Thursday, April 17, 2008

Alicia Keys keeps it gangsta?

When the news of Alicia Keys' politically charged interview in Blender magazine broke earlier this week I jumped on the blogger bandwagon and shared it with my listeners at FLAVA Radio. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Alicia Keys, who is best known for her incredible musical talent, was using her position to call attention to what activists and authors have been saying for years, that the conditions in our poor urban communities have been largely ignored creating a fertile breeding ground for the kinds of music that we hear on Hip Hop radio stations all across the country. Immediately the press, fans and haters jumped on Alicia calling her an irresponsible conspiracy theorist. The pressure got so heavy that Alicia was forced to release a statement clarifying her position and in some ways distancing herself from the article (which Blender insists is an accurate account of the conversation between Keys and the author).
My first reaction was to stand up and give Alicia credit for coming forward and speaking her truth, notice I said "her truth". Sure it was a risky move but sometimes you've got to take risks to get thing done and since Alicia is in the trenches, so to speak, who better to shed light on the way the entertainment industry, media and our government get their spoon on night after night (pardon the crude analogy - but f'real that's how it is). After talking to a respected co-worker about the issue, I realized that although she should be commended for being brave enough to risk the inevitable backlash, she must always remember to "know thy audience" before constructing "thy comments". The nation is at a crossroads, Obama and Hillary are proving that the American people are ready for change - a shift in the way we do business, but change is scary and there's still a lot of guilt bubbling under the surface of this "new and improved American consciousness", especially among the white male population who make up the largest percentage of Blender's readership. This is why those who are in the know, need to be careful with how they present certain ideas and opinions. They should practice what I call the "Obamafication*" of the truth. Tell it like it is, but put it in the context of the larger society rather than the Us vs. Them approach that Al and his crew have mastered. I know this won't be the last we hear from Alicia Keys on the issue of race, culture and politics. Call me crazy, but I have a feeling her next album will be less"baby baby don't leave me and more "What's Going On" - I can't wait!

*Obamafication - to state the obvious in a way that makes those who have chosen to ignore the obvious feel less stupid about doing so- Obama's A More Perfect Union speech is an excellent example of this technique.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Be Inspired - Dream Big

I Have a Dream...

That one day men, women and children from all over the world will travel to the beautiful beaches of Mombasa, Kenya to spend time with Shawna Renee and her family at the award willing (don't have a name yet) Holistic Bed & Breakfast.
In fact, this has been a dream of mine for the last few years, one that I remind everyone who dares ask the question "where do you see yourself in 10 years"?

Back in 2005, as the 1st step of my preparation to take the B&B world by storm, I spent a summer as an apprentice at the beautiful Akwaaba Inn in Washington DC. Melody, the innkeeper at the time, taught me so much about the hospitality business but more importantly, she taught me the importance of creating a relaxed and friendly environment for your guests. From week to week you never knew who would show up for a quiet weekend retreat. One group that stands out in my mind, included 8 sisters who traveled from all over the country to get together to celebrate sisterhood with cultural tours of Washington DC, Yoga Classes, Massages and conversation. I'll never forget how grateful they were for the hospitality. It felt so good to be a part of their joy.

Although I'm pretty busy these days with my job(s), motherhood and life in general this dream of one day owning my own spot sits patiently in the back of my being waiting for it's time to shine. That's how I know it's real. Do you have a dream that demands to be set free and released to the world through you? Don't ignore it. Stay focused. Be Patient. Be ready. because when it's time - It's time.

Cocoas you'll be the 1st to know when the doors of my (yet to be named) Holistic Bed and Breakfast opens in Mombasa. I'll even extend a 20% off discount to my readers and listeners! In the meantime check out the Akwaaba Inns and learn more about the beautiful city of Mombasa. If you decide to pack up and head to Eden (some think Eden - as in the Garden of - was located on the Eastern Coast of Kenya) check out the place that inspired my dream, Shaanti Holistic Retreat
Let em' know Shawna Renee sent you.

Later Cocoas...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

My Life

It's 75 degrees and I'm lovin it! I'm afraid to break out into my springtime dance, because I'm sure just a soon as I take the 1st step it'll be 45 degrees again. Anyhow, today was a beautiful day in many ways. I spent the afternoon working from home which to be honest I've never been a fan of, but today was different. There's something about a warm breeze and the sweet smell of spring blooms that really lifts my spirit. Speaking of Spring blooms, I need to venture down to the National Mall to see the Cherry Blossoms. In the nearly 15 years I've been in the Washington DC area I've never been to the Cherry Blossom Festival. Shame on me.
(photo originally uploaded by notchet)

After working on the new Cocoa Mode website (coming May 1st) I finally got a chance to read some of the email messages collecting dust in my gmail account, among them a message from my former college roommate with the 411 on cheap cosmetics from E.L.F. (Eyes.Lips.Face). I've never used any of their products but I figure for $1.00 why not try at least a few? I've heard wonderful things about their line of make-up brushes and I hear the lipgloss collection isn't half bad. According to the email, E.L.F is trying to get rid of product with the old packaging to make way for their new incarnation as the house brand for Nordstrom. I found no evidence to back this up and it seems like they've been selling this stuff dirt cheap for a while. All that aside, the way I see it you have nothing to loose.
If you're interested, here are a couple of coupon codes you can use to save even more on product and shipping:

coupon code: CAROLINA will get $7.50 off a purchase of $15 or more.

coupon code: SHIP45 will get you free shipping a purchase of $53.00 or more.

I also stopped by my new favorite yoga studio for a quick class before work. You may remember last year when I asked if Sista's Yoga. Well, it turns out they do and the sisters who own Shakti Mind Body Studio have created a beautiful space for women of all colors to come together in the spirit of peace and wellness. If you're in the Washington DC area please do yourself a favor and check out Shakti. I absolutely LOOOOOVE
Faith, the co-owner, her classes are challenging yet so much fun. I can't wait to take class with some of the other teachers. Did I mention they offer babysitting twice a week for mamas who need their yoga fix but can't find childcare? I gotta remember that when I finally get around to opening my own yoga studio.

I only have a little while before I go on the air, so I'm going to cut this short so I can watch this weeks A New Earth class with Oprah and Ekhart Tolle. I can't get enough of this book. I've never been a fan of Oprah's book club but this is the second book she's introduced in the last 6 months that I've really enjoyed. Here's the other.

Later Cocoas!!