Browse Tag

black love

8 mins read

Husband and Wife team create a Coloring Book App For the Culture

Over the past few years, adult coloring books have become increasing popular. Some researchers suggest that coloring is an excellent form of relaxation and meditation. Enter Color Noir, a coloring book app that celebrates #BlackGirlMagic in all of its glory.

This coloring book app is the creation of tech power couple Muoyo Okome and Nicaila Matthews Okome. We chatted with them to find out more about their new project.

Coloring Book App
Muoyo and Nicaila

What inspired the creation of Color Noir?

Muoyo: I hadn’t colored since childhood, and knew nothing about coloring books for adults until a few years ago when I noticed quite a few of them popping up during my routine App Store research.

I saw that they were becoming popular and successful, but I didn’t understand why. It turns out that people use them to have fun and relax, and as I started to play around with a few different ones, I began to understand the appeal.

Coloring Book App

I also noticed that (similar to many other forms of entertainment), despite millions of people using them, these coloring book apps made Black people an afterthought. It didn’t click to me at that moment.

Later, when my wife and I watched Black Panther and saw the impact it had on us and so many others by unapologetically telling a black story via a black director and a black cast, set in a black land with beautiful black people and black culture… it got us thinking.

We realized that we are also passionate about using our talents to amplify the stories of black people, and there is a huge need to do so. So I returned to this idea of a coloring book, and the vision for Color Noir took shape from there.

What different skill sets did you both contribute to the success of this app?

Nicaila: Muoyo is the Computer Scientist and App Guy, so he handles the project management with our development team, troubleshooting any coding issues, and getting the product made. I am the visual side.

I feel strongly about curating how things are displayed, the user interface, and the overall user experience, as well as the actual images in the app.

So I work to continually improve that and talk with Muoyo about what’s working and what’s not, what features we should include, and pay attention to what kind of images people are gravitating to. We combine this with feedback from the community to make Color Noir the best it can be.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs who have an idea for an app?

Muoyo: This might sound harsh, but I’m going to keep it real with you: nobody cares about ideas no matter how cool or novel they may be. People care about their own wants and needs, and the more you can help them with those the more successful you are likely to be.

You want to really make sure there is demand for the app that you want to produce so you’re not wasting your time and money on something nobody wants.

I’ve seen this happen many times, and even done it before. Not a lot of fun. Get to know the intended audience for your app and really fall in love with them, so that you can continue to solve their problems and serve them over the long term.

Just like with anything else worthwhile, it’s not going to happen overnight just because you have a great idea. You have to commit to learning and doing with intensity, and then continue until things start to work.

When I was getting started, I was able to follow in the footsteps of entrepreneurs who were quite a few steps ahead of me, by reading their books and blogs, listening to their podcasts, joining their groups, and even investing in their courses and seminars.

Ultimately I still had to put in the work and learn through my own execution, as no two paths will ever be exactly the same, but having their examples to follow helped to save time and cut down on my learning curve. This combination of intense learning and intense execution will always pay dividends over a long enough period of time.

In what other areas of the tech industry do you feel there needs to be more Black representation?

Nicaila: Just about every area. There’s no shortage of Black talent, but there is still a huge problem with inclusivity in hiring practices and the cultures within many of these big tech companies.

There is a need for more opportunities for black developers & engineers, technical leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, and every other position you can imagine. We are some of the biggest consumers of technology, so why shouldn’t we be among the biggest producers as well?

On our side, we are just going to take matters into our own hands. We want to have as much impact as we can. We’ll continue to attack the representation problem via Color Noir and subsequent apps we produce, as well as by helping other aspiring entrepreneurs via our respective podcasts, Side Hustle Pro and Game of Grow, as well our accelerator programs for aspiring podcasters (Podcast Moguls) and app entrepreneurs (App Moguls), and Muoyo’s book “The 7 Steps to App Success”. We are proud and excited to play a small role in many other success stories and benefit others along the way.

What else do think our readers should know about the Color Noir app?

Nicaila: Color Noir is currently available for iOS in the App Store (download at ) and is on the way soon for Android. We are super active on Instagram (@colornoirapp) and have a Color Noir Facebook group where hundreds of our users are sharing their creations, contributing feedback, and getting the latest updates behind the scenes.

We are growing our user base every day and will continue to invest in making this one of the best apps in its category, as well as in the entire store, over the long term.

-Tony O. Lawson

6 mins read

Silent film of Black couple kissing discovered, added to National Film Registry

They are on screen for less than 30 seconds, a couple in simple embrace. The man, dressed in a suit and bowtie, and the woman in a frilled dress. They hug and kiss, swing wide their clasped hands, and kiss again.

Titled Something Good-Negro Kiss, the newly discovered silent film from 1898 is believed to be the earliest cinematic depiction of African-American affection. Thanks to scholars at the University of Chicago and the University of Southern California, the footage is prompting a rethinking of early film history.

The film was announced Dec. 12 as a new addition to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry—one of 25 selected for their enduring importance to American culture, along with Jurassic ParkBrokeback Mountain and The Shining. The 29-second clip is free of stereotypes and racist caricatures, a stark contrast from the majority of black performances at the turn of the century.

The film was announced Dec. 12 as a new addition to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry, one of 25 selected for their enduring importance to American culture. The 29-second clip is free of stereotypes and racist caricatures, a stark contrast from the majority of black performances at the turn of the century.

“It was remarkable to me how well the film was preserved, and also what the actors were doing,” said UChicago’s Allyson Nadia Field, an expert on African-American cinema who helped identify the film and its historical significance. “There’s a performance there because they’re dancing with one another, but their kissing has an unmistakable sense of naturalness, pleasure, and amusement as well.

“It is really striking to me, as a historian who works on race and cinema, to think that this kind of artifact could have existed in 1898. It’s really a remarkable artifact and discovery.”

An associate professor in UChicago’s Department of Cinema and Media Studies, Field first saw scanned frames of the film in January 2017. The footage was discovered by USC archivist Dino Everett, who found the 19th-century nitrate print within a batch of silent films he had acquired from a Louisiana collector nearly three years earlier.

In examining the film, Everett noticed physical characteristics that led him to believe the film was made prior to 1903.

“I told students, ‘I think this is one of the most important films I’ve come across,’” Everett said. “But my expertise is not in African-American cinema. I didn’t know if something like this was already out there.”

To find out, Everett reached out to Field, whom he had worked with when she was faculty at UCLA.

A scholar who specializes in both silent and contemporary African-American film, Field is the author of Uplift Cinema: The Emergence of African American Film & The Possibility of Black Modernity. Her 2015 book examined archival materials, such as memos and publicity materials, to explore how black filmmakers used cinema as a method of civic engagement in the 1910s.

To uncover the origins of Everett’s footage, Field relied on inventory and distribution catalogs, tracing the film to Chicago. This was where William Selig—a vaudeville performer turned film producer—had shot it on his knockoff of a Lumière Cinématographe. That camera produced the telltale perforation marks which had tipped Everett off to the print’s age.

With help from the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Field identified Saint Suttle and Gertie Brown, who in the clip are dressed in stage costumes common for minstrel performers.

Their performance is a reinterpretation of Thomas Edison’s “The Kiss,” featuring May Irwin and John Rice. Added to the National Film Registry nearly two decades ago, the 1896 film contained the very first on-screen kiss, and was also one of the first films to be publicly shown.

But less discussed is the fact that Irwin herself was a well-known minstrel performer—a fact that, Field argues, would have shaped how viewers understood both the Irwin-Rice kiss and Something Good-Negro Kiss. Indeed, the discovery of Something Good-Negro Kiss could prompt scholars to reevaluate their perceptions of the time period.

“This artifact helps us think more critically about the relationship between race and performance in early cinema,” Field said. “It’s not a corrective to all the racialized misrepresentation, but it shows us that that’s not the only thing that was going on.”

The discovery also offers a reminder to archivists and film scholars that cinematic knowledge is based on an incomplete record—and the hope that other significant pieces live on, tucked away in basements and storage units.

“I’m optimistic that lost films are just currently lost,” Everett said. “They’re not necessarily wiped off planet Earth. We can still make a lot of important finds.”


Source: UChicago News

8 mins read

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

5 mins read

Couples Inc. : Luxury Handbag Makers, Gregory and Terri “Sylvia” Pope

Gregory and Terri “Sylvia” Pope are a North Carolina couple that created a luxury handbag and leather goods brand, Gregory Sylvia.

We reached out to find out more about their journey as partners in life and in business.

SB: What inspired the creation of Gregory Sylvia?

Greg: We have both always wanted to be business owners even before we met. Terri has always loved handbags but realized there weren’t any prominent Black-owned handbag companies in the market.

Gregory Sylvia

So, in 2010 we worked to establish our company with our name, logo, manufacturing, etc. We wouldn’t start sales until 2012 but we sold out of our inventory at our first event and had to take backorders so we knew we were on to something. The rest is history.

SB: What are the biggest challenges you encounter as entrepreneurs?

Terri: Our biggest challenge is that we’ve encountered as business owners is creating brand awareness. Unlike our large handbag competitors, we don’t have the big marketing dollars to make high end commercials or ads so we rely a lot on social media and word of mouth.

Another challenge we had to overcome was finding the right manufacturer. We’re perfectionists so finding the right manufacturer that can execute our designs and maintain a very high level of quality has always been a very important focus.

SB: You describe your products as luxury items. How did you decide on the price point for your bags?

Greg: We describe our brand as luxury because of the high quality leather and hardware used to make each product.

Through the use of pricing formulas, we work to keep the prices for each of our bags within the affordable luxury price point. Overall, we want to provide value by giving our customers a super luxurious design and feel at a great price.

SB: What advice do you have for other couples who are in business together?

Terri: The best advice that we can give to other couples in business together is to continue to make time for each other. Just like how you put in time and energy to grow your business, you need to do the same for your marriage.

We have a scheduled date night once a week in which we may go out or stay in but we can’t talk about our business. We both enjoy our business but having time away with each other is very necessary.

SB: Describe your individual personalities and explain how they come together to make the business work?

Greg: When it comes to business we are complete opposites. Terri is a left brain thinker so she is very logical. She is very detailed oriented and loves numbers.

I’m right brain oriented. He is very creative, passionate, and a big-picture thinker. Together we are able to marry our thinking and abilities in a way that we can leverage each other’s strengths while covering for each other’s weaknesses.

SB: Where do you see the business five years from now? 

Greg: Five years from now we see ourselves selling more than just handbags. Our goal is to expand our product offerings to men’s accessories and other types of non-leather accessories.

Our products and brand will also have much greater exposure with expansion into more specialty boutiques and large department stores.

SB: What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Terri: Make sure your business is structured properly and that you have a solid business plan. Understanding your finances or having a CPA to help you manage your finances is also key.

Know that not everyone is going to support your business and that’s okay. Your best customers will most likely be people you don’t know.

Another piece of advice is to invest in people. Network, build relationships, find a mentor and build a team that can assist you along your business journey. And finally, remember if it was easy everyone would be doing it. Don’t give up.

14 mins read

Today is International Self-Love Day Because We Said So

Here we are, a couple days after Valentine’s Day. The dust has settled and love is just a tumbleweed rolling down the aisles of retailers that are offering candied hearts, goo-filled chocolates, faux silk flowers, teddy bears and heart-themed jammies at a cool 25-30% off. Pro-tip: savings will probably grow to a full 75% off if you wait until Sunday.

Valentine’s Day is bankable because embedded in principles of love is the understanding that it is a shared experience. We are bred to love others starting with the people that had hands in raising us. Our love expanded when we added more people to our tribe. And, at some point in between, we were taught to love mankind. Valentine’s Day tugs at our instincts to express what we learned about love.

And so, while retailers are rolling back the love, we decided that today’s the perfect day to ramp up on some self-love. That in mind, Shoppe Black declares that, from this day forward, February 16th will be known International Self-Love Day (echo, echo, echo). Just go with it. Grab you some discounted merch and love up on yo’ self.

Inspired by the political shitshow forced up our spirits, International Self-Love Day was conceived (read: totally made up) to remind you, dear reader, to unplug and practice joy. While we’re in the lab chatting ribbon colors and brainstorming taglines, we challenge you to use this new holiday to workshop ideas on how you can hashtag resist and divest at the same damn time.

To help get you started, we asked a few of our readers how they practice self-care.

Meet Bradford.

Bradford Knight is a freelance make-up artist living in Harlem, NY.

“When I’m stressed I like to prepare myself a nice fulfilling breakfast and give myself a manicure. I work with my hands so they are my most important tool. My profession requires that they be clean and neat. I spent years having them professionally done, but about 5 years ago I decided to take on the task myself. I actually didn’t do for economic reasons. I did it because I use my hands to make people feel beautiful everyday so it was important for me to give that love back to myself in a small way and I felt that I was the best person to do it. I have always felt that self care was important, but if it wasn’t for a friend of mine recommending I look into a professional doctor like Gundry MD, I don’t think I would have stepped up my game. Doing a bit of research into anything, especially when it comes to your health can make all the difference.

I consulted with one of my best friends, who happens to be a nail tech, about the tools I would need and how to properly execute a good manicure. I went to a local beauty supply store and bought all my utensils and got to work. I even made my own hand scrub out of a concoction of coconut oil and sugar.

My manicures last for 45 minutes to an hour. I’m able to give myself the love, if only for a short while, that I’m giving to others for 8 hours (or longer) a day. It sounds cliche, but you must love yourself before you can give it to others.

I learned that self-care was important very early on in my career in beauty, yet I didn’t practice it until much later. My work requires a lot of energy so when I was done, the last thing I wanted to do was spend time in a spa or salon. I would much rather veg out with TV or bake a pie. Only in the last 10 years have I really appreciated how one hour every two weeks can renew my spirit. And, it does not have to be in a salon or spa. It can happen in whatever space is safe and rejuvenating for you. For me, it’s doing my manicure at my dining table listening to 70’s or 80’s R&B. For someone else it could be a weekend at a spa out of town.”

You can follow Bradford’s self-love journey @justbradford on IG.

Meet Erica.

Erica Sewell is a creative recruiter/consultant living and playing in Oakland, CA.

“I relieve stress by being still. While still living in NYC— I moved there when I was 21— I had lots of energy and could run the streets from day-to-night on a liquid diet with ease. As I got older, the hustle and pace started to wear me out more so I began implementing some life changes. My diet improved, I started cooking more and drinking less, and making adult decisions like understanding that I didn’t need to attend everything that I was invited to. It’s okay to get some rest and recharge sometimes.

I have always done yoga and prayed, but I really wanted to figure out how to meditate properly. When I lived in Brooklyn I took yoga at Sacred, where lots of dope women of color instructors would end the class with a meditation, but I never felt like I fully grasped it. I always did the Oprah & Deepak Chopra meditation challenges, but I would be thinking about everything from my next meal, to my to-do list. I finally went on a meditation retreat in Panama last year, organized by guru Light Watkins and he taught me that the goal is to quiet the mind but it’s ok if other thoughts come up during your meditation. Now I meditate twice a day. I also try to have sage and/or palo santo burning in my space when things get too cray.

I meditate for 20 minutes when I first wake up and 20 minutes at around 2pm. It’s tempting to immediately wake up and grab your phone to check to see what you’ve missed in this crazy world (especially now for me being 3 hrs behind on the west coast, I always feel like I’m the last to know the madness). Meditating before I do anything prepares me to deal with whatever crazy news is on my phone. Same with my work day – that 20 minutes breaks up the busy and stressful days. I have also been so much clearer and discerning since taking the time to get quiet daily.

I live near a beautiful lake that calms me and I walk along a portion of it on my route home sometimes, but really want to start the days that I work from home with a walk around the entire lake, which is 3 miles total. I need the sunshine, the exercise and the nature. I’m also still seeking the right hot yoga studio, but in the meantime I try to do a sauna, steam or bath house whenever possible. Sweating it out and healing waters are some of my all time favorite things.”

Follow Erica jetset around the world @escape_art.

Meet Nzingah.

Nzingah Oniwosan is a social entrepreneur and holistic health consultant living in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

“I had a major anxiety attack and was going to a counselor at that the time. We felt that an intentional self-care practice was crucial for me to deal with my daily stressors as an entrepreneur as well as the trauma that led me to seek counseling.

Now, I usually put myself in timeout when I am overwhelmed. I give myself a minimum 10-20 minutes to connect inward and remove myself from external distractors (social media, phone, internet, etc.) In this time, I practice breathing exercises, journal, meditate, or practice yoga which allows me to include the breathing and meditation. It helps me reduce the internal anxiety I may be feeling. It is almost a reset to give me a clear mind to go on with my day. I have been practicing this consistently for 6 years.

I also love to use aromatherapy. I diffuse different essential oils to support whatever mood I want to achieve. I love lavender. Sometimes I take myself on dates, it is not always in outing. I give myself breakfast in bed and 5 course candlelight dinners.

However, yoga has been the most critical. It has helped me to practice mindfulness and allowed my to reduce my stress significantly. Most importantly has really assisted me to have a regimented self-care practice.

I had a major anxiety attack and was going to a counselor at that the time. We felt that an intentional self-care practice was crucial for me to deal with my daily stressors as an entrepreneur as well as the trauma I was seeking counseling for.

Self-care is important to me because I have an autoimmune disorder that I have been able to keep in remission through holistic lifestyle change. If I’m stressed out even when I’m eating well it can send my autoimmune disorder out of remission. I am in business of giving of myself and I pour a lot out, which also means I get depleted. My personal self care practice is a means to restore and balance.”

You can follow Nzingah’s vegan adventure @yesbabyilikeitraw on IG.

Meet Marcus.

“Marcus Paul is an image and creative consultant living in Brooklyn, NY.

I invest in myself by practicing Kyokushin karate 2-3 times a week. It provides a spiritual and physical balance for me. I started to fully commit to a workout regiment about 2 years ago. I have also known that self-care was important, but I would go hard for a few months and then fall off. Now I am more disciplined. I travel on average about 30 percent of the time and it is hard to keep up when I am away. I do some stretching exercises when I am away.

I also unwind by treating myself to a spa massage and, of course, retail therapy. I have my eye on pieces from Casely-Hayford, a father-son duo out of London and Wales Bonner.

Find what centers you and make it a habit.”

Follow Marcus @marcuspaulstyle on IG.

– Jo-Ann Enwezor

4 mins read

New course, “The Power of Black Self-Love” offered at Emory University

“The Power of Black Self-Love” is a new course being offered at Emory University in Atlanta. This course is a combination of “Black Love” and “Resisting Racism”, courses taught by Dr. Dianne Stewart, Associate Professor of Religion and African American Studies and Dr. Donna Troka, associate director at the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence, respectively.

Dianne M. Stewart, PhD

Dr. Stewart’s course explores the theory and practice of Black Love, while Dr. Troka’s course examines how Black people have celebrated Blackness and demanded recognition of Black humanity over the last six decades.

Donna Troka, PhD

“The Power of Black Self-Love” combined students from both courses and tasked them with creating a final project related to the topics discussed.

Here are the final student research presentations:

Aiyanna Sanders, a sophomore in political science and African American studies, presented a photo exhibit that explored what Black Girl Magic looks like on the Emory campus.

Gretel Nabeta, a junior in interdisciplinary studies and film who is from Uganda,  interviewed Emory students from West and East Africa to examine how African cultures influence and promote self-love and the empowerment of women.

Nellie Hernandez, a junior in media studies and African American studies, created a video about the power of social media in the lives of Black youth to bring awareness to diversity issues and create community.

River Bunkley, a junior majoring in African American studies and political science, presented a personal perspective on black masculinity, self-love and the cultural importance of hair care.

Amanda Obando, a sophomore majoring in interdisciplinary studies, presented research on the sense of sisterhood and support created through Ngambikaa non-Greek service oriented, female stepping organization for first year students.

Shameya Pennell, a senior majoring in religion and anthropology, examined the music of three sociopolitical movements in black American history to analyze how self-love and affirmation are expressed.

Julia Feldman, a sophomore majoring in women’s, gender and sexuality studies, drew from the poetry, prose and biomythography of Black feminist poet Audre Lorde to create a short play that explores her life, love and commitment to justice.

Lynette Dixon, a senior majoring in women’s, gender and sexuality studies and political science, kept a journal of personal reflection on self-love and examined the theme of suicide indicates a failure of self-love or the supreme act of self-love.

Morgan Mitchell, a sophomore majoring in interdisciplinary studies, explored ways in which she learned and is learning to love herself through self-care.

McKayla Williams, a freshman majoring in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology, interviewed other students about how they’ve experienced the “policing” of Blackness while also exploring “things that black people love about themselves.”

Both Dr. Stewart and Dr. Troka, agree that co-teaching the class has been an enlightening, rewarding, such a powerful experience. According to Dr. Stewart, “Rich conversations have emerged, and I really learned a lot about where students are and how much critical, revolutionary conversation is happening within social media around the topic of Black self-love.”


-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson



2 mins read

Shoppe Black presents: “Jollof and Jambalaya” bka The Blackest Wedding Ever

On November 19th 2016, I married my soulmate. It was a perfect blend of her New Orleans roots and my Nigerian culture. One of the things I learned is how African the city of New Orleans is and how connected we are as a people.

Photo Credit: Delphine Fawundu

Friends and family came to celebrate from all over the world and we made sure they had the time of their lives.

One of the things that touches us the most are the messages we are getting from friends and strangers telling us how much they needed to be a part of or see something like this.


Especially right now, when the world is telling us that our lives are insignificant, that our joy does not matter, that our humanity is questionable.

Photo credit: Nicola Omatsola
Photo credit: Nicola Omatsola

If nothing else, our celebration is not only a symbol of the love we have for one another, and that of the community that surrounds us but that Black Love Matters. It’s political. It’s resistance. It’s ancient. It’s powerful. Nobody can take that away from us.

Photo Credit: Laylah Amatullah Barrayn

We’ll get more into details soon but for now, enjoy these videos that include the second line that took place right after the wedding ceremony and the photo shoot turned music video. Shout out to Alex K. Colby, our amazing filmmaker and friend who directed, produced and edited all of this amazing footage.




-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson

5 mins read

Dating while Black – Hard, but not Impossible!

Dating is a complex topic in itself, one with nuances that can be discussed for hours on end from literally every angle. Compound the mystery of dating with “Dating while Black” and you have a unique set of challenges for any eligible bachelorette to conquer.


As a Black woman, i’ve found dating while Black to be somewhat of an uphill battle. Particularly if you prefer to keep it chocolate. Taking into account things like age, male to female ratios, financial standing, education, interests, and ambition into account; worthy partners are sometimes in short supply. Some decide to take advantage of reverse phone lookup services while using online dating apps to make sure they know what they are meeting better so they can aquire the right partner.


A male friend whom I met attending an HBCU (or as my grandma once called them, where you go to find you a good Black man) once broke down the hard facts of my likelihood in finding a Black man to marry. He used the infographic below to demonstrate how bleak my chances were. I remember being floored by the numbers and him having to order me another tequila.


Perhaps one of the best modern examples of the Black Woman’s struggle to successfully date a Black man has played out on popular BET series Being Mary Jane. While purposefully dramatic and at times ridiculous, Black women across the world could find elements of Mary Jane’s life in which to relate to.


And though fictional the show did pick up on themes drawn from real life, such as discrepancies in education a box many Black women look to check off in their pursuit of a Black man.

According to a National Association of Education Statistics Study as referenced in several recent articles by outlets like The Root and Black America, Black women earn twice as many degrees in comparison to Black men.

Adding to this sentiment one of my best friends, a dashingly handsome bachelor, with a great job and two degrees suggested his ‘stock’ was increasing with time. He suggested, as women get older their standards decrease, making even mediocre men appear more desirable.

This theory also suggests that men who are already highly desired (those with great jobs, no kids, and cars) become exceptionally valuable. They often use this high value to leverage their choosing power. They essentially get their pick of an already highly successful and impressive female dating pool.

Theories on male stock

This raises the discussion on compromise and settling. There’s this running perception that somehow to be a Black woman desiring to date a Black man means that you will in some way have to compromise or eventually settle. Some argue women set expectations too high or have an unrealistic list of desired traits.

Essentially, it’s hard out here for a pimp. And by Pimp I mean a mildly successful Black woman with reasonable expectations, and life partner desires. It’s hard but not impossible.

Black love still exists. Blame it on my general rejection of the medias limited exposure of Black love or perhaps my Black parent’s 34-year marriage. It’s not easy, it’s not always immediate, and it’s not impossible.

walt+ella 35yrs

It all comes down to outlook. I’m a big advocate for making the desires of your heart known to the universe and willing it to in turn deliver. There’s nothing wrong with holding out for your equal cloaked in melanin. He’s out there, even if you decide it so. Focus on your brilliance and honing the things you bring to the table, you want to be ready when he arrives.

What do you think? Share your experiences on dating while Black below!


Contributed by Autumn Gilliam –

Autumn is a Fashion Publicist who loves writing, travel, photography, and advocating for diversity in media. Visit her here !


Autumn G