Nigerian Black-Eyed Peas: Snippet Observation

Ordered Akara, Nigerian black-eyed pea fritters @upohar_llc today. My first bite was full bodied. I tasted “black licorice” from the fennel coursing throughout. Fennel, coupled with deep fried, vegan goodness, I kept thanking my ancestors. First for activating my DNA. Second for allowing my physiological memory to recall such a delicious cuisine. I almost told myself I didn’t like it, but then I knew better. Yes, ancient Afrikans enjoyed black eyed-peas. No, we ain’t put no damn swine in it lol! Taste-heed. 😍#akara #blackeyedpeas #fennel #fritters #girlrillavintage #theeamazinggrace #nomoreextremitiesandentrails #peppersauce #upohar #vegan

Absolute Elswhere: A Creative Collaboration with Gail Gray

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Absolute Elsewhere by Gail Gray

Had the honor of being one of 12 local artists asked to represent the great mosaic of our community by offering five-minute presentations of our work that woul ultimately build on a single theme captured in each of Gail’s paintings. 

I was assigned the painting, Absolute Elsewhere. I was to interpret it. Here is my word interpretation.

“Come here! Hot! The dusk is asleep on our breast bones. Sweat. Heat. Warmth, like a mothers incubation. Safe. Touch. Sounds. Bells. Hear the bells and the drums. The drums are the sweetest heartbeat. Home sweet home. Echoes in the deep, blood-orange. Feel the sun, see it bright. The scene is set. We journey back, to where my friends live, in remote, Dellol Ethiopia, in Northeast Afrika, one of the hottest places on earth. Behold the mountains. Witness the mountains. Behold the sculpted, asymmetrical mountains. The sun is the backdrop to the mountains. The shadows climb. Journey home, to wildly staccato rhythms of Afrikan drums by Archie Shepp.”

To think is a privilege: Happy birthday Dr. King

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There has never been a time I’ve stopped thinking. I may think more or think less, but I do. I intuit how not to overburden. My nerves. Bones. Eyelids. To think is essential. And most times a powerful privilege. Keeps me alive. Like the heart beat. Thankful to one radical thinker Dr. King. Your contribution is priceless. For complaining when it hurt. For thinking the change. For denting the backbone of a system. For the will. Happy birthday! 🎉

Freedom Is Not Free

We all know that during Jim Crow, we could pick up food at places that served whites, but couldn’t dine in. How racism demanded that we be served separately in every since of the word. I recall hearing stories from my grandma about how she had to carry toilet paper, spoons, dishes, ketchup & hot sauce on road trips in the 50’s. As a child, having lived with gmom I remember those same customs spilling over into our lives when we traveled in the 80’s (eating in our car, peeing on the side of the rd etc). I never understood why we never went in, but now I do. Shoutout to Martin Luther King Jr. for being one of our ancestors that paved the way for us to sit in & enjoy delicious food in public restaurants like the one in this throwback 📷! #martinlutherkingjr #freedomisntfree #deliberateandunafraid #girlrillavintage

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Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth: Catherine Acholonu and Molara Ogundipe

Aker: Futuristically Ancient

Hey everyone! I am back after taking a short needed break. Last week marked the third year that I have been running this blog! Yay! Happy Anniversary!

Today I return to highlight a few writers I found out about after reading Bilphena Yahwon’s post on Africa Is Done Suffering, “The Writers I Never Learned About.” In this post, Yahwon writes about mainstream literary establishments and education systems lack of inclusion of black women writers in their canons. Her pieces is an addition to a growing critique of these institutions, like Junot Diaz’s “MFA vs. POC” and “We Need Diverse Books Campaign.”  Besides listing writers I already knew, she did include ones I did not know as well and wanted to show their work here. The two women and their books I want to feature are Nigerian writers and activists Catherine Acholonu and Molara Ogundipe

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My Sweethoney Glistening

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“It’s a hell of an honor supporting self reliant, little black girls and boys. Those who love themselves, or need extra support, but allowing them to love themselves nonetheless. Building self-confident, self-assured, aware, #blackchildren without fear, without burdening them with the worlds problems, or with our own needs and problems, without expecting them to fulfill all the things we didn’t, is a feat, that we’re working through. Shout out to all of the beautiful, black mamas and papas (to include loved ones of my own, doing it right now), raising RAD ASS, capable ass, black humans! It can be a difficult road, yet it’s not an impossible journey. Keep up the fantastic work. You got support! We got this!”

Had the privilege of spending a few hours with my 7-year old goddaughter, this afternoon. Her mother went on a job interview (that she scored, on the spot, by the way 🙌🏾)! I was asked to spend time with her until mama finished. We went to my goddaughter’s favorite store, or perhaps, favorite for most children her age, Toys-R-Us. As we walked through the maze of toys, she kept asking for things that I didn’t have the money to buy lol! Its a thing convincing a 7-year old that you’re not rich and barely have money to pay your rent, but knowing she’s still a child I decided to contribute to her experience the best way I could. I snappped photos of all of the items that me, I mean, she wanted, so we could show them to her mother (a big kid like me can dream right 😜 lol?!) She told me that I could show her mama the pictures, but that Santa 🎅🏾  was really the one to tell, since he did all the hard work on Christmas. I didn’t want to burst her bubble about Santa not being real, plus she was at a vibratory frequency, so elevated that I didn’t want to destroy a moment so pure.

I listened instead of talking at her. It seemed therapeutic for us both, the experience of walking through what I call a real live toy jungle #toysrus. We used the time to catch on previous weeks. She was rambunctious, yet mildly subdued while showing me her favorite toys, behaving almost well enough, so that I might buy her something (wishful thinking kid lol)! At any rate, she especially liked the #shopkins, some grocery store item toys and other funny things like that. She told me about doing well in school. I asked, what her favorite part was. She replied, “I loooooooooove reading #chapterbooks!” I asked, why? She told me a story about being able to read them really fast and that she likes all the big words. She went on to tell me that she wants a hundred chapter books to read. Talk about AMBITIOUS, you go girl 🙌🏾🤓🤪!

We walked around most of the store before my feet started to hurt lol! Before leaving, she suggested that we go over to the dolls section. Part of me was nervous because from my view, there was little representation of any dolls that looked like us. I had to trust her though. It’s something about trusting our children in their ability to lead, at least in that moment. Immediately, she gravitated to the few dolls that looked like us #blackandbrown. I was like, I’ll be damned lol! Not that I was surprised-it was more a refreshing feeling, if that makes since? I was beyond happy to know that she was intuitively paying attention! She asked me to take a picture of the first doll she liked. Talk about honored, I was! Photo below

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I captured the brief moment on video, perhaps two seconds too late because she raved on and on about this particular doll, or maybe I was right on time because she still got the point. The moment she chose a doll that had the same hair texture and complexion as her. She didn’t shy away from the familiar. She didn’t shy away from how she really felt. She was in awe of this inanimate objects reflection of herself! It was so much bigger than that. She exclaimed, she’s so pretty!” Here is the short video link from my Instagram page @girlrillavintage ⬇️

She went on to choose, several more dolls of color that she liked. She payed a compliment to her mother by showing me a doll that she said, “looked pretty like her mama”! She asked me to take more photos of dolls that she wanted for Christmas. Here are some of the photos I captured in those moments. I’m so pleased at how at age seven, she hasn’t yet been damaged by our society’s anti-black messages in that way. How inspiring it is to witness her mother, my best friend, raising, three, thriving black daughters. And to witness how the women in her family encouraged her sense of self (from her Nana, to aunties, to her older sister) all who wear their hair #natural and funky other styles!

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What an awesome experience to have had with her! How, I used the opportunity to empower the power within her. How, she sought a reflection of herself in that store. How, I watched her #fallinlove with her beautiful #afrikanface, despite, us being underrepresented in that moment. How AWESOME, witnessing her compliment the black girls in her life. How, she recognized the beautiful familiar in those dolls, and embraced the same within herself. God-mommy win of the year lol! Safe return to the little black girl inside me, living vicariously through her, and all those cool #toys lol! And although I never got to be a playful, little #blackgirl like her, look at how beautiful it is that she gets to be. Sweet honey, glistening! 🍯 ⭐️ 💫 🌟

 

Oh yes and after I showed her mother all the photos and video, she urged me to share this with the world on social-media because it made her proud too, so here we are with permission lol!

Warmest,

#TAG AKA #THEEAMAZINGGRACE AKA #GRACEBERRY #DJBOODESTANK AKA #SLEEPY AKA #MIKE AKA #BROWNSKINSKINNYKID