The Rise of The Black Travel Movement


I encourage you to do a little experiment. Go to our trusted Google, search ” travel ” and click on images. Notice anything? See a certain commonality? No. People. Of. Color. Anywhere. Sadly, in 2017, this is the reality and because of this, about 2 years ago, a crop of niche online communities started to rise.


Largely seen on Instagram, their feeds regularly posted carefully art directed, color rich, make-you-want-to-pack-your-bags-right now and catch a private jet charter images featuring African American travelers in almost every corner of the world you can imagine. Travel Noire, Nomadness Travel Tribe, Tastemakers Africa, Black Travel Hackers and a host of others gave meaning and credibility to what’s known as the black travel movement and it’s shown no signs of slowing down.

While these groups are not solely comprised of African Americans, it can be said that the majority of their members are people of color. Why is that? Why the need for niche travel groups?

Reasons for this span from the simple to more complicated; from recent trends to systematic disparities for African Americans during the Civil Rights era. And in case you’re unfamiliar, let’s do a brief lesson on the need for this movement.

Travel Noire

Starting simply, the travel market is estimated at $1.2 trillion globally and while African Americans and Hispanics annually contribute $48 and $56 billion respectively, there is still a lack of notable representation of people of color in travel marketing and communications.

In fact, according to Nielsen, on 2.6% of media advertising is geared toward African Americans. Only TWO. POINT. SIX. PERCENT! Let that sink for a minute…I’ll wait.

Travel Noire

In the travel world, there is a longstanding stereotype that people of color do not travel and if they do, it’s only to places in the domestic south or Caribbean. This belief permeates in major hospitality and travel companies and therefore do not fully represent people of color beyond the token, thinking simply placing one brown person in the mix checks the box on diversity.

Representation in media allows people to imagine and manifest possibility; that they too can have what has seemed out of reach, thus, sites like Travel Noire, Black and Abroad, and Nomadness Travel Tribe were born to give inspiration and show the market, “We out Here” in the words of Nomadness Travel Tribe founder, Evita Robinson.


The idea African Americans don’t travel stems from very real experiences dating back to the pre-Civil Rights era. First, slavery and Jim Crow left African Americans with significant disparities in income providing little to spend beyond life’s necessities, like leisure activities.

Second, when African Americans did find themselves on the road, often times conditions were subpar in terms of service and accommodations due to segregation. To combat this, The Negro Travelers Green Book, published from 1936 to 1964 served purpose in providing African Americans with valuable and likely life saving tips while traveling in the US.

The guide would feature listings of restaurants, lodging, and places regarded as safe and would provide service to African Americans. It could be said that modern black travel communities are the new versions of The Negro Travelers Green Book with an added layer of pride, inspiration and an international view.

The Black Travel Movement offers a sense of community, the ability to connect with individuals who prioritize travel, and make exploring parts of the world that seemed like a far-fetched dream, a reality.

Travel Noire

But more importantly, these travel groups are contributing to something bigger; these groups are helping to show the realities of African Americans beyond the often narrow and miniscule representation in mainstream media. #LiveYourBestLife

Ola Abayomi is a blogger living in New York City. In 2015, she was lucky enough to spend 3 glorious months backpacking through Southeast Asia. That sabbatical inspired her blog Out of Office: Gone Living. Follow Ola’s adventures on IG @ola_ola_ayy.

Black Books Matter: Children’s Books Celebrating Black Boys


Each year, there are more children’s books published about animals than Black people. Black people have historically been, and continue to be, underrepresented, misrepresented, or invisible in children’s literature. Black male characters are even less visible, and even fewer still, are books reflecting positive and empowered depictions of Black boys.

The Conscious Kid Library curated this list of 25 children’s books celebrating Black boys, in partnership with Moms of Black Boys United. These books center, reflect, and affirm Black boys, and were written and illustrated by Black authors and artists.


Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James: The barbershop is where the magic happens. Boys go in as lumps of clay and, with princely robes draped around their shoulders, a dab of cool shaving cream on their foreheads, and a slow, steady cut, they become royalty.

That crisp yet subtle line makes boys sharper, more visible, more aware of every great thing that could happen to them when they look good: lesser grades turn into As; girls take notice; even a mother’s hug gets a little tighter. Everyone notices. A fresh cut makes boys fly.

This rhythmic, read-aloud title is an unbridled celebration of the self-esteem, confidence, and swagger boys feel when they leave the barber’s chair — a tradition that places on their heads a figurative crown, beaming with jewels, that confirms their brilliance and worth and helps them not only love and accept themselves but also take a giant step toward caring how they present themselves to the world.

The fresh cuts. That’s where it all begins. Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut is a high-spirited, engaging salute to the beautiful, raw, assured humanity of Black boys and how they see themselves when they approve of their reflections in the mirror. Ages 3–10.


Malcolm X: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X by Ilyasah Shabazz, illustrated by AG Ford: Malcolm X grew to be one of America’s most influential figures. But first, he was a boy named Malcolm Little. Written by his daughter, this inspiring picture book biography celebrates a vision of freedom and justice.

Bolstered by the love and wisdom of his large, warm family, young Malcolm Little was a natural born leader. But when confronted with intolerance and a series of tragedies, Malcolm’s optimism and faith were threatened. He had to learn how to be strong and how to hold on to his individuality.

He had to learn self-reliance. Together with acclaimed illustrator AG Ford, Ilyasah Shabazz gives us a unique glimpse into the childhood of her father, Malcolm X, with a lyrical story that carries a message that resonates still today — that we must all strive to live to our highest potential. Ages 6–10.


Trombone Shorty by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, illustrated by Bryan CollierHailing from the Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews got his nickname by wielding a trombone twice as long as he was high.

A prodigy, he was leading his own band by age six, and today this Grammy-nominated artist headlines the legendary New Orleans Jazz Fest. Along with esteemed illustrator Bryan Collier, Andrews has created a lively picture book autobiography about how he followed his dream of becoming a musician, despite the odds, until he reached international stardom. Trombone Shorty is a celebration of the rich cultural history of New Orleans and the power of music. Ages 4–8.


Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe: Jean-Michel Basquiat and his unique, collage-style paintings rocketed to fame in the 1980s as a cultural phenomenon unlike anything the art world had ever seen.

But before that, he was a little boy who saw art everywhere: in poetry books and museums, in games and in the words that we speak, and in the pulsing energy of New York City.

Now, award-winning illustrator Javaka Steptoe’s vivid text and bold artwork echoing Basquiat’s own introduce young readers to the powerful message that art doesn’t always have to be neat or clean — and definitely not inside the lines — to be beautiful. Ages 6–12.


Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream For Me by Daniel Beaty, illustrated by Bryan Collier:

Every morning, I play a game with my father. He goes knock knock on my door and I pretend to be asleep till he gets right next to the bed. And my papa, he tells me, “I love you.”

But what happens when, one day, that “knock knock” doesn’t come? This powerful and inspiring book shows the love that an absent parent can leave behind, and the strength that children find in themselves as they grow up and follow their dreams. Ages 4–7.


The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory ChristieIn the 1930s, Lewis’s dad, Lewis Michaux Sr., had an itch he needed to scratch a book itch. How to scratch it?

He started a bookstore in Harlem and named it the National Memorial African Bookstore. And as far as Lewis Michaux Jr. could tell, his father’s bookstore was one of a kind. People from all over came to visit the store, even famous people Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X, to name a few.

In his father’s bookstore people bought and read books, and they also learned from each other. People swapped and traded ideas and talked about how things could change.

They came together here all because of his father’s book itch. Read the story of how Lewis Michaux Sr. and his bookstore fostered new ideas and helped people stand up for what they believed in. Ages 7–10.


Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Sean QuallsYoung John Coltrane was all ears. And there was a lot to hear growing up in the South in the 1930s: preachers praying, music on the radio, the bustling of the household.

These vivid noises shaped John’s own sound as a musician. Carole Boston Weatherford and Sean Qualls have composed an amazingly rich hymn to the childhood of jazz legend John Coltrane. Ages 4–8.


Hey Black Child by Useni Eugene Perkins, illustrated by Bryan Collier:

Hey Black child,
Do you know who you are?
Who really are?
Do you know you can be
What you want to be
If you try to be
What you can be?

This lyrical, empowering poem celebrates Black children and seeks to inspire all young people to dream big and achieve their goals. Ages 3–10.


Welcome, Precious by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Bryan CollierLiterary award winners Nikki Grimes and Bryan Collier celebrate life, love, and family with this gorgeous new picture book. Lulling, poetic text and captivating illustrations welcome a new baby to the wonders of the world, from peanut butter to moonlight. Ages 0–3.


Lullaby (For a Black Mother) by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Sean QuallsWith a few simple words as smooth as a song, the poet Langston Hughes celebrates the love between a Black mother and her baby.

The award-winning illustrator Sean Qualls’s painted and collaged artwork captures universally powerful maternal moments with tenderness and whimsy.

In the end, readers will find a rare photo of baby Hughes and his mother, a biographical note, further reading, and the complete lullaby. Ages 0–4.


Baby Blessings: A Prayer For the Day You Are Born by Deloris Jordan, illustrated by James E. RansomeThis touching story from bestselling author Doloris Jordan celebrates the blessings new parents wish for their babies all through their lives.

With a strong emphasis on the bonds families share, the inspirational text is accompanied by exquisite art from renowned illustrator James E. Ransome. Ages 0–4.


He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands by Kadir NelsonWhat began as a spiritual has developed into one of America’s best-known songs, and now for the first time it appears as a picture book, masterfully created by award-winning artist Kadir Nelson.

Through sublime landscapes and warm images of a boy and his family, Kadir has created a dazzling, intimate interpretation, one that rejoices in the connectedness of people and nature.

Inspired by the song’s simple message, Kadir sought to capture the joy of living in and engaging with the world. Most importantly, he wished to portray the world as a child might see it — vast and beautiful. Ages 4–8.


I, Too, Am America by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Bryan Collier: I, Too, Am America blends the poetic wisdom of Langston Hughes with visionary illustrations from Bryan Collier in this inspirational picture book that carries the promise of equality.

I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Langston Hughes was a courageous voice of his time, and his authentic call for equality still rings true today. Beautiful paintings from illustrator Bryan Collier accompany and reinvent the celebrated lines of the poem “I, Too,” creating a breathtaking reminder to all Americans that we are united despite our differences. Ages 4–8.


12 Rounds to Glory: The Story of Muhammad Ali by Charles R. Smith, illustrated by Bryan Collier: From the moment a fired-up teenager won 1960 Olympic gold to the day when a retired legend, hands shaking from Parkinson’s, returned to raise the Olympic torch, the boxer known as “The Greatest” waged many a fight.

Some were in the ring, against opponents like Sonny Liston and Joe Frazier; others were against societal prejudice and a war he refused to support because of his Islamic faith.

The rap-inspired verse weaves and bobs and jabs, while bold collage artwork matches every move, capturing the “Louisville loudmouth with the great gift of rhyme” who shed the name Cassius Clay to take on the world as Muhammad Ali. Ages 10 and up.


Dear Martin by Nic Stone: Raw, captivating, and undeniably real, Nic Stone joins industry giants Jason Reynolds and Walter Dean Myers as she boldly tackles American race relations in this stunning debut.

Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League — but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore?

He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out. Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up — way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack. Ages 14–18.


X, A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon: Co-written by Malcolm X’s daughter, this riveting and revealing novel follows the formative years of the man whose words and actions shook the world.

Malcolm Little’s parents have always told him that he can achieve anything, but from what he can tell, that’s a pack of lies — after all, his father’s been murdered, his mother’s been taken away, and his dreams of becoming a lawyer have gotten him laughed out of school.

There’s no point in trying, he figures, and lured by the nightlife of Boston and New York, he escapes into a world of fancy suits, jazz, girls, and reefer. But Malcolm’s efforts to leave the past behind lead him into increasingly dangerous territory.

Deep down, he knows that the freedom he’s found is only an illusion — and that he can’t run forever. follows Malcolm from his childhood to his imprisonment for theft at age twenty, when he found the faith that would lead him to forge a new path and command a voice that still resonates today. Ages 14–18.


Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court by Kareem Abdul-JabbarAt one time, Lew Alcindor was just another kid from New York City with all the usual problems: He struggled with fitting in, with pleasing a strict father, and with overcoming shyness that made him feel socially awkward.

But with a talent for basketball, and an unmatched team of supporters, Lew Alcindor was able to transform and to become Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. From a childhood made difficult by racism and prejudice to a record-smashing career on the basketball court as an adult, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s life was packed with “coaches” who taught him right from wrong and led him on the path to greatness.

His parents, coaches Jack Donahue and John Wooden, Muhammad Ali, Bruce Lee, and many others played important roles in Abdul-Jabbar’s life and sparked him to become an activist for social change and advancement.

The inspiration from those around him, and his drive to find his own path in life, are highlighted in this personal and awe-inspiriting journey. Written especially for young readers, Becoming Kareem chronicles how Kareem Abdul-Jabbar become the icon and legend he is today, both on and off the court. Ages 8–12.


Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia: From beloved Newbery Honor winner and three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner Rita Williams-Garcia comes a powerful and heartfelt novel about loss, family, and love.

Clayton feels most alive when he’s with his grandfather, Cool Papa Byrd, and the band of Bluesmen — he can’t wait to join them, just as soon as he has a blues song of his own. But then the unthinkable happens. Cool Papa Byrd dies, and Clayton’s mother forbids Clayton from playing the blues.

And Clayton knows that’s no way to live. Armed with his grandfather’s brown porkpie hat and his harmonica, he runs away from home in search of the Bluesmen, hoping he can join them on the road. But on the journey that takes him through the New York City subways and to Washington Square Park, Clayton learns some things that surprise him. Ages 8–12.


The Hate U Give by Angie ThomasSixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends.

The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family.

What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does — or does not — say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life. Ages 14–18.


The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay MooreA boy tries to steer a safe path through the projects in Harlem in the wake of his brother’s death in this outstanding debut novel that celebrates community and creativity. It’s Christmas Eve in Harlem, but twelve-year-old Lolly Rachpaul and his mom aren’t celebrating. They’re still reeling from his older brother’s death.

Then Lolly’s mother’s girlfriend brings him a gift that will change everything: two enormous bags filled with Legos. Now, faced with a pile of building blocks and no instructions, Lolly must find his own way forward.

Building a fantastical Lego city at the community center provides Lolly with an escape — and an unexpected bridge back to the world. David Barclay Moore paints a powerful portrait of a boy teetering on the edge — of adolescence, of grief, of violence — and shows how Lolly’s inventive spirit helps him build a life with firm foundations and open doors. Ages 10–14.


March (Trilogy) by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell: Congressman John Lewis (GA-5) is an American icon, one of the key figures of the civil rights movement. His commitment to justice and nonviolence has taken him from an Alabama sharecropper’s farm to the halls of Congress, from a segregated schoolroom to the 1963 March on Washington, and from receiving beatings from state troopers to receiving the Medal of Freedom from the first Black president.

March is the first-hand account of John Lewis’ lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation.

Rooted in Lewis’ personal story (including his childhood), it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement.

Many years ago, John Lewis and other student activists drew inspiration from the 1958 comic book “Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story.” Now, his own graphic novel bring those days to life for a new audience, testifying to a movement whose echoes will be heard for generations. Ages 11–15.


Ghost by Jason ReynoldsRunning. That’s all that Ghost (real name Castle Cranshaw) has ever known. But never for a track team. Nope, his game has always been ball.

But when Ghost impulsively challenges an elite sprinter to a race — and wins — the Olympic medalist track coach sees he has something: crazy natural talent.

Thing is, Ghost has something else: a lot of anger, and a past that he is trying to outrun. Can Ghost harness his raw talent for speed and meld with the team, or will his past finally catch up to him? Ages 10–14.


The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind (Young Readers Edition) by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer: When a terrible drought struck William Kamkwamba’s tiny village in Malawi, his family lost all of the season’s crops, leaving them with nothing to eat and nothing to sell. William began to explore science books in his village library, looking for a solution. T

here, he came up with the idea that would change his family’s life forever: he could build a windmill. Made out of scrap metal and old bicycle parts, William’s windmill brought electricity to his home and helped his family pump the water they needed to farm the land.

Retold for a younger audience, this exciting memoir shows how, even in a desperate situation, one boy’s brilliant idea can light up the world. Complete with photographs, illustrations, and an epilogue that will bring readers up to date on William’s story, this is the perfect edition to read and share with the whole family. Ages 11–16.


The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life by Kwame AlexanderYou gotta know the rules to play the game. Ball is life. Take it to the hoop. Soar. What can we imagine for our lives? What if we were the star players, moving and grooving through the game of life?

What if we had our own rules of the game to help us get what we want, what we aspire to, what will enrich our lives? The Playbook is intended to provide inspiration on the court of life.

Each rule contains wisdom from inspiring athletes and role models such as Nelson Mandela, Serena Williams, LeBron James, Carli Lloyd, Steph Curry and Michelle Obama.

Kwame Alexander also provides his own poetic and uplifting words, as he shares stories of overcoming obstacles and winning games in this motivational and inspirational book just right for graduates of any age and anyone needing a little encouragement. Ages 10–12.


The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfill a Dream by Sampson DavisGeorge JenkinsRamek Hunt, and Lisa Frazier Page: A remarkable story about the power of friendship.

Chosen by Essence to be among the forty most influential African Americans, the three doctors grew up in the streets of Newark, facing city life’s temptations, pitfalls, even jail. But one day these three young men made a pact.

They promised each other they would all become doctors, and stick it out together through the long, difficult journey to attaining that dream. Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, and Rameck Hunt are not only friends to this day—they are all doctors. This is a story about joining forces and beating the odds. A story about changing your life, and the lives of those you love most… together.

The Conscious Kid Library is an education, research, and policy organization dedicated to reducing bias and promoting positive identity development in young children. The library works to counter anti-Black bias by promoting narratives and images that affirm and celebrate Blackness. They conduct research on racism in children’s literature and work with organizations and families nationally and internationally to promote access to anti-racist children’s books that center underrepresented and oppressed groups.

Moms of Black Boys United provides information and support for moms of Black sons and promotes positive images of Black boys and men. The organization is dedicated to changing perceptions, encouraging self-care, and fostering understanding of the plight of Black boys and men in America by telling their stories, celebrating their accomplishments, and connecting them to opportunities. The group supports moms by encouraging strong family and community connections and sharing information that empowers them to navigate all of the institutions that interact with, influence, and impact our sons.


Source: the conscious kid

Couples Inc. : ‘ Flip or Flop: Fort Worth ‘ HGTV Stars, Andy and Ashley Williams


We love home improvement shows and are constantly  glued to “Flip or Flop” on HGTV. So, we were beyond thrilled to learn that a Black couple was getting a show on the channel. Based on the social media response, we weren’t the only ones.

We reached out to Andy and Ashley Williams. This is what they had to say:

SB: Finally, a Black couple on HGTV!  It’s all everyone is talking about. So tell me, are you both originally from Texas?

Ashley: No, I’m actually from Chicago originally and Andy is from Texas.

SB: Chicago! I was just there. Your hometown is so sexy! So, tell me about your love story. I think I read that y’all met in a gym. 

Ashley: Yeah, we actually did. While deployed in Iraq, I was at the gym and Andy comes up to me. He says: “Hey, do you need a personal trainer?” And I was like, “Uhm, no”, but he was really persistent. His southern hospitality also helped.

Andy: I mean, Ashley is really beautiful. She didn’t need my assistance per se, but she needed a little help. Initially, she gave me the wrong number, I guess that’s the mid-western style…(laughs). So, I had to track her down in Iraq and eventually did find her. Quite honestly, I courted her for like six months. 

SB: What made you decide to go into business together as a couple and what are some of the pros and cons of being in business with your husband or wife?

Ashley: We had goals before we met each other. I wanted to be married and have kids by a certain time. There was a also a standard of living that we both wanted to have and we realized working in the workforce or the military alone, wasn’t going to give us that. So, it was more of a necessity. If we wanted the freedom to enjoy our kids and see them grow up and not have to always put them in childcare, entrepreneurship was really the only way.

Coming home (from the military), many civilian companies couldn’t translate our work experience so we started at the bottom even though we have so much more than entry level skills. Working on a business was our way of controlling our future.

Andy: And I was at the peak of my career but Ashley wanted me home.  And more importantly, success wasn’t defined on how much money you had, it was defined by time.  You never get time back.  [Ashley] never had to go apply for jobs. I think that was by design. We just want to spend time on things we want, and I think right now, our biggest biggest thing is our family.

The greatest thing we can do with our kids is give them character, and that’s what Ashley does so well. The other day Ash was running a marathon and they were cheering her along. She exhibited her work ethic, set a goal and stuck to it. Even though she didn’t want to run a marathon, she did.

SB: Yeah, but, in addition to those values and having that time to really instill what you deem as important,  you’re setting them up for generational wealth which in our community is just something that we typically don’t have. Do you think that entrepreneurship and real estate are a path to wealth, particularly for Black people?

Ashley: It’s one of the only ways that you can save your principal and make your money work for you. If we, as a community and as people in general, figured out how to make our money work for us, we can begin to build generational wealth.

SB: I know you are invested in supporting veterans. Are you just as committed to supporting Black people, businesses owned by people of color and even women?

Ashley: Oh, absolutely! It’s not just the veteran community we are impacting. We also impact the underserved community, so it’s not just Black, it’s also Brown businesses as well as disabled businesses and those owned by women. 

Andy: Whether we’re spending a hundred thousand dollars or a hundred million,  we need to be conscious. And by impacting the veteran community, it’s important to know that the veteran community is really the minority community. Ash and I came from that community. She came from an inner city and I came from a small town but yet, we represent a community that we support and also we want to empower.  

SB: Do you have any advice for people who are interested in real estate?

Andy: I would just say start because because there’s no better way to serve your community and make money than to provide an affordable housing solution. More importantly, it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. It took us ten years to get to where we are.

Success looks like it’s overnight but it’s really not. Ashley and I are still enriching our entrepreneurship and we also are very passionate.  We’ve been deep in this industry for years.

SB:  Lastly, I have to ask because I’m natural: Ashley, your hair is gorgeous! Was that your decision or your producer’s suggestion?

Ashley: Mine! I’ve been natural since 2008.  And especially in Texas, it’s so hot, I can’t be walking around with straight hair, it’s too much. (Laughs) So for me, this is me, this is how I do.

Andy: Not only that, it’s important to know that Ashley actually does her own hair, even waking up at 4 am to twist and braid it.

SB: Well, girl, it looks amazing. Amazing! I love it. Good luck with the show, we are ALL rooting for you so just keep making us proud and inspiring us.

Flip or Flop: Fort Worth airs on HGTV on Thursdays at 9/8c


-Shantrelle P. Lewis aka @apshantology

Talley & Twine: A Black Owned Watch Brand Creating Timeless Timepieces

One Black owned watch brand I’ve had my eye on for a while now is Talley & Twine.  I’m impressed by their growth and dedication to offering a quality product. I wanted to find out more about the brand so I had a chat with the founder, Randy Williams.
Black Owned Watch Brand
Randy Williams: President of Talley & Twine

SB: What inspired you to start a watch company specifically?

RW: I was inspired to start Talley & Twine because I couldn’t find watch designs that I liked without paying $1000 or more.

SB: Describe the Talley & Twine customer.

RW: The Talley & Twine customer is sophisticated, ambitious and grounded.
Black Owned Watch Brand

SB: What does an average day look like for you?

RW: Each day is different but it usually involves some sort of tracking of our daily numbers along with discovering new ways to reach potential customers.

SB: What thought goes into the design of your watches?

RW: Overall, the design of our watches are meant to stand out but to do so very subtly. We focus on details that the average consumer may never notice but we believe that is the mark of true quality.

Black Owned Watch BrandSB: The holiday season is when most watch companies see the most sales. How do you keep sales high after that period?

RW: After the holiday season is over we maintain our sales numbers by releasing new products and also by encouraging referrals from our satisfied customers.

Talley &TwineSB: What is the most challenging and most rewarding thing about what you do?

RW: The most challenging AND rewarding thing about Talley & Twine is growth. It’s exciting to see the company grow every month but that growth creates new hurdles that we must overcome. Often, there is very little time to celebrate that growth because we have to be thinking about our next steps.

Black Owned Watch BrandSB: Where do you see the business in 5 years?

RW: Within the next 5 years, Talley & Twine will take on a larger manufacturing role, thereby providing more jobs to our community. Additionally, we’ll be known for our other products as well as our watches.

SB: What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

RW: Aspiring entrepreneurs should know that we’re living in the greatest time in history to be an entrepreneur because the information is at our fingertips and new industries are emerging every day.

They should emulate those who are successful but also study market trends to see where the future business opportunities are.


-Tony O. Lawson

Related: Black owned Skincare businesses

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Why This New Orleans Yoga Studio Plans to Expand into West Africa


Adrianne “Ajax” Jackson is the owner of the Only Black owned Yoga studio in New Orleans. During a recent chat with her about her upcoming one year anniversary, she mentioned an interest in expanding her business to Nigeria or Ghana.

Adrianne “Ajax” Jackson

Since Shoppe Black is all about bridging the gap between Black folks on the continent and in the diaspora, we were curious to find out what inspired this decision.

This is what she had to say:

Expanding to  West Africa

A big part of what I do is traveling and building relationships with people all over the world. It is inexplicably beautiful to meet people who are seemingly so different from you only to realize how alike we all really are.

Expanding to West Africa came to me in a very clear vision; a yoga & meditation hub on the coast of West Africa! I could see the windows, the architecture & the landscaping! Intuitively I knew that would be the next big venture.


As a Black woman and as a yoga teacher, I recognize the yearning for self knowledge in my students and in the Black community.

West Africa is a crucial part of our history and our heritage. Expanding there would enable me to use yoga as a bridge between my community here and communities there.

The literal meaning of the word ‘yoga’ is union, and I think there is something incredibly special and revolutionary in being able to unite two communities of shared heritage through something as positive and healing as yoga practice.

New Orleans Motivation

Watching new students, especially black men, explore yoga and begin to recognize the benefits for themselves is extremely rewarding.

These kinds of revelations that I see regularly, have sparked the desire to extend my student reach and also offer my students even more than the gift of yoga.

This community motivates and inspires me to build a close knit, cross-continental community that fosters the encouragement and support I work to continuously offer my students.

First year in business

Throughout this year of owning Magnolia Yoga Studio I have become increasingly aware of our communal hunger to reclaim our health, power, and self discovery.

We deserve and need know who we are. The practice of yoga and bridge to our ancestral land is a beautiful, transformational, and revolutionary way of learning and understanding ourselves as well as connecting with the diaspora in West Africa.

 Yoga is the Key

I hope to inspire a collective healing through yoga and rediscovery of our identity as member of the African diaspora. I deeply believe that yoga is a key component to who we are as a people and where we are going. I love to be able to cast a wider net as to who I can encourage to practice yoga.

It is so essential in stress reduction, connecting with our bodies, and loving ourselves. I believe that each individual deserves to experience these benefits.

The Goal

I would love to see this expansion foster personal and genuine relationships between my students in New Orleans and West Africa.

I hope that this goal of blending yoga and diasporic community building will become part of a larger realization that yes, yoga makes sense as a healing process and practice that will bring us closer.

– Sierra Armstrong & Adrianne “Ajax” Jacskon

Find out more about Magnolia Yoga Studio and their events here.

Black Owned New Jersey Businesses You Should Know


Here’s our list of Black Owned New Jersey Businesses. Check them out, support, and let us know and let us know which ones missed!

Black Owned New Jersey

Mo’Pweeze Bakery offers delectable treats like cupcakes, cakes, breads, cookies and pies that are just as indulgent as regular bakery items.

Bailey Li interiors is an interior designer with the ability to transform spaces into stunning environments.

Bella Nail Lounge and Beauty Bar is a stylish salon for manicures & pedicures, plus facials, waxing & eyelash extensions.

8 to 8 Barber Shop is a rapidly growing, forward thinking, hair therapy salon offering personalized hair & massage services to men, women, and children.

Blending pure Americana staples with the strong cultural cues of Indian cuisine, BURGER WALLA is a new twist on the BURGER joint.

Sugar Fetish Cakery is a custom cake design studio specializing in wedding cakes, specialty cakes, cupcakes, cookies, dessert tables and more.

Mac’n! by Mari specializes in making traditional french macarons with flavor & style.

Soul Xpressiion is a non-profit organization designed to educate students in the areas of fine and performing arts, stage management, stage production development, and how to utilize their gifts to inspire others.

DNT Dynamite Design describes the work of Daveia Odoi who offers professional illustration and graphic design services to various businesses, organizations, and individuals in need of high quality visuals.


Gideon’s Needle is a Bespoke Lifestyle brand. We custom design clothing based on your body shape and type.

Ikuzi Dolls are beautiful black dolls that come in different shades of brown, hair textures and hairstyles.

The Newark Times is the premier online multimedia and news site dedicated to sharing the narratives and perspectives of the great city of Newark NJ.

Butter + Nectar premium satin pillowcases that protect your curls and promote healthy hair and skin. Prevent the loss of natural hair oils, reduce breakage, split ends and tangles, and minimize frizz.

NoiaBrittany is a homemade, raw, organic, cruelty-free skin care line. Noia, for short, celebrates all skin types and improves skin care naturally.

Mr. Tod’s is a niche bakery specializing in pies and other baked goods made from scratch using all-natural ingredients.

Prime Surgicare specializes in minimally-invasive bariatric surgery for rapid, sustainable weight loss.

Tara Dowdell Group is a marketing and strategic consulting firm driven by a passion for helping socially conscious businesses, brands, and organizations grow.

Bro-Ritos Food Truck is a food truck that specializes in…burritos.

But-A-Cake specializes in making Butter Cakes, a delicious treat made with simple ingredients that result in a fusion of pound cake and vanilla angel food cake.

Black Swan Espresso is Newark’s first Specialty Coffee and Tea Shop. They specialize in using the highest quality international coffee beans in all their roasts.

Blueberry Cafe’ Juice Bar & Grille prepares Organic Cold Pressed Juices and Smoothies  along with Vegan Wraps and Soups that help people on their quest for good food and a good life.

Yamean Studios Films is a full service cinematography studio specializing in cinematic style wedding films.

She Imagined Sweets creates Mini Cheesecakes for birthday parties, baby showers, weddings, anniversaries, networking events.

Stellar Smile Center offers in office and take home whitening. They also have options for whitening for those with sensitive teeth.

Built in 1903, Akwaaba Buttonwood Manor is a colonial-style inn with modern amenities located in America’s oldest seaside resort, Cape May.


-Tony O. Lawson

If you would like to add your business to this list (or another) SUBMIT HERE.

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Black Owned Businesses in Ohio That You Should Know


Check out our list of Black owned businesses in Ohio.  Let us know which ones we missed!

Black Owned Businesses in Ohio

Island Frydays is a casual destination for Jamaican jerk chicken, along with seafood, sandwiches & sides.

Eddy’s Chicken and Waffles specialty is Chicken and Waffles but they also have a unique lunch menu that consists of Gyro sandwiches, Philly Cheese, Cheese Burgers and more.

Sweet Petit Desserts is a bakery that offers an array of baked goodness.

Elephant Walk offers Ethiopian & Indian classics served in a roomy, low-key space featuring a full bar with beer on tap.

Junebug Jewelry Designs offers fashionable handmade jewelry for individuals with exceptional style.

Smith & Hannon Bookstore is Cincinnati’s first free standing African American bookstore.

The purpose of Curvy Cardio is to help women embrace their curves (no matter what size) and love their bodies free of body shaming. ​

Joseph Clark Gallery showcases the traditional arts and artifacts of Sub-Saharan Africa. 

NOVE Home & Body Décor is a mobile lifestyle design firm that services professional styling and Interior Design.

Since 1955, the Cincinnati Herald has been the city’s premiere African American newspaper.

Originalitees is a clothing line that specializes in state, city and neighborhood pride of Cincinnati apparel for men, women, kids and babies.

Black Owned Businesses

Sewendipity Lounge provides sewing classes in garment construction for the novice and advanced sewer.

Switch  is a modern lighting, furniture and design emporium located in downtown Cincinnati.

Chef Bambina is a catering and private chef company specializing in upscale events.

AlabamaQue is a BBQ joint with a few sit-down tables specializing in Southern-style smoked meats & accompaniments.

LISNR is a technology company that provides a data transmission protocol that utilizes ultrasonic, inaudible technology that sends data over audio.

Replenish provides spa services in the midst of the hustle and bustle of downtown Columbus.


Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson aka @thebusyafrican

The Cardi B Comeup: Her Publishing Deal, Celeb Engagement & 8-Carat Engagement Ring


“Bodak Yellow” superstar Cardi B is officially having her “…and she lived Happily Ever After” moment, but it’s not because of her recent engagement to Offset of The Migos. By the looks of the chatter across social media, it’s debatable whether the proposal, which took place at Power 99’s Powerhouse concert, was staged or not.

Maybe Offset randomly squatting for the proposal rather than dropping to one knee, and maybe their friendship-zone-hug instead of a passionate kiss after he put the 8-carat engagement ring on her finger were telling.

But what is not debatable is Cardi B’s bonafide rags-to-riches story and how strategically she’s controlled her destiny, redirecting it from poverty and abuse towards fame and fortune.

Photo credit: VH1

At 19, the Bronx native was fired from a job at a market while enrolled in college when her boss suggested she try stripping to make ends meet.

It was a physically abusive boyfriend however, with whom she lived, that would give her the motivation and courage to use the stripper pole as her plan of action and ultimate lifeline.

Earning more in one night than a week’s pay at the market, she used her stripper tips to implement an exit strategy out of the abusive relationship and into her own apartment, signaling her path to stardom.

Becoming a local celebrity among NYC gentlemen’s clubs, and gaining millions of followers on social media, she gave herself until 25 to make the most out of the stripper setup. But opportunity came knocking at 23, and Cardi joined the cast of Love & Hip Hop: NY before she made her music debut in 2015.

Cardi B

Now having an estimated worth of between $4 – $5 million before even dropping a studio album, and signing a worldwide publishing deal with Sony/ATV, it’s safe to say that Cardi B’s business acumen and upward mobility deserve recognition, even if you can’t get past her hood fabulous image.

But back to this proposal and engagement to Offset. From a strictly numbers perspective, the “Lick” and “MotorSport” couple stand to earn several more millions by starring in a televised wedding reality series. This is likely to happen since BET, who just aired Gucci Mane and Keyshia Ka’oir’s wedding, has already tweeted that they are willing to air the Cardi B/Offset nuptials, which the Twittersphere has hilariously dubbed “Never Let Migo.”

cardi b
Courtesy @theshaderoom

Reportedly, BET funded the entire $1 million ceremony, in addition to paying Gucci $400,000 and Ka’oir $250,000 for the right to broadcast an 8-episode series leading up to their October wedding, and 2 million viewers tuned in to watch The Mane Event. This is why BET tried it by tweeting early dibs to air the Cardi B/Offset wedding, but the former Love & Hip Hop star will likely get another check from Mona Scott on VH1

Let me add to the plot: a week ago Cardi B’s long term love, street hustler and independent label owner Tommy Geez, who refers to Cardi B as his “wife”, was just released from a 4-year prison sentence.

I can see the makings of a high drama series with the “gimme schmoney” rapper at the center of a hood love triangle! But however producers approach the show, it’s clear that Cardi is, in fact, making money moves!


– Contributed by Mai Perkins

Mai Perkins, aka FlyMai, is Cali girl in a Bed Stuy world with global bon vivant flair and the passport stamps to prove it. She currently works in Edtech, and is the author of several blogs including and and is a columnist for the music publication With an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in International Affairs from The New School Milano, she reps her beloved alma mater Howard University every chance she gets. As a poet and a creative non-fiction writer, she looks forward to soon publishing her first manuscript, The Walking Nerve-Ending.

Insta: @flymai16

Twitter: @flymai on Twitter

Halloween Special: The 10 Top Scariest Black Movies of All Time


Halloween is one of my favorite seasons of the year. I like dressing up. What can I say? I’m a sucka for nostalgia and a great costume.  But to be honest, I  stopped doing horror films years ago.

Given my overactive imagination coupled with the vivid dreams I have nightly, in addition to living in a house that’s at least 1oo years old, super scary movies just aren’t for me. However, every now and then, I enjoy my dose of spooky, as long as it does not involve dreams (Freddie), the devil, haunted houses, ghosts or spirit possession (just about everything horror films are made of).

If I do decide to indulge in horror, I prefer, like most other things in my life, all things Black. So here’s my list of top ten Black scary movies of all time.

I must preface this by saying that all of them aren’t scary. Some of these films are funny as hell. Also a few of them contribute to the problematic stereotyping of African based spiritual systems, namely Vodou/Voodoo and Hoodoo. But for those of us in the know, we can watch with amusement because we know this stuff was made for TV.

Happy witching, I mean watching and Happy Hollow’s Eve!

–  Shantrelle P. Lewis

10. Blade (1998-2004)
The Blade enterprise wasn’t scary per se, but it was full of blood-sucking vampires. More action than horror, Blade kicked ass and looked good doing so.

We all appreciated Wesley Snipes’ leather wearing, macho persona, and enjoyed the humor that his side kicks, particularly those in Blade Trinity, provided. The story line of Sanaa Lathan’s character as his vampire-turned-mama, was also a nice touch.

9. Fallen (1998)
“Timeeee, is on our side, yes it is.” Starring Denzel Washington, the film follows a police officer who investigates a series of homicides, only to find out that the serial killer is a medieval demon that hops from body to body, committing murders and crimes. Each new victim hums the chorus of the 70s song.

8. Scream Blacula Scream (1973)
So randomly, I happened upon Scream Blacula Scream one day. And I was in LOVE! I have of course, seen the original Blacula, but that had nothing on this sequel which featured in all star Blaxploitation cast including  Pam Grier. The plot was based around a voodoo priest who dies and names a mentee (Grier) as her successor which prompts her egomaniacal son to go on a rampage. He does so by buying the bones of and resurrecting Mamuwalde, Blacula, to do his bidding. The references to Voodoo, Haitian/New Orleanian culture, Blaxploitation antics make this a real treat, especially for real life brujas.

7. Vampire in Brooklyn (1995)
I barely remember a Vampire in Brooklyn. Starring Eddie Murphy, Angela Bassett, Kadeem Hardison and Charlie Murphy, the  spooky comedy isn’t as funny as Coming to America, but is definitely good for a couple of laughs because let’s face it, Eddie is a fool. Especially during his hey day in the 90s. His pimped out perm and attempts at being a sexy blood sucker, are well worth a watch.

6. The Skeleton Key (2005)
Skeleton Key was scary. To be honest, I haven’t seen it in years. But anything involving Louisiana, slavery, hoodoo, haints, plantations and attics is enough to make me cover my eyes and not watch a film in over a decade. Even though the cast is mostly white, the back story line and ultimate culprits Papa Justify and Mama Cecile (revenge seeking ghosts) are Black, like us.

5. Tales from the Hood (1995)
I don’t think people give Tales from the Hood enough credit.  A play on the very popular 90s Tales from the Crypt, the Black cinematic adaptation was comprised of several vignettes of spooky experiences. Each tale had a moral that would be beneficial to the Black community – basically avoid crooked cops, domestic abusers, white supremacists and Black on Black violence. Despite its cheesiness, it was actually pretty brilliant and those little “niglins” were scary as hell. Truth be told,  I’m actually not mad at little Black dolls coming alive to take down some unsuspecting white supremacist. Not one bit.

4. Queen of the Damned (2002)
I’m partial to vampire movie. Queen of the Damned is probably one of my favorite vampire flicks of all time. Anytime Black people are on screen and portray Egyptians as they really were – Black – I’m happy. Even if they were ancient Black vampires. An adaptation of one of Anne Rice’s novevls, Aaliyah was pretty amazing on screen, despite her sappy French love saga with Stuart Townsend (Le Stat), the film is a treat.

3. Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)
In terms of movies that scared the hell out of me, Serpent in the Rainbow was definitely at the top of the list.  The film is based on an account written by a Harvard anthropologist who ventures to Haiti to study zombieism in Voodoo. [Note: I use the spelling Voodoo and not Vodou to distinguish between the two sets of practices, the latter not formally engaging in such activities]. White people’s imaginations ran wild, of course, and Vodou was demonized. But in general, if taken as face value as a film created to scare the shyt out of people, it did its job.

2. Get Out (2017)
Don’t believe the hype! Just kidding. Admittedly, a couple of months had passed before Tony and I finally made it to the theater to watch Get Out. And we were underwhelmed. Maybe because all of y’all hyped it up sooooooooo much, by the time we went to the theater, we were trying to figure out what all the hoopla was about. Grant it, all white towns, anywhere, are scary. Terrifying, actually. In fact, I stay away from them. So, I may have missed the point. Is it that Black dudes need to stop hollering at Becky? That in the end, it’s always Becky’s fault? Not sure but since I did yell out loud at least few times in the theater, I had to list it as #2.

1. Candyman (1992)
I dare you to tell me that Candyman didn’t scare the living deadlights out of you. To this day, you will never, ever catch me saying that man’s name in the mirror three times. Again, if you noticed the trend in this list, whoever decided to throw in plots that involved haunting Black people who were wronged by white people in slavery, coming back to life and wreaking havoc, were genius. Candyman had all of the right elements. An urban legend in the now defunct Cabrini-Green projects, a white lady doing something she had no business doing, and the angry spirit of a Black dude coming back to get revenge for white people killing him – check, check, check. Candyman was and still is scary af and may be the scariest Black film of all time.

Honorable Mention: Thriller
Though not a movie, Thriller was and always will be, the greatest Black scary cinematic project in history. The music. The costumes. The dancing. Michael. Full stop. We’ve got thriller on repeat during this holiday season. Our beloved MJ will forever be our favorite monster of all time.

10 Lagos Fashion & Design Week Designers To Watch Out For


Lagos Fashion and Design Week (October 25th- 28th) is a leading fashion event on the African fashion calendar.

The multi-day fashion event aims to bring together buyers, consumers and the media to view the current collections of African designers in the fashion capital of Lagos, Nigeria.

We’ve listed a few of the designers you should get into.

Lagos Fashion and Design Week

-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson / IG: @thebusyafrican

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