5 things i learned from ava duvernay’s sxsw speech

sometimes i get tired of public speaking. TIHHED. as an attorney and activist, i’m given the opportunity often, and each time i’m as nervous as the first. what gets me through? whether i’m preparing to argue in court or speak to a group of young people, i constantly ask God to speak through me. i feel God did just that with ava duvernay’s sxsw speech — her words spoke to so many parts of my life.  here’s what ava taught me:

1.  “if your dream only includes you, it’s too small.” how will you serve others? we all have a piece of sand to add to the scale of humanity.

2.  “when the light is on you, what do you do to take it in and be nourished by it?” humility has its place, but when it’s your opportunity to shine enjoy it, dwell in it. let your soul be cleansed by the benefits of hard work.

3.  “give your attention to your intention.” set a purpose and work at it unapologetically, giving it all of your attention.

4.  “we don’t see things how they are. we see things how we are.” our perceptions are our realities and if we perceive ourselves as small, we’ll never achieve our intended greatness.

5.  “don’t limit your dream with the small stuff. go beyond external motivation.” ava described the external motivators that were behind her first two feature films.  when writing and directing king, her sole focus was on serving the story; she believes that intention shaped its huge success. again, if your dream only includes you, it’s too small.

watch the video. be empowered.

weekend wear 4.13.15

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i celebrated my birthday last weekend!!! most of my day was spent organizing with community members, but this maje skirt slayed lives saturday night.  i don’t think my love of floor length skirts will ever end!  thanks to all those who wished me a happy birthday and support my dreams. your kindness is appreciated more than you can imagine.

hope you enjoyed your weekend! xo

p.s. happy birthday to all my fellow aries!

crop top, american apparel | skirt, maje | shoes, kenneth cole

issa rae’s killing the game

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we’ve been fans of issa rae since the first season of the misadventures of awkward black girl. if you’ve never seen the show: get your life. the uber talented writer, actress and producer is gaining major star power with a new book and hbo pilot.  the show, called insecure, chronicles “the awkward experiences and racy tribulations of a modern-day African-American woman.” let’s hope the pilot makes it into production!  in the meantime, read her book, watch her you tube channel and laugh hard.

black women and the politics of being mean

last week, tawoman-cryingmar braxton broke down on her television show the real about facing constant bullying on social media.  the popular singer and reality tv star has been the recipient of verbal attacks by many, including chris brown and k.michelle.  in an era where “shade” and “reads” less than 140 characters can travel at the speed of light, taking shots has never been more toxic.

i’ll always remember the anger in my grandmother’s face when i told her that i was being bullied; however, she wasn’t mad at the bully.  she was mad at me. how dare i come home and cry about being psychologically tormented? at seven years old, my responsibility was to use any ammunition at my disposal to clap back. her anger was my first conditioning into a lifestyle that black women know all too well — not to experience pain when hurt, but to hurt others.

i come from a long line of truth-telling women who annihilate the unworthy with words.  when words don’t work, they’re known to lay hands.  this violent experience of black womanhood is not unique to my family, and represents the mechanism we’ve adopted to survive both patriarchy and white supremacy. our tongues of fire protected us through slavery and racial apartheid, and continue to serve as a safeguard, even when our safety isn’t threatened.  welding negative power is better than having none at all.

such negative power is captured in the “strong black woman” stereotype, a depiction of black womanhood that has taught us strength requires toxicity. affirming ourselves beyond the superficial and practicing self-care is weak. affirming other black women and leading with kindness is extremely weak. what’s most ironic is that given our oppression, black women being kind to one another is actually the strongest thing we can do.

we should be ashamed that tamar braxton was brought to tears on national television because of the black community’s abuse. it’s frustrating that so many of us have been raised to construe negative critiques as love that we deny the harm caused by verbal assault.  until black women change the definition of strength to include self-care and unapologetic kindness, our emotional well-being will continue to suffer.