24.Sep – { Guest Blog: “Profiling” by Shaniqua }

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I am not racist in any way shape or form. But racism does exist and my eyes were opened yesterday when an incident occurred in a hair store. I walked into the hair store which I visit frequently. Normally I do not receive a greeting, but I just ignored it and didn’t pay much attention to it. The gentlemen looked at me as I walked around the store. I went to the wigs section and proceeded to try one on. He then told me I could not try on a wig unless I bought it. I said okay and handed him back the wig. I walked around the store and he followed me to every section I went to. Approximately five minutes after following me he then told me to get out. Shocked I asked why. He then told me again to get out. I then again asked why and proceeded to state that there is no reason to kick me out. After going back and forth with him for about another five minutes I left the store. As I walked out the store it hit me. I had been racially profiled and kicked out of a store because of the color of my skin. I have been in the store several times and each time he followed me. When people of other races enter the store they are not followed at all. And I have also been in the store as other people who are not African American tried on wigs and were not told to take them off.  As this very fact hit me, it nearly brought tears to my eyes. Anyone who knows me know that I am a pretty strong person but this is a tough pill to swallow. To know that you are not treated with decency and respect because of the color of your skin is very disheartening. As I left the establishment and came back home I sat and thought. I’m upset because I got kicked out of a store but what about my ancestors that were brutally beaten and killed? What about during the civil rights movement when my ancestors were tear gased and beaten? Instantly I erased my hurt and turned it into strength. I realized that I have no control over how others treat me, but I only have control of how I react to it. This man and NO ONE will ever break me down like that again. I am aware that I will be treated like this again at some point in my life but I will not let it affect me negatively. It will strengthen me and build me up. I will continue to prosper and grow despite what racism throws at me. I wanted to post this to inform you. Racism does exist. Do not stay blinded and think that everyone has good intentions because they don’t. Be informed and be careful. Do not let how others treat you tear you down. Let it strengthen you and help you grow and prosper into the person you are meant to be.

Peace and Blessings,

Shaniqua

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23.Sep – { Wondaland’s EEPHUS Blessing and the Reign of the Electric Lady }

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Janelle Monae is better than you.  I felt the need to start this post with making sure you knew that.  And that’s not subjective, that’s just fact.

I was blessed with the chance to go see Wondaland during their EEPHUS tour – I caught the Portland leg (thanks Mia).  Friends knowing people that manage Janelle kind of gets you out of long lines and into VIP with the quickness – and trust me when I tell you that was a blessing because I got off of work and hit the road for a 3 hour drive south to go have my soul fed…and bruh, they brought a buffet.

So I’m sitting in the VIP section and le drink is flowing and the DJ is killing it, playing everything from Electric Relaxation by TCQ to Fetty Wap yodeling “1738” – the energy in the crowd was amazing.  Then it happened, the lights went down and a group of people came on the stage.  We all started screaming and then we heard someone destroying a guitar, this person was none other than Roman GianArthur – they opened the show with a PRINCE cover and everyone in the venue was given an extra-life like we were on Super Mario Bros or something.  During this concert Janelle showcased her band of talent:

  • Roman GianArthur: I truly believe this humble young man was born out of era, but we thank music-jesus that he’s here with us.  His set made me feel like i was a former share-cropper in a juke-joint sippin moonshine that Ezel made from beyond the creek.

 

  • Deep Cotton: Is lovely rock with eccentric soul ..they had me completely charged with their presence and I’m looking forward to their album…

 

  • St. Beauty: These 2 are so gifted – the neo-soul vibe exuded them, but it wasn’t the typical neo sound…very free flowing and chill…i felt like i should have been sipping some malbec while listening to them… “we aint goin nowhere!” (love that song)

  • Jidenna:  DO I REALLY NEED TO SAY ANYTHING ABOUT THIS LANKY LIGHT-SKINNEDED HOMIE? The message in his music and his presence just makes people happy…love this dude!  He destroyed the concert…

This cast of superheroes is the hottest thing going right now…period.

I want to take a minute to talk about how Wondaland came to Portland and hit the streets and rallied against police brutality and the murder of blacks in America – THEN put on a FREE concert.  That’s right, the EEPHUS tour was a FREE tour…they just filled the venues to capacity and only turned away those that wouldn’t fit in safely.  So…Janelle got her squad together, toured the US for free and also used their platform to speak against social injustice? JANELLE MONAE is better than BEY, she better than RiRi and if you don’t agree then you can shut up and get off of my blog…right nah.

This woman came out wearing her usual black and white, with an outfit that covered everything to her neck, and with grace, she destroyed her set.  My favorite part about the concert was while Deep Cotton was performing a song featuring Jidenna, from the angle I was sitting – I could see Janelle backstage, she walked right to the curtain and stood there with the biggest smile on her face, purely enjoying her artists do what they love.  True artistry.  That evening I became a HUGE Janelle stan and I don’t care what anyone says about it.  I will continue to dance in the most carefree manner to “Electric Lady” in the mornings or when I’m feeling down.  The night ended with them performing what I believe is this generation’s “we shall overcome” – they performed “HELL YOU TALMBOUT” – that was singularly one of the most electrifying moments in my 35 years of living.  My sister and fellow Kennethology blogger, Sydney Charles called me after she attended the concert and tried to convey to me all of the emotion and excitement she had..i heard her, but didn’t really get it.  After attending myself – i get it.  And if you missed it…SORRY –  YOU SUCK…

*****IF YOU’VE NEVER HEARD “HELL YOU TALMBOUT” PLEASE WATCH******

 

1.Sep – { BLACKLIGHT: India Jackson – Photographer }

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(pictured above:  India Jackson)

Ken: Tell the readers a little about yourself.

India:  From Washington, DC and currently in Virginia Beach, VA. 28 years old.  Studied biology before receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Art + Design from Towson University (Towson,Maryland).  I paint and draw as a hobby and am passionate about the minimalist lifestyle.  Photography clients have included Christian Dior, overstock.com, Groupon, etc.  I also do makeup artistry for Christian Dior and Silver Immersion as well as freelance.   Moved around a lot growing up and was exposed to different cultures.   Oh, and I make some amazing authentic Korean kimchi.

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Ken:  What separates you from the average person that picks up a camera and calls themselves a photographer?

India:  I’ve heard that my “eye” or vision is different.  My first photography experience was sneaking pictures of my Dad (who hates being photographed) with my Grandma’s Polaroid in the early 90’s. I started my career as a beauty model and quickly revisited my passion for photography then picked up makeup artistry in college.  Having filled multiple positions that go into creating a photograph effects my attention to detail and interaction with my subjects and team. Because of my background, I love working with people who are not used to being in front of a camera or who think they are not photogenic.  Making them comfortable comes natural for me and I really got behind the camera as a way of making others feel confident about themselves.

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Ken:  What has been your pinnacle moment as a photographer?

India:  Wow it’s hard to pick just one, but a major moment was my first marketing job for Christian Dior.  I’ve always struggled with wanting to put myself out there but being too shy or modest to really share what I do.  To be requested by a brand with such a polished luxury image really was an honor and made me finally find the confidence I needed to further explore my creative personal work.

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Ken:  Tell us about the India Jackson brand.

India:  I don’t really think of myself as a brand.  When I first graduated from college I had taken advice from others and focused on how to brand, get business, and make money.  This was one of the most miserable and unhealthy times of my life.  In just a year of approaching things that way, I lost my passion and my work suffered.  While I am a small business owner and must work and retain clients to keep bills paid, I really try to forget that so that my actions are not motivated by money.  I just try to be true to myself and my supporters.  I find that my work is better and both my clients and I are happier when I focus on making awesome images instead of branding.  Visually I lean towards clean minimalist design, straight forward blog posts, creative yet clean images, and experimentation.  I also love to help others who are getting started. Keeping it simple works better for me.

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Ken:  Sometimes I hear photographer complain about the social media age, where everyone thinks they’re photographers just because they take a pic that they think is artistic in nature and put a couple of IG filters on it…( of this I’m guilty ) – – what are your thoughts on this?

India:  I think social media is amazing!  Really, It’s wonderful to have access to so many different kinds of people and cultures.  I love that more people are creating and I think it can be a therapeutic experience to make art when you are true to yourself.  The only issue I see with it is pretending to be something you are not.  As far as actual photographers who running a business worrying about Instagram enthusiast…. that’s just silly to me.   The energy spent worrying about that could be put into making their work better.  The only gripe I have is I think people shouldn’t do work for free.  It decreases the appreciation and value of your work as an enthusiast and the photography industry in general when so many people are willing to work for free. Even if you only charge $25 or exchange your time for a guaranteed magazine spread, it’s better than essentially saying photography isn’t worth paying for…. but then again I think musicians should charge for their music and I actually still pay for what’s in my iTunes.

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Ken:  Lastly, Anything else you want to let the readers know?  Doesn’t have to be photography related at all.

India:  Don’t let anyone keep you from you dreams and goals!  It’s so easy to give up after hearing a few “no’s”. When you make the decision to follow a path that isn’t the norm, there will be resistance and unfortunately it may even come from the people you love.  Please don’t let that keep you from your happiness and success!

Lastly, do you!  In the world of social media it’s easy to compare yourself to others but do know that looks can be deceiving.  What’s right for someone else may make you miserable!

Ken:  How can people contact you – what is your website and social media presence?

India:  www.indiajackson.com

I am also a social media addict with  instagram  snapchat and facebook being my favorites and can be reached via:

http://instagram.com/theindiajackson

http://www.facebook.com/theindiajackson

and @theindiajackson on most other social media.