Living the Dream

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Google commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the I Have a Dream Speech

Yesterday we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s iconic “I Have A Dream” speech, which was a part of the great March on Washington. There has been much recent discussion of whether or not Dr. King’s ‘Dream’ has become a reality. It seems the same conversation also comes every year in January as we celebrate his birthday. Of course, there is no pat or concise answer to this question. But there are several things to consider when thinking about realizing the Dream.

Firstly, on the positive side, African-Americans are clearly in a better position relative to where we were in Dr. King’s era. Is there still racism? Yes. Maybe we are missing burning crosses, water hoses, and attack dogs, but voting inconsistencies and glass ceilings  indicate that there is still discrimination against people of color. However, we are free from legal segregation and many of the atrocities that happened during the Civil Rights Era are now punishable by law. We have more opportunities – greater numbers of African-Americans in higher education, as corporate executives and in political offices. I believe we have made great strides and accomplishments.

However, there is also a dark side that negates many of the positive achievements. There are things going on now that were NOT happening back then and they are hurting our community. The disrespect of women we see now was unheard of in Dr. King’s day. Music and entertainment have glorified calling women ‘female dogs’ and ‘garden tools.’ And there are also women who feel that behaviors that actually degrade them are okay. Young men are glorifying ‘gangsta’ and ‘thug’ mentality, often imitating behaviors found in correctional facilities. We won’t even start in on the sagging pants issue…Using the N-word has become status quo for many, forgetting the hateful origins that brought the word into existence. No, my friends, there are many things going on today that would not have pleased Dr. King and other leaders in the struggle.

So what do we do, 50 years and one day after that great call for action? First of all, we need to continue to celebrate our achievements, but never rest on our laurels. Continue to work hard and make strides. More importantly though – we need to instill in our young people the sense of pride that was instilled in us. They need to know ALL our history – not just about Dr. King and Rosa Parks. They need to understand that even before our ancestors set foot on slave ships, we were corraled into pits and cells and treated inhumanely – in our OWN land of Africa . Teach them how we were separated from our people, our home and our culture. We were brought to this country as animals, and many didn’t survive the Middle Passage, their bodies thrown into the ocean. We would be more respectful of our women, and our young women would be more respectful of themselves if we remembered how Black women suffered in silence as they were raped by slavemasters and overseers, forced to be ‘breeders’ and then nurse their owner’s children. Our young Black men would be more respectful of themselves and each other if we remember how our men were stripped of their place in the family. These men had to watch, defenseless, while their women were raped and their families divided when children and wives were sold to other owners.

How do we teach? We teach respect to our own children, in our own homes. We exhibit respectful behavior. And where the family unit has failed, it is up to the community, our churches, fraternal organizations and community groups to stand in the gap and educate our young people. They can no longer grow up thinking they are less than who God created them to be! They can no longer be claimed by their environment, believing the lie that they cannot rise above their present condition to a brighter future. Yes, we’ve come far, but we have a lot of work left to do. Let us not just remember the speech – let’s live it!

(31WriteNow Challenge Day 29)

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Quick Beauty Tips: Bright Lips

For my fellow ladies of color, especially those with darker skin tones, don’t be afraid to rock a bright lip, like MAC’s best red, Ruby Woo, or funky pink Candy Yum-Yum, also from MAC. Just pair each of them with a darker lip liner, blend the liner well and then apply the color. Here are two marvelous ladies who can show you how to achieve the look! Which one(s) will you dare to wear?

Jackie O from Makeup Game on Point rocks Ruby Woo!

Now watch Noelle Marriie show us how to wear Candy Yum Yum!

I’m Not Great at Networking, But…

With fellow Social Media panelist, Nicole McGarrell, owner of Sunny Day Marketing.

On Thursday, October 25, 2012, an amazing group of women and men assembled at the BNY Mellon Building in Lower Manhattan to attend the 10th Annual Women’s Business Leadership Conference, sponsored by the Women’s Business Committee of the National Minority Business Council. The theme for the day was Reflect, Rekindle, Refocus, Resolve, and featured Vera Moore, President & CEO of Vera Moore Cosmetics, as keynote speaker.

A few months ago, I was asked to become part of the conference planning committee, as well as one of the social media panelists. I had a great time meeting new people and feeling the energy in a room full of entrepreneurs. I surveyed the land and saw eager faces, picking up new ideas, especially from Laurana Edwards, author of My Business Plan Book: New Venture Starter Kit. Even those who were already in business for themselves were able to benefit from Ms. Edwards’ wisdom.

Social Media: The Alternative Marketing Strategy is the panel I served on, along with 3 other women who are involved in social media education and social media marketing. I felt a little bit like a fish out of water, considering my social media “work” is strictly personal and I spend very little time actually promoting my side business. However, I was able to introduce the concept of blogging and how I became interested in it. As I prepared for the panel discussion, I realized how many nice people I have met, and cool opportunities have come my way since my brief three years in social media world, especially in the last two years since I started this blog. And for you, my This and That With Calandra family, I think I represented TTWC well!

Crowdfunding: Is it Right for Your Business? featured a panel of individuals who were owners of crowdfunding sites as well as actual business owners who ran successful crowdfunding campaigns. Personally, I have supported a few Kickstarter projects and I think it’s a great resource. The sites represented at the Conference were Lucky Ant and RocketHub.

Duane Reade LOOK Boutique location, courtesy of Vera Moore Cosmetics

But for me, the highlight of my day was meeting Vera Moore! She is an absolutely beautiful, charming and witty woman whom I have come to admire for her years of dedication to the cosmetics industry, as well as her business acumen. She recently completed a deal with Duane Reade/Walgreens, and her cosmetics line is being featured in selected stores’ LOOK Boutiques. What I loved most about meeting her is that despite all that she has accomplished in over 40 years in business, she has such a humble spirit about her. She is so encouraging of others and their business aspirations. She said to me, as she said to many others who were in attendance, “We need to stay in touch! Don’t forget now!” She understands the true value of networking.

The day was a great experience and I look forward to continuing my work with the Women’s Business Committee. I have to give a special shout out to Dawn Henning, who introduced me to the WBC and invited me to participate. I’m happy to say that she is a regular subscriber to This and That With Calandra AND we actually met through Facebook connections! Now how’s THAT for social media networking! 🙂

My Adventure at Circle of Sisters in NYC

I’m pretty sure today is the most motivated I have ever been to write a post so quickly…EVER! This weekend is the Annual Circle of Sisters Expo at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. My best friend Stephanie invited me to go and I am SO glad I was able to make it. We have decided to make this an annual pilgrimage.

What is Circle of Sisters? According to their website, “Circle of Sisters is New York’s largest expo for women of color and hosts a variety of speakers, authors, seminars, inspirational services, R&B and gospels concert in addition to the more than 200 vendors and companies selling unique items and services.” What made it special for me today? I met three incredible women for the first time today and each one of them left an indelible impression on me!

Afrobella – As you all already know, Miss Patrice is my favorite beauty blogger, and she is the creator of my FAVORITE MAC lipglass, All of My Purple Life.

I found out she was going to be moderating a Fall Fashion Show for Bali Shapewear and I knew I had to find her at COS and meet her in person. During the day, I saw actor Anthony Anderson, local newswoman Brenda Blackmon and Pastor/Gospel Singer Donnie McClurkin. But it was my meeting with Miss Patrice that absolutely made my day. I was meeting ROYALTY! She is just as amazing and charming in person as she is in social media!

Calandra and Miss Afrobella!

While at Bali, I met Denise A. Johnson, Editor In Chief of Rainy Day Diva. Such a down-to-earth Sistagirlfriend! She and Stephanie and I found ourselves engaged in a very serious conversation about shapewear! Now you know only sistagirlfriends can talk frankly about shapewear! We had such a great time with her – my new Twitter friend!

Calandra with Denise - Rainy Day Diva

The first booth we visited was #200 – Doris New York (www.dorisnewyork.com) – our dear friend and sister Marlene Duperley is Owner and Senior VP of this wonderful hair care product company. You must try the Olive Oil Hair Cream, and Leave In Conditioner. AMAZING products. Stephanie and I met Marlene on Facebook, where she moderates 3 awesome pages – Married to Me, MTM for Men, and MTM for Teens. We became great online friends and FINALLY got a chance to meet in person and hang out with our sister.

Calandra, Marlene, Stephanie - Natural Hair Rules!

We also had the chance to meet and hang out with her colleagues and models – what an awesome time we had with them!

The Doris New York Models

These three Divas have been so inspirational! I am so glad to have been able to spend time with them today. Thank  you Patrice, Denise and Marlene for a wonderful day. And special shout-out to my best friend of 25+ years, Stephanie, for suggesting we go.

Calandra and Stephanie - Best Friends Forever! LOL

(Oh yeah, and the rest of the Expo was pretty cool too! LOL)

Guest Post: Confessions of a former Afro-girl

Please welcome my first guest-blogger, my Cousin Jasmine…Give her some love!

Very early in Calandra’s video blogging, she based an entry on a question her new-mom cousin asked about going on intuition vs. advice. That new-mom cousin was me, Jasmine Ratliff. Recently I asked Calandra if I could occasionally contribute to This and That as my way of slowly entering the blogging world. In the spirit of This and That, my posts will be random thoughts about daily life as a mother, wife, Black woman, working stiff, movie fan, and more. So here’s my first entry–hope you enjoy!

Calandra’s lovely new natural ‘do and hair story video got me thinking about Black women and our hair. Last year I posted a status on Facebook that probably got as much reaction as the announcement of my daughter’s arrival. It was something along the lines of “I think I’m going to put a relaxer back in my hair.” The comments were swift and clearly divided: my natural friends cried “NO!!”, my relaxed friends celebrated “Woo hoo!” Gotta admit I was surprised and yet pretty amused at the very strong opinions some of us have with our hair.

I went natural in college. It wasn’t a coming-into-myself, discovering my roots, connecting with the motherland type of decision; I simply didn’t like doing my hair anymore. Up to that point I had gone through straightening comb and paper-bag roller sessions as a child, crimping irons, finger-waves and braids (a la Janet Jackson in “Poetic Justice”) as an early teen, then steadily cutting it shorter and shorter as a late teen and early adult. By my 3rd year of college I was simply sick of dealing with it. So one day after completing a mid-term I called my hair-dresser and made an appointment for later in the day. I arrived and said “cut it all off.” I wasn’t bald but it was pretty damn short. But I got compliments and ended up keeping it natural for 12 years. It ranged in length from super-short to Angela Davis huge. I twisted it, colored it (including an unfortunate blonde experimentation), cornrowed it and hot-ironed it. Last year I got tired of looking at the afro and back to a relaxer I went. Loving the new look; it’s like seeing a different version of yourself, like when you try new make up. The only thing I miss is not feeling the shower run through my hair every day. Ah well, with change comes some sacrifices…

I think of hair as an accessory, another way to express your personality & style. It’s something fun to play with and get as adventurous as your imagination–and maybe profession–allows. Black women’s “hair-itage” (sorry, couldn’t resist) includes both Afros and chemically straightened (thank you Madame C.J. Walker) and everything in between. I embrace it all. This is not a knock on women who are committed to one look or another, it’s just my outlook on my personal look.

My daughter has hair like mine in it’s natural state: crazy thick and really curly. I absolutely love playing with it. I’ve done poofs, braids (still learning to cornrow) and let it go free. I’m glad that my experience with natural hair helped me figure what products I prefer on her hair, which I would imagine could be puzzling for some who’ve only been relaxed. I’ll teach her our hair history and hope that I instill in her the same fun attitude towards personal style. And I’ll let her decide where to go from there.