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.

 

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Holistic Event: Recharged and Loving It!

A few weeks ago, I went to a Holistic event in the Bronx called Let’s Get it Twisted: The Eclectic Bronx Natural Hair and ART Fest. It was hosted by the Bronx Holistic, Natural Healing and Wellness Center. I usually do not venture into the Bronx, but I kept seeing the ad for it on Facebook and I had to go. The world of holistic healing has been calling my name for years. I have dabbled in crystals, learned about chakras and meditate or do yoga whenever I can. But there is this world waiting for me to explore. Here comes this event that introduces this space to me a bit more. The first thing I did was buy this incredible painting by a beautiful spirit because as soon as I saw it, I knew it belonged in my room. After meeting the artist who made it Katya, I walked into a room that embraced me with it’s inviting energy. Another artist named Evan Bishop asked me how I could use my passions to help people. I had engaging conversations with a crystal jeweler and another fellow writer. I met amazing women who were entrepreneurs dedicated on working together on bringing more harmony and knowledge of self into the world. It was so refreshing. Not to mention, I also could not stop buying soaps and hair accessories. There was also a great workshop by an incredible sista named Katori Walker who spoke about the reality of natural hair in the workplace. I most definitely will continue this journey into holistic healing and natural health. My body is my temple and I strive to take care of it. Meeting so many energizing people is also a wonderful recharge to my spirit. If there is anyone else out there who is engaged in this world, feel free to reach out. I would love to here from you.

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Natural Hair Milestone

My Galaxy phone every few days reminds me of pictures I took years ago. Sometimes it’s a nice trek back into the past and at other times in brings up painful memories. However, today it brought back a natural hair milestone for me. A year ago today, I took a picture of my hair when I was first transitioning. I never noticed before until I saw that picture but you could see the permed hair meeting the new growth. It’s remarkable to me how much my hair has changed since I decided to go on this journey. I am so happy with how my hair is turning out even though my hair often times has a mind of it’s own.

 

Twist Out Blues

You what I hate these days? I hate what Trump is doing to America; I hate driving in New York City and I hate doing a twist out and my style disappearing within two days. Honestly, it takes a lot for me to dislike or have anger towards anything. I find comfort in being cool about most things. But when you put time and energy into a style and it is gone…..it becomes increasingly challenging to maintain that zen like mood.

On Sunday night, I put my hair into twists. I sat in my bed while watching the Walking Dead and preceded to do my hair. My hands worked through my hair carefully parting each strand to the best of my ability. (I actually am very bad at parting, ha ha.) My hands put some time into each piece of hair treating it delicately. When I was done, I put a hair cap over it to preserve the look. My hair was left in the twists for about two days to continue the preservation of the look I wanted. On Wednesday, I took the twists out and the style did not look too bad. It had a mixture of perfect and lopsided curls that accentuated my style. It was not perfection, but it defined my look.

For some reason this morning, it looked even better. It had definition, volume and the curls were looking great. I was so excited. I went on to take a shower like I do every day. However when I was finished, the popping volume was GONE!!!! My hair had shrunk so much. It looked like how it normally does after a few days of a twist out. This has happened before after taking a steamy shower, but I am just so sick of it. It sucks when humidity ruins your hair. Venting here is making me feel a bit better, but it truly is frustrating when the warmth that actually puts you at so much ease into your routine destroys the time and effort put into your tresses.

However, I cannot help but love the diversity my hair naturally possesses. It changes when it feels best. I can only do so much to control it. I am loving my kinks but that love turns into frustration at times. It is like loving a child; you come into your once clean kitchen and find a tornado of a mess. Your anger rises quickly, but you find a way to swallow it and handle that situation like a champ (or try to) because in your heart you know the love you have for the sometimes wild one is unconditional. My wild mane will always have my heart. I will do my best to understand it one day at a time. So for today, I will put on my armor of chill and embrace the shrunken kinks my hair decided to morph into.

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This was after a successful twist out. =)

Gliding into 2017

Today, I am choosing to write a sort of reflective piece about the past year. I seriously do not want to write some cliché new year, new me garbage. Heck, it is cliché to even crap on people who do that. However, there is an innate desire for people to want to reflect on the ups and downs of the past year. We cannot help it as human beings as we fumble through this mess called life. Yes, I do it too. I wonder who will I be next year, how will I evolve or how will I stay the same. I personally feel in every second that we are breathing that distorted oxygen in and out of our lungs we are changing. You are never the same person the following day. But at the same time, you are not going to be completely transformed. It is more of a glide than a race to who you will become. 

This year has been an incredible year of growth, change and struggle for me. I got accepted into Hunter Silberman School of Social Work. In this grad school experience, I am learning so much about self-awareness, the social injustices that plague our society and about interventions on how we can assist those suffering from the many demons that haunt them. That whole experience deserves a level of it’s own and that is not the only level of growth I have experienced this year. I also had to fully embrace my natural hair. I learned and am still learning about what makes my kinky coils, how to take care of it and most importantly how to love it. Becoming natural was not easy, but I am thankful for every moment that I am experiencing this hair change. It was not just a change in hair texture; I feel like I am owning who I am and who I was always meant to be. As my hair transitioned, I transformed. I am finding myself becoming more health conscious. I am more invested in the world around me and want to do more in understanding the real truth about it. I no longer just accept what I hear and try to challenge what I hear on a regular basis. I smile but shake my inner fist at the world for not doing better. Ha, of course this is also school’s doing to opening up my mind to how everything works. I also find my style changing but at the same time it represents who I have always been. My growth is a representation of what I was always meant to become.

However, I am still trying to figure out who I am and what is it that I really want out of life. I know I do not want much but I do have the simple goal of being happy. In a way, I feel I have already accomplished my goal. There were some moments in 2016 that made it difficult for me to work my facial muscles into a smile even if frowning is more difficult. Trump winning was the biggest shock to many people this year. Even Trump seemed to be shocked. How could such a misogynist, racist bigot be our president? Especially against someone who was clearly more qualified. As I slowly understand a bit more about how the world works, I wonder if there is some outside force secretly laughing at the way the gears of society is turning. Of course, they must be pressing some buttons to cause those gears to turn. The continued rise in police brutality and injustices against my people only seem to grow while this man is getting closer to accepting his place at the white house. (If he ever leaves Trump tower of course). Many questions plague our minds as the shock settles into acknowledgment of a new era that our hearts truly cannot accept. However, there have been bands of unity across the country that is working against the hateful attacks that attempt to break us down. In these dark times, one thing I know for sure is that we will not be brought down. As a nation overflowing with so much beautiful diversity, we have come so far. Even as the laws may change, we have to start paying attention to the surprises to our liberties and fight it. We must continue to stay strong as a united front against these systems that work to destroy us. After all even with the negative back story to how this country was founded, it is still our home; let’s make it our home.

Twenty sixteen was also an end to some relationships I thought would never end. I do not want to waste too much time writing about this, but it was something I definitely was surprised had terminated. I did fight very hard to make it work. I learned so much about myself in what I did wrong and how I could work to do better in the future. I thought about ways that I could have rectified the situation. I constantly berated myself for the stupid mistakes that I made that could have made it work. However, through time I learned that in all my effort, both of our effort, it was not meant to last. The pains we carry with us our embedded in our spirits as a push, a lesson, a means of strength into conquering tomorrow. I would not be the person that I am today if I was still in that place struggling to make it with that person. My growth happened because of the pains I endured while in that space. The age old saying that everything happens for a reason is always on constant repeat in my mind. But it is there as a reminder that all of the crappy, uncomfortable, pains to my spirit are there to build me up into the phenomenal human being that I am becoming. It is obviously working because I am usually way more humble. Believe me, I love being modest. There is still so much more work to my character that will come to place as I get older. But I think it is OK for everyone to sometimes acknowledge how fantastic they are. As long as you are also aware that you are never done becoming awesome.

Anyway, I am mostly content with the way 2016 played out. I have accomplished so much, grown in ways that I did not expect and now I am excited to see where my growth will take me in 2017. For those of you reading this, I know you are some pretty incredible specimens on this Earth. Please remember to honor your growth however big or small they may be; each moment is responsible for making you into who you are destined to be. Every morsel of pleasure, pain and comfort are the necessary ingredients to being. Laugh, smile, cry, scream; do whatever feels comfortable to you in your moment. Let us go into 2017 like stars and keep on shining. Have a wonderful New Year! 

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Grass Ain’t Greener By Chris Brown

There is something about Chris Brown. What is it?  His soft croons. His fabulous dancing. His genius decisions to always choose such an r&b beat sometimes fused with techno. Ugh! I can’t stand his fine self. Well, he could chill with the constant changing of hairstyles. Lol. Anyway, “Grass Ain’t Greener” captures my spirit. The inconsistency of the hollow noises inter-playing throughout the track catches my ears and drags me into an orgasmic musical submission from his light, smooth croons. My head is at mercy to the beat for reasons I know not. Regardless of what it is, this track always makes my body want to move into a dance frenzy even if I am on a crowded subway. Stare at me and I may be staring mindlessly into an abyss of the world around me. But secretly, I am dancing in the “Let’s Go Get My Ex” induced video right along with Brown in my mind. Now watch me make my move.

What Makes You A Writer?

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My life right here

This question has been throbbing in my mind for weeks. In this journey of writing, it all started in elementary school for me. I used to have these journals in which I would write in everyday. Scrawny etches of chicken scratch penmanship would litter a composition notebook on various days on anything from what nine-year-old Tiffany learned in school that day to the interactions she had with other kids. Little Tiffy was definitely a shy one. It did not change that much in high school. But during those teen years, writing was so exciting for me. Every time the teacher would give me an essay assignment, I would look at it as an exhilarating new challenge to immerse myself in. It was such a thrill and joy to be able to write. At the time, I never realized how much I liked to write until a friend and my tenth grade English teacher made me see my potential.

Today, a magazine journalism degree and a few editorial internships and “jobs” later, I question whether I am still defined as a “writer.” Other than the fact that my grammar, style and prose is probably not as up to par as it once was, I don’t write as much as you would think. One thing I have come to accept, I am a procrastinator even when it comes to the things that I love. Routine and deadlines keeps this somewhat free spirited mind on schedule. If it’s not on a to-do list or there is no deadline, it will not get done. The daily grind of work and other responsibilities constantly pushes this passion to the side for me. So even though I write when I can, I still ask myself this question.

In today’s world that’s only getting smaller and smaller, writers or so called “writers” pop up all over the web. Some people just wake up randomly one day and decide that they are going to be a writer. There are oodles of published content from people who could not write if their life depended on it to distinguished literary geniuses. There are all types of writers: bloggers, journalists, poets, content curators, editors, novelists, authors, song writers and more. Some people can write twenty or more pieces of content a day while others write a little something every week. At the end of the day, they all do define themselves as a writer.

Through all this mental pondering, at least for now I think I can answer my question. I am a writer because of one simple reason: it brings me joy. You would not even know how happy I am just writing this particular post. All the posts, articles, rewrites, blog entries, essays and journal entries I have written in my life has always provided me with true happiness. The ability to pour out our thoughts and give it life is a true gift that all of us human beings have. So whether you write to give your business more traffic or because you report for a blog or news organization, find the joy in what you do because that my friend is what makes you a writer.

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