On Love and Podcasts: The First Half Of 2016


The brisk January day when I said I was open to love
The brisk January day when I said I was open to love

I’ve teamed up with State Farm® as part of its Color Full Lives campaign, an initiative that promotes positivity & empowerment and celebrates all women in the African American community through a multitude of experiential and digital engagements. You know how this works-views, opinions, and musings of the unscripted kind are all my own. 

Somewhere in between our tapas and bottle of wine, I told my friend that this was the year I would be open to love. That was back in January, when the air was brisk and my heart was wide open. Like everyone else around me, I was pumped up with the kind of blind and inflated hope that ushers in a new year.

It’s August now. The air has grown thick and humid, and this heart of mine is more of a spectator to love, than a veteran recipient of it. Since that dinner in January, I moved my twenty-something self much closer to the District of Columbia, started swiping left and swiping right despite vehement declarations that I would never download Tinder, and watched time tick in the weeks that one man stopped texting me. And through it all, somehow, I’m still open to love – less as an eager pup hoping it manifests for me romantically, and more as an ardent and spirited observer of how that love has taken shape for people in my orbit.

The June day when I celebrated love, also known as my sister's wedding (photo credit Jazzmin Awa-Williams and Dejah Greene)
That beautiful day in June when I celebrated love, also known as my sister’s wedding (photo credit Jazzmin Awa-Williams and Dejah Greene)

Perhaps what I’ve learned most is that being open to love means just that – being open. It means extracting lessons from both the monumental and the molecular, keeping an ear out and an eye open for any pebble of wisdom you can garner from anywhere. I’ve collected a lot of that wisdom this year from podcasts. From the essayists behind the Modern Love podcast to the rapport between husband and wife duo Danyel Smith and Elliott Wilson on #RelationshipGoals, there’s always something new to be gleaned from people’s perspectives on human connection.

And then there are the ladies of the Color Full Lives podcast.

Color Full Lives, a new podcast sponsored by State Farm, combines the sharp and influential voices of American radio personality Angela Yee, self-proclaimed “Duchess of Tech” Tatiana King Jones, and lifestyle influencer Francheska Medina, known for her brand Hey Fran Hey. During each episode, the women share their perspectives on everything from branding to diversity in tech. But, the episode that tugged at my heartstrings was episode 3 where the women broke down the raucous, unpredictable, and grey world of dating and relating. You can listen to it here.


Here are a few standout gems from the episode.

On trusting your partner in the age of social media | “If you have to look, you already know what it is.” – Angela

On balancing a public online presence with your private life | “I have a duty to protect myself and my family. They are people who did not sign up to be this public person.” – Tatiana

On dating a man’s potential instead of acknowledging his reality | “I’m a sucker for some potential. But, lesson learned. I’ve been burned too many times with that one.” – Fran

On not settling | “I’d much rather be single than be with the wrong person.” –Angela

On reconciling what a person looks like on paper with who they are in real life | “We tend to assume markers of success mean something about the mind of the man, but it’s not the case.” – Fran

On relinquishing the idea of saving or changing a partner | “Put your capes away! Why bother?” – Tatiana

These are all lessons we learn along the way if we are lucky, and early on if we are smart. But, we’re not always that smart. If there’s anything I’ve learned and heard reaffirmed from the women, it’s that the cobblestone road to love is a hands-on experience, a fight in the ring, a jump in the mud, and a dance with the devil. But, like the three of them, I am trying to both learn from my mistakes and laugh about them along the way.

That hot July day when I was surrounded by love
That hot July day when I was surrounded by love

I’m not sure how else “being open to love” will manifest this year. I don’t know if it will crystallize in some way or remain shapeless, coming to me through sound bites and spectatorship. But, what I do know is that I’ll remain open to whatever love – or podcasts – have to offer.

This post was sponsored by State Farm, as part of its Color Full Lives campaign. For more information, please visit https://www.statefarm.com/finances/

Sometime After 2 a.m.


They tell me nothing good ever happens after 2 a.m., and I agree. Nothing good ever happens after that time, but surely, sometimes glorious and golden things do. Sometimes in the gray hours, the ones where night bleeds into morning and sin blends into sleep, we are our truest selves. Our most unlatched selves. In the gray hours, we let down the guards and open the gates, reprimanding our inhibitions and shoving them into the corner for a long overdue timeout.

WYAO April general promoThis Write Your Ass Off April post was published as part of my Sunday Kind of Love newsletter. Read the full essay here

Write Your Ass Off April is a 10-day writing challenge to create your most naked, brave, and no holds barred writing. Ready to do this thing? Learn about the challenge here and share your work on social media using the hashtag #WYAOApril. 

Why I Have To Believe In #BlackGirlMagic

#BlackGirlMagic NYE 2015
NYE 2015, photo credit: Kevin

I don’t typically drink appletinis. But, it’s Wednesday night and the martinis at Friday’s on Pennsylvania Avenue are $3 dollars, so I’m on my second appletini. The DJ’s set has the worst case of a musical identity crisis I’ve ever heard. He goes from Mary J. Blige to Mystikal, but then he lands on Meek’s Dreams and Nightmares. I’m a sucker for long intros that lead up to a sick beat. Aren’t we all? Something about delayed gratification. So, one minute and 37 seconds in, the beat shifts and my hands start to push the air. My face is all scrunched up as I look over at my two friends and they’re mouthing the lyrics. The woman next to me, whose name I don’t know and never will, is dancing too. Her shoulders are hitting mine as we laugh and keep rapping with our scrunched up faces. It is Wednesday night. At Friday’s. On Pennsylvania Avenue. And, it’s one of the few times this week that I have felt completely, utterly, and unflinchingly like myself.

Because that, my beauties, is #BlackGirlMagic. That’s what it looks like and tastes like and feels like and smells like.

I do not know what song was on Linda Chavers’ heart or what string of experiences led her to pen the recent Elle article “I Have a Problem With #BlackGirlMagic.” I cannot speak to what unrest stirred up in her soul and spilled through her fingertips. She is a writer. So, she wrote. She believed in something and shared it through words, which is exactly what writers do. At our lowest common denominator, we have opinions and we share them through words. I’m not here to mock Linda or cheapen her or throw names. I’m here because she wrote something and it did this thing to me. It did that thing where it sucker punched me in the worst way and dared me to respond.

I don’t remember the moment I realized that because I did not look like Emily or Jessica or Sarah, my version of this American life would not be filtered through the same amount of sunshine they had. Emily. Sarah. Jessica. These were my elementary school friends. Buddies. Ace boon coons. Emily always had gel pens and Lisa Frank folders. Jessica lived down the street and left real school after first grade for home school. Sarah had a sleepover once that I had to leave early because I had church the next day. Emily. Sarah. Jessica. Those were my girls. And surely I didn’t look like them, but we still had a shared set of experiences. We had N’Sync CDs and American Girl dolls and parties where we bobbed for apples. We had the same things, but we were not quite the same.

I did not learn this until much later. See, now I know, my sunshine is not quite the same.

I did not learn this all at once. I did not wake up one morning and suddenly understand what melanin-infused skin would mean for me going forward. Some days I still don’t. Some days I struggle to read the cashier’s eyes when he smiles at the woman in front of me and then frowns when I approach. Some days I get tired of explaining what going natural means. Some days I scoffwhen the guy walking out the door pushes past without saying “excuse me.” There are all these things and all these thoughts and all these realities that simmer. Some days those realities attempt to eat me alive.

So, no, my sunshine is not quite the same. But, my sunshine is that #BlackGirlMagic.

I wish from the trenches of my heart that Linda Chavers did not believe #BlackGirlMagic implied that we are, indeed, magical. I wish she didn’t liken it to rabbits pulled out of hats and grand disappearing acts. I wish she didn’t believe it meant that we were superhuman. I wish she didn’t contort the phrase, take it so literally, and single-handedly pull apart this mantra that is sometimes one of the few things us black girls have have left to believe in.

Last week in a video interview with Chasity Cooper, we stumbled upon the topic of #BlackGirlMagic. There we were, two black girls in front of a camera. With a black woman behind the camera directing our shoot. Inside of a coffee shop owned by a black woman. Without even having to answer her question, that was #BlackGirlMagic. Four black women doing what they love. Sharing something they believe in. Reaching out to each other to make shit happen.

#BlackGirlMagic with Chasity Cooper
#BlackGirlMagic with Chasity Cooper

It’s more than a hashtag. It’s more than this phrase I see and roll my eyes at, the way I do with #RelationshipGoals. No, #BlackGirlMagic is Friday lunch with Roconia with my head cocked back laughing far too loudly. #BlackGirlMagic is my hoop earrings on the weekend and my emphatic head nods during the sermon. #BlackGirlMagic is never having to translate anything I say when I am with my girlfriends and emitting my truest self. #BlackGirlMagic is the smile I give the woman at the security desk every day when I wave my badge as everyone else scurries past her. #BlackGirlMagic is when she smiles right back.

#BlackGirlMagic is the dust that settles after you rise and rise again. #BlackGirlMagic is a tribe around you and a community behind you. #BlackGirlMagic is Sade’s By Your Side and Beyoncé’s Love on Top. #BlackGirlMagic is knowing that your sunshine is not quite the same, but every time that sun beats, she is beyond beautiful. #BlackGirlMagic is that oh-so-sweet feeling that dances inside of you when you see another black woman push past naysayers or climb above mountains or find lasting love. #BlackGirlMagic is not at all about being superhuman. It is about being as human as we can get, and knowing that maybe there is another black girl out there who gets us. Hears us. Feels us. Sees us for exactly who we are–flawed, troubled, hurt, stifled, confused, complicated, layered.

And magical.