Morgan Jerkins is an author I would want to be friends with. Her personal experiences and conversations she’s had with others are so similar to mine that at times I felt like I was reading a personal narrative. But this is not why I think all black women should read her book, This Will Be My Undoing.
I consider Jerkin’s collection of personal essays a required read for all black women because it is an instructional guide describing how to black women can better maneuverer through black and white spaces while undoing stigmas that might be engrained in their minds from black men; white women; black elders; church ladies; previous relationships; deprecating family members; and randos on the street who feel the need to objectify you by cat-calling or “shooting their shot” every time you step foot out of your apartment. (Maybe that last one was a bit too specific). But you get the point.
“I was rejected because I was a black woman who was too successful, somehow all my achievements that I had worked so hard to accrue seemed to be steadily whittling away my dating prospects.”
This book is for any black woman who was told she wasn’t black enough, white enough, smart enough, too smart, stuck-up, “boujee“, “cidit-y”, or even bitchy. Nine times out of ten, if you have been living in America for longer than ten years, you have probably been told this explicitly or through messages portrayed in the media, unless you’ve been living in an isolated “Negrotown” similar to the all-black utopian society depicted by Key and Peele, and if that is the case, please drop the coordinates in the comments below (:
No matter what walk of life you come from, any black woman who picks up this book will establish a connection with her experiences through a sense of solidarity. Jerkins ends this book with a a powerful take-away essay titled : “How to Survive: A Manifesto on Paranoia and Peace” that leaves the reader with a step by step guide on HOW to mentally make peace in your own skin so you can thrive in a society that was only created for you to survive.
I’ve never thought I was anything but human. My black womanhood does not cancel out my humanity. These are not facts that repel each other. Physiologically, of course, we are all human. Socially, we dehumanize people of color daily. We judge their clothes, speech, hair, and education level as criteria for whether they have earned the right to be treated with common decency. We use these same criteria to judge if they deserve to die at the hands of law enforcement, or men like George Zimmerman. Because the question that white people are asking is not Why can’t we all be human?, but Why can’t you be like us?
I am SO excited to be writing about this bookstore. The moment we walked up to the storefront I could feel my self getting giddy, which was accompanied with a small squeal.
Before you enter, there’s a quote on the front of the building that says, “Reach the world, but touch the hood first”. This quote, to me, is an interpretation of the owner’s inspiration to birth this business. Apparently, the last Barnes and Nobles in the Bronx was closed down on December 12, 2016 and the borough was left barren of bookstores. The owner, Noëlle Santos, saw this as a major issue and on April 27, 2019 her dream bookstore became a reality. Her story is one of dedication, hard work, and visionary discernment that many people can benefit from.
The place was PACKED with beautiful people, wonderful black nostalgic anthems blasting through the speakers , and of course books. Not just any books, but books that focus on the black demographic. I mean, she even had a “Nipsey Hussle” table of reads he recommended so we can continue to run the marathon with the proper literary nourishment.
A “Read or Else” sweatshirt immediately catches my eye, that later on catches the eye of a white woman on the train who took time to look it up and discovered that every time their product is purchased, a homeless child or a student in a Title 1 school receives a book about young entrepreneurship.
The best part is the selections of books. She has it divided by category from children, to YA, and a classic/must read section. The books are flowing with everything a black mother/ teacher/ mentor would want their child to read. Shelves were flooding with everything from Angie Thomas novels to James Baldwin AND if what you want isn’t there, you can place an order for it.
Ambiance is key, for me, so the Lit Bar is technically classified as a bar because there is a wonderful wine bar in the back where you can chill out and enjoy your newly purchased books with a robust glass of cabernet.
I love this concept, I love the mission, and everything the establishment stands for. I am here for it sis. Thank you Noëlle Santos for bringing this store to the Bronx, I will be back with my friends, family members and co-workers.
DC is known as chocolate city, but from what I have observed, a lot of that chocolate is being traded for vanilla thanks to gentrification. I am not against those establishments but I always try to keep the black dollar going by supporting my local black businesses to boost our economic capital. So below is a list of some of my favorite black owned establishments to visit whenever I’m in DC. Enjoy!
Conveniently close to Howard University, this black owned tea spot is a great oasis away from the hustle and bustle that is DC. The interior is very colorful with a mix of Indian and African influences. This vegan friendly tea spot even sells tea by the ounce! Great spot to come and study, read, or even “spill the tea” with your girlfriends.
I could not wait to get to this store! This is any foodie/ aspiring chef’s playhouse! Spice Suite is a black owned mecca of all spices creatively cultivated by the owner, Angel, who was on MasterChef Season 8. Her spices are uniquely curated, along with her own hot sauce and infused honey. My favorites are her smoked cherry salt and lemon pepper hot sauce. If you are ever in the DC/ Maryland area be sure to stop by and pick up a few seasonings for yourself!
Culture House, formally known as Blind Whino, is an artsy monument, once church, that houses some of the most creative art exhibits in DC. Located on Delaware Avenue, this creative building is completely covered in rainbow designs. While the outside is perfect for snapping the perfect instagram, the inside of the building is where the magic resides. The best time to visit is on the weekends because thats when the exhibits are open to the public. Prior exhibits include the history of hip hop, a culinary arts experience that included dinner to celebrate earth day, and an 80’s baby showcase by black artist, Shawn Mitchell Perkins.
National Portrait Gallery
Now this isn’t much of a secret, nor is it a black owned black owned business but I think everyone should take the time to go see Kehinde Wiley’s paintings of influential African Americans.
(My favorites are President Barack and First Lady Michelle of course). While you’re there I also advise you to admire this portrait of Toni Morrison, it’s so realistic it looks like a photograph!
Sankofa Video Books & Cafe
I love visiting bookstores! When they’re black owned they typically involve a cozy ambiance, a warm welcome, and an unspoken feeling of kinship. I encourage you to visit your local black bookstore because there you will find a plethora of information about numerous black experiences and historical figures, along with a group of individuals (whether it be the workers or the customers who frequent the store) who can guide you in the right direction when looking to expand your knowledge on a particular topic. Sankofa did just that, there is an outside area, a study area, and a cafe built in that features healthy and vegan friendly items on their menu. They even host events! This is definitely a gem you have to visit whenever you’re in the city.
Wow, where do I start with this book. The ideal of a typical “American Marriage” is very cliche however, Tayari Jones manages to capture the powerful complex dynamics that exist in a marriage, specifically in the African American household. As if that wasn’t enough she executes this by incorporating the plight of being married to a wrongfully incarcerated black man through the eyes of MULTIPLE perspectives. This is a book I didn’t want to finish. I literally did not want to put it down and I almost missed my stop on the train multiple times because this book is that good.
Summary (No Spoilers)
I personally connected to this book on so many levels. Growing up in the south and spending summers in the “country” made this book even more relatable. The book takes place in a nostalgic city in Georgia, accompanied with a symbolic large oak tree and your typical old country town home on a large piece of land. In the midst of a romantic trip down memory lane, the couple gets literally and emotionally awoken from their getaway, with an arbitrary rape case. From there the story takes the reader on an emotional rollercoaster through the perspective of multiple characters. Jones does a beautiful job at portraying the strain incarceration takes on family ties through a series of character development, plot twists, and contrasting views of the role of the black man in America and in the household.
Get it. Read it. It will change your life and spark the love of reading back into you. Below are a few of my favorite quotes from this novel.
Tayari Jones Gems
“But home isn’t where you land; home is where you launch. You can’t pick your home any more than you can choose your family. In poker, you get five cards. Three of them you can swap out, but two are yours to keep: family and native land.” —Tayari Jones
“The vast generosity of women is a mysterious tunnel, and nobody knows where it leads. The writing on the walls spells out trick questions, and as a man, you must know that you cannot reason your way out.” —Tayari Jones
“The vast generosity of women is a mysterious tunnel, and nobody knows where it leads. The writing on the walls spells out trick questions, and as a man, you must know that you cannot reason your way out.” —Tayari Jones
My mother is the epitome of my existence, the source of my passion, and the derivative of my physical and internal being. To say I love her would not be enough, the phrase does not embody who she is to me, or what she has done for me. Hopefully this poem will.
Wash yo’ hands before you fix me a glass of water,
Pray before you eat,
You betta wash that chicken before you season that meat!
Lessons from my Momma.
Treat others the way you want to be treated,
And always be there to lend a helping hand,
In class, you betta’ ask a question if you don’t understand!
Lessons from my Momma.
Your black skin is BEAUTIFUL,
That coily hair is a gift from God,
Don’t let the enemy sell you a facade.
Lessons from my Momma.
You are a woman and black so you gotta work twice as hard,
That glass ceiling ain’t no joke!
You hold your head up high! Don’t you sit around and mope.
Lessons from my Momma.
No one is beneath you,
Be kind to all and try to be pleasant,
Because you never know, there could be an angel in your
Lessons from my Momma.
Never shrink yourself for any woman or man,
Never forget you are a Child of God, so you have the upper
Never stop dreaming, be passionate about what you do,
Many teachers celebrate Black History Month by teaching about the achievements of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and Rosa Parks. These are great leaders who influenced the Civil Rights Movement a great deal, however, when students mainly learn about leaders who did all these amazing things in the past, they tend to think civil rights is just a thing of the past. I wanted to show my students that we still have a long way to go and that there are young people fighting to better the black community. Teaching students about young influential black individuals can inspire them to realize the power they have, even as a young person.
To keep my students engaged and on pace with the curriculum (unfortunately this was not in my English curriculum), I added a short clip (shown below) about each person and told them that they would take an extra credit quiz at the end of the week. This encourages students to be engaged and gives them an opportunity to bring their grade up while discussing something culturally relevant.
This young black queen saw a deficiency in the representation of African American girls in children’s and young adult books so she collected over eleven thousand books represent the young black girl’s experience. This is an amazing story of a thirteen-year-old who saw a problem and decided to do something about it! Great empowering leader to empower young students.
Mari Copeny, also known as “Little Miss Flint” wrote a letter to President Barack Obama about the horrid conditions of the water in her city and decided to help gather thousands of water bottles to distribute in her community. She was so influential that he visited her and invited her to one of his speeches where he spoke about the water conditions in Flint, Michigan. This is a great young hero that can teach kids about the power they have in their voice, and how it can be used to create change and help others.
Nyeeam, also known as “King Nah” is a motivational speaker who travels the world inspiring people to have confidence in themselves and stand up against bullies. He took his experiences of being bullied and transformed it into a testimony to inspire other people. His story can motivate young kids not to try to “fit in” but to be confident in who they are!
Even if you’re not a teacher, these are still relevant individuals you can expose to your children, smaller siblings, and anyone else who might need help identifying themselves as a young black person in America.
If one was to scroll most blogs, there would be an abundance of meal prep journals, OOTD’S, DIY’s, all topics of things that I love to enjoy and indulge in during my free time. However, safety is a crucial topic that women, men, and even young girls becoming women; should be talking about.
Ever since I moved to New York, safety has been a big area of concern (for both me and anyone else who knows I moved here). I’ve been reading books, listening to podcasts, and referencing them with current TV shows (GO WATCH “YOU” ON NETFLIX) and felt led to share these findings on my blog. Before I post my “findings” I would like to share my references (I am an ELA teacher). However, by no standards am I an expert, just someone who read a great book about how to predict violent and unsafe situations and want to save you time and give you the “SparkNotes” version of Gavin De Becker’s book, The Gift of Fear.
No is a complete sentence
It’s so hard for many women to bluntly say “No”. But living in New York and after reading this book, when “No” is accompanied with a “That’s nice but…” or, “I don’t have the time” and even ” I have a boyfriend”. Your “No” becomes a negotiation. If you are confronted by a persistent/ controlling person who is wanting to hear everything but “No”, you better believe that they are looking for your loopholes and will attempt to negotiate with you to get you to say “Yes”. For example, we all know this one “No, thank you I have a boyfriend”, is so frequently accompanied with, “Oh you can’t have friends?”. Dare you smile with it. People can misread a nervous smile that was supposed to be an attempt to make things less-awkward and instead interpret it into a welcoming window of opportunity. Most cases are harmless, but then again, if this is something that you do normally, you may smile at the wrong person. Trust your gut. If the guy is creepy, give him a straight up NO. I’ve only been in this city for six months and I learned this the hard way. A polite smile can get you followed, looked at weird, or open up unwanted attention that you were trying to avoid in the first place. (This goes for salespeople too!)
“”When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
This goes for women and men. Everyone makes mistakes and we are all human. However, as a logical human, it takes objectiveness and wisdom to determine the difference between a character trait and a mistake. If you have friends who lie and scheme, brag to you about it, then they do it to you…that would be a character trait. Especially if you have to be the one to address it and point it out. As humans with emotions, we like to believe that everyone’s intent is generally good. We make excuses for controlling boyfriends, toxic friends, and even negative bosses or coworkers. You have to notice how they move around others and take that into account when it happens to you. If you’re with a guy who likes to fight and handles things with force or even comes from a family of violence, it can seem like your place to console them or it can seem somewhat heroic that they would stick up for you! But, when you start to see these acts of violence addressed towards you (punching a wall, breaking your property, physically abusing you) this can be a large red flag. These red flags are more difficult to see when they are flown by someone you love, but at the end of the day, most violence is predictable.
This one is a little deeper and is for those who may travel alone, work at a bar, or anyone in a situation where a stranger starts some uninvited conversation. There are people in this world who genuinely want to make things better, and there are also people in this world who project their shortcomings on others and attempt to control them. The book, The Gift of Fear, talks about many different methods but one of the most prevalent is forced teaming. Forced Teaming is when strangers start to use pronouns like, “we”, “us”, “we’re”, “people like us” to get you to trust them and to make it seem like you have something in common. This is how strangers end up in peoples homes, how they lure children away from their guardians, and how young women get taken advantage of by someone who comes off as a “nice guy”. Now, in no way am I saying that any stranger who uses these pronouns are automatically “creeps”, but if your gut is saying something isn’t right, and they start to use these tactics, shut down the conversation and move immediately.
Hollywood loves to make movies about the persistent hopeless man who keeps going after the girl after she says no. (This is condoning stalking). While my citizen’s app (New Yorkers know) is constantly going off about an armed robbery or a violence case happening in the home or on the street. There is a disconnect between “No” that have men convinced that it means “Yes”. Ladies we have to stay safe. Knowing the statistics of violence, stalking, and harassment that happen to women, I decided to educate myself and I wanted to share this with you. Hopefully, it can save your life or at least help you to stay more alert.
This is not just for bloggers, this is for anyone who has an idea of what success looks like to them, and needs a little push to get there.
With the New Year coming up, a lot of people tend to make resolutions about improving their business or making more money in general. This month, I got the privilege to attend the Duct Tape and a Dream conference (hosted by Brittany Hennessy) which was about how to expand your brand and evolve in this age of social media. This conference hosted famous bloggers, media managers, and socialites from the city who shared their tips on how to be successful in this fast pace, insta-crazy generation. Here are a few tips from one of the panelist, Micah Jesse, (a blogger turned journalist who hosts celebrity events) that resonated with me, hopefully, they’ll resonate with you too!
When you feel the timing is right, jump on it.
Basically, if you feel like everything is aligned and the timing is right, go do it! For example, the time my lease ended was the same time my school year ended, and the same time positions started opening up to teach in New York. The timing of everything was perfect so I took a leap of faith and landed in the big city! If you see windows of opportunity open up to apply for that job, take that trip, or start that business, DO IT! You miss all the shots you don’t take. I can’t tell you how many amazing people I’ve met, countries I’ve visited, hook-ups I’ve finessed just by opening my mouth and asking for it.
If you’re going to a networking event, do your homework!
You never want to be in a position where you meet one of your role models and have nothing to say to them. That would be the worst! This literally happened to me and it took me a year to get over it! So, to avoid that and to make every encounter count, you have to research who will be at these events and be ready with MEANINGFUL questions for them. That means no “yes or no” questions and no questions that you can just look up the answer to.
Example of a good question: What is the one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring “insert job title here” with minimal resources?
Example of a bad question: Do you think it would be a good idea to do “xyz businesses adventure”?
Based off of those two questions, question A would give you more insight and advice than question B. Depending on the person. Question B could get you some advice, but it could also turn into a “yeah, go for it!” quick response real quick. Make every encounter count.
Always say thank you.
Thank you cards are a dying art. They express gratitude and show people that you took time out to hand write them a token of appreciation. According to both Hennessy and Jesse, sending out a thank you card will help you stand out and be remembered. Make a lasting impression just by saying thank you.
Take these tips as mantras to carry with you into the new year. I believe if you internalize at least one of these, you will see prolific growth for you, your business, and your future endeavors.
It’s fall ya’ll! I am happy to report that after the official first day of fall, it actually feels like fall! The weather has dropped significantly and the trees are starting to turn and yes…PSL’s are on deck >.< I have been patiently awaiting this season and I am so excited that it’s finally here! If you are blessed to see this city in one of its most beautiful seasons, these are the things you should try to do.
Apple Picking in Upstate New York
To the natives, apple picking may sound wack, but I am ECSTATIC and very persistent about this one. Upstate has some of the best apples and venturing out to both see and taste this festive fruit is at the top of my fall list of things to do. There are several orchards upstate that will be opening at the beginning of September and end around November.
Rent a bike around Central Park
Central Park is the only place in New York where you’ll find so many beautiful fall colors at one time. There are city bikes all around that you can rent for a certain amount of time. Pull out those cute fall boots, sweater, and your Instagram because you’re going to want a ton of photos around the gorgeous fall foliage.
The Museum of Pizza (MoPi)
The Museum of Pizza is a new popup museum all about pizza. I am super excited for this because Pizza has become a major part of my food group since I’ve been here. This museum is both interactive and philanthropic; each guest will receive a slice of pizza and a portion of every ticket fund will go back to a local NYC community to help families in need. You don’t want to miss this much-anticipated opening! Make sure to grab your tickets before they sell out. The museum debuts October 13th and ends October 28th.
The NYC Halloween Parade!
The NYC Halloween Parade is an annual parade that goes all out for Halloween. It starts at 6th street and ends at Spring Street. If you sign-up now you can actually be in it! There are different sections of the parade for different types of costumes.
Rooftop Fall Harvest Events!
Since New York is so small everything is built up…including the farms! One of the coolest things about this time of the year is the fall rooftop harvest! There is a rooftop in Brooklyn that hosts different fall tours. These happen in the middle of the day and the events range from farm tours to “farm-table” prepared dinners made by professional chefs. Perfect date idea!
Needless to say, I am very excited about this upcoming season!! Comment if any of these events interest you or if you are interested in visiting New York in the fall!
Harlem is a vibrant place that is unlike any other borough in New York. There is a sense of black solidarity and it’s the one place where people actually speak to you as you walk by! (Being from the south, this is a big deal for me). There are so many gems crammed up here in this hilly borough so I will try to list the top five things you MUST do when you visit. * disclaimer* These are in no particular order (:
Red Rooster is a famous Harlem restaurant that resides on “restaurant row” known for their famous “Fried Yard Bird.” This family style meal comes with a WHOLE CHICKEN, fried and drizzled in their special honey sauce, mac and greens (mac and cheese mixed with greens), and their pickled peppers. At night the atmosphere gets more “poppin” with a DJ and great drinks, plus there is a special section in the back where they are GROWING HERBS. Ya this place is legit.
Corner Social is another restaurant located on restaurant row (next door to Red Rooster), that is a great spot for brunch, lunch, or dinner! But I think the best time to go is at night. Around nine or ten it transforms into a club atmosphere with a great DJ and stiff drinks. Corner Social is a staple spot if you’re having a late dinner and want somewhere to go turn up and have drinks.
Home Sweet Harlem
Home Sweet Harlem is my heart ❤️. The owner, Donna Lewis, (pictured above with my beautiful mother) really put her heart and soul into this restaurant and you can taste it in the food. This a cute place where you can get a great home cooked meal and even better conversation. The grits taste just like your grandma’s, and on Sundays, they have a brunch special where you can get a full meal and a mimosa for $23! Can’t beat that!
The Schomburg Center is a place that overflows with black history and empowerment. There are always events and exhibits going on. Right now there’s a multimedia black power movement exhibit that is both informational and moving. The Schomburg has a research center that is also one of my favorite places to study and might be the only silent place in the city.
Amateur Night at the Apollo
Do I need to explain this historic event?? This is the place to be on Wednesday nights! Everyone should visit the Apollo at least once, and it’s best to buy your tickets in advance to avoid a markup price. Tickets can range anywhere from $30-$50, but it’s worth it. The host is always engaging, and the talent is remarkable; it feels like you’re attending a concert.
These are just a few gems, Harlem is a borough rich with experiences, people, and cuisine that are unique and memorable. Be sure to let me know if you try one of these places ❤️
Every year Create & Cultivate has a summit filled with numerous powerhouse panel speakers, networking opportunities, and advice for creators to be inspired to cultivate their personal brand and business. I always receive their email invitation but I never had the chance to go because of financial reasons (aka rent). However, last night I got the opportunity to attend a FREE pop-up version in the Flat Iron District of Manhattan.
This was an opportunity to network with a group of like-minded individuals and receive inside tips about how to develop and become profitable as an entrepreneur from a panel that consisted of a senior marketing manager, writer, chef and wellness guru, CEO, and even a youtube star! Whether you’re toying with the idea of entrepreneurship or you’re already knee-deep into your business endeavor, anyone with a passion and a goal in mind can benefit from these “takeaways” below.
“Pay attention to what makes you upset and don’t brush off compliments”
Lindsey Greathouse – Senior Manager of B2B Marketing, Lenovo
Greathouse believes your passions might be embedded in the things in life that upset you. No, not traffic or when you miss the last C train going into the city late at night, but those moments that rub you the wrong way. I can attest to this because the flaws in America’s education system really upsets me, so I am striving to do something to change it. She also encouraged the audience not to be too humble towards compliments. If people are consistently telling you that you are a good writer or that your outfits are always nicely coordinated, maybe you should tap into that hidden “superpower” and turn it into a profitable passion.
If you don’t like 20% of your job, hire someone else to do it.
I guess it’s obvious who my favorite speaker was! Lindsey was dropping gems! If you are an entrepreneur who hates the accounting aspect of things or social media gets on your nerves, it might be time to invest in an outside party to assist with a few daunting tasks. This will free up more of your time to create!
When you are overwhelmed with emails…take a step away from the computer and have a conversation with a loved one.
Sarah Lee | Co-Founder & Co-CEO, Glow Recipe
This is a tip that anyone, even those who aren’t entrepreneurs, can benefit from. When Lee is engulfed with a sea of emails, she reboots her inspiration having by conversations with her mother or her family members and encouraged us to do the same. This is a great self-care tip that would make both you and the other person happy!
I encourage you to try out one of these tips and let me know if it changed the trajectory of your day or contributed to increased productivity or profits regarding your business.
I was scrolling Pinterest for inspiration for my birthday post and I saw a lot of posts about the things people learned since they’ve been 25, 30, 37 etc. Well, I have learned a lot, but a lot of those lessons came from difficult experiences. Some lessons took multiple tries to understand (I’m hard headed) but I eventually got the message. (Thank you, God). Almost all of these lessons were backed by scriptures and sermons that I needed to hear at that moment. So I just thank God that he removed and inserted the right people in my life and put me in the positions I needed to be in in order to receive my blessings in the midst of a lesson.
Compromise my long term goals for a temporary person.👀
Argue with a fool ( momma instilled this in me at a young age).
Run up a credit card for something I feel like I “deserve”.
Bend over backward to appease everyone. 🙅🏾♀️
Allow negative energy into my environment. 🧘🏾♀️
Ignore my gut feeling.
Not being upfront about my expectations in a relationship. ✨
Suppress my opinions in a relationship.
Give up on a fitness goal because I slipped up. 🏃🏾♀️
Be afraid to negotiate a salary. 💸
Call a celebrity rapper by their real name in order to prove my dedication to them. (smh this is a story)
LIE TO MY MOMMA
CALL MY MOMMA BY HER REAL NAME (both of these were learned with a good behind-whoopin)
Take something that doesn’t belong to me ( Karma)
Go to the grocery store without a list.
Not compare prices for a big purchase.
Allow someone to rush me into making a decision about a big purchase.
Not prioritize my relationship with God 🙏🏿
Allow someone to be bullied in my classroom.
Let someone talk about my little brother
Risk riding around with a quarter tank of gas
Acknowledge catcalls on the street.
Wait till the last minute to complete a major paper.
Forget where I’ve been through and lessons I’ve learned so far
Like I said, most of these came from experiences, hopefully, this will resonate with you if you are going through something. If you want to know about a lesson just leave a comment! I’m an open book, I have lots of stories to tell, and more lessons to learn.