What Mary’s Hands Made

Kelila came to my room for the uptheeth time that night, extra fussy. It was 11:30 pm. I walked her back to her room when I noticed what was on her bed. I looked over at Zaire’s long sleeping body and smiled. Before Zaire drifted off to sleep, he extended the best comfort he knew he could to his baby sister. I felt the warmth of pride from that. I held Kelila’s hand as she climbed back into bed. 

“Do you know who made this?” I asked her.

She shook her head to each side rattling barretts against her pillow case. 

“Grandma Mary ..”  I lay next to her and pull Zaire’s quilt up over us. 

“Grandma Mary is papa’s mom. She’s my g’ma . wanna hear a story about her ?”
Kelila shook her up and down as she cuddled more into me, pulling my arms around her body .

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I told her stories about the Alchemy of Grandma Mary’s hands. How she carried in her muscle memory cultivating the ground to bring forth life from South Carolina  into the backyard of a new northern city. She passed on gardening to her children and grandchildren like me. Grandma Mary raised all seven of her children with those hands and generations followed up after that.

 

. When the majority of us Grand children had children of our own , we gathered at Grandma Mary’s house for a special ceremony .Each family  contributed food that we cooked for this gathering. We stuffed ourselves of dinner and dessert then gathered into the living room.We crowded into the room until our  bodies overflowed onto the stairs and into the dinning room to see the Grand unveiling. Grandma Mary sat in her arm chair placed in front of the television facing everyone with cloth bags stacked beside her. She had been working on quilts for all her Great – Grandchildren and this was the day she gifted those creations to them. She called each Great Grand Child – from oldest to youngest by name up to come sit on her lap. She unfolded each quilt and placed it around their bodies then held it up for everyone to see. Each of us parent snapped photos to capture this special moment. For every child and grandchild that came after she made quilts and afghans for us . All of us in our homes still had our first quilts . We knew that regardless of our beliefs these blankets had powers. The cloth was held in her palms as she wove her love in  with each stitch and thought of us personally. 

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Zaire and I with our Quilts 

 “When you pull this quilt over you, you are covered by Grandma Mary’s protective energy . No harm can find you, nothing scary can come get you. Because what Grandma Mary’s hands makes grows and lives free, as long as it is under her protection, and within reach of her energy.” I told Kelila. I kissed her cheek good night as she relaxed and  drifted off into a sound sleep. 

 

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Meet Van Life Voyageurs Jennelle Eliana and Alfredo !

Last month I stumbled across the cutest duo:  Jennelle Eliana, an adventurous Woman of Color and her pet snake Alfredo, a spunky black eyed leucistic python. On her nineteenth birthday Jennelle made the decision to pursue van life to avoid the high rental cost in California and live a tiny life style that she had long been envisioning. On her YouTube channel where over 2 million subscribers tune in to watch her videos that last no longer than 20 minutes each Jannelle captures her daily journeys to a dope soundtrack.

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Jennelle and Alfredo on their Birthday

I first came across Jennelle through a Black Girls Who Love Anime Facebook group. When I saw her decked out van equipped with a living space layout, I was intrigued enough to check out her youtube. I quickly became obsessed after watching her first two videos and am now devoted watcher and subscriber.

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Jennelle in her cozy van home

What I love most about Jennelle is her bubbly personality. I enjoy how she opens and closes each video  in her own unique way and the incorporates humor into the climatic moments she encounters. I admire Jennelle’s willingness to be vulnerable and open with us her audience about her past struggles and current triumphs- she doesn’t shy away from being emotional . I was also drawn in by her humility as a young person who is trying to navigate life as an adult with all of it complexities and wonders and opportunities it presents. I find her and her channel an inspiring snapshot of what life has evolved  into for us a People of Color and as Womxn: Exciting and scary. The fact that Jennelle is honest about the time she felt unsafe as a woman traveler and the means she takes to protect herself is a testimony of how Women and Femmes of Color must navigate our lives in this world.

Whenever I need a quick mid-day or night pick me up I turn to Jennelle and Alfredo so, if you haven’t caught on to watching – I invite you to do so Now! Signing off in the words of Jennelle “Toddles!”

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How I Learned to Take Ownership of My Mental Health

This piece will contain explict content about living with mental illness and self harm. This is my warning, to you as a reader, that this content may be triggering.

I have a testimony I want to share with y’all about depression and suicidality.

The week of my 26th birthday, I made the difficult desison to receive a mental health check up that resulted in a 10-day in-patient hospital stay to treat my mental state. It was at this time I was diagnosed with Major Depression Disorder and Suicidality.  Suicidality is a condition that when triggered results in a person having obessive complusive thoughts of self harm and suicide. These are conditions I have lived with for all of my adult life that have gone untreated by medical professionals due to my own fear.

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To understand my fear of medicine and medical facilitates, we have to time travel back to my youth. When I was sixteen healing for the first time from sexual trauma, I made two attempts on my life that resulted in me being heavily medicated for a time on antidepressants. Now, at sixteen my brain was not fully developed. The medication I was being prescribed intended purpose was to stablize my moods, and treat my suicidality. Yet the side effects made me feel numb and like a shell of a person. This experience with medication was traumatizing to me. I developed a fear in my adult life of receiving medical attention for the depression and suicidality. For a long time I self medicated with smoking weed and eating edibles to mellow out my intense mood swings and quiet the thoughts of self harm when they got too loud.

I spent my birthday alone in bed sick with a viral infection trying to get to soothe myself with a blunt when I realized that living in this way did not feel useful or helpful anymore. I am grateful for the relief weed gave me intermediately and for the awareness that I was in need of something more. Getting admitted to the hospital felt scary and embarrassing. I admitted to my mother that I felt weak and incompetent. She, like all great mothers, reminded me there is No Shame in receiving mental health help- in fact it required a considerable amount of strength. She was right. It will be one week since my release and going on three weeks since I have been on mediciation treating my mental state.

Within the first twenty four hours I felt the first wave of mental clarity – it was Ah- Mazing ! The relief of being on antidepressant and antipsychotic does come with a cost. Due to my weight and biological make up I have felt all the the side effects at one time or another intensely. After completing simple task like cooking a meal, washing dishes, or bathing my children I feel completely wiped out physically. I get dizzy and this interferes with daily life as well.

In the span of the past few weeks my life has shifted. I learned the importance of priortizing my own care. Being hospitalized I was forced to sit my busy ass down and face the darkness within myself. I have been trying to distract myself with organizing, performing and other community based activities than face the reality that I am lonely.  And that loneliness is a direct result of when I self isolate when sad. I have for a long while found comfort in retreating inward, and for a time that was what was safest to do. At this current moment in my life I have had to sit with how not being expansive, and projecting my fears is actually limiting myself.  I am leaning into challenging myself to expand my comfort zone by sharing my story with y’all.

Healing is messy work. It requires that we be present while doing it. There is no right or wrong way- but there is trial and error to see what is best useful for you. Let my testimony inspire you to take charge of your mental health wellness. I invite you to stop for a moment and Breathe with me. Give yourself a gentle loving touch and say this with me :

(while you breathe in) I am Grateful for the Gift that is this Day .

(while you breathe out) I release all my shame to be transformed into compassion. 

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Around BuffaLowe: Beau Fleuve Music & Arts Festival [8.25.19]

2 WEEKS AWAY FROM THE BEAU FLEUVE MUSIC & ARTS FESTIVAL AT SILO CITY!

Beau Fleuve Music & Arts Festival will host its 3rd Annual festival this summer on Sunday August 25th, 2019 entitled “The Ultimate Sunday Funday” at Silo City. Beau Fleuve Music and Arts Festival was created to celebrate the rich history of Buffalo’s arts scene and illuminate the resurgence of all forms of music , art , media and culture that resonates in and from Buffalo & WNY for one day only. Festival goers will experience a true multi-cultural experience serving as a melting pot of music, arts and culture.

This Year’s Festival will include attractions will include 3 performance stages of 30+ performers, Art Installations , Culture Exhibits , Fan Favorite Silent disco, Next Generation Festival of the Youth Stage Street-Art, Beer-Wine Garden , Food Trucks , Vendors Village , Attractions, Live to Air Podcast , Family Fun zone &more!

Festival Goers will be able to enjoy all mediums of art and music from Blues, Hip Hop, Rock, Country, Brass, Indie, EDM, R&B, Gospel, Soul, Trap and more. Some of this year’s performers consist of Headliner ZURI APPLEBY (Touring Bassist) who is currently on tour with National Recording Artist YUNA, CURTIS LOVELL (Neo Soul), MILLER & THE OTHER SINNERS (country), THE MOLICE (alternative), FLUSE (alternative) UNIVERSAL PHUNK (band) , FREAK THE MIGHTY (Trap) , HEATHER RUSSELL (Canadian R&B) , LOVE THE GENIUS (Hip Hop) and more.

Few new additions will be the “Next Generation Festival of the Youth Stage that will highlight youth musicians, poets, artist and entrepreneurs under 18. Ticket prices for all ages starting at General Admission tickets $10 also with a new group pack called “The Herd” that is buy 3 , get 1 Ticket Free. Sunday Funday Activities, attractions and games.

Beau Fleuve Music & Arts has been hitting the ground running in 2019 from hosting monthly events “Arts x Beats” Concert & Art Series to launching its Beau Fleuve Music & Arts Foundation , Sneaker Ball and recent announcement of development plans for the Beau Fleuve Music & Arts Center.

Also, special tees are available for purchase with a general admission ticket for $30.00!!!

No stranger to Flagrant City, my longtime childhood friend and current homegirl, Zuri Appleby (Bassist) born and raised in our hometown of Buffalo, NY is set to headline and close out the 3rd Annual Beau Fleuve Music & Arts Festival!!! Zuri, who moved over here to LA a few years back has been on tour with renowned National Acts such as Nick Jonas, Party Next Door, Brent Faiyaz, Duckwrth and NOMBE.

Photo of Zuri Appleby by BuffaLowe for Rhonda Jane

Zuri a renowned musician in the WNY area and comes from music family with her mother and Buffalo Public School Music teacher Linda Appleby and Father Rodney Appleby who also is a musician. Z, who just finished an International Tour with Yuna has been announced to close out this year’s Ultimate Sunday Funday Festival at Silo City.

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WHAT: 3rd Annual Beau Fleuve Music & Arts Festival

WHEN: Sunday August 25th, 2019 – “Ultimate Sunday Funday”

WHERE: Silo City

Tickets: https://www.tickettailor.com/events/beaufleuvemusicarts/275776

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Flagrant City Spotlight: A Conversation with Don! [Interview]

Photo by: Adrian Javon

 

Lowe: First off, I appreciate you taking the time to do this interview with me!  Your visual single “Ok Love” feat. Jon P is beautiful. The vibe is pure and the storyline seems so familiar.  Is it attached to an upcoming project of yours? I’ve only heard you by way of Dirty Logan artist, Dough (Dough Van Gogh). Also, what was the message you were trying to convey in this video?

Don!: It’s truly a blessing to be recognized for my art. I definitely appreciate you for taking the time out to check me out and allow me to promote myself via your platform. Thank you.

“Ok Love” was partly inspired by a friend Kay Hudgins. She embodies characteristics of a women chasing her dreams. I created the song to help motivate women of all walks of life to keep striving and keep going. Continue your pursuit no matter what. I have many friends who can relate too making big moves with little knowledge of what’s to come next. I wanted to be that “keep going” voice in my own way you know. I linked up with Joe P. (Guitarist) who provided the strings and KZA K’ Lee (Producer) who engineered the vision. Together we created a vibe.

The video was inspired by the show “You”. Less stalkerish more admiration. It gives that feel that I see you winning just being awesome and I desire to be close to that type of energy and vibe. It was filmed in Dumbo, Brooklyn. The creative direction of Kay Hudgins and Directed by Mal_2da brought the video to life.

It will be featured on an upcoming  collaboration project featuring myself and Joe P. Produced by KZA!

Watch the video below:

Lowe: If people don’t already know you from singing fly hooks for Dirty Logan’s frontman, Dough Van Gogh, how would you describe yourself and your music style?

Don! & Dough Van Gogh in Washington DC at Rosebar DC for Broccoli Fest

Don!: That’s my Dawg (Dough)! Situations EP featuring myself & Dough and Player Made Vol. 1 featuring myself, Needo Stakkz & Dough is also out now. Check that out!

Situations EP – Dough Van Gogh & Don! Orig. release March 2019
Player Made Vol. 1 – Dough Van Gogh, Don!, Needo Stakkz Orig. release July 2018

Don!: As far as my music I would describe myself as a vibe dealer. By that I mean I create soley off of my vibe in any particular situation. I express myself through melodies. I have a chill cool feel too my music with a background in rap and poetry so it’s easier too construct verses and hooks with clever word play. A lot of times I freestyle it just feels right you know, it’s like the words just come to me and I can’t hear it any other way.

Lowe: When did you first get started singing or when did you actually start taking it serious?

Don!: I’ve been making music here and there for some time now. Dating back to middle school/high school. From a myspace hit (locally), to random songs created in dorm room closets, traphouse studios,  or via bandlab on my phone, I’ve always been into music. I would say a rack of people including My mom, sister, Big Homie Ty, Black, Dough, Kenzo, Needo, Fitts, J Dub, Joe P., anybody I ever had a freestyle session with and Big Ups to KZA, all pushed me to really just stop playing and get more aggressive with the moves.

After hitting the studio to record Player Made Vol 1., I knew the time was now. So I locked in and really worked to define my sound and now I feel I’m at the point where I can just create and push.

Photo by: Adrian Javon

Lowe: I feel that. Who inspired/inspires your art?

Don!: People, society, vibes, moods, anything really. I love just people watching. Everyone has a story. The awesome part of creating is you creative based off of perception. I’m not biased or one sided so when I create I look at all perspectives involved in what I find interesting. For example if I write about flowers I have to talk about the soil, the sun, the weeds everything that makes the flower whole. Paint a picture. Like Dough said ” I spit an image to the bald head” creating a vivid detail of a vibe.

Lowe: What’s next on the agenda for Don!?

Don!: What’s next for me, a lot to say the least. Collaboration projects, shows outta town, more interviews, more artistic energy. I have a lot planned. Right now I’m focused on solidifying myself as a brand. Finishing up “Vibe Dealer” my debut solo EP which drops later this year, hopefully sometime in September.

My new single “Melanin Wonder” is from the upcoming album an drops this month. It’s an, acoustic based collaboration album with Joe P.

Upcoming album Melanin Wonders featuring Joe P.

Just heavy promo real heavy. Like after the club handing out flyers heavy. The biggest thing is to connect with the people on a personal level. Face to face interactions. Social media is a beautiful thing but I want to take it back to that street team type promo.

Lowe: I always say word of mouth promotion is a valuable, yet lost form of hustle. You’re definitely on the right track taking it back to the essence.

Don!: Thank you for the love you’ve shown thus far. It means a lot to me. I will continue to keep the vibes going. Special shout out to all of those who believe in me. Aye Mom we on blogs now, we getting bigger! As always “You know how it go, keep it moving like jeep wranglers in the snow you dig me!”

We dig it Don. We dig it.

Be sure to keep up with Don on Instagram by following him at @taylorport_papi!

Flagrant City Exclusive: @deuceellis Launches Luxury Sneaker Line with New Album “Deuce Ellis Live On Tour

Flagrant City Veteran Deuce Ellis is launching a luxury line of footwear in conjunction with his upcoming album release “Deuce Ellis Live on Tour“.

Only 50 pairs have been made, the price point is extremely reasonable at $205 a pair, available in all sizes and will be open for pre-order later on this week.

Be sure to visit DeuceEllis.com to pre-order!

Any retailers or boutiques interested in carrying this one-of-a-kind product on their shelves, contact @deuceellis or @buffalowe716 directly on Instagram for the collab!!!

Also be sure to check out the previous music release from back in June by Deuce Ellis entitled “Goodbye Blue MondayHERE.

#AroundBuffaLowe: Juug Talk x Dirty Logan presents Tacos With Friends at Beau Fleuve Music & Arts Festival [8.25.19]

Join my Dirty Logan Familia with Juug Talk on August 25th at the Beau Fleuve Music & Arts Festival in Buffalo, NY for the Tacos With Friends function. Tickets are $10.00!

Tickets for the festival are available at beaufleuvemusicarts.com for $10.00 general admission.

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