We may know Erykah Badu for her soulful and soothing vocals, but it seems as though she has a few other hidden talents up her sleeve. The Dallas native is a huge advocate for home-birthing, and after delivering all three of her children at home, she became a doula --providing physical, emotional and informative support to over 40 mothers and counting.
You see, not only is Erykah a doula, she also plays music for nursing home patients nearing their final days. Or, as she puts it, she's part of both the "welcoming and ushering committees." Here are a few interesting facts about Erykah Badoula's training as a midwife that you may not have known:
Erykah became a doula by default.
"I became a doula by default. I had Seven naturally, at home, and a couple of years later I was traveling through Europe, and one of my best friends, Afya, who is the wife of stic.man from dead prez, went into labor. I just wanted to be there with her, so I rerouted my flights and came to Brooklyn. She had already been in labor for about 10 hours, and the whole labor ended up lasting 52 hours. No anesthesia, just pure willpower and whatever else the midwife who was there had to offer.
"My main focus at that moment was to bring her some kind of peace and strength and will to push forward, because I know how hard that is. I ended up staying with her for 42 hours and I wasn't sleepy. I naturally knew what to do, and it was then that I figured out that this was something I can do that makes me feel so fulfilled."
She is considering opening her own practice.
"...We don't know where these babies are coming from—their souls, or their spirits of mind, or if they're born wholly as soon as they get here—but whatever it is, I just want the environment to be one of tranquility for the mom and dad and everyone involved. A home birth is about being able to create exactly what you want, because it's such a violent moment inside of the body that you want everything else to be as beautiful as it can be. So I started studying to be a doula and got my certification in 2011 and now I'm in training to become a midwife. I'm almost there and before I know it I'll be able to open my own practice, if that's what I desire."
Erykah is part of the 'ushering committee'.
"...I sit at the bedsides of people who are passing on in hospices or nursing homes, for the people and families who want that kind of thing. When people are going on to the next plateau of whatever this thing is called life, I also want them to breathe easily, even if it's the last one they take here with us. I guess I'm the welcoming committee and ushering committee."
She takes two different approaches to welcoming life, and helping someone come to terms with death.
"Whereas I want everything to be peaceful during a birth, I take the total opposite approach when I'm helping someone come to terms with leaving this place—I play Richard Pryor records. [laughs] Breathing becomes really easy when you're laughing. It kick starts that feeling of joy, and I keep it going from there and help them remember things that are fun and help them forgive themselves and others. Sometimes their families are not present because they have not come to terms with the fact that they may never see their loved one again. So I make calls for them and let the children know that maybe this is a really good time to come hang out and talk and learn from this soul before they leave; I just know I wouldn't want to be alone and afraid at that time."
Erykah performs in nursing homes.
"Naturally. I just wandered into a nursing home one day after I dropped my daughter off at dance class. I've done this kind of stuff since I was a kid; they usually have a piano in every nursing home, and I always wanted to perform for whoever would listen when I learned something. I grew to understand very early that a lot of these people who are in nursing homes are elderly and don't have a lot of things that give them joy from day to day. But when I would come and play as a young person, they would just be so excited to see me. I would think, 'Wow, this is important work that I'm doing here.' So I just carried that on into adulthood up to now."
That Erykah and her many talents!
Catch more information about Erykah's midwife work over at Pitchfork.
Featured image by Getty Images
It already seems difficult for professional, ambitious black women to find love, but you haven't truly known difficult until you add being disabled to the equation.
When it comes to some of the everyday freedoms and liberties some of us able-bodied people take for granted, disabled people can have a much more difficult time. On one hand, disabled people are often silenced or left out of the conversation completely. On the other, they can be made to feel like they are invisible.
I can only imagine that those feelings intensify in the dating and relationships department, making it hard for a disabled person to date or even want to date.
And when you're a black woman with a disability, who is trying to find love in this big sometimes cruel world, things can feel rather bleak.
At least, those are some of the things that I learned from activist/blogger/motivational speaker, Mama Cax's story on Yahoo! Lifestyle.
In celebration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3, the website published a fantastic story that profiled six people with disabilities telling their truths about power, love, and visibility. Mama Cax was one of those profiles, and her story was the one that stuck with me the most.
Mama said that it took a lot to build enough confidence to date.
After losing her leg to cancer at 14, it seemed to take Mama years to build up enough inner strength to let the world see her glow. Especially since she had to learn how to live with a prosthetic leg.
She told Yahoo!:
It wasn't until after college that, with Instagram and blogging, I connected with other girls who were amputees. I thought, wouldn't life just be easier if I accepted this and didn't have to hide it? At the beginning it was really hard, because it was a lot of stares, and at that point I didn't have the stylish cover [fromAlleles, in Canada]. I would get a lot of stares and rude comments, and so it was a long and painful road to get where I am now. But I think it got to the point where my confidence was just showing, and people were afraid to ask questions that would be perceived as stupid.
Mama finally found the confidence to get out there and mingle, after realizing that life was easier accepting herself as she was. She also discovered one fact of life that most women on the dating scene tend to understand:
...Whether you have a disability or not, you're going to meet s***ty guys and great guys. And you do get weird questions.
During her chat, she got the chance to discuss the lack of black, disabled women being represented in the media, and how that had a bit of an impact on her love life. Mama said that for a while, she was apprehensive about finding love, because she couldn't really picture it as an amputee.
I wasn't willing to put myself out there, because I didn't think anyone would find me attractive. That's also because of the image of people with disabilities we would see out there: I had never seen any romantic relationships in my circle or in the media — none of the characters have a disability, and if they do, they're kind of like the sidekick, the geeky person behind a computer.
She reminded readers that for black women, representation comes in many forms, and black women with disabilities are often left out of the equation. She said:
I think it's very important whenever you're able to see yourself represented, in media in general, and for me the interesting thing is I'm at the intersection of so many marginalized groups: I'm a woman, I'm also a black woman, I'm also a woman with a disability, and a lot of times people will talk about inclusion or diversity and I see women, I see black women, but a lot of times I don't see disability. So in spaces where there are a lot of women, it always feels like there's something missing.
I learned a lot from Mama Cax's story. Thankfully, there will come a day when more black women with disabilities are represented in Hollywood, and beyond. With that representation comes understanding, and with understanding comes less awkward encounters with disabled people, and in the process grant them with the thing all humans want. Love.
Featured image by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Procter & Gamble
This morning, I vowed to myself that these would be my last few days indulging in unhealthy foods before I start my vegan diet. "It's just a grilled cheese sandwich," I said to myself as I prepared to eat my meal.
Tuh! Let's just say that I enjoyed my grilled cheese sandwich, but my body didn't. It tasted like bull crap and shame, and the whole morning I was plagued with an upset stomach, unclear thoughts, and a headache-- a reminder that it's definitely time to change up my diet.
As I started making my grocery list, I wondered how I was going to maintain my vegan diet. Last week when I talked to Karen Civil about going vegan, what I didn't mention was that I had actually gone vegan for several months back in 2012. While I would love to proclaim the greatness of going vegan, I must admit that the last time I tried it, I focused so much on the next meal and how I would maintain my diet that I wasn't mindful of how I felt after eating clean. Not to mention that it seemed expensive. At least that's the biggest complaint that I told myself. But after some calculations, the cost of eliminating dairy, eggs, and meat had actually cut my food budget in half.
Attempting to be a vegan again has been on my mind heavy lately, and this time I wanted to start my journey with a fresh perspective, which is why I'm happy that I had the pleasure of interviewing a chef on how exactly I could maintain a vegan diet.
I spoke to Chef Ahki, a celebrity vegan chef and author of Electric: A Modern Guide to Non-hybrid & Wild Foods, and the woman knows her stuff. Chef Ahki has been praised by Bradley Cooper, Lee Daniels, and Waka Flaka Flame for her insane cooking skills, and she gave me a lot to think about when maintaining a vegan diet that will carry me through for many years. Here are some tips that she shared with me during our interview.
You Have To Dedicate Time & Commitment To Your Vegan Journey
"It will be difficult in the beginning. It was the first couple months for me, but I was able to attach to a support group which helped. My family was not of support. My family ate traditional southern food.
I was also a good cook, and I enjoyed cooking. I was passionate about making this new food taste as good as what I was used to. That is hard to do! I was frying up tofu with cornmeal and Lowrys [seasoned salt]. It was fish fry with the tofu, and a lot of soy products was a major part of my transition before I knew how awful that soy could be. I was eating soy hot dogs, soy chicken nuggets, soy shrimp, soy steak, everything soy. But like I said, having a support group is what made the transition easier.
It took me about three to four years to fully transition. It wasn't some cold turkey, overnight kind of thing, and I know lots of people would like to think that it's that way, or they imagine it that way, and for some people they can just do that. But not for me. I slowly took out the pork, then the chicken, then the fish, you know? I went slow."
Spices From Meat-Based Dishes Can Make Your Meals Delicious
"It's hard to really make something that mimics the exact texture [of meat], but...you can do it through seasoning...[say] if you wanted to do greens and cabbage and black eyed peas, you can use smoked sea salt or smoked paprika. If I cook barbecued tofu, I use liquid smoke, [or] lots of black pepper, onion powder like that to give it that flavor.
[When cooking most of my dishes,] I use a lot of onion powder. I don't really use a lot of garlic, or any really...I love Dulse, which is like a sea vegetable seasoning. I like herbal seasonings like trocomare or herbamare. And I really like coriander. Coriander is like a spice that I think a lot of people sleep on. It's incredible flavor.
Oh, and paprika is wonderful, and I love smoked paprika."
Quinoa, Berries, & Hummus Will Become Staples Of Your Grocery List
"Try chayote...some people call it a Mexican squash. It looks like a pear, it cuts like a potato, it's almost flavorless, honestly. It takes on the flavor of anything you cook it with, so it's just amazing for vegan/vegetarian diets, because it gives you that good texture, like a very filling texture but it's not heavy. And you can put it in anything from salads to stir frys to casseroles...it's just the best vegetable ever.
And vegans love quinoa. I prefer red quinoa. I also have to have berries of every sort. I go out of my way to get blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries, I get berries always. I could go on and on with this because my grocery list honestly looks the same every single time...It never gets old, and it's what I eat in various combinations.
Use avocados for your fat. [It] makes you feel full. I [also] keep my hempseeds for protein, I always have sea vegetables as well.
I can tell you some items that are surprisingly vegan, or when I became vegan I was like, "Thank God I can eat something similar to this," and that was hummus. Hummus for vegans is like crack. All vegans eat hummus until they get tired of it. That's what happens."
Try Having Potluck Dinner With Vegan Friends
"I was in Dallas, Texas when I made my transition, and fortunately I attracted a group of girlfriends who were eating that way. And we would potluck, and it was a really nice support group where we could learn from each other on how we could make it tasty for us.
Of course, finding vegan restaurants or places to go to was great, and once we started it kind of took off. So definitely the moment you make that decision, you start shopping at those places, you start frequenting those stores and restaurants, you will attract other people who eats the way you do, and you'll get that support."
Upgrade Your Kitchen
"Definitely upgrade your kitchen first. Because that kitchen will destroy you. If your kitchen is working against you, you're assed out. Because if you walk in there, and there's a microwave on one side, there's a loaf ofbread over here, then there's frozen chicken nuggets over there, and cookies...You know, you're going to crash.
Go and just do a sweep of the kitchen, and then make that kitchen absolutely inviting. Pull out the cutting board, pull out that chef's knife, pull out that blender and that food processor, get your freezer bags ready, because you'll need plenty of those for all the veggies and freezer goods, and fruits. Get some Pyrex, get some glass tupperware with lids, cause you're gonna totally need that to store [your foods], and lay all the beautiful foods out so you can see it.
Most foods don't need to be refrigerated, and a lot of people don't know that until they stuff their freezers. But a lot of fresh foods can be left out, and should be left out, like your tomatoes, your onions, your winter squashes, even zucchini and squash to leave a lot of foods out so it makes it inviting..."
Blow Your Whole Grocery Budget At The Store
"Take your grocery budget, find out what that is, go to the market and spend it all. Go to farmer's markets and spend it all so you don't have any options...And you go home and you just crank it out. Get on some blogs, like gochefahki.com, grab a cookbook, like Electric!...and get yourself motivated and inspired by food. That way, you'll be excited."
Meal Prep Is Key For Larger Families
"Meal preparation is important. Can it make or break you? If you have a family of four, it absolutely can. If it's just you, you may be able to wing it depending on where you live. You can hit up a lot of places and eat meat free. There are a lot of [restaurants], even traditional Italian restaurants [where you can] and simply say, "Hey, I love this dish, I love this sauce, but don't add meat. Just cut up a bunch of vegetables, and thank you kindly. You can kind of wing it at restaurants and things like that."
Remind Yourself Of The Health Benefits
"It's really based on principles, and it's based on a lot of self care and preventative care. You got to remind yourself what food is, and what it isn't. And that's what's going to come down to. You've got to remind yourself that you are eating this way so that you do not have to suffer later on. So whether or not you feel like it's taxing on your time and energy, it's expensive, all these things.
You want to pass on health to your children, you don't want to pass on disease. When you're putting food in your mouth, ask yourself, "Is it dead or alive? Is this giving me energy, or is it going to take away my energy? You have to remind yourself of that every time. And keep it fun. Visit some blogs, check out some Pinterest pages, get inspired, check out some new vegetarian restaurants, go to some farmers markets, you have to keep inspired and motivated. It can get boring after awhile![laughs] "
Chef Ahki has some delicious recipes on her Instagram page that will keep your mouth watering. Check out her cookbook “Electric!, A Modern Guide to Non-Hybrid and Wild Foods" on Amazon, visit her website at gochefahki.com, or follow her on Instagram and Pinterest.
Featured image by Getty Images
Singer/model/actress Cassie Ventura is an eye makeup slayer.
The Filipina and Afro-Latina beauty's luxurious lashes, popping shadow, and precise brow game is always on point, but she doesn't have to have a seasoned makeup artist on deck at all times for her smokey eye game to be poppin'.
She recently spilled her smoky eye secrets with VOGUE and shockingly enough, it only takes less than 90 seconds to do.
Here's what she dished.
1. First she rims her eyes with kohl liner around her top and bottom eye lids.
2. Then she used a shadow brush to lightly stroke the liner on her lower lids. #SmokeItOut
3. To make it smoky on her upper lid, she puts eyeliner on her top lid in a very messy manner, and then blends it the makeup with a brush.
She completes the look by applying an optional hint of gold-tinted eyeshadow on her top lid with her finger, and dabbing her inner lid with a brush. Finish up with a little mascara, and you will be ready to snatch a wig or two.
She ready! Ow!
There's good skin, and then there's Kelis's skin. The “Bossy" singer, songwriter, chef extraordinaire could teach the youth a thing or two about what it takes to achieve healthy and glowing skin. The 38-year-old has skin that rivals someone more than half her age, which has made her an early contender for the iconic black don't crack crown, joining the ranks alongside the Halles, the Sanaas, and the Nias of the world, no doubt. Apparently, the key to her waking up and posting up flawless all lies in placing the skincare emphasis where it belongs: in moisture.
If her selfie game is any indicator, Kelis has the keys to the fountain of youth. Luckily for us, the beauty recently chatted with The Fader to spill all the tea on skin routine – and surprise, surprise, there is not a cleanser in sight. Ladies, take note.
In a world filled to the brim with trendy 10-step Korean skincare routines, chemical peels, and other treatments that cost you a pretty penny, for Kelis, her motto is the simpler, the better. One thing that she has made a decision to consistently opt out of, is investing in those cleansers that we all hold so near and dear to our hearts and beauty regimens.
“I don't use soap on my face, that's the first thing. I think that's the one consistent thing I've done in the past 20 years. It's because I'm super dry. I might wash my face with an actual cleanser – it sounds crazy – but maybe like once a month. I can't do it. Every time I do it, I'm way too dry. Moisture for me is the key to everything. I am moisture crazy."
She also notes that collagen is something she's been swearing by as of late to keep her complexion looking fleeky.
“I'm obsessed with collagen lately. I mean, like obsessed. I have collagen products of all kinds. I love trying new products. I am a total product whore. For hair and skin, I am like obsessed."
Kelis also gave props where props were due to the key role that Vitamin C plays in achieving and maintaining healthy skin.
“I obviously wear a lot of makeup for work, but in my everyday life I don't. I'm big on mascara and lipgloss and that's about it. My skin is like a playground, I'm always trying new moisturizers. Vitamin C is the key. I love a Vitamin C serum, I love a collagen moment, I love royal jelly. Everything is about hydration and keeping the natural glow. I'm generally in a state of sleep deprivation so I need a lot of creams."
So, ditch the cleanser, stay moisturized, invest in collagen, use Vitamin C serums – check, check, check, and check. Kelis also raved about a last crucial element of her skincare routine when she name dropped the Hanacure mask, a mask that lifts, restores, and tightens the skin. For her and women with skin like hers, the holy grail beauty product is just what she needs to remedy her dry skin.
"I just recently got that facial thing Hanacure, which I have to say is pretty freaking epic. I don't even like facial things, but I had to text my friends like, “Yo, it works, this is crazy!" I felt my pores get tighter, it was nuts. It's really ill. Facial stuff I'm not usually into, I think it's all crap, but this is actually amazing. When you take it off you're so freaking soft."
Come through Kelis, with the much-needed skincare gems, yas!
Head over to The Fader to check out some other amazing articles that's all about the Head Beauty In Charge.
Once again it's on!
The holidays are here, which means holiday shopping is on the horizon. Yaassss!
Since 2016, when we handed out a list of dope things you can find on Etsy from black businesses, the crafty chicas with the popping melanin have unholstered their glue guns, and went to work. Etsy is lit this year, folks! I just might have saved you a trip from walking across a mall that's as large as NRG Stadium, where the Houston Texans play. (By the way, it's a large ass stadium.)
From silk ankara patterned pillow cases, to t-shirts that speaks your language, check out some of the best in Black Etsy, and get to know the owners.
1. Silk and cotton ankara pillowcase from OBIKATextiles ($27.60)
8.Silk and cotton ankara pillowcase from OBIKATextiles ($27.60)
This Etsy shop just showed up to the Black Etsy party in 2017, and her shop is popping. Pamela's the owner, and she's operating in London, and her shop exhibits very fly ankara patterned purses and throw pillows. Shop OBIKATextiles here.
7.Ankara patterned throw pillow from eightlifestyle ($17.50)
Sharna is the owner of eightlifestyle, and her fashions are very reflective of the bold and vibrant colored fashion you would find in Ghana. Her throw pillows and headwraps are lively, and fly in style. You're going to love shopping on her page.
About why she calls her shop eightlifestyle, she said:
Since relocating to Ghana the number "8" is of great significance to Sharna as "8" is often associated with regeneration or the beginning of a new era.
I am forever inspired by shapes, prints, the eclectic styles of the peoples I bump into on the streets of BK. Tribes women, mother, aunts, granny, friend, daughters all inspire my line. The energy of my ancestors, pure love of a home continent that I have yet to smell, touch and see in this time fuel much of the works.
Shop eightlifstyle here.
6.Urban Girl doll by Felt And Fennel ($60)
This is absolutely the cutest doll I've seen in a very long time. This handmade item is 16 inches in length, and features a faux fur vest, wool yarn hair, and cotton clothing. If it isn't cute enough, you can also add a special message to the person receiving this gift. *swoon*
Olivia White, the shop's owner, said that making dolls for black girls to celebrate is truly a labor of love.
I want to to create beautiful, high quality dolls that celebrate the beauty and diversity of the African Diaspora and black/African American hair so that others can see themselves represented and celebrated in my dolls. I pay special attention to combining colors, patterns, and textures, making each piece unique, exclusive, and a work of art.
Shop Felt and Fennel here.
5.Rise From The Concrete - wall art inspired by Solange's A Seat At The Table album ($60)
This wall art is exceptional!
Nonie, the artist behind this masterpiece, operates out of New Jersey, and she said that this mixed media piece was inspired after she listened to Solange's latest album, A Seat At The Table. As far as the message behind the piece, Nonie said:
My original drawing is called "Rise from the Concrete." because it is about rising from adversity and rising to your full potential. You are the rose from concrete, even if you are a work in progress or have scars
Shop Rise From Concrete here.
4.Viviane Go - AURORE Fascinator by Ziindya ($227.59)
Well since there's a new princess among us black girls, we may as well make sure we have some fly looking fascinators for this spring's royal wedding. It looks like Ziindya has us covered in that area.
This beautiful piece of headwear is made of dashiki fabric, peacock feathers, pheasant feathers, and cotton.
The shop's owner must be a magician, because her pieces are pure magic.
Shop Ziindya here.
3.Angela Davis Tee from Black Heritage Tees ($22.99)
Black Heritage Tees have been on Etsy since 2011, but they persisted, and saw an increase of sales this year. Hey now!
I love this shirt shop. You'll see shirts that boasts images of Pam Grier, Colin Kaepernick, Billie Holiday, and of course, Angela Davis.
Lisa, the shops owner, said:
This beautiful collection of Cultural Designs was inspired by the challenges and victories of some of our greatest African-Americans.The sacrifices they made yesterday have shaped the world in which we live today. Their uncommon strength and courage forever lives within us.
Shop Black Heritage Tees here.
2.Queens Stand Up Luggage Bag (49.99)
If you're looking to start a conversation while traveling, this would be that bag to purchase.
According to their shop, this handmade item is durable, water-resistant, and is made of high-grade waterproof fabric, with microfiber leather.
Zana, who operates her shop out of Sugar Land, Texas, has really cute handmade items that you will simply adore, especially if you belong to a sorority. Check out the name badge holders, and greeting cards, in her Etsy shop.
1.Women In African Print Fashion Adult Coloring Book ($9.99)
I'm swooning already! The book features 30 pages of black women looking queenly in African print textiles that's sure to make your imagination run wild!
The shop boasts beautiful handmade artwork that's sure to make you feel happy. Take a look.
Did I miss any? If you're a black woman business owner operating on Etsy, drop the link the comments so we can browse your merchandise.