Thursday, July 24, 2008

Black Relationships in America

A while back the New York Times reported that 70% of African American women live alone. The 2006 US Census Data concluded nearly 50% of African American women have never been married. Why is this? Some would have us believe that black women are single because our standards are too high. Why wait for the middle-class white collar brother when the man working on the construction site or collecting our trash is available? Others have said, the black woman's insistence on dating black men is the problem.
Why not look to other races for companionship,
black men have been doing it for years. Then there's the ol' too many black men are in jail, on drugs, or just downright trifling that it's become an issue of mathematics. Too many women, not enough men. I belong to the school that believes all of these things in some way are responsible for the disproportionate number of single black women to men. However I know that we can sit around and point fingers at each other until the cows come home and still not get anywhere unless we're willing to talk to one another. That's right black men and women together discussing relationships, marriage, parenting, finances and community building. Though I did not watch the CNN special, (I have satellite T.V. - it was raining - nuff said) I did watch a few of the segments made available on the CNN website (not sure if there from this special or an older one.) I am going to reserve my judgment of the series until I get a chance to watch it in it's entirety. What I will say is that I hope at the very least this special will open the door to a long overdue exchange between brothers and sisters.

Thank you to Dr. Joyce Morley Ball for taking time out to join me on this week's Cocoa Mode and also to playwright, Mary McCaullum. If you're in the DC area please consider seeing her play The 70% Club this Friday and Saturday night at Trinity College. You can buy your tickets here. See you there!

Photo by Derek Anderson

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Up Next: Kissey Asplund

Direct from Sweden, Kissey Asplund is gearing up to take the U.S. by storm with her unusual brand of Hip Hop/Electronica/Jazz. This past weekend I got to see her perform live at The Bloom Bar in Washington D.C. The venue was small and HOT HOT HOT (like no A/C on a 80+ degrees night hot) but that didn't stop Kissey from giving it her all. Like Erykah or Bjork, Kissey is more of a vocalist than a singer which in my opinion makes her sound even more interesting. A few days before the Washington DC performance Kissey called into my Global Hip Hop show, The Cipher on FLAVA, Worldspace Channel 204. We talked beats, technology and Celene Dion! Check it out.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Cocoa Om is my latest on-line project designed to encourage women of color to consider a more holistic approach to living. I am using the Cocoa Om blog to document the final phase of my yoga teachers training as well as provide you with information that I hope inspire positive changes in your life - mind, body and soul. Please check it you and let me know what you think.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Pass the NyQuil

Normally I wouldn't touch the stuff, but if I don't shake this nasty little flu in the next 24 hours, you can call me a convert. On second thought, don't call me at all cause I'll be KNOCKED OUT!!! Since my scratchy throat, stuffy nose and nagging cough have temporarily suspended all normal brain activity, I'll just leave you with this piece of musical/video goodness to set your weekend off right.

Fonzworth Bentley, Kanye West, Andre 3000 and Sa-Ra.
Everybody [Don't Stop]

Good googly-moogly, I love that Andre 3000!!!
Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

In case you missed it...

In case you missed today's Cocoa Mode in the Eagle's Nest all it not loss. Tune into the encore performance at 2:00am on XM Channel 169. If that's too late (or too early) for you, check back for the downloadable podcast on Monday.

Check out Dorri C. Scott's website: High Heels and High Worth.
Jam Donaldson's new t-shirt line: Jam Donaldson Designs.

Looks like I caught a little bug while I was whoopin' it up in Detroit, so I'm going to take it easy for the rest of the day. Check back tomorrow for more.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

It's that time again....

It's time for the season premier of the show to which all reality based competition shows are compared. PROJECT RUNWAY! Season 5 premiers tonight and I will be glued to the T.V. waiting to see what crazy challenges Tim, Heidi and Nina come up with this time around. I'll also be keeping an eye on the TWO sisters who participating in this season's challenge.

Up first Terri: A 39 year old free-lance designer from Chicago who's worked as an assistant designer to Barbara Bates, a stylist and merchandiser for Nordstrom, and a regional visual manager for Levi's. She is currently working as a Victoria's Secret visual manager and would like to break out with her own designs. She has eclectic and funky styles that compliment her own unique personality. Karl Lagerfeld is Terri's biggest fashion inspiration.

Next, Korto: A 33 year old Liberian native who moved to Canada to attend Fashion School. The Bravo website lists her status as "still sewing", not sure what that means. She is inspired by rich fabrics and textures and says her designs are intended for real, full-figured women. In her spare time, Korto works as a freelance fashion photographer, dances in an African dance troupe and does African hair braiding and makeup. She says her family considers her to be fun and easygoing.

The brothers are also represented by Jerell, a 28 year old former model turned designers. Like Korto, he is "still sewing" and describes his style as "eclectic and bold".

Here's an interesting little tidbit, in the past four seasons only one woman has walked away with the crown (and the money)and none of the African American contestants have won, though we came close with Mycheal Knight and Kara Saun. Maybe this year we'll kill two birds with one stone and see a sista' girl rise to the top. Keep your fingers crossed!!!

Check out the Bravo website for more info.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Be Inspired!

MC/Actress/Activist/Writer Toni Blackman was introduced to me many years ago by a colleague at XM Satelitte Radio. At the time she was the U.S. Hip Hop Ambassador and had just returned from Senegal where she was working with a group of Senegalese MC's on a Tran-Atlantic Hip Hop collaboration. Through the years I featured Toni on Worldzone and Flava. I've been trying to get her on Cocoa Mode for a while, but she's an incredibly busy woman with so much going on, including her latest project - The Lyrical Embassy. In Toni's words, " The Lyrical Embassy represents the community that believes in inspiration and empowerment through creativity, art and music. It serves as an umbrella for all the work I've done with Freestyle Union and I Rhyme Like A Girl, extending the reach by developing a cadre of artist/educators who will teach and perform in workshops as Lyrical Ambassadors in 2009. It offers tools and resources, including a CD and a corporate offering to create more impact. It is a platform to work together to make music, make change, and groom a new group of world-class leaders".
Toni is one of those sisters who understands the power of Hip Hop music and culture and is on the front line teaching young people both here and abroad how to channel their creative energy in positive ways. When all that Imus/Hip Hop mess was going on, I kept watching and hoping that Toni or any sister involved in the Hip Hop culture would be asked to represent the female perspective, unfortunately rather than allow us to speak for ourselves, they called on the men to speak for us, as if. Anyway, please take some time to learn more about Toni Blackman and if she's ever in your area, do yourself a favor and check her out live. You won't be disappointed!

Monday, July 14, 2008

What Do You Think? Pt.2

Satire at it's best

Or at it's worst?

I must admit, I laughed out loud at the Jesse Jackson cartoon.

What do you think?

What Do You Think?

In case you were wondering where I've been for the last few days, I was busy fulfilling my duties as bridesmaid for one of my dearest friends. During my time in "The D" I spent exactly three minutes on the internet, and that was to get directions, (ya' girl needs GPS bad!). Anyhow, the wedding was gorgeous. The bride looked fantastic. To anyone who says a natural bride can't be beautiful, I beg to differ, this bride wore her hair in a short curly fro-like style and it was fabulous. Aside from the visual beauty, the spirit of the ceremony was beautiful thanks to Rev. Adams who instead of going right into the traditional, "do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife" part, took time to talk about the joys and challenges that come with marrying your best friend. As someone who's been married and experienced her share of ups and downs I could relate, and apparently I was not alone, during his speech quite a few of the guests offered up "ummm hmmms" and "yes sirs" and "amens". As the saying goes, "marriage is not something that is to be entered into lightly" and there are many who have decided that instead of traveling down that road and risk getting lost, they'll just stay home and work it out the best they can. Which brings me to today's What Do You Think?
It was just announced that Erykah Badu is pregnant with her third child. The father is rapper/producer Jay Electronica. My inbox was full of messages from people who were curious to know what I though about her response to the comments from members of who questioned her decision to have yet another baby out of wedlock. Here's her response. I'm torn. On the one hand, I agree that what she chooses to do with her life is her business. She claims to have a good parenting relationship with both Andre and the D.O.C and at the end of the day, isn't that what's important? It's easy to stand in judgement, especially if you've been raised to believe there's only one way to do things. On the other hand, I believe it's best to raise children within the space of marriage, but that only works if if the partnership is a healthy one. Children are very sensitive to the energy that surrounds them. If parents are constantly arguing and fighting, or even if they're not but still fill the air with anger and resentment, the children pick up on it and it makes them miserable. Years ago I met a young girl who during a conversation about her home life told me she wished her parents would just get a divorce so that she could live in peace. She was only about six years old but she knew her environment was unhealthy. Would she be better off if her parents divorced? I don't know, there are other things to consider like finances and such, but she knew something needed to change. As I begin to figure out what to do about my own relationship, I know that what's right for me may not be possible for everyone, and at the end of the day, I have to make the decision that's best for everyone involved, and right now that's only three people. No more, no less. I think that's what Erykah is trying to say. No one is perfect, we can only hope that we grow and learn from our mistakes and that when it's all said and done we can rest knowing that we did the best we could for those that we love the most. What do you think?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Thank you sista!!!

Hey Ladies (and Gents),
Hope you had a great holiday weekend. I spent most of the weekend close to home, though I did get a chance to enjoy an hour of sweet restorative yoga at one of my favorite places on the planet, Shakti. You know, despite all my talk about taking care of the mind, body and soul, I am as guilty as the next woman when it comes to not taking time out for me. I've been moving at full speed for the last few weeks trying to get my life in order and all the while ignoring the aches and pains, dismissing the headaches as "rain induced sinus attacks" or explaining away the crazy nightmares I've been having as a sign I need to sweep under my bed - don't ask. Anyway, I realized after taking my yoga class that I was suffering from too much stress. Me, the woman who used to rearrange my work schedule so I could go to meditation class, and would be PISSED if I missed it. Me, the woman who has only one response to people who complain about feeling bad, "You need to do some yoga". Yes me, the woman who tattooed this on her wrist as a constant reminder of how important it is to leave all the mess behind and focus on the beauty of now. Anyway, I feel better now and I have to thank Ms. Ananda Leeke for inviting me to join her this weekend - girl you are a lifesaver!

Speaking of Ananda, did you get a chance to listen to last night's BAP Radio broadcast? If not, no worries you can listen to the recorded version here. I was so honored to be asked to participate in this month's show. You can catch me at the very beginning but please listen to the entire show. Each one of the women on the panel is an incredible example of how Black women are stepping up and taking control of their destinies. Rock on my sistas!!!

Let's see, what else? Oh, we're still working on the blog integration website thingamajig. I hope to have some good news soon.

Also, I'm working on an exciting Cocoa Mode for August. Maybe you can help, I'm looking for women of color who are using on-line dating sites to meet men. It doesn't matter if you're having lots or little success finding the man of your dreams, I want to talk to you. Please email me at More on that later.

O.K. I gotta run...Have a great day!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Tune in....


Hope you're enjoying your long weekend. For those of you who are working today, I say keep your head up and make that money - the 4th didn't mean much to us anyway..


The purpose of today's post is to hip you to a few things going on with me and Cocoa Mode. First, starting early next week, the Cocoa's Corner blog will be moving to a new address. The easiest way to access the new blog is from the Cocoa Mode webpage. This page will still be active as an archive, so feel free to come back and revisit your favorite Cocoa's Corner post. Don't forget you can also check out all of the Cocoa Says commentaries (which are coming back as soon as we get all of this other stuff fixed) and interviews on the Cocoa Mode website as well. Next, I am proud to announce I will be participating in what promises to be a powerful discussion on Women of Color and Digital Media this Sunday on BAP Living Radio hosted by the fabulous Ananda Leeke. The program will air Sunday June 6th at 7:00pm. Don't miss it! Finally, we had so much fun chatting a few weeks ago, the ladies of Broadminded have invited me back for more. I'll hanging out with the "Broads" Tuesday July 8th at 2:00pm ET on XM Channel 155.
There's no way I can leave you his holiday weekend without a bit of music so here's another throwback Summer Jam to enjoy during your holiday cookout.

Arrested Development "Tennesee"

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

What Do You Think?

As much as I love music, sometime I crave information and a good conversation. That is why you'll often find me listening to my local NPR station. Yesterday during the Diane Rehm show author Linda Mills was interviewed about her book, Violent Partners: A Breakthrough Plan for Ending the Cycle of Violence. Mills is also the founder of NYU's Center on Violence and Recovery. Mills who endured a number of violent relationships as a younger woman has created a plan for couples who have decided to work through their violent relationship rather than end them. Of course, this is a controversial approach, as most of us have been taught the best (and only) way to deal with an abuser is to leave the relationship. Mills believes that a good number of abusers and victims can benefit from intervention and counseling. She's more concerned with exploring the causes of abuse and the pathology of both the abuser and the victim. Mills also claims that nearly half of abusive relationships involve back and forth abuse from both the man and the woman, but because the woman is almost always the one who is injured, the focus is on the man as the abuser. She also said the statistics have shown that nearly 25% of abusive relationships involve men who are being abused by women. That said, her program requires the victims of abuse to recognize their role in the abuse. As you can imagine, victim rights advocates and "mainstream feminists" have a major problem with this thinking. Mills says that by admitting the victim may have played a role in the abuse she/he is empowered to take an active role in changing the dynamic of the relationship.
I'm happy to say I've never been in a physically abusive relationship, though I've been around men who have what I call abusive tendencies. I like to think I've been spared because I make it clear that I do not tolerate physical violence and should it ever come to that, there will be (dire) consequences. Thank God they believe me and leave me be. However, if I were to find myself in a violent relationship I don't know that I would be able to work through it. I'm one of those people who's been taught, if he hits you - leave. But listening to Linda Mills has forced me to re-think my position. What do you think?

To hear the interview, click here.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Sex Tourism in Brazil & Jamaica/Pt.2 with Jewel Woods

It seems everyone is talking about sex tourism these days. The leo in me wants to believe that my first interview with author Jewel Woods sparked the interest of people around the globe, Congress too. Of course it doesn't matter why people have chosen now to discuss this very important issue, just that they have. Part 2 of my conversations with Jewel Woods is available on the Cocoa Mode web page, just click the podcast icon at the bottom right and enjoy. Don't forget to leave your thoughts in the comments section. While you're here, take a look at the You Tube video one of my listeners passed along about sex tourism in the Caribbean. The piece takes a look at the many white women who travel to the islands looking for a little (or not so little) lovin'. Question: In this scenario, who's taking advantage of whom?