Monday, April 30, 2018

The Truth about all of the Planets going into Retrograde

As I was prepping for today's #MindfulMonday post, I was shocked by the abundance of one type of article and blog I kept running into on different sites. I kept finding "Mercury is in Retrograde", "What it means when your planet is in retrograde", blah blah blah. What was most interesting about this was that I wasn't on any astrology sites. I was looking at wellness, beauty, even fashion sites. It seems as though astrology is the newest trend.

I started wondering what all of this retrograde stuff was all about. And how much it was true as opposed to how much of if was a woo-woo cop out.

I apologize to all of my "spiritualist' friends and readers out there.

You know I love you, but some of these elements have gotten a little out of hand when a simple scroll through my blog roll reveals more about how distant planets and constellations affect my work at the office or my love life then my own actions.

So here goes.

First, let's talk about this whole Retrograde thing.

As a technical term, retrograde simply means a planet looks like it is moving backwards in its orbit from our point of view on Earth. As a planet orbits the sun, there are moments when it is closets  and furthest away from us here on earth. Astrologists believe that planets bring with them a set of energies and elements they control. For them, the term 'retrograde' in astrology means that as a planet moves away from earth in its natural orbit, the planet’s energy turns inward, creating a sense of reconsidering and reevaluating. The reason we keep hearing about Mercury in particular is a few reasons:
1. Mercury has the shortest orbit therefore its in retrograde more often.
2. Mercury is believed to control coordination and communication, things we often need in our day to day interdependent lives.

But what "Mercury in retrograde" has become in the cultural vernacular is the reason you're having a crappy day/ week/ month. My boss yelled at me because Mercury is in retrograde (and not because you screwed up something you and your boss have previously discussed simply because you weren't paying attention). My girlfriend broke up with me because Mercury is in retrograde (and not because you were being a royal pain in the butt or were being in attentive). I left my keys at home because Mercury is in retrograde (and not because you woke update and rushed out of the house and onto your commute).

You get my point.

So many people who have little understanding of astrology are simply tossing around the phrase to explain what could just be a natural rough patch in life. What if it has nothing to do with planets or orbits or constellations? What if it is just a bad moment? A bad day? A bad week? These things happen, and not for some deep, dark and spooky reasons like a retrograde, either.

To be honest, it feels like it takes more faith to believe that a planet or a constellation has control over my life more than it does to believe in God. But that is another blog post for another day.

The truth is that a rock in space, other than it hurtling towards you at a million miles an hour, really has little to do with your every day life here on earth. I've had some pretty awesome times when the planets were doing whatever they were doing and never really gave them a second (or first) thought.

Furthermore, while it is quite fun and trendy right now to delve into astrology, it feels pretty irresponsible. People are literally blaming ancient gases, dust, and minerals in orbits that we have yet to discover for our own actions and reactions instead of taking ownership of them ourselves. Just because Mercury is in retrograde doesn't mean I get to be a total ass to you, and vice versa. Nor do I get to blame all of the things wrong in my world on the solar system when many of the things going wrong are things that are within my control.

The point of this little post: maybe we should stop looking at the skies to determine what our own minds and hands and hearts should be crafting.

Reclaimed Readable #MindfulMonday

Happy Monday and the last day of April 2018!

This week's #mindfulmonday features 15 easy ways to make your beauty more mindful, 21 products to help you fall asleep faster, terms to retire when discussing natural hair, how to clear sentimental clutter, making your own self care a priority, and 17 easy organizing tips.

BuzzFeed: 15 easy ways to make your beauty routine more mindful, 17 easy organizing tips
Hello Giggles: 21 products to help you fall asleep faster
Refinery29: Terms to retire when discussing natural hair
Apartment Therapy: How to clear sentimental clutter
Girl With Curves: Making your own self care a priority

Friday, April 27, 2018

Reclaimed Readables

Happy Friday, loves and lovelies!

Let's close out the week with Readables featuring how to layer necklaces like a fashion person, the ethical fashion movement won't progress while still ignoring plus size women, how to make the skincare you already own work the best, the best in beauty packaging, and 24 inexpensive beauty products for any budget.

BuzzFeed: 24 inexpensive beauty products for any budget
Into The Gloss: The best in beauty packaging
Byrdie: How to make the skincare you already own work the best
Fashionista: How to layer necklaces like a fashion person, the ethical fashion movement won't progress while still ignoring plus size women

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Reclaimed Readables

Greetings and salutations good people!

Today's Readables feature the app that helps you pay off credit card debt, how to spot financial infidelity, what the wage gap really means for you, how one woman learned not to disclose her media salary, smart ways to earn more money off of your tax refund, and the money diarist who lives in their car.

Refinery29: The app that helps you pay off credit card debt, how one woman learned not to disclose her media salary, the money diarist who lives in their car
The EveryGirl: How to spot financial infidelity
My Domaine: What the wage gap really means for you
Coveteur: Smart ways to earn more money off of your tax refund

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Do we actually love Black Women?

"The most disrespected woman in America, is the black woman. The most un-protected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America, is the black woman." Malcolm X

I have some questions that I need answered.

What do you think about the recent domestic abuse allegations against Fabolous, and the continued support of artists such as Trey Songs, Chris Brown, and R. Kelly, and what that support says about how we value (or don't) Black Women?

In case you are unfamiliar with the allegations, Fabolous was literally accused of beating the teeth out of the head of the mother of his children, Trey Songs manhandled a woman at one of his parties, and Chris Brown battered then girlfriend Rihanna.

The R. Kelly situation is probably the most disturbing. With at least 20 years of multiple young women and even teen girls' accusations of sexually inappropriate behavior, it makes me wonder where is the outrage? Where is the same outrage that poured all over Larry Nassir, the former doctor and victimizer of so many young gymnasts? And why can't we feel that same outrage about young black women and girls?

And yet, people are still "steppin' in the name of love".

Where is the outrage for Chikesia Clemons, the 25 year old woman who was brutally arrested, pinned to the floor so violently by two white cops her top came off, bearing her chest this past weekend at the Saraland Waffle House? Why was there more outrage for the two men arrested at Starbucks than there is for this young woman? Or the above women who were manhandled (pun intended) by these famous Black men?

And why does it seem like Black women will gladly who up for anyone and everyone else? We will march for you, we will stand beside you, we vote for your best interests, we will defend your rights, and all we ask is for that same dedication to our causes as we give to yours.

That means, Black men, if you want respect from your sis', stop defending broken men like R. Kelly, Trey Songs, and Fabulous for abusing Black Women. Defend us the way we defend you. Speak up  to your wack ass friends when they step out of line with one of us. If your friends don't know where the line is, be a man and draw it for them.

And White Women, don't invite a sis to anything, not a meeting, not a march, not a sit in, if you're only using her as the Black voice and the Black face, but don't care enough about her humanity to make sure your feminism is intersectional enough to include her. Don't have us out here in these pink kitty hats in your "Sister March" if you're not going to come to the "Black Lives Matter " rally.

So, after all of this, I ask again: do we really love Black Women?

Reclaimed Readables #WomenCrushWednesday

Happy happy hump day beauties!

This week's #WomenCrushWednesday features Lisa Bonet is still our 90's crush, 3 women activists who are already changing the world, what an unwarranted arrest says about feminism, a diversity activist on dressing to be heard, and 8 spring looks that celebrate the beauty of natural hair.

Refinery29: Lisa Bonet is still our 90s style crush, 8 spring looks that celebrate the beauty of natural hair
Man Repeller: 3 women activists who are already changing the world
The Cut: A diversity activist on dressing to be heard, who will stand up for Chikesia Clemons?

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Black People are literally having the Police Called on them for just living their lives: A Rant

I am taking the time today, y'all.

White people, we need to talk.

What is up with your initial reaction to calling the cops on Black people? Seriously. You cannot just come and speak? Why is that? Do we scare you so badly that you cannot come speak to us should you have a concern?

Have you not been paying attention to the news in the last, I don't know, 50 years? Unarmed Black people are being slaughtered by untrained trigger happy officers left and right. Men, women, even children are being shot in the streets, in the park, in the back yards and fronts of their own homes

Do you know that ever time you call the police on Black people, you could be potentially sentencing us to death? Already this year, 30+ unarmed Black People have been fatal shot by police officers. And it's only April.

For whatever reason, calling the police on Black People, who are really doing nothing criminal, has become the thing to do. It didn't start or stop with the Starbucks incident here in Philly.

What about this incident at a Alabama Waffle House that left a young Black Woman topless and pinned to a floor by two white male officers? Did she deserve to be essentially stripped topless over this altercation over plastic utensils?
What about this past weekend, at the Grandview Golf Club of York, PA. where police were called on five African American women who were tresspassing? Doing harm to the course or other players? Decided this much grass deserves a full out bbq?
No. The police were called on the women because they were "playing golf too slowly."

That's right, because apparently that is a thing.

Meanwhile, a cursory investigation of the incident proves that the 5 women's speed of place was keeping in pace with he group that was ahead of them. So if we are really calling the police on slow playing, why wasn't the police called on that group?
Because it's a lie to cover up a deeper truth. Grandview, just like the former manager of the Spruce Street Starbucks here in Philly called the police for one reason and one reason only: because they simply did not want Black people where they were. 

At least Starbucks is making some attempt to rectify the problem of implicit bias. Grandview has offered a half ass apology that sounds more like justification in calling officers on five African Americans, who also just happen to be members of their golf club.

And these are just a few of the reasons why we will continue shout Black Lives Matter, and why we will continue to call out injustice and systems of oppression set up against People of Color since we are dragged here forcibly from our homeland.

When you are arrested for simply doing what white people go about their lives doing without even thinking about it, like go to the Waffle House, sit in Starbucks, play golf (even in clubs where we are members), when you are gunned down mercilessly for standing in your grandmother's back yard or taking a nap in your own car, there is a problem.

It really will only be fixed when White people authentically address their own biases of Black people.

Please tell us then, White People, where is it safe for us to Black in peace?

Reclaimed Readables #TuesdayShoesDay

Happy Tuesday loves and lovelies!

This week's #TuesdayShoesDay features 19 pairs of sneakers that might replace your summer sandals, flat mules perfect for the low life, shoe styles that are both cute and functional, your 6 Spring shoe wardrobe, and tips to keep your white sneakers clean.

19 pairs of sneakers that might replace your summer sandals
Flat mules perfect for the low life
Shoe styles that are both cute and functional
6 Spring shoe wardrobe
Tips to keep your white sneakers clean

Monday, April 23, 2018

4 Surprise Benefits of Gratitude

Gratitude is a powerful emotion that only seems to get any press around the end of the year holidays. We typically don't think of gratitude as benefiting our overall health. But it can also be a deliberate practice with documented emotional, mental, spiritual, as well as physical health benefits.

Here are 4 surprising health and wellness benefits and blessings of gratitude:

Gratitude improves your self care
There is a direct correlation between being thankful and taking care of yourself. When you seen your body, health, and well being as a gift, it then followers that you make the extra effort to care for it than if you took it for granted.

Gratitude can improve your relationships
Who doesn't like a person who is genuinely grateful? Odds are nobody. Think about when you do someone a favor, cook a meal, hold a door, or surprise someone with a gift, how does it make you feel when they express authentic gratitude? It typically makes us feel good. This cycle of positive emotions creates deeper bonds and connections between us and those who we are in relationship with.

Gratitude combats depression and boosts happiness 
When you are surrounded by things that make you thankful, it becomes difficult to be in a bad mood. Gratitude is powerful in that way. If you find yourself in a slump, after addressing what has you in the slump, take time to think of 3 to5 or more things that make you feel grateful.

Gratitude helps you sleep better
There is truth to the adage "count your blessings" particularly when you want to be counting sheep. The more positive thoughts you have before you sleep, the quicker and more deeply you will sleep than if you let troubles roam in your mind. If you are struggling with getting to sleep, try gratitude journaling before you go to sleep.

Other surprising benefits of gratitude:
Gratitude has been proven to help people be more patient
Gratitude may help you to stop overspending by taking stock of what you do have and how to make use of it.
Gratitude can help you stop over drinking, and overeating by signaling when you have actually had enough as well as stops emotional drinking and eating by taking stock of what you are actually feeling and combats feelings of "emptiness".

Reclaimed Readables #MindfulMonday

Happy Monday, beautiful people!

Let's begin the week mindfully with our #MindfulMonday Readables that feature ways to stay Zen during times of transition, how to upcycle your favorite candle vessel into a mug, 11 subscription boxes for the spiritually inclined, the spiritual beauty trend worth the hype, and how sound can and should be used in your self care routine.

The Cut: Staying Zen during times of transition
Well+Good: How to upcycle your favorite candle vessel into a mug, a quick sound bath for instant self care
BuzzFeed: 11 subscription boxes for the spiritually inclined
Refinery29: Chakra oils are the spiritual beauty trend worth the hype

Saturday, April 21, 2018

You have only days to grab #Beychella Goodies before they are gone

Beyoncé's Coachella performance was historic to say the least.


She was the first Black woman to headline Coachella in its 15 years in existence.

And, if I am honest, she probably gave the most unapologetically Black Coachella performance ever. She began her performance by strutting down a runway clad as Nefertiti-meets-band-leader, only to emerge again amidst a full brass band, drum line, and dance team to sing a rendition of the Black National Anthem, "Lift Ev'ry Voice". She served southern HBCU, dance team, Black greek life and more, al while peppering in clips from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Malcolm X, and Nina Simone.  She called on her own sister, Solange, to complete a tradition and dance together as they did when Solange did Coachella a mere 4 years prior. She performed beside her husband, Sean 'Jay-Z' Carter. She even reunited with Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, bringing our dreams of seeing Destiny's Child reunited to fruition.

To commemorate, Bey has dropped her Coachella pop up shop with goodies I personally love.
This super cute crewneck
This Beyoncé Nefertiti Tee
This "I been on" hoodie

And these panther bandanas
But you literally only have DAYS to snag all of this apparel. Grab these and other Bey goodies here.

Friday, April 20, 2018

That one time I was Interviewed on TV

RVNTV' s Morning Coffee with Krista Smolda
This week was a pretty exciting one here in Reclaimed World.

I had the opportunity to talk all things Reclaimed and blog life on RVNTV's show,  Morning Coffee. This was my first TV interview, so nervousness is kind of an understatement.

First, following the initial freak out and regathering of myself, y'all know I had to figure out what in the world I was going to wear! Your friend Earl helped me out with this. A few week's back, he bought me these Banana Republic printed pants that were perfect for taping day. And you know I couldn't go and talk about The Reclaimed, a blog born from thrift shopping, without wearing a few of my favorite thrifted finds! Once that was out of the way, and the twist-out fresh, I was off to the studio.

The show was live and I was interviewed by the fun and very kind Krista Smolda, RVNTV's Director of Operations. We had an awesome time and I am to grateful to have had such a fun growing experience.

Check out the full interview at RVNTV.

Reclaimed Readables

Happy Friday, loves!

Today's Readables feature Dooplex, the Sephora of Black Beauty, Target introduced 8 beauty brands by women of color, 30 easy skincare tips you'll wished you knew about sooner, 13 face masks that up your skincare game, 10 things to give up for better skin according to dermatologist, and a fashion editor's no heat hair routine.

Fashionista: Dooplex, the "Sephora of Black Beauty"
Man Repeller: A fashion editor's no heat hair routine
Well+Good: Target introduced 8 beauty brands by women of color
BuzzFeed: 30 easy skincare tips you'll wished you knew about sooner
Byrdie: 13 face masks that up your skincare game, 10 things to give up for better skin according to dermatologist

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Reclaimed Readables

Happy Thursday loves!

Today's Readables feature 7 sneaky ways to save money for a house, what fights about money reveal about marriage, how much to spend on treating yourself, how one woman tripled her salary in 4 years, and how to spring clean your finances.

My Domaine: How one woman tripled her salary in 4 years
Hello Giggles: 7 sneaky ways to save money for a house, how much to spend on treating yourself
Relevant Mag: What fights about money reveal about marriage
Well+Good: How to spring clean your finances

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

When Fleek is so not on Fleek: How to Overcome Cultural Theft

This post was inspired by a few episodes of the podcast, Strong Opinions Loosely Held.

How much do we think about the memes, gifs, and slang we use?

Probably not very much. We cackle about memes aptly sent, we slap on gifs of ridiculous reactions and responses to communicate even the most minute of emotions, and we toss slang around like nothing.

But what if there was a deeper cost to the digital images and popular sayings we use? What if even the most well meaning social media user was actually guilty of crimes of Black Face and Cultural Appropriation?

I know, I know. You're tossing your arms in the air. "Whitney, it's just a gif. It's just slang. It doesn't really mean anything, right?"

Actually, no. Not right.

Let's take for example the word fleek.

I have to be honest, I personally am not a fan of the word fleek. However, I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge its simple yet effective staying power. For a few years, everything was "on fleek", "fleeky" and so on. It was scribed on t shirts and hats, sung about or rapped in popular songs, even national restaurant chains tossed the word around.

And yet, many of these large corporations or popular artists, or even many of us regular folk ever gave credit to the originator of the word, teenager Kayla Newman better known as Peaches Monroe. Peaches on a viral Vine video is seen as the first user of the word "fleek".

Following this, the word fleek travels around the world. It ends up in songs and commercials, on clothes and tossed about by celebrities. Meanwhile Kayla received nothing for fleek. Nothing.

Only after hearing these opinions did I realize the tragedy of it all.

Grumpy Cat has a book deal, Chewbacka Mom received scholarship for her kids, the Damn Daniel kid made an appearance on Ellen and a lifetime supply of sneakers, and the "cash me outside" girl is making up to $30K for meet and greets but the young Black woman, Peaches Monroe, who created a word, y'all, was virtually begging on her now deactivated page on GoFundMe for coin to create her own beauty line?

There is something VERY WRONG with this.

Fleek made it to the dictionary, yall! And it's creator never really received the credit due to her.

Kayla's story is unfortunately not uncommon.

In fact, it is very common for popular culture the look at an element of Black culture and deem it just part of the cultural zeitgeist, to take it and use it as it's own on exchange for the opportunity to look cool. Also known as stealing, culture vulturing, or, one of the popular terms around this little blog, cultural appropriation.

Black culture, not seen as it's own unique culture, is regularly pilfered from, often to be commodified. It is seen as something not belonging to that cultural group, but something that belongs to the entirety of popular society. Black culture is seen as not belonging to the Black culture. This disempowers Black people, especially Black creatives, who very often do not receive the credit (or the coin) due to them by popular society.

So where is Peaches now? Cannot say. As I have said, her GoFundMe has since been deactivated and she has seeming disappeared from the scene. But her story is critical to those of us who are creators, to guard our intellectual property, to make sure we are properly credited in everything we share, and to have a plan for potential virality.

We also must continue to tell stories like Kayla's. We must make sure that we hold ourselves accountable, and others as well. We must let people know about the potential deterrents to sharing in today's highly connected, voracious internet culture, whether its memes or adding to the lexicon.

Now that is so on fleek.

Reclaimed Readables #WomenCrushWednesday

This week's #WomanCrushWednesday features Ocean's 8 is a feminist heist film to love, where to watch the full Beyoncé Coachella performance, the coolest hair cuff styles, Sasheer Zamata on her style evolution, and trailblazing who won't be wallflowers.

BuzzFeed: Ocean's 8 is a feminist heist film to love
Fashion Bomb Daily: Watch the full Beyoncé Coachella performance
Refinery29: The coolest hair cuff styles
Coveteur: Sasheer Zamata on her style evolution
My Domaine: Trailblazing who won't be wallflowers

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Reclaimed Readables #TuesdayShoesDay

Happy Tuesday loves!

This week's #Tuesdayshoesday features how to care for your feet in spring, what to actually wear with the white heels you just bought, just a bunch of Instagram worthy shoes, the perfect magazine for sneaker heads, and the year's most popular sneaker trends.

It's officially baby foot season, yall!
What to actually wear with the white heels you just bought
The year's most popular sneaker trends
The perfect magazine for sneaker heads
Just a bunch of Instagram worthy shoes

Monday, April 16, 2018

Wellness for Woke Girls

It's hard out here for woke girls.

The constant stream of injustice, climate change, and over all bad news from around the nation and globe is enough to make you numb as protection from all of the heartbreaks they render.

As "woke" women, we surround ourselves with information, we are the first to volunteer, the first to extend ourselves, to engage in dialogue. We vote, we go to the neighborhood clean ups, we feed the hungry, we go to church, we host the events. And we burn ourselves the hell out. All of that can and does leave us drained (speaking from personal experience).

But it doesn't have to be this way, sis. We can still be the woke and working women our community needs and the times demand that we be without self destructing. By implementing intentional self care, we can balance wokeness and wellness.

Here are some practical ways to self care, stay sane and even thrive as a woke girl:

Realize that you aren't superwoman
I know, I know. We were raised and have grown to believe that we were the answer to every problem and the solution to every need. And true, being actively engaged wonderful and admirable. It's also exhausting, yall.

You are a human being, not a human doing. You were meant to just be, and there are times that you only have to just be. You don't have to show up as organizer, minister, helper, all the time. The best way to self care as a woke girl? Be woke enough to recognize your own needs, your own humanity, yourself.

Engage in your spiritual practice
We all have a spiritual practice or faith practice. Even the most staunch religious nonbeliever recognizes that there is something more than just skin and bones. I am a Christian. For me, prayer always helps. Taking time to connect to God, to call on Jesus, and I feel like I have returned to the deeper parts of myself.

Turn the TV off
I know and love people who have the news constantly on in the background, and while that is all well and good to be informed, what is the cost for being overloaded with opinion pieces, debates that sound more like arguments, and bad news disguised and breaking news that is shaped and formed to fearfully grab our attention? The current news cycle is designed to grab our attention with fear. The best way to mitigate this is by just turning it off.

Sure, it sounds counter intuitive to us who want to stay abreast of all that is happening to shut off the very devices that do that for us. But the news will be there, injustice will still be there, but you must take care of you before you care for this world.

Log off of social media
Same as above, but with your laptop and phone. We really were not meant to digest the amount of information that comes to us on a weekly, daily, hourly rate. Stop scrolling, close the app, put your phone in another room.

Take a walk
I take a long walk every single day. It helps me to move my body and exercise my thoughts at the same time. It helps me connect with my bones and muscle but also discover something new, whether it be a new coffeeshop opening up or that the flowers on my street are opening, its never exactly the same. And it takes my mind off of the crap happening in the world, even if its just for a bit.

Go outside. There's real life happening right here. There is fresh(er) air, flowers, trees, people walking with their friends or children or dogs, there is life. Get outside and be apart of it.

Get some sleep
Yes, yes, yes. You need sleep. More than 5 hours of it. You must make your rest priority. No excuses.

Eat a good (or not so good) meal
None of this is rocket science, yall. A good meal has a way of easing you out of the troubles of the day, like a hug on a plate.

Therapy. Seriously sis.
The benefits of a good therapy session are well known and well documented and yet so many of us completely avoid it for whatever reason. Let me tell you something; I don't think I would have healed as fully and quickly from some of the darkest parts of my life without some serious therapy sessions.

Think of therapy the same way as you think of your other health practices. If you see your dentist twice a year, and your doctor at least once a year, then, you should at least go talk to a licensed mental health professional at least once.

Go be with your people
Nothing like your friends to bring you back to yourself. Being around some good people is encouraging, inspiring, and downright fun. Grab the bestie, your siblings, call up your mama or pops, and have a good time.

Some other ideas:
Listen to some music
Do a guided breathing or meditation exercise
Have a cup of coffee or tea
Go for a run

What are some ways you unplug and self care? Drop them below!

Reclaimed Readables #MindfulMonday

Happy Monday beautiful!

This week's #MindfulMonday features 4 de-stressing yoga poses, the best air cleaning plants for your home, 12 of the best plants for your apartment, beginner yoga poses, your personality's essential oil, 13 natural skincare products, and why people are loving crystals right now.

Hello Giggles: The best air cleaning plants for your home, 12 of the best plants for your apartment
Well+Good: 4 de-stressing yoga poses, beginner yoga poses
BuzzFeed: Your personality's essential oil, 13 natural skincare products
Apartment Therapy: Why people are loving crystals right now

Sunday, April 15, 2018

What the Starbucks Philadelphia Incident Says about Bias and Discrimination

As I write this, I am drinking my Starbucks ice brewed coffee from a Starbucks cup. And I am debating throwing both in the trash.

A mere few days ago, in my home city, the city where I was born and raised, 2 men peacefully sat waiting for their friend to arrive at a Rittenhouse Square Starbucks. For whatever reason, the manager of this Starbucks chose to call the Philadelphia Police Department which escalated into the video you see below:

There is so much I could say about this one brief clip, I don’t know where to start.

This happened in a city I call home. This happened to my people in my city. This happens to my people in my city doing things that I and millions of other people do and have done without thought.

This could have happened to my friends, my brothers. This could have happened to me.

I have so many questions: How many people go to Starbucks to tap away on their laptops with or without ever making a purchase? How many people go to Starbucks to meet up with friends or colleagues, to sign paperwork or simply sit alone, with or without ever making a purchase? Why were the police called by this Rittenhouse Starbucks manager? What is the crime, other than just merely being Black?

The look of self protective resignation is probably the worst part of this whole episode. The faces of these men as they are shamefully cuffed and forced to leave the Starbucks, even while so many come to their defense is disheartening.

But can you blame them for not putting up a fight? With the unresolved murders and assaults of so many Black people, typically unarmed, typically doing normal things like walking home in a hoodie, playing outside, hanging with friends at a water park, or simply standing out back of our grandmother’s home by those who swore an oath to protect and serve, it is often confusing to know how to engage them. Oftentimes, we, citizens of another shade, meet them with a mixture anger and fear, you know, like we would a gang, except this one is backed by the law.

Anyone who has ever been to a Starbucks knows that it is the meet-up place in the city. So many people come to wait for friends, work on their laptops, sit and people watch without making a single purchase at all.

Why were these two singled out then? I was waiting for some details or back story or some reason for these men to be forcefully removed, you know, other than being black.

Black people have already proven the power of our dollar. H&M’s monkey hoodie is one of the latest examples of that. And while Starbucks has since issued apologies from company and directly from the CEO, swearing there will be an investigation, the damage has already been done. There is already a call to #boycottstarbucks.

The Philadelphia Police Department is equally culpable. Philly is no utopia. There are actual crimes to be solved here. And yet a half a dozen officers converge and then proceed to arrest two Black men who have done nothing but be law abiding citizens. It’s completely disgraceful and disgusting and needs to be addressed. I have to say that I am completely disappointed in Police Commissioner Richard Ross for defending these officers. When there was probably actual crimes to solve, here were way too many officers doing the wrong thing. And this was the Commissioner's chance to calm the city.and the watching nation. But what does he do but defend the incorrect behavior of his officers.

This entire situation is disgusting, but it made us take a good look at ourselves, from the barista who saw two black men sitting in Starbucks who called the police, to the officers who removed these men, to the customers who defended the men, to the protestors who converged on that same Starbucks Sunday. I am encouraged by the latter two. May more people have the guts to stand up when they see something wrong. May more of us come to each other's aide. May more of us call out discrimination or bigotry or sexism or racism aloud, especially those of us with privilege.

Philly. We have some work to do.

Friday, April 13, 2018

SPONSORED: It's Time for the Nordstrom Spring Beauty Event!

Nordstrom Spring Beauty
Spring is an awesome time to refresh and renew, and that renewal doesn't have to stop at spring cleaning your home. Maybe you have been feeling less than excited about your beauty routine and want a fresh beauty experience. It's time to toss all of those dull shades, boring palettes and outdated colors and get excited for a fun and educational event happening hear you.

It's officially time for this year's Nordstrom Spring Beauty Event!

Every year, following New York Fashion Week, Nordstrom goes backstage to assess the biggest beauty trends and then brings this intel direct to their customers. This spring, Nordstrom is highlighting (pun intended) trends such as Luminous Skin and Hi-Definition Lips.

You can learn how to master the latest runway-inspired looks of spring, all while getting your hands on some free samples and exclusive gifts with your purchases (while supplies last). You will also have the opportunity to have one-on-one time with Nordstrom highly acclaimed beauty experts, get the latest tips and tricks to nail the newest trends and hear all the beauty buzz intel from industry insiders.

The best part? This fun and fashionable event is free to attend!

Wanna go? All you have to do is RSVP online or ask for special accommodations by calling or stopping by their favorite cosmetics or skincare counter at your local Nordstrom.

For those in my home town of Philly, our Nordstrom event is being held in the King of Prussia location and begins April 22nd and culminates with a trend show on April 28th.

To read more about the trends, click here and to learn more about Nordstrom Beauty Trend Events and see where it's happening near you, click here:

I hope to see you all there!

Reclaimed Readables

Happy Friday happy people!

Today's Readables feature the new ASOS Made in Kenya line, the artist explores the politics of Black women and luxury brands, Spring 2018 trends, wellness buys you can snag at Home Goods, and 24 things no one will believe you got from Walmart.

The Cut: The artist explores the politics of Black women and luxury brands
Refinery29: ASOS Made in Kenya line, Spring 2018 trends
Well+Good: Wellness buys you can snag at Home Goods
BuzzFeed: 24 things no one will believe you got from Walmart

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Reclaimed Readables

Today's Readables features ways to Spring clean your finances, why millennial women don't about their salaries, the debate between Honey vs eBates, 4 tips to negotiating a raise, personal finance advice for millennial women, 4 mistakes we all make when talking to our partners about money, and 6 times musicians made money more relatable.

Well+Good: How to spring clean your finances
Refinery29: Why millennial women don't about their salaries, personal finance advice for millennial women
WhoWhatWear: The debate between Honey vs eBates
Hello Giggles: 4 tips to negotiating a raise
Relevant Mag: 4 mistakes we all make when talking to our partners about money, 6 times musicians made money more relatable

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The deeper Meanings behind Drake's #NiceForWhat Song and Video

This week, Drake released his newest single Nice For What. In my opinion, it's a bop. I like it. I downloaded it. It's an affirming piece on a hard working and unbothered woman, and that's the type of music I personally vibe to.

Then he has the nerve, the unmitigated gall, to drop one of the most powerful and beautiful collections of visuals of the year (in my humble but feminist opinion) for the song.

The video is directed by Karena Evans, a 22 year old Canadian actress and director who also happened to have directed Drake's God's Plan video.

The song itself features Big Freeda and samples classic Lauren Hill.

So many of my faves were in this video:

Tracee Ellis Ross


Yara Shahidi


Misty Copeland


Letitia Wright


Issa Rae


Rashida Jones


Other awesome ladies included in this video; Tiffany Haddish, Jourdan Dunn, Zoe Saldana, SYD, Michelle Rodriguez, actress Olivia Wilde, modeling twinsElizabeth and Victoria Lejonhjärta, actress Emma Roberts, and Bria Vinaite.

Here is the video for your enjoyment.

But I believe that this video and song maybe indicative of a deeper shifting in the collective psyche of the times.  Go with me for a minute, but I believe that Nice For What points to a direction we are going as a society.

First, it is a hip hop song. That is not to say that there has not been hip hop songs with feminist leanings, but post #MeToo and #TimesUp, multiple women's marches and movements, it is worth note that hip hop, a typically misogynistic and problematic music form is one of the first to drop a bop with not only lyrics that question that misogyny but attend it with a video filled with women who are in their own ways fighting against misogyny.

Second, the song is by Drake, yall. I love Drake, I have since "You the best" (I didn't have the opportunity to grow up with Degrassi, so forgive me). That being said, Drake is (or at least was for a majority of his musical career) the patron saint of fuckboys. For those who are unfamiliar to the term a fuckboy is defined by Urban Dictionary as "the annoyingly macho and bad mannered young man archetype, across each generation. Yet the current batch of them, thanks to smartphones and social media making the ability to lead an unproductive and narcissistic lifestyle especially easy, are particularly obnoxious."

So for Drake to have not only produced a song about an unbothered woman doing her and living her best life, it's a shocker, but a welcome one. Lyrics like "I've been peepin' what you bringin' to the table. Workin' hard, girl, everything paid for;First, last phone bill, car note, cable." showing this woman's work ethic, "That's a real one in your reflection. Without a follow, without a mention." expressing self validation in an era where people typically take to the big 3 (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) for validation, even the title Nice For What, challenging the assertion that women should simply be nice to men to be viewed as less of a threat to fragile masculinity, has me consciously vibing.

He is on a bit of a role with the release of God's Plan, that had most of us in tears for the philanthropy work and visuals attending this song. Admittedly, this could all be farce, after all, one of the hallmarks of a fuckboy is being an opportunist. But I choose to believe the best. Drake appears to have grown up so much with both of their pieces. He is seen in the Nice For What video maybe four times as opposed to the flood of powerful women featured, making it all about them. I say its growth. Keep it up Drizzy.

Thirdly, Drake uses a classic Lauren Hill song, Ex-Factor, a song from the now venerated album, The Miseducation of Lauren Hill. Anything Lauren Hill is on, I probably will love. Enough said.

Fourth, and maybe the most critical, the song is infused with Louisiana bounce beat featuring vocals reigning bounce queen, Big Freeda. This may not seem like a lot, but it means so much to anyone who is paying attention. Part of the misogy-noir of hip hop is the blatant, often violent hatred for the LGBTQ community. For Drake to release a song featuring a proud transgender woman not only combats said hatred, but it also adds to the facets of femininity featured in this song/video.

Finally, onto the video; this song and video is literally oozing with feminine glory. Karena Evans crafted vibranium with these visuals. The selection of some of the most intriguing, interesting, bold, funny, and brilliant women of or current times, staged and set in her own unique way highlighting the power, strength and beauty of diversity has me completely slayed.

Nice For What is a fun song, yes. Drake has given us our selfie captions for the next few weeks, and for that I personally am grateful. But it also reveals so much about where are going in in hip hop, in music, in popular culture, and, I hope, in our society.

What are your thoughts on the Nice For What video and song? Drop a comment! Let's chat.

Reclaimed Readables #WomanCrushWednesday

Happy Wednesday beautiful people!

This week's #Women CrushWednesday features Jessamyn Stanley on yoga activism and body positivity, Jenné Claiborne of Sweet Potato Soul on healthy soul food, beauty editors tried every product from Glossier, Sasheer Zamata on her style evolution, and how Rihanna's humanity, not her celebrity, is changing the beauty industry.

Huff Post: Rihanna's humanity, not her celebrity, is changing the beauty industry 
Coveteur: Sasheer Zamata on her style evolution
Refinery29: These beauty editors tried every product from Glossier
Well+Good: Jessamyn Stanley on yoga activism, Jenné Claiborne of Sweet Potato Soul on healthy soul food

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

B*tch better have my Equal Pay: A Rant

Today is Equal Pay Day, the day that illuminates that women, still, here in the 21st century, make less than men for doing the exact same jobs.

The breakdown gets worse when you consider the intersections of ethnicity and gender. For example, Black men make about 79cents to a white man's dollar, meanwhile, me being a Black Woman, would make around 65cents for every White Man's dollar, to do the same damn job.

Anyone else think that it is completely ridiculous to even be discussing something that make so much sense? Something that makes so much sense, the only way it can be explained why we are dealing with it is one word: greed.

What's worse is that the majority of the country is completely unaware are of this difference. Meaning that right now, there are multiple companies and businesses that are paying the women in their companies less than their male counterparts.

Why shouldn't women be paid the same amount as men for doing the same job? Let's think about it for a minute. Logically, it makes no sense to pay women less than men.

You want to talk equality? Financial equality is just as important as any other equality women are seeking, more important than wearing red today, more important than offering a discount today.

What are your thoughts about equal pay? Let's talk! Drop comments below!

Reclaimed Readables #TuesdayShoesDay

Happy Tuesday loves!

This week's #TuesdayShoesDay features 7 sneaker brands you recognize but cannot name, the best metallic shoes for every style type, 6 Spring shoe trends to get ahead of, the next wave of ugly sneakers, 7 pairs of rain boots for wide calves, and 45 heels that may make you swear off heels.

7 sneaker brands you recognize but cannot name
The next wave of ugly sneakers 
6 Spring shoe trends to get ahead of
The best metallic shoes for every style type
7 pairs of rain boots for wide calves
45 heels that may make you swear off heels

Monday, April 9, 2018

Reclaimed Readables #MindfulMonday

Happy Monday beauts and beaus!

This week's #MindfulMonday features 4 steps to becoming an at home juicer, the busy woman's guide to healthy spring cleaning, whether or not coconut oil is good for you face, the easiest floral trend, castor oil is the new beauty trend, and affordable and effective alternatives to The Ordinary.

Refinery29: Castor oil is the new beauty trend, affordable and effective alternatives to The Ordinary
MyDomaine: The easiest floral trend, is coconut oil good for you face?
Well+Good: 4 steps to becoming an at home juicer, the busy woman's guide to healthy spring cleaning

Friday, April 6, 2018

Reclaimed Readables

Happy Friday loves.

Let's wrap up the week with super fun Readables including 23 products from Sephora blog readers cannot get enough of, literally 32 cheap things you could treat yourself to, easy Spring outfits from around the world, why cactuses and succulents are the perfect plants for this cultural moment, 30 floral dresses for Spring, and the Tokyo influencers love these products.

Curbed: Why cactuses and succulents are the perfect plants for this cultural moment
Refinery29: Tokyo influencers love these products
WhoWhatWear: Easy Spring outfits from around the world, 30 floral dresses for Spring
BuzzFeed: 23 products from Sephora blog readers cannot get enough of, literally 32 cheap things you could treat yourself to

Thursday, April 5, 2018

What is Digital Blackface and are you guilty of it?

This post was inspired by the podcast Strong Opinions Loosely Held, Digital Blackface.

Let's talk your favorite memes and gifs.

What is your favorite meme or gif right now? Mine is the one below of Viola Davis. She is clearly unamused  and unimpressed, grabbing her purse, tossing a mean side eye before leaving. I love this one because it expresses how I feel about a lot of things; racism, the Trump administration, misogyny, a bad date, any minor inconvenience. I can simply toss it in a group chat and convey my feelings without needing to say anything additional.


So what is yours? Is it of Oprah, Mariah Carey, Cardi B, Beyoncé, or any one of the Atlanta Housewives?

Noticing a trend here? 9 times out of 10, your favorite reaction gifs and memes are going to feature a Black person in it, often a Black Woman. Right now, there are millions of group chats, where memes and gifs of Black stars, often Black Women, are being used.

Lauren Michelle Jackson noticed it too. She calls this "digital Blackface".

When we historically think of Blackface, we think of minstrel shows of the 19th and 20th century where White men would paint themselves black or brown reenact stereotypes of Black people for the amusement of White audiences (isn't history terrible?).

But, as we know, Blackface isn't a relic of bygone eras. The 21st century has been littered with its own Blackface contributions by Julianne Hough a few Halloweens ago, Kim K for the launch of her beauty line, and the existence and unfathomable popularity of the living minstrel, Rachel Dolezal, as well as the usual frat kid who wants to be Jay-Z or Colin Kaepernick for Halloween.

Jackson, says that, while these cultural crimes of Blackface should be talked about and rectified, there are also instances of Blackface online, where the frequent usage of Black Reaction gifs and proliferation of Black memes is just the 21st century's version of the minstrel.

"If there’s one thing the Internet thrives on, it’s hyperbole and the overrepresentation of black people in GIFing everyone’s daily crises plays up enduring perceptions and stereotypes about black expression. And when nonblack users flock to these images, they are playacting within those stereotypes in a manner reminiscent of an unsavory American tradition."

That American tradition being those blackface minstrel shows. And while no one (smart) is slathering themselves with brown or black paint in the digital space, the proliferation of Black reactions memes and gifs, often expressing extreme over-reactions an emotional outbursts, by White users can be considered a form of blackface.

Maybe it's that these gifs and memes, made mostly from reality shows, have become so popular despite the fact that most of these memes and gifs are no longer easily identified that gives me pause. You doesn't even need to know the women often used in these Black reaction memes and gifs to appreciate and use them. It is like saying "Oh, any general, over the top Black Woman will do." to assign to any emotional labor, no matter how minute.

Jackson alerts us. " minstrels are no more believable than their in-person counterparts to anyone who knows black culture and black people, rather than a series of types. Unfortunately, digital blackface often goes unchecked unless a black person does the work to point out the discrepancies in someone’s profile."

But there is a darker side to this. Last year, NPR shared an article about white supremacists trolling as Black Twitter users to do things as asinine as bait actual Black Twitter users in to fighting and behave poorly while masquerading as a Black person on social media all the way to attempting to sabotage social justice organization efforts.

Not so funny anymore, is it?

So, what do we do in the digital realm? On one hand, gifs and memes are an amazing, connective way that people, especially Black people can communicate our own emotions. On the other, with the proliferation of Black reaction memes and gifs usage by nonblack users, most of them stereotypical and trope filled, it gives Black users a sense of pause before pressing send or post.

There is no easy answer. But a good place to start is looking at ourselves. Monitoring our own behaviors and editing accordingly is always encouraged.

The point of all of this is simple. Black bodies and imagery are forced to do the huge amount of emotional work in these digital spaces for nonblack users. Caught in a continuous loop of "yaaasss", "girl, bye", and so on. We don't want to be the sassy, angry, loud, argumentative, twerking, hair flipping, side eyeing punctuation to your posts, comments, or emails. Black people aren't here to be popular culture's emoticons anymore than Black people are here to entertain popular culture.

So, if you find yourself constantly using Black women reaction gifs and memes, may I suggest using one from Mean Girls, SpongeBob or Arthur.

Reclaimed Readables

Happy Thursday, frugal friends!

Today's Financial focused Readables feature how sexual harassment is widening the pay gap, 8 last minute tax hacks, all the ways we speak about women and money is just sexist, 10 financial moves to make in your early adulthood, and how real couples talk (and fight) about money.

The Bolde: 10 financial moves to make in your early adulthood
Refinery29: The way we speak about women and money is just sexist
The EveryGirl: How real couples talk (and fight) about money
Hello Giggles: How sexual harassment is widening the pay gap, 8 last minute tax hacks

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Maya Angelou Quotes to Get Your Whole Life

I have already told you guys about my 5th grade graduation. And while I honestly do not remember too much from the day, I do remember my family making it a very big deal. I remember my great Aunt Stine sending me a thin blue booklet with gold lettering on the cover as celebration of the achievement. It was copy of the poem written for the inauguration of President Bill Clinton called On the Pulse of Morning by this writer, Maya Angelou. I still have that tiny blue booklet. And that moment cemented in my mind the love I have for Maya Angelou.

This day in 1928, Maya Angelou was born.

While here, Maya was one of America’s most beloved poets and authors, honored with dozens of awards and over 50 honorary degrees. And yes, while she did have the honor of reciting the first poem since 1961 at a Presidential Inauguration in 1993, in 2000, she was honored with National Medal of Arts, followed by the presentation of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the country’s highest honors in 2010 by President Barack Obama.

I don't know very many people who are unfamiliar with Maya's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969) or any of her other memoirs. Outside of memoirs and poetry, Maya was also a journalist who worked throughout the continent of Africa, a historian, songwriter, and performer, often found singing and dancing.

Maya was also an activist, one of the Civil Rights Movement’s most prominent women, who worked with greats such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Maya was a tireless humanitarian, devoting her life to helping and healing Women and Black people.

On May 28, 2014, Maya Angelou passed away at the age of 86.

It seems fitting to celebrate her birthday and National Poetry Month, seeing as how som of the most prolific and powerful poetry written in this country, in this world, was created by this truly phenomenal woman.

Here are my favorite quotes by Maya Angelou:

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

"When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time".

"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude."

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.

Nothing will work unless you do.

"Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible."

"Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope."

"Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it."

"We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty."

"We need much less than we think we need."

"If I am not good to myself, how can I expect anyone else to be good to me?"

"Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest."

"I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one."

"Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time."

"If you’re always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be."

And one of my most treasured poems by Maya:

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?

Why are you beset with gloom?

’Cause I walk like I've got oil wells

Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,

Just like hopes springing high,

Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders falling down like teardrops,

Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?

Don't you take it awful hard

’Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines

Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?

Does it come as a surprise

That I dance like I've got diamonds

At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame

I rise

Up from a past that’s rooted in pain

I rise

I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,

Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

I rise

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear

I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

I rise

I rise

I rise.

Reclaimed Readables #WomanCrushWednesday

Happy Wednesday loves!

This week's #WomanCrushWednesday Readables floral afros that will make you burn your flower crown, 'Tonal' a new magazine celebrating women of color, Angela Rye is about to become your woman crush, Rev. Dr. King's daughter on why her father's message means more now, 4 Black suffragettes you didn't learn about in High School, and the stunning sister designing pair coming for your closet.

Huff Post: Bernice King on why her father's message means more now
Hello Giggles: 4 Black suffragettes you didn't learn about in High School
Coveteur: Designers Darlene and Lizzy Okpo
Fashionista: 'Tonal' a new magazine celebrating women of color
Refinery29: Floral afros that will make you burn your flower crown, you need to get to know Angela Rye