Do the Work

 Photo by Carl Heyerdahl  on Unsplash . Photo by Carl Heyerdahl  on Unsplash .

“No one is coming to save you.”

My pastor’s words hit me so hard, I stopped dead in my tracks. Do the work. I thought. You have to do the work.  

My 2017 wasn’t ideal, I got laid off, again. I entered a long distance relationship for the second time, something I swore up and down that I wouldn’t do again and honestly, I entered 2018 with no idea what the hell I was going to do.

The thing that no one makes clear when you’re in college and growing up is that you are literally on your own. That doesn’t mean you don’t have a support system, but at the end of the day, you are the only one with the power to determine your destiny.

Read Next: Fear Kills More Dreams Than Failure 

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Happy New Year + Exciting News!

 Happy new year and welcome back!  Happy new year and welcome back!

Happy New Year y’all! I know it has been a minute (or five) since I’ve written anything. To be honest, I keep going back and forth on what the purpose of this blog is. While I’m not sure the break gave me a clear cut answer, I do know that I missed blogging semi-regularly and want to get back to it this year.

There is so much going on in our world. Our president is a literal child, North Korea is ready to throw hands and men can’t keep their hands off of women. It’s really easy to get bogged down by all the bad news, but there’s so much to be thankful for and so much I’m looking forward to in the new year.

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2017 Holiday Gift Guide

  Photo: Photo by  Kari Shea  on  Unsplash
Photo: Photo by Kari Shea  on Unsplash

I love the holidays. The home-cooked meals, cuddling up by the fireplace, the constant smell of cinnamon in the house. It’s my favorite time of year and as far as I’m concerned, November 1 marked the beginning of the festivities. 

One thing I don’t love about the holidays: finding the perfect gifts for my loved ones. While most people are probably cool with a card full of cash, I like to put a lot of thought into my gifts. So, I usually start a list for friends and family over the summer (yes you read that right). I’m hoping to get all my Christmas shopping done on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

I love shopping, but after six holiday seasons working in retail, I try to avoid malls during this time of year. So, if you’re trying to avoid the mall this year too, I’ve rounded up my faves from this year that I either hope to be under my tree or to give this season. And if you must go to the mall, here’s a pro tip: shop the deals online early in the week and try get as much online as possible. If you must hit up a mall make a schedule–in true Randall style from This Is Us. 

Now, onto the gifts! 

For the Techie

  Photo: Made with Polyvore
Photo: Made with Polyvore

These are a must. Seriously, they have made using my phone so much easier. Plus, they can add character to your phone with all the different colors and designs

Echo Dot
I rolled my eyes so hard when bae broke down and bought this, but it’s actually a really cool product. I recommend this smaller version for those with apartments or wanting one in their room. Spring for the light bulbs too. You’ll never have to get out of bed to turn the lights on and off again. 

Google Home Mini
I’m sure I’m committing some type of tech faux pas by including this and the Dot on my list, but I really like both of these products. I will say, this is more of a speaker than the Dot, so if you’re wanting something louder that can read your morning news and set the mood for date night, I’d go for this. It’s also important to be product aligned, so if you own a lot of other Google product, this is also probably a better bet.  

iPhone 8 Plus
Real talk time: I was underwhelmed by the iPhone X. It is definitely the most innovative design Apple has ever given us, but that’s about it. Facial recognition was not convenient, took longer and though making poop talk is entertaining, YouTuber MKBHD pointed out that the software could easily be included in the next update for all the phones since the camera is what makes the animojis possible. 

The 8 Plus and X have all the same specs on the inside. So the only real difference is the front facing portrait mode (which isn’t great), facial recognition and making chicken emojis talk like you. I say save the money and opt for the 8 Plus. But if you just have to have the newest thing, protect that thing with a case and screen protector ASAP. 

For the Fashionista/o

Dapper Black Box
I love supporting minority owned businesses as much as possible and this is a recent favorite I found for bae. Not only is the box put together by black men, but the products inside are all made by black men as well. Perfect for anyone who loves to dawn a suit and (bow)tie on the regular. 

  Photo: DapperBlackBox
Photo: DapperBlackBox

Black First Clothing
Shipping positive, identity affirming clothing in two days with Amazon Prime. Get this Black Boy Joy shirt for the black man in your life that brings you love and light. 

Old Navy Long Moto Jacket 
I tried this on in store when they had their first winter sale and it was so warm and comfy. Great for wearing to work! ON usually has a 50% off sale around and on Black Friday, so make sure to scoop this up then. 

Girlfriend Collective Leggings
These are THE BEST leggings I have ever had. They’re sliming, lifting, so comfy and made with sustainability in mind. You will never want to wear another pair. Trust me. 

Radical Dream Pins
Okay, so there are a lot of great pin makers out there, but my favorite so far has been Radical Dreams. Shipping is fast, the packaging is brand aligned and Tasha is just so talented. She also runs Black Pin Maker League for FREE to support other black pin makers. These gifts are such an easy stocking stuffer and there’s one for all personalities. 

  Photo: @townbizoakland via Instagram
Photo: @townbizoakland via Instagram

For the Secret Chef

  Photo: Made with Polyvore
Photo: Made with Polyvore

Chrissy Teigen Cravings
Besides the fact that everything Chrissy makes on Insta looks delicious, this is the gift that keeps on giving. Get this for the chef in your life, then plan a dinner party where they make a recipe (or three) from the book. They’ll get to throw down in the kitchen and your stomach will thank you. 

Food Processor
I may just be late to the party of this one, but a food processor should on every household counter. It’ll make chopping veggies and mixing ingredients so much easier. 

Lodge Cast Iron Skillet
These take a bit more care than regular skillets, but I mean it when I say you will never buy another one again. Take care of this baby and you will keep it for life. My mom still has ones my grandma used with her mom growing up! Don’t forget the handle holders!

For the Magical (Natural) Black Girl 

Eva NYC Hair Masque
A new edition to my hair routine, I’m loving this product. Best of all it come in a 17 oz jar for only $12! 

  Photo: Eva NYC via Amazon
Photo: Eva NYC via Amazon

Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle
I am a product junkie to the max. I’ll try a new product real quick. Still, this conditioner is my holy grail, my one and only, my true love when it comes to co-washing. Best of all, it’s affordable. At $4 a bottle, this makes a great stocking stuffer for us natural girls with a lot of hair. 

Hot Head Thermal Hair Care
I’ve been eyeing this and it’s definitely on my list this year. I deep condition every week, but now that it’s getting colder out, some heat would do my hair some good for strength. 

Curlformers or Flexi Rods
If you’re buying these products for the natural in your life, don’t worry about how they’ll use them. That’s what YouTube is for. But if you feel led, look up some tutorials on YouTube and write down your favorites to share with the curly cutie in your life. Perfect way to add a personal touch. 

Curl Friends Pin
Full disclosure: I work for this brand, but I genuinely love this pin that celebrates, black women, our kinks and curls and friendship all rolled into one. 

What’s on your holiday list? Let me know in the comments below!

This posts contains affiliate links for Amazon, but all thoughts and reviews are my own. Items not sold on Amazon are not affiliate links and are based on my own opinions. 

This One is for the Men

  Photo by  Brock DuPont  on  Unsplash
Photo by Brock DuPont  on Unsplash

Do better. 

I mean that as sincerely and genuinely as possible. Do. Better. Stop making excuses for yourself, stop waiting for someone else to speak up. Stop waiting for someone else to tell you that your actions are problematic and harmful. Read a book, do the work and then do better. 

Over the last few weeks, the entertainment industry has been shaken by accusations of rape, assault and sexual harassment. It’s disappointing that for those in the industry, most names haven’t been too shocking, even worse is how women of color coming forward have virtually been ignored, or straight up shot down

In theory, we all need to better. We do. We all know someone whose comments felt off to us, but we didn’t say anything. We’ve all been in a crowded club, or walking around town and seen a man approach a woman he did not know. Even if we couldn’t heard the words exchanged, we’ve seen the woman walk faster after those types of encounters.

It’s not okay. None of this is okay.

I don’t care how many survivors come forward, I will never normalize any of this that is happening. 

But what can you do about? Answer: anything. Literally anything. I can understand how that answer may be too overwhelming. So, I’ll here’s where you can start. 

1. Educate yourself. 

I’ll admit, it’s been very easy to scroll past allegations on social media, especially in the last week (more on this in a future post). But if you can stomach it–men, I’m talking to you–please do. Please read these accounts. Read what Ellen Page said over the weekend. Read Danielle Young of The Root’s account. Read Lupita’s. These stories matter, even if they were decades ago. These events stay with survivors for the rest of their lives. You may never be able to take their pain away, but you can educate yourself enough and fight back so more people don’t feel like them in the future. Initiatives such as Green Dot and It’s On Us are great places to start. 

  Last year, I participated in Green Dot's National Day of Action and received training on how to actively do better. 
Last year, I participated in Green Dot’s National Day of Action and received training on how to actively do better. 

2. Watch Your Language 

Words are often discounted when it comes to isms, but they have so much weight. Saying things like “I totally raped that final,” are how this culture of accepting rape and sexual assault begin. When your friends go unchecked for their harmful rhetoric online, you’re giving them a pass. You’re letting them know that if those words ever become reality, you’d be okay with it. 

Saturday night, a Twitter user said this: 

  Screenshot courtesy of  TheTamiJ
Screenshot courtesy of TheTamiJ

He eventually deleted the tweet after enough people told him that what he said he’d do is rape. I don’t know if him being called a rapist hundreds of times will stop him from doing what he described above, but I do know not calling him out makes what he said okay to him and all who retweeted it (too many y’all). We can’t have that. What you say matters. You don’t get to write it off as a joke and “it’s just Twitter,” is not an excuse. 

Watch what you say about women, think about the women you love and the men that love them, would you be cool with language that suggests it’s okay to assault them? 

3. If You See Something, Say Something 

The entire premise of Green Dot and It’s On Us is bystander intervention–in other words, speaking up when you see or hear something that’s not quite right. Think about how many people weren’t and aren’t surprised by the accusations coming out, it’s because they’ve already heard behind closed doors, but didn’t speak up. While I strongly believe that a survivors story is not yours to tell, there are other ways to speak up. At work, when an inappropriate comment is made about a woman’s body, call out your coworker, report them to HR, do whatever it is you have to do to show them that their behavior is not normal and won’t be tolerated. If you’re out with friends and one of your friends keeps bothering a woman who’s mentioned she isn’t interested, tell him to back off. Don’t remove yourself from the situation and act like it isn’t happening, remove him. Remind him no means no. Don’t surround yourself with shitty people and then refuse to check them when they behave disgustingly. Be a friend. Tell them the truth. Call them out. 

The frequency of “Me Too” stories should’ve been enough to show the prevalence sexual assault and harassment have in women’s lives. You being a “good guy” isn’t enough. Congrats you’re decent enough that you’ve never made a rape joke or assaulted someone. Great. Now pass that decency on. It will take you “good guys” standing up for us women to send a message. So again, I say, do better. 


Are you ready to do better? Let me know how you plan to help in the comments below, then go help!