Nikes Up in Flames

Furious rage spreads like wildfire among former Nike consumers following the multinational brand’s 30th anniversary ad campaign featuring, former 49ers Quarterback, Colin Kaepernick on Monday, Sept. 3.

As people across the nation relaxed from a day off work: indulging in festive barbecues and parades; the fate of the nations political stance relied on (Kaepernick) who yet again broke the internet-not by taking a knee this time, but standing in alliance with the iconic brand, inevitably sending social media users into an enraged frenzy.  Which led most to raid their closets and rid their wardrobe of Nike apparel. Supporters, applaud Nike for its act of morality in commending Kaepernick rather than condemning.  

Since the announcement, social media uncontrollably buzzes with supporters reposting Kaepernick’s controversial Nike ad.

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Along with celebrities and ordinary civilians, alike, creating their own variation Kaepernick’s photograph.

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The country now in divides as Nike supporters take a celebratory stance on this decision versus the opposing side igniting flames to their Nike gear.

When did freedom of speech and protest represent disloyalty?  Athletes and public figures, who have an established platform are entitled to exercise their personal beliefs and advocate for unresolved social injustices (i.e, routined police brutality).  When did protesting for basic human rights and equality become a symbolism of national hatred or deemed as unpatriotic?  

Even with all this heat Nike faces from protestors, the brand seems to have its laces tied tight, in preparation to walk through the fire, refusing to kneel to the status quo. Even if it means jeopardizing the global brand.

According to Edison Trend most recent sales report, mentioned on MarketWatch, Nike has witnessed a 31% increase, in opposition of the anticipated decline influenced by national protests.

We are not too sure what the national divide in consumership means for the future of Nike sales performance. Evidently, Nike is unwavered by the protests and threats.The company remains optimistic about their choice and refueled to extinguish any flames set in their path.

“Are your Dreams Crazy Enough? If they seem impossible right now, you’re doing it right.” (Quote featured on Nike’s official website page.)

Feel free to indulge in some hilarious and controversial memes featuring familiar faces. Enjoy!

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Black Panther: A Hidden Gem

Is Black Panther really for the culture?

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Some claim the film to be over-hyped, while others perceive it as a cultural movement.

After all the hype and major suspense, leading up to the official premiere day of “Black Panther.” I finally bought my ticket (a few days later because the movie was sold out the entire weekend) and with the company of my 7-year-old nephew, we headed out to join the glorious nation of Wakanda. (sigh) No, we didn’t join the wave of wearing traditional African garb. Truthfully, I don’t own any at the moment (yea, yea, I know shame on me). However, we still looked pretty good in our casual modern, westernized ensembles.

It’s refreshing to see Black actors (of all ages) step away from Hollywood’s stereotypical “Black roles” which often limit our narratives to enslavement, and a variety of other societal forms of oppression: drug dealers, impoverished/ struggling working class people, drug addicts and common victims of authoritative inflicted violence.

Let me just say this, any movie that makes you want to join a fictionalized nation is- in my opinion- a life changing and enjoyable experience. I’d love to live in Wakanda; if it were a real nation, I’d revoke my American citizenship and move there in a heartbeat.

I mean no shade to the hundreds of other classic Marvel superhero films that have countless remakes. Once again, no shade, noooo shade:(#AllMarvelSuperheroLivesMatter). It’s just Black Panther’s story-in contrast to his fellow Marvel counterparts- was never brought to the forefront and popularized in the mainstream. Black panther isn’t a new super hero on the scene, he’s nearly 6 decades old. So, yea, he’s pretty mature at this point.

I guess it’s fair to say, some of the best things are worth waiting for. & 2018 was definitely Black Panther’s time so shine.

It warmed my heart seeing various hues of beautiful brown complexion grace the cinematic screen and deliver their roles with ferocious power.

Black Panther presented more than just vibrant, intense combatting; dope high tech equipment, afrocentric beauty; national/cultural pride; innovation and traditional rituals. It depicts, the story of Africa in a positive, uplifting and forward thinking way- without the spoon fed HIStoric accounts of poverty and emaciated people. Before someone comes on here and tries to burst my proud ‘black panther bubble’ let me clarify; Yes,I’m aware the story is fictionalized. But there’s no denying that the influential sources derive from actual African cultures.

WahKinda LOVE? WAKANDA LOVE.

 

Another thing, I’ve been keeping in my hypercritical mind when it comes to watching movies are the overt portrayals of love and the role(s) each love interest plays.

Now, we all know it’s clear who the film’s central love interests are: T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o)

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T’Challa plays the role of a powerful leader who is both influenced and weakened by women. His sister Shuri, is a young innovative scientist, whose technologically advanced inventions- with the use of a natural resource (vibranium)-enhances T’Challa’s abilities, allowing him to seem nearly indestructible against his opponents. It’s with Shuri’s inventions that T’Challa simultaneously defeats and protects his precious Wakanda.

 

The film projects heterosexual love in a different light for both genders; Love is perceived as patient, unwavering, persistent, protective, and eternal. The love T’Challa displays for his country and lover, Nakia, are somewhat similar, yet deeply disparate.

The romanticized stereotypes of male obsession, sexual acts, conversations revolving around the male figure were not present in this film. Tbh, I’m relieved. I’m beyond tired of these redundant, cliche plot lines.

Neither, T’Challa or Nakia, portray cliche gender biased characteristics (i.e., the female= submissive or usually lacking self-confidence, sometimes both; male= dominate, popular and physically attractive) instead T’Challa and Nakia demonstrate their strong rapport through mutual respect and balance. The males in the utopian society of Wakanda level the playing field by showing respect for their women through, inclusion, understanding, leadership and influence. There is an overall respect for female influence in Wakanda.

I find  T’Challa’s inability to think or speak freely in Nakia’s presence so cute and innocent. What’s even more humorous about it, is how often he’s teased for his act. Once again, there is a clear message of the strength feminine aura upholds in this society and its undeniably powerful influence on men.

Nakia asserts her power by vocalizing her wants and aspirations to T’Challa. Although Nikia is offered the  honor of claiming the throne as T’Challa’s wife and Queen of Wakanda; she chooses  to follow her own path and fulfill her desires before settling for a life blanketed with comfort (You go girl!).T’Challa respects her wishes and continues to show his undying love for Nakia in other ways.

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I appreciate the writers and most importantly the characters for showing us that it’s possible to express love far beyond the confines of physicality or intimacy. Not once was there an act of sexual expression or subliminal messages. Thank God! It would’ve been awkward having to explain that to my nephew. 

Both characters were aware of their significant roles in one another’s lives, but used their love to join forces to fight for their even greater love, Wakanda.

So, to answer the question. Yes, I wholeheartedly believe Black Panther

is the culture

for the culture

and is a representation of the culture.

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Anti-thot Anthem: Who wouldn’t want SZA for “The Weekend”?

Lately, I’ve been having a major issue with people categorizing SZA as a “thot” or advocating for the  “thot lifestyle”.

Thot strange word, right? I know some of my readers probably have peculiar expressions on their faces,  wondering what in the hell does that mean?

Well my friends, this slanged terminology simply means Hoe or let me be politically correct, an avidly promiscuous individual.

As you can see I have a thing for digressing, but it’s all in good nature. I just want to clarify any misconceptions and allow my readers to understand what I’m saying.

I might have just added a new word to your vocabulary. You’re welcome 😉

I’m very aware of the fact that I don’t know SZA on a personal level. However, there’s something powerful about a music artist’s ability to be lyrically vulnerable, which helps bridge the gap between artist and fan, causing you to feel as if you really know them and share their pain.

Well let me say this I resonate all too well with the situation SZA sings about in her popular R&B track, as some may call it a thot anthem “The Weekend”

I’ll just sprinkle a tad bit on you. The content may be too heavy for the faint, uppity or judgmental hearted.

“My man is my man, is your man, heard that’s her man too Repeat. (…) Tuesday and Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. I just keep him satisfied through the weekend. You like 9-5, I’m the weekend.”

Let me clarify this, in no way shape or form am I promoting infidelity/Side chick-ism. I simply just want people to actually listen to songs (not just the beat) hear the sources -in this case- the artist’s P.O.V, in order to truly get a sense of why they wrote the song? What place were they writing from? What influenced them to release their song to the public?

SZA starts off by saying “You say you got a girl,  how you want me, how you want me, when you got a girl.” The latter verses explains that this young man clearly holds no emotional ties to any of the women he is sexually involved with. His sexual desires are fulfilled through various sexual partners.

SZA explains from her perspective that she enjoys being sexually intimate with him and desires to have it more often, so she is proposing to reach a compromise with the other women where she can selfishly have him all to herself  throughout The Weekend. During weekdays, the other women can work it out amongst themselves. SZA is basically saying, he’s for everyone and each woman gets their fair share of his loving.

In this age and I’m sure many women of past generations have encountered experiences where they willingly accepted to play a role for the sake of their lover. Sometimes we as human beings. become selfless for our partners and blindly agree to what numerous other people would contest too. Those same people are the first to give you the vicious side eye, advising you how to live your life. Of course, it’s through their clean, unscratched, perfectly wiped narcissistic lenses.

I’ve played many roles in my life and I’m not proud of them all, neither am I ashamed.  I’m a young woman who takes ownership. Maturity  and growth is a daily learning task, not some intuitive instinct we’re born with. Everything takes time and we all live different lives.  I’m not perfect, hell no one is.  I support SZA’s stance on the weekend and stand firmly in her perspective that she is not promoting infidelity, thots or side chicks.

And I reiterate for the umpteenth time, this is not a “THOT ANTHEM”

When artists like SZA are willing to be candid and freely share their pain and life lessons through their love of music; I ask that you please listen and refrain from judgmental labels which only hold negative stigmas and connotations.

I am not a thot or a fucking whore. I am just an imperfect, flawed, sometimes naive, too nice, too understanding and accepting 20 something.  What can I say? I guess that’s just the growing pains of a 20 something. Every experience is either a blessing or a lesson. My personal experiences may not be the best, but I’m grateful, now I can say yea I’ve encountered some situations where  I traded my morals for the temporary fulfillment of lust. Yet I survived.

I might just help another maturing woman through her situation while withholding the I-am-holier-than-thou attitude.

Thank you SZA for your words and sharing your experience.

Sometimes the worse experiences are the best stories. 

Here’s a link to the song as well, give it a listen and comment with your opinion of the lyrical message. I’d love to hear other perspectives.

“The Weekend” By SZA

And remember, Those who can’t relate are always the first to judge!!

#JustSayin

#SorryNotSorry

The AfroPunk Experience: Live in your truth

IMG_2464Leikeli47 performing at AfroPunk17

This post is long overdue, but it’s better now than never, right?

When it comes to AfroPunk, a few things come to mind:

Eclectic fashion

Black culture

Music

Afros

Natural hair/braids

Unity

Platfroms

Free spirits

Diversity

Punk rockers

& Of course a whole lot of “BK love”

Personally,  after experiencing AfroPunk for myself what comes to mind is love for ALL people. Yes, white supremacists you read correctly, I said all people. So that includes your Negro lovin’ white brethren.

Amidst all the hatred that has occurred and is transpiring, it warmed my heart to see people of different cultures, ages, and various backgrounds congregate together. Events like AfroPunk show that no matter how disparate, inferior or superior, society attempts to make us feel, in the grand scheme of things we’re actually all just human beings.  AfroPunk is more than just a fashion runway for attendees , a concert lineup of dope artists (both mainstream and upcoming) it’s an open forum for individuals to freely be their self in their most truest and purest form. In this space of Afrocentric love and appreciation; people are able to be Black and proud + say it out loud! With no discrimination to any other cultures.

Is it fake of me for initially wanting to see three main performers: The sultry Solange, fearless Willow Smith, and carefree SZA.

Yea, I guess it is a little fake of me for wanting to support only three artists among the array of talented acts. Well guess what AfroPunk organizers caught the drift and I was swindled into paying for a weekend pass. Yup they got me. Oh and By the way, Solange, SZA and Willow you’re welcome.

All in all, the AfroPunk experience is one of the major highlights of summer 2017 and it’s also my first official summer returning home to reclaim my place as a New Yorker after years of traveling to and from Buffalo, residing there for a year as a post-graduate (Phew) that was a mouth full. Let me just say it’s bittersweet readjusting to living in NYC with my parents in my childhood home. any who, that’s another story for a different day.

Back to the main topic, AfroPunk! There isn’t a more satisfying feeling in the world than having the opportunity to wholeheartedly live in an experience you’ve always wanted to do. Most of us (yes, i’m including myself) pile a ton of things on our to-do lists, but never actually live to see the day that particular seeded dream manifests into a living breathing reality.

The feelings of love and good vibes immersed me, almost suffocated me both physically and emotionally. I felt a sense of relief being in a place where people weren’t overtly judging others for their clothes, hairstyle or musical choice. We embraced and celebrated all of our differences and similarities through the love of music.

For those New Yorkers who have not gone to AfroPunk, I say this you should be ashamed of yourself and even if it’s not your thing you shouldn’t knock it before you try it. Check out the line up and give it a shot, you might just discover some new music to add to your playlistI, I know I did. Besides my three must-see artists, I’m now feeling the Afrocentric, feminist vibe of the HWIC Princess Nokia, the fast paced, get-up-outyour-seat hip hop dance music of Leikeli 47 and hardcore, British rapper Little Simz made Nicki Minaj and Remy Martin look like mere nursery rhymes.

Looking back at the AfroPunk Saturday lineup, there was some serious female empowerment vibes.

The most important aspect of AfroPunk is that it’s not a place to proliferate ideologies of sexism, racism, xenophobia and/or cruel intentions. Leave your violence and negativity at the door, as the great, rap trio Migos once said “Yea that way”—> For those of you who don’t know what that means let me clarify: Leave. The. BS. At the door. It’s not welcome in this space.

Self expression comes in multiple forms, love of music, fashion, and artistry. Thank you AfroPunk for allowing us to freely incorporate all three.

And my Amigos here a few fun pictures for you to scroll through. Enjoy!

IMG_2489What can I say, I have a thing for murals.

IMG_2472 .    Little Simz

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“Hoping my 20-somethings don’t end, hoping to keep the rest of my friends” -SZA

 

 

 -S.Yolee

Dear Solange, Thank you.

Confession: I listen to Solange’s 2016 album, “A Seat at the Table” at least once every week or two weeks. If not the album in its entirety, I play a few tracks throughout the day. It’s just that great and I mean it. This album does something to my soul and allows me to be delve into a creative space. When I listen to the album it’s as if the words trapped in mind are easily brought to life with my pen and poured out onto my notepad. “A Seat at the Table” is empowering, thoughtful, thought provoking and magical. 

This album is authentic and unique in its representation of Black Pride and Pro-Blackness. Solange perfectly pieced this incredible album together with soft melodies and harmonies, meaningful lyrics and powerful words from  featured speakers. Her angelic voice filled with soft notes makes it seemingly effortless for it to match  wit the varying genres on her album. The songs on the album range from a classic R&B vibe to groovy 1970s sound to modern hip-hop. The sound and feel of “A Seat at the Table” is as electic and original as Solange’s fashionable ensembles. I have the feeling that unlike numerous other musicians who work tirelessly to acquire mainstream attention end up derailing from their true musical purpose and message, by selling their self short just to appease listeners. I hold the utmost respect for Solange because I don’t think she purposely made any tracks to appease listeners whether they are Solo fans, not fans or first time listeners of her musical craft. Her popular singles, “Don’t touch my hair” and “Cranes in the sky” lyrically and visually depict what she represents. Solange is not afraid  to show her love for her Black culture and share it with the world. “A seat at the Table” is unapologetic and in no way, I absolutely mean no way is Solange trying to measure up to her  Super-Star Big sis, Queen Bey (Beyoncé). So for all of you Bey Hive supporters and nay Sayers, Solange’s 2016 album proves to the universe that she can and has made a name for herself. Her authentic afrocentricism is untouchable✊🏾. Solange is fearless for this album in various unimaginable ways. For so long, I have listened to Solange’s music, admittedly copied a few hair and fashion ideas from her, but all the while I felt as though she hadn’t acquired the fame or acknowledgement she deserved.  Her sound has always been a little different from other artists, having a sort of 1950s-1970s musical influence. She is truly an old soul in a young modern woman’s body. “A Seat at the Table gives me so much hope for the future. In the midst of every financial set back, job loss, social isolation,emotional withdrawal and self-doubt, this album brought me through each day with a smile and optimism.  Solange has earned the recognition she deserves by creating such an authentic and lyrically beautiful album. I have no doubt Solange’s vast fan base and super stardom will reach all time heights. There are thousands of young people who resonate with what she represents, including myself! 

This album will go down in history as a classic. It’s depth and influence surpasses it just being perceived as a great album with songs. It’s a movement.  It allowed listeners to feel, to think, to understand and to learn. Most importantly, it taught us to love our Blackness regardless of societal perpetuating images and messages of Black cultural hatred.  We are stronger and greater than the world wants us to believe. 

   Thank you Solange Knowles for blessing            2016 with “A Seat at the Table”

Black Identity Crisis in America: How do you identify yourself?

Lately,one of the most controversial topics of discussion that has the black community uneasy is Raven Symone’s undermining of her cultural roots in her televised interview with Oprah Winfrey.

The black community reacted in upheaval by expressing their frustration on various social sites. During the interview  Symone identified herself as being solely an American and not wanting to be labeled as “African-American”. Symone’s preference of being called American, definitely exudes her patriotism, but makes her look (in my opinion) ignorant and unappreciative of her culture. Numerous people of the black community, (Africans,African-Americans,West-Indian, bi-racial,etc.)who had seen or heard by word of mouth, were either  baffled, dumbfounded or you can even say offended. However,the common emotion the black community shares is utter outrage.

It’s sad to know that there was a period where OUR history was disallowed. Black history was not to be mentioned, much less taught. The goal was to assimilate our people and brainwash the minds of African-Americans.It’s heart-aching to know that there was a time in which we didn’t matter, after all the contributions the Black community had done to develop the American nation.

In this circumstance it would seem common, even justifiable for me to join the fellow angered population,but I will not. I believe Raven Symone, just like the large list of “people” (maybe I should call them brown people) who do not want to be categorized as Africans, possess the constitutional right to exercise their freedom of speech. They are allowed to be liberated human beings with their own beliefs, thoughts, and judgement even if “we” (the people who share the same color) disagree.

My personal concern with the black/colored community of America in general, is the need for identification and feeling of belonging. We all know America is a melting pot which is composed of myriad nationalities and cultural backgrounds.However, racial ancestry indeed proves that black/brown people are all direct descendants of Africans. There are so many stereotypes surrounding Africans and I believe that is why there are current “black Americans” who do not wish to identify their selves as African-American. Quite frankly, I perceive their logic as senseless and hypocritical.

  • Why do you not want to be associated with Africans?
  • Is African culture a disgrace to you ?
  • When the word African, precedes American does it make you feel dehumanized or less American?

I just want to say this to all those out there who are Black Americans. The HIStory being taught in American educational systems is not the complete story, it is just a small synopsis of a much larger and in depth novel. So if you think your ancestry begins with slavery and ends with the civil rights movement, then my precious darlings you have so much more to learn.  I say this because I am the product of the American public school system.Each year,since my enrollment in school, teachers taught the same boring, repetitive black history curriculum. The black history lessons became less exciting to me.However, during my junior year of college I took a Black studies course and my horizons were broadened, Although I’d love to list all the things I’ve learned, I will save my readers the agony. Let’s just say the information I acquired within that 4 month course is powerful enough to remain with me for a lifetime.

The point I am making is, if it wasn’t for that course I probably would not want to be categorized as African-American. Then I would be lost, trying to find something to identify myself with.

If you are not African or  a descendant of Africans, then what are you ? who are you?