Nawlins…. The Vacation Away From Ourselves

  The great Britta Perry once said “Vacations are wasted on the young. You have to go out and see the world.”

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Okay, she may not be all that great but she has a point. Vacations are not just all I ever wanted, but it’s the getaway I needed.

It was time to head down to a terrain where neon beads are preyed upon like diamonds and the thrills never end. Yes, I’m talking about New Orleans. Nawlins. Mardi Gras. Oh yea. The plan was infiltrated months ago, because like the 20-somethings my friends and I were, we organized the trip like it was a group project during finals. As we headed down to Nawlins via Amtrak, I figured I would awaken my inner Kafka and write until the margins were filled in my journal. Instead I got some much needed zzzz’s.

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I would later find out that the bumpy terrain on Captain Amtrak would be the best sleep I had all week. As we began our journey through New Orleans -an ATLien, two Queens chicks and a Bronx born/GA bred madam- ran into a bunch of characters that brightened  the aurora of the town. There wasn’t a mascot there to represent those chaotic, Cajun-induced nights, but if she existed, I think she would don something purple, a lacy yellow number underneath her petticoat and of course a hint of green.

The nights were calm, but presented a feeling of dominance as soon as I slipped off my walking around shoes and jumped in my dancing -in-the-street getup.

Not to say we were living like women of the night, but we actually enjoyed the music blared through the speakers of every karaoke and nightclub presented in front of us.

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When vacas happen, you expect to show off your new outfits explore statues that tell stories of yesteryear.

Honestly, what is it that you really want to? Taking the time  to just relax is what it’s all about. Maybe I learned that through an episode of Modern Family or something, but being lazy for a few days won’t kill you (a few good ribs won’t harm your waistline either) so what holds you back? Fear of rejection? Worries of how you look?

Do you what you want to do. If you want to take selfies with inanimate objects than so what? I can say that I got do to that, thousands of miles away form the busy busy world of New York City which can be seen as a good thing or a bad thing.

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Enough of the ranting and back to the fun. Trolleys, old friends and new friends were apart of the journey to Nola, but I think the best fun moments were the clashing of my friends. New ones, old ones, and the ones we met came together like the  perfect R&B/Hip Hop collabo. Not Bieber and Chance The Rapper, but more like Freddie Gibbs and Dana Williams . More organic ya know?

I’m big on my friendships and I like when folks blend well. This happened pretty easily in Nola because we all were able accept the bizarre moments that fell in front of us. From moments of clarity by the Mississippi River, dominating the tables in the casino (off of pure luck)  and getting lost in Fourth Ward were fun times I won’t forget.

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Photo Credit: Stacy Ann Ellis, Focusyems 

Pledge Allegiance To The Struggle

December is crazy month for everyone.

We’re either rambling about finals, work or questionable anxiety when you’ve done nothing with yourself this year the nerves set in. We’ve heard it all before. I’ve realized that I’m not apart of that bunch anymore and it’s a great feeling. (Insert confetti)

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This doesn’t mean that we have it all together. There will always be moments when life kicks the mess out of you, but that’s when the thinking cap comes on and you figure it out. 2013 was the year I fell into my personality and was finally able to be comfortable with myself. Friends, money and opportunities came and went in the process, but the worst situations deliver the best blessings.

I can’t pin point any struggle that was the absolute worst. Maybe it was the time I jumped the turnstile in heels with my laptop, or getting creative with just 10 bucks worth of groceries, or watching someone steal my words and claim them as their own, but they are moments that will stick with me for the long haul.

Dreams aren’t easy to achieve, this isn’t something teachers tell you when your picking your career. It’s something you find out for yourself. If you don’t suffer from some kind of struggle how do you learn?

So salute to all the peeps who are fighting for their dreams. Never wallow in your own disappointment.

Remember that it all amounts to something greater, maybe even bigger than you imagined.

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Make it yours. I know I will make it mine.

Could You Be Loved, And Be Loved?

We all want to be loved. From our families, a potential mate, and from our friends. I saw this last week when a lot of stories on adoption came through my reader. During this writing journey, I’m taking on a position that requires me to find insane and thought-provoking stories for a particular audience. I like shock factor so I figure this would be easy, but I didn’t know how much it would really affect me.

There was this story that was pretty popular around the internet a few weeks ago about Davion Only, a 15-year-old orphan who stood up and begged to be adopted by a family that wouldn’t just buy him the latest video games or clothes. He just wanted to be loved and cared for. Isn’t that what we all want? I was lucky enough that I didn’t have to grow up in the system but what about the children that are? After his story went viral, (hate that term) thousands of people are now wanting to give Only the only gift he wanted- a home.

I’d like to think that perhaps someone from his immediate family could have taken him in, not just tell him that his mom loved him but tried to defend her. As he begged to be taken in at church that day, he was surrounded by his birth parents family and his social worker. There were no takers, but that’s the mystery in the way things happen. When one door is closed, in time another one will open.

Adoption has always had a negative connotation with it. Just because we’re ‘adoptees’ doesn’t mean we’re angry, unstable  youths you see on the news.

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Some of the best leaders and entertainers were adopted like Bill Clinton, Faith Hill and Nelson Mandela. Yes Nelson Mandela. With over 400,000 children in foster homes in the U.S, just the thought that they can be the change the world needs makes me smile. We have the strength others may lack; we can adapt quickly to situations, are strong and courageous and won’t be defined by the term. Now with Only possibly having a home soon, I hope he gets to experience the best gift of all: family.

I’ve learned that my family is a reflective of who I am, physically we couldn’t look more different. I’ve gotten side-eyed more times at family functions than I can count. I know one thing: the weird faces I make when I hear horrible ideas, the way I dance, and my awesome cooking comes from them.

Hopefully Only and other adoptees will see that it isn’t about have a “real” mom or someone that looks like you to be family. You aren’t raised by one person, but everyone else around because the love is that strong. So could you be loved? Always. Can you love? Only if you’re open to it and no matter the situation, you should.

Let’s Do It Again

It’s 2 AM on a Friday night. The subway is filled with all types of after midnight marauders, as usual. While I’m sure that I look like the perfect bait for the potential rapist lurking, none of that matters right now. The joy and excitement I experienced with the other writers and  how happy my editors were for VIBE’s 20th Anniversary party was worth it. It was insane  for me not to think that the pages I use to highlight, bookmark and plaster on my walls would be one of the many jobs I have today.

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New Rules

I’ve always loved VIBE. Since I was kid it was one of my favorite magazines. It told the story of Hip Hop’s Golden Age, prolonged/investigated (debatable of course) the battle of East v. West Coast music, and followed the careers of the biggest names in Hip Hop today. I’ve always viewed Vibe as the journal of Hip Hop. It covered the high moments, the many lows, and where it’s heading today. While music will always reflect the many aspects of it’s historical past, we’re finally taking keen to the new artists who have found the perfect balance of homage and creating new sounds. (Insert your favorite artist here) It feels good to know that I can finally create some entries of my own.

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Two hours later I’m finally home, well not in my house but off the train. As I walk down the middle of the street (heels in hand) my flats are hugging my toes while I speed walk down the dark road. It’s late but I’m happy. I take risks everyday and this was nothing compared to the journey that had lead me to this point.

Cheers to print and the legacy that is Vibe. Let’s see what happens ten or 20 more years from now!

The Newbies

The Newbies

These Fleeting Moments

“I’m not gonna let no one speed up my process..I don’t care about what’s happening out there. That’s the great thing about having total confidence in yourself. It doesn’t matter what’s happening; this is what I like. My life is tailor made for me.”
– Jay Z

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What’s world without a few challenges? We think about this every time we face a struggle or a battle we think we can’t fight. I’ve learned that sometimes it’s not just about the blows we’re blocking, but how many we allow to get through.

There used to be a lot of people around me who believed that their past battles affected the bitter sick sad world they lived in. The blame of course was never on them, but someone else for making them either fall into something or talk them out of something. After laughing and finding that just as dumb as all these Kendrick “Control” responses, I started to see my happy demeanor slowly diminishing, and becoming a product of other people’s misery. Does this make me weak? Does this make me trapped in a box? Does this make me a former version of myself?  Nope. It made me human.

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Being a guarded soul always kept me happy. When something is wrong, no one has to know; you figure that shit out and keep it moving. That mentality has everything to do with girl groups and the sassy women who raised me. I decided to let a wall down, my filter was gone and I had no idea what I was doing or taking in. I felt every single jab life through at me. I still do.

Do you know what makes life great? Every battle gives you a story and every story has inspiration. If not for you, perhaps someone else. This year has given me more lessons then college or high school, or even the projects have ever given me. The wall will never go up, but my gloves are out and I can say I’m finally prepared. Bring it.

Hey Young World

This weekend was filled with joy, pain, and reassurance my generation is smarter than you think. While many believe we’re texting and tweeting away, we’re out making noise and taking a stand. Over the years, there’s been one tragedy after the other. The story of Trayvon Martin not only grabbed America’s attention but the little brown kids of the burbs, the hood, and everywhere in between.

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We will all remember where, when and how we felt when the verdict for George Zimmerman came in late Saturday night. I was just getting home from work, exhausted but happy to relax. Before I can rest my toes and find out the plans for the night, the verdict of George Zimmerman scrolled across my Instagram timeline. “Not Guilty” was all I saw at 10:02 p.m.

Moments later I heard two gunshots. Then a couple more.

Flustered, I turned on my T.V. The news was flooded with the verdict that George Zimmerman was found not guilty for the murder of 17 year-old Trayvon Martin. We all the know the story, but what happened after was something beautiful.

Like many, I attended one of the rallies in New York Sunday afternoon. I ended up in Union Square park with journalist, activist and writer Kevin Powell. Powell, with his group BK Nation began a discussion and a stage for young people to voice their opinions about the New York laws of 16 and 17 year-olds being tried as adults and how it connects to Trayvon Martin. Like many open discussions,the subject was lost while people talked about their own struggles and the war against the the laws that created America.

While it was evident online that we as a “lost generation” were upset, and distraught (hence the ignorance of people firing guns in the air and online threats to Zimmerman.) What bloomed from the rally wasn’t anticipated arrests or fights like we’re so naive to expect.

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What were heard were voices of many races, gender and age describing what Trayvon meant to them-together. There were barely (if any) insults to Zimmerman, and no one wanting to start a riot. At the end of the day, there was grief, sorrow and an overwhelming feeling of complete strangers coming together and making the common area for hipsters, beggars, and baby boomer chess players a platform for change. Sure the subway was blocked by teens stacked together like a human totem pole, but it didn’t matter. A group of girls bought water for thirsty protesters (thanks guys!) and some even sang tunes to keep our spirits up. Powell and his crew didn’t get an exact answer to their question, but instead what young mothers, fathers, students and professionals believed would help prevent the modern day Emmett Till tragedy from happening again. What I’ve learned from this and the stories of Kendrick Johnson, Oscar Grant, Troy Davis and Occupy Wall Street is that the perception of my generation is flawed and I believe a lot of older people realized it too.

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We’re not just behind keyboards trolling away at gossip sites, or obsessing over current trends. It’s a small part of what we do, not who we are. There were strong ideas and views coming from my generation Sunday and it will probably never reach a news channel and that’s fine.

We listened and we gave our voices to Trayvon and the injustice we witnessed Saturday night. We stood with children, grandmothers, and professors and learned one simple thing. Division wouldn’t help bring Trayvon back, anger towards the NYPD or Florida won’t change the verdict. As people chanted “No justice, no peace” the voices of the lost generation were found-shared, tweeted, emailed and texted. And for the ones that haven’t noticed it -open up your eyes and realize this: the world is ours.

Breakfast In America and Why Are My YouTube Ads in Spanish?

I’ll admit that I’m not the biggest breakfast person. I eat the basics, well just eggs (they’re my favorite!) but like many others I peeped the Cheerios commercial that has gotten everyone’s bloomers in a bunch. If you haven’t seen it, it’s focus was an adorable little girl who had a Caucasian mother and African American father. It was cute, clever and smart. After all, ever since 2008 Latinos and African Americans have been becoming the majority in the United States so I wasn’t surprised when I saw the commercial. Somehow, somewhere people were actually offended by it.

I find it odd that people were offended by this simple but powerful commercial. After all, advertisers and the people who were involved in this commercial knew what they were doing. Let’s just say I know an adorable bi-racial kid who didn’t get the part because they didn’t look “mixed enough.” (ie: no blonde hair) They wanted to pose some type of reaction and they got it.

What I would like to know is where were the picketers with their comments when these gems where on the silver tube?

From: Liquid GenerationTube

Yes, the general public cannot be satisfied, but we should be happy that most folks are accepting the new normal which has always been pretty normal to me.

I come from a pretty big family. Six of us to be exact, with my brother and I being the only mixed ones out the bunch. It didn’t matter that we didn’t see people like us on television when we kids, but if there was just a piece of us being represented (Puerto Rican or African American) I was content with it.

It’s great that kids these days can watch T.V. and say “Hey! She looks like me!” and not be shunned at or look down upon because Mommy or Daddy was down with “the swirl.”

The world and society is changing, so like you told your parents in your baby boomer days, “Get with the times, man!” Image

  And here’s a pic of my fam from NYE 2007, just for kicks:

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#AprilWritingChallenge (Days 8-11)

Here’s my second installment of the #ApriWritingChallenge. I just finished reading other awesome writers’ posts and they were pretty funny, dark, enlightening and far from what I expected. If you can scatter all of your thoughts into just a few sentences then you’ve earned your lucky stickers from me. No one can create or build an idea how you can, and I think that’s why I enjoy challenges like this.

Without further ado, 

Day 8

Black Is…

Black is pretty low on the totem pole of the Pantone Color chart. Black is the go to color for women to cover their imperfections. Black is ignored when I ask people their favorite colors. Black is forgotten in fashion.

Black will never be a negative.

Black goes with everything. Black is the color of our favorite lingerie. Black isn’t ignored when you talk about power. Everyone will remember how “black” every musical genre is. Black is you, me and how many people live. Don’t believe me? Check out how many other cultures are infatuated with African American culture. Don’t think we have an impact on the world? Take a look at the leaders, musicians, doctors, entertainers, mothers, and fathers that have inspired us and if you flip over that Pantone chart, Black is right on top- where it should be.

Day 9

I get upset when

(Now Playing: Shake It Out/Florence and The Machine)

I get upset when people give up. Challenges are the greatest gift ever bestowed on us. We’re able to analyze every possible way to conquer something that we believe is greater than us. While I dislike the challenges that swerve my way, I steer them smoothly so I can remember the tracks. You never want to repeat the same mistakes over again. Challenges are here to remind you why you strive for the best in your life. Giving up just shows that you don’t want that.  Florence Welch said it best “It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back,” how do you mange to forget that? You can’t complain and expect results if you don’t continue the fight. The best victories are expected when you know that you’ve pushed through it all. How can you be upset with a victory like that?

Day 10

This summer…

This summer will be better than the last. Don’t we all say this? There was nothing wrong with my 2012 summer, I got to see incredible acts on tour (Eric Prydz, Kendrick Lamar, Rockie Fresh, Wiz Khalifa) but I also spent my first summer in GA. Sure I was living there for a while, but I always skated away to the Big Apple every year. I enjoyed the summer streets of NYC so much that I ignored the gorgeous southern weather just to walk on hot concrete and  deal with angry tourists. Summer is GA doesn’t sound as pretty as “Summer in Miami” but it was an adventure. It looks as though this summer I got what I wanted. I’ll be scurrying the city looking for my big story and a (permanent) place of solitude. This summer will show me what I’m really made of and I’m definitely looking forward to that.

Day 11

I was shocked when…..

I was shocked when I met people like me. Why did it take so long? I guess you meet people in different musical montages of your life. In the beginning, while Byron Lee and The Dragonieers (look it up) bonded my sisters and I in a calypso dream, today I’m thrown for a loop between my old friends and new while J. Cole’s “Power Trip” blares from my iTunes for the 5th time today. It’s always a delight meeting people and creating memories with the ones who matter. I was shocked that about the time frame, but I couldn’t be happier about the new people who are in my life. They’re all incredible talented folks who probably jam as hard to J.Cole as I do.