Category Archives: Community Development

A Change is Gonna Come : A Movement Culture Callout

I feel deeply saddened and betrayed that things had to come to this , yet here we are .

I have always believed that silence is complicit to wrong doing . And for every time I shrunk myself in fear of being left behind , every time I plunged my teeth into my tongue and clenched my jaw , every time I became reactive – I made room for more harm (and I carry deep shame around this).

I will not be silent anymore.

There are people who Look like us that are Not fit to lead this Sacred Work. People who are well educated and versed in the ways of old capitalism and how white domination operates, that have themselves and families been subjected to these violent systems.
People who are fierce objectors of the police state yet actively and vehemently police Black Bodies . People who speak of healing and are still in an unhealed hurting state and frequency .

It pains me that greed can corrupt Anyone, and power lust can crush even the most revered and hopeful among us. It pains my spirit and soul that leaders so knowledgeable, so intelligent and empathetic can be soured by malice and hatred and take on the old tired shape of our oppressors .

This all cuts so deep and I promise this isn’t to be messy , to stir any pot but to invoke what (this city) Culture really is in need of :

Radical Honesty , Love and Compassion .

I judge no one for their actions . I ask for the sake of accountability Genuine Repentance and CHANGE of Behaviors.

I want to share my experience for the youth :
the baby organizers, the yg’s in the streets , now this Message is FOR YOU :

DO NOT MARTYR YOURSELF FOR THE MOVEMENT.

Anyone that romanticizes your Work. Anyone who fetishizes your Ashé, your Power. Anyone who exploits your Labor. Anyone who will sacrifice You – IS NOT FOR YOU !!!

Do Not Accept Any Harm from Anyone who treats you outside your Inherit Dignity .

As 2020 has taught us , transition and adaptation are essential to continue on in this world . It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing I will be stepping down as community organizer and member of Black Love Resists in the Rust.
Though this news may come as a shock to some of you , I want to remind us all that break ups and departures are a part of nature . As Adrienne Maree Brown said it helps to release attachments to how things should go and embrace when breaking up happens.

I am grateful for the political home I found within BLRR at such a crucial moment personally and nationally . I feel privileged to have been touched by truly talented community organizers that saw me fully and encouraged my growth that led me to becoming the Black Abolitionist I am today. I am thankful for their embodiment of freedom, that they were as passionate about their liberation as they were for the collective of us all. I will carry with me the experiences, numerous trips, lessons from all the teach- ins, political education salons and workshops I was blessed to share with Just Resisting and Black Love Resists in the Rust as I continue my journey towards achieving liberation.


Black Love Resist in the Rust has shown me what is possible in the types of inclusive spaces I, as a queer differently abled Black Person can find solace in this city. I am still committed to continuing building with the communities in this city to define justice and seek it out for themselves.

The way we get free is by freeing ourselves with love and valuing ourselves whole FIRST then let that overflow into our interconnected webs of community.

I love us all . We won’t taste freedom if we keep sacrificing ourselves- That isn’t Liberation.

Liberation is Life Giving and long lasting .
Never forget this .

I look forward to carrying on this movement work with you all.

Mutual Aid

… and at one moment, the whole world stopped. Some might say it was
progressive, or that we knew it was coming, but not me. For me, it just
stopped. This grinding halt gave us no time to get our footing, and even less time to prepare. There was no time to stock our cupboards and refrigerators, to arrange childcare, to set up a fleet of homeschooling teachers, or even to have enough money in the bank. It just stopped. I mean, what are our plans in the grand scope of life itself?

So, what more is there to do in this moment, but lean into this dramatic
pause, into our worries, our fears, our questions, our feelings, and our
anxieties. And then, lean into one another. Yea. Take a deep breath here. How, during this time, can we find solace in each other and resist the urge to retreat? Look. Retreating ain’t gon save us. Retreating won’t keep us safe. We: you, me, our communities will.

In this time, we call on each other for peace, for a zoom chat, a cup of
rice, and for that beloved, deeply valued roll of toilet paper. We call one
another for a moment to cry when the children have gone to bed, or for help with teaching that damn schooling at home packet teachers frantically copied and sent home. We lean on the friends and family members we wish we had more time to speak to when we were so on the go. We check in on their wellbeing and offer love. We breathe with them.

We call on our bloodlines; our many, many lifetimes of Ancestors who experienced various epidemics and crises and survived. We are proof of their survival. We call on the Earth which has known many rotations of survival over billions and billions of years. We are proof if it’s survival. We touch the grass, we feel the wind, we hear the birds. All proof of what it means to survive. We also honor the spring equinox. It is proof that seasons change, and they will this time too.

In this time, you owe us nothing but your survival – not a completed school assignment, not a checked off task list, not a spring-cleaned home… survival. And for all of you essential workers, we say thank you. For every member of our community who is battling with this virus, we offer healing energy. We extend our love, and our positive vibes to you all and your families.

Not one of us is alone. We have each other. We keep us safe. We are the
mutual aid.

#MutualAid, #CoronaVirus, #COVID19, #Community, #Ubuntu
#WeKeepUsSafe #SafeCommunities

#AroundLA: As One Charity & Comfort LA presents One Love Art Show feat @iamslimgus [11.23.19]

Join my boy Augustus Clark better known as DJ Slim Gus this upcoming weekend, Saturday, November 23rd from 7-10PM at the Comfort LA Inglewood location as some of his photography will be showcased and then auctioned off for charity!

Proud man… I never had my photography featured in an art show before, but all that changes THIS SATURDAY!

It’s FREE to attend, RSVP LINK BELOW! ALL PROCEEDS will be donated back to the young Queens & Kings in Jamaica and Ghana for a week of camp. In the words of Slim Gus himself, “I’m honored.”

RSVP here: One Love One Charity Event 10.23 @ Comfort LA Inglewood

Flagrant City Spotlight: A Therapeutic Sit Down With So EZ about Sangria5, Therapy Hour + Therapy [Interview]

Back in July of this year, a good friend of mine, Malcolm Edwards, who goes by the rap moniker name of So EZ, released a dope album entitled Therapy.

If you’re local to Los Angeles, you may have stopped by, or at the very least, heard about a fire ass day party event called So EZ Sundays that ran from around the end of 2016 and 2018 that used to be held at the Comfort LA downtown location (food is amazing by the way)!

He got the juice (Sangria5), no seriously that’s his Sangria brand that would sponsor the parties and he’d sell bottles and cups at almost every function. A couple DJ homies and royalty from my hometown of Buffalo, New York – which is where I crossed paths with this Cleveland, OH creative cat, even stopped through and blessed the wheels or were in attendance at some point: DJ Slim Gus, DJ TJizzle, DJ Tiger, Venzella Joy & Vidie. What a time to be in Los Angeles the fun was guaranteed, the weed was always lit & the feels were cozy. We even met Teddy Ray Comedy at one of the parties it was that type of kickback turn up vibe. Cool as fuck. Dope as fuck. Historic as fuck.

Pictured: So EZ, BuffaLowe (Rhonda Jane), Chan showing some Dirty Logan & Good Ol’ Dank love at So EZ Sundays 1 Year Anniversary event in 2017 at Comfort LA.

Chan & BuffaLowe (Rhonda Jane) at So EZ Sundays 1 Year Anniversary event in 2017 at Comfort LA.

Chan of Good Ol’ Dank & Comedian Teddy Ray

Pictured: Vidie, DJ TJizzle, DJ Tiger, Venzella Joy, DJ Slim Gus, BuffaLowe, So EZ + Sangria 5

Getting back to the hot, 10-track summer release by So EZ, Therapy.

This project is very raw, eclectic, upbeat and passionate. EZ decided to take us on his personal journey as a young Black male attending therapy sessions via his music.

A few of my own personal favorite songs off the album are listed below.

BuffaLowe’s Picks off Therapy: Go Live feat. Jimmy Hustle, Pray For the Gang and All My Niggaz.

The outcome of this album was pure bravery, genius and innovation. Laying it all out there and being so relatable to so many others who can’t express these thoughts or feelings.

Fast forward to now, in November, almost 5 months later, Therapy has taken on more of a prominent role in all facets of So EZ’s life.

Read our exclusive interview below to learn more about the reception of this album, upcoming events and new merchandise with So EZ!

BuffaLowe: How do you feel about the overall reception regarding the release of your most recent project “Therapy” that came out in July!? What feedback have you gotten from listeners and fans?

EZ: The response from my album Therapy has been dope. I pay attention to the details. I don’t have the greatest streaming numbers but the overall response from this project is more than I could ask for. When you have people say things like “bro I felt like you was talking to me on that track” or “your music helped me when I was going through a tough time”, “Your project made me think about going to therapy.” What more can I want?

EZ: I used the project to let out emotions and feelings that I didn’t know how to verbalize in a conversation. If you listen to the project I’m rapping but everything is saying something. My words are speaking, the instruments are speaking. Sometimes the instruments are screaming.

I go to therapy and have an amazing Black woman as my therapist but I needed this project to free my mind of a lot of things. My ultimate goal is to help more men feel more comfortable with talking about their issues, especially Black men. We deal with so many things that we classify as normal, but it’s not.

I want people to realize that just as much as you go to the gym for your physical appearance or strength we need to do that much maintenance on our minds. I could’ve named the album anything but I thought Therapy made the most sense. My thought was maybe people will see the word “therapy” and it might make them say “maybe I should try it”.

BuffaLowe: I’ve seen you began facilitating more mental health workshops lately. What is Therapy Hour and why did you start this particular event?

So EZ’s Therapy Hour at Comfort LA Inglewood last month in October 2019

EZ: I began going to therapy in March 2018. It helped a lot – Therapy Hour is an event I created that takes place at the new Inglewood Comfort LA. It’s two hours of conversation facilitated by Krystyl Wright, L.C.S.W doing journaling and mindfulness exercises that are fun and challenging.

I wanted to create something where people could come together and realize they might not be the only people going through the shit they are going through. Therapy Hour is somewhere people can write their thoughts down.

Sometimes I feel it’s easier to do these things with a group. I want people to build the habit of taking care of their mental health. We aim to provide people with information on finding a therapist as well. Especially Black people who are looking for a Black therapist. We are still building information and resources. It’s is not, however a substitute for therapy.

BuffaLowe: When is your next follow up Therapy event?

So EZ: The next Therapy Hour event is next week, Thursday, November 14th from 7-9PM at the Comfort L.A. Inglewood location! The address is 902 N La Brea Ave Inglewood, CA 90302.

I got merch dropping before the end of the year hopefully (Laughs). It’s been a two year process trying to get it right. But we’re at the finish line. I’m a true creative I’m not dropping shit until I’m 97% satisfied because I’ll never be satisfied. Content yes but not satisfied. If that makes any sense and I’m dropping another album this coming summer.

I also have the best beverage in the world called Sangria 5. Stop drinking that weak ass dry wine the sister-in-law you don’t like make and drink Sangria 5 for the holidays! (Laughs).

BuffaLowe: You right about that EZ, You right about that (Black Dynamite tone)!

Follow @sangriafive on IG!

Sangria Five is Good Ol’ Dank Approved

Please be sure to take a moment to follow So EZ and all of his brands on Instagram!

@iamsoez

@soezsundays

@sangriafive

@comfort_la

Around BuffaLowe: S&J Foundation presents Let’s Talk About Mental Health [5.29.19]

I learned about this event by way of my girl Adri V’s Instagram story last week. Jamil Crews, who kindly honored myself and several other nominees in October 2017 at the 4th Annual 30 Under 30 Changemakers Awards, is hosting a mental health forum and I strongly encourage anyone who can attend to go!

Hopefully our resident Buffalo blogger Marielle can make it to this so we can share the information provided on a later post!

It’s time to have some real conversations about Mental Health.

Jamil Crews assembled some really dope speakers to talk about mental health as it relates to people with learning disabilities. Those disabilities can take a major toll on your mental health and he wants to help you learn to manage it.

Karl Shallowhorn from Community Health Center of Buffalo is coming in to speak. Karl himself has dealt with having mental health issues, and has now dedicated his life to helping those manage their own mental health issues.

Janielle Mckoy, who is a fashion producer, is coming all the way from Toronto to speak. She had to learn to deal with having dyslexia, and she’s going to talk about that.

And a person who really doesn’t need an introduction, Danielle Roberts from the YMCA will be on hand to speak as well. Danielle is truly passionate about the community she serves and she’s going to talk about a lot of the great programming coming out of the Y to help people with learning disabilities.

It will be hosted by the very talented Yasmin Young from 93.7 WBLK – The People’s Station.

They will also have free mental health screenings on site.

So let’s talk with J and #BreakTheStigma!

Powered by The S&J Foundation

RSVP here:

Sandjfoundation.org

Around BuffaLowe: Tyson Cuts Barbershop Grand Opening [6.4.19]

Buffalo! You are cordially invited to help celebrate the Grand Opening of Tyson Cuts. Master Barber Joseph Tyson has been cutting hair in the city for several years and he wants to welcome you to his own space!!!

When: Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

Time: 12pm

Where: 259 Carolina Street Buffalo 14202

Free Food, Games & Music!

Any talented, professional barbers looking for a job?! Come out on Tuesday, June 4th, 2019 to 259 Carolina Street, 14202 with your resume/portfolio, call Joe at 716-828-5007 or on Instagram at @_cutsncuffs_!

Klassic Kacy presents Teach Speech: A Parent Workshop – Atlanta [6.22.19]

Parents, guardians and caregivers in the Atlanta, Georgia area, you are warmly invited to come out to an interactive workshop dedicated to educating adults on how to help expand their children’s speech and language skills at home!

The event will take place on Saturday, June 22nd, 2019 and will be two hours long, from 9am to 11am located at Greater Community COGIC 406 Roswell Street NE, Marietta, GA 30060. Please see below for registration information!

Register here: TeachSpeech.eventbrite.com

Please be sure to share this event with someone you know that can benefit! Also make sure to follow her on Instagram @klassickacy and subscribe to her YouTube channel: Klassic Kacy!

Around LA: Keep It Vertical Closet Grand Opening [3.9.19]

Come out on Saturday, March 9th, 2019 in Los Angeles from 1:00 to 3:00pm to help Jhoe, owner of the uplifting lifestyle brand, Keep It Vertical , celebrate both her new store’s grand opening and her birthday!

There will be free cake and champagne! This fabulous and fun event will be hosted by Amber O’s Lip Service, food will be available for purchase by Chill Eats.

Media and photo booth will be done by Milk It Media!

Also, the Keep It Vertical Closet will carry Flagrant City Apparel from the Rhonda Jane site, in-store! Make sure you stop by and support young Black entrepreneurs!

Black Girl in Om: Healing the woman I am within

I wanted to create space to speak a mini testimony of what has been a successful practice for me to manifest greatness and appreciate the greatness in my life : listening and being inspired by black women/ femmes.

Last January I was struggling to find my voice as writer, how to become an active part of the change I wanted to see in my City, and finding, loving me. For each challenge that I stumbled through somewhat blindly there was a black woman there to help guide me back on to my path.

My Writing

My dear friend and talented poet, Eve routinely sent me invites to poetry events, readings, her featured shows until I began to show. Listening to her truth spoken boldly and feeling that connection to her spiritual left me in tears many of time and inspired to honor my own truth through my voice. As our relationship grows she challenges me to improve my writing in ways I didn’t know were possible. Im so grateful of having that experience of someone in my same medium. Some months into 2017, one of my closest friends, Taylor suggested me to a mutual friend that owns a site called FlagrantCity that was looking for bloggers, which led me to Rhonda. Rhonda has provided me the creative freedom to express on a platform while also giving me advise on how to build my own brand,and I deeply grateful for this. From this experience had led me to my most recent accomplishment of being hired as a freelance writer for Vocally!

Organizing & Self Awareness

I was in awe of Shaketa’s leadership and Natasha’s strategy: their combined efforts is black girl magic to me. As I continued working with them and growing closer to them; the experience of their patience, their love, their ability to see me in my fullness in a way I had yet to see in myself was affirming for me which led me to BOLD Praxis .BOLD was an experience that shifted my inner narrative of my life. This past Friendsgiving I shared the experience of how BOLD affirmed my worth, dignity, abilities. How, in the future, I wanted to carry healing our traumas and self care through words/ art into my organizing when Linda asked if I had listened to Black Girls in Om, it was a Chicago based podcast run by black women, that centered self care – she strongly suggested that I listen to it.

Black Girls In Om

From their first episode Lauren’s soft voice over subtle instrumentals speaking BGIO’s mission: “To promote holistic wellness and inner beauty for women of color, encouraging self care, self love, and self empowerment for communities of color” was an affirmation of the exact mission I have been envisioning. To the present with the episode number 30: “Intentional living with Roe of Brown Kids” .

There were several things that Roe said that resonated deeply with me. On creating a capsule wardrobe, a wardrobe that can be carried throughout the year and importance of buying quality clothing . Coming home from my experience at both Bold and Just Resisting retreat, I have come to terms within myself that I did not feel up until then worth period – Let alone luxuries of expensive clothing . After twenty four years of living in Buffalo, NY I did not own a down coat or bought good winter boots in at least five years, because I did not think I was worthy of those new things. I realized that stemmed from conditioning: my parents treated shopping as a reward and growing up in generational poverty. As an adult when I did splurge on anything self indulgent it was lingerie, something super sexy, maybe a casual thing – but never my essentials that would actually care for my body.

What Roe and Lauren spoke to about living in a limbo state is something I have been struggling within my own space. Since my breakup a year ago with my daughter’s father, I struggled financially that constantly left me questioning where my family will be each month. Now as I gain stability I’m adjusting to how to have a functional and comfortable space for a toddler and school aged child. This episode like the previous connect with me on levels that I am actively trying to unlock within myself that leaves me amazed each time. Lauren’s work with partynoire as a yoga instructor grounded in spiritual awareness and Deun’s creative works rooted deeply in spiritual gratitude strengthens me daily to continue on with my current collaborative projects with H.E.A.L and Black Magnolias.

If you have not listened to Black Girls in Om, I very much suggest that you give them a listen!

*The top two that I have on repeat currently are episode #29 and #18 (Five Challenges in Creative Entrepreneurship) and strongly advise all black women and femmes listen to #1, #13, #27 and of course the latest #30 .

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.