By Ky Finds: Tawia Designs

My sneakers finally came! I ordered these bad boys before going to South Africa in hopes that they would arrive in time for my trip. Of course they didn’t but I can’t wait to wear them this summer. They are Authentic Nike Roshe Sneakers with Dogon Mudcloth customized by Tawia Designs. I noticed Nike came out with some customized black history sneakers for Black History Month and while debating if I should get those, I came across these beautiful things. What I love is that the print comes from Ghana. A percentage of every sneaker purchased is given back to Growing Power Inc. which helps feed neighbors, nurture youth, and support sustainable communities.

If you like what you see click the link below and visit the site: http://www.tawiadesigns.com/

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Black-ish confronts Police Brutality and I’m here for it

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I am not an avid fan of Black-ish on ABC, although after the episode that just premiered I want to be. Black Lives Matter and Police Brutality have been the top stories on the news lately. Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Sean Bell, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray and the list goes on, were all killed at the hands of police officers. When will it end? Why are innocent lives being taken by the very authority figures that are supposed to protect those lives? What adds more fuel to the fire is that these officers are taking lives without any repercussion. Nothing is happening to them. They are completely protected under the law. It feels like we are living in 1950’s Jim Crow South where you can take the life of a black man or woman and walk away free of criminal punishment. Like I said my biggest problem with these cases are these officers facing no sort of punishment. No burn. Not a suspension, not a mandate for community service, not 2-weeks in jail, not 2-years in jail, notice I am trying to list the minimum amount of punishment to be received and they receive nothing. They are completely allowed to move on with their lives while the families of these dead victims suffer. Black Lives Matter and this has got to stop.

I say this all to say that I am a personal believer in people using their platforms to address these issues. I am proud of Black-ish for using it’s platform to illustrate the reality of how black families react every time the justice system that is supposed to protect us, fails us. This episode was so multifaceted and the writers used each of the characters to share a different perspective on this issue of police brutality. Bow and Dre struggle with how to explain to their two young children what the state of America is, without taking away their innocence. Bow wants to protect them from the reality of being black in America, while Dre wants to expose this reality to them so they have no surprises later on. Hence, the dispute of the episode is unleashed. What comes out of this episode, is great conversation and dialogue, discussions about Ta-Neshi Coates book which is taking the world by storm, and real life, tear jerking reactions to how devastating it is every time a police officer walks away Scott Free after killing a black teen or adult. The best part about the episode was that the writers were able to mix humor with real life stuff which made it one of the best television experiences I’ve had in a long time.

Without giving too much away, I encourage you guys to watch the episode. I found it on Hulu.

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By Ky Books: Why you should re-read the Autobiography of Malcom X as an Adult

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It seems like growing up everyone had to read the Autobiography of Malcom X, it was probably mandatory in school. Yet, although I was required to read excerpts from the book, I can honestly say I don’t remember reading this book in full as a child and I am kind of happy I didn’t because reading the Autobiography of Malcom X as an adult is one of the most enthralling reading experiences I’ve ever had.

Through new adult lenses, I can understand Malcom X beyond what the world and the media tried to portray him as, a hateful radical. I see that there was truth in what he was saying, it just was delivered defensively and under the guise of Elijah Muhammad being some sort of prophet from God which just was not the case and a hard pill to swallow as a Christian reader. However Malcom X is such a revolutionary figure in our history and he is often over shadowed by other political figures. Continue reading “By Ky Books: Why you should re-read the Autobiography of Malcom X as an Adult”

Movie Monday: Lee Daniels The Butler

z6-shoji-butler-interview-a-20140214.jpgThese are our stories. OUR stories. The Butler is based on a true story of the life of Eugene Allen who was a butler for over 30-years in the White House. This movie resonated with me from the opening scene. The scene is deep although not based on Eugene Allen’s real life. A young Cecil Gaines, his mother, played by Mariah Carey, and his father played by David Banner are taking a picture on the cotton fields of the deep south when suddenly his mother is raped by an overseer. Cecil encourages his father to speak up on his mother’s behalf. His father tries to address the rape but is shot dead on the spot by the crazed overseer in front of his young son. This scene illustrates so many things but what rings out to me most is the dehumanization of black lives. Our lives meant nothing back then and it hurt watching.

Ultimately Cecil’s mother goes crazy and Cecil is taken in by the Madame to be a house boy/ house slave, which sets the tone for his career. Cecil works hard and eventually lands a job in the White House as a butler, which he takes very seriously. Simultaneously he juggles being a husband and a father to his two young sons. One of his sons being a revolutionary who is deeply apart of the struggle for Civil Rights, a far cry from  Cecil’s temperament.

This movie tugged on my heartstrings for many reasons. For one, it does a great job with representing the times and the tones of the day, from Emmett Till’s death to the Civil Rights Movement, to the Black Panthers Movement, to the Apartheid struggle in South Africa, and it does it so well. Secondly, one of the most defining moments for me in the movie was Cecil finally coming into consciousness. He realized that after years of playing the “contented negro” he deserved more for his life and he needed to fight for it. This movie resonated with me in my own life. Never be afraid to demand what you want and never settle for a situation that you know you deserve more for. Always strive to be your very best self but also remain humble. Cecil was a humble and a hard working man and I admire his work ethic and his contribution. He broke barriers and paved the way for us which is a powerful thing.

This movie is currently playing on Netflix which is where I watched it if interested.

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By Ky Finds: Nicholle Kobi

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I am absolutely IN LOVE with french artist Nicholle Kobi’s artwork. Kobi’s art encompasses representations of beautiful black women being fabulous. She has illustrations of women with beautiful natural hair and unapologetic brown skin, hanging out with friends, drinking coffee at cafe’s, dating, shopping, and just exhibiting #blackgirlmagic at it’s finest.

I’ve gained such inspiration from her illustrations and want to share that you can also purchase a bunch of great items from her online shop including coffee mugs, shirts, sweaters, posters and cell phone cases just to name a few.

Nicholle Kobi’s shop can be accessed by clicking the below link:

http://nichollekobi.com/

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The Podcast: Oh No You Didn’t!

I remember when I was in college and one of the students in my African American History class said, “Why is there a BET? Would you guys appreciate it if we had a WET?” The bigger question was why in this day in age are we still explaining this? WET is main stream television!

With shows like “Girls” and “Friends” with all white casts that encompasses agency, gender, and relationships beyond the representation of Caucasian people, it baffles me that we still have to explain why our own networks, our own award shows, and our own historically black colleges are necessary.

This podcast explores some of the things that I’ve heard or experienced from others that were just not okay. Irony is, I recorded this almost a week before Stacey Dash decided to share her views on Black History Month and BET!

Things I address:

#1 Why is there a BET?

Simple, main stream TV, Movies and Media is catered to white people and we are sick of not seeing our stories represented so we created our own platform to do so.

#2 50 Black Owned Restaurants

A friend of mine was annoyed that I was promoting the 50 Black Owned Restaurants in NYC via Idontdoclubs.com. The sad part of the whole situation is that out of all the restaurants in NYC this website could only compile 50. Eventually the list grew to 100, but still…the disparity is huge.

#3 The N Word (Used by Others)

I feel the need to explain this story more. The person I talked about wasn’t calling me the N word, she was talking to her fellow white co-worker, but I was with in close proximity to hear her, so it was offensive.

#4 Affirmative Action

I feel like blacks are perfectly capable of getting into the best colleges and excelling. However I don’t see anything wrong with Affirmative Action. Inner-city black people are not afforded the same resources as their white counter parts and to even the playing field I believe that Affirmative Action is necessary.

#5 Cultural Appropriation

It really is crazy! I really get it, and I may have to do another podcast to dive deeper into this topic, however I am not strongly angered when Kylie Jenner gets her lips done or wear baby hair–who cares? Can we focus on the more important things happening in the world like child marriage? or children having to live in unsanitary conditions all over the world?

 

https://soundcloud.com/lifestylebyky/oh-no-you-didnt

 

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Confronting My History

This is what happened when I decided to confront my history in one day.

January 18th 2016

Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I had the day off and decided I wanted to watch all the black historical films that I’ve been avoiding since 2012.

First, let me explain my avoidance. These films as a black person are just hard to watch. They are completely necessary to watch but hard nonetheless. I take on the emotional burdens of these historical films depicting Slavery or the Civil Rights Movement. My mind does not allow me to separate between this being a movie, made by Hollywood, from the fact that this Hollywood made movie is a depiction of actual events and occurrences that took place in the past and so I watch these films as if these movies are real and I am  emotionally burdened by it all.

In spite of this, I just decided I wanted to be radical and not just watch one of these movies but all of them in one sitting. I wanted to watch D’Jango Unchained, 12-Years A Slave, The Butler, and Selma (if I had time, I would throw in the Malcom X movie). I dived headfirst. I started with Selma because it was MLK Day. Selma had a few rough scenes that shook me to my core and made me cry. The police ruthless beatings with the batons, the violence, the hatred, the disrespect, it messed with me but I kept on going.

Next up, I tried to find 12-Years A Slave. I couldn’t find it on Hulu or Netflix. My friends later told me, God spared my mind because that movie is a hard one. One day I will come back to it.

Then I watched D’Jango which was interesting. I liked it. It showed a black man empowered during slavery even though he was a murderer…hmm. What I hated most about this movie was the dog scene where a runaway slave was torn apart by dogs. This was a practice of slave masters during slavery, it just hurt so bad to watch.

The Butler, was next on my list. I was surprised by how great this movie was. It’s really powerful. The opening scene is a tearjerker. The rape and murder of Cecil Gaines parents illustrates how dehumanized black lives were during this time. Cecil Gaines worked hard and made his way into the White House, but he resented his eldest son who was a part of the struggle. His son was apart of the civil rights movement, the freedom rides, the Black Panther movement, and the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. These historical references added so much substance to the movie and illustrated just how challenging the times were. Certain parts of this movie hurt to watch. Cecil constantly fought to get paid equally as the other white butlers and was shut down and told he could quit. His work as a domestic although underestimated and looked upon as “uncle tom’ish” made a huge contribution to the plight of our race and I thank him for his work and the work of many black domestics of our times just trying to make a living for their families.

January 19th 2016

By the time I watched all three of these movies I was emotionally beat. I tried to go to sleep but I couldn’t. Continue reading “Confronting My History”

By Ky Books: The Education of Kevin Powell

IMG_3677.JPGThe Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy’s Journey into Manhood. I purchased this book after attending a Kevin Powell event hosted by the Brooklyn Historical Society. Kevin Powell addressed the issues I cared about during his discussion ranging from Black Lives Matter, to why it’s important for text books to reflect the contributions that women make in society. He did so in such an enlightened way but I can’t ignore how calm and cool his mannerisms are.He touched on his childhood a little bit, having to live in poverty for most of his life. But to have come from such humble beginnings to being the powerhouse that he is today, I was curious to see what his memoir was all about.

I’ve read many memoirs by woman but I’ve never read the memoir of a man besides Malcom X Autobiography so this was new territory for me. Yet, I have to say I really enjoyed this book. Kevin Powell takes you on a journey of his life from the beginning, as a boy abandoned by his father and completely dependent on his unaffectionate mother. His trajectory into becoming a man was filled with many ups and downs but he is now a successful man and uses his mistakes to help other young men in his same predicament. I loved Part II of this book most because it talks about his life in college as an outspoken student activist and also as a journalist for Vibe Magazine, where he received the opportunity to shadow Tupac Shakur . Kevin Powell was great friends with Sister Souljah and was also on the first season of the Real World which he discusses in this book.

If you’re interested in reading more memoirs, this book is a real treat. A lot of hip hop references and childhood nostalgia will be triggered while reading this.

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Movie Monday: Selma

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Ava DuVernay! You did great work with this movie. The first 10-minutes captivated me. You see a well-dressed Martin uncomfortably receiving a Nobel Peace Prize award, but what comes next sets the tone for the whole movie. We are not sugar coating anything with this film are we? Its clear this movie is addressing the reality of black lives in the 1960s, south. Four little girls walking down their church steps, talking about things that these girls would most-likely be talking about and then the bomb goes off, and their pretty little shoes, their hair bows, their dresses, blown away like vapor. Their lives taken from them because of the brutal hatred for their black skin. This scene is followed by another very powerful scene with Oprah Winfrey attempting to gain her right to vote. We see how demeaning those voter registration tests were and it brought on the first of many tears in my eyes. Watching this movie, I had a cathartic cry. It was one of the most emotional tears I’ve ever shed, filled with pain and peace at the same time, I can’t describe it really but it was different. It was brought on by a scene where a black man trying to protect his mother and grand father was killed by police while protesting. I had to turn the movie off and just cry. This stuff really happened back then and it’s happening today, but why? Why are these senseless acts of violence so prevalent? Why is human life devalued so? Selma had an affect on me, and if you haven’t watched it as yet I encourage you to. Nothing that Martin Luther King did was in vein. He sacrificed his life so we could have the freedoms and liberties that we too often take advantage of.

Right now the movie is on Hulu, which is where I was able to watch it.

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By Ky Finds: Black Card Revoked

IMG_0344.JPGYou ever come across an amazing idea and wonder why the heck you’ve never thought of it? Well that how I felt when I discovered Black Card Revoked by Cardsforallpeople.  The premise of the game is to answer a bunch of trivia questions, about African American pop culture, correctly, without getting your black card revoked.

The questions are fun and lighthearted. A lot of them deal with 90’s sitcoms ranging from Martin to the Fresh Prince.One of my favorite questions is How many fights did the Fresh Prince have before his mama sent him to Bel Air? For that, you have to sing the theme song to get the answer  🙂 .

The questions are multiple choice or open-ended. You make your own rules to the game so if you want to play as individuals or teams its totally up to you. How people win, is also up to you. You can play as a drinking game or just as an activity to kill time. It  was a great purchase and I encourage you guys to do the same.

Click the link below to head over to Cards for All People shop where you can purchase these cards and so much more:

http://cardsforallpeople.com/

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