind of a negro; to feel what he feels, think what he thinks, do what he does, all to truly try to gain a deeper understanding. Initially intending it to be sort of a science experiment; as he has to receive a few injections, use certain staining cream, and take a few capsules to change and maintain his dark pigmentation.  After sharing his experience Mr. Griffin experiences backlash and a series of threats from his community causing his family to relocate to Mexico. Over the years many people wanted his story to be told along with the insight he gained during his experience; leading to Mr.Griffin working closes with Dick Gregory, Stockley Carmichael, Martin Luther King, and many other prominent Black figures.

Black Like Me shares insight on the 1968 Miami Republican Convention were a riot unfolded as Nixon became president; revealing the secrete push of the government as well as media to entice a race war (doesn’t that sound familiar). Throughout the book you can find many present day parallels in regards to what defines a true Black Community Leader as well as tips given in ways white business men and leaders could help solve the many issues in the Ghettos. Black Like Me offers much insight in regards to history they may have never been told; giving you a true account of from the inside of Civil Rights progression.

This perhaps was the most terrible time in modern history insofar as civil rights were concerned in this land. Black people began to believe in greater numbers that this country was really moving toward genocide, and from the point of view of Black America, the evidence  was alarming. – John Howard Griffin ( Black Like Me)

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Solskr Healing

Solskr  is a company that creates 100% all natural hand crafted botanical products. And let’s just say their products are nothing short of luxurious. I had the pleasure of trying Solskr Products for about 5 months and my body loved every moment of it. The products I received were the Lavender + Chamomile Botanical Oil and Bath Salt. First thing I noticed instantly was the sweet aroma of the botanical oil once you apply it to your skin or hair the scent is long lasting. The bath salt is amazing all together; if you are someone who loves herbs and flowers in your bath this is made for you. The herbs and flowers are not a pain to clean out of your tub which is a plus. A little bit goes a long way with both products even if you use them a lot it will last you at least 2-3 months.

I used the botanical oil on my hair as well as on my skin. I often mixed the oil with raw shae butter when applying to my skin however you truly do not need to do so. After about 2 weeks of using the botanical oil I noticed my nails took well to the oil. My nails had a natural shine, grew very long, and didn’t break off as easily. When applying to my hair I would simply spray my locs and little massage the oil into my scalp; the same applied after washing my hair as well. The oil does not leave residue or build up in your locs. Because of this I truly believe this botanical oil would be perfect for hair skin and nails. The company does sell other products such as Sage, Palo Santo Wood, and Rose + Hibiscus Infused Oil and Bath Salt.  This is by far one of the best produces I have used.

You can shop Solskr by clicking HERE

Be sure to follow them on Instagram @solskrhealing

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.

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.