Crib Hunting

After deciding that I want to move out, I started the natural next step of looking at apartments. Mind you, I have been looking at apartments on Trulia since I finished school. It started from when I was with my ex and we wanted to get a place together. But I was in a fantasy world at the time cause my salary and NYC rent would not be in agreement.

Now that I’m in a better place financially, looking through Trulia is more than just a dream. This whole search has been enlightening in making me know some truths about the rent reality in New York. Though I make enough to move out, it is still very difficult to find a place on my own. My income bracket is more to find another person to live in. It is crazy because many people living in New York unfortunately do not make enough to get their own place as well.

However, I am still very excited to move in with a pretty dope individual(s) who shares  similar dreams of making it work in this lively jungle. In my search, I started using HotPads, Zillow, Apartments.com and Streeteasy as well as Trulia. So far, my favorite to use are Streeteasy, Zillow and Trulia because they send alerts to your email based on your preferences and have great filters like if you want a laundry in your unit or prefer a unit with two bathrooms.

I have been looking for a 2 or 3 bedroom space in which I am planning to move in with some friends in Brooklyn. I might consider Queens, but have always wanted to find a space in Brooklyn.

Last month, I started going to showings to see what is out there. There are some beautiful apartments in Brooklyn. It can honestly be hard to choose. Yet, they each have their pros and cons. Going to the apartments, I notice more about the neighborhood, the apartment itself, the price and even Brooklyn checking what the broker would say about the area. There was one listing that stated the apartment was in Crown Heights when it was most definitely East New York/Ocean Hill.

Anyway, it has been exciting looking at different spaces and imagining how myself and potential future roomies will make the space our own. Let me share with you some of the places I have seen so far while apartment hunting with my friends.

1.

This apartment is located in Crown Heights. It is super close to Utica Ave by the 3 and 4 train. The apartment is in a brand spanking new building on a quaint block. It was about $2,500 and had 3 bedrooms and 1 bath.  I loved the room with the large window and the kitchen looked nice. However, the con was that the living room was quite small. There was also one room without a window.

For anyone looking to rent, this Street Easy post explains that a real bedroom must have a window that looks out into a garden, street, court or just generally looking outside.

We wanted everyone to have a window so we decided not to apply for this one.

2.

This apartment was honestly one of my favorites. I loved the design and layout of the unit. It is a 3 bedroom and 2 baths priced for $2,287 a month on the listing, but the broker told us it was $2,500 at the showing. Some apartments have promotional pricing online, but are actually another price in reality. The rooms each seemed to be decently sized, though still small. I also loved that it had two bathrooms and the backyard was beautiful. Me as a nature lover was so in love with this place. It even has a nice laundry room in the basement.

Unfortunately, we didn’t like that we would have to go outside to go into the basement. The area also did look a bit sketchy. It was an apartment that was listed in Crown Heights, but was actually in Ocean Hill/East New York. The place was pretty close to where I used to work which didn’t have too many stores and was more industrial looking.

Despite these cons, I still think about this place. =/.

3.

This apartment in Flatbush has so much light. =D. The kitchen is so well done. The rooms are also decently sized. It is around $2,400 for the space. The person selling it also lived there for a few years after moving from the Middle East with lovey his wife and two daughters. There was not really any cons about the place, but we just felt like it wasn’t for us.

4.

Space is one great way to describe this apartment. It is two different apartments in this building that we looked at that are basically the same in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. The three bedroom/one bathroom apartment is about $2,400. We loved walking into this room and not feeling cramped. The rooms are also adequately sized. However, the bathroom and kitchen is not too impressive due to the upkeep and what we saw in the drawers.  When we opened the drawers in the kitchen, we found roach poison. After seeing this, it was a definite no.

5.

This is most definitely one of my favorite places. It is set on a tree lined block in Bed Stuy that was very quaint. There is only three units in the building. It’s $2,500 with three bedrooms and two baths. There is lovely lighting in the living room which led into a nice kitchen. I loved how there is a fire escape in one of the rooms and it also has a bathroom. The only downside was that there was weird construction nearby and there was no laundry in the unit. I wouldn’t say this was a no, but the broker wanted us to see another unit he had for us.

6.

In Cypress Hills, this apartment was listed as a three bedroom duplex. The street it’s on was very narrow and difficult to park on; I would most certainly need to finesse my parking skills if I lived on this block. The first room is large with a massive amount of light. And the closet space was marvelous. The tile and flooring was lovely as well. However, the second bedroom was so small I wouldn’t consider it a bedroom; it was more of a closet. The third bedroom was also the basement. There was no living room so we would have had figure out who would take the basement and whether we would make it into half a living room as well. I think the space was almost $2,300 and also included a second bathroom in the basement and a laundry unit.

I honestly did really like the space, but wanted the second bedroom to be more equal sized to the first. It also seemed like it may have been a hassle for the third roommate to figure out how to make the basement their own bedroom while half of it would be a living room.

7.

This was one of the last showings we went to in the search (so far). As we entered the block, mad people were outside partying. Various music was blasting from different stoops and the vibe was lit. Excitement filled us while we approached the building. This unit in Bed Stuy was well furnished. Each room came with a dresser and bed; there was also furniture in the living room. The rooms were also all equally sized at a decent amount of space. There was also a great free, yes free, laundry room in the basement. There was also a nice balcony where we were able to see the hood fireworks that have been constantly going off for weeks.

We all really loved this space. It was almost perfect. It was around $2,450 each month. The only con was that the second bathroom had just a toilet. Personally, I also didn’t like that there was no natural light in the living room. However, it was definitely one of the best apartments.

There was one or two more apartments I have seen since May to add to the list. However, one of them I have no pictures of. The second one was a two bedroom that was amazing. Both of these apartments were in Bed Stuy and was also great. The three bedroom was beautiful, but one of my friends was worried that the landlord was too lax when he said he was a handy man but didn’t seem like he would show up to fix issues. The second bedroom apartment was incredible. There was three windows in the living room where the third was centered at the top. There were two bathrooms and the rooms were equally sized except for one. The third bedroom was the only issue.

This experience honestly grew my new love for looking at apartments. Today, I even checked out a studio in Flatbush and tried to view a two bedroom in Bed Stuy for an open house (I am always in Bed Stuy huh?) but no one was there. The studio was dope though. It was more of a shared space with the kitchen and bathroom between two other individuals. The bedroom was so big that it could also be a living room which was a huge plus for me. I’m just not sure about the shared space part.

Moreover, this has been fun and I’m looking forward to making my decision. I will let you know what I choose once me and my future roommates come together on what we like. (Or if I decide on a studio/1 bedroom that I manage to find.)

Ready to Fly

So the past few months, I started seriously considering moving out of my mother’s home. It is my first time looking for apartments to live potentially on my own or with roommates. This is something I have dreamed about for some time. Ten years ago, I graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh. During my undergrad experience, I had a roommate every year. (Although, I got lucky some semesters and had the room to myself.) Each roommate was different. The first was the most difficult. She was bossy, did not clean and did not take showers every day. We lived in a very small room. I know I wasn’t the perfect roommate either, but that experience was not the best. However, sophomore through senior year I had great roommates. We did have issues at times, but got along quite well.

I also enjoyed the freedom of being away from home. I was 7 hours away upstate living around other young, diverse people as well. Sure, I missed my parents but it was so liberating meeting new people, making my own choices, making mistakes and growing without them breathing down my neck. It was an exceptional experience that I will always cherish.

I can’t believe it’s been ten years since I graduated with my bachelors, left the dorms and came back home. But when I think back to my 21 year old self, I sit in a bit of disappointment on how far I strayed from the original plan. I was supposed to stay at home for two years, get a full time job and then move out.

However, in life, plans do not always go as planned. I ended up getting a bunch of part time, per Diem free lance writing and educational jobs over the years that were not enough to allow me the finances of getting my own place.

Life; it happens. It changes like the waves of the ocean. It is never predictable and we must ride the waves. The motion of this metaphorical ocean has led me to a Masters in Social Work, a full time job as a social worker, and the ability to work a second job with my own side business making wire wrapped crystal jewelry. So my world has definitely developed since undergrad.

With a special package of personal growth as well, I feel more motivated to get into that expensive jungle of New York and move out. This birdie wants to flap her wings and fly. After a lot of thought, I’m ready to take that step.

There has been some naysayers on the notion however. People tell me that New York is too expensive, I should stay home to save and buy a house,  roommates are awful, etc. Especially now that I paid off my car note and I don’t have an intense bill, staying home to save does not sound that bad.

Although, it would mean giving up the chance to experience the pros that I’ve often dreamed about. I look forward to decorating a living room, inviting friends over, having my own space in the fridge, having more ownership to my space, a new adventure, and living somewhere different.

My heart is still very set on finding a place whether shared or on my own. I make enough now where it wouldn’t be a problem and I am going to look into the most financially sound solution to saving money and still have some semblance of being on my own. In New York, that means living at least with one or two other individuals.

I understand that living with different people will be a challenge, but the point of being around other people is to learn how to navigate through those differences and to make the situation work for everyone. I understand it will be a challenge to get used to paying so much for rent, but it’s a responsibility that I am ready for. I understand that I could save more to own a home if I stay home, but I honestly don’t know if I want to own a home; at least not in New York.

As an individual in her thriving thirties, I am ready to pursue growth even if there will be some growing pains. Having more financial responsibility, dealing with conflict that may come up with landlords or roommates, and my own personal challenges is part of the process of getting older. This is an experience that I am ready for and I am excited to take the next steps in the journey.

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The Skin I’m In

So I’ve been wanting to write this for a while. I’m not really sure how my words will lead today. An unrest has started in America since my last post. There is now another pandemic eating it’s way through this country. But it’s been here far longer than the Coronavirus. It’s been destroying people’s lives for centuries. It has caused an eternal stain on the face of what this country stands for. It has only affected people of color in hurtful ways. It has tried to destroy us over and over again. This pandemic is called racism.

On May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, George Floyd, an African American, was murdered by a white police officer Derek Chauvin. The next day a video went viral showing the police officer pressing his knee on his neck for 8 mins and 46 secs with three fellow officers assisting. One officer held off onlookers who were trying to help George Floyd. The man was heard telling the officers that he couldn’t breathe and even called out for his deceased mother. George Floyd died at the scene.

When I saw this video, it broke my heart. I couldn’t understand how the cops could just willfully murder someone with no remorse. The man was pleading for his life and they did nothing. Where is the compassion in their spirits? Where is the empathy for someone’s life? It was reported that the cops were initially called due to George Floyd having a counterfeit $20 bill when he used it at a store nearby. Regardless of if it was fake or not, that man did not deserve to die the way that he did.

Being black in America has never been easy. We are judged by the color of our skin and not by the content of our character. We are followed in convenient stores. We are discriminated against for jobs. We are punished for wearing our hair the way it was naturally designed or for styles that speak to our culture. We are targeted by law enforcement for simply having a nice car or for walking around while being black.

I remember the first instance of police brutality. I was ten years old. I learned that a black man, Amadou Diallo, was killed by the police. He was shot 41 times. They shot him when he was trying to pull out his wallet to identify himself. They claimed that they thought he was pulling out a gun. My younger cousin and I both experienced the trauma of seeing an unarmed black man killed for the first time. I remember as a child thinking how could this happen? What could a person do to make sure the cops think we’re good? Why did they shoot him so many times?

I never thought that I would continue to have these questions and that more would come up as I got older. More shootings or lynchings happened to unarmed black men and women throughout my life time. Sean Bell, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Mike Brown, Oscar Grant, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland and so many more were murdered by the police or racist individuals. Tamir Rice and Trayvon Martin affected me even more because they were just children. They were young black boys. Every time another unarmed black person is killed, I feel pain in my spirit. This is a collective trauma that I know most people of color are experiencing when we hear this in the news.

I feel for their families and for those who love them. It always puts a fear in my mind when it happens: what if this could happen to me? what if this happened to someone that I love? This year has already been painful enough with how many people of color were taken out due to Covid. To be honest, Covid is a virus that does not care about skin color. It will attack you and potentially kill you most likely due to underlying health conditions and age. However, the way the system is set up to further oppress people of color by keeping them at jobs where they are commonly frontline workers, where they have less access to healthcare and PPE, where they live in food deserts away from healthier cuisine, where poverty sucks the joy out of them and is replaced with stress and where they are packed in environments like sardines, it makes sense that so many of us would be victim to the Cornavirus.

If this wasn’t enough pain on our community, racism decided we needed more. During this pandemic, we also learned that Breonna Taylor was murdered in her home by the police in Lousville, KY in March. They charged in and shot her eight times. They were in the wrong home while executing a warrant. They have yet to be charged. In Glynn County, GA, Ahmaud Arbery was going out for a run when two white man chased him down and shot him. There is video footage of this, but I refuse to watch because it is just too painful. The men were arrested and charged for the murder, but it took months for this to take place. He was killed in February. It was May when the video surfaced.

After the video came out of George Floyd’s murder, people started protesting. First it began in Minneapolis. Yet, the flames for justice spread throughout the country and then throughout the world. People have been protesting in Houston, Atlanta, DC, New York, Los Angeles, England, Germany and more. It began as peaceful protesting but then at times led to rioting and looting started from white supremacists trying to make the protesting look negative and angry individuals torn by the pain of systemic racism.

However, I am glad to be living in this day and age where phone cameras exist. The world can see the truth. Many videos in the past two weeks show the cops attacking protesters with tear gas and batons even when not motivated. They have been making arrests to peaceful protesters. However, there have been some of cops kneeling in solidarity with protesters and speaking to the community about making positive changes. The police have been showing the world who they really are. The world is fed up. I am fed up.

Even with the Cornavirus still an issue, we have been marching to the streets to fight against police brutality. I am sick and tired of seeing people who look like me being murdered for nothing. I am sick and tired of the murderers getting away with it. I am sick and tired of mothers and loved ones having to mourn someone who had so much to live for. I am sick and tired of being oppressed and judged based on the color of my skin and not for the content of my character. I know my people of color reading this are too.

I love the skin I’m in and I am proud to be a black woman. I will never let racism make me feel less of a person for how I was born. I will keep on fighting whether it be through the peace that I instill within or through standing with my brothers and sisters protesting. I will continue to fight whether through donations for just causes, petitions to Congressmen or through spreading the message via social media.

Being black is a beautiful gift that I will always honor and cherish. I will never let anyone make me feel lesser or devalued for my melanin.

 

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I am happy for the changes that have been taking place due to the protests. In Louisville, a law called Breonna’s law has made “No-Knock” police visits illegal which is what took place in Breonna’s death. Congressmen made it illegal for police to enforce choke holds on suspects and are working to make it more difficult for the police to get away with murder. In Minneapolis, the mayor has defunded the police, a call made in many protests throughout the country in dismantling the police department to make way for more appropriate measures in working with the community.

Change is going to come when we take a stand against injustice. This pandemic of racism has inflicted not only this country but the world for centuries. Generations of pain have been passed on to create a system where people of color are oppressed with limited ways of growth, prosperity and the simple right to live. However, as a human race, it is within us to love and to spread peace to one another. We will create a better humanity for us all in time and when we work together to truly have justice for everyone. Through this fight, hopefully, there will be a day that black people can walk freely without constantly being seen as a threat.

Crystal Calling

I’ve always been into crystals. Well not forever but definitely within the past decade. In a way, maybe it’s been a part of me for longer. This interest went from simply collecting stones to reading about crystal energy and chakras to walking around with crystals to wearing crystal jewelry to creating them. I went to this amazing wire ring making class a year and a half ago. I made one and then two and then three and kept going. My spirit wouldn’t let me stop. My energy went into making crystal rings and here I am today. I created a brand called Tiffy Star Gems. I’ve been making rings for almost a year now and I love it.

My buddy Mike, incredible rapper/designer/sound engineer/dope friend, and I took over the streets of Soho and Coney Island for some photos. Check out his awesome Fenix sneaker collection and my latest line of Phoenix jewelry below.

These rings were made with citrine, malachite, lapiz lazuli and agate wrapped in gold aluminum. I also made some aluminum gold hoop earrings with citrine and agate stones and an aluminum wrapped tiger eye necklace. I love wrapping rings, have fun wearing them, and love expressing the different energy and meaning from each piece. It was such a blast doing this and I will be continuing in this journey.

Let me know what you think about the jewelry or if you would like to purchase any. Feel free to check out Tiffy Star Gems page. Also definitely be sure to check out the homie Mike Wilson. We’ve featured this down to Earth, conscious rapper before; you’ll be sure to love his tunes. Peace and I hope you all are following your dreams. It’s important to let your energy flow to your calling. As I grow each day, I’m slowly evolving into the person I was always meant to be. This is another beautiful part of that journey. I hope you’re becoming your beautiful selves as well.

Sis’ to Sis’

I just randomly wrote a poem. He he. I think it needs more work, but I might share it some day when I feel the need to. There is something else I feel I must share. It’s just been on my mind lately. The other day, I met a woman who was sitting by the pier. She decided to talk to me and asked me why I was there. She remarked that we both had our journals out and were writing. She asked me what brought me to the pier. She said that we don’t talk to each other enough (As black women or women in general). She was a stranger in the beginning, but during our talk, she became a mentor, a teacher and a fellow sister in my journey of self-discovery.

At times, I question the decisions and the direction I have made in own life. I am happy to have my MSW and to be closer to becoming a licensed social worker. I am glad to have pursued my creative endeavors by still writing at times and starting out with making jewelry. (Which I need to post more on here) I have joy in partaking in fun filled activities either by myself or with others to make my life that much more enriching. However, there are moments when I go down that dark hallway of my mind and question the choices that I have made.

I am starting to realize that the way things are manifesting in my life is exactly what I always wanted; I must push myself more and have confidence in my decisions. I must learn not to let the naysayers, even those close to you, tear down the strength behind my choices.  God or the Universe will take care of me; always.

The higher power above will take care of you too. You will take care of you. The path and the choices that we make define our lives. We must believe in ourselves more and stop comparing or allowing the negativity of others to take us down. You know why you did what you did; don’t regret it. Even if it’s not working out in your favor yet, it will. Or it will be an important lesson for you in your journey to success if it does not work out. This is the road to who we are. The mistakes, the wrong turns or the right ones lead us to who we have always been.

In this journey that we take, it is also incredibly important to take time to self-reflect and discover who we are. There is something that I am starting to notice more, but I also see that it is quite disturbing in society. We put so much emphasis in getting these successful careers so that we can make a lot of money. The goal has always been to get a high paying job, get the house, get the car and you will be successful; you will be happy. However, I cannot help but notice some famous, rich people who appear to be quite happy in accomplishing all of this on the surface, but in truth are hiding behind their success. Big time celebrities make excessive amounts of money, travel the world and have the adoration of millions of fans, but are still unhappy. Many of them strive so much to be successful for objects but may not be successful with self. So many of them still have the same internal issues or worse than the rest of us. For some of them, it may be heightened because of all the energy they collect from users, naysayers, or any other negative forces they take in from those around.

My point is, why is it that we do not strive to know ourselves? Why is it embedded in us to sacrifice ourselves for these material things instead of saving time for ourselves as well? I mean it’s not wrong to want things and to work hard for them. But why is it OK to put in almost all your energy into gaining objects instead of gaining experiences or positivity from others? We could be uplifted from each other. We could be uplifted by our journeys in self-discovery. The concept of self-care is a huge theme in the caring profession since so much of our energy is utilized by giving to others. But the same can be done from other careers. It is so essential for us to know who we are and to take the time to do so. We tend to lose who we are and become mindless robots for the green. The biggest treasure out there is becoming who you are as a person and sharing that with others. When we empathize and work together as a society, we evolve.

Going back to the conversation with my fellow sister, she said she was relearning herself now that her children are out of the nest. She had her kids young and was rediscovering what she wanted to do with her life after having a rewarding career as a social worker. This queen was taking the time to get to know herself and through her words, she helped me. She had me realize how important it is to take the time to know who you are and to talk to one another. So much can happen with just a smile or a few words. We are so powerful in our own unique ways. We all know who we are at birth, but we must find the tools along the way back to ourselves; choice words she quoted from the outstanding soulstress Erykah Badu. Stay true to yourself and work on you, it is the most important goal you can have. Without it, nothing else matters.

Below, enjoy some sounds from the spiritual, neo-soul queen below.

Colors of Change

It’s crazy; my hair really has a mind of its own. I mean seriously; this summer I learned that I don’t know what it will do. It went from purple to blonde.

When I went to the salon to get it done, I was doing something so much more drastic than anything I have done to my hair. Well I did cut it in a mo-hawk style and dyed it red last year. But purple was a different direction for me. People dye their hair red all the time. But purple…not so much. When I saw the final result, I fell in love with it. The color was so different but so me. And I was able to embrace it at an epic area of the season when I traveled with my bestie to New Orleans. It did me well the rest of July too. I came to own the style.

However, during August either after a wash day or spending more time in the sun, it started to change. My vibrant violet was becoming a mixture of pink, purple and blonde. The color was no longer the same. I learned that you are not supposed to wash your hair with warm or hot water even though I did try to wash my hair with mostly cold. Still, I didn’t understand what was happening. It was like every day it was a different color. Even now, I don’t know what to expect. Some people think I dyed my hair again.

But I’m starting to get more used to it. I cut the sides a few weeks ago and now I think it’s coming along even more. My hair in some ways is a representation of myself. Or at least for what I want to accomplish from within. These kinks represent change. It is something happening inside of me. Every moment, I must make a push to elevate myself even more. I’ll admit, I spend a lot of time being stagnant and watching Netflix or Youtube. Ha ha. But whenever I leave the house or interact with others, it is always a chance for me to be a better version of myself. Even if it’s just a little. My hair reflects the ever-evolving fire inside of me that is in constant motion. Now I wonder what change my hair will go through next?

See changes below.

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Marvel Magic: Black Panther

***Spoilers Ahead***

Many of the various cultures making up much of this planet were excited to see Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther which came out this past Friday, February 16. Hype for months went down for the premier of the Wakandan super hero in this epic installation of Marvel. Many are gassed for the awesomeness this movie brings. Well I know am. Fans either dressed up or dressed down for the royal magic emanated from this film. I was actually one of them.

 

 

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Hey, I couldn’t help it. Normally, I don’t like to dress up too much, but this was an opportunity I could not miss. When my friends and I went to see Black Panther, it was more than just a movie for us. It is a symbol of progression for our people. It is a united front for Black Americans and people from the continent of Africa. It is a presence of excellence that we rarely see on film. (Literally, the last time was Coming to America) It is a positive image of our people. It is a Black super hero who is the main protagonist. (Blade was dope too though)

This was also one of the few times people actually dressed up to go see a film. I mean really dress up. It reminds me of the early days of film when people used to get dressed up to see the latest movie; decked out in fancy hats and gowns. In the beginning of the 20th Century, when film was still in black and white and was silent, movie goers would put on their best threads in excitement for the latest installation of cinema. Even during the later part of the century, people would get down with their groovy selves and look fly for film. However, it has died down a bit for being a spectacle to dress up other than for just cosplayers or comic book nerds. (Love y’all. =)) It is exhilarating to see fans dress up in traditional African garment or their own eclectic twist adorned in their own personal flair. Donning the various styles from the African continent, this was also an opportunity for Black Americans to make a connection with their African roots.

As I’m writing this, I’m realizing that there are numerous directions I could go with how dope this film was. However, I will focus on what stuck out the most for me. Right above was literally what Black Panther brought to the table for scores of individuals before even seeing it. Now to focus on the actual film.

Tribal Wear:

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The first thing that stood out for me was the diversity of their attire. It wonderfully captured the essence of what is worn in the nations across the continent. There were 11 tribes seen in the Marvel film including the Surma and Mursi tribes in Ethiopia where you see the body modification lip plates, the Zulu headdress of South Africa worn by Queen Ramonda (Angela Basset), the futuristic garments of the Massai people of southern Kenya and northern Tanzania worn by the Dora Milaje army and more. You can see all of the dress worn in the film yourself here.

The Tech:

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Can I say out of this world? That is the best way to describe the technology of Wakanda. It was extraordinary that they were a nation shrouded under mystic waterfalls to bestow a nation embellished with such advanced tech. Vibranium is a powerful metal that absorbs sound waves, other vibrations and kinetic energy. It was deposited to the planet thousands of years ago and is now a special source which generates the city of Wakanda. It was incredible to see how high tech the nation is.

The Characters (Especially the empowering women):

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Everyone seemed to have their own story line other than just the prestigious T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman). However, they all had their own incredible tales of independence, passion and loyalty to their cause. We learned about his love interest who was more than just that. Nakia (Lupita Nyong’O) was a spy who wanted to do more for her people and help others in need. She was very independent and was loyal to her cause as well as her nation. Shuri (Letitia Wright) was my favorite. She was responsible for much of the advancements made in Wakanda – as a teenage princess. Sister to T’Challa, she kept him in check and was an incredible asset to the country. I also loved how witty she was. (I can’t wait to see her interact with Tony Stark) Okoye was a traditionalist loyal to her nation. She was a dynamic fighter who fought to protect King T-Challa alongside the ferocious women of the Dora Milaje army (They are also a homage to the eminent Dahomey Warriors of Benin). Even Killmonger (Michael B Jordan) as evil as he was, had a very relatable back story. Many can understand his rage and can have respect for what he aimed to do to a world so drastically colonized including his own.

We Got You: 

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It was beautiful to see how T’Challa trusted the women in his life to have his back. He had his brilliant sister, his courageous love and the strapping femme warriors of Wakanda on his side. They were with him in battle and were a voice of reason when not. It was MARVELous to watch on film. (See what I did there. He he.) It is a bondage that we must entrust within ourselves. We can be there for each other. We are one in this journey of life; let us unite and avoid being divided. It was also incredible to see the unity between Black American and African culture. Our heroes got to see the struggles of the broken communities in urban settings through the unfortunate bridge that was Killmonger in how his story came to be. Like his ancestors, he was stripped from his culture and banished to a foreign land where he was no longer connected to his past. However, T’Challa became a beacon of hope not only for Wakanda but for the inner city community where Killmonger was raised and witnessed much destruction of those he loved. This story line was a fantastic example of how we all should come together in learning, understanding and taking action in becoming a united front against the oppressive forces that attempt to take us down.

Overall, this movie was beyond dope. It was a collection of powerful messages that we all needed to see. As a Marvel fan, this was my favorite film thus far. And not just because my heroes were black, but also because of the overall progression of excellence in the myriad of themes exuding hope, pride, thought, history, culture, loyalty and so much more. While I sat there in my African inspired threads, it felt real for me in what was taking place for us all. If you have not seen it yet, if there is any pessimistic doubt or barriers eating at your spirit, do not let if keep you from the brilliance that is Black Panther. If I or others sound too hyped up, challenge our position and see it for yourself.

 

Super Fly: Black Comic Book Festival 2018

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Tony Medina, author of “I Am Alfonso Jones” and myself.

This past Saturday, I was in Harlem and just happened to pass by the Schomburg Center. There was a line with people waiting in this crazy cold weather. Curious, I asked someone what was going on. I found out that there was a Black Comic Book Festival going on that day. I knew about it, but thought I missed it. This was an opportunity I couldn’t miss.

After waiting in the annoying freeze, I encountered the library for research and black culture filled with comic book enthusiasts. Different tables showcased the melanin authors work on the main floor, upstairs and in the basement. It was dope. I geeked out and bought like four. I honestly wished I bought more. There were various books filled with pages of crime fighting child engineers, a super mom trying to win back her child from her own company, an infested South Bronx world overrun by zombies, and more. One author even created an encyclopedia of Black Comic books. Someone was even selling the entire collection of Black Panther. (They had a bunch of dope content on Black Panther the day before) However, the book that most intrigued me was a graphic novel about a child who was murdered due to police brutality. It follows the child in the afterlife as he meets others on a ghost train to guide him through in the spiritual realm. I had to get it.

As a writer still navigating my way through this creative space, it was a real treat to meet accomplished melanin folk doing their thing. I loved how they brought their dynamic energy to the editorial space and gave it life for others to enjoy. I wish them all the best and hope to get more of this experience next year.

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Happy New Hair!!!

Happy New Year!!! How you doing? Lol. Today, I wanted to mark down the transitions my hair has gone through in the past year. I have made drastic changes with it from 2016 to now. Check out how my hair used to look back in early 2016 :

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How my hair looks now:

 

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I went through the transitioning stage (that was a challenge), cutting off the rest of my permed ends, working out an Afro, trying out a brownish red tapered look and now currently rocking out a fiery mo-hawk. During my permed days, I would just depend on the hairstylist to make my hair magic. Now I make my hair magic. Or at least try to. =).

It was not easy understanding my hair. I am still learning so much about it and am still making mistakes in this journey. But I am overall happy about it. In the past two years, I tried different products, went to CurlFest, looked at different YouTube tutorials on various topics like dry hair, my hair type and unique hair styles. Last November, I even went to an awesome class by Ancestral Strands where I learned more in depth about the biology of hair and the best oils to use to treat your scalp and hair qualms. (Now my hair consistently smells like lemongrass. Lol.)

Through this self-discovery of my hair, I have evolved. My tresses have grown with me; flowing and screaming for attention at times when touched. I am here for you; my strands, you are a part of me and you carry on as I develop. Here on the Heartbeat Life I decided to showcase the transitions my hair has made. I am excited to see how it flows in 2018.

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January 2017

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March 2017

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May 2017

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July 2017

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September 2017

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November 2017

Living Up to Your Truth

 

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Nola Darling (Tracey Camilla Johns) Credit: IMDB

So Spike Lee has always been an iconic film maker in the wacky world of film. He is a mogul to look up to not only in the African American community, but as an overall creator of art. Growing up, especially if you come from Brooklyn, you had to catch a Spike Lee joint. I tried to keep up with as many as I can. When his movies was popping, I was a little Tiffy crawling and running around on the carpet of our Brownsville/East Flatbush apartment. I can never forget the favs: Do the Right Thing, He Got Game, Crooklyn and School Daze. Upon hearing about the remake of his 80s hit “She’s Gotta Have It,” I decided to check out the original. Home girl was living it up. Ms. Nola Darling had three attractive men pawning after her. The black and white flick was bold in introducing a type of romance you rarely see highlighted. This woman was owning who she was and not allowing anyone to control her desires. She saw the good in all three men she was dating; Jamie was the poet who kept her feeling secure, Mars had her rolling in laughter while Greer was all about the sensual experience. She had the best of all worlds; she enjoyed the makeup of what they had to give cause she had to have it all. My point in this little write up is that Nola Darling was a woman unafraid to live how she wanted. She refused to bend over to society’s standards; she refused to bow down to the roles placed on women. Nola was honest in what she wanted. She often times mentioned that these men could leave if they could not rock with her ways.

I admire and respect her for her strong stance. She is a mountain of unwavering beauty which seeks to be honored for how she sees herself in the world. She hated to be called a freak. She hated to be boxed in by men or by society. She needed to define herself to her own choosing. I resonate so much with that. In truth, I did not like that she was dating three men at the same time when they all seemed to want her for themselves. However, I loved that she was so strong about what she wanted.

Our culture says that women must only be with one man while men are praised for being with countless females. We allow men to define us based on what has been passed down by our parents and their parents and so on. We become defined by what we see in the media. We get dressed up in labels to honor without much choice. Otherwise we get the side eye or attitude from anyone within distance. We are defined on whether we are married. Our womanhood is tested on whether we have kids or not. We are judged on if we can make great homemakers. Growing up, I learned it is standard for a woman to know how to cook, clean, and raise kids. Oh and she got to have a bangin’ body too. All of which revolved on whether a man wanted us or not. This is what I was used to, but it is exhausting. (While writing this, an image of Barbie popped into my head. *shudder.*) In the midst of this tornado of labels, where do I come into the picture? Can a brother like me for me and not just whether I can throw down in the kitchen? I have always been about something deeper; Connection for me is key. Intimacy is key. Intellectual stimulation is key. Spiritual growth is key. Communication is key. Anyway, Nola breaks through the barriers of what society tells her to do. “F*** you societal labels. I’m doing me.” (My own words of what she is doing.) In a sense, Nola is living in her truth and not the one someone created for her. This, for me, is perfection.

It is important for us all to live in our own truth. The compelling authenticity of Nola is her stance in not allowing anyone to define her. The remake of this incredible tale does a great job in doing this as well. (I binge watched the series on Netflix. It is pretty dope. I like the characters more actually and love how they highlighted today’s issues. Nola is also such a dynamic artist. She makes me want to pick up a brush.) I think we should all not allow society or other people to define us. Live up to who you are in the best way you know how. Let your true self shine.  Don’t ever let anyone overshadow the essence of who you are. I know I won’t. Thank you, Nola for being you.