“She’s Gotta Have It” – Review

Cover Art from Spike Lee’s “She’s Gotta Have It” Netflix Series

I started this Sunday Binge watching ‘she’s gotta have it” the original movie and the new Netflix series. I enjoyed its ingenious way it portrayed relationships, romance, budding into black womanhood & manhood. It did not try to hide any flaws of our inherit Bad behaviors but, laid them bare exposed to the audience. Each character suffered some form of emotional immaturity as well as misogyny and patriarchal beliefs.

Reflecting on that has me questioning my own dating history- communicating and honesty have been the downfall to all my past relationships. As well as cheating. I feel it connects back to the societal mindset the monogamy is the only acceptable relationship status, the proper way to love and be loved – I challenge that theory. I’ve lived it’s contradictions and have crossed paths with folk that prove its falsehood.

At a dinner party a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being in conversation with two of my black femme friends that both happen to be involved in polyamory/ open relationships. One is planning to marry her partner whom she’s been with for several years and the other has newly been introduced to polyamory through a partner who has a live in partner already. Both women shared their experiences and I shared my story of an open relationship gone wrong from a few years ago. My friend shared her own wisdom and gems she’s learned over the years- what works and what doesn’t. I’ll boil it down two main vital components: honesty and communication.

She explained there are “rules” boundaries that must be set at the onset with all partners. Her partner that she has been with the longest she stressed the importance of the strength of their communication- discussing everything so that nothing is left to question. If there is no doubt, in whatever capacity the relationship is, makes it so much easier to show up as our full selves in. Imagine for a moment airing everything out openly and being able to be in relation with no fear of the unknown lurking.

Also something that stood out most from the conversation was how she interacts with possible new partners, who either show interest in her or if she feels the vibe is mutual. Once that interest is established she explains that she is in an open relationship and would like to kick it or hang out and do something(taking sex off the table as the first interaction because it’s Not about the sex)- explicitly making it clear that she is not the girl that will be in a serious relationship with them – but that all other areas of relationship are open outside of that. With doing that she gives the person the opportunity to entertain that relation or leave if it doesn’t fit their needs.

From my experience and listening to the experience of others, polygamy is more about respecting folk’s autonomy and communicating properly,and less about that possessiveness that commonly shows up on monogamy. Yes, sex is apart of it- just not the myth that folk believe is All of it. “It’s that open door, that if something is to happen or happens it’s okay, not necessarily encouraging it but being accepting of whatever happens” (I may have not quoted my friend verbatim, but y’all get the premise of it).

“She’s gotta have it” failed to break that myth, instead it acted as kindling fueling it. Too many times did Nola, Greer, Jamie, Mars, and Opal deny each other mutual autonomy over bodies and beliefs.

Nola was honest about her partners but not boundaries, which is where problems in the storyline occurred from. She cherry picked what and when communication would happen which also added even more to those problems. I completely get, I understand the story it’s telling – relationships are messy and hard and most of the time we go in unprepared with the right tools to navigate them. At the same time I’m pained to see the myths of what polygamy is portrayed this way. I crave to see the stories of black women/ femmes in their full power of autonomy, I can guarantee drama and great storyline can still come from these.

It was also interesting to note that despite her relationships /friendships she desired to have children of her own one day – which could possibly require the audience to question the “normal” family/ community dynamic. She ends the movie saying that she is not a ‘one man type woman’, and I wonder what a black woman in an open relationship with a family would look like.

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BOLD Journey to Durham: lessons on Black Love & Healing for Liberation

This November I celebrate my one year anniversary of organizing with Just Resisting! (Just Resisting is a black and brown community organization that focuses on social justice issues- primarily on injustices involving the local Buffalo Police Department/ Strike Force.) As I celebrate this accomplishment, I sit with the experience of attending BOLD,Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity Amandla – Praxis. The combination of the timing of both events is not only emotional, but monumental.

For five days I had the privilege of being able to share space with beautiful black organizers and folks from all over this country. We endured twelve hours of intense somatic, embodied leadership training, political education and on the ground practice with the local organization, 10K for Durham. As I write this I’m still unpacking a wealth of emotions ranging from raw newness to frustration.

I was under the impression going into the training that I would be learning practices for my organizing and that some somatic would be practiced.( I still didn’t know or understand the premise of somatic and what it entailed beyond centering). I did not know the small exposure to somatic practice would affect me on the level that it did. As one of the co-director to JR said so perfectly “ it’s like constantly being ripped open layer by layer exposing yourself in your bare humanity” all while maintaining everyone’s dignity in the space- it was amazing. Each practice forced me to acknowledge pieces of my trauma that I tried to deny- things I had buried within myself, beliefs that I thought were long ago debunked.  I discovered the power in living in the truth of my story, living centered in purpose.

This painfully culminated during a practice on the fourth day, where we were instructed to write commitments that we would carry with us back home beyond this training.

My OG commitment went like:  “I am a commitment to being a source of love and strength in connection to myself, my children, and my community for our liberation.”  When I shared this with my team that I had been working with for the past week, they all responded that they had seen me doing that – the way I cared for Zaire and Kelila, in the way I talked about folks back home. I said without a thought “yea, but not myself.”

It was then when one of the lead facilitators that was on our team challenged me to cross everyone else out leaving myself, then try reading it aloud. I did, read it, and burst into tears. I was forced to face the truth that I did not know how to care for myself or felt I was worthy of that.

This triggered memories of my mother- her telling me that I am so strong and have endured much in this life, her trying to reaffirm my worth. I understood that to mean that strength was resource- something I could draw from, tap into in moments of weakness- not gift. Until then I believed that my purpose was to give of myself as a sacrifice for still having life in this body.

I was able to see the life that mattered in my children, in Jose, in Meech, in Aj, in my community- but not mine. I cried because I felt like that suicidal sixteen year old girl I once was all over  again, plagued with PTSD from being sexual abuse that left me feeling worthless. The memory of waking up the day after my first suicide attempt in a hospital room came to mind vividly. I remember thinking that I was not physically supposed to be there but, also knowing this must’ve meant that I still had a purpose to fulfill on this earth. Since that moment, I was willing to live as a martyr for that purpose once I found it.

I first thought that Zaire was the fulfillment of that purpose once I met him and nurtured him as such, the same with Kelila, the same with my organizing work.

As I poured the love and strength in me into them and my projects I felt the pressure of life closing in around me, I felt depleted. In that moment when I acknowledged that my life mattered, and despite my traumas I will always have worth, a shift occurred within me. I spoke my commitment again; tears flowed as I said the words firmly. I️ am a commitment to being a source of love and strength in connection to my own liberation.I strive to live in that commitment since then by honoring myself slowly in small ways. Reaffirming that I do have worth and being gentle with myself has become a daily practice.

I allow myself to feel deeper in my interactions with folks: the boundaries that are born from it and the relationships I challenge to feel deeper in. I feel the frustration in my social media feeds seeing how much of society has feed us bullshit that has shrunk us down and isolated us as black folks.

When we collectively acknowledge our trauma and pain that healing process can begin. The acceptance of how our stories shift and shape us is the source of our power.

I understand the fear to go deeper. It’s not always safe to engage deeply in all interactions- it requires a level of trust in a time in our history where so much distrust has breed between all relationships. It’s also scary to face what lies in wait below the surface- what memories have been denied to revisit, what stories do we tell ourselves daily that are not true- things that sit in our depth that must be sorted through, and unpacked to heal in our full  dignity.

This movement for Black Liberation exceeds breaking systems that were created to oppress us but, it’s for our collective healing as black folks. It is for the moments of freedom we are rarely granted to be extended.

This liberation is for the empowerment that we will always have our dignity- Despite what the society we live in feeds us through media influence and experiences. Connecting from that place of healing will create a people that I can only imagine our ancestors dreamed we would become.

Interview with Lindsey Taylor

Lindsey Taylor is a buffalo native that started Crown ENT back in 2007, and has since then developed and worked on large projects such as Ballin’ For a Cause, and most recently the Beau Fleuve Music and Arts Festival
We caught up with him to see how he feels about his personal growth, how he finds balance between it all, his views on leadership and more. 

M- Marielle ,LT- Lindsey Taylor 

M: How do you feel about your progress over the past decade? – from Balling for a Cause, Crown ENT, and most recently Beau Fleuve Music and Arts Festival. 

LT: I feel good because I was able to show growth over the past year.- that I am not one dimensional, to be able to host multidimensional events, to see how far we come, to be able to inspire young entrepreneurs and creators , to open doors for others and venues. I feel real happy with my growth.

M: Have you been able to fulfill the goals you set for yourself 10 years ? Are you where you projected yourself to be?

LT: Yes. When I started I wanted parties to be the stepping stone into doing a variety of events. I never wanted to be known and labeled as just the party promoter. Crown ENT. and parties were the foundation. I wrote goals down in notebooks – I still find some of them in old notebooks and then I would write an outline for how I wanted to execute it. I’ve been working on Beau Fleuve for two years now.

And I have made most of those, may have not hit it all the way, but to be able to see that can achieve the concept and that it is possible. 

M: did any of those goals change for you ? 

LT: things always change, I’ve wrote ideas down and went a different course with it completely. 
M: How do you focus between your projects and your personal life and family? 

LT: I’m still working on finding balance between life and projects and myself. This is currently my number one goal : to dedicate one day to my family with my phone off, just time to unplug. I’ve been burnt out physically, mentally. 

Constantly working makes your work go stale . 
Like when I took my daughter to Disney World for vacation I was watching how Disney operates: their team, their influence, how they were with guest. 

 

There was a time when something was wrong with our car and before we could go to ask for help someone was there taking care of it . 

M: wow. That leads well into my next question: What is your organizing/ planning process : do you focus more energy into work you team is doing, the work you do yourself, or strive to find balance between both ? 

LT: I’m working with distributing responsibilities to team members and building team members up so that they can be those representatives of myself. 
So that when problems occur people can go to them and they solve it instead of running me for everything. 
I wanted it to be that the answer my team member gives is the exact same thing I would say if asked.- so that if I Lindsey leave my event it would still run perfectly . 

M: How would you describe the impact you’ve had local art scene ? What lasting influence do you want to leave ? 

LT: I have always incorporated music in my events- from party promoting with Crown ENT and getting in contact with MCs and local musicians, balling for a cause I always incorporated music into that as well, I did cyphers for local rappers and over the years I’ve built relationships with a lot of artists. Now I want learn more about new artists and gain more lasting relationships. 
On last influence:

We want artists to be able to come to us and use our platform to benefit all of us, we want to be able to pioneer these ideas. With basketball people are looking it ( balling for a cause) all over the world – we get contacted from teams from Canada and Africa inquiring about it. We want to be the staple representative of this brand. 

M: what impact does your political views and association have in any of your projects? 

LT: I keep politics separate from events and projects. (I) show support in different ways. I don’t center or align with just one political party or candidate. We do have good relationships with some figures that have shown interest and been involved with some of our events. 

  
M: how do you deal with diversity? 

LT: diversity is one of my biggest things. I was born and raised in the city and attended school with people of all different backgrounds. I want to reach a diverse background of people – black, white, Asian, all people. I want to build relationships across all races. 

One of the big things with Beau Fleuve was to have as much diversity as possible, we had country, rock , hip hop, we could’ve easily just did a hip hop show, but I wanted diversity. 
In fact, this past year one of my friends invited me to a country concert and I had the best experience even though I only knew like two song, it was one of the best shows I’ve ever been to . 

M: What should people be on the look out from you ? Any upcoming projects that you can share with us ? 

LT: We are currently working on the Beau Fleuve Foundation to give back to youth arts, create scholarships and making Beau Fleuve into a Mega Festival 
M: That sounds Awesome ! Any closing statements, last words .. 

LT: Shout out to Rhonda to always being supportive, she’s great. It takes all of us coming together every aspect of media, promoters, artists and working together. Pulling together. 

Lady Entrepreneurs: Produced By Girls – Zine 1 (Review)

I was overly excited to read this Zine by looked at it alone. The classic black and white marble composition notebook cover felt nostalgic to adolescence: the way it would become decorated with amateur graffiti, magazine cut outs of favorite celebrities and teen heartthrobs glued onto the few empty spaces. Also, 3D Glasses were included to be used on certain pages! 

This zine featured 5 talented young women of color, that were pictured on the cover in the cut out form.  

Each page reflects the personality of the young woman it shared itself with in a magazine cut collage form. 

The first page featuring Megan Harris- model, artist, graphic designer and part owner of Beatnik Parlor Ice Cream , is covered in a variety of ice cream cones, palm trees and California vibes reflecting Megan’s hometown. Megan is pictured in the lower corner with thick coiled shoulder length hair looking directly into the camera. Megan’s story was deeply inspiring for myself personally with her being just two years older than myself. At 26 she has left her hometown in Sacramento to NYC to further her career. 

Her advice for to aspiring entrepreneurs was simplistic which made it seem even more achievable for myself and all who read. 
On the back of Megan’s page is a goals worksheet for the reader to list what goals they have for themselves and business! 

Annabel’s page is covered with a variety of foods as well as pictures of her food truck/ mobile kitchen. Anabel is pictured in the lower corner, a beautiful young girl smiling holding a toddler in her arms. 

One of the impressive things about Anabel is that age of eight years old she has already created a delicious diverse menu that feeds many in the DMV area. Her words echo the importance of seeing women and girl bosses, starting as young as herself, proving anything is possible. 

Alias Kadir’s page background is decorated with large frosted green grapes and light pastel colors. Alias is pictured in the corner with shoulder length curly hair looking away from the camera over her shoulder. This seventeen year old explains how she found comfort in music. Alias also included how she is looking for queer artist and artist of color’s work that she wants to share via her platform. This is also something near and dear to my heart, the inclusion of queer and all artist of color is needed, our work is truly unique and needs more visibility. 

Essence Hayes’ name is spelled out in bold red block letters. Across the back of her page is a city’s outline with building lit up a night sky . By her name and along the bottom of the page are some of her pins. Essence is pictured at the bottom of the page looking directly into the camera. Essence is a painter and jewelry maker that came up with Coloring Pins, a collection of pins that are inspired by black hair styles. Looking at these pins give a more nostalgic feelings as it showcases classic black hair styles as Bantu knots and braids. 

Essence describes her journey to get her business to where it is today. From her set backs and obstacles, Essence continued on pursing her vision and has no intentions of stopping now. 

The last lady entrepreneur in this issue is Eli. Using the 3D glasses given at the front of the zine you can see the overlapping red and blue clustered pictures of Eli come to life. Eli’s outlook on art medium and Philosophy was both refreshing and left me excited to see what she will accomplish artisticly. 

On the next page PBG has an important reminder that the reader can see with the 3D glasses. The last two pages are interactive for the readers encouraging the reader to bring their ideas to life.  

After reading this Zine I felt revitalize to continue the work that I’ve been doing : with writing, with organizing and modeling .

What was most inspirational about these young women is how at their age they have envisioned their dreams and brought them to life. To find out how they succeed and overcame their adversity, read this Zine ! 
Also show support to these wonderful women by following their social media accounts and their work. 

Their presence in their fields are needed, let’s make sure it can remain. 

 Reclaiming My Time 

I’m sitting with and processing emotions from interactions I’ve had over the past week. This has been forcing me to acknowledge my social conditioning : how I default in handling situations and the result that has on myself. 

I was raised heavily in Assimilation Culture and by Respectability Politics: that if I did mind my manners, speak properly, tamed my hair- then white people would not be an issue, and if they were, to avoid Any confrontation. I’ve never witnessed my parents prioritizing their blackness over whiteness. Without noticing, I began doing the same as I’ve gotten older- that is until recently. 

In the past year I’ve been spending more time in black and brown only spaces, spaces that center blackness and organizing with people of color collectives. In these spaces I’ve realized my conditioning and how it stems from systematic self preservation tactics pasted on generationally. Returning to work in a predominately white space has triggered how I see myself, my blackness in reference to how I handle whiteness. 

I didn’t realize the problem I had with prioritizing whiteness until fellow organizer and friend brought it to my attention in the wake of Charlottesville both in a conversation we had on it and later in an important piece on this topic.* 

I was telling her how I was avoiding going to places because I didn’t want to talk with white people about what had recently happened. She shifted the conversation and my view from avoidance to standing in myself and simultaneously refusing to talk about matters that made me uncomfortable. 
 

Friday I remembered her words after enduring a rant at work from a white man on Charlottesville, how it was staged, the manufacturing of a race war and how now isn’t the time to worry about race. Despite my attempts to end the conversation it didn’t stop until my boss intervened. I felt at the end of it exhausted from listening to him, exhausted from his entitlement to my time, and his ignorance of his privilege that has resulted in so much violence. 

As a black American woman, I felt insulted and triggered by his reduction of over 400 years of oppression and violence to singular moments of eruption of race relations when white supremacy feels threatened by our fight for liberation. 

I noticed in this moment how it felt to let my identity come second in an interaction that: 
1. Did not need to be had, 

2. Would not reflect negatively on my job performance, had I centered myself 

3. Would be more loving/ honoring to myself to center my identity.

White people have created and we’re raised in a society that has always put their ideas first, gave themselves room to be expressive without judgment which in turn resulted in them believing that they can encounter any interaction in that way. Where as black and brown people were not, we have always made space for whiteness. 

Now, however is optimal time to enact Auntie Maxine Waters words and Reclaim Our Time. 

I urge all my black, brown and all intersecting identities to stop, give yourself space and reclaim your time in the face of whiteness- supremacy and toxic masculinity. 
Stop yourself in interactions ask ‘ am I prioritizing self or whiteness?’ – if the latter, reclaim that time. 

To futher quote her words in the Just Resisting post “Are we actively in this moment, joining and working to build a world we want to live in? A world that centers us? Are we engaging in the work that prepares us for what we’re so obviously up against?” 

End that respectability/ assimilation mindset and reclaim your unapologetic blackness : in your interactions, in demanding our rights, justice and the continued fight for liberation. 
I’m still working on this – from my organizing to my own personal experiences and my hope is for you to do the same. 

*Please read the rest of  Just Resisting’s Post and if in the Buffalo area be sure to check out JR’s Political Education Kickoff!on the 21st! 

Salon Talk Podcast One Year Anniversary Celebration !!(Review)

Over 20,000 listeners, 46 episodes and many special guests later, (one of which is our very own Rhonda Lowe in episode 16!) the past year has been eventful for the ladies at the Salon Talk Podcast and definitely worthy of celebration! 

This one year anniversary podcast party took place at the 9th Ward at Babeville, a snug venue with exposed brick walls and intimate seating around a low platform stage. Dj Mr. Illmatic kept the party flow going before and over the course of the night’s show. 

Kicking off the celebratory live anniversary episode, Yolanda Smilez, comedian and past podcast guest, opened with a raunchy comedic set. Her set was engaging and hilarious take on her own sexuality, the audience’s , and her relationship with the podcast had everyone reeling in enthusiastic laughter. 

When Arica and Fee took the stage the energy was high and emotional as they both took turns recapping their first year together and the success it has amassed . They praised those who have been supportive of their growth and that played huge roles by honoring them with gifts and shout outs.

 

The Salon Talk Live podcast episode featured some the the podcast’s iconic conversations starters with the addition of audience engagement. They addressed popular culture topics like Insecure’s #TeamIssa and #TeamLawrence debate (#TeamIssa over here!) and theories on what will happen next on Power. 

The open conversation with the audience remained after special guest and musician Mickiee Moscoto took the stage from the the icebreaker question to the visuals of her an impromptu twerk lesson with Arica – which was a definite bonus! 

Salon Talk represents blackness in its fullness while highlighting the growth and success within the local black community here in Buffalo. Salon Talk’s one year anniversary is the celebration of black Womanhood: our life, beauty, and sexuality. 

I feel so privileged to have been apart of this celebration and look forward to listening to new episodes every Wednesday! 

‘Along The Edges’: An Artistic Wonderment of Black Femme Imagination 

Along Allen Street in a quant buffalo art space called Pine Apple co. is featuring the art instillation ‘Along The Edges’ by Obsidian Bellis, a local black femme artist currently on raise. 


“‘Along The Edges’ is predominantly inspired by the emotional labor of black femmes through adversity expressed with elements of mysticism and nature.” -Best described by the artist herself Obsidian. 


Obsidian’s artistic style can be described as a mixture of mythical creatures with strong influences of black Afro- American culture. Obsidian also highlighted that her work is inspired by thriftier trinkets and items she would see at her grandmothers house .


On August 4th, opening night of this exhibition, Obsidian featured the talents of Curtis Lovell vocal accompaniment to Ebony’s Burlesque performance that embodied all the elements of Obsidian’s pieces. Curtis Lovell’s original songs vocalized the imagination and Ebony’s hypnotic movements brought the fantasy of the night alive. 


The collision of still , dance, and vocal art entranced the audience to a silence, stopped and brought people in off the street to witness this magical performance. The celebration of black femmes creativity created a warm radiating energy that consumed the artists as well as everyone in that space. 

All the pieces featured and what remains , are currently up, but won’t be for long! 
‘Along the Edges’ instillation ends on August 27th! 
Stop in for the last weekend to experience the fleeting moments of this black girl magic instillation!