tirsdag 28. juni 2016

Song Of The Day: "Medofo Pa" by Kojo Antwi

I've been on such a Ghanaian music tip recently and Kojo Antwi has been in heavy rotation. He has to be one of my favourite artists of all time. His lyrics are always in Twi, he was proudly Afro-centric before it was cool, and stays true to himself no matter what. "Medofo Pa" is one of my favourite songs by him. It's one of those songs that fills the hearts of Ghanaians with nostalgia for time gone by. A real classic. 

What are you listening to today?

The Modern Surrealism of Rob Gonsalves

The work of Canadian-Portueguese painter, Rob Gonsalves is being hailed as the heir apparent to Salvador Dalí. Gonsalves began to harness his painting skills as the age of 12. He dabbled in architecture for some years before committing full-time to painting in the early 90s. His work is very much in the spirit of Dalí and René Margritte. And like his great surrealist predecessors, his paintings are nothing short of mesmerizing.
Have a gander and let your mind wander.

"The Sun Sets Sail"

"Autumn Cycling"

"The Space Between Words"

 "Aspiring Acrobats"

"The Arboreal Office"

For more on Gonsalves, go here.
Images of painting from The Creators Project

mandag 27. juni 2016

100 Days Of Positive Thinking: Day 61 (BET Awards 2)

I am filled with so much joy after the BET Awards last night. I tune in every year and always find it to be an amazing celebration of the talent in my community. It is hands down my favourite awards show. The highlight for me was Jesse Williams' speech, which I wrote about in my last post.

 I also loved the tributes to Prince that were laced through the show. I particularly loved the performance by Erykah Badu, Bilal, Janelle Monae, and Sheila E (Prince musical partner), and 
Mayte Garcia (his first wife). It was a #PrinceCelebration for sure.

There was some dope fashion on the BET white carpet too. I'll share some of those in an upcoming Style Goals post. 

Did you tune into the BET Awards? What was your favourite moment?

Images c/o Google.

Swoon...: Jesse Williams

Yesterday night the most woke of baes, Mr. Jesse Williams received the Humanitarian Award at the annual BET Awards for his activism towards improving life for the black community.

Williams used his platform to share some really poignant and important words with the audience and viewers tuning in from around the world. I am sharing the entire transcript of the speech because it is so powerful. Whether you are person of colour or an ally, please take a moment to read and/or listen to these words.

“Peace. Peace. Thank you Debra. Thank you, Nate Parker. Thank you, Harry and Debbie Allen, for participating in that. Before we get into it, I just want to say I brought my parents out tonight — I just want to thank them for being here and teaching me to focus on comprehension over career. They made sure I learned what the schools were afraid to teach us. And also, thank you to my amazing wife for changing my life. 

Now, this award, this is not for me. This is for the real organizers all over the country. The activists, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families, the teachers, the students that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do. All right? It’s kind of basic mathematics. The more we learn about who we are and how we got here, the more we will mobilize.

Now, this is also in particular for the black women in particular who have spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves. We can and will do better for you.
Now, what we’ve been doing is looking at the data and we know that police somehow manage to deescalate, disarm and not kill white people every day. So what’s going to happen is we’re going to have equal rights and justice in our own country or we will restructure their function in ours.
Now, [standing ovation] I got more, y’all.

Yesterday would have been young Tamir Rice’s 14th birthday. So, I don’t want to hear anymore about how far we’ve come when paid public servants can pull a drive-by on a 12-year-old playing alone in a park in broad daylight, killing him on television and then going home to make a sandwich.
Tell Rekia Boyd how it’s so much better to live in 2012, than it is to live in 1612 or 1712. Tell that to Eric Garner. Tell that to Sandra Bland. Tell that to Darrien Hunt.

Now, the thing is, though, all of us in here getting money that alone isn’t going to stop this. All right? Now dedicating our lives to getting money just to give it right back. To put someone’s brand on our body when we spent centuries praying with brands on our bodies and now we pray to get paid with brands for our bodies. There has been no war that we have not fought and died on the front lines of. There has been no job we haven’t done. There’s no tax they haven’t levied against us. And we pay all of them. But freedom is somehow always conditional here. You’re free, they keep telling us, but she would have been alive if she hadn’t acted so free.

Now, freedom is always coming in the hereafter but, you know what, though, the hereafter is a hustle. We want it now. And let’s get a couple of things straight here, just a little sidenote. The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander. That’s not our job. All right, stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest in equal rights for black people, then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down.

We’ve been floating this country on credit for centuries, yo. And we’re done watching, and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us. Burying black people out of sight and out of mind, while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment like oil — black gold. Ghettoizing and demeaning our creations then stealing them. Gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit. The thing is, though, the thing is, that just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real. Thank you.”

Remember my fellow people of African descent, we are magic and real, all at once.
Transcript c/o The Washington Post

søndag 26. juni 2016

Mac Weekly Style File: Part IV

Here comes the last set of images from my Mac Weekly Style File. This is one my favourite looks to wear in the fall and winter season. This incredibly cosy Zara sweater has been such a blessing. I picked it up in Heathrow Airport on my back to Norway after studying abroad in Ghana. I didn't have a winter coat and realized that I needed something to keep me warm upon arrival. I stepped into Zara and it was when I laid on this black and tan beauty, it was love at first sight! This baby has kept me feeling warm and looking chic through two Midwest winters. 

Sweater: Zara // Dress: From a Boutique in Ghana // Scarf, Tights & Hat: H&M // Shoes: Din Sko

"To add another layer to the wise musings of Toa-Kwapong, here are a few fun fashion facts: Her favorite article of clothing in a polka-dotted jumpsuit, Nina Simone is one of her style icons and Monki is her favorite brand. She also calls herself a “sneakerhead*,” and she once wore dark purple lipstick to school every day, even though her male friends told her it was a “man repeller.” Toa-Kwapong is quick to add, “‘Man repeller’ is definitely an aesthetic that I relate to a lot, like man-repelling shoes, anything that upsets men, like when they think that you’re dressing for them, makes me really happy!”
To Toa-Kwapong, personal style is about constantly striving to express your full, unapologetic, purple-lipstick-wearing, comfort-craving and sneaker-loving self".
To read the story in its entirety, click here.
Images c/o Shannon Mahedy for the Mac Weekly.

lørdag 25. juni 2016

100 Days Of Positive Thinking: Day 60 ("Let Me In" by Alicia Keys)

There's been so much ugliness in the world recently, from Orlando to the Stanford Rapist. When one is feeling decidedly cynical, it's incredibly inspiring to see an artist use their positionality to take a stand for something that matters. Alicia Keys has long been an artist that takes a stand for global issues, starting with her Keep A Child Alive Foundation which aims to support individuals affected by HIV/AIDS. This year, she is lending her voice and artistry to the refugee crisis. While this crisis is often discussed in terms of its economic and social toll on recipient nations, Keys is highlighting the refugees themselves and the struggle they face when forced to flee from their homes due to conflict and violence. This humanizing is extremely needed at a time when 60 million people are currently on the run, with over half them being children. For many of us, displacement and the despair it can give rise to are hard to imagine. But in her short film "Let Me In", Keys strives to make the harsh realities of so many people around the world more relatable to those of us fortunate enough to not know what that feels like.  

Please take a bit of time to watch this film and learn more about how you can be of support to the 60 million refugees in the world right now. Let's let them know that #WeSeeThem and let's make sure to let our leaders know that we want to #LetThemIn. If you know of other ways to be 
of support to refugees, do share.

What is inspiring you today?

Song of The Day: "Love Is A Battlefield" by Pat Benatar

The other day I watched one of my favourite rom-coms, 13 Going on 30 starring Jennifer Garner. I remember watching it for the first time at a friend's house in 6th or 7th grade and falling completely in love with Mark Ruffalo. One thing I loved that movie was the use of the song "Love is a Battlefield" by Pat Benatar. It was a favourite in my household and I was really excited to hear it in a contemporary film.

"We are strong
No one can tell us we're wrong
Searching our hearts for so long
Both of us knowing
Love is a battlefield"

How can you not feel incredibly empowered and 80s-like with lyrics like that. I genuinely love this song and adore everything about the video. If I had been a dancer in the 80s, this is one video (along with Smooth Criminal and Rhythm Nation) I would have loved to have auditioned for and been a part of. So if you are in need of a pick-me up, look no further! Let Pat Benatar brighten your day! #LoveIsABattlefield

What are you listening to today?

lørdag 18. juni 2016

100 Days Of Positive Thinking: Day 59 (Giggling Babies and Buttery Cookies)

I had a conversation with my sister and a friend about how as a babies and toddler, we are so happy and carefree. Life is at it simplest - we eat, sleep, poop, and repeat. As we get older, we are increasingly bogged down with the realities of everyday life. Even the most idealistic person  in the world loses some of their childlike "sheen". As we older, and perhaps a bit more jaded, it's important to notice and find joy in those simple things that used to send our baby self into fits of giggles, feet kicking with glee. Here are few simple things that have put a smile on her face.

1) Re-reading one of my favourite novels, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
2)  A late night trip to a Mexican restaurants for nachos and choriqueso
3) The feeling of hearing a song that immediately hits you in the heart
4) Culottes - seriously, I'm obsessed!
5) Babies giggling at the silliest things
6) Re-watching old movies and shows, Half and Half, anyone?
7) Munching on buttery crackers

Which simple things are sparking happiness for you today?

Interior Inspiration: Re-Purposed Warmth

Love the re-purposed crates as a coffee table and the warmth the orange chair brings to the space.

fredag 17. juni 2016

Goals: The Style and Influence of Nina Simone

It is no secret that I am a die-hard of the legendary Nina Simone. I was introduced to her music by my mother when I was 11 or 12 years old and it changed my life. "Feeling Good" was the song I would reach for whenever I needed to be reminded of the beauty in the world and my agency to choose happiness. The song seemed to match perfectly with the gorgeous greens, blues, and light orange hues of the landscape of my Norwegian village on sunny day.  "Ain't Got No ... I've Got Life" got me through the fickle nature of teenage years, keeping me grounded and reminding me that was big wide world out there waiting to be explored.

 As dark-skinned black woman with decidedly West African features, Nina existed beyond the frames of mainstream Western beauty norms. In the words of Ta-Nehisi Coates,"Simone was in possession of nearly every feature we denigrate as children. And yet she somehow willed herself into a goddess." She not only crafted and performed songs that centred the black struggle, she also elevated the black body and celebrated its beauty

In addition to being one of the greatest musician and artists of all time, Miss Simone was also an incredibly stylish woman and a lover of fashion. She used it to present herself in a way that way that made her feel confident while performing and that would capture the ambience she was trying to set in each concert, whether that was shock, glamour, or a little bit of both. In a 1968 interview with Lillian Perry, she said: "I love clothes [...] Yes, I do. I mean if you come out and you look the way you want to look, you will create a mood even before you open your mouth. And sometimes that can be enough to get your audience exactly in the groove where you want them."

For the stage, Nina loved experimenting with evening gowns in a variety 
of fabrics, textures, and shapes.

As her music took a more political turn in the late 1960s, she began to embrace an aesthetic that harkened to the Black Panthers and stylings from across the African continent. 

 Whether her hair was kept in a short 'fro, woven into elaborate bejeweled styles, or cornrowed to match her daughter, Lisa, Nina's coif was always on point. 

She was also a master of the headwrap, rocking them in a myriad of ways, both on and off the stage.

Not to mention her strong hat game. I searched for and purchased a brown wide brim hat
after seeing this picture. So good.

Nina was an incredibly beautiful woman and often accentuated this through her trademark eye jewels and winged eyeliner. Also her brows were #onfleek, even back in the day. It's been interesting to observe artists like Laura Mvula draw inspiration from Nina to create their own make-up looks.

In an article on Nina Simone, Ta-Nehisi Coates said, "I have always known that Nina Simone means something much more to a specific kind of black woman than she ever can for me." While I know and believe that Nina's artistic reach is far and fan base incredibly diverse, Coates statement resonates deeply. She is particularly important to dark-skinned black women because she represents the opportunity for and realization of radical self-love in a world with a devastatingly myopic aesthetic lens. And she had one heck of a sartorial sensibility! All hail Queen Nina!

Images c/o Google

torsdag 16. juni 2016

100 Days Of Positive Thinking: Day 58 (Pick Me UP)

Today is a day when I really need to rely on reserves of positive thinking. You know those days when things just don't go your way. So I need make a list of the things I am grateful for the remind myself of all the way in which I am blessed.

1) For loving, joyful family.
2) A roof over my head.
3) Great meals shared with wonderful people.
4) A world full of art - check out Zambian illustrator, Nomes Dee.
5) Amazing music - jamming to Fink right now.
6) And just the gift being alive.

What are you thankful for today?

Song of The Day: "Berlin Sunrise" by Fink

This song got me through significant parts of my honours thesis writing process this past year. As I'd be sitting up in the wee hours of the morning, Fink's soulful crooning helped me stay awake and engaged. It's is off his album "Perfect Darkness" which, as the title insinuates, is pretty much perfection. I still turn this song on every time I sit down to have a conversation with friends (I have this thing about "talking music", but we'll get into that some other time). So reader, meet Fink. 

What are you listening to today?

onsdag 15. juni 2016

GoodReads: On Beauty by Zadie Smith

It's been a while (nearly a year and a half) since my last GoodReads post. Over the last year, I have not had a lot of time to do much reading for leisure. I kept coming across books I wanted to revisit later and was worried I'd forget about them, so last spring I began to compile a books to read post-graduation list. The first one my hit list was Zadie Smith's On Beauty.

In this novel, Smith introduces us to the Belseys, a mixed race, bicultural family with a liberal and atheist bent living in a (fictional?) Boston college town called Wellington. Howard Belsey, the man of house, is an English professor of art history who in his fifties has yet to be tenured and deals with a great sense of inadequacy as a result. His wife Kiki, is a African-American nurse with roots in the South. Together they have three children, Jerome, Zora, and Levi. Jerome, balking against the liberal culture of his family becomes a born-again Christian while studying at Brown University and goes to England to intern with Howard's nemesis, the ultra-conservative Christian art historian Monty Kipps. Zora, Jerome's twin, is a firecracker of a woman - gutsy, independent, outspoken smart. Though she appears fairly self-assured on the surface, she is deeply insecure, particularly about her appearance. The youngest Belsey, Levi, has adopted the accent and demeanour more commonly associated with the citizens of the low income Roxbury neighbourhood than with his upper middle class Wellington upbringing. When Monty Kipps is given a visiting professorship at Howard Belsey's institution, the feud between him and Howard swells up. This also stirs up tensions within the Belsey household as

As usual, Zadie Smith is a brilliant storyteller, stepping into the skin of each character and presenting them astonishing honestly. I once watched an interview in which Smith said that while she loves her characters she rarely gets so precious about them that she hesitates to show their full humanity, ugliness and all. And I think this is what makes her stories so compelling. If you are looking for a good summer read with complex, real but relatable characters, then you don't want to miss out on this Man Booker shortlisted novel.

Smith's White Teeth is one of my favourite novels of all time, and I wasn't sure if this would live up to it. She proved me wrong and I can't recommend On Beauty enough. I am excited to read her other book NW, which is going to adapted into a film soon.

What are you currently reading?