How to Catch Creation

I had the honor of being invited to attend the opening show of How to Catch Creation. I actually withheld reading any reviews, or any the media write-up before hand because I love coming in without any thoughts of what to expect before hand. I was pleasantly surprised of this production. First of all the set was magnificent. I grew up in theatre so sets matter to me. Secondly the cast looked like me. I loved seeing all of the representation of pretty brown faces.  Third, the play captured my attention and gave me a whirlwind of surprises some subtle and some knocking me over.

Let me give honor to whom honor is due by saying that How to Catch Creation is coming off the acclaimed Kilroy’s list.  It’s a play about discovering legacy as well as what it means to create and how creation shifts during periods of life. Creation takes many forms from art, life, relationships, and how all of the loops come together. As a creator myself it definitely spoke to the hills and lows of life and watching my own work take dips according to what may or may not have taken off.

Christina Anderson, playwright, did an amazing job on capturing the experience of black queer feminist writer and how through her life, life has taken on turns that end up bringing the most unexpected people to unite. When you see the connection I found myself holding back in the audience try not to mess it up for someone who might not have. I laughed so hard during this play.  I loved at moments when the audience interacted right on cue without a notion. I also loved seeing Christina Anderson herself in the audience as well as the director, Nataki Garrett. Seeing them watch their work had to be amazing.

This play is for everyone. I do love how it highlights love and heartache for same-sex relationships.  To be honest sometimes society in my opinion forgets that they have an experience like everyone else. It’s not as easy even with society beginning to open up to what it means to be apart of the LGBTQ community and also be Black.  I enjoyed hearing prior to the show from Amber Hikes who is the Executive Director of LGBT Affairs for the city of Philadelphia. I didn’t even know there was a division first of all.  I also didn’t know that are only 3 other positions in the cities of the United States like it. There is definitely a need for all of us to be aware of what our city is offering. It was great knowing that the city of Philadelphia and the Mayor’s office is representing all walks of life.

So what were some of the themes presented:

Despair, from seeing Lindsay Smiling who played Griffin, try to work his way to normality after being wrongfully accused of a crime and incarcerated for 25 years. His struggle to want to have a child of his own as he learns about his mother and her past was incredible.

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Love, from Tiffani Barbour who play GK Marche a writer who falls in love with Natalie played by Shauna Miles and seeing who their love goes from incredible highs to the lows of breaking up and infidelity. Their love was priceless and unmatched until loneliness lead Natalie into the arms of another.

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Betrayal, Shayna Small plays Riley a young woman who has motivated her boyfriend, Stokes, played by Jonathan Bangs, who is losing his focus and rhythm.  Their beat is thrown off when Riley falls in love with Tami, played by Stephanie Weeks who is opening herself up to this forbidden love.  The beat is so off that now in order to get the rhythm back do they let go?  Do they go back to life before the betrayal? Can they co-exist?

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Explosive, fun, witty, and most importantly colorful are some of the best words to describe my experience. You are not going to want to miss out on this adventure. How to Catch Creation will be playing until April 14th. You can purchase tickets which range from $10-69 by clicking here

I would strongly encourage you to see the play and take some friends or family along as well. Thank you to the Philadelphia Theatre Company for as always inviting me and treating me above well. Thank you to Kory Aversa and Aversa PR for these opportunities as well. Thank you to the amazing cast of How to Catch Creation for such a wonderful time.  You all were professional and most gracious as well after the show.  Thanks to my personal team for always helping me get to these shows and for being the best caretakers for my littles!

 

 

 

 

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Women’s Month: Who is KJM?

I have had the unique opportunity to come across some really unique blogs over the years. I find that I usually lean more towards the one that tell it like it is.  I am not saying I don’t like the flowery ones for a good read.  However, at the end of the day, I need to hear the black or white and less gray.  So when I came across this blogger it was for personal reasons.  I know the blogger personally but even in knowing her personally her blogs  holds literally no punches.

Blogging can be time-consuming to say the least.  The amount of time even when the inspiration just spills out can take a toll.  There is the actual typing of the blog as well as the editing.  Then just putting your voice out there can be intimidating too. So I wanted to know who is KJM?  What is KJM and what is in the works for KJM.  Kingston Jael Michaels is a blog that was started a little over a year ago.  It is a blog that deals with all kinds of topics but it deals mostly with KJM the author pretty much making fun of herself.  She allows herself to be the butt of her jokes in hopes of helping others.  She says what you want to say but are too afraid and too politically correct to say.  She is just plain old funny.  Find her at http://www.kingtonjaelmichaels.com for more hilariousness.

I asked KJM why she began her blog:

For the last 15 years, I have had people come up to me and ask me to co-write a book with them plus I have been editing other’s works for the last 20 years! Whether it was a school paper, thesis, or just something they were writing for someone special.  I was always humbled by their requests but never gave it a thought until my friend, Michelle Monique Johnson, passed away. She unexpectedly died a week after my 34th birthday and the last thing she said to me way…”it’s time to start your blog! Fly butterfly fly!” And  so my journey began September 2015…her birth month. I write in her honor and I pray I have made her proud!

I think that death can always bring new life.  In my own personal experiences I have seen where bad situations birth such greatness when you are open to itWhen you blog like I said before it allows you to expose yourself in ways that simply can either make or break you.  I remember when others found out I was blogging.  I got mostly good reviews but from family the most that I didn’t even see on a regular basis their critique was much more harsher.  Glad that I didn’t need or rely on the lack of weight their opinion shed.  I wanted to know what she has learned about herself in this process.

 I am naturally raw with my thoughts. And it’s not for shock value! It’s naturally who I am! Through my writing, I become this naked and vulnerable woman…something that is so hard for me to be in everyday life! I always have to be strong for others…and myself. When I’m blogging, I can rest the S on my chest and just be me…insecure at times…vulnerable…yet still strong. And I love that I have discovered that part of myself. Blog life has changed my life forever!
Where is KJM going in the next few years?  What is the vision?
 I pray it grows into a huge EMPIRE and that KINGSTON JAEL MICHAELS becomes a household name…from my books to my television show! Lol. Hey if you don’t aim high and believe in your talents…who will?! So I know first hand the stock I am made of. God-given talent runs through my veins. That talent allows me to transform myself…everyday.
When you blog do you know there are many times where I have written or have deleted a blog by worrying about what my audience thought?  I wanted to know if I was the only blogger who went through this?
When I first launched, I would write and then delete. Hoping to make everything perfect. Truth be told…writing is at its best when it describes imperfect human moments. I was afraid of being judged for my decisions and my views. But then I soon learned that not every day is a great blogging day but that does not mean I should erase the imperfect for it makes me who I am…and I am so in love with who I am and who I am becoming. I am a mess at times but who isn’t? You will get many things from my blog (www.kingstonjaelmichaels.com) but perfection is not one of them!
As a blogger who unites and makes great relationships with other bloggers, who was some of your inspiration?
I follow many bloggers including ToiTime but to be honest my inspiration are writers, producers, and creators of earth shattering controversial books, shows, and movies. Oprah and Shonda Rhimes are two of my greatest inspirations. Black women who build as they create. I am in awe of them! 🙌🏽
What is your message for women.  We all have something that we can take from one another even if we are in different stages than others around us.
Do not be afraid of your God-given talents and never dim your lights for anyone. Shine! Support one another and just be. Lay in all your imperfections and do not erase those moments where you are vulnerable. There is strength in vulnerability. Lastly, love yourselves first…even as you find romantic love. Never leave yourselves behind because…if you cannot count on yourselves….who can you really count on? You are everything! You are beautiful! You are the QUEENS of this earth! Walk in that destiny proudly and never apologize for it! Never apologize for being you.  One Love, KJM
Blogging is beautiful.  However do NOT expect it to go so perfect.  It takes a lot behind the scenes to make things happen.  Never judge another blogger because you as an outsider don’t understand why something is being said in a certain way.  Trust me the writing process is not only a beautiful thing but its therapeutic at the same time.  The way its sad sometimes is necessary to free others as well as the author. KJM keep doing your thing.  I look forward to hearing and reading more from you.
Follow the blog at http://www.kingstonjaelmichaels.com or on twitter @kingston_jael

Natural is not a Phase

If you look around in the African-American community you see so many embracing themselves for the first time.  It’s a beautiful thing.  It’s not a phase for most.  This is the time to really embrace yourself in all of your flaws and especially when you’re Black or minority and there are limited amounts of things you can see in print, film, etc.  The time for making moves for you is now.

One of the things that I have always hated which is sad in itself to write is that I never wanted to find out my natural state of my hair.  Let me break it down because I am not alone in this at all.  On Saturday I did the most bravest thing ever and that was to cut the relaxer out of my hair and see what the natural state of my hair was.  To some, this is no big deal but I have had a relaxer in my hair since I was about 4 or 5 years old.  I was always told that my hair was “nappy.”  Now phrases like kinky and thick is being celebrated.  The conversation of what is good and bad hair is always going on in the Black community.  I know that since having my first daughter I have always told her that healthy hair is the best hair. I didn’t want to get caught up in her “kinky” hair being less than others because I knew that was what I was being taught from a little girl.  My twin when we were younger had that “grease and water hair.”  Her hair type was always the type that my mom could easily mange and mine wasn’t do to it being coarse, nappy or untamable without the aid of a relaxer.  With a relaxer my tresses became like my sister in the sense I could do more styles with it.

As I became an adult before kids I was in a salon every 2 weeks  getting it done and every 4 weeks I was getting my regiment of “creamy crack.”  By the way creamy crack is relaxer so it became normal.  I learned how to take care of my hair with a relaxer. I knew what I could and what I couldn’t do.  So fast forward to Saturday, my decision to cut the relaxer out has been months in the making.  This wasn’t just a new me thing.  It had to do with the fact that until I made my decision I put a weave in my hair in December.  I wanted to do the “big chop” in January but I got cold feet.  So back to Saturday I was thinking of all of the pros and cons. The cons had more to do with the stigma of natural hair.  Since I have been relaxing my hair all my life I knew  I would have to chop most of my hair.  So the stigma came from appearing bald-headed, or looking like a man.  I have had short hair several times including the months before I put the weave in I had cut my hair.  My hair grows back fast so when I took the weave out this time I really under normal circumstances could have just relaxed it and it would have been in a bob style.

I go to the salon of my choice here in Philadelphia and I tell them I am ready for the “big chop.”  My hands are sweating, my heart is beating fast, and I feel like I am going to throw up.  I thought about my daughters.  One has the same kinky hair that I do the other has thick curly hair.  How would I want them to respond about themselves?  My hair is my glory but I can be who I need to be without relaxed tresses.  As I was being washed it felt weird not being based for the relaxer.  I kept looking around.  I finally was washed and the cutting began.  I kept taking deep breaths as the hair was falling on the floor.  My hair dresser is telling me that she has to cut some more and I am thinking here I go, bald is going to be my expected end.  However she tries to show me my hair after just the cut but I refuse.  I just know what I want my hair to be.  Can my hair be healthy with a relaxer yes, it has been at times.  However I just don’t want chemicals in my hair.  I want to embrace this for me and for my daughters.

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So the cut is done she styles me and reveals that I actually have wash and go hair.  I am looking at her like she has 3 eye balls.  Like who has some wash and curl hair?  But she reveals it and I am super happy.  One its super convenient since I do work out at least 3 days a week.  I love it.  I love the look.  It’s what I wanted and for the first time in years I don’t have to wait 24 hours for my hair style to grow on me.   I also am learning that team natural doesn’t mean team don’t comb or do anything to your hair.  Your hair needs to be treated well with regular washes, moisturizer, and love just like relaxed hair.  And no I don’t mean the same methods.  I mean at the end of the day relaxed or natural if you don’t take care of it, it won’t look or be much of anything.  You can’t be lazy in taking care of yourself whether or not you can afford to go to the hair dresser or not.  Taking pride in your hair is the number way to take care of your hair in either phase.

So as I get home I don’t have nerves of what my family or husband will think.  Not one.  I walked in like any other day hungry and ready to eat.  I was at the salon for quite some time. I post the pic on Facebook not looking for validation.  I was happy and I was okay with the world seeing my happiness.  I wasn’t looking for approval from my parents and siblings either.  I like and love it and that is what is important.  I am determined to eat right, look tight, and be happy and that means putting my needs to the top of the list.  I am loving the skin I am in not because I am team natural but because I am embracing and finding ways to create the happiness that isn’t always there.  Life sucks but I refuse to look bad and feel bad in this life.

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I am not a pro in this natural hair thing. I do not pretend to be.  I do know how I felt the moments leading up to my big chop as well as how I felt afterward.  I do know that it’s not easy to transition.  I am well aware as I learn my hair.  I have to dispel the thoughts that have come back to my mind already.

 

I am not advocating team natural over relaxed hair.  I refuse to get into a debate over it. There are pros and cons to both processes.  What I am advocating is being strong and confident like we teach our daughters.  What makes you look and feel the strongest go with that.  This day and age everything is destined to kill our vibe, time for women and men to find ways to be happy and healthy from the inside out.  I choose to be happy, fierce and strong in my own skin…..

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The World is on the Edge

Well we now know that Donald Trump is our president. I watched ALL the results.  So you can imagine that on my first day back to work today since my MIL past has been extra gloomy. I need to say what I am feeling today.  My heart is heavy.  I don’t feel like we shall overcome right now.  I don’t want to grab my neighbor and pat them down.  I am feeling lousy.  I know this too shall pass but since I am not in the passing mark, I got to vent.

I have a deep pain in my heart.  I mean I get what happened but it doesn’t make it right.  I know there are Trump supporters that are in a state of glee. I am not one who shares in those same sentiments.  To rally behind Trump knowing all the things he did to spew hate, separation, and ignorance doesn’t make sense.  I still don’t get all of his policies and feel like at this point I will just have to watch and see what unfolds.  Like how many times can someone ask you what you stand for and you constantly don’t have a clear plan?

My kids were mad this morning when we told them.  My son asked me if Trump who has been bullying people with his words will make an environment at school where more bullies can pop up. I had no answer for him.  I wanted to say no son it will be just fine but since I parent from a place of honesty I can’t sell him a dream I don’t believe in.  What was I supposed to do lie?  Not happening here.  I told him to let us know like we have always encouraged him to do.  I encouraged him to talk to his teacher.  I encouraged him to keep his hands to himself unless it’s in self-defense.  I made sure he knew that at his school he should be okay but if not I am a call away.  I couldn’t mince my words. I can’t give him rhetoric.  He needs to understand what he is up against.  He is old enough to get it better than some adults.  By all means if you have been following my blog you know I don’t advocate violence but I am not in any means going to tell my kids to get his ass beat and just sit there with no kid.  The police?  That’s a different story and a different conversation.  Kids?  Naw.

I am not asking for others to feel my pain in the same way that I am dealing with it.  I am just expressing where I am so I can move forward and find ways to protect my family.  The idea that sexism is not going anywhere makes me sick.  I said on my Facebook post yesterday:

I had a conversation with a male friend. My problem with the election is that sexism and racism seems to have won. My question is for males especially since women are usually objectified, where do your conversations go now? When you sit up with your male friends making comments that are disheartening, than what? I got some of the most woke males on my page dropping jewels and them same males would drop some of the most misogynistic comments towards women with respectful mothers and beautiful daughters in their home, so what is now your plan going forward? You are just a part of the problem.I’m not biting my tongue about these issues and expected to look at my daughters and tell them it’s gon be aight. We all want to rise up for race but leave women at the bottom of the barrel… Not no more.
Do you understand that statement above?  It’s not just because Clinton didn’t win. She came in to the race with a lot of baggage that the world wasn’t willing to accept.  The bigger picture is if you had to weigh both candidates we choose to make sure that a woman wouldn’t be in power and rolled the dice on a candidate that comes off as misogynist, racist, etc.  That sends chills up my spine just typing it.  I know some won’t agree.  Some had said that the devil you know is better than the one who you don’t.  In some respects that is true but when the devil is selling you a plan that you know isn’t in the best interest of the whole picture that is definitely scary business.
I have no answers.  I know that eventually things will get worst before it gets better.  I saw online where KKK are marching down south declaring Trump’s victory.  One of my co-workers daughter’s school has already had fights this morning because students were debating the election.  Another family member of mine states that her daughter is in class where students are calling brown and black students niggers.  I know it to be true not just because she is family, but because I went to the same district years ago and had the same exact thing happen to me.  So again I am not out evoking fear.  However I can afford to turn a blind eye to the mess either.  I wish everyone safety and that hopefully we can find a place of love.  My reality shows me that some will and some won’t.  I pray that the ones who won’t will be dealt with justly and swiftly.
I read someone say why can’t we love and move on.  I love all.  My intent is to show love. My intent is to treat everyone around me the same that I would want to be treated.  I live in a reality where the same sentiments will not be given to me or my family.  I love wiht a strong dose of reality and preparedness.

Birth of A Nation Flops

So I have been reading the many blogs that reported that Birth of a Nation flopped.  I have been paying more attention to the comments.  For those who have seen it have said nothing but great things about the film.  For those who hadn’t there are several factors that could have contributed to it.

Hurricane Matthew

A lot of the south is literally under water.  I think the story of Nat Turner is important but I highly doubt it was the focus point over the  thousands of people who didn’t have water or electricity. These types of situations don’t make it easy when studio executives are playing the numbers game.  I honestly belief that a large majority of people had they not been in this crisis would have gladly support it.  However we have to put priorities in place.  We need to restore basic human needs right now and the film which is still in theateres can gain more momentum as time goes on.

Nate Parker Scandal

He was acquitted of rape from the more than highlighted rape case in 1999. However we know how this goes, a lot of folks still believe that he and his co-writer Jean Celestin are guilty. When the media and community belief in your guilt it won’t matter if he was acquitted or not, people will not change their perspectives.  I would love to paint this situation as a done deal but it clearly is not.  How do some separate their own personal issues with rape and the rape culture from this?  It’s not easy.  I had close friends who struggled with this and some supported the film and other refused.  The one thing is that if we educate ourselves in all history than Nat Turner’s legacy will never die down regardless of the Nate Parker’s bruised reputation.  Let’s be clear its bruised.  Media scrutiny along with fact checks, biased opinions has kept this situation still going strong. Many rape victims themselves even came together to boycott the film and you know how boycotts work, all you need is a number of people to come together and that seals the deal.  I am not anti Birth of a Nation.  Let me be clear but I also know that can clearly see how scandals make or break things all the time.

Snatching Black Cards

I have read some of the most vile comments to date about how black folks don’t support black films and black businesses.  I think the argument can be made to support that but let’s be real. Whether as a black woman I support one film or not that will not take away from the real life blackness I face everyday I open my eyes.  How are we snatching black cards from folks just because they did or didn’t support the film or any other film?  Should we support black films?  Absolutely.  I think what we need to push African-American history in schools other than the month of February.  Make African American history just as important as any other history lesson that’s the real push. However every time movies flop it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t an important film.  To me the buzz that was generated from the Sundance film festival and the fact of what the writers was able to do speaks volumes.  We may have a long way to go but creating more divide in our community isn’t the way either.  I have had friends post on their social media that if I as a Black woman or man since it was a post don’t support it than I am no friend of theirs.  Wait? What? I looked at it and laughed.  There is more to our history than one film.  How about all of the other ones?  What is making the buzz around this movie to the point where friendships need to end?  This is sad. More now than ever is the movie timely, I get that.  I understand what it means now to see people organize to make a stand and to convey a message.  This divide needs to stop.

Listen the minute I can I will go and watch this movie.  I really want to see the film and see what the hype is about.  I wish people were bumping it more for the story of Nat than they are of Nate.  Most of the people who have seen it start off telling others to go see and it but separate Nate from it.  The fact that you mentioned his name let’s me further know that you understand that you can’t deny Nate’s influence in why people are even reconsidering screening the film in the first place.

Nat Turner is a phenomenal black man who decided not to allow White people to suppress him.  He took a stand and decided to organize to get others to see the value in themselves. He led a revolt that is responsible in the deaths of 55-65  White men. Along the way he freed slaves too.  Can you imagine the guts it took to do that?  That is the mark of a man who not only stands for something but definitely had love for others.  He put his life on the line to help others.  That takes bravery, tenacity, and love.  That is the story of Nat Turner and if you want to see the film and get the visualization for what it looked like to see a Black man take a stand in times when he could have just did as we was told, than support the film.

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