Shop Black

Here is a comprehensive list of Black owned body/beauty/hair companies. You probably already buy numerous products or are familiar with them, but it is a great list and comes in PDF format too.

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Supporting the Black Community

   It is my fourth day visiting my hometown, and I consciously made a decision to shop small and shop Black. In my Parkdale neighbourhood, that was easy. The Black-owned West Indian supermarkets and roti restaurants have been routine stops for me, and my family, for a while. A

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nd besides, they have good breadfruit and yams.

    In other areas, like fashion, Toronto is lacking in modern styles and it’s temptingly easier to shop at H&M or Zara. But there are Black owned and stylish shops out there, if you dig.

   For my 2 year old son, I switched from buying his clothes from GAP Kids, H&M and NUNUNU to Black owned Quinn + Fox, as well as Louis B KiJewshand Yinibinibaby. It can be difficult to discern which brands are Black owned, and which are simply advertising an urban appeal like the shoe brand Akid Brand, which has dope shoes but is owned by an already, affluent Californian white couple.

   I want to support Black enterprise because it is a cornerstone of unity. Look at any ethnic communities in Toronto: Chinatown has Chinese people shopping at Chinese shops; Little India and Little Portugal and Little Italy have the same thing. Predominantly Jewish Forest Hill is a thriving grove of Jewish owned businesses and homes. We, the Black community, need to continue supporting Black owned enterprise instead of the businesses of the dominant culture. That way, when we rise collectively and individually, we can count on the sustained support of our own people. How powerful is that? Btw, Carol’s Daughter is owned by L’Oreal now.  Let’s build our communities, support each other and see our integrity and accomplishments grow.

Be You!

   Somehow, it bugs me that a few people think Jaden and Willow are weird. They are not weird, they are creative. They are individuals.

Creativity is intelligence having fun – Einstein

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     We should be uplifting and encouraging our youth to just be themselves, and stop doling out such a severe backlash or sniggering comments. Let queer, trans, gay, and lesbian Black youth be. I love seeing all the queer women commentators drooling over Samira Wiley (OITNB). Yes, she’s mighty tantalizing. And you should feel no ways about voicing that in the Black community.

   And, all the love for Blerds should be mainstream love. The thug/gangster look is a look of the past. I’m so proud of Jaden and Willow for rejecting that typical Black stereotype and showing mainstream America that you can be whoever you want. Do you!

Homeschooling

  Homeschooling is a hot topic in the Black community right now. This past few months I’ve read several articles on Black families that choose to homeschool, as well as a variety of posts in the  Black Twitter community. I didn’t consider homeschooling for my own son before this week because I considered it to be too laborious and too difficult to schedule as a single mother. But after seeing several other university-educated single mothers with Black children homeschool their children, I realize it is possible. Money is tight, but knowledge abounds.

    I am able now to homeschool my 2.5 year old son because I’m in school, working towards a degree. I somehow flesh out time to be his facilitator and devote to my studies. My son is very young and our educational approach is Reggio Emilia play-based. Although, as an English major with a love for books, we do spend a lot of time reading. Particularly Afro-centric themed books, and books about acceptance and the environment.

   When we are not reading, we are gardening, cooking together and going for long nature walks in the forest. We count and play using loose parts and natural materials, and do a lot of arts and crafts, and puppet shows. For socialization, we have play time scheduled with another Black conscious family; and go to a play group once a week. On Fridays, it is my “day off” and my son attends daycare for the day.

    As he gets older, I will homeschool him formally. I reject the public school because it does not represent my son in their Euro-centric worldviews, it tends to criminalize and harshly discipline my child or give him inadequate attention, treat him as “other”; as well, living in a rural town with few Black children, my son faces racially motivated bullying. If I lived in my hometown, 3 hours away, I would not need to homeschool my son because there are many wonderful alternative and progressive schools. However, until I graduate, I will be homeschooling.

Black Extinction

Africans can only rise when we cease self-loathing and return to Ubuntu and self-love -Ama Biney

I recently perused through an Instagram account of unbelievably beautiful children from a Mixed Babies Contest page that had over 75,000 followers and various parents vying to get their cute kids featured for hundreds, likely a few thousand likes.

And, yes, biracial and multiracial children are beautiful. So are White children. And Aboriginal children. And Hispanic children, too. You know what other children are beautiful? Black children are beautiful. And if we think we are doing our children a favour by making them less Black, well yes, life will probably be easier for them with Europeanized features and silkier hair.

But that’s not the point! If I had my son after I became consciously Black, I’d have the Blackest, most African kid out there. My child would be Black mixed with Black as F#@%. We all seem to think lighter is better, but if all our biracial children choose non-Black partners…what will happen to the Black race in just one or two generations? We will cease to exist, and no KKK had to put a rope around our necks.

  I’m not saying divorce your White husband and go find Djimon Hounsou, and have 6 babies. I am saying that the Black family is dysfunctional and we need to come together, have our Black children and raise them proud of their deeply rich, hued skin. We need to stop fetishizing biracial children and start paying attention to the beauty of our own selves and the beauty of Black children. All love is beautiful, but if you want to continue having the opportunity to marry a Black woman or man, you’ll need Black women and men around in the future.

    We need to love ourselves, and teach our children that Black is Beautiful. So they can marry whoever they fall in love with, and not rule a Black woman or man out.

All of You

   I recently found a photojournal piece here with 9 heartwarming pictures of Afro-Iranian children. With an Afro-Iranian son, I was interested to see that in the southern region of Iran, these two cultures cohabitate harmoniously. Both Iran and Africa have long, rich history and culture, both that I look forward to sharing with my own son.

   

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The more one knows of their history, the higher their consciousness is. Knowing that Africans have existed in Persia since the ninth century, it is only natural to want to unearth the truth. And that is what we are seeking: the history of the Afro-Iranians which is a neglected racial minority but a group that exists nonetheless.

   And I want my son to be proud of his African roots and his Iranian roots, too. That is why I purchased a shirt for him that boldly had AFRICA written across it, and then purchased a few Iranian ones, on second thought. One with the Iranian flag, and one with Zarathustra and a beautiful gold lion. It reminds both of us that no matter what you are, to be proud.

Zai is Forever

In one account of Queen Nzinga’s life, she writes, “…Friends may betray you, mansions and servants may go; but zai (Knowledge) is forever”. This is true, what you learn cannot easily be extracted from your mind and it is up to us as Black adults to teach our young  queens and kings to love themselves and to know their history, before they learn to hate themselves and take part in a prevailing culture that downplays, ignores or misrepresents the Black people’s contributions and rich history.

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   It is imperative to provide literature for our young  queens and kings that represent their history, culture and faces. I did not grow up reading Rachel Isadora or books about Africa. I grew up reading Madeline and Caillou, and then series like Sweet Valley High. So, I’ve begun to stockpile dozens of Afro-centric children’s books for my son to cherish and read on his bookshelf. Knowledge is power.

 

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  Knowledge is power, and books are weapons. This may very well be why these books were kept out of our libraries. What will happen if a Black boy or girl reads empowering books and gains knowledge of how beautiful, strong, resourceful and intelligent Black people really are? That they can accomplish anything? That they do not  have to accept the things they cannot change, but change the things they cannot accept? It will be nothing short of a revolution, and we owe it to our children to implant the seeds of knowledge and inspiration in their minds. For they will move mountains.