Monthly Archives: July 2017

Don’t Call Her a Side Chick: My Review of @SZA “CTRL”


The first time I heard “Ctrl” by SZA, I knew it was a classic. The hip hop undertones combined with her raspy vocals create an environment that many of us have thoroughly enjoyed.

Many people however, find this album and proclaim that it is a outcry against men and a statement that “men are trash” (see Dev’s: “Men Are Trash: True, False, Draw?“). In the words of Jill Scott “Well, if they had listened to the lyrics in the first place, they wouldn’t have any questions”. What I find today is that many people hear albums but don’t listen to the messages and stories that the artist tells. As a warning, I am very pro-SZA and this is a album review.


This album is so intricately interlaced with itself it’s amazing. What I gathered was that: “I can be everything you want and desire if you desire so. However, for some reason you still seek other women.” (Point 1). “Where is a man who wants to know all of me, the quirky and interesting side in this world of women that I differ from?”  “ I could be a lot of things but I’m me.” Before I go any further I want to jump to point 1. Did anyone else catch the reference in “Love Galore” to “The Weekend?” Ok. I wanna stop there because the song “The Weekend” is being heralded as the side chick anthem, when in actuality I never once got that vibe. That song continues the narrative of the album. “I am me and I’m in control of my decisions, regardless of how other people feel about them.” “People have so many bright ideas. (Point 2). When in actuality, you can observe but your opinion isn’t necessary.” Point 2 refers to the amazingly placed interlude which when you initially hear it, sounds random but fits into the narrative of the work. “Go Gina” immediately became my favorite with it’s Martin Lawrence with what I gathered to be Pam saying “Damn Gina, why don’t you just live a little and let me live”. The rest of the album flows very soothingly with the stand out “Wavy (Interlude) Feat. James Fauntleroy” and the amazingly worded “Normal Girl.” It’s the perfect album for us “20 Something’s” out there just living life and finding our own way forward. I applaud SZA for crafting this album and can’t wait to see her live.

I typically tell people to listen to a few tracks outside of the normally discussed ones and ask for feedback to open up listeners to the rest of the album. Let me know what you think: Tweet me at @b_rockz_

 #DefinitelyDownload:

1. Doves In the Wind Feat. Kendrick Lamar

2. Go Gina

3. Normal Girl

Meet Paula Bland, Owner of The Love of People Hair & Skin Care Brand!

I had the pleasure of meeting Paula Bland at the Rizos On The Road event back in May. She was this fabulous lady, with long flowing braids and gorgeous dewy skin.  I went over to her table and introduced myself. She began to tell me about her hair and skin care company “The Love of People,” in that moment I knew I had to feature her on this website! 

As I listened to her speak, I quickly realized Paula was more than just an advocate for natural hair, but more of a person that wants everyone to see the true beauty within themselves. As if speaking with her was not amazing within itself, I left Paula’s table with a bag of goodies as well. I could not wait to get home and try them. I instantly fell in love with the TLP “Whip It” Skin and Hair Butter. Not only does it moisturize and hydrate your skin but it beautifully coats and nourishes your hair also. Plus it smells simply divine!


*TLP “Whip It” Hair and Skin Butter

I recently got a chance to catch up with Paula Bland to discuss all things The Love Of People. After doing this interview with Paula I learned there is so much more to her than meets the eye (which is already pretty awesome btw). She is not only the owner of a natural hair company, but a woman that intends on using her brand for activism all around the world. Be sure to read this inspirational and incredible interview with Paula below. Enjoy! 

DM: I know The Love of People (TLP) was created right before the natural-hair movement, what made you want to start a natural hair care line?

PB: I had just finished my degree in Biology and Chemistry after Hurricane Katrina and a rigorous 18-month long accelerated Nursing program; I had made a conscious choice to go natural while in my Nursing program. During this time, I always say that, “I lived under a rock.” *laughs* With the knowledge that I received with these multiple degrees under my belt, I was determined to live a more holistic life to decrease health comorbidities for myself and my family and friends around me. Other than going natural, cutting out certain foods was also a focus of mine at that time. When I decided to take my hair out of braids and truly experience it in a free and natural state, there was nothing out there to tame what I had growing from my scalp and that is how TLP came to be. Bettering others lives and not just being another product in the cabinet became our focus as a brand.

DM: What inspired the name of the company?

PB: The Love of People derived initially from the initials, T.L.P. which stand for my sisters and myself, Tara, Liza, and Paula, in that order. Shortly after I started on my natural journey, my two older sisters followed. None of us had ever seen our hair without some type of processing added to it. When we “Big Chopped” and really got to experience our hair we saw so many different curl patterns and textures in each of our heads! My oldest sister would say, “We have all people right here.” So, from our initials and that concept, The Love of People was born.

DM: I love that! Let’s discuss your natural hair journey a little more. Besides the choice to live a more holistic lifestyle, what else would you say influenced you to embrace your natural hair?

PB: I was influenced to start my natural hair journey to truly see what God gave me and to embrace my natural state. I was newly married and I wanted to share my true self with my husband and the world. I wanted to know how I looked with my God given texture and I wanted to see if it was truly all that bad, which wasn’t the case.

DM: As black women it’s so important to openly accept ourselves and appreciate our hair, especially since society constantly tells us that we shouldn’t. Why is it so important for black women to embrace their natural hair?

PB: Embracing your natural hair is so much more than just that. It is hopefully a shift in our consciousness. The natural hair movement to me is to embrace the differences that society has tried to deem as negative and ugly and take those things back. To start to see our uniqueness as beautiful again, from our crowns, to our big lips, to our hips and butts. Every inch of us is beautiful! The quicker we see that the quicker we become more comfortable in our skin and move on to more pressing issues like world hunger and equal education.


DM: I hear that! One thing I love about The Love of People brand is its’ emphasis on being hollistic and natural, how important was it to create a product that reflected that?

PB: The Love of People knows that what you put on your body is as important as what you put in your body. Your body still has to filter all the things that we apply to the outside of our bodies as it would what you ingest. That in itself is a big deal to TLP! Your skin is the biggest organ on your body and we put it through so much on a daily bases. From air pollutants, to water toxins, to product toxins, and on and on. It is no question to why we have so many health issues that plague us. Holistic management of self is something that TLP would love for everyone to embrace and take very seriously.

DM: What impact would you like TLP to have on the natural-hair community?

PB: The Love of People is so much more than a natural hair product line. It is a brand that truly has the consumer at the heart of production. Placing the consumer at the driver seat of what products are made is what TLP strives to do. The Love of People takes our research and the consumers needs into each and every formulation to make products that truly service your needs. 

DM: What advice would give to naturalistas about caring for and maintaining their hair?

PB: Firstly, you should always have 2-3 product lines in your arsenal. Your hair gets used to the coating mechanisms in products and they can cause the hair to appear dull. Secondly, you also need to switch products because your hair needs certain things based on the season, climate, hormonal shifts, etc. Thirdly, you should always use a product for at least a month before making a decision on whether or not you like it. Last did bit, always clarify your hair before switching between brands, this will stop your hair from rejecting a product, i.e. it will stop/decrease product balls/flakes. 

DM: Noted! What would you tell anyone contemplating on “going natural?”

PB: Do it, it is totally worth it! Most naturals that make the change for the right reasons also make a conscious shift that is usually a positive change and it reflects in all aspects of their lives. From what they eat and drink to the people and things that they allow in their space. 

DM: What can we expect next from The Love of People brand?

PB: The Love of People, like I said earlier is more than a brand of products. TLP will become a household product but it will also become a brand that professionals use in their shops. TLP is enjoying it’s organic growth right now but plans about future products and collaborations are in the works so just continue to follow us throughout this journey.

* To purchase products and learn more about The Love of People brand and Paula Bland visit: theloveofpeople.com and be sure to follow the TLP instagram for tutorials, giveaways, and more!

Xo,

DEV X THE MIAMI CHRONICLES.


To mark the commence of Summer my cousins (more like my sisters) and I took a much needed Memorial Day Weekend getaway to Miami. To say our vacation was fabulous is an understatement. It was a time filled with cocktails, exploring, and delicious food.

When I think about Miami, the words bright and bold come to mind. So I made sure everything I wore from my makeup to my wardrobe reflected that. For the very first time I tried an extremely vibrant lippie, (seen in the photos below) that I fell in love with by the way.  I even my sported a vivacious hue on my nails.

My cousin’s and I stayed at The Confidante Hotel, which was so breathtakingly beautiful for the first couple hours upon arrival we just relaxed poolside with cocktails because we just had to take in all of the ambiance. The staff was super friendly and helpful as well.

We went to all of the must-go Miami places like Sugar Factory, explored Ocean Drive, and shopped until we dropped at Lincoln Road Mall.

I’d have to say my Miami vacation was all kinds of amazing, and I can’t wait to go back. Below are some of my snapshots from my vacation. I hope you enjoy them.







Have you ever traveled to Miami?! If so, tell me all about it in the comments. I would love to hear about your experience!

Style Details: 
Look 1: Top x Forver21; Skirt x Forever21 (old); Sunnies x Fendi; Earrings x Hive&Honey; Purse x Michael Kors; Sandals x Enzo Angiolini 

Look 2: Cover-Up x Forever21; Swimsuit x ASOS (old); Sunnies x Fendi; Necklace x Jean Therapy; Earrings x UO; Cat Ears x Forever21

Look 3: Bodysuit x Forever21; Denim x Vintage; Heels x Francesca’s Collections; Body Chain x Go Jane; Cuff x House of Harlow

To see more of my many adventures be sure to follow my instagram: @devandthecity !

Xo,

Pet Peeves, Grrr…


Photo | Dave Cappenter Sketches

Do you all have any pet peeves? Well I do. I hate when you are in the drive thru, there is always someone ahead who does not know what they want to order. They ask all kind of questions and make the line snake around the building. You should know what you want when you go to the drive through. Um let me see they sell fries, hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, salad, ice cream, sundaes etc. It’s not like you’re getting all dressed up to go to the drive thru and order a leg of lamb, scallop potatoes and vegetables. Hell, I wear my jammies sometimes (well most of the time) but I do know what I am going to order when I go. Another peeve of mine is after they have held the line up for six hours (well not really, but it feels like six hours) they fumble in their wallet or purse trying to find their money. I mean they give you your total after you f-i-n-a-l-l-y order. I have a message for you guys, stay home and cook something, please. 

Have you ever went to the store to pick up something and the person in front of you is holding up the line trying to decipher through her millions of coupons (well not really but it seemed like a million). I am tempted to get out of line, but I’m next and the other lines are overflowing down the aisle. After arguing with the cashier because some of the coupons had expired, the customer is finished. I watch as the cashier licks her fingers because the paper money keeps sticking. I look at my items, bread, cold cuts, my sugar free cookies. Uh oh, another pet peeve, cashiers who lick their fingers and touch my groceries. I grab my stuff and stand in the long line at self check out. 

I am at the mall, I go to grab a snack at the food court. I find a nice seat in the back, I am relaxing enjoying my food, when a lady with five kids sits behind me. They kick my chair threw food at each other, fought each other, ran around the table. Meanwhile, the mom, said nothing to them, or me. I got up and moved to the front so I could eat in peace. Another pet peeve? People who let their children run wild and don’t do anything about it. 

I have a lot of pet peeves. When people walk right in front of your m-o-v-i-n-g car. When you’re ready to check out at Walmart and the lines are snaking in the aisles because they only have three checkout lanes open. When you are in electronics and the person working in electronics tells you he can’t help you because he knows nothing about “electronics”. When you are sitting quietly in the mall reading, waiting for your daughters to finish and a chatterbox sits next to you and starts talking, interrupting your solitude.

 I know I shouldn’t let these little things get to me, and I am working on it. It’s important to remember just because something is small doesn’t mean you don’t have to overlook it. Talking about even the smallest things that annoys you helps you to feel better. It is so good good to have people to vent to, yes even about my pet peeves. Which brings me to another pet peeve…me discussing all of my pet peeves. You know what I’m done. I’m officially signing off now. 

Until next time, 

Bottoms Up!!!!!!!!!

Men…Get Baby Fever?!


*my handsome Godson Eliot and I. 

I have known for a long time that I didn’t want kids…and then I met Eliot. On August 4th my big man makes 1. He is my godson and I couldn’t be happier that he ran his way into my life. I’ll never forget the first time I met him. I served in the navy with his mom (an amazing friend of mine named Janae) and grew to love her ideal husband Sean (this man is beyond supportive and a great dad). A few months back I asked them to make the 8hr journey to come visit me. I said show up and I’ll take care of the rest. When they arrived, they just put him down and he ran to me. It was an experience I can barely put into words. 


*myself and Eliot’s parents, Janae & Sean.

I am a strong believer that people should not have children before they are financially, emotionally and professionally ready to. I also, now consider the validation a child can bring into your life and I am slightly more lenient when discussing parenthood with people. If nothing else, the one thing I learned from my week with Eliot is that you are almost never READY to have a baby. I wanted to talk about this because it was such an experience to see how people reacted to me having Eliot with me as I did my normal taskings.

 I live alone and do a lot of home repair and contract work so as I would go to different stores to make groceries (real New Orleans right? lol), or buy supplies people would always comment on how nice it is to see a black man with his son. I started to consider if it was the stigma that black men do not spend time with their children in this day and age, or if it was because of the age of the child. As I considered it more and more, I can notably count the increased number of times I will see a mother alone with younger children engaging in daily errands in comparison to fathers. This is not to make an assumption on the action of the fathers but just an observation.

 I noticed a lot, me and Eliot both have a pair of Croc’s and it’s interesting to me how a man wearing crocs is only adorable when his (god)son has a matching pair. You find yourself realizing you have skills that you wouldn’t instinctively think a man would have. Changing my first diaper was a breeze and every one after that was too, even the really messy ones. Another example is making a bottle at a restaurant and feeding him while trying to eat my own food. Enfamil is…amazingly convenient and nothing short of the devil at the same time (it smells HORRIBLE). I have learned to multitask unlike any other and now that he’s gone, I miss having to do the stuff I’d have to do to keep him entertained. It’s an amazingly fulfilling experience.

 I’ll end with this, I was in Lowe’s holding Eliot and he kept saying “say ahhhh” so I did it as a sales associate walked up. I turned my head for one second, and Eliot plants a fist full of spit in my mouth. He thought it was hilarious and I, disgusted, couldn’t do anything but laugh at his little smile. This is what I meant when I said it was an experience.

P.S. Make sure you keep a cold pack handy. Moms don’t take sick days, and (God)Dads don’t either!

A Moment of New Yorkness.

*Dev and I somewhere in Brooklyn. 

On the morning flight, I had my new life figured out. I was going to become the next best thing New York had seen. The city would fall in love with my vibrant personality and acknowledge my talents. A revolving door of opportunity would present itself as I audition for various shows. I would be a standout because I would be myself. I can do the work; I needed the chance. Then, the plane landed. 

Upon arrival, an ocean of bodies surrounded me filling any pocket of personal space. With a stuffed green, military duffle bag strapped on my back and black backpack hanging in my right hand, I headed to the taxi station.

After a several minutes wait, a driver of African descent pulled up to the curb.

“Where you going?” The driver asked with a strong West African accent.

“125th and Lenox’ I replied with confidence which hopefully conveyed to the driver that I was a native. Truthfully, I only knew three locations in NYC by memory: 125th and Lenox ave., 116th and Park, and Sadri’s, a famous restaurant where Broadway actors would attend.

 A car ride that should’ve taken thirty minutes lasted for an hour. Eventually, the driver admitted that I was his first client in America. Overall, I was on 125th and Lenox and lost. The restaurant I wanted to attend was close for renovations and since it was around 11:15am other places were still closed. So, I walked.

 After four blocks, I decided to catch a taxi to the Upper West Side and found an eatery on 86th. It was a breezy day with a kind sun; Therefore, I sat outside. Everything on the menu was free of something, (gluten, diary, soy, sugar.) I decided to order two items an eatery can never mess up, water with lemon and grilled chicken with vegetables.

 As I waited for my food, I took a big breath. From there, I noticed the beige apartment building across the street with fire escapes that zig-zag along the side. Then, the various shops among the street covered by construction happening above. The soundtrack were car horns, various conversations, and ambulance sirens. I was overwhelmed.

 I landed in a city where survival was daily life and anything above that was considered glamorous. Stress seemed to be spiritual breakfast. People walking oblivious to one another. Concrete overpopulated grass.

To give myself some time to grasp this urban ecosystem, I canceled any auditions I planned for the next few days. I was at an awkward place. I didn’t want to go home; but I wasn’t ready for New York.

“Chicken with vegetables!” the petite waitress said as she placed my food on the table. “Heading to the airport?” she asked.

“No, just landed a few hours ago. I moved here.”

 Suddenly, a bolt of energy shifted her mundane personality into excitement. “ YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE IT HERE!” I politely smirked.

As I ate my food, her words resonated. Then, my outside smirk became an inner smile. Suddenly, the ten year old version of myself who proclaimed that he would move to New York City possessed me. My cynicism was tucked away.

Through it all, I was living my dream.

Understanding The Importance of Breaking Down


Photo | shutterstock.com

Do you know how hard it is to complain about your problems when people feel like you have everything? Well I’ll tell if you don’t, it feels horrible. People constantly dismissing you, because they think you’re being overly-dramatic, or listening to what you say but not actually hearing you. Truthfully, it’s disheartening and it sucks.

I’ve always been one to that know life isn’t perfect nor will it ever be. Life is riddled with various emotions, some great and some not so great. I’ve often found myself not really speaking on my problems, and handling them with a well that’s life attitude. Something that has affected me for more that I care to admit to. Unfortunately, Black women are taught to dismiss our problems, because we are strong and there is nothing we won’t be able to get through; but that dismissal can lead to depression and anxiety. Two things that black women often silently struggle with.

Recently, I’ve had to come with terms that I’m at at this crossroads in my life. I’m at the phase of life when you either risk it all to gain everything or keep what you’re doing and gain nothing. I’m used to having a plan, but for the first time I don’t have one, and there is no back-up plan either. 

I would be lying if I said these recent decisions haven’t caused me some anxiety-filled days and nights. I’m sure i’m experiening what a breakdown feels like. I’ve been having a lot of conversations with myself, with God, with God and myself. A lot of pacing back and forth, and forcing myself to be at ease. It hasn’t been easy at all. 

This space I’m in has come with a range of emotions, and for the first time I can not just dismiss them of overlook them. I’ve had to learn how to adequately process this uncomfortableness that I’m feeling.

I have to keep reminding myself I’m entitled to expressing this uncomfortableness that I’m feeling. It doesn’t make me overly-dramatic it makes me human. It’s okay to feel like this sometimes, especially if you experiening the emotions that I am. Keeping everything bottled in just isn’t healthy. We all have problems and none are greater than the others. If they are affecting your emotional well-being you have the right to speak on them.

This life thing gets hard. Acknowledging that doesn’t make you ungrateful for all that you do have. I know that I am a highly blessed individual, but I still have my problems as well. We all do. No matter how big or small, problems are still problems. Life isn’t perfect, and it’s okay to admit that. 

Xo,

Men Are Trash: True, False, Or Draw?

Recently, there’s been a lot of conversation about men being, well, trash. So much so, that a #MenAreTrash hashtag has been formed on social media accompanied with brief details about some of the horrible experiences women have had with men or some of the things men have seen happen to women. Unfortunately, a lot of men have not taken this hashtag lightly, and have felt the need to respond in a rather obtuse manner.
Instead of using this as a learning tool, men have taken another opportunity to live up to the hashtag. Many of them have spitefully expressed most of these women deserved their experiences, quoting they should have been “smarter.” Some have even gone as far to retaliate with a #BlackWomenAreTrash hashtag, because you know only black women say #menaretrash *rolls eyes*. Mix that with black women always being everyone’s scapegoat, it made sense as a great response to the narrow minded men that were offended by the initial hashtag. Also further proving why men are trash. 

The #MenAreTrash tag was started by women to candidly discuss the experiences they had with men in order to ensure other women they weren’t alone in the struggle. It was intended to create a safe space for women who experiences are often invalidated. Something I appreciated as a woman; I’ve personally encountered men with tumultuous behavior and felt that I somehow was the cause of it. Seeing other women share their similar situations was comforting. 

Society places a large amount of pressure on women to stay silent about the trash behavior of men. We are expected to accept men’s bad behavior as the standard for how men behave. Hence sayings like “boys will be boys.” We are internalized to feel men are not behaving badly, they are simply just being their normal selves, and you being the woman should just adjust and learn to adequately deal with it. This tag was women saying “enough is enough,” and we are demanding change.

It’s no secret that most men still believe a woman’s sole purpose on this earth is to be subservient to them. Alot of them believe women have a place, and that we are not our own persons’. Men have been conditioned to feel our lives are solely based around fulfilling their needs. There isn’t a day that goes by where a tweet is floating around twitter expressing what a women can do to improve her odds of gathering the attention of men. From the way we conduct ourselves to how we dress to even how intelligent we are, men feel these are things they should have sole control over. This way of thinking is not only detrimental to a woman’s subconscious, but if we do not comply or conform to it, can ultimately lead to our deaths. 

Too often we read headlines about women rejecting the advances of men, and the men feeling so hurt by this, they harm or murder the woman. That is the outcome of what happens when we continue to normalize irrational heteronormative behavior of men. Society continuously brushes off women expressing how “cat-calling” or “being picked-up” is destructive to us. Women are told we should be flattered that we were deemed attractive enough to want to be “picked-up” in the first place. Nevermind the fact that most women align this type of behavior with trauma and not flattery. 

Men have being conditioned to see women as property, which greatly contributes to rape culture. Most men view being a sexual predator as no big deal, seeing that they are taught to be the conquerer in every situation. They do not view their unwanted advances as sexual assault, seeing that this patriarchal idea of heroism determines their masculinity level. As a result of this mentality, men feel no remorse for this traumatic behavior. Often leading to victim-blaming or slut-shaming. Teaching women that the cost of wearing certain clothing or behaving in certain manners is men being entitled to their bodies. 

This unfortunate behavior also determines the hierarchy of women. As a result of this patriarchal mentality, men are taught to perceive certain women as better than others. Women that assimilate to this social system are more protected and cherished. Meanwhile women who refute it are no longer viewed as feminine, and viewed as being equally masculine as men. This belief can also have deadly consequences for women. Take the situation of Sandra Bland, an educated black activist who often spoke her mind, because she did not comply with the white male officers who stopped her, they caused bodily harm to her leading to her death. They viewed her as masculine due to her immense knowledge and assertive response and physically handled her as if she was another man. Her story is just one of many like it, and once again those men felt little to no guilt about what happened because it all could have been avoided if she would have just stayed in her place

So how we change this behavior? Well, this hashtag is a great way to begin. It starts a much needed dialogue between men and women. Men can begin to see the faults in even slightly thinking this way and what can happen to women because of it. I’m sure some man, somewhere is reading this feeling “Well I don’t think like this, so I am not apart of the problem,” but that way of thinking is the problem. Just because your behavior is not as extreme as others, does not mean you are still not as problematic as they are. Have you shared your knowledge with other men? Have you called your friends out for even slightly engaging in this destructive manner? If the answer is no, then you too are just as harmful as the men who are trash. It’s time for men to start calling out their brethren for their deplorable behavior. Men will effectively hear other men and be able to get through to one another.

 I do believe we will begin to see a shift in men very soon. Women have grown to a place where they feel comfortable enough to express to men their wrongdoings and are holding men accountable for their damaging behavior. Like everything in life, this transition of our society will take some time. We have centuries of deprogrammimg to do, on both men and women. I have hope that as a people we can change. I look forward to the day when trash men are truly the minority, and men everywhere feel comfortable enough to call themselves a feminist. However, until that day comes women everywhere feel free to use the #MenAreTrash tag. We will stop using it once men give us a reason to stop. 

To the men who don’t get offended by the hashtag, because they know they aren’t trash, I want to say thank you. You guys get it, and are appreciated. Now please share that energy with your fellow man, our lives literally depend on it.

Well Until Next Time,

Meet Malena Crawford, Author of A Fistful of Honey

I met Malena Crawford at a book signing during the 2017 Essence Festival a few weeks ago, she stood out from the other authors that was there. She had this radiating glow about her, the kind someone has when you know they’re not only beautiful on the outside but have an amazing spirit as well. As we briefly got acquainted I could tell Malena was more than just an author but a true story-teller. One that God had chosen to tell a grand message. 

After reading her debut novel A Fistful of Honey, I can confirm I was right. This book tells the story of a woman that finds herself in turmoil, trying to gather a solution to escape it all, only to find that the real answer lies within her and the divine power she was born with.
Be sure to read my empowering interview with Malena below. Enjoy!
DM:  So I hear it’s your first time visiting the city of New Orleans, how are you liking the city thus far?

MF: I love New Orleans, it has a lot of heart! The people here have been so welcoming and of course the food is on point.

DM: Yes! There is no place with delicious food quite like ours! Let’s delve into your novel, which is AMAZING by the way, I know your main character Alena’s life is based on your real-life experiences tell me about that? 
MF: Thank you! Alena Ford is actually a play on my name, M-Alena Craw-Ford. She is an old part of myself that I released to become the woman I am today. Now, “A Fistful of Honey” is work of fiction, not all of her experiences mirror my own, but a great deal of them do. Or the experiences of women I have known. What Alena and Malena have in common without a doubt is the journey that the character takes from not knowing her place in life and feeling broken, to moving into purpose, forgiveness, and self-love! 

DM: Well you definitely expressed that journey throughout the book. One of the main reasons I was intrigued by your novel is the mysticism throughout it. It’s very similar to New Orleans mystic culture. Why did you feel it was important to include this component in your book? 

MF: It was important to me that women of color, black women especially, could themselves in God; to be validated as the image and likeness of the Divine. I found in my experience that we were largely missing from mainstream ideas of who God is and what holiness looks like. So having Osun, the Yoruba Goddess of Love, a black Mary Magdalene, and Isis as key characters was only natural for me. 

DM: I loved how you gave an authentic account of the Black Woman’s Experience by showcasing how powerful yet taxing it can be. How does your experience as a Black woman relate to the characters in the novel? 

MF: At the heart of A Fistful of Honey is the truth of black women: that we are powerful and divine. This truth was something I had to reconnect with in a major way, and it changed my life. It is a truth that Alena Ford has to reconnect with. She tried to find solace from racism and mainstream acceptance by denying her power and divinity as a black woman. She has to accept herself and get to her joy just like I had to. Not long before I began writing, I realized that in my experience as both black and woman, I was spending so much time in fighting and survival mode that it was distracting me from the joy of living. It was an “aha” moment for me. I made the choice to live the grandest life I can despite the onslaught of challenges and injustices hurled our way. We and only we define ourselves and create our lives.

 


DM: Wow, those are such powerful and true words! As a fellow storyteller I know we often learn a profound lesson about ourselves by sharing our art, what did you learn about yourself through this process? 
MF: Writing A Fistful of Honey has absolutely changed my life. I learned how to surrender and be led by God, this was the only way the story would be told through me. I learned that vulnerability is power. Vulnerability makes you a pliable and whole vessel for miracles. I cannot tell you how many readers have written in or come up to me sharing how this novel has changed their life. That has nothing to do with me and everything to do with God.

DM: I totally understand when you say that. I believe God is the storyteller and we are just the vessels that are used. Besides the idea of the Divine often shown throughout the book, what else would you say makes A Fistful of Honey different than any other fantasy fiction novel out right now?

MF: A Fistful of Honey is different because our protagonist is a black woman who is in her 30s and also a mother. This is something almost unheard of in fantasy fiction. Also, it’s what I would call “hybrid fantasy”. The story has fantastical elements, but it also has a rich and layered emotional story of literary fiction with a little dash of hot romance.

DM: What do you hope to bring as an author to the world of fiction novels?

MF: I want everyday women to see themselves in my stories and get inspired by them! I stand out as an author because I’m not afraid to be a pioneer or the underdog. I write characters that come from my life, fuse together genres, and pose non-traditional or even controversial ideas for a new and juicy experience.

DM: I definitely can concur with that. I was able to see my journey in this story. What can we expect from you next as an author? Will there be A Fistful of Honey novel series?

MF: You can definitely expect a sequel to A Fistful of Honey for sure! You may even see some nonfiction how-to books since I am so passionate about self-development and living our best life.

DM: That sounds great! I’ll be looking forward to it. 

*Malena Crawford currently resides in Washington, D. C. Besides being an author, she is a transformation coach and motivational speaker. She studied at George Washington University and holds a BA in Psychology and Neuropsychology. Malena is also the founder of the Black Divine Feminine Reawakened movement; a revolution dedicated to the way black women see and experience themselves. Her novel has received phenomenal reviews from renoun authors such as Iyanla Vazant, and has been featured in magazines like Blavity, Rolling Out, and Uptown.

*To learn more about Malena Crawford visit: www.malenacrawford.com and to purchase her novel A Fistful of Honey click here

Xo,

“Snowfall” Review: John Singleton’s Brillant Tale of the Crack-Cocaine Epidemia

This past Saturday I got a chance to attend a private screening of the new FX series Snowfall, created and executively produced by John Singleton. The show chronicles the life of character Franklin Saint, a naïve yet street smart African-American teen that finds himself wrapped up in the violent world of cocaine dealing.

I have to admit I went to the screening having a few reservations. I was worried the show would not tell an authentic truth of how the crack cocaine epidemic began or the severity of it. An epidemic that to this day has detrimental effects on the black community.

As I watched the series, I realized Snowfall was not just another show about impoverished black people and their stories. Rather it tells a relatable tale of people’s lives we think we know all about, but we rarely get to ever see.


*John Singleton discussing the show and it’s events. 

As viewers we often go into watching something with an already construed idea of what the series will be. So when I heard the ingredients for this show: black boy, crack cocaine, and Compton,  I had already made an assumption that this would be just another show that depicts us in a negative light. Oh how I was wrong.

In this show the protagonist Franklin, a young black teen that has all of the attributes to fall within a black show’s character stereotype is everything but that. There is a sense of innocence that the character possesses. He is intelligent enough to know this world is flawed, but still not wise enough to comprehend what he is truly getting himself into. Yes, he may be smart enough to grasp that this country is disproportionately structured for black teens like himself to fail, he still doesn’t understand the magnitude of what being a crack cocaine dealer will entail. I found that I once took away all the stigmas about young black teens, I was left with the idea that they are still teenagers. Teenagers make mistakes, and find themselves in faulty situations all of the time. Franklin is just that, a flawed teenager with hero syndrome who just happens to find himself in a highly faulty situation.

I left the screening with a new insight on how I viewed “stereotypical black shows.” Maybe if we stopped viewing them all as that and began to see them as great stories about individuals with flaws that happened to be one particular race, we would gain more of an appreciation for shows like Snowfall.

John Singleton did an excellent job of showcasing the characters as humans first, then expanding them and the many intersections of their lives second. I was able to empathize with a lot of the characters, being that a lot of them displayed characteristics of someone I’ve crossed paths with. I’m excited to see the direction in which he takes the show. I can promise you this, if the rest of the season is anything like the first episode then Singleton has perfected the recipe for the makings of a remarkable show.

*Snowfall premieres tonight for 10PM/9c on the FX Network.

Xo,