#3 – Music: The Good, the Beautiful, the Receipts

We asked our little brother Donovan to join us to talk all things music. We’re covering our top artists, songs, albums and moments plus receipts! By no means are these lists final or conclusive, because music is just too powerful to limit it to a few favorites (plus we remembered like 30 people/songs/moments after we recorded this episode), but we had a blast reminiscing! Grab some cheezits and koolaid for this one!

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Purple Post-its: God sees you.

Mood: That’s Why | Fred Hammond

For those of you who don’t know, my favorite color is purple. I consider it a major part of my identity. So I came up with this little idea of purple post-its- which is when God sends me sweet little reminders that He sees me, knows me, hears me and loves me.

Example: I was at work and came across an interesting post on instagram and started doing some research on how yeast affects my body (side bar: research candida overgrowth and its affects!). I stuck a mental pin in it and decided I would probably make some time to go to the library to find some books on it.
I come home from work, that SAME day, and didn’t my mom have a book called “The Candida Cure” sitting on the table?! We hadn’t discussed it at all, yet here we are on the same wavelength, talking about the same thing.
That’s a purple post-it.

Another example:
The feedback Chrish and I have gotten for the podcast is totally purple-post-it-worthy. People we went to high school with are like, “Y’all have ALWAYS been funny and y’all still are!” One of my dear friends that I went to college with made me her WCW on Instagram! Of course our church family has been overwhelmingly supportive. And that matters so much. Because when you do anything creative or artistic, you’re sensitive (thanks, Badu.) and you want people to GET it. And to see that people are getting it…. is a purple post-it and a reminder that we are on the right track.

Another example:
I started a new job recently and while I love where I work, I don’t like what I do. But I accepted the position (because coin, but also) as a challenge. A challenge to trust that God knows, and He does ALL things well. And I have had several moments in the last two months where I have felt underwhelmed, invisible, underutilized and unfulfilled. But honestly, truly, I had to give it to Jesus. Give those feelings to the Lord in exchange for peace. And in the last 3 weeks, I have literally felt my attitude change. I used to come in with dread, but now I do my job (even though it’s not exciting or fulfilling) cheerfully. I watched God transform/renew my mind!
And a friend of mine (who happens to be a manager) told me TODAY, that they know I’m too good for where I am and they are spinning their wheels to CREATE a new position for me.
THAT is a purple post-it.

God really does love us. He really does want the best for us. And ALL – EVERY last one of the things work together for my good. That doesn’t mean that they all ARE good, but they all work together FOR my good.

Flour, raw eggs, oil, sugar – are kinda dumb singularly. Ohhhh but when you put them together!!! You get all kinds of glory dishes like pancakes, cupcakes and cookies! [See, THIS is why I have to do a candida cleanse NOW. ☹️🙄]

The point is, trust your process. Trust where you are. And trust that God sees you and He is mindful of you.

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#BlackWomenAtWork

I recently wrote about Black womanhood and four separate areas that I had to traverse as I came into my own. One of those areas was being a smart Black girl and owning that identity without regret or fear. I wrote about how I had to give myself permission to be me in the classroom and not apologize for taking up space.

I had to – and still have to – make those same decisions as I navigate the “work force.” 

Recently, two separate incidents captured in the media sparked a movement across social media: Sean Spicer had the gall to tell April Ryan – a respected journalist, reporter and grown-af woman – to stop shaking her head when she visibly expressed her disdain at the way he answered a question she asked. Then, Bill O’Reilly made wildly inappropriate and offensive comments about Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ hair. Mind you, this was after a video was shown on his news segment where Auntie Maxine was going for Trump/the right’s jugular, and his response to that was, “I didn’t hear a word she said… I was looking at the James Brown wig.” He later “apologized” dryly, but too little too late, white pig. See… This is the type of trash that we are often reduced to – our hair and being reprimanded as if we are children.

These two incidents ignited one of my faves, Brittany Packnett, to start a hashtag on twitter: #BlackWomenAtWork. She created a space for Black women to share their experiences as professionals. It trended almost immediately. It’s a simple hashtag yet I think it invoked profound solidarity among us because across all career paths, fields, industries and occupations, we ALL have had such similar experiences. I just wanted to hug each woman whose story I read. And as I read those stories, I recalled my own experiences.

In my short post-graduate career, I’ve had to navigate so many white and non-Black micro- and macro-aggressions. 

One story that sticks out in my mind is when I was being trained by someone in a new department and another lady in that department was asking where was I from. 

Me: Oh, I’m from Cincinnati. I lived in Columbus for six years before moving back home. I went to OSU and then worked for the university for 2 years. 

Nosy white: (laced with shock) Oh, you graduated?

Me: …. Yes.

Nosy white: (still shocked) Oh.. wow..

It wasn’t the impressed type of tone. This woman was befuddled. And after she got over the shock that a Black woman actually went against the grain (in HER mind) and somehow finessed her way to a degree from The Ohio State University, she dismissively went about her bland white business.

When my training session ended and I prepared to go back to my desk, I bid all the women in that cubicle row a pleasantry, and the same nosy white said, “BEH!” It was laced with that gross “sassy” shit they try to pin on us. I was already on my way back to my desk but immediately thought to myself, “Did she just…?”

And then right after that, I thought (as I do far too often), I ain’t e’em gon say nothin’…

I realized recently that I do a lot of overcompensating at work. I go out of my way to be nice and bubbly and remain neutral and be helpful because I think subconsciously I felt like it was up to me (like, solely) to dispel the myth of angry/aggressive/mean/attitude-havin’ Black women. Like, let me be the one to prove these white perceptions wrong. But at what cost, though? I’m sacrificing my comfort and sometimes my dignity and sense of respect because I don’t want to shake the table. I don’t want to make white people uncomfortable, by calling them out when they make me uncomfortable. How that work?

So I made a mental declaration, after that particular interaction with the nosy white woman that seemingly had never met a Black college-educated woman, that I am no longer subconsciously accommodating white people’s micro-aggressions and ugly shit. Because the gag is, Becky, they pay me the same way they pay yo ass. Why I gotta walk around on egg shells? FOH. I’ll be kind and polite but I will not move out of the way, I will not be the first to say excuse me or let them get away with not saying it or not say thank you when I hold the door. I’m also not letting none of that dumb ass slick shit slide. I will confront it and voice my distaste. Every time. 

When Auntie Maxine classily clapped back to O’Reilly by saying, “I am a strong Black woman and I cannot be intimidated, I cannot be undermined, I cannot be made to feel afraid…” I had a spiritual conniption because YES! We must make everyone AWARE!

So I wanted to salute my auntie and my cousins – Congresswoman Waters, April Ryan, Angela Rye, Symone Sanders, Brittany Packnett and all other Black women who have recently been in the media for taking these necessary stands; and to all my sisters in the struggle who have dealt with people asking to touch our hair, working for far less than we’re worth, being misunderstood and snubbed as we chase our respective dreams and find our way in this murky ass shit known as, work. 

In the words of our leader: We are strong Black women. We shall not be intimidated, we shall not be undermined and we shall not be made to feel afraid. You better go for that raise. You better call that becky out when she calls you “sista.” Call that man out when you catch him looking at your cleavage. And unapologetically take up your space – whether that be the receptionist desk, Target register, classroom, hospital (Shoutout to my sis Ash and both my cousins!), strip club, mechanic’s shop, football field (Shoutout to my AT sis Reg!), studio or corner office. We OUT HERE, and they will FEEL us.

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My Black Womanhood: Asè, iSlay, Amen

This piece is in some ways a diary entry that bares my soul and caused me to revisit my childhood – both the fond and haunting memories. In other ways, it’s an essay, inspired and influenced by Black feminist and womanist writers like bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Maya Angelou, Roxane Gay and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and some of my Twitter faves like Tracy Clayton, Kimberly Foster, Trudy, Feminista Jones, Crissle and Fran. In all of the ways, it is and has been cathartic, humbling and rejuvenating. When one of my dearest friends asked me to write about my thoughts, feelings and experiences as a Black woman and what that means to me, I went THU it. Here is live footage of my process:

Stage 1 :
[when Teej asked me to write for his site]

Stage 2:
[trying to figure out where to start because I have a lot of feelings]

Stage 3:
[finding the fun in writing and revising til my fingers fall off]

Here we go.

I thank God that He made me Black AND a woman. Sometimes I can’t believe I have been so favored. But I didn’t always consider all of the components of these identities a privilege. While I adore being Black and thank God every day for trusting me with the gift of melanin, I also acknowledge that we need to confront and unlearn the detrimental mindsets that have also moved through the continuum of Black culture I wrote about previously. As it relates to my Black womanhood, I think there are four major areas that I had to traverse and later make peace with separately: my skin, my hair, my body and my mind.

I remember one summer day when I was 14, I went to my grandparents’ house for a cookout with my sister and cousins and we swam (well, I played in the water because you know…) and played in the sun all day. I remember telling my sister before we even left the house that I didn’t want to stay outside too long because I didn’t want to get too dark. But I did anyway, because it was so much fun. When we came inside and dried off, all of the adults were commenting on how we smelled like outside and how dark we had gotten. And one aunt said to me, “Jazmine, you look dirty!” And we all laughed and piled up our plates with burgers and baked beans and lil huggie juice jugs and headed to the kids table. Then it hit me, and I thought to myself, “…. I knew I shouldn’t have been outside that long.” Complexionally, I’m a medium, cinnamon-chestnut type of brown. But I feared getting darker so much because of the tag of shame that has been placed on it throughout time. While my aunt meant no harm, that interaction (and many others like it) still watered the seeds of self hatred planted by society.

Colorism is a thing, y’all. A real thing. It’s a term that was coined by Alice Walker, that means “prejudicial or preferential treatment of same-race people based solely on the color of their skin.” It’s both explicit and implicit. It’s why phrases like “pretty for a dark skinned girl” exist. It’s why I found myself regretting a fun summer day in the sun with my cousins – all because I didn’t want to get dark. It’s also parallel to the idea of “good hair.”

As I moved through puberty and into my teenage years, I never had a healthy relationship with my hair. I was never really tender-headed when I got my hair done but I guess I was tender-minded. Because while combing through my hair didn’t evoke tears, exclaiming “DAMN, your hair is nappy!” low-key did. My stepsister at the time used to braid my hair when we were younger and I distinctly remember one such occasion when she was braiding me up and she said to my other sisters, “Y’all, it’s a perm called Beautiful Beginnings. Jazmine musta got Ugly Endings!” And everybody fell out laughing. Everybody but me. I was 7.
And while my mom is everything to me and did nothing but love and provide for and guide my sister and I, 
“Whewww, you gotta get a perm to tame these naps!” was funny at the time, but in reality it was a seed that grew into contempt for my hair and the belief that ONLY straight hair is pretty and right. So I didn’t care much about breakage or damage because I didn’t want anything to do with my own hair anyway. I abused what we now know as protective styles. Back then, I wasn’t tryna protect NATHIN. Micros, twisties, ponytails, quick weaves… anything was better than my hair. I wanted to hide it. First, because it didn’t look like my friends’ hair, and also because I had heard these kinds of negative implications about my own hair for years. 

Of course, this isn’t a jab at my aunt, stepsister and certainly not my mommy. But we have to be real and really confront these things in order to overcome them. They meant no harm but what was said was still damaging to my already-vulnerable and wavering self-esteem. Because the reality is a lot of things are perpetuated because of ignorance and oblivion. These “jokes” were lighthearted but they really contributed to over a decade of feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem and a general poor relationship with the way God made me. My epiphany that my natural hair is beautiful, magical and right is a very recent one – only five years old. I’ll never forget July 15, 2011 – the day I found my crown.


My insecurities with my complexion and hair paled in comparison to the way that I simultaneously developed and gained weight through my childhood. I started wearing a training bra when I was 8. I started my period when I was 11. I stepped into perhaps the most complex parts of womanhood before I even knew what a figurative bird or bee was. My body developed waaaay faster than my mind could catch up. This is why I am very sensitive to the narrative of “fast ass girls.” Granted, there are some girls who are in a rush to grow up but there are a lot of us who didn’t choose this “grown woman body” life; it chose us. Girls can’t help how fast – or slow, for that matter – they develop. I was a 36D in middle school. Boys used to call me “Double D’s.” When I was 17, I had grown ass men in my Facebook inbox telling me I had a “cute innocence” about me. Now mind you, this was long before the era of lashes and bundles. There was no such thing as laid brows. So you can’t even chalk it up to men being “led on” by my appearance. All I had was my struggle wrap, my Old Navy trademark tees, my K-Swiss, and these huge breasts. I was totally preyed upon, because of my body. This is the kind of swamp our girls have to navigate.

Not to mention us grown women, who still/also have to navigate unwanted attention from men. And I feel the need to reiterate that this invasive, mysogynistic culture has absolutely nothing to do with the woman herself. It is problematic to perpetuate this idea – as often done in the realm of Christian womanhood –  that “how you carry yourself” dictates how you should and will be treated. Because there’s this underlying suggestion that women who are abused or harassed in any way may deserve such treatment, based on what they were wearing or how they were dancing or whatever other ugly standard that is set. And that’s TRASH. All women – no really, ALL women deserve and should demand respect from this world and everyone in it. Trying to force all women into this modest, purity box is tired.

We are already taught to take up as little space as possible. This is why we’re taught to sit with our legs closed and crossed at the ankle, why the mothers in church will give you a lap scarf if you’re wearing a skirt above the knee, why a lot of us subconsciously and self-consciously glance down to make sure our v-neck hasn’t exposed too much of our cleavage. And I’m over that. Reclaiming our bodies, our sexuality and our sensuality is both our choice and our right. I will not apologize for the way that I am built and I don’t believe any woman should. If my body makes you uncomfortable or distracts you and stirs your loins, you need to take that up with your maker. Why is it always up to us to be modest and cover up and be smaller and shrink ourselves down? It took me years to accept myself and my body and I refuse to have my body policed anymore, in ANY space.

As a Christian woman, I really had to cut the strings of perpetuated expectations and mired religious projections. My standards are mine and mine alone. Whether I give you a turtleneck or a deep v-neck, a long denim skirt with the Sunday School Teacher 13s or some booty shorts that accentuate my amazing calves and some clear stripper heels, the respect that I command when I walk in any room should not waiver or fluctuate. Nobody gets to choose who they will respect and honor, based on whatever stank ass standards are set by whoever thinks they have the juice at the moment. As my Friend Zone faves put it on their podcast a couple weeks back, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, beliefs and standards. But what you WON’T do [and are no longer allowed to do, ON MY WATCH] is project those opinions, beliefs and standards on other people in the name of standing for what you believe in. This ain’t that. So if you think along these lines in any capacity, I don’t wanna see you, talk to you, kick it wit cha, skate wit cha, NOTHIN. Stay in your lane, worry about your own seat in the Kingdom and I’ll worry about cruising on Interstate Jazmine and checking in at the toll booth for the Pearly Gates when EYE am called home.

Finally, I had to come to terms with my mind. I used to feel bad for being smart. I was always the one in gifted and advanced classes. In 8th grade, all of the students were assigned to different teams based on our test scores. All my friends were on Team Advantage or Team Ambition and I was the only one on Team Aspire – the team that allowed students to take freshman algebra and Spanish 1. I always did well and made friends wherever I went, but I just wanted to be with my best friends. Then, I was the only one who moved away and went to a predominately white school in tenth grade. If I had a nickel for every time a Black kid said I “talked white” or a white kid or teacher was visibly surprised at how articulate I am, Sallie Mae and I would have never had to get acquainted. I often found myself in this awkward gray area as a student: not exactly comfortable in the classes with all of the white kids, and feeling left out from my best friends, who were Black. More than fitting in with the whites, I was afraid that my best friends would think that I thought I was better than them. So I often struggled to find that balance.

It wasn’t until my senior year in high school that I really owned my truth as a smart black girl. For me, this meant being unafraid to take up space. Like, yeah I was placed here via test scores or my guidance counselor, but you’re going to FEEL me here, too! Before this epiphany, I was afraid that having a voice at all, let alone a strong opinion, would perpetuate the stereotype of angry and loud Black girls/women. Giving myself permission to be was monumental. I remember the day I wore my “Caution: Educated Black Woman” tee to my AP Government class – which just so happened to be during the 2008 election season. As a teenager still trying to make sense of the world and articulate her own opinions, this was the first stand that I took, and a major step in my unapologetic blooming as a smart Black girl. I had those white kids shook! When Barack snagged that Democratic nomination, and then of course went on to win the election, I was literally ignited. That victory showed me the importance of representation and it encouraged me to take my place. I think that was my first “ah-ha!” moment that I had as an (almost) adult. It’s why I went to Ohio State as a Poli Sci major. I thought I was gonna be the next Carol Moseley Braun or Donna Brazile! I later switched my career aspirations to Oprah, but my confidence in my intelligence never wavered even as my career interests morphed.

It took me years to own my intelligence as a Black woman and to recognize that I am a VITAL force for myself, for us and to the world in general. And I will not apologize or shrink myself down in this arena, either.

So, part of my blooming process is owning my Blackness and my womanhood – and what that means to me is always adjusting my crown. Doing away with all of the racist, sexist notions of what is pretty, appealing, desirable or even acceptable. I cut out the thoughts that anything about me is less than beautiful, perfect and ENOUGH.  Now, don’t get me wrong, everyday I still have to decide that I am worth it, that I am a masterpiece. The difference is, now I am no longer defined by anyone’s standards of greatness, but my own. Sometimes, that’s a beat face, a wig, some Spanx and an outfit that pulls it all UP and together. Other (read: most) days, that’s my bare face, my Celie plaits, sweats and converse. But both aesthetics and everything else in between, are everything. I am everything. WE ARE EVERYTHING.

Owning our Black womanhood is realizing that our hair is magical. That we can go from a fade to braids to 30 inches to a bob to an asymmetrical pixie to bantu knots a la Scary Spice to locs to twist outs to buns and always leave everybody like, “How she do that?!” It’s realizing that our skin only gets more beautiful the more sun we get (as long as we’re using SPF. Enhance that melanin sis, don’t cook it.) It’s realizing the stunning beauty in all of the shapes, sizes and shades that we come in. We are all delectable. It’s also realizing that our identities are like an onion. There are so many layers, nuances and intersections. There is no one way to be a Black woman. It’s all right. It’s all beautiful. African American women, African women, Afro-Latina women, Black Native American women, Afro-Caribbean women, Afro-Asian women, straight Black women, Black lesbians, Black cisgendered women, Black trans women, fat Black women, skinny Black women, pale Black women, chocolate Black women, Black Christian women, Black athiest women, Black women with relaxed hair, Black women with natural hair, Black women with no hair, Black mothers, Black women who don’t want chirren, Black strippers, Black women doctors, Black women teachers, Black women nurses, Black lunch ladies, Black women CEOs, Black hairstylists (shoutout to Y’ALL!), college-educated Black women and Black women who are students of life. We all have a seat at the table.

This (ongoing) journey to self-love is why I’m hellbent on spreading love and confidence to everyone, but especially our Black girls. I always make it my business to refer to us as “Beautiful” or “Pretty” or “Queen” and “sis.” And I mean it. This is why movements like #BlackGirlMagic and #BlackGirlsRock and #MyBlackIsBeautiful are VITAL. And of course this goes beyond physical appearance. To me, slaying is about excellence all around, in whatever your lane may be. This is why I follow and consider both Serita Jakes AND Cardi B role models. That’s probably one of my favorite things to do: revving up people’s cognitive dissonance by being comfortable and content in all of my facets. What if I told you I twerked to an Israel Houghton song – oN PURPOSE? What if I told you I was drinking a Bahama Mama as I caught up on my devotional?

That’s the beauty of blooming. I go and grow where I am watered, period. And I encourage all my sisters to do the same. I’m also always intent on always gassing us All of us. Always hitting my friends’ pics with the heart eyes and clapping emojis. Always encouraging my sistren to “push THU” and SLAY. Because we need to hear it. We must own it. We must not be afraid to stand in what our Black womanhood means to us. We deserve and we owe it to ourselves to be true to it – as strong and loud and carefree and chill and funny and deep and paradoxical as it may be. We need that affirmation internally – from ourselves and our sisters – so that we can radiate it outward to the world.

Black Womanhood is complex. Black Womanhood is beautiful. Black Womanhood is excellent. Black Womanhood matters. Black Womanhood is a gift from God. 

In a recent post-Oscar press interview, Viola Davis was asked what she loves about being a Black woman. Her succinct, powerful response is the same as mine: EVERYTHING.

Asè (so let it be), iSlay (be excellent), Amen (and it is so).

Check out my dear friend’s blog, Asé iSlay Amen, here.

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10 Black Songs That Changed My Life

It was a pretty solid February for the culture. Although some of our well-deserving fam were snubbed at both the Grammys and Oscars, Beyoncé announced the pending arrival of Destiny’s children, Solange won Best R&B Performance for “Cranes,” Rihanna was honored as Harvard’s Humanitarian of the Year, Viola Davis took home Best Supporting Actress for Fences, Mahershala Ali took home Best Supporting Actor for Moonlight AND Moonlight won for Best Picture, among several other categories. I’m grateful for that acknowledgement, though I never watch any of these ceremonies with bated breath because they’ll never give us all of the honor that we’re due. I’ll read all of the Academies in a post coming soon but anyway, hey March gorl!

Rest assured, Black history and the celebration of our music, our culture and everything that we are will continue year-long, so as we transition into Melanin March I wanted to celebrate Black music by sharing 10 Black songs that changed my life. This was extremely hard, because I’m me and I love music. I’ve asked some friends and family this question, and their answers always intrigue me. After some time reflective time in my prayer closet lol, here we go.

  1.  Will You Be There – Michael Jackson
    Anyone who knows my name is Jazmine, probably knows that Michael Jackson is the 3rd most important man in my life, after Jesus and my brother Myles. I remember being 5 or 6 and listening to that 2 minute intro – all of those celestial choir vocals, into that sweet groove. Not to mention the lyrics which resonated with me as I got older. This is one of my earliest musical memories. Listening to this song with my dad and thinking, I like how this makes me feel. I’ve been an MJ stan ever since.
  2.  Angels – Richard Smallwood & Vision
    This song moves me. The chords of the intro and verses are a haunting, comforting reminder, and that bridge gives me that churchy choir rock that I need. I love Richard, deeply.
  3.  Sir Duke – Stevie Wonder
    In music class in 3rd grade, we used to vote on which songs we wanted to learn out of our music books. This one always won. Not only did Stevland give me those horns, but he also gave me a history lesson, talmbout “Basie, Miller, Satchmo and the king of all, Sir Duke.” I am so here for the greats honoring the greats.
  4.  Déjà Vu – Beyoncé
    Bey snatched our wigs with this record in 2006, when I was really making sense of musicality as far as instruments and sounds. Not only that, this marked the beginning of that Bayou, Tina Turner, hot and sweaty aesthetic that I came to love. AND she schooled me with the intro! I knew what kinds of music made me feel good, but she seriously taught me the name of some of thee most important sounds, just by calling them out. “Bass… hi-hat…808.” Had me like
  5.  Don’t Lose the Feeling – The Wiz
    The song that the family sang at the table at the beginning of The Wiz. Whew, chile. I’ve never felt this about my own family, but I think this song can apply to us as a people, and I certainly want to cultivate this feeling when I’m the Aunt Em of my own family.
  6.  This is How We Do It – Montell Jordan
    The same way those strings in “Back That Azz Up” move Black girls worldwide, Montell singing that first line makes me forget about my bills. Forever the jam at ANY function, and it’s been my jam since Nutty Professor.
  7.  Flashlight – Parliament Funkadelic
    Another staple song at any Black function – especially one where your drunk aunt or uncle is present. There’s so much to unpack musically in this song – so many instruments and sounds and transitions… and it is STILL so good every time I hear it.
  8.  I Believe – Sounds of Blackness
    My mom had this tape and we used to listen to it in the her Chevy Nova, everywhere. Literally the first line of Anne’s Nesby’s first verse made me hit a mean groove as a five-year-old, and speaks to me 20 years later: “No need askin’ where I been, just ask me where I’m goin’!” THAT!
  9.  Impossible – Whitney Houston & Brandy
    As a little Black girl watching and listening to the first Black princess and her Black fairy godmother, I BELIEVED the lyrics in this song. And I still do.
  10. Here’s to Life – Shirley Horn
    This song is an extremely recent find. Like, several hours ago. But it literally changed me. I was minding my business, listening to my Nancy Wilson station at work and this song played and I was typing some pointless email and stopped, really listened and literally started crying. I’m new to Shirley’s voice, but I quickly fell in love. The lyrics of this song, the melody, the chords, the instrumentation is absolutely enchanting. It embodies everything I want to feel about the life I’ve lived. It totally gives me “I Was Here” feels but it’s far more ethereal, musically. I want this song played at my funeral. I have christened this song the theme of my life and my blog.

I noticed that there’s a recurring theme in a lot of the songs that I chose of dreaming and believing, which isn’t coincidental. It’s because Black music does that. It makes me believe. In love, in God, in myself, in life, and in others.

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A plastic bag full of plastic bags: The Continuity of Black Culture

As far as I’m concerned, February is like an extra birthday month. I think it’s expected of me to be annoyingly extra all 31 days of August. The same can be said for February. Not only is it my half-birthday month (my half birthday is on ValentiMe’s Day. Cute, right?! Only I still ain’t got no man. Let’s back out of that though ), but it’s also Black History Month. Make no mistake about it, I am flagrantly Black and proud 24/7/365 because we are great year-round, but flaunting that greatness will just be done even more excessively so, during February. Get ready for the flood!

So, a group of sister-friends and I are reading my Auntie Taraji’s memoir, Around The Way Girl – which is AMAZING by the way – and one of the many recurring themes is the way she grew up and how it shaped everything about her: her authentic nature, the type of mother she is, the way she is able to extract the magic from any character and truly bring her to life… it’s all linked to where and how she grew up. I should also mention that I’m listening to the book on Audible (sorry, no sponsored links – yet :)) and it is READ BY THE AUTHOR. So the experience is that much more wonderful hearing Taraji herself bring life to the dialogue and anecdotes. Her relationship with her single mom, recalling being tender-headed, the language – especially her dad’s use of the word ‘nigga’… it all reminded me of the continuity of Black culture. Continuity is the unbroken and consistent existence of something over a period of time. It’s why hashtags like #GrowingUpBlack & even #AskRachel had us crying tears of hilarious solidarity. Across geographical, socio-economic and generational lines, we ALL grew up together. Taraji’s stories and vivid examples made me think of some of my own. 

Think about it. There are so many things we just know.

How all of our mamas, aunties and grannies have a cup, bowl or container of cooking grease by the stove.
How we all know what pink oil and blue magic grease smells like.

How we all have a plastic bag full of plastic bags in the kitchen.
How we all know that when it storms, we gotta turn the tv off.
How that tub of Country Crock in the fridge could be either butter or green beans.
How we know to hit it on the 2 and the 4. 

What about the timeless adages or things we ALL heard growing up?
“I will beat/slap the Black offa you!”
“Do you have some McDonald’s money?”
“When we get in here, don’t be acting like no fool, and don’t ask for NOTHIN!”
“You don’t think fat meat greasy, do you?!”
“Don’t make no DAMN sense!”
“I ain’t gotta do nothin but stay black and DIE!”

How about how Black moms always manage to turn whatever you said into a demand or threat:
“Ma, can I get some chili?”
“You betta chili yo ass on into that room and clean UP!”

And of course there’s our classic movies & shows (How many of these do you immediately recognize?!):
Saying something (in everyday life) “didn’t curl all the way over.”
“All my life I had ta fight…”
“Now you KNOW you need an ass whoopin!”
“That ain’t no DAMN puppy!”
“Ain’t nobody coming to see you, OTIS!”
“I AM in charge uh da girls!”
“Why should you have to wear yo Sundee clothes… on Wednesdee?!”
“DAMN, DAMN, DAMN!”
“My office hours are from….”
And the infamously-pilfered-by-white people-who-have-no-idea-of-the-origin:
“BYE, Felicia!” 

Be on the lookout for my ode to Black music. That deserves its own post. *Birdman hands*

All in all, our culture is such an integral part of our lives, and the world tbqh. And that universal KNOWING is intrinsic and humbling. ✊🏾 And if you think I won’t celebrate it, relish it and revere it greatly, girl/boy bye. 

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I am complete, but not finished.

Two separate conversations that I had yesterday got me to thinking. I was talking to a new friend at Sunday dinner about how I decided on a whim to make my blog public last week. She asked me a simple question: “How’d you get over the fear?” And I chuckled before I replied, “Girl, I have to every day… Every day, I have to decide that what’s on the other side of fear is both more important and WORTH pushing past it.”

Here’s the thing. Fear is intimidating. Fear is paralyzing. Fear is a dusty liar with no edges. It tries to disguise itself as caution, or in my case, planning. Like… excessive, “girl, we get it!” planning. I kept putting off launching my brand and blog because I wanted everything to be right. I wanted the execution to be thorough. I wanted to have a certain number of posts before I went public. I bought a dry erase board and an Erin Condren planner and stickers and pens and highlighters and post-its and some cute notebooks to carve out my lil productivity system. Like, “This GIDG (Get it done, gorl!) system needs to be in place before I can launch. Because that’s how my YouTube faves do/did it!” My very few close friends who knew about my plans would ask about my progress from time to time and I would be like, “Well, I’m holding off for now because [insert any black ass excuse here].” Countless cycles of starting, stopping, pausing, restarting and starting over turned into idle time gone by. I almost wrote “wasted time” but I decided against that. It was necessary time. It just… wasn’t well-spent.

So, on a whim, I decided to just drop it. Drop as in “like it’s hot”. Tuesday the 17th, I logged into my website and finished two drafted posts from JUNE 2016, and said to myself, “I’m bout to do this!” The next day, I got some gut-punching news about an opportunity I was sure was mine. After I picked up my face and the pieces of my heart over Wednesday and Thursday, I was sitting on the couch Friday night, getting ready to get LIT. And by lit I mean, wait til 11 for Golden Girls to come on Hallmark. And I just decided right then to share my space with the people. I made an Instagram post and directed people to my other IG page (that I’ve had since 2015) and my website. I posted it on Twitter and Tumblr. And THEN I decided to write “in-#NAH-guration.” It all happened so fast. And now here I am. It feels… I don’t have the words for how it feels. Affirming. Relieving. Invigorating. Empowering.

Enter the other conversation that I had yesterday. I was talking to a dear friend of mine about both of our projects. And he mentioned how part of the process is trusting in our voice. And I got chills! That’s it.

One major hump that I had to get over is the lie that maybe there isn’t room for me. I mean, there are so many writers and bloggers and creators… maybe I missed my window. Maybe it’s not for me.

Fear will really be in your head trying to talk you out of your dreams! Like, the GALL of that WAYNCH. I realized two truths that freed me from that web of deceit she (my perception of fear is definitely an ashy skank with a fan ponytail) tried to weave for me to sit in:

  1. People need my voice. People need my light. Can’t nobody do what I do, how I do it. God would not have planted this desire in my heart if there wasn’t a need for it.
  2. I will never be “ready.” If I wait til everything is together and polished and perfect, I will wait for the rest of my life. It is my responsibility to trust in my process. After all, my blog, my brand, my space is about blooming. Evolving. Growing. It’s in the name. It’s not ‘Jazmine has bloomed.’ I am blooming until I wither away. God’s work in me will not be complete until He comes back. So, I’m playing myself, to be convinced that I can’t give the people something until I’m all the way together. What does that even mean? Girl…

So, as I am finding my lane and finding my voice, I am also consoled by the fact that I am complete, but not finished. I am enough right now in this moment. I am whole as this current, size 16/18 version of myself. I am a MASTERPIECE, right now. And I am YET a work in progress. I’m blooming.

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