Essays

A Seat at the Table: From where we sit

Fleurish1994 is all about #blackgirlmagic and the power of us owning our shine. We’ve seen the celebration of the many facets of black womanhood in various ways this year and all of that has culminated in the (somewhat unexpected) release of Solange’s A Seat at the Table. As two women immensely inspired by Solange, we’d like to share our individual takes on the album.

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Shanté

It’s been a week since A Seat at the Table came out and it’s not an exaggeration to say I’ve listened to it at multiple points of every day since the release. I’m listening as I write this. If you know me, you know I’ve always been a Solange fan. Not just of her music, but of her aesthetic and commitment to being herself at all times. She’s a trendsetter; I looked for yellow eyeliner for years because she wore it during the Hadley St. Dreams Era. She’s also a beautiful songwriter and the quintessential carefree black girl (more on that later).

Earlier this week, my friend and radio show co-host Stephanie tagged me in a post about this Blavity article that discusses the way Black female singers have really laid it all out this year. The albums they referenced were A Seat at the Table, Lemonade by Beyoncé, HEAVN by Jamila Woods, and Telefone by Noname. These are the exact albums that I felt represented in and affirmed by this year in a way that I never have before. Each of these women have unique experiences that led them to create these masterpieces but throughout these albums are common themes of black womanhood (in some cases, girlhood too), love, pride, and pain.

A Seat at the Table is a stellar example of what it means to be a black woman in 2016. There’s the topic of grief present in “Weary.” The acknowledgment of how blackness thrives despite the odds is also woven throughout and this album just makes you so happy to be black. So do the visuals; I make the cheesiest smile when I watch the “Don’t Touch My Hair” video because the part where she dances with Sampha (another favorite of mine) is a shining example of black excellence.

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So, back to the carefree black girl label; many of us who admire Solange have called her that and while she may not give a fuck about your judgments, this album proves that she cares a lot about the well-being of black folks. Even in her most ethereal moments, she is human and it shows through the melancholy, yet triumphant tracks on the album. “Borderline: An Ode to Self-Care” highlights how any caring for others has to start with caring for yourself. “Cranes in the Sky” tells us that despite our vices, the pain will be there if we don’t tackle our problems head on. “Rise” is about how we have to take the bad with the good within ourselves.

There’s obviously the thread of black girl magic with Kelly Rowland and Nia Andrews harmonizing beautifully with Solange on an interlude about their abundance of magic. “Don’t Touch My Hair,” one of my favorites, is about the pride Black women put into their hair, affectionately known as our crowns. This song reminds me of what my mother said her father told her; “Your hair is your beauty.” Our hair is so versatile and even when we decide to big chop, it comes right back full of glory. It’s great to be at a point where natural hair is not uncommon. As a child (and even up until my high school days), I was one of few at school with unrelaxed hair. Now, it’s a beautiful pleasure to walk around the city and see wash and gos, twist-outs, and bantu knots galore. Even the fact that we use this natural hair lingo among each other so casually is a glorious thing. The natural hair communities online have done something great for us (though I could do without the type policing, as Solange has pointed out before).

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If nothing else, this album proves that they can try to hinder, steal, or mock our shine but the result is never the same. “F.U.B.U.,” an unofficial anthem at this point, makes me feel so proud to be black. The whole album does, but one of my favorite lines comes from this track: “Don’t be mad if you can’t sing along, just be glad you got the whole world.” It shows the frustration expressed in the collective sentiment that “we can’t have nothing.” Y’all have seen how many times a trend has started on social media (by us) and we never get the credit. It’s larger than social media; I’m talking to you, rock and roll…even though it’s becoming common knowledge that this was clearly stolen. We see it on the runways almost every season. Faux dreadlocks going down the runway on non-black bodies, but it’s seen as unkempt everywhere else. *see also: “They love black culture, but not black people,” when Solange sings “get so much from us, then forget us!”

There’s not a track that I don’t like on this album. “Where Do We Go” and “Mad” embody everything I like about R&B music: the harmonies, the refrains, the way it makes me feel. All of the Master P. interludes are so insightful and Ms. Tina’s denouncing of the equation between pro-black and anti-white is what many need to hear at this time.

I’ve felt constantly “Weary” of the world for some months now; this album has given me more momentum to celebrate who I am.

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As a black girl who has occupied a whole lot of white spaces, I have had to assert my blackness A LOT. It has meant a lot of yelling matches on buses, a lot of tears, tons of silent glares, a lot of talks with people who didn’t (and didn’t want to) get it. It meant a lot of sadness and a lot of joy. And with soft horns and ethereal harmonies, Solange Knowles just validated the hell out of all those interactions.

When Solange announced her new album, I was immensely excited. I heard some of the melodies on Snapchat and it sounded like, for lack of a expression, Harlem in the fall. Harlem, where my father lived and where I so often visited, is my favorite place in the world. If you’ve never been (get there quick!), it feels almost like a black soul personified, like sunsets painted with sounds of the man with the horn on the corner. I had high hopes for the album. I just knew it would be amazing and soulful. And I was not at all disappointed.

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A Seat at the Table is a brilliant album full of horns and harmonies with pain and pride as a background to the motif of blackness. Sentiments and stories thread together to create a sort of anthology of light songs with heavy implications and back stories. From the melancholic “Cranes in The Sky”, “Mad” & “Weary” to the wistful, wondering “Where Do We Go” and all too familiar “F.U.B.U”, (my personal favorites) “Don’t Touch My Hair” & “Don’t Wish Me Well”, Solange pulled no punches. Each song delved deep into the complexities of black people and black life, from cultural appropriation to the everyday trauma we’re forced to deal with. Even the interludes, which I normally resent, just add to the strength of A Seat at the Table. The interludes from Ms. Tina, Matthew and Master P were done so masterfully and spun the album from an just another album to a story, a story about accepting and loving blackness for all that it means, all it could mean and all it feels like. I had to double check to make sure there were as many as there are because it feels so natural, the perfect progression between songs.

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With A Seat at the Table, just like me all those times, Solange asserted her blackness. She won’t water herself down, she won’t let you rip her to shreds and she most definitely won’t let you touch her hair. She was curated for decades by the blood of her ancestors, their creations, their contributions. She made this album for them. She made the album for us. This is shit is for us. For black people, for black women, for black men, for black boys and oh, let’s just say, black girls who are misunderstood and don’t quite know how to express that. This shit is no doubt for us.

As Ms. Tina said, “There’s so much beauty in being black… There’s so much beauty in black people.” Well said, Ms. Tina. And well done, Ms. Knowles– you really created a masterpiece of an album which showcased the multifaceted beauty of blackness. So much beauty indeed.


 Pictures and gif from the digital book accompanying A Seat at the Table, as well as the videos for “Cranes in the Sky” and “Don’t Touch My Hair”.

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Jams

a fleurish1994 end of summer party playlist.

We are days away from summer being over, so put this on and reminisce on the summertime vibes. *It’s okay if you play it after the summer. Good music is great all the time*

Also, I will keep adding songs to this one until the heat goes away.

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Essays

Lately.

The tragedies of this summer have left me sad and listless. While none of them have been personal, they all sure hit home. For starters, there was the largest mass shooting in modern American history in Orlando. Then, there were the multiple police-involved deaths from Baton Rouge to Minnesota to Dallas and then most recently Baltimore. Fire coming from all sides and different directions; continual violence when many of us are asking for the violence to stop, no matter who started it. It seems like every time I log onto Facebook or Instagram, another one has occurred (and it happened to me again as I wrote this).  It’s great that these events are being covered by the media, even though, of course, it would be preferable if senseless tragedies never happened.

Yet, with every article or social media post detailing a tragic event comes a treacherous comment section, exposing many folks’ true beliefs and intentions. Every time I scroll to the comments, I’m reminded why I shouldn’t. People questioning the humanity of others and never getting what’s so dangerous about their statements (“They are all a bunch of thugs and this one was no angel, hello did you see that shoplifting charge on his record??”). Others are bold in their bigotry (@ people who change #BlackLivesMatter to #AllLivesMatter, simultaneously posting #BlueLivesMatter). How hard is it to see that some punishments don’t fit the crime and that trying to justify excessive force is just plain wrong? How hard is it to understand that #BlackLivesMatter really means Black lives matter too? How fair is it for people to believe that their opinion is enough to justify seeing some people as less than human? How dare people say that others are just too sensitive or offend easily when they don’t live this reality? These are the questions going through my head constantly and I’m not sure there are any answers. Some people are just more content with sticking to what ‘they believe in’ instead of educating themselves or attempting to step into the shoes of others.

It all just feels so heavy that even if I tried to lift the weight, it would just redistribute elsewhere. In addition, I haven’t been motivated. This is partially due to all of the feels I’ve felt and also from being on vacation. While the summer is a good time to wallow in laziness, it hasn’t been a particularly good kind of lazy…I keep questioning whether or not I accomplished anything. Now, with the school year approaching, is the time to re-shift my focus and maybe lift some of the weight for good. It’s going to take time and part of it begins with remembering that I can’t change the landscape of the whole world. I just have to start internally and work from there.

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Fleurish Five

Fleurish Five 7.1.16

Hey y’all, happy July. We’re back at it again with a Fleurish Five. Hope y’all enjoy and stay safe this weekend.

1)The Colored Girl Project (TCG)

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TCG photographed by Joey Rosado @islandboiphotography

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TCG photographed by Joey Rosado @islandboiphotography

A social media campaign after our own hearts! Founded by Tori Elizabeth and Victory Jones, TCG aims to empower black women to love the parts of themselves that society taught us to hate. The pictures (featured above) speak for themselves. You can follow the project on Instagram @thecgirlinc

2) Jesse Williams’ BET Humanitarian Award Speech

Most of the media outlets covered Jesse Williams’ remarkable speech at the BET Awards this past weekend; Time and The New York Times posted it in full for those that missed it on air; The Los Angeles Times broke down why the speech matters. Many on social media shared Williams’ ending quote with abandon: “Just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.” Williams also spoke on police brutality and systemic racism; he also called out all of the people with lackluster criticisms of movements like Black Lives Matter. Those folks who fake as if they care and who, hopefully, heard his message loud and clear.

3) Korrine Sky Intimates |

Happenstance caused me  (Dream) to look up this girl once again. I knew her name and face from Tumblr and decided to see what she was doing as of late. I’m really glad I did! Korrine has blossomed into a miniature mogul, my favorite being her lingerie line. Korrine Sky Intimates is the ultimate cool girl lingerie line, making it sexy, cool and fun. Oh and a perfect gift for me (Wink, wink).

4) This Artwork

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Blue Baptism by Muvamayeye – Available as a print and T-shirt on Society6, a website that allows artists to upload their work to be made into prints, clothes, iPhone cases and more.

5) Aurora James of Brother Vellies

Brother Vellies, an ethical shoe company based in Brooklyn, has been on my (Shanté) radar for quite some time. According to its website, the company was founded to “introduce the rest of the world to [owner Aurora James’] favorite traditional African footwear, while also creating and sustaining artisanal jobs within Africa.” The shoes are handmade in South Africa, Kenya, and Morocco.

I initially read about James, her amazing style, and Brother Vellies on Saint Heron. Subsequently, I read about the company on some of my other favorite fashion sites, like Refinery29 and The Coveteur. Now that I’m watching The Fashion Fund on Amazon, which shows 10 designers competing for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, my interest in James’ personal style has been renewed. I already knew she won the award, but watching the show gives me the opportunity to one, lust after her boho-chic attire and two, see exactly what it took for her to win.

Also, we at Fleurish1994, would like to say a Congratulations to our friend Moe who recently had her baby, Ava! We’re so happy for you!

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Fleurish Five

Fleurish Five 2.10.16 – Loved Edition

Hey, it’s Shante and here’s my Fleurish Five for this week. It’s mostly related to love since Valentine’s Day is upon us, but if you’re morally opposed to V-Day, that’s cool too! Either way, enjoy.

1. We’ll start with today’s ladies of R&B and Hip-Hop, including Tinashe, ABRA, and Empress Of, singing a classic R&B song and looking amazing while doing it. One of my favorite things about this feature is how the earrings really shine against more understated outfits, a look that could make a big statement during your Valentine’s Day date. Also, let’s just appreciate all of this glorious melanin.

2. All my ATL lovers! I wanted to suggest that you check out ATL Collective’s live rendition of Sade’s Love Deluxe (one of my faves) on the 13th, but it has sold out. I suggest you play the album, make a nice dinner, and have a night in if you don’t have dinner reservations. site-banner-sade16

3. If you don’t want to stay in, you could go to Herban Fix, a new vegan restaurant located on Peachtree Street. The food is very tasty and healthy; there’s enough options to appeal to meat-eaters too. I recently went and tried the pan seared dumplings and curry soy fish with kale. The restaurant also serves vegan cake…what could go wrong?

4. Want to amp up your romantic February looks with a fun lip color? Refinery29 recently released a list of Black-owned beauty brands and I was really intrigued by Coloured Raine. The company, founded in 2013, makes matte lip paints with names like 2AM (black) and Oooh La La (fuchsia). I’ve got my eye on Ivy (pictured below) and 2AM because I need to add a black lipstick to my collection.

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5. Lastly, I’d like to talk about spreading love and awareness in the community. An example I have is a musician coalition for social justice that is getting started in Atlanta. I’m not sure if there is an official name for it yet, but it’s great to see people getting involved in activism and using their talents to do so! Special thanks to Paria for putting this on my radar.

That’s all for now. Remember to take care of yourself and spread some love.

–Shante

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Aligned.

IMG_1996For Volume 4, we’re gonna talk about chakras. A Sanskrit word for wheel or disk, a chakra is an energy center within the body. There are seven major chakras; learning the functions of each and wearing their associated colors can help keep the chakras aligned.

Muladhara – Root/Base Chakra (red)

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The Root Chakra relates to how grounded and connected to the Earth we feel. Located at the base of the spine, we chose to start with this chakra because it is where energy begins to flow as it rises to the top of the head. Qualities linked to the Root Chakra include: matters of the physical world, health, and individuality.

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Svadhisthana – Sacral/Navel Chakra (orange)

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The Sacral Chakra is associated with sexual energy and physical vitality. It is connected to water and stones including carnelian, coral, amber and gold topaz. One can wear orange-colored waistbeads to bring attention to the Sacral Chakra and help it stay in balance.

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Manipura – Solar Plexus Chakra (yellow)

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The Solar Plexus is located above the navel. It is linked to the nervous and digestive systems and emotions. Qualities associated with the solar plexus include humor, self-control, and energy. Healing crystals such as citrine and tiger eye increase energy flow; visualization can enhance the balancing of the Solar Plexus Chakra.

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Anahata – Heart Chakra (green)

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The Heart Chakra is a center of love, compassion, and devotion. It energizes one’s blood and, in addition to the color green, is connected to the color pink. Emerald, rose quartz, malachite, and green aventurine are all useful healing stones when working to balance your heart chakra.

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Vishudda – Throat Chakra (blue)

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The Throat Chakra relates to speech and communication, as well as self-expression. Qualities associated with this chakra include: honesty, integrity and truth. It also benefits from the power of blue crystals and stones such as turquoise, aquamarine, and celestite.

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Ajna – Third Eye/Brow Chakra (indigo)

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The Third Eye Chakra is located at the center of the forehead/between the eyebrows. It is associated with the mind and relates to one’s intuition, insight, and imagination. The Third Eye Chakra is also associated with the pineal gland, which is located in the center of the brain and behind the eyes.

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Sahasrara – Crown Chakra (violet)

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The Crown Chakra is aptly located at the top of the head (although, some say above the head). This chakra benefits from deep meditation; when balanced, it is a center of pure consciousness. Qualities associated with The Crown Chakra include: divine wisdom, idealism, and spiritual will.

 

Photographer: Dream

Creative Director & Stylist: Shante

Models

Root, Solar Plexus, and Crown Chakras: Dalia

Sacral and Third Eye Chakras: Khadija

Throat and Heart Chakras: Habiba

Notes about chakras were learned through The Chakra Awareness Guide by A.M.I. and The Chakra Bible by Patricia Mercier.

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Crystallized: Polaroid Edition

With Volume 4 on the way, we thought we’d get everyone ready by flashing back to Volume 2. Here are the Polaroids from Crystallized. While you enjoy these, stay tuned for our next edition.

With care,

Fleurish1994

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