pharoahe monch – stand your ground | justice for trayvon martin

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“In light of the Zimmerman verdict and polarizing debates on racial profiling, civil rights and the justice system, Pharoahe Monch releases “Stand Your Ground.”

Originally intended for his upcoming PTSD LP, the W.A.R. emcee chose to release the rough version today to encourage people to “get involved.”

Produced by Lee Stone, Monche utilizes hip-hop as a platform for political engagement, shedding light on the highly controversial law used to protect George Zimmerman, giving the power back to the people collectively and defensively against an unjust government system which protestors took to many squares and church pulpits. This potent, aggressive, hard-hitting track finds Monch speaking about the Florida Law of the same name. Listen below.” —Andrew Asare
(Vibe Magazine)

“I learned in life truth it must be slated
And I know my rights they’re un-alienated Descendent of the blood of slaves,
Used to be the one afraid,
Until I learned my souls divine amalgamate lets combine unify get in line and stand your ground…”

mj

benefits of morroccan oil | beauty

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Most of us wish for the ultimate secret to beautiful hair? Besides the supplements, shampoos, conditioners and anything else you have tried, the best kept secret you may have never tried might very well be argan oil.

This beneficial oil comes from the seeds of the argan fruit which takes 15 years to mature so that it can be harvested and hand pressed and bottled.

This tree is found mostly in southwestern Morocco, and is thorny and weather resistant. In the area of the Arganian Forest, this tree is known to live 150 to 200 years. The women of Morocco long have used this oil, knowing full well its benefits for the hair, skin and nails. You only need a quarter-sized amount in your palm, or drops on your comb or brush for luxurious hair that is healthy and shiny as the oil absorbs readily as a dry oil.

Argan oil is high in vitamin E, Omega 3 and Omega 9, five different unsaturated fatty acids and natural antioxidants. All of which hydrate the hair while promoting elasticity by penetrating the hair shaft. As a bonus, it also promotes hair growth so don’t be surprised if your hair seems to grow faster. Store shelves now have more of this precious oil in their products, talking about it in their commercials, and you can get it in many places on the Internet.

In Marrakesh, local Berber women work in fair-trade cooperatives where they hand-crack the argan nuts in between two stones, a technique they’ve used for centuries. Instead of being put through a machine, the raw argan kernels are hand-extracted from the hard shell, hand-ground in a stone grinder, hand-kneaded for hours and first cold-pressed into the oil. It takes one woman three days to make just one liter of oil. This is why argan oil is so valuable.

In 1998, the Argan forest in Morocco was designated a UNESCO protected biosphere so argan oil is sustainable.

If you want to de-clutter your cabinet and simplify your beauty routine, argan oil can become your go-to beauty elixir from head-to-toe. It’s chockfull of essential fatty acids, anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals that promote your overall health by moisturizing, softening as well as protecting your face and hair from sun damage – without harmful toxins and Parabens.

Below are 10 ways to use organic argan oil in your daily life:

1. Face Moisturizer – After cleansing morning and/or night, massage a few drops of argan oil directly onto your face and neck. Since argan is considered a dry oil, it absorbs quickly and is not greasy. If you want to use it as a serum, apply your night cream after the oil absorbs into the skin.

2. Hydrating Toner – Add a few drops of argan oil to your favorite facial toner to hydrate and tone simultaneously. You can make your own toner by adding a few drops of argan oil to Rose or Orange Blossom water.

3. Rejuvenating & Brightening Face Mask – Add a few drops of argan oil to your store-bought mask. Alternatively, make your own mask by mixing 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 3 teaspoons of Greek-style yogurt, 1 tablespoon of honey and 3 drops of argan oil in a bowl. Apply on a clean, dry face and leave on for 10 minutes. Rinse off with warm water.

4. Exfoliating Lip Scrub and Moisturizer – To smooth and moisturize your lips, add a few drops of argan oil and vanilla extract to fine brown sugar. Lightly massage into lips using circular motion and rinse off.

5. Face Glow – Add a drop or two of argan oil to your foundation, bronzer or tinted moisturizer for a dewy, luminous glow.

6. Leave-on Conditioner – After the shower, while your hair is still wet, add a few drops of argan oil to your hair, ends and scalp to hydrate and moisturize. It’s especially nourishing if your hair is dry from daily use of a blow dryer, straight-iron or curling iron.

7. Hair Styling Shine – When your hair is dry, use as a styling product by adding a few drops of argan oil to the palms of your hand. Rub your hands together and run your fingers through your hair to create shine and tame frizz. You only need a small amount. It lasts a long time.

8. Overnight Hair Treatment – Massage a generous amount of argan oil into your hair, ends and scalp. Wrap your hair and leave it on while you sleep. In the morning, wash your hair and you’ll have luminous, soft locks.

9. Cuticle and Heel Softener – Massage a few drops of argan oil into your cuticles to soften, moisturize and encourage nail growth. Use as an overnight treatment to nourish cracked heels by working a good amount into your feet and toes. Cover with socks and wake up to supple feet.

10. Body and Bath Oil – Add a few drops of argan oil directly onto your skin, into the bath or body lotion. It’s safe to use on a baby and to help minimize stretch marks on a pregnant belly too.

For more information go to http://www.morroccanoil.com

mj

para(dice)

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Sometimes my truth will sound like fallacy;
Sometimes it will taste like freedom;
The tightrope we walk between fiction and fundamentalism;
Is conquered only by our need to forge;
Human bonds with super human expectations;
Friendships with non-desirables, everyone but ourselves;
Impressing the same man we should sock it to;
Afraid of the same music we should be dancing to;
Silver and gold have I none, but what I do have I shall offer my people;
Protectors cutting us deep;
Watching us bleed;
Gambling with our lives before the eyes of our seed;
This city has sacrificed humanity and traded it for power;
Brute force, the fear of the badge meant to shield us;
Muting our voices, they yield us;
Pan-handled realities lay open at their feet;
Like dirty rags discarded in the street;
Will they choose to look?
Or refuse to see?

I wrote this poem in honour of Lunga Nono, the blind Cape Town busker who was the victim of police brutality on Monday 7th July 2013.

He was dragged, beaten and his guitar broken by metro police, all in full view of his wife and outraged onlookers who have long enjoyed his musical presence on the streets of Cape Town.

His only crime was waking up every morning to add music to the city and put food on his family’s table.

We hope to see him sharing his gift again soon.

ftp.

mj

carl sagan on the meaning of life

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“In the past few decades, the United States and the Soviet Union have accomplished something that — unless we destroy ourselves first — will be remembered a thousand years from now: the first close-up exploration of dozens of other worlds. Together we have found much out there that is magnificent, instructive and of practical value. But we have found no trace, no hint of life. The Earth is an anomaly. In all the solar system, it is, so far as we know, the only inhabited planet.

We humans are one among millions of separate species who live in a world burgeoning, overflowing with life. And yet, most species that ever were are no more. After flourishing for one hundred fifty million years, the dinosaurs became extinct. Every last one. No species is guaranteed its tenure on this planet. And humans, the first beings to devise the means for their own destruction, have been here for only several million years.

We are rare and precious because we are alive, because we can think. We are privileged to influence and perhaps control our future. We have an obligation to fight for life on Earth — not just for ourselves but for all those, humans and others, who came before us and to whom we are beholden, and for all those who, if we are wise enough, will come after. There is no cause more urgent than to survive to eliminate on a global basis the growing threats of nuclear war, environmental catastrophe, economic collapse and mass starvation. These problems were created by humans and can only be solved by humans. No social convention, no political system, no economic hypothesis, no religious dogma is more important.

The hard truth seems to be this: We live in a vast and awesome universe in which, daily, suns are made and worlds destroyed, where humanity clings to an obscure clod of rock. The significance of our lives and our fragile realm derives from our own wisdom and courage. We are the custodians of life’s meaning. We would prefer it to be otherwise, of course, but there is no compelling evidence for a cosmic Parent who will care for us and save us from ourselves. It is up to us. “

mj

south african soul funk mix | listen

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TRACKLISTING:

01. Phillip Mallela – Love Hangover
02. Spirits Rejoice – I’m So Strong Now (What Does It Matter)
03. The Shyannes – Osakai
04. The VIP’s – Bantu Bakithi
05. The Sound Diggers – He Went Back
06. The Moving Targets – Groovy Girl
07. Zorro Five – Good Books
08. E. Mbatha – My Friend
09. Letta Mbulu – Mahlalela (Lazy Bones) (S.A. only 45 version)
10. Herbert Xulu – Preasent Beat City
11. Phillip Mallela with J.B. Express – ??
12. Spirits Rejoice – Papa’s Funk
13. Pacific Express – The Way It Used To Be
14. Phillip Mallela – Tiba Kamo
15. Daffodils – Mzimhlophe Freeway
16. Carlos Dje Dje – Suffer
17. Spirits Rejoice – Happy And In Love
18. Batsumi – Anishilabi

The rhythm and raw soul in this mix, complete with rare music which can only be found in SA, aptly captures the spirit and colour of Mzantsi.

Love it so much.

mj

jou ma se graffiti: cape town street art

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This gallery contains 20 photos.

In the coming weeks I explore the minds of some of Cape Town’s most unique and inspiring minds. Keep an eye on this space to catch my interview with possibly Cape Town’s most well-known enigma, a paradoxical graffiti artist/street gospel … Continue reading

jasmine mans – ‘dear ex lover’

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Jasmine Mans

Jasmine Mans

http://soundcloud.com/amy-chen-13/dear-ex-lover?utm_source=soundcloud&utm_campaign=mshare&utm_medium=email&utm_content=http://soundcloud.com/amy-chen-13/dear-ex-lover

As read by Amy Chen

Dear Ex Lover, 

I promise I’ll stop chasing your memory in my dreams.
I’ll stop bringing your name up over cups of coffee, muffins, and loneliness.
I will marry a man and I will lay my heart on his chest
like red roses on Mahogany caskets
and I’ll have his daughter
and she’ll have eyes reminding me that God still believes in second chances.
and if she ever decided to love a woman, i will love bravery down her spine.
I will be reminded of all the times that we loved,
like there were expiration dates tattooed on our inner thighs.
If she ever comes home with eyelids like cracking Levis
and bruised kneecaps
and a heart filled with question marks
I will hold her like my mother never held me.
I will clasp her face in my palms like the new testament on judgement day.
I’ll tell her that love is the passion that allows you to do the right thing,
and that no woman can play coaster to a half empty heart.
And if she ever feels as if she is alone,
as if she is a hand-me-down pulled out of the depths of mummy’s closet
I’ll remember your name and I’ll mumble it under my breath.
and if she asks me what I said;
I’ll tell her I know what it’s like to drag a woman out of a cold war
and then being too worn to clean up the battlefield that it has made of you.
I’ll tell her that your heartbeat sounded like gun shells tripping over battered cement.
I’ll tell her that i know what it’s like just to want someone to remember you
and that some women are as foul as expired men in produce isles
and that apologies are like oxygen masks on a hijacked plane.
Forgive yourself before you EVER forgive the person sitting next to you.
I’ll tell her to never regret loving in permanent ink,
and that scars only give you stretch marks, something to gossip about
and that hearts and stop signs are fraternal twins,
lost in open roads and hollow chests.
And if my daughter’s mirror ever looks unfamiliar
and she’s too embarrassed and proud to run into mummy’s arms
I’ll pray, that she has friends with hearts filled with thousands of fire flies
who are not too cold to pray with her, who will tell her
to stop looking for the light at the end of the tunnel
and find God in the darkness.
If my daughter ever walks in my house like shattering glass, I’ll tell her about you.
I’ll tell her that we hurt like c-sections birthing dead babies,
and that we cried together,
and we prayed together,
and we smiled together like our smiles were the only ones that mattered in this world.
And that we hurt like women who loved women, who loved people that did not love us.

Dear Ex Lover,
I hope my daughter never knows what a goodbye kiss feels like..
I hope she never knows what “I’ll see you later.” really means.
I hope she never memories the dial-tone of a last conversation,
because a broken heart feels like poisoned butterflies taking their last flutters in the pit of your stomach

Dear Ex Lover,
I hope my daughter never bears her soul at a poetry showcase
with her first love sitting in the audience.
Knowing that the hands she’ll use to applaud her with,
will be the same hands that will never hold her again.

Poem by: Jasmine Mans

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=tpVLLq7KQyE&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DtpVLLq7KQyE

mj

mr tretchikoff and the women

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This gallery contains 25 photos.

Vladimir Tretchikoff, a Russian painter who settled in South Africa in the 1940’s after being released from a Japanese prison camp in Jakarta during World War 2 , is an artist who intrigues me dearly. His work is equally revered … Continue reading

spectrums of you

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Indigo child, scarlet son of Scorpio;
Undress my soul with liquid retribution;
Dissect my whole with images of valiance, glimpses of cadence;
Seen scattered across the quiet canvas;
The muted easel holds secrets known only to dwellers of your depths;
Your labyrinths, your dark alleys, your unguarded quarters;
Water colour reverence, refracted stained glass auras;
Paints my dark heart with palettes of silver and gold;
Potions of brush strokes, black magic passion;
Visual sorcery, spell bound to the magnitude of your spirit;
Essence of a gentle soldier;
Royal blue affinity, magenta holds her;
Awed by white hot hope, magnificently flawed on pure green slopes;
Our journey constant, curious, colourful;
Our worlds abstract, genuine, powerful.

mj

lauryn hill’s open letter | the irs, the justice system & the concept of reverse racism

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The concept of reverse racism is flawed, if not absolutely ridiculous. Most, if not all of the negative responses from people of color toward white people, are reactions to the hatred, violence, cruelty and brutality that they were shown by white people for centuries. Much of the foundation of the modern world was built on the forced free labor of black peoples. The African Slave Trade, the institution of slavery, colonialism, its derivative systems, and the multiple holocausts throughout history, where whites used race as the defining reason to justify their oppression, conquest, and brutal treatment of non-white peoples, are how race became such a factor to begin with.

The initial claim by the oppressors, followed a moral imperative (so they said) that people outside of Occidental and European birth were in savage and cursed conditions, and that God justified the captivity of these people, and the rape and pillage of their lands.

Ironically, these oppressors would try to discard this same God, who supposedly justified this brutality, in the name of Darwin, whose famous line ‘survival of the fittest’ was used to justify criminal behavior once the Bible could no longer be used as a hiding place for economic domination and evil intention.

Spirituality and morality were replaced by capitalism, and with it a conscious shift of focus toward the exploitation of the vulnerable.

In order to justify reverse racism one would have to first create an even playing field, undo the generations of torture, terror, and brutality, and then judge whether or not a non-white person is in fact a racist. This approach would require people to examine the need/addiction to feel superior to someone else for no justifiable reason, and the myriad policies: Spiritual, political and social, that it bore. True dominion is self evident and not the result of sabotaging another in order to achieve it. That would be an illegitimate as well as a fleeting position. The Universe, will eventually seek to right/balance itself.

Of course there are white people who live transcendent lives, not exploiting ill-gotten privilege or perpetuating the sins of their ancestors who used violence and deceit as a means to gain advantage over others. Humanity in proper order is obligated to acknowledge the Truth, whoever it comes from, be they Black, White or other. Righteous indignation is simply a response to long-standing evil.

Much of the world is still reeling from the abuses of Imperialist selfishness, misunderstanding, ignorance and greed. Black people remain in many ways a shattered community, disenfranchised, forcefully removed from context and still caged in, denied from making truly independent choices and experiencing existential freedom. Their natural homes, just like their natural selves, raped and pillaged of the resources and gifts God has given to them. Interpreted through someone else’s slanted lens and filter, they remain in many ways, misrepresented. Taxation without proper representation, might I remind you, was the very platform of protest that began the Revolutionary War, which gained this country its independence from England. Anger is not only the natural response to the abuse of power, but is also appropriate when there is no real acknowledgment of these abuses, or deep, meaningful and profound change.

If we took all of what we deem horrible regarding the criminal abuses that black people have committed over this country’s history, and add it all up, it still does not compare to the hundreds of years of terrorism, violent domination, theft, rape, abuse, captivity, and beyond that black people have suffered under the ideologies and systems of white supremacy, racism, and slave based paradigms. I say this only to say that abuse unresolved begets or creates abuse. How then does the chief offender become the judge? Might does not necessarily mean right. Right is right. People forcibly reduced to sub-human existences, so that they behave in sub-human ways, helps a system to justify itself or feel less guilty about its blood saturated foundation and gross crimes against humanity. People, like plants, grow where the light is. When you enclose a plant and limit its light source, it will bend itself toward the light, for the light is necessary for its survival. This same thing happens to people locked in communities where little light and little opportunity is allowed them, survival then forces them to twist and/or bend toward the only way of escape.

There is good. And I both acknowledge and encourage the good. Instead of throwing out the Baby with the bath water, we do well to expose the intentionally poisoned water the Baby has been forced to soak in since its origin in these lands. America’s particular brand of hypocrisy is gross (double entendre).

I shuddered during sentencing when I kept hearing the term ‘make the IRS whole’… make the IRS whole, knowing that I got into these very circumstances having to deal with the very energies of inequity and resistance that created and perpetuated these savage inequalities. The entire time, I thought, who has made black people whole?! Who has made recompense for stealing, imposing, lying, murdering, criminalizing the traumatized, taking them against their wills, destroying their homes, dividing their communities, ‘trying’ to steal their destinies, their time, stagnating their development, I could go on and on. Has America, or any of the nations of the world guilty of these atrocities, ever made black people or Africa whole or do they continue to sit on them, control them, manipulate them, cage them, rob them, brutalize them, subject them to rules that don’t apply to all? Use language, veiled coercion, and psychological torment like invisible fences to keep them locked into a pattern of limitation and therefore control by others. You have to remain  focused to cease from rage.

The prosecutor, who was a woman, made a statement during sentencing about me not doing any charity work for a number of years during my ‘exile.’ A) Charity work is not a requirement, but something done because someone wants to. I was clearly doing charitable works way before other people were even thinking about it. And B) Even the judge had to comment that she, meaning I, was both having and raising children during this period. As if that was not challenging enough to do. She sounded like the echo of the grotesque slave master, who expected women to give birth while in the field, scoop the Baby up, and then continue to work. Disgusting.

When you are beaten and penalized for being independent, or truly self reliant, then you develop a dysfunctional relationship with self-reliance, and a fear of true independence. When you are beaten or threatened with death for trying to read a book, then you develop a dysfunctional relationship with education. When families are broken up by force and threat of violence, then the family structure becomes dysfunctional. When men who would naturally defend their women and families are threatened with castration and death, then this natural response also becomes dysfunctional. When looking at the oppressor is punishable by violence, then examination of him and his system becomes a difficult and taboo thing to do, despite every bone in your body demanding it. When questioning or opposing oppression is punishable by death, imprisonment, or economic assassination, then opposing systemic wrong in any or all of its meta manifestations is a terrifying concept. Anyone forced to live so incredibly diametrically opposed to that which is natural to themselves, will end up in crisis if they don’t successfully find a way to improve or transcend these circumstances! All of which require healing. It is only by the Grace of God and the resilience of the people that things haven’t been worse.

Much of my music, if not all of it, is about Love, a therapeutic resolve created in response to the lack of messages encouraging people like me toward free moral agency. Helping to ameliorate this condition has never been addressed through the political arena alone. It is a sacrificial work that doesn’t simply happen between the hours of 9 to 5 or Monday through Friday, but when inspiration leads us to avail ourselves for the Truth that needs to be said. Unlike the system too often contrarily demonstrates, we believe that people can be and should be helped, and that trauma should not be criminalized but acknowledged, healed and dealt with. This takes awareness, sensitivity and a level of freedom in my opinion the system lacks. And if we don’t know or understand how to do it, then we humbly refer to a higher authority.

We have no desire to create humanoids, turn people into machines, or dumb them down so that they remain dependent longer than necessary to an antiquated system in denial of its many inadequacies and need to evolve. Instead we seek to educate and shed light on the snares, traps, and enticements that people set up in the name of business that are intended only to catch the sleeping and/or uninformed.

Why would a system, ‘well intentioned’, wait until breakdown or incarceration to consider rehabilitation, after generations of institutionally inflicted trauma and abuse on a people? To me it is obvious that the accumulation of generational trauma and abuse have created the very behaviors the system tries to punish, by providing no sufficient outlets for the victims of institutional terror. Clearly, the institution seeks to hide its own criminal history at the expense and wholeness of the abused, who ‘acting out’ from years of abuse and mistreatment, reflect the very aggression that they were exposed to.

mj

the foreign exchange – so what if it is

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These lyrics so beautifully outline what’s happening in South Africa and across the globe right now with our beloved Mandela’s ailing health and inevitable transition into peace.

South Africans need to unite and not see this as the end of anything, but the beginning of a very new era, an era where we can all hold up the legacy Madiba so long and diligently worked to uphold. A legacy of respect, equality, humanity, tolerance, empowerment, compassion and kindness.

The legacy of love.

“People running scared amongst these changed times
Recession, depression, unemployed and blind
Everybody needs a mental healing, yes they do
They do
Now’s the time to raise your voice and lift your hand
Show your love to every woman, every man
Nobody believes things will get better
But I do”

mj

converse collaborates with the simpsons

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This gallery contains 10 photos.

Pop culture geeks (yours truly!!) rejoice: 105-year-old sneaker maker Converse is teaming up with The Simpsons for a shoe collection inspired by characters from the long-running (it’s in its 25th season!) animated TV show. can’t wait for this collection to become available … Continue reading

madiba’s lessons in leadership

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Lesson #1 – Courage is not the absence of fear – it’s inspiring others to move beyond it
As a leader, people model their behavior after you.  If a situation comes up and you appear panicked and fearful, those following you will respond in the same way.  Mandela’s learned to appear fearless and as a result inspired others.

Lesson #2 Lead from the front – but don’t leave your base behind
Be loyal to the people that put you in power.  When there is a difficult decision to be made, or a situation that is sticky to deal with, make sure that your supporters understand your actions and motives.  Having honest communication with you base increases your level of support even if they don’t fully agree with you.

Lesson #3 – Lead from the back – and let others believe they are in front
It is often said that the greatest conversationalists do the least amount of talking.  That is because they spend their time listening.  Listen to those you lead and don’t enter the debate too early.  When the discussion is winding down, summarize points of view, share your thoughts and steer the decision in your direction without imposing it.  Mandela said, “It is wise to persuade people to do things and make them think it was their own idea.”

Lesson #4 – Know your enemy – and learn about his/her favorite sport
Learn as much as you can about those you will “go to battle with.”  By seeing the world from their eyes, it is easier to identify strengths and weaknesses and formulate tactics accordingly.  Knowing their favorite sport and teams allows you to identify on a more human level outside of the board room or “battle field.”

Lesson #5 – Keep your friends close – and your rivals even closer
Mandela believed that embracing and flattering rivals was a way to control them.  They were less dangerous in your circle of influence than they are on their own.  Invite those you don’t fully trust to dinner, compliment them, call them on their birthday and send them gifts.  You can neutral your rivals with charm.

Lesson #6 – Appearances matter – and remember to smile
First impressions are lasting impressions.  Strength and size are a matter of DNA and not a requirement for being a great leader but remember, appearances can do much to advance your cause and career.  People who are dressed well, smell good and are groomed appropriately immediately gain an advantage called the halo affect.  The halo affect associates your appearance with certain traits, either positive or negative.  For instance, looking professional, people assume you are a professional and give immediate credibility – whether you deserve it or not.  What traits does your appearance associate you with?

Lesson #7 – Nothing is black or white
Embrace the power of “AND” and let go of the “OR.”  Why choose between a raise OR more vacation time when you could figure out a way to increase productivity to earn a raise AND more vacation time.  Life is never either/or.  Decisions and situations are complicated so get comfortable navigating through contradictions.

Lesson #8 – Quitting is leading too
Recognizing when to abandon a failed idea, task or relationship is one of the most difficult decisions a leader has to make, especially when it was your idea in the first place.  Ingratiate reality and know when to gracefully accept defeat.

_____________________________________

“Long speeches, the shaking of fists, the banging of tables and strongly worded resolutions out of touch with the objective conditions do not bring about mass action and can do a great deal of harm to the organisation and the struggle we serve.” (Presidential address to the ANC Transvaal Congress, also known as the “No Easy Walk to Freedom” speech, Transvaal, South Africa, Sept. 21, 1953)

“I had no specific belief except that our cause was just, was very strong and it was winning more and more support.” (Robben Island, Cape Town, South Africa, Feb. 11, 1994)

“Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people.” (Chief Albert Luthuli Centenary Celebrations, Kwadukuza, Kwazulu-Natal, April 25, 1998, South Africa)

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” (90th birthday celebration of Walter Sisulu, Walter Sisulu Hall, Randburg, Johannesburg, South Africa, May 18, 2002)

“It is never my custom to use words lightly. If twenty-seven years in prison have done anything to us, it was to use the silence of solitude to make us understand how precious words are and how real speech is in its impact on the way people live and die.” (Closing address, 13th International AIDS Conference, Durban, South Africa, July 14, 2000)

__________________________________

1) Discover and embrace your passion in life.

‘The struggle is my life’ – Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela personifies passion. He has sacrificed his private life and his youth for his people, and remains South Africa’s best known and loved hero. Mandela participated actively in politics to oppose the apartheid movement. Seeing the unfairness and discrimination that the black, coloured and indian people are subjected to in South Africa, he strived to end the racial segregation. His whole life is lived in the vision of creating racial equality.

When you are passionate, you have a clear purpose in life. You attract passionate people into your life. Passion is the fuel of life. It creates an abundance of energy that sustain your actions. We all now what it is like to be near someone who has found their passion in life. They have this charisma and forcefulness that compels us to follow their lead and do great things.

ACTION: FIND YOUR PASSION AND LIVE YOUR LIFE ACCORDING TO IT. ONLY BY DOING THIS CAN YOU ACHIEVE GREAT HEIGHTS IN LIFE.

2) Never give up, ever.

Mandela spent 27 years behind bars as a political prisoner. But that has not left a dent in his spirit and stop him from continuing his struggle to rid South Africa of Apartheid. In 1994, 4 years after his release from prison, he became the first democratically elected president of South Africa at the age of 75.

Few could say they face the same kind of challenges and setbacks Mandela did. Even against a powerful, repressive government, he persisted. Even with his freedom taken away, his reputation grew as the most significant black leader of South Africa. In prison, Mandela kept at his struggle and influenced greatly the young black activist imprisoned in Robben Island, dubbed ‘Mandela University’, signifying his great influence in the anti apartheid movement even when imprisoned.

‘Not giving up’ has a new meaning observing the life of Mandela. When faced with challenges, he kept working to realize his dream, each time with new vigour, denying his enemy any chance of crushing his spirit.

ACTION: WHEN YOU HAVE A CLEAR GOAL, WORK TOWARDS IT’S ACHIEVEMENT DESPITE ALL CHALLENGES. SETBACKS ARE NOT FAILURES. THE ONLY FAILURE IS WHEN YOU DECIDE TO GIVE UP.

SETBACKS ARE NOT SIGNS OF YOUR INCAPABILITY, BUT OPPORTUNITIES TO LEARN TO BECOME THE PERSON WORTHY OF YOUR GOAL .

3) Accepting the differences of others. Practice tolerance and compassion.

Nelson Mandela’s lifelong struggle is about racial equality. It is about having the compassion and being able to live with the differences and respecting each other.

In the Rivonia Trial, Mandela was charged with sabotage. Mandela’s statements in court during these trials are classics in the history of the resistance to apartheid, and they have been an inspiration to all who have opposed it. His statement from the dock of the Rivonia Trial ends with these words:

“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

‘Even after his release from prison, as President from May 1994 until June 1999, Mandela presided over the transition from minority rule and apartheid, winning international respect for his advocacy of national and international reconciliation.
Mandela encouraged black South Africans to get behind the previously hated Springboks (the South African national rugby team) as South Africa hosted the 1995 Rugby World Cup.(This is the theme of the 2009 film Invictus.) After the Springboks won an epic final over New Zealand, Mandela presented the trophy to captain Francois Pienaar, an Afrikaaner, wearing a Springbok shirt with Pienaar’s own number 6 on the back. This was widely seen as a major step in the reconciliation of white and black South Africans.’

ACTION: TO BE AT PEACE WITH YOURSELF, LEARN TO BE AT PEACE WITH OTHERS. ONLY THROUGH TOLERANCE AND COMPASSION CAN HUMANITY BE EXPRESSED. ACCEPT THE DIFFERENCES OF OTHERS, RELINQUISH THE NEED TO JUDGE,AND YOU WILL FIND INNER PEACE.

4) Simplicity in life and Humility.

Mandela’s daily habits:

‘The years in jail reinforced habits that were already entrenched: the disciplined eating regime of an athlete began in the 1940s, as did the early morning exercise. Still today Nelson Mandela is up by 4.30am, irrespective of how late he has worked the previous evening. By 5am he has begun his exercise routine that lasts at least an hour. Breakfast is by 6.30, when the days newspapers are read. The day’s work has begun.

With a standard working day of at least 12 hours, time management is critical and Nelson Mandela is extremely impatient with unpunctuality, regarding it as insulting to those you are dealing with’.

It is believed that Mandela’s strict daily habits contributed to his health and long life. Simplicity and good habits pays great dividend in life.

Mandela has honorary degrees from more than 50 international universities and is chancellor of the University of the North.

‘Mandela has received more than 250 awards over four decades, most notably the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize. In November 2009, the United Nations General Assembly announced that Mandela’s birthday, 18 July, is to be known as ‘Mandela Day’ to mark his contribution to world freedom.’

Mandela retired from public life in 1999 to reside in his birth place – Qunu, Transkei. After retirement, Mandela was active as an advocate in numerous social and human rights organizations.

What’s remarkable is Mandela has successfully maintained his integrity and stature even after taking office when so many freedom fighters become dictators, intoxicated with power. Thus, he is hailed as one the great moral leader of our time.

ACTION: ONE OF THE BEST THING WE CAN DO IN OUR LIFE IS TO SIMPLIFY OUR LIFE. PRACTICE MINIMALISM. KNOW THAT MORE IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER. MANY TIMES, JUST BY SIMPLIFYING OUR LIVES, WE GAIN MORE. THE BLIND CHASE FOR MORE LEADS TO ADDICTIONS, CORRUPTION AND SUFFERING. BE TRUE TO YOUR ROOTS. THE MORE YOU HAVE, THE MORE HUMBLE YOU SHOULD BECOME.

Doing what’s right versus doing what’s popular.

Heroes are not perfect.

(sources: time,washington post & the hub)

mj

the power of a name.

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(Adam Alter, The New Yorker)

The German poet Christian Morgenstern once said that “all seagulls look as though their name were Emma.” Though Morgenstern was known for his nonsense poetry, there was truth in his suggestion that some linguistic labels are perfectly suited to the concepts they denote. “Dawdle” and “meander” sound as unhurried as the walking speeds they describe, and “awkward” and “gawky” sound as ungainly as the bodies they represent. When the Gestalt psychologist and fellow German Wolfgang Köhler read Morgenstern’s poem, in the nineteen-twenties, he was moved to suggest that words convey symbolic ideas beyond their meaning. To test the idea more carefully, he asked a group of respondents to decide which of the two shapes below was a maluma and which was a takete:

If you’re like the vast majority of Köhler’s respondents, you’re compelled by the idea that malumas are soft and rounded (like the shape on the left), whereas taketes are sharp and jagged (like that on the right). As Köhler showed, words carry hidden baggage that may play at least some role in shaping thought. What’s surprising, perhaps, is how profoundly a single word can shape material outcomes over time.

Take the case of the proper name, a particular type of word. Like maluma and takete, the names people choose for their children convey a wealth of sometimes unintended information. In one study, the economists Bentley Coffey and Patrick McLaughlin examined whether female lawyers in South Carolina were more likely to become judges if their names were more “masculine.” Some names—like James, John, and Michael—are almost exclusively male; others—like Hazel, Ashley, and Laurie—are almost exclusively female. But a third group is shared almost equally by men and women—like Kerry and Jody—and women with those names were notably more likely than their nominally feminine counterparts to become judges. The researchers labelled the phenomenon the Portia Hypothesis, after the female character in Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” who disguises herself as a man so she can appear before the all-male court. (Note that the experiment can’t rule out the possibility that the nominally masculine lawyers actually behaved differently from their nominally feminine counterparts.)

Similar linguistic associations influence how we think and behave in other ways. For example, if I told you that I was driving north across hilly terrain tomorrow, would you expect that drive to be mostly uphill or mostly downhill? If you’re like most people, you associate northerly movement with going uphill, and southerly movement with going downhill. According to research by the psychologists Leif Nelson and Joseph Simmons, this association produces some strange biases: people believe that a bird will take longer to migrate between the same two points if it flies north than if it flies south; they expect a moving company to charge eighty per cent more to move furniture north rather than south; and, as a different study concluded, they assume that property is more valuable when it sits in the northern part of town. Apparently these quirks stem from the decision of early Greek mapmakers to plot the northern hemisphere above the southern hemisphere—a decision that frustrated, among others, an Australian named Stuart McArthur, who proposed a corrective map that reversed the projection. This may not be the sort of effect that Köhler envisaged, but it does suggest that arbitrary linguistic traits have an outsized influence on our thoughts and actions.

What ancient mapmakers did unwittingly for north and south, lawyers do intentionally when they describe accident scenes. The defense might call a car accident “contact”; the plaintiff might say one car “smashed” the other. These labels really matter, as Elizabeth Loftus and John Palmer showed in a classic experiment. After a group of students watched the same series of traffic accidents, they were asked how fast the cars were going when the accident occurred. When the cars were described as having “contacted” one another, the students estimated their speed to be thirty-two miles an hour, whereas another group estimated that the cars were travelling at forty miles an hour when they were described as having “smashed” one another. In a second experiment, fourteen per cent of participants incorrectly remembered seeing shattered glass when told that the cars “hit” one another, whereas thirty-two per cent of participants in a second sample made the same error when told the cars “smashed” into one another. If a single word can change how people remember an event they witnessed only minutes earlier, there isn’t much hope for eyewitnesses who recall, often months or years later, events experienced under stressful, distracted conditions.

Beyond their meaning, words also differ according to how easy they are to pronounce. People generally prefer not to think more than necessary, and they tend to prefer objects, people, products, and words that are simple to pronounce and understand. In 2006, my colleague Daniel Oppenheimer and I investigated the performance of hundreds of stocks immediately after they were listed on the financial markets between 1990 and 2004. We discovered that companies with simpler names that were easier to pronounce received a greater post-release bump than did companies with complex names. (I also wrote about this phenomenon for the New York Post.) The effect was strongest during the first few days of trading, when investors had little information about the stock’s fundamentals and were more likely to be swayed by extraneous factors. (We also ran a series of additional analyses to rule out the possibility that the effect was driven by different naming trends across different industries, company sizes, or countries, and the possibility that successful stocks seem to have fluent names merely because they’re mentioned more often in the media.) Even stocks with pronounceable ticker codes (e.g., KAR)—the letter strings that investors use to refer to each stock—outperformed those with unpronounceable ticker codes (e.g., RDO) in the short run. An investor who placed a thousand dollars in the ten most fluently named stocks between 1990 and 2004 would have earned a fifteen-per-cent return after just one day of trading, whereas the same thousand dollars invested in the ten least fluently named stocks would have earned a return of only four per cent. (In the magazine last year, John Colapinto wrote about the virtues of simplicity in choosing brand names.

Even the names people choose for their children vary from simple to complex, and that decision determines some of their outcomes later in life. With the psychologists Simon Laham and Peter Koval, I found that people prefer politicians with simpler names—and lawyers in American firms with fluent names rise up the legal hierarchy to partnership more quickly than their non-fluently named colleagues. (The result persisted even when we focussed on Anglo-American names, so it doesn’t simply boil down to xenophobic prejudice.)

These studies suggest a sort of linguistic Heisenberg principle: as soon as you label a concept, you change how people perceive it. It’s difficult to imagine a truly neutral label, because words evoke images (as do maluma and takete), are associated with other concepts (as are “north” with up and “south” with down), and vary in complexity (from KAR to RDO). Still, you don’t need to worry too much about what you name your children. The effects are subtle, people with non-fluent names succeed all the time, and norms change. After three decades of fluently named Presidents—a Ronald, two Georges, and a Bill—Barack Obama ascended to the Presidency. Five years later, “Barack” has become one of the easiest-to-pronounce names in the country.

(Adam Alter is the author of Drunk Tank Pink: And Other Unexpected Forces That Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave, in which many of these studies are also discussed.)

personally, I feel Jean-Michel Basquiat has one of the best and most fitting monikers out there.

personally, I feel Jean-Michel Basquiat has one of the best and most fitting monikers out there.

mj

oschun

Image

Hold me sweet, gentle soul of ebony;
Pierce my smile with your honest kiss;
Arms my fortress from spears of doubt;
Skin of cocoa greets my lips;
Welcomes me home to his kingdom of honey and soul;
Eye of a Pharaoh, heart of a king;
Beauty etched in his spirit;
Manifest for galaxies to behold;
Magic bestowed upon his golden hands;
Menagerie of visions likened to dreams;
Echoing goddesses of auld in his cortex;
Me in his head;
We in his confines;
Us through the vortex;
Warm to my touch;
Slivers of art and divine confluence;
Resonate, penetrate the beings of our desire;
Enchant me;
Possess me;
Love emperor of fire.

mj

_____________________________________

In Yoruba mythology, Oschun is a river-goddess (Orisha) who reigns over love, intimacy, beauty, wealth and diplomacy. She is beneficient and generous, and very kind. She does, however, have a horrific temper, though it is difficult to anger her. She is married to Shango, the sky god, and is his favorite wife because of her excellent cooking skills. One of his other wives, Oba, was her rival. The Oschun river and the Oba river meet in a turbulent place with difficult rapids; their rivalry was symbolized in this intersection.

illustration by Thando Mbadi

illustration by Thando Mbadi

in her mary-janes

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Where are you going in those Mary-Janes?
To the end of the street where the hipsters meet?
What are you doing?
Are you changing lanes?
Chasing broken side walks;
Running from dusty window panes?
Where does the road end?
Will you curtsey, will you bend?
What were you thinking?
Are you still the same?
Clocking B-boys with decoys and someone to blame;
Summer time Rizzlas, Winter time flames;
Perched on a park bench;
High on sweet kush and shame;
Daddy swear he love you;
Mommy don’t know you;
The make-up don’t make-up for what they don’t show you;
Pretty little pictures;
Developed negatives the world never sees;
Where do they find you?
Who will you be?
Strolling down main;
Zara bags full of pain;
Find a mirror, find yourself;
Walking in her Mary-Janes.

mj

mj tribute mix – 4 year anniversary of michael jackson’s death

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1. MJ Intro
2. I Wanna Be Where You Are
3. I Want You Back
4. ABC
5. Rock My World
6. Rock With You
7. Billie Jean
8. Dont Stop Till You Get Enough
9. Dance & Shout
10. Wanna Be Starting Something
11. PYT
12. Working Day & Night
13. Butterflies Feat Eve
14. Liberian Girl
15. Remember The Time
16. Another Part Of Me
17. In The Closet
18. Jam
19. Bad
20. Thriller
21. Never Can Say Goodbye
22. Lady In My Life
23. Man In Mirror

The music lives on.

mj

mind the gap – exploring the cape coloured passion gap

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By Fran Blandy – Telegraph UK.

Dental modification is a teenage rite of passage for some in Cape Town – one that has been around for 60 years.

The laughing young man has a perfect set of teeth, his golden incisors glinting in the sunlight.

Suddenly he pops out a pair of dentures, revealing a gap-toothed smile, the four upper front teeth missing, a common sight among mixed-race Capetonians that has spawned outrageous myths and stereotypes.

A group of youngsters clad in baggy sweaters, caps drawn low over shiny sunglasses, mill around curiously before they start to pop out their own dentures, showing off gummy smiles and striking gangster poses.

“It is fashion, everyone has it,” said 21-year-old Yazeed Adams, who insists he had to take out his healthy incisors because they were “huge”.

One of the most enduring images of mixed-race South Africans known as coloureds is the frequent absence of their front teeth, a mystery to many but popularly believed to facilitate oral sex.

This sexual myth – not borne out by research – has seen the trend referred to as the “Passion Gap” or the “Cape Flats smile”, after a populous neighbourhood.

Jacqui Friedling of the University of Cape Town’s human biology department studied the phenomenon in 2003 and found fashion and peer pressure the main reasons for removing teeth, followed by gangsterism and medical reasons.

“It is the ‘in’ thing to do. It went through a wave, it was fashionable in my parents’ time,” she said of the practice which has been around for at least 60 years.

Dental modification in Africa is historically found only in tribal people, including filing of teeth and ornamentation, but in modern Cape Town the practice abounds, often as a rite of passage for teenagers – almost exclusively from poorer families.

Rob Barry from the dentistry faculty at the University of the Western Cape said the practice has increased, even though dentists are ethically barred from removing healthy teeth.

“Almost every week I get some or other teenager in here wanting teeth out,” he said.

He said he has made thousands of partial dentures for people who need to look acceptable at work or for special occasions.

Friedling said the dentures themselves have become a fashion statement, some decorated with gold or bits of precious stone or various designs.

She noted that the Cape Town trend preceded the hip-hop culture fad of wearing ornate gold or diamond “grills” on teeth that swept the United States in the last decade, in which people opted for removable gold or ornamented caps rather than extracting the actual teeth.

“Here, it was a case of them elevating themselves above the rest of their peers, (it was) not to do with hip hop culture. The minute they can afford different sets of dentures then (the idea is) ‘I am a bit better than you’,” Friedling said.

“That’s what makes it here in South Africa so unique,” she said.

Kevin Brown, 33, sits in his “office”, a crate on the corner of Long Street, the city’s nightlife hub, where he hands out cards for an upstairs brothel, popping out his teeth at passers by – often tourists – and laughing at their reactions.

“I am the pimp,” he smiles, displaying four gold incisors. “It is a fashionable thing.”

Ronald de Villiers, 45, lost all his teeth after he initially put in gold dentures which infected the rest of his mouth, a common occurrence.

He said his 11 year-old and 14 year-old had already had theirs out “to look a bit prettier” and says it is easy to find a dentist to pay a bit extra to remove the healthy teeth.

“I think it was initially a form of identity. If you look at the coloured people they are a hodge podge of everyone that came in, they couldn’t claim any of those ancestries of their own,” said Friedling.

To her surprise, she also discovered the practice among a few whites, blacks and even one or two Chinese living alongside poor coloured areas.

In interviews with 2,167 people, 41 per cent had modified their teeth of which 44.8 percent were male, in the only study of its kind.

Peer pressure was cited by 42 per cent while 10 per cent removed their teeth due to gangsterism practices – a huge problem on the Cape Flats – a mainly coloured area on the outskirts of Cape Town.

“They said when they have gang fights they take the people’s teeth away, it is taking a bit of their wealth away,” said Friedling, adding that different gangs would also have different implants.

Not everyone is pleased with their decision.

Ebrahim Jardin, 33, is not wearing his silver, gold or plain pair of dentures today. A cigarette is clenched between his gums.

“I should have kept my front teeth. Most of the younger people do it, but I don’t think it’s cool anymore. It is people expressing their stupidity.”

____________________________________

“Cape Malay’s ex-slaves have been pulling out their front teeth in back alleys for a few centuries now. The absence of teeth originally served as a visual “fuck you” to their former Dutch and British masters, who would usually determine a slave’s worth by their dental health, and as a symbolic way of taking back control over their own bodies. Since then, the Passion Gap has mutated into a weird Cape fashion, leaving the rest of South Africa puzzled and bemused at the scores of people who are willing to risk the collapse of their entire dental line just to get rid of their front teeth.

Most dentists now refuse to perform the Passion Gap procedure, but it hasn’t diminished the number of young kids who can pop out their fakes and give you the toothless salute. From Cape Flats gangsters and Hout Bay fishermen to premier league goalkeepers, Passion smiles continue to flash all across the city, either tributes to ancestral traditions or bizarre takes on beauty. Welcome to Cape Town’s own cultural enigma”

(via vice.com)

For more with pictures click the link below:

http://m.vice.com/read/mind-the-gap-jou-naaier

http://m.vice.com/read/smile-and-say-passion-gap

__________________________________

While I consider myself a proud South African (first) coloured woman, and it is no secret that this toothless wonder phenomenon is undeniably part of every Coloured person’s heritage, I will say that the generation who predominantly practised this is the one before us.

The new generation of Cape coloureds are smart, creative, free thinking, hard working, ambitious, curious, eloquent, proud of our unique, beautiful and colourful culture, not afraid to speak our mind, achieving great things and have formed identities of our own. An identity that will not and cannot be defined by what previous generations have done with their dental work.

Awe mother’s child.

mj

the strait

Featured

I was Sylvia, you an open furnace;
Seducing me, reducing me;
Flammable passion, spinning me head tales;
Frangipani faith, hibiscus heart;
Dancing on skyward table tops to caress the moon;
Music commands I return, she’s singing: “come back soon”;

Enchanted by petals, the colour of night;
Sovereign sycophant takes fanciful flight;
Wunderkind, high on Miles and Bette Davis eyes smiles;
She reads between the lines;
He bleeds between the lies;
Bo-her-mian joy child;
Navigates her struggle, in blended skin, unmended kin;
Mute the voice they call terror, known as Gia, felt as truth;
Hand of the blessed oppressor;
Allure with promises of gold dust & trust;

Three sleeps deep;
Woke up to burning tears, wild flames of fears;
An escape to nowhere, somehow, somewhere;
Vivid dreams of blood stained trees,
Broken hearts on leaves;
The past has passed, crossed over, far gone;
Walk a mile in my shoes;
Stay a while in my blues;
Eyes deader than disco;
Face soaked in smoke and jazz;
Her religion was clothed in sack cloth;
Ancient sphinx;
Shrouded , disguised as salvation.

Mistreated school kid, sneered at, laughed at, now he’s a lost cool kid;
Teased, squeezed, mocked by mean girls;
Those ‘I-hate-myself-so-I’m-always-in between’ girls;
She holds nobody hostage;
Terrorists don’t negotiate with her;
All doors revolving, all roads lead to evolving;
They warn her against the devils by day;
But become them when night falls;
Life force fed her restraint and composure and reckless abandon;
Grateful eternally, for human intuition.

mj

drake – jodeci freestyle | fresh

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‘…women screaming like Jodeci’s back..’

Drake released this today along with three others (posts coming)

I screamed. Jodeci formed an integral part of my pre-teen exposure to sultry RnB so I get it. I totally get it.

Eek!

Dope flow.

His new album is set for release Sept 17 (but nothing is ever set in stone)

mj

kanye west: the politics of black self-love

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(Article via Buzz Feed)

Kanye West has become a pop-culture punch line, but those who have dismissed him as aimlessly arrogant have missed the point. He is part of a long tradition of black artists who have fashioned a deeply political articulation of what it means to love yourself.

Maybe it was the absurdly nonfunctional shutter shades or the audacious (and, let’s be real, honest) Taylor Swift interruption, but at some point in pop culture, Kanye West became a punch line. When he sat down with The New York Times’ Jon Caramanica for a rare, rather lengthy interview, the responses were predictable. Various media roundups* characterized his quotes as “ridiculous,” “textbook-crazy,” “obnoxious,” and, well, you get the point.** All of this makes me wonder if anyone actually read the interview, because he talks about (and complicates) the very thing that others so boringly mock him for: his vanity. I’m not here to convince you to love Kanye’s music or to love him as a figure. What I am interested in talking about, and what I think is often overlooked, is how race affects the way people perceive and respond to his vanity. Kanye is a part of a long tradition of black artists for whom self-love is a political act.

The concept of vanity is so rooted in the idea of a singular narcissist that it can be hard to catch that Kanye speaks almost from a populist perspective — a populist narcissism, if you will. Granted, the thematic focus on community vs. the personal has evolved from College Dropout to Yeezus, but take a second and remember the very first song on Kanye’s first album. He has a chorus of children singing, “We wasn’t supposed to make it past 25 / Joke’s on you, we still alive / Throw your hands up in the sky / And say we don’t care what people say.” If you chalk up his “we don’t care what people say” attitude to simply his ego, then you have missed the point entirely. This isn’t about ego; this is about boldly asserting yourself in a world that is not meant for you. This is a vanity that is rooted in bringing the community up with you. To the ire of some who are so wrapped up in the anxiety of respectability, the message he gives the kids (in front of all these white folks who are listening to his music!) is not to be modest but to unapologetically laugh in the face of a world that does not care about them. The joke’s on you, white America. We made it, and we don’t even have the decency to be grateful. We’re laughing. We dare to laugh.

This is why it’s so critical to really think about how and why folks are calling him “crazy.” There’s a great Dave Chappelle quote from his Inside the Actors Studio interview that really gets to the heart of this. In a conversation about the difficulties of black celebrity life, Chappelle explains, “The worst thing to call somebody is ‘crazy.’ It’s dismissive. ‘I don’t understand this person. So they’re crazy.’ That’s bullshit.” To continuously label what Kanye says as “crazy” is to dismiss him as not worth understanding and to flatten his deeply complex work and complex personality. Kanye told Rolling Stone in 2004, “I’m the rap version of Dave Chappelle. I’m not sayin’ I’m nearly as talented as Chappelle when it comes to political and social commentary, but like him, I’m laughing to keep from crying.” “Laughing to keep from crying” is a tone that captures so much of both of their work, but it’s also a survival mantra. Originating with Langston Hughes, this expression encapsulates a history of black artists who have used wit and satire to capture their exasperations and make light of the world’s absurdities. The humor shouldn’t be overlooked here; people seem to miss that Kanye is very tongue-in-cheek, that he is constantly making jokes. As Vulture’s Jody Rosen puts it, “Anyone who gets riled up about ‘I Am a God,’ or about the album’s title, is missing the joke — or rather, taking the bait. More than ever, West is aiming to provoke.” Yes, and also, sometimes he’s just making fun of you.

The jokes are fun, but the difficulty and power of his vanity cannot be emphasized enough. To assert that, despite the boundaries of a racist world that strangles your very view of what is possible, you are still going to be out here stuntin’ on everyone, that you will love yourself and love yourself excessively, is powerful beyond measure. And as many black artists have said before, for black folks to love themselves is a political act. The poet Audre Lorde captures it best: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Kanye’s “vanity” is meant to be inspiring; it is not a mindless arrogance but it is pointed and intentional. One of the most compelling things he says in his Times interview is that he views his work, in some ways, as an extension of the fight for justice of the activists and artists who came before him. In their traditions but also in his own way, he is fighting for justice: “I’m going to use my platform to tell people that they’re not being fair… Justice. And when you say justice, it doesn’t have to be war. Justice could just be clearing a path for people to dream properly.”

Kanye’s infatuation with the sartorial world is also important to consider in the light of the black artists who came before him. As Monica Miller points out in the fascinating Slaves to Fashion: Black Dandyism and the Styling of Black Diasporic Identity, there is a long history of black artists who use fashion, art, and a couture-level interest in looking beautiful and self-fashioning as a powerful tool of self-actualization. From as far back as the slaves who dressed in their Sunday best to the black dandies of the English Enlightenment, from the luminaries of the Harlem Renaissance to the greats of the Jazz Age and to contemporaries like Andre 3000, black artists have used art and fashion to re-imagine the possibilities of what it means to be black, of what is possible and imaginable for black identities. This play with dandyism is both about an individual’s self-image and about how they are regarded, it is personal and political, and it is within the community and about the dynamics outside it. Kanye is very aware of this history and this balance between the political and the beautiful has been characteristic of his discography. He tells the Times, “That’s how I was raised. I am in the lineage of Gil Scott-Heron, great activist-type artists. But I’m also in the lineage of a Miles Davis — you know, that liked nice things also.”

Conversations that take Kanye’s vanity as a given annoyance obfuscate the fact that Kanye has helped change the game entirely for how black men are allowed to express their vulnerabilities in public. In the Times interview, he talks about how, in the public’s imagination, “the idea of Kanye and vanity are like, synonymous.” He goes on to explain, however: “But I’ve put myself in a lot of places where a vain person wouldn’t put themselves in. Like what’s vanity about wearing a kilt?” If you see him simply as a crazy egomaniac, you’ve taken away his right to be a dimensional human being. You miss the moments when he is so boldly asserting his vulnerabilities, his anxieties, his humanity — the times he is placing his bare self on the line as an artist. This bravado mixed with a deeply sincere self-reflectiveness has characterized his career from the very beginning. It began with the earnest confessions of his first single and grew to become to an entire album where he sings — despite openly acknowleging he’s a horrible singer — about heartbreak. It’s hard to imagine the sappy crooning of Drake or the angsty emo rap of Kid Cudi existing if it weren’t for Kanye. And, to return to the sartorial for a moment, notice how in that quote, he articulates his expression of vulnerability in terms of fashion choices, in terms of a leather kilt. He’s keenly aware of the way black identity, and black masculinity in particular, is wedded to an image, a static image, and he purposefully plays with that.

All of this is obviously not to say that Kanye is immune from criticism or that I, myself, have never side-eyed things he has said or done. But ultimately, I am grateful for the space that his bold and unapologetically vain work has created for black artists, for black children, for dreamers. On a more fundamental level, this conversation begs the question, how much pride is allowed for one person? At what point does being proud of yourself turn into being “too vain”? Who decides? Kanye has just dropped Yeezus, an incredibly dense and complicated album that revels in a dark spiral of introspection mixed with the political articulations and sonic embellishing that is so characteristic of his canon. His work continues to refuse an easy reading, and this album boldly proclaims that he is someone you must pay attention to. You don’t have to love it, but you will respect it.

*It should be noted that BuzzFeed published a quote collection titled “The 10 Best/Craziest/Most Inspiring Quotes From Kanye’s New York Times Interview.”

**Vulture went on to change the title to “amazing/ridiculous” and took out this sentence questioning his sanity: “The thing about Kanye is that he’s great. The other thing about him is that his grasp on reality is so loose, you’re always afraid he’s going to slip off into that special place reserved for chronic stoners and people who’ve been committed.”

(Article via Buzz Feed)

mj

kenny kunene’s open letter to president zuma

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Dear President Jacob Zuma…

I’m writing this because I’ve never been more disappointed with the ANC you lead. I was once your fervent supporter, I attended some of those night vigils during your trials, and, like many, I believed you would be the force for change the youth and the poor desperately need in our country. Like many others, I donated to your cause when I was called on, and allowed my facilities to be used for ANC and Youth League meetings, sometimes for unusual meetings where your political comeback was planned.

You may wonder what qualifies me to make any kind of political comment. As everyone knows, I’m just a socialite and a businessman, but it’s also no secret I am a hobbyhorse for politicians to ride whenever they want to criticise “crass materialism” and the decay of morals. It’s true, I like to spend, and I’m not an angel, but unlike politicians I’m not spending taxpayers’ money. My real point is that, as a socialite and a businessman, I meet many people, including politicians. When they speak to your face, Mr President, they tell you your imperial clothes are very stylish. When they talk to me, and feel they are safe from your army of spies, most of them admit that you, the emperor, have no clothes.

The Gupta issue alone should be the last straw for many South Africans. But the extent of how much the Gupta family controls you, and by implication this country, has not even begun to be understood. It’s amazing how terrified most people in the ANC are to speak about this reality, because they truly fear you. Even if you’re not in government, tenders are used to inspire fear among people of influence. Thank God my livelihood is not dependent on tenders. I’ll save you the trouble of trying to find out if I have any tenders so you can cut me out of them. I don’t have any.

You show no loyalty even to those who kept you out of prison. After the Shaiks and Julius Malema, the Guptas must know that you can drop them faster than they could drop your name. In your quest for self-preservation, you have become heartless.

The reason I supported you and your campaign is because you were marketed to us as someone who would unify us and get rid of the politics of fear, but today there’s more fear and more division in the ANC than ever before. In public you smile and laugh, but in truth you behave like a monster, a tyrant who will target perceived enemies ruthlessly, and because of that fear few dare to speak openly. We’d have had yet another Cabinet reshuffle if your wings had not been clipped a little in Mangaung.

Of course, I am not so naive as to blame everything regrettable that happens in the ANC on you. But in my home province, the Free State, the premier, Ace Magushule, imitates your behaviour and even seems to be trying to outdo you in being entangled with the Guptas. He learnt it from you. He thinks its okay to blow R40-million (or R140-million, others say) on a website. It’s not a great website either, by the way. When even your Kenny Kunenes start thinking a guy is wasting money shamelessly, you should know how bad it is. Of course, we’d all like to know where that money really went.

This is not what the ANC is or should be. We thought it was bad enough with the Shaiks – but who could have predicted your, and therefore our, wholesale nationalisation by the Guptas?

Even your immediate community, your neighbours in Nkandla, have to walk past your ridiculously overpriced palace donated to you by a once-unsuspecting public, knowing how you have your own private clinic they cannot use and their children must play in the dusty streets among the stones, while your compound has an astroturf sports field that cost the taxpayer R3.5-million and costs R100 000 a month to maintain. How is fake grass a part of security upgrades?

Everyone knows the Public Protector’s report will find damning evidence of what went on there – but something must be said now already, in case you find a way to shut her up too.

It’s no wonder the ANC lost the vote in Nkandla. If the people who know you best, the place you are from and where you occupy tribal land, do not trust you enough to vote for you, why should the rest of us?

This ANC is no longer the ANC of John Langa Dube, Oliver Tambo and other illustrious names. I’m also getting tired of hearing about how the ANC is bigger than any individual.

There are those who are stubbornly loyal to the ANC, as if it’s some kind of marriage, who keep the faith that some day the party will return to its roots. But even if they’re my friends, I can’t enthusiastically join in with the declarations of those who say they will die in coffins wrapped in ANC colours, no matter what, as my former business partner Gayton McKenzie once said to me.

Mr President, I don’t want to be one of those who tell you in fear that you have clothes on, when it’s obvious you are completely exposed. I know the dogs will be set on me for saying this, but you have been naked for longer than most of us were willing to admit. And you’re now stripping the ANC of the last shred of its integrity. The world laughs at us.

I love the ANC, or what it’s supposed to be, but I don’t love your ANC. For those of us who care, the question now is, as Vladimir Lenin asked: “What is to be done?” – The Star

playboy Kunene

playboy Kunene

Zuma flips

Zuma flips

mj

Still

I sometimes wonder whether I’ll ever forget you;
If time will eventually cure me of you;
Or whether you’ll continue to dwell secretly;
In the darkest corners of my heart;
And wander in the most private hallways of my mind; Like a ghost held captive in horizon-less times.

Noyo Closet Opens To African Fashion

Creative directors and friends, Nontando Mposo and Yolanda Matyolo are proud African women who not only love fashion, but who execute style in their daily work and play lives.

Seeing a gap in the market for functional, classic, on trend pieces in traditional African prints, journalist Nontando and town planner, Yolanda, found that the natural progression was for them to fill this gap in cultural aesthetics, and embark on this journey which has now manifested as Noyo Closet.

Sourcing fabric all over Africa, the prints Noyo Closet use include kente, ankara, shweshwe and kanga. Clients are encouraged to select the fabric of their choice and submit which design they would like the garment to be styled in, and Noyo Closet will take exact measurements, and spin their magic.

With a successful launch held in May, a notable presence in the media and at fashion events in Cape Town, most recently the Mercedes-Benz Bokeh Fashion Film Festival(where the team were given Style Africa’s Best Dressed nod!); Noyo Closet are set to take Cape Town, South Africa and eventually Africa by storm with their distinctly ethnic print style spun with a modern, edgy, functional twist.

To order your custom made garments contact noyocloset@gmail.com

For updates on new fabrics, events, sales etc, follow them on @NoyoCloset and Like their Noyo Closet Facebook page.10277594_10152128583753697_1407237412992786419_n

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The 7 Female Rappers You Should Be Listening To Right Now

Fierce as FUCK.

TIME

Hip-hop bible XXL recently announced their 2014 Freshman Class of 12 up-and-coming rappers. The annual list featured incredible talent like Chance the Rapper, Jon Connor and Ty Dollar $ign. One thing the list didn’t have, though? Women.

In light of that, it seemed like a good time to revisit the subject of female MCs — particularly so because female-fronted hip hop is on the cusp of a resurgence. Not only does Nicki Minaj have her third studio album slated to drop by the end of the year — and the femcee promises a return to her fiery hip-hop roots — but rapper Iggy Azalea has found mainstream success in her collaborations with both Ariana Grande and Charli XCX. Artists like Angel Haze, Jean Grae and Azealia Banks are all working hard, too, to make it in the male-dominated world of hip-hop, and they aren’t alone.

Here are seven incredible female…

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I am fucking crazy. But I am free.

Video

“I was in the winter of my life- and the men I met along the road were my only summer. At night I fell sleep with visions of myself dancing and laughing and crying with them. Three years down the line of being on an endless world tour and memories of them were the only things that sustained me, and my only real happy times. I was a singer, not a very popular one, who once had dreams of becoming a beautiful poet- but upon an unfortunate series of events saw those dreams dashed and divided like a million stars in the night sky that I wished on over and over again- sparkling and broken. But I really didn’t mind because I knew that it takes getting everything you ever wanted and then losing it to know what true freedom is.

When the people I used to know found out what I had been doing, how I had been living- they asked me why. But there’s no use in talking to people who have a home, they have no idea what its like to seek safety in other people, for home to be wherever you lay your head.

I was always an unusual girl, my mother told me that I had a chameleon soul. No moral compass pointing me due north, no fixed personality. Just an inner indecisiveness that was as wide as wavering as the ocean. And if I said that I didn’t plan for it to turn out this way I’d be lying- because I was born to be the other woman. I belonged to no one- who belonged to everyone, who had nothing- who wanted everything with a fire for every experience and an obsession for freedom that terrified me to the point that I couldn’t even talk about- and pushed me to a nomadic point of madness that both dazzled and dizzied me.

Every night I used to pray that I’d find my people- and finally I did- on the open road. We have nothing to lose, nothing to gain, nothing we desired anymore- except to make our lives into a work of art.

Who are you?
Are you in touch with all of your darkest fantasies?
Have you created a life for yourself where you can experience them?
I have. I am fucking crazy.
But I am free.’

G-Star Presents: RAW Night Johannesburg

On 15th May, international denim pioneer G-Star RAW marked its South African presence by hosting one of their globally renowned RAW Night events in Johannesburg, an eclectic evening of live music, art and denim innovation.

Johannesburg’s RAW Night transformed Arts on Main, the city’s premier hub for contemporary art and creativity, into a space of denim worship for the evening. Known for his cult-like following, underground musician Okmalumkoolkat performed live, alongside installations of Faith47 and G-Star RAW’s atelier Amsterdam’s showcase of exclusive denim art objects. Notable guests of the evening included DJ Euphonik, Chiano Sky, Tamara Dey and Isaac Klawansky, Eda Rose, Chad Saaiman, Masego Maps Maponyane, Bonang Matheba, Nakhane Toure, Thapelo Mokoena and Boitumelo Thulo.

Johannesburg joined an existing line-up of influential cities, from Tokyo and London, to New York, and LA, who have all hosted RAW Nights. RAW Nights bring G-Star’s core DNA to life, presenting cutting-edge talents from across the creative world in intimate and surprising locations. In Johannesburg, RAW Night guests directly experienced the concept of unexpected combinations that characterise G-Star’s clothing collections, various projects and collaborations, which include RAW Crossovers, fashion shows, and global campaigns.

G-Star RAW is a leader in the denim industry, having built a reputation for both craftsmanship and innovation. In 1996 G-Star introduced its ‘raw denim’ concept, triggering a revolution within the denim industry – since it had been dominated for almost 20 years by heavily washed and treated garments. With ‘raw denim’, G-Star presented untreated fabrics in solid colours, offering a more clean and sophisticated denim style.

G-Star RAW Hosts Exclusive RAW Night in Johannesburg

Enjeanuity

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On 15th May, international denim pioneer G-Star RAW marked its South African presence by hosting one of their globally renowned RAW Night events in Johannesburg, an eclectic evening of live music, art and denim innovation.

photo 3 (1)

Johannesburg’s RAW Night transformed Arts on Main, the city’s premier hub for contemporary art and creativity, into a space of denim worship for the evening. Known for his cult-like following, underground musician Okmalumkoolkat performed live, alongside installations of Faith47 and G-Star RAW’s atelier Amsterdam’s showcase of exclusive denim art objects. Notable guests of the evening included DJ Euphonik, Chiano Sky, Tamara Dey and Isaac Klawansky, Eda Rose, Chad Saaiman, Masego Maps Maponyane, Bonang Matheba, Nakhane Toure, Thapelo Mokoena and Boitumelo Thulo.

Johannesburg joined an existing line-up of influential cities, from Tokyo and London, to New York, and LA, who have all hosted RAW Nights. RAW Nights bring G-Star’s core DNA to life, presenting cutting-edge talents…

View original post 181 more words