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TRUTH SEEK: Black Girls, Natural Hair, & The Cost Of Believing Lies We’ve Been Told


After wearing my hair naturally for years, writing about natural hair, and producing events aimed at the celebration of natural hair, I try to remember to approach conversations from various perspectives. For every woman who is comfortable rocking her Afro puff in the boardroom, there are 3 more Googling “natural hair transitioning” while twirling relaxed locks around their fingers. Natural-haired women sometimes say to me, “We’re over asking ‘Can you be sexy/professional with natural hair’! It’s time to move on!” While I hear that, I acknowledge that we aren’t all at the same place in this discussion. That disparity is never more apparent to me than when I hear a flagrantly ignorant comment or the report of some egregious occurrence where someone simply dared to wear their hair with its natural texture. One of those occurrences was recently brought to my attention.

A Facebook status made the rounds this weekend, where a woman in Toronto named Kaysie wrote about her niece. After recently having her hair done in a crochet braid style, her niece was chastised by her middle school principal who first gave her a hair tie and told her to “do something about her hair,” then kept her in the office, telling her that her hair was “too poofy,” “unprofessional,” and that “if she were working in a store, no one would buy anything from her.”

After a news story revealed that the principal was herself a Black woman, the reporter asked the women in the salon she reported out of “Does that make a difference?” On the surface, sure – but the root cause of the principal’s comments and the reason why she felt empowered in humiliating this young girl is more common than we think. Anti-Blackness and the reverence of European beauty ideals are themes that infiltrate the minds of many, regardless of race. It’s why we have people the world over bleaching their skin. It’s why we have fashion marketing campaigns choosing White models in order to “convey a positive image.” And it’s why we have Black women denigrating young Black girls who are proudly wearing their hair in natural styles.

Colonialism did a number on Black people and other people of colour across the globe, and its effects can still be felt throughout the diaspora today. When I decided to wear my hair naturally, some of my biggest detractors were older Black Caribbean and African women, who couldn’t fathom why I would choose to run more towards my Blackness than away from it. I am still working to help family members divest from the mental weight of carrying that kind of self-loathing with them, most motivated by comments I’ve already fielded about Little Magician’s hair. Though I’ve been natural for years and love to cloak myself in the bubble I’ve built with friends and acquaintances who love and accept natural hair like I do, I will never forget that there are people – many people – like this principal who feel otherwise.

The same anti-Blackness and European veneration I mentioned before are what leads people to incorrectly believe that natural hair is unprofessional, ugly, wild, or a distraction. It’s what enables discussion to swirl around the fact that hair is not part of this particular school’s dress code, making me believe that this case may create an unnecessary conversation. When a Black girl’s hair is up for debate, even the slightest attempt to find a way to regulate it (in this instance through school dress code, which often only reinforces Eurocentric standards) gives me serious pause. It’s what sets us – I’m speaking to Black girls and women specifically here – up for failure, constantly chasing an ideal that doesn’t belong to us because someone made us falsely believe it was the path to a better/easier life.

I pity the principal of Amesbury Middle School and the fact that she is so dedicated to this fallacy. However, the person I am most concerned about is the child that remains in the midst of this mess. We still have the reminder that there are people entrusted with taking care of our children and shaping their hearts, minds, and souls for the future, but we must remain vigilant and always be our children’s fiercest advocates. We still have a Black girl who needs to remember that she is magic, even if others can’t recognize her sparkle. We still have much work to do with those among us who believe the lies we’ve been told about ourselves, and we always need to remember to work internally to ensure we aren’t perpetuating those falsehoods consciously or unconsciously.

I don’t know what will come of future discussions and interactions between this young girl, her family, and the principal. What I do know is I hope this girl remains uplifted by her loved ones, remains confident (or regains her confidence) in her natural beauty, and continues to side-step the lies while walking in her truth. 

CHANGING SEASONS: The Art of Letting Things Go

protect passions

When I started writing this post, I searched “letting things go” on my blog to make sure I hadn’t used the title before.

It felt like something I’ve felt before – and if it’s something I’ve felt before, I’ve probably said it before. And if I’ve said it before, I’ve surely written it before, so my thoughts were that I’d be repeating a sentiment with this piece.

The good news? I hadn’t used those three words in a previous blog post title. The not-so-good news? I’ve definitely expressed this sentiment before: here, here, and here.

I had a bit of a breakdown recently, where I tearfully admitted that “Nothing feels fun anymore.” This blog has led to an incredible amount of awesome opportunities doing things that I’ve really enjoyed. Sure, there have been downsides to it too – chasing freelance publications for monies owed, uncomfortable clashes between online/offline life, battling my own insecurities and imposter syndrome symptoms – but even the crappy moments have become wonderful teachable moments that may not have felt great, but served important purpose. The major lesson I’m learning now is that I’ve hit a wall, and instead of trying to find my way under/over/through it, I need to just sit there for a while with my back against its firmness, and just…be.

At my annual physical, my doctor noted that some of my bloodwork results looked a bit off, and sent me back for a do-over. I’m awaiting those results now, but made the poor decision to find my way down a rabbit hole of WebMD and Mayo Clinic websites, getting more stressed and worried with every click. I’m sure that – as has always been the case – I’m fine, and the majority of my concerns are related to stress that I don’t manage well. In those posts I mentioned before, I’m sure I acknowledged my issues with control, stress, worry, taking on too much, not finding a good balance or taking a break when needed, but I clearly didn’t do a good job of remedying them. I feel like this is the moment where I need to really work on those things and find a way to a healthier and happier me, and I need to be serious about it this time.

I always start out excited about things. Sometimes I’m giddy and passionate about an idea I’ve come up with, or I’m honoured to be approached by someone else who wants to work with me. Sometimes I see a posting for an opportunity that I know I’d be perfect for. Other times I say yes to something because of what I hope it will lead to. The FOMO (fear of missing out) hit me not as a fear of missing out on social media, but a fear of missing out on some incredible opportunity. I’d say “yes” then find myself in the midst of emails and meetings and drafts and rehearsals and busyness with nothing but good intention, ready to grow as a multi-faceted person who’s aware that she’s cultivating a personal brand at the same time. Some of the things I was excited about recently have left me feeling anything but. Chasing entities for thousands of dollars owed, being asked to work for compensation below my worth, consistently showing up for others and noting that reciprocity isn’t in everyone’s vocabulary – these things have been draining me lately, but I’ve kept pressing on.  Other things I remain excited about, but I feel burned out to the point where I have nothing left to give them right now. I miss things like Sunday mornings before anyone else is awake – just me, a cup of tea, and my blog. I miss feeling like I’m not always behind or chasing an ever-lengthening to-do list. I miss taking the time to enjoy life and be inspired by it. The work is fun until it’s not – and it happens so rarely that when I feel it as strongly as I do now, I need to heed the message.

All of the things I do are supposed to compliment each other and give me outlets that other parts of my life don’t provide. When my outlets start feeling like burdens, it’s the most frustrating thing – where do you turn next? During a Twitter chat about making your side hustle a full-time entrepreneurial pursuit, I tweeted that it was crucial to protect your passions – just because your passion becomes your full-time gig, that doesn’t mean you won’t ever end up disillusioned by it like any other job. My passions need to be protected right now. My health needs to be protected right now. My desire to be and do and create needs to be protected right now. All of these things need to be tended to, cared for, nurtured back to a place of fruitfulness and rejuvenation, otherwise nothing that I am or do will ever be where I want and need it to be.

It’s a new season, and we always joke about the cold weather being our sign that it’s time to make like bears and hibernate from the social scene. Instead of thinking of it as hibernation, I’ll take my cue from the trees. There’s something beautiful about the way trees shift, change, and let go, taking time to be still before flourishing again. Maybe that’s what I need. Maybe that’s what more of us need. There’s much to be said about the doing of life, but none of us can afford to miss out on the being. This is the season to pick and choose; to be careful and intentional about what I do and how I do it. I’m sure that soon enough the balance, inspiration, passion, and fun will all return for me, and until then, I’ll just take my time.

HOT EVENT: Mirror Images: The Culture Of Digital Content Creation

MI2015 - flyer

My eyes were opened when I read this literacy study, showing that girls were drawn to digital media while boys preferred print. I was even more intrigued when I read further and learned that Black girls read the most out of any other ethnic group captured in the study, comprised of 32,000 students at 130 schools in the UK. I was a girl who loved to read and write. I’m now a grown woman who primarily utilizes digital media for communication. Children today are growing up in the digital age, and I can’t help but wonder what the future (both near and distant) will hold for this medium. With those thoughts in mind, my next Mirror Images event was born.

On Sunday, September 27th, I’ll be hosting my 2nd Mirror Images event, called Mirror Images: The Culture Of Digital Content Creation. After last year’s awesome inaugural event, I knew I’d be back with another topic to delve into – and I’m really excited about this one.

After reading stats like the aforementioned girls in digital media, and breaking news about the rising rates of entrepreneurship among women, I was attracted to the idea of talking with women who have their hands in one or both of those areas – women who are digital content creators, who have expanded into entrepreneurship, and who have done the research to understand how women – particularly women of colour – are utilizing digital media in unique ways. As a blogger and freelance writer, I constantly engage in conversations about digital media online, but with Mirror Images, we’re taking the discussion live and direct!

I’ll be moderating a lively talk with the group, while representing the blogging/freelance writing side of digital content creation. My incredible panelists include:

Emily Mills: A mom, wife, full-time media professional, and creator of How She Hustles, a network for women. With solely a social media presence – no website or money spent on advertising – Emily has turned her online network into one that thrives offline, consistently selling out her How She Hustles live events.

Nehal El-Hadi: A writer, researcher, media producer, and doctoral candidate in Planning at the University of Toronto, where she’s studying how women of colour engage online through social media.

Sajae Elder: A graduate of Humber College’s Journalism School, Sajae is a digital content producer with a passion for hip hop, film, and cultural identity. Currently, she’s a freelance writer, social media manager, and segment producer of the wildly popular podcast, Gyalcast.

Rochelle Brown: One of Canada’s most popular vloggers, Rochelle is the mastermind behind Crazylightskingirl on YouTube. After vlogging for just one year, Rochelle’s following has surpassed 110,000 subscribers on YouTube and over 64,000 followers on Instagram.

Dope lineup, right? I thought so. My sponsors SoulAfrodisiac and RFlavour are also helping to make this entire event pop.

If you’ve ever wondered about one or more of the following, raise your hand:

How do you start out in digital content creation, and how do you find your niche in what seems like an oversaturated area?

What’s the trick behind turning an online audience into a live one? 

How can digital content creation become an entrepreneurial income stream? 

What is the best way to capture – and keep – an audience or online following?

What are the top social media applications, and how can you use them to share content or build business?

In what ways are women – and women of colour – utilizing digital media uniquely?

To get the answers to these questions and more, take that raised hand and click here to buy your ticket for Mirror Images!

There will be mix and mingling time. There will be an interactive talk with my panelists, moderated by yours truly. There will be a Q&A session for you to delve deeper into some of the themes and topics that arise. Come to connect offline, and leave with ways to improve online!

Here are the details:

When: Sunday, September 27th at 2-6pm

Where: The United Steelworkers Hall – 25 Cecil Street (near College and Spadina – free parking at rear, and wheelchair accessible)

How much? $15 earlybird tickets available at (but not for long! Prices rising soon!)

Questions? Want to be a sponsor? Media inquiries? Get in touch with me.

My 1st Mirror Images event was a great success, and I’m looking forward to the same on September 27th – one month to go! I hope to see you there, where we can connect, learn, and grow together!

#CTFF2015: Celebrating 10 Years Of Caribbean Film


Celebrating a decade of ANYTHING is an awesome feat, so this year is a really special one for the CaribbeanTales International Film Festival!

I’ve worked with the festival for a number of years now, and I’ve continuously been impressed and inspired by its dedication to Caribbean film. When most people around the world think of the islands, sun, sand, beaches, and temporary vacation bliss generally come to mind. But for those of us with roots and family and history from Cuba to Jamaica to St. Vincent to Trinidad, the Caribbean means much more to us – and that more is what we want the world to see. Using art to tell Caribbean/diasporic stories isn’t new, but finding new ways to accomplish that narrative creation through cinema is CaribbeanTales’ aim.

Similarly to Hollywood, Bollywood, and Nollywood, the Caribbean looks to be the next hub for film. It’s crucial to have a creative outlet to share our histories, present-day experiences, and imagery for the future – and it’s extremely crucial to create a self-sustaining industry that provides opportunities for people in front of and behind the camera.

This year marks the 10th annual CaribbeanTales International Film Festival, and possibly the best lineup of films I’ve seen. #AllBlackLivesMatter nights focusing on stories around diverse expressions of Blackness, Queer Caribbean night highlighting LGBTQ film, films on mental health in the Black community, shifting perceptions of masculinity, natural hair, and more are all covered in this year’s film lineup. Running alongside TIFF, this timing provides both healthy competition and room for partnership with CTFF, but ultimately provides an option for cinephiles who want a more diverse range of films to watch. Not only does CTFF have films made by Caribbean filmmakers and those of Caribbean heritage, but a large number of this year’s films were made by women – something I have been highly aware of, particularly with the rise of Ava DuVernay (especially after hearing her speak at the 2015 BlogHer conference).


This Sunday, I’ll be hosting the #AllBlackLivesMatter night, featuring a screening of Cristo Rey, a film from the Dominican Republic directed by Leticia Tonos. A Romeo & Juliet story set to the background Dominican/Haitian relations, this film entertains and educates at the same time. After the screening, I’ll be hosting a talk back featuring Ramabai Espinet (a Trinidadian professor of English and author) and Ramón A. Victoriano-Martínez (a Dominican professor of Law and author). Co-presented by Dr. Eric Pierre, Hon. Consul General of Haiti, we’ll get into a discussion on the film and the themes of identity highlighted within it.

Get tickets for Sunday (and for the rest of the festival – running ’til Sept. 19th) and use the code ctff2015-bee for a discount!

If you’re in Toronto, be sure to support #CTFF2015 by attending a screening or two. In the years to come, CaribbeanTales will undoubtedly play a key role in the development of a Caribbean film industry – support diverse film and storytelling, and be a part of the movement!

REJUVENATED: Visiting Toronto’s Body Blitz Spa


Life has been extremely busy lately, and it’s been hard enough finding time to pee some days, let alone trying to find time to pamper myself. Luckily, peeing AND pampering time presented itself last week, when I had a chance to visit Toronto’s women’s-only Body Blitz Spa.

With two locations in downtown Toronto, Body Blitz Spa focuses on the health benefits of water, utilizing ancient restorative water practices. The spa offers traditional services like massages, facials, body scrubs, and more – but the highlight is in Body Blitz’s water circuit.

I’ll be honest. I know that water is integral to our existence as humans, with 70% of our bodies comprised of the stuff and all. I also know that when I cut out pop and juice in exchange for water, my hair and skin are extremely happy. However – fighting my sweet tooth that prefers juices over H2O can be a struggle, and I’m always challenging myself to drink more water. After one visit to Body Blitz, my belief in the simple power of water has been restored, and I’m already plotting my return.

First off – decide if you’re going nude or rocking a bathing suit. Either option is fine, but if it’s that time of the month, you’ll be asked to wear a bathing suit bottom. Body Blitz provides you with your own locker, flip flops, towels, robe, hair elastics, and a laminated poster detailing the process for the water circuit.


After an initial shower in the shower station (yummy citrus body wash, shampoo, and conditioner provided), you start off in the warm Dead Sea Salt pool. This pool helps to relax muscles, aids in the removal of toxins in the body, and helps replenish the body with important nutrients. Next, is the eucalyptus oil steam room, which is amazing for relaxation, increasing circulation, and cleansing the skin. The steam room will open your sinuses up and have you sweating like a pig – but it feels incredible.

A quick shower follows the steam room, then it’s time for a 1-minute plunge in the cold pool. This requires a bit of mind over matter, because the sh*t is COLD. But it has a purpose – the cold plunge helps to increase the body’s energy level, tighten your pores, and helps to balance your body temperature.

After the cold plunge, it’s time for the infrared sauna. This sauna draws out 3 times more sweat than traditional saunas, leading to an even deeper detoxification process. Where the steam room was a somewhat aggressive heat that took some getting used to, the sauna was hot but very comfortable. One round in the steam room and sauna, and I sweat like I’ve never sweat before – but it felt so good!

Another rinse in the showers, then another cold plunge is next. The shift between hot and cold temperatures helps to tone your skin and regulate body temperature and heart rate.

Next is the heated Epsom salt pool, which helps to relieve muscle pain, reduce inflammation, improves both sleep and concentration, and regulates a number of enzymes in the body. After another shower rinse, it’s time for one last minute in the cold plunge, and the circuit is complete.

One circuit took me about an hour to complete when you factor in small wait times for showers, water breaks (which you need a lot of to replenish your body), and lingering a bit in some of the more relaxing parts of the circuit. I was quite rejuvenated after two full cycles so I called it a day at that point – Body Blitz recommends no more than 2 hours in the pools, but there’s no real limit on the time spent there. That being said, it is prudent to heed the time frames given for each stop on the water circuit. Too short? You may not get the desired benefits. Too long? Your body may get too much of a good thing or be overly depleted – so be careful. Staff are always around to answer questions or provide you with anything you need to make your stay enjoyable, and they did an amazing job while I was there.

How did I feel after the water circuit? Like a gotdamn brand new woman, to be honest. My body felt lighter, I felt more calm mentally than I had been in a long time, and I felt almost like a wet rag that had been wrung out really, really well. The last thing I wanted to do was put any junk in my body, so it actually helped to kickstart a renewed health and wellness focus. If a Body Blitz trip could be a quarterly treat to myself, whew – I’d be the finest, most Zen version of myself EVER. I’ll be giving up Tim Hortons runs and buying lunches to facilitate this.

At $54 a visit for access to the pools (except for Tuesdays, where the price drops to $44), Body Blitz is a truly awesome experience that leaves you seeing and feeling its benefit even days afterwards. Feel like trickin’ on yaself a bit more? Splurge for a massage, facial, body scrub, or other spa treatment available at Body Blitz.

Since my visit, I’ve been motivated to eat better, drink more water, and get in a good sweat when I can. It was a great reminder that my body requires care to run efficiently, and I’m doing myself a huge disservice by running it ragged with no time to reboot. Thanks to Body Blitz, I feel like I’m back on track – and I can’t wait to go again soon.

P.S. – this was written purely out of my positive experience at Body Blitz, and was not a sponsored post.

All images c/o Body Blitz Spa

#WFC2015: The 2015 Women’s Freedom Conference Is Coming!


Life has been hectic, but it’s generally been the kind of good hectic that keeps butterflies in my tummy and gives life the sort of exciting, out-of-control feeling that I thrive on at times.

A lot of wonderful new things are in the works, and one of those things is the 1st Women’s Freedom Conference, which I am SO proud to be a part of! If you’re a dope woman of colour, or know a dope woman of colour – keep reading.

While I believe that those of us who are “other” can and should find ways to burrow ourselves into the mainstream, I’m a huge advocate of creating your own space – space to exist, to shine, to share, to be. It’s no secret that marginalized people don’t have red carpets rolled out in their honour, with escorts at the ready to usher them to spaces where they are positively centered. With the Women’s Freedom Conference, intersectional women of colour are creating that space for other intersectional women of colour, to share their stories, their expertise, and their perspectives on life and liberation.

Our Leadership Team and Advisory Board are made up of incredible women like Feminista Jones, Reagan Gomez-Preston, Jamilah Lemieux, Linda Sarsour, and many others who represent the spectrum of women we hope to hear speak on October 25th.

Here’s a bit from our press release:

“On October 25, 2015, the Women’s Freedom Conference will center and amplify the unique voices and experiences of underrepresented women who have been disenfranchised beyond gender alone– women of color whose identities are intersectional and whose womanhood is shaped and defined along those intersections.

Last year, three close friends were having a conversation and one raised the idea of hosting an action that would bring together women of color from around the world together in one space. She asked the other two women if they would be interested in working to make it happen and they enthusiastically agreed. Initially conceived as a “freedom march” that would convene thousands of women in one American city, the women later decided that the platform would be more widely accessible to more people if it was a digital conference that could be accessed from anywhere in the world.”

My favourite thing about this conference is that it’s all digital – no need to travel across states and borders to attend. Find an internet connection, and you’re in there. As the International Marketing & Promotion Committee Leader, this is HUGE for me in encouraging women outside of the U.S. to attend and participate, and eliminates a lot of obstacles that women would face otherwise.

“The mission of the conference is to center Women of Color– our success, our concerns, our work, our activism, and our existence as vital contributors to making the world a better place. We want to make sure that women of color from around the world have a space to speak out and be heard, to teach others and to learn from each other, and to inform people of the work that they are doing in their respective communities.

Our goals include providing practical, real-world information from a diverse group of women, many of whom are actively working to improve the lives of women of color around the world. We want to make this information available to as many people as possible and we believe that utilizing modern technology is the best way to do so. Participants will engage in conversations, seminars, and direct actions focused on the empowerment of women of color by building solidarity and promoting sisterhood.”

Our Call for Submissions is now LIVE! If you are a woman of colour who has something to say or to share with the world, here is your chance.  Please review our submission details, and throw your brilliant hat in the ring!

Perhaps you don’t want to speak, but you want to attend virtually – stay tuned for more info as we get ready to launch the Women’s Freedom Conference on October 25th from 9am-9pm EST! Watch by yourself or organize a “watch party” with some friends, and take in all the amazing things we’ll have to offer! There may be opportunities to attend official watch parties in your city or town (Toronto, I’ve gotchu), so feel free to reach out to me if you’d like to know if someone is hosting in your area, or if you’re interested in doing so yourself!

So, what am I looking for?

I hope you’re as excited for the Women’s Freedom Conference as I am! More good things are on the way!

DATE LIFE: How A Tarot Card Reading Led To My Worst Date Ever


A few weeks ago, a Twitter friend of mine (shout out @HonorbleMention) came up with the hashtag #BadDateChronicles – he encouraged followers to tweet stories of their worst dates so that we could all reminisce about love connections gone wrong. I shared my story in a series of tweets, but really did no justice to how tragically comical my worst date was.

So today, I take that walk down memory lane and share with you: my worst date ever.

The Reading

For my 24th birthday, I wanted to keep it low-key. It was a warm spring night, so my homies dragged me out to dinner, then we took a post-dinner walk through downtown Toronto. We stumbled upon a tarot card reader’s shop and the great (or terrible) idea for me to go in for a reading was born.

We opened the door into a dark hallway, ascended a creaky staircase covered in plush carpet, separated strands of chimes and beads hanging from the ceiling, and entered the tarot card reader’s lair. It was everything I imagined a tarot card reader’s lair to be: dark with corners lit by candles and vintage lamps, lots of velvet furniture, figurines and crystal balls and soft music playing from a small stereo. A woman emerged from a side room and greeted us. My friends explained the situation: it was my birthday, I needed a tarot card reading, don’t give me any bad news. She laughed, waved me into the other room, and asked my friends to wait downstairs. Clears the space of competing energies, she said.

During my reading she told me a ton of interesting things. What stuck out most was around the issue of love – I had gone through a tumultuous breakup, and was ready to get back in the dating game. Here’s what she told me:

“You’ll meet a tall man – a very tall, good looking man. When you meet, I see him in a shirt with an emblem or logo on the chest. He’ll have brown skin and light eyes – his eyes will be the first thing to catch you. He’ll be the love of your life – you’ll travel, and I see a wedding happening in an exotic location. He’ll take care of you, so look out for him. Oh – and you have an ex who is trying to get back into your life. Don’t let him.”

Y’all should have seen my face. A tall, fine dude who’ll sweep me away to exotic locales? Plus the confirmation that maybe I should be ignoring those “Hey stranger” texts from the ex? I was sold.

Fast forward a week or so later.

The Meet-Cute

I was at a soca fete with my homegirls. Music pulsated and bodies jumped and waved and wined in the hot and sweaty venue. Just as I stopped to fan myself with a mix cd some dude handed out in the crowd, I felt someone come up behind me and start wining. Sidenote: ain’t no “Excuse me, miss – may I have this dance?” at soca fetes. Everyone generally dances with everyone, and if you’re not in the mood, a cute two-step and spin away from the hopeful partner usually solves the problem. I was in a dancing mood though, and my homegirl in front of me gave me the raised eyebrow that signaled, “Girl – he fine. Do ya thing.” So I did.

When I took a second to turn and see how cute he was for myself, I was surprised to realize that my eye level was at his upper chest level (I’m 6ft tall, so it’s not often I meet dudes THAT much taller than me). Turquoise Polo shirt, with the familiar horse and jockey logo on the chest. Suddenly, I remembered my birthday tarot card reading. I looked up, slowly drinking in the broad chest and shoulders to the neck and finally the face. Smooth brown skin. Piercing green eyes. IT WAS MY MAN, Y’ALL!

We engaged in a bit of that ‘music’s too loud so we have to lean in real close to talk’ club convo, sharing names and smiles, with me taking in the scent of his cologne while being glad that I had some minty gum in my mouth. The night went on, and we danced, talked, had his friends to get with my friends so we could be friends, then exchanged numbers at the end of the night. We chatted the next day, made plans for an after-work date later that week, and I floated around daily on a cloud of tarot promises and soca music.

The Date

Date night came. Since it was a weeknight, and I like my first dates easy with ample room for conversation, I offered up the simple idea of going out for ice cream, but I didn’t know of a good spot to go to. “Oh, there’s a great dessert spot near you at Markham and Ellesmere,” he said when he picked me up (mad late, I might add – strike one). I was absolutely certain there was no dessert spot on that corner, but he was absolutely, arrogantly certain there was. “Nah – you just don’t know the area,” he said. We headed out, and – surprise, surprise – no dessert spot existed. “Man, I was positive it was here! They must have just closed it.” I stayed silent. It was late, we wasted time driving to a non-existent location, AND he didn’t listen to me. I suggested we just go to a nearby McDonald’s so we could grab sundaes and chat.

We got our ice cream, took our seats at an outdoor table, and got into a decent stream of conversation. I convinced myself to give him a fresh start after the earlier mishaps, but something in my spirit just wasn’t meshing with him. I thought, ‘this has to work – the tarot card reader said so!’ and continued to push through.

Out of nowhere, I heard a loud ruckus in the parking lot behind me. I turned to see a group of dudes coming out of the McDonald’s with a manager chasing after them. I caught snippets of threats to “go get my ting” (aka “get my gun”) and promises that the police were on the way, then recognized the dudes from around my neighbourhood and knew they were harmless. A few of them started to jump in their cars and get away with pilfered Big Macs, so I turned back to my date. The look on his face was one of pure terror. “It’s OK,” I told him. “Those guys aren’t serious.” He didn’t believe me. “Maybe we should just go before this escalates,” he said, completely frozen save for his green eyes that cautiously watched the commotion behind me. “Nah, really. They’re all talk. So – what were you saying about your last vacation?” I tried to get us back on topic, but he paid me no mind. It was then that I noticed he was doing something very peculiar. He was shrinking his 6’6″ frame down into the bench, assessing the parking lot action behind me, and actually using me as a shield between him and the angry neighbourhood dudes.

“Are you – are you actually trying to hide behind me?” I shifted in my seat and he whispered “Wait – don’t move!” and I knew then that this love story was doomed. “You know what, maybe you’re right. We should probably go.” I started to stand and gather my things, but he was still stuck to the bench. “Well, maybe we should wait until they’re gone – I think I’m parked beside one of them.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, so I hopped up from the table and stalked away. He finally chased after me, unlocking his car doors and sliding into the seat like it was home plate. I got into the car, waving at one of the neighbourhood dudes who stopped cussing to give me a “Good evening, empress,” before resuming again. “Whew, that was crazy,” my date said. I tuned out after that. We got to my place, he tried to sneak a kiss, I shot it down, then headed upstairs to bed.

He called me a couple of times after that, but I rebuffed his talk of another date. The calls stopped and life moved on – but I ran into him at another soca fete a few weeks later.

As I made some friendly talk with him, I noticed something was off. His face looked different. I couldn’t place it, but all of a sudden, there it was.

“Your eyes – they’re brown?”

“Oh yeah – I usually wear my coloured contacts but I’m going au naturel tonight,” he chuckled as if his joke was actually funny.

The Moral Of The Story

Don’t date guys who use you as human shields.

If a tarot card reader tells you you’ll fall in love with a guy with light eyes, be aware that coloured contacts may lead you astray.

And that ex she told me to avoid? We got married. We had a baby. And I call him HomieLuva.


UNAPOLOGETIC: Focusing On The “Self” In Self-Care

SelfCareRevolutionarySelf-care has been a topic of much discussion in my various circles these days. Whether at work, with friends and family, or on social media, many of us – mostly women – are in the process of prioritizing ourselves in order to preserve ourselves.

Just yesterday, I commented on a Facebook posting on the topic with the following:

I have to be very mindful about my own needs and really have to train myself to stop, say no, relax, and rejuvenate. The two biggest things I’ve realized are: 1) for me, self-care doesn’t have to be a huge action – it can be as small as going inside a bathroom stall and doing some deep breathing, or going for a 10 min walk – and 2) getting over the guilt of practicing self-care is crucial – we need to take care of us so we can take care of everything else.

As soon as I hit send, I had an epiphany and quickly added the following:

Actually – though women have tons to take care of, the validity of our self-care still doesn’t need to be contingent on being able to take care of others. We have to take care of ourselves because we owe it to ourselves. That just popped into my head, so I wanted to add on :)

When we tell people – especially women who carry a multitude of concurrent roles and responsibilities – that their need for self-care is valid because it helps them care for others, is that truly self-care?

At the root of it all is the understanding that we need to create space in our lives to rejuvenate and replenish ourselves. It may look like booking a spa treatment. Or taking a walk on a beautiful day. Or buying ourselves something nice. Or saying no to every hot Friday night plan in favor of Netflix & wine after a tough work week. We can honour ourselves and our immediate needs in a way that no one else can, but we often feel guilt around the practice.

If we need to take a day off from work, we feel like we’re letting our team down. If we tell our families that we’re taking an hour to ourselves to unwind with a bubble bath, we feel bad about not being there for their needs. If we disclose our self-care practices to people who mock us for our “indulgence,” we feel like maybe we’re truly being selfish. A method that’s been used to curb this guilt and second-guessing (and to encourage us to continue along the path of self-care) is the phrase “Take care of yourself so that you can take care of others” – and while that’s undoubtedly a valuable asset to making ourselves priorities, it shouldn’t be the only reason we do.

We juggle so many different hats. Parent. Lover. Friend. Coworker. Caregiver. Financial Advisor. Student. Homemaker. We could be wearing any combination of hats at any given time, and self-care is crucial if we’re going to be any good to the people who depend on us. I definitely believe that in order to be there for others, we first have to be there for ourselves. They say you can’t give from an empty cup, so self-care helps us give to others from a place of abundance, not a place of martydom.


It still isn’t enough to value self-care solely for the ability it lends us to take care of others.

Isn’t the reverence we have for ourselves enough of a validation for self-care? Isn’t it OK to just say, “I’m doing this for myself” without further explanation? I’ll admit, when I thought about this while writing the aforementioned Facebook comment, I was hit with a nervous flutter in my stomach that signaled the guilt I thought I had swept away. It takes effort as a woman with multiple people depending on her to say “This is for me” instead of “This is for me so that I can be for you.” For those of us who fall prey to the fallacy of the Strong Black Woman trope, it takes effort to separate ourselves from the value we earn by keeping things going. We are prided on our ability to take everything the world throws at us without missing a beat, and we often aren’t afforded the opportunity to drop bits and pieces or the whole load to focus on ourselves, even for a short while. We give ourselves permission for self-care by equating it back to the asset we’ll be to those that need us, and that helps to make it OK. The benefit to others is the easiest defense against cries of indulgence of selfishness, so we grab at it quickly. Forcing myself to move beyond that, and allowing myself to care for myself because I care for myself is a revolutionary act.

As I said on Twitter:

Now, I just need to remember that.

SAVE ROOM: Learning How To Make Space For Life


I get dramatic about birthdays. I love my birthday, and a personal goal is to accomplish something so incredible in life that May 10th becomes a national (or international!) holiday.

I know I’m dramatic. Luckily for the people who are forced to put up with me, I can step outside of myself and see how ridiculously extravagant I get about each new rotation around the sun.  That being said, this year feels even more profound than usual. I initially chalked it up to needing some positive anticipation – last year was an overwhelming whirlwind of amazing highs and troubling lows, and this year I know I need more stability and growth. But as I thought about it more, I realized this birthday felt so profound because I finally learned a crucial lesson:

I need to make room in my life to let life happen. 

Things have been severely crowded for too long. Moving + baby + work + side hustles + bills + friends + trying not to forget about Bee = a life so stuffed that some days felt downright paralyzing. The most crippling thing was the fact that everything I had gotten myself into, I had chosen to do – so I had no one to blame but myself, and it seemed like no one could help me but myself. Nothing felt optional. I had to go to work. I had to take care of my daughter. I had to pay bills and take care of home repairs. I had to keep up with my freelancing. I had to keep working with the film festivals and magazines and youth groups and projects I was tied to. Everything linked to something else: I kept taking on cool projects because maybe something would pop off and I wouldn’t have to go back to my day job after mat leave. I forced myself to do daily social media management for clients because I needed the extra money to help with diapers and daycare. I felt obligated to try to plan events because I thought I had fallen off and wasn’t “on the scene” anymore like I used to be. Everything seemed indispensable, so while I started feeling stifled, I told myself I couldn’t drop any of it. If I was feeling stressed or overwhelmed, I convinced myself that the problem wasn’t the amount of things I tasked myself with, it was my work ethic. I had to find ways to focus, to be more efficient, to make sure I got things done and done well – in short, I wasn’t kind to myself at all.

Yes – I have an amazing partner in life who shares many of the responsibilities I named above, but when it came down to the things I do outside of home and baby, he wasn’t with me shooting in the gym. The writing, the events, the projects, the work – the choice to do them and the reason why I was doing them lived solely in my head and heart. The pressure I was putting on myself to do them lived there too, so I knew that while HomieLuva is an incredible sounding board, I’d have to initiate any change I wanted in my life on my own.

I started off by doing a basic time audit of my life. My days were full of things to do, but I soon realized that a lot of these things weren’t serving me well anymore. There were things I was doing simply because I told myself I had to, and further – I told myself that to not do them was to be a quitter or a failure. When I was honest about what some of these things were doing for me, I realized they weren’t doing a gotdamn thing except stressing me out. I could barely stand things that used to fill me with excitement, and it was downright depressing. My next realization was that there was a constant, nagging feeling of some awesome opportunity just within my grasp, but my life was so cluttered that there was no room for it. I felt things passing me by and though I couldn’t definitely state what it was that I missed out on, I knew that I literally had no space for anything new – so good things were undoubtedly floating away.

Next, I thought about my current priorities. Taking care of my family, my finances, and investing in myself topped the list. Comparing my priorities to my audit, I realized that a lot of the things I felt obligated to do didn’t fall in line with any of my priorities. They may have had a place at one point in time, but things changed and I was now just forcing a square peg into a round hole. There were things I knew I’d have to say goodbye to, say “not now but maybe later” to, say a firm no to – and I had to say it all immediately. Over the last couple of weeks, emails have gone out, calls have been made, and the things that I needed to say have been said. I’ve finally reclaimed a bit of freedom. I have room to breathe and to just be without having to do, and it’s the best birthday present I could have asked for.

I’ve given myself the gift of leaving room for life. I’m trading in excessive guilt and undue self-imposed pressures for the space to find things to enjoy, inspire me, and help me grow. I’m letting go of things that put some dollars in my bank account, and believing that things are coming that will give me even greater prosperity. I’m clearing things out and making a new foundation, and it feels like I have nowhere to go from here but up.

Let’s toast to fresh starts and swift, sustained ascents. Happy birthday to me.

MISSING IN ACTION: The Silence of Black Organizations That Serve Us



It’s often said that silence is golden. Contrasting with the clamour and din of the world we live in, there’s a beauty in silence; a special solitude in the space that it gives us.

Then, there’s an aspect of silence that stuns in another way. When the world’s noise begs for a voice to respond, that revered solitude festers into neglect and the golden beauty of silence tarnishes into ugliness.

For marginalized people in this city, this country, this world – things aren’t just noisy, they’re deafening. Individual voices raised in retort have done amazing things, but when voices combine in effort, even more impressive things ensue. That’s why for me, at this time, it’s distressing to feel the crushing silence emanating from long-standing Black institutions who have failed to add their voice to our current struggles.

This past weekend, I passed on an invitation to one of Toronto’s – if not Canada’s – premiere Black events. I looked forward to the opportunity to get dolled up and connect with old friends and new people. What I didn’t look forward to was the nausea of watching Toronto’s mayor grace the event with grandiloquent comments celebrating the same demographic victimized by the carding policy he supported a week prior. The cognitive dissonance is unsurprising, yet it’s hard to shake the feelings of frustration and disappointment.

Even more disappointing is the fact that organizations that purport to advocate for Black community/communities and support their advancement have failed to take their place at the current tables of discussion on the issues affecting the people they claim to serve. No representatives at police board meetings. No participation in or organization of town halls. Poor outreach to the community in favour of more insular, self-congratulatory efforts. Refusal to engage in the conversations that community members are asking – no, begging – for. I guess you can chalk some initial silence up to lack of awareness. Then, you can say, “Well, maybe they’ll be present at the next meeting/will have a quote in the next round of media coverage/will issue a statement of their own.” Then, you wait and wait and grasp at nothing but empty silence and realize that their silence is their statement.

The Star’s “Searching for Toronto’s next generation of Black leaders” covers a spate of perspectives on issues affecting advocacy and activism in the city. Why do older leaders hesitate to pass the baton on to younger generations? Is there a misunderstanding of new waves of activism? How do we increase community involvement in various initiatives? This article asks questions and attempts to answer them, highlighting some of the very issues that I feel compound on the function of Black organizations in our communities.

Far too many Black organizations uphold narrow paradigms of respectability, putting an asterisk beside the definition of the demographic they represent. Far too many ascribe to the modus operandi of “Just pull yourself up by your bootstraps” without acknowledging that sometimes those very bootstraps are given to us, already frayed and deliberately unable to support our weight. Far too many think that their presence is effort enough, failing to actively engage the individuals and communities around them. Far too many cry that there’s no one new to helm the ship when their white-knuckled clutches on power impede their ability to let new blood in. What we need are organizations that understand, as Audre Lorde said, that “the Master’s tools will never dismantle the Master’s house.” We cannot build an empowered Black identity using the sociopolitical tools that were created to work against us. We need organizations that are truly open to new voices and new ways of doing things; ones that are accessible in a myriad of forms; ones that aren’t afraid to speak up when and where it matters; ones that don’t value photo ops over true progress.

Perhaps some of these organizations are misunderstood. If that’s the case, I truly hope that they do the necessary work to make change and align their internal missions with external perception. Maybe a redefinition of who they serve or a revamp of the hows and whys of doing what they do is needed. Additionally, a reminder needs to be given that there isn’t much room for ego in community work. All critique and criticism isn’t cruel – more often, it’s a sign that your community is invested in what you do and wants you to do even better, so disparaging that response isn’t always a smart move.

Then again, maybe I’m the one who is looking at this all wrong. Maybe I’m expecting things of people and executives and institutions that they aren’t meant to deliver. When it comes to carding or police brutality or fighting for higher minimum wage or support for Black women, maybe I’m waiting for people to speak when they truly have nothing to say. What I do know is this: your silence speaks volumes, and I hear you loud and clear.

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