27.Jul – { InActivism For a Minute }

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I am not going to write about one of our Queens – Sandra.

There is much to be said.  There is much SO much to be said.

I have written about so many things regarding injustice over time, and not to take an iota away from Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Freddy Gray or the SC9 – but Sandra hit home in a different kind of way.  I’m talking 2 to 3 degrees of separation.  I’m talking…I am Sandra Bland.  I would’ve responded the same way she would’ve.  I could be dead.  This time last year I was in the same situation ( please reference “2 Cops and LT Heinz; Badge #698” ) and I could’ve very well died that night in San Diego.  This has brought about some sleepless nights, this have brought tears several times…and I’m just at a complete loss of everything.

My dear sister Sydney contacted me and told me I needed to get off of social media, take sometime off and do something fun.  So I did.  I became inactive in my activism and the temporary mental and emotional balance it has provided is monumental.  The funny thing is…even though I took a break from the innanets, it has not completely released me from my duties as the waker of the sleep.  People have sent me texts, people have called, and people have started conversations with me face-to-face.  They do this because they associate me with the cause of black progression, and justice regarding marginalized people groups; in this case, the blacks.  I guess I shouldn’t be annoyed by this, I mean i could be associate with a myriad of other things.  Soon, I’ll be back to researching, posting and educating others in the way of social justice and activism….but for now I’ll continue to listen to Janelle Monae and Jidenna and dance in my room like I’m in Step Up 9.

– Kenneth

20.July – { The Blacklight: Tanaé Briana – Artist }

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Meet Tanaé Briana, an artist that I met in the wonderful world of the innanets.  I saw some of her work online and decided to ask about her business, and how much it would cost to get some original work done around my mansion (and I use that word loosely).  She was very professional, and passionately knowledgeable about her craft.  So much so, that she compelled me to do a piece on her to showcase some of her artwork and to give you all the chance to support her business as well.  I asked her if I could do a short interview and she was more than willing…please enjoy!

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Located: Chicago
Relevant Background Info: 22 years old, been drawing for 2.5 years, specialize in portraits, color pencils are my favorite medium.
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K:  How long have you been doing this?
Tanaé:  I’ve been doing art for 2.5 years and selling it for about 2 years now.
K: Who are your inspirations / What is your inspiration?
Tanaé:  What inspires me to draw is simply people. I have a thing with faces. I’ve always been able to notice the small details in people’s features. And when I see a defined nose or big, round eyes or full lips, I have to draw it! Artists who inspired me to try color were Elle Wills, Heather Rooney, and Manasseh Johnson. 
K.  What made you go into the “business” of art?
Tanaé:  I’ve always been artistic and I’ve always been a hustler, even before I started drawing. I’m big on using my talents to make money. When I discovered that people really liked my work and I started getting requests for drawings, I knew that turning my art into my business would be a thing. Everyone ones to be able to make a living doing something they love. Art is a commission-based job, but it’s also something you can spend less than $50 on for materials and create something worth thousands.
K.  Tell us about your business and why people should come to you to get that work?
Tanaé:  I currently sell photo prints and canvas prints of my original work, as well as the originals. They’re all on sale at my website http://iamtanae.tictail.com. I also allow people to commission portrait drawings from me, which can range from $125-300 depending on the size and medium. Commissions can be requested by emailing tanaebrianab@gmail.com. People should come to me for work because I’m me! All of my clients and online supporters know me as a sweet but professional business woman who provides quality work for a fair price. I will always try my hardest to work with people. My art speaks for itself. Even if I’m incapable of doing what a client requests, I’ll recommend an artist who is more suited for the job. I always meet my deadline and I always get compliments on my exceptional work ethic.
K.  Any advice you can give aspiring artists/entreprenuers?
Tanaé:

1. Practice consistently. I know everyone says “practice makes perfect” about everything, but I promise it’s true when it comes to drawing. I used to get so discouraged with my drawings when I first started because I couldn’t get it to look realistic the way I wanted and I couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong. I didn’t start to improve until I drew every single day. 

2. Be patient. I mean, you can’t be impatient anyway when it comes to art because you’re only gonna end up frustrated and mad at yourself, but especially when it comes to drawing. Don’t expect to become the world’s best drawer in just a week. Just keep working at it and you’ll notice your work getting better and better.

3. Don’t compare yourself. You’re a beginner, you’re not gonna be as skilled as artists who have been doing it for years. You might learn as fast, you might take a little longer. Allow yourself to develop at your own pace. Don’t give up 🙂

4. Promote, promote, promote! You are your biggest fan. Don’t be concerned about annoying people by promoting yourself. That is how you get exposure. You can get creative with it by doing giveaways and contests on social media. Do whatever you can to get your name and your work out there!

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Work by Tanaé Briana

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14.July – { Sydney Charles – Untitled and Raw }

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( I get a call from Sydney at 4:33am PST…I missed it, and called her back – she say’s “I sent an email” ….and we got off of the phone.  Below is the email she sent.  Untitled and Raw – Kenneth )

Generally speaking, I am the comic relief of my circle, of this blog community, and have even created a bit of a following on social media as being the person who says the things you are afraid to say, but with just enough comical genius to get away with it without offending anyone…

However, today ‘s long overdue post will not be one dedicated to carefully constructed ideas of filled with my notorious lists of things that “Make my Weave Itch”. Today, I want to talk about something that most people are afraid to, especially, in the Black community, because you look weak (unless you put it in a R&B song). To talk about it, mention it, breathe about it indicates weakness. It causes people to spew out meaningless clichés that they do not realize you have memorized since the age of 5. I want to talk about true heartbreak.

Not the heartbreak that has you sitting on your couch in your pajamas eating ice cream and fried chicken, crying into a $3 bottle of wine, listening to Mary J. Blige (old Mary, not new Mary). I’m talking about the kind that tears out your soul. As I lie in bed at 5:45 on this Tuesday morning (actually crying as I write), asleep since 8pm (because I did not want to deal with the pain I have been experiencing for the last 3 or so weeks), I realized that heartbreak isn’t “heartbreak”. True heartbreak—the gut wrenching, soul stripping kind—is hopelessness. You have lost all hope.

You have lost hope in the one thing that everyone has told you to look forward to since you were a little girl in pigtails. What every Disney movie has conditioned you to wish upon a star for since you were 3. What every mom inadvertently teaches you with the phrases, “No ladies, don’t sit like that”, or “you’ll never get a man dressing like that”, or “why do you keep your hair short, men don’t like that”. We are systematically trained to want love, to be a wife, to have a family, and unfortunately, for people like me, when that doesn’t happen with the one person that you thought was made and meant for you, yes, your heart breaks, but more so, you lose all hope of ever having something like that of your own in this lifetime. You have lost hope in love and happiness. BUT JESUS IS YOUR…shut up.

Just like that, your fairy tale turns into a horrible nightmare. One you cannot escape. One that has every villain you have never been afraid of in your life all in the starring cast and you try to escape and you cannot. Instead, you just relive every single, horrible memory of the monster tearing you apart over and over again. No amount of wine or chocolate or meditation or medication can fix this. Time takes too long. Prayer seems futile. Every song hurts, even the ones with no words. You are too scared to die (just so you don’t have to feel), but you are even more terrified to live. This is the definition of a “Living Hell”. If you have never wondered where this phrase came from, I guarantee you, it came from a woman who has had her life completely snatched from under her and does not know what else to do. BUT THE LORD CAN PICK YOU UP AND…shut up.

To my Christian friends, the ones who will surely read this post and quote Jeremiah 29:11 or I Peter 5:10 or Isaiah 53:10 or Psalm 37:4…with all due respect. Save it. Keep it. Miss me with it. NO! We don’t want to hear it. No one who has experienced this level of agony wants to hear it. Honestly, because we don’t believe it or you. Of course you can say that with your house, car, kids, and well-paying jobs, now that you are out of your wilderness. Do something to convince us otherwise. Show us scientific data that shows that women who have had their heart ripped out and thrown in the dirt repeatedly by different men, had 3 miscarriages (by the same man), sickness, being broke, etc,etc, show their survival rate. I DIDN’T LIKE HIM ANYWAY HE WASN’T…SHUT UP.

I want to see the empirical evidence that shows how these women have survived without Xanax or Valium. I’m almost certain it wasn’t yoga. Do not insult our intelligence with Oprah quotes, Deepak Chopra ramblings, Dr. Oz teas and Bible verses about how to get “over it” and “Hold on”. That DOES NOT work…shut up.

What does work? I don’t know. I have been trying to figure this out for at least 14 years. People tell me all the time “Hey, you’re a good girl, why are you single?”, “Hey, you’re a good woman, why would he do that to you?” “Oh, don’t worry, the next one.” “God’s getting him ready for you.” For you, I place up on you the shadiest of side eye I can create with these two eyes, I WISH I had four eyes so more shade could be placed upon your inquisitive ass. WE DON’T KNOW WHY. WE DON’T KNOW…shut the hell up.

Don’t ask us how we’re doing. “I feel like shit, that’s how I’m doing”. Don’t ask us if we need anything, “I need a baby to hold and love, that’s what I need, oh and a husband is optional”. Don’t ask us if we want to go out, “With you and your BOYFRIEND? GTFOH and my face. Be reasonable”. Leave us alone…and shut up.

It is not the picture creatively manufactured to fit into 22 minutes of sitcom on “Being Mary Jane”. It is not the staring out of the window while is it raining and through the artistically non-brilliant close-up shot where you view the tears blend ever so delicately in with the rain. It is HOPELESSNESS. You’re just out of hope. You have nothing to look forward to at this point. You wake up to go to work and your only joy is getting through the work day to crawl back in to bed, to cry yourself to sleep from the energy exerted to keep on a happy face at work, so know one would ask you “what’s wrong”, deliciously sandwiched with the pain of knowing you have lost the one person you have EVER truly unconditionally loved in your life. That my friend’s is heartbreak—that is hopelessness.

They are – in fact – synonymous at this level of ache. I hope you weren’t reading this for an answer, I don’t have one.

Until next time,

Sydney Charles

13.July – { The Macabre Headspace of a Damaged Neurotic }

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This spillage is one of those much needed word vomits from my soul.

Often pushing narratives played out in my mind to the darkest end.  To multiple endings.  Typically the worst case scenario is mentally prepared and emotionally dealt with.  And people wonder why I’m “moody”…because I’m imagining the worst possible outcomes of various events that are currently being worked in my life.  And if I begin to allow myself to get lost in my emotions and over-the-top thoughts now…then, if that particular scenario plays out – I’m prepared.  Prepared enough to seemingly be unscathed by whatever comes my way.  It’s not that!  It’s that I’ve already cried, mourned,  and crushed the lumps in my throat.  This type of thinking comes from the little boy that resided in his headspace when uncertainty was the norm…when words from the adults rendered him numb.

You wonder where my cynicism comes from?  Finding it hard to actually believe that people love/like you.  Because people, are survivalists – by nature.  And will preserve self at almost any cost, even if that means you have to suffer some sort of loss in the wake of their preservation.  Examples being – I need to tear you down, to build myself up…I need to lie to you, in order to preserve my agenda.  I need to take what is yours because I don’t have it…and I “need” it.  Relationally speaking, my assumption that nothing I do is good, or good enough is reinforced by the self-preserving object.  I do something, feeling like this is good for them, or this will satisfy them, only to be taken for granted or seemingly not caring about you or what you’ve done.  This type of thinking comes from the little boy that resided in his headspace when no one was there for him as a little boy at very important milestones in his life – I understood this in the 2nd grade,

The need to stay in right relationship with people I care about actually stems from embracing death, and knowing that it could literally happen at any time.  So more often than not – I say what needs to be said when i feel it needs to be said.  No matter how uncomfortable it may seem.  Is it such a bad thought to actually feel you don’t have much time left and to live accordingly?  Hell, I’m 35 – these are not the thoughts of the geriatric, but of a pretty healthy young man with “years” ahead of him.  Nah – When I get in a car, I think “i might die in this car”…when I go to sleep I think “i might not wake up”.  Most of the time, I’m walking the scenario out to death.  Are these the last people that I’ll ever see?  Is this my last meal?  Helps me not take things or people for granted, but also to seemingly live care-free.  Care-free in the sense that I don’t care what you think about me.  Of course this only applies to those that have yet to penetrate the walls surrounding my heart.  If you’re already back there then you can dispense havoc all damn day on my neurotic-self – and I can do nothing about it.

All of this love that we fall in...only to be torn apart by circumstance or death one day…that’s romantically and parenthetically speaking.  Lends one to ask the question – “what is the freakin point?”

Oh well – I’ll continue to be moody, cynical, and apprehensive about relationships because there are too many people being fake as hell with themselves and others.  And if being a dark thinker is what brings me to these points of truths, then so be it.

– Kenneth

 

 

 

12.July – { Outdoor Afro: The Blacks are Behaving Strangely }

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My boy Drew sent me a link in my FB messenger – and said nothing about it the link…just sent a random link.

I clicked the link and discovered something glorious.  A site that orchestrates meetings of the blacks in wooded areas – and well outside of the context of Harriet Tubman’s endeavors.  For years I have joked about how blacks don’t hike, blacks don’t camp etc…and while the only absolute is that there are no absolutes…camping and hiking just really seemed like stuff white people did…the kind of white people that loves to eat granola and kiss their dogs in the mouth.  BUT THIS? – a site that showed pictures of genuinely happy blacks, outdoors, doing “things” – – i have to admit…I’m curious, and as of late I’ve had an itch for hiking.  Not so much camping, unless it’s in a cabin that has showers and WiFi.  Hell, I was homeless in real life, why the hell am I going to go live like that voluntarily, even if for a weekend?  (HAVE YOU SEENT MY HOUSE?)

This site helps organize nation-wide gatherings.  Give it a peep!

yay black people in wooded/forresty areas doing things!

Site:  OUTDOORAFRO.COM

– Kenneth

5.July – { Ken’s Honest Attempt at Fatherhood }

 

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It’s been awhile since I’ve written in this lane.  Doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been a crap-load of things to discuss regarding the rockheads (Josiah & Josh) – there just weren’t any moments that moved me to write, until the other day.

To those that don’t know…I currently work states away.  So my direct parenting has had to  take a different face.  That being said, I’ve missed an entire year of school, accomplishments, and points of maturation.  The other day I had the opportunity to see my son Josiah’s artwork…i was BLOWN AWAY! The best way I could describe it was abstract symmetry with splashes of Jean Michel Basquiat.  The people that were around me, didn’t understand my reference points…so I began to point out some pretty exacting points in Josiah’s work, then I brought up Basquiat’s work…the similarities were striking.  I mean the kid is eight! And he’s already a traveling dancer, pop-locking and breakdeancing throughout the west coast.  Has a natural flow for music, his comedic timing and wit is awesome and now this?  How does one properly parent him?  Now this is not to sell Josh short at all, because anything Josiah does, Josh emulates with his own twist…he’s just a couple of years behind JoJo.  I’ve already been in discussion at great length to get them in a school of performing arts – because this conventional education system makes my son feel dumb.  And if anyone has been around him, you’d know that is NOT the case.

Now as any proud father would do, I’m going to share some of his work, and the comparative pieces of Jean-Michel – and tell me what you think

– Growing Father

Jean Michel

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Josiah

He said this was inspired by Afrika.

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4.July – { Say Yes to Dope }

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**note: i used a pic of Zoe Kravitz, because its Zoe Kravitz…and although she’s nothing close to the main character, I’m exercising my right as blog-owner to post a picture of Zoe Kravitz, because it is indeed her; Zoe Kravitz**

I’ve seen this movie two times.  Just trying to figure out when I’ll make it out a third time.  It hit all of my movie wickets.  Although there weren’t any explosions, there was gunplay.  There was obvious and witty humor, a message on expression, allegoric meaning, good music, Zoe Kravitz, and a pretty good tempo.

My sister (Sydney Charles) once said that I put “New Jack” on everything.  People clown me, and people also love that I’ll show up to your function rocking a Karl Kani sweatshirt of the turquoise kind and not think anything was wrong with it – all of this because I never left the 90s.  The decade that i had all of my “coming of age” moments.  This movie touched that part of my De La Soul.

The monologue at the end gave me chills because it was so relatable.  I felt like I had a part in either making this movie, or it was inspired by yours truly, the illustrious Kenneth B.

If you haven’t seen this movie yet, I highly recommend that you do.  I give it 5 planets on a scale of 5 stars.  Can’t wait for it to come out on VHS.

– Kenneth.