Embrace The Skin You’re In

….because if we don’t love the skin that we’re in, how could we expect for someone else to do so? We should not put that pressure on anyone other than ourselves, when its our life that we have to live. While some folks will love us regardless, despite our confidence, or lack thereof, after a certain point we MUST learn to embrace ourselves – embrace yourself, all of you, including the worst parts of you, because only then will you be more inclined to make different decisions, better ones, healthier ones, all of which will lead us closer to our own happiness. I didn’t always accept, or love my whole self, especially my hair. I was teased as a kid, and expected to have the long socalled, “good” stuff (good hair) due to my black “light” skin, but I had what I was born with, and what exactly is “good” anyway? We all have our ideas. My hair is as kinky as it wants to be and I feel free, and fully embrace all of me, including my hair. I hope that many women and maybe even men, get to a point where they too can do the same. Love yourself first, you MUST!


Loving You At Your Lowest


Not everyone will be strong enough to cherish and love you at your lowest, or worst, nor will they always choose to be helpful – like say or do something that actually helps you. Sometimes they need help too, but in a different way, regardless of how mentally or emotionally well they may appear. Some will bypass the love that they’re capable of and resort to judging you, not even realizing their negativity – some do, some don’t care, and others are in denial. Try not to take their energy, regard or disregard personal, despite how badly it may be hurting you. TRY.

Make room in your heart to feel  beyond your own pain, and consider that they may be hurting too, or  that they’re simply not in their best form. Think about it. If someone is hurting, angry, bitter, or unhappy about something in their own life, why continue to allow the weight of their hurtful words to crumble your world? This is not to make an excuse for them, but to acknowledge that THEY ARE NOT WELL emotionally, or  mentally, or simply not happy, no matter what YOU, or we think that we know. Did you know that “Hurt people, HURT people?”  Iyanla Vanzant once mentioned, and so I say, don’t let this be you. Know that amidst the pain, there  still lies sweet spots of beautiful within us and around us and its up to you, and me, and us to access it, connect with it,  share it to the point of contagiousness.

Once we own and accept our truths and the reality of what we’re going through, we can move forward…beyond his, her, or their hurtful, or judgmental words. Its more healing and helpful to focus on what IS possible, or what we’re willing to MAKE possible with or without them. Arguing and wallowing in being pissed off about someone judging  you,  who also claims to love you, resolves what? I use that ‘pissed-offness’ to put one foot in front of the next. It might also help to be more mindful of who you’re allowing to be around you, especially when you’re most vulnerable, or feeling down, or lost. The last thing that you, or we need is to be judged – period, but when its by someone that we love, who we thought loved us back, it feels unbearable, unacceptable and alienating. While some people will pray for you, there are those who are preying on you. The latter is something that I don’t want to believe, but its a reality.

If you know someone who’s going through something, or is having a hard time getting through a period in their life and you love them, I mean, really LOVE  them and would do almost anything for them, then go ahead and truly LOVE them….some more….the best way that YOU know how….even better than before….and don’t allow anyone, or anything to sway you from the humility and good nature in which you’re capable. Do this even when they’re at their lowest, this is when they need it most and why dogs, or pets are the best. They’ll love you unconditionally, regardless of circumstance. Will we humans, ever be able to do this?

 [Photo Credit: Unkown. All rights reserved for originating source.]

Before And After | Goodbye Box Braids, Hello Locks | Hair By Ebony Brown

ebonybrownbraidslocksstylistbronxAfter three months of box braid extensions that I braided in my hair, my scalp, locks, and head needed to breathe. My follicles were craving wind, sun, and my unobstructed touch. I went to a local salon to get help with taking my braids out. The stylist noticed that I had locks, after seeing where I began taking my braids out, and said firmly, “Fourty Dollar” I said, “wow, why did it increase so drastically? The last time that you did it was $25?” She and her folks denied ever doing it. I am not crazy. I remembered those long, gloomy stairs, worn, pink walls, and her business card that she had handed to me personally! Damn, it wasn’t in my pocket. It would have been perfect if her card was in my pocket.

After negotiating a price, she asked me, “Who did this, Where you get your hair braid?” I said, “I did it” She said, “I never see this, this dread in braid, why you do this?” I said, “because I wanted to see if it was possible to braid my dreads since I missed my braids so much.” She then said, “these braid not African braid, we didn’t do it, so I can’t take it out. These braid are American braid, different from African braid, they too tight, I can’t do it.” After that, I just put my hat on and began to make my way towards the door; it was pouring outside.

There were crying kids in the salon, restrained moms, cutting their eyes and speaking tersely in effort to discipline their whinny ones from a distance, the TV was on, but silent, the radio was intermittent, white noise – annoying, and the stench of the stylist’s lunch made my lungs and nose hairs work harder. Before I could turn the knob on the door, the stylist, draped, head to toe in African garb and fish on her breath, said “come here, I try one, I see first” After about an hour and a half, and a whole lot of loud, African talkage, laughter, and a breast feeding intermission, my braids were all out! I felt like I could fly, I didn’t always feel this way after taking my braids out. In fact, I used to feel very inadequate, self conscious and insecure. Today I feel free and comfortable in the skin that I’m in.




Gifts From The Heart With Artist Patricia van Essche

Where there is a creative soul, wife and mother of three, named Patricia van Essche, there is thoughtful, colorful and brilliant art being contributed to the world. In this case, Patricia van Essche inspired West Elm faithfuls, newbies and youth to create some artsy, fun, water color Father’s Day cards. One attendee, who happens to be a dad said, “I’m not artsy at all,” but with some encouragement, one stroke followed another.  I am convinced, however, that we all have some inkling of creativity in our cells constantly working to be freed, and expressed in some form or fashion, and by the looks of the card created by our self proclaimed, “not so artsy” dad, I think that I might be on to something. If you haven’t purchased a Father’s day card yet, maybe you might want to create one?  West Elm also has some awesome Father’s Day gifts for a range of budgets, check out http://www.westelm.com to see what’s possible. Captured below are some irreplaceable gifts in the making; folks spent nothing but time and love to create something memorable, thanks to Patricia van Essche (www.pvedesign.com)










Is that an owl on her t-shirt? West Elm is infamous for “OWL” anything! If you don’t know you’ll soon find out.


We all must start somewhere, you never know what it may lead to!


Our self proclaimed, “not so artsy” dad is full of creativity in this moment, but he didn’t know it yet.


This is his daughter’s work, so detailed and intricate!


A close up, I couldn’t refuse.


Wallah! This is “not so artsy” dad’s card cover!



…And this is the inside of his card, how true! I say the same about Mother’s Day and Valentines Day!


Quick, true story. A woman walked into West Elm just to check out the store for the first time, while I was shooting around, so I invited her to participate in the Father’s Day art event. She painted the card below,  and purchased the inspiration for it, pictured next to it. Who knew she’d turn out to be an actual, working, artist!  Not only that, it turns out that she worked with the artist, Patricia van Essche previously and was visiting West Elm on the Patricia’s recommendation, not knowing that she’d be there doing an event! Coinkydink (crazy coincidence) or what? Below is her card and West Elm gift! (She mentioned the painting not being complete with shadows and all, but its the thought that counts, no?)


Here’s Patricia van Essche’s contact info, perhaps she could inspire your next creation, be it for Father’s Day, or something else!



Art, Activism And Creating With Purpose: Ai Weiwei


Anyone could have talent, be incredibly skilled, or create something that gains some Oooos and ahhhhs, maybe some money, or even some shows, but not everyone will create with purpose, or a burning passion to inform, to help, or somehow impact lives, or societies and governments to the point of change, or something meaningful, and not every artist wants to.  Its almost unfathomable for me to articulate the massiveness of one human being’s life’s work here.  Have you ever heard of Ai Weiwei?

“If you don’t speak out, and if you don’t clear your mind, then who are you?” -Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei, the artist, the activist, and an advocate for human rights for the people of China is one, single, solitary, brave and humble human, speaking for millions through multimedia art. Continually pushing the buttons of his country’s government, Ai Weiwei always seems to create with intention and purpose, and I feel almost certain that his  life’s work will be the death of him.  Although the Chinese government has worked tirelessly to muzzle him (as he openly depicts via social media), I’m convinced that the people of China and around the world, who knows of his work, will celebrate his legacy and advocacy for centuries to come. Let’s fast forward, past my general verbiage here, and press play below for seventeen minutes and fifty eight seconds of what creating with purpose looks like, courtesy this PBS Frontline presentation “Who’s Afraid of Ai Weiwei”:

[Image Courtesy: Phaidon.com | Ai Weiwei, Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn (1995)
Three black and white photographs, each 148 x 121cm ]


New Slaves By Kanye West | A Review

Whoa, Did you see Kanye West’s, New Slaves music video? Please watch first, and then read my words; I want you to have your own first reaction without my commentary prefacing your initial thoughts. Cool?

New Slaves Lyrics:

My mama was raised in an era when/Clean water was only served to the fairer skin
Doing clothes you would have thought I had help/But they wouldn’t be satisfied unless I picked the cotton myself
You see its broke n—a racism/That’s that don’t touch anything in the store
And there’s rich n—a racism/That’s that come here please buy more
What you want a Bentley, fur coat and diamond chain?/All you blacks want all the same things
Used to only be n—as /Now everybody play me
Spending everything on that Alexander Wang/New Slaves

You see it’s leaders and it’s followers/But I’d rather be a d-ck than a swallower
You see it’s leaders and it’s followers/But I’d rather be a d-ck than a swallower

[Verse 2]
I throw these Maybach keys/I wear my heart on my sleeve
I know that we the new slaves/I see the blood on the leaves
I see the blood on the leaves/I see the blood on the leaves
I know that we the new slaves/I see the blood on the leaves
They throwing hate at me/Want me to stay at ease
F-ck you and your corporation/Y’all n—as can’t control me
I know that we the new slaves/I know that we the new slaves
I’m about to wild the f-ck out/I’m going Bobby Boucher
I know that pussy ain’t free/You n—as pussy, ain’t me
Y’all throwing contracts at me/You know that n—as can’t read
Throw him some Maybach keys/F-ck it, c’est la vie
I know that we the new slaves/Y’all n—as can’t f-ck with me
Y’all n—as can’t f-ck with Ye/Y’all n—as can’t f-ck with Ye
I move my family out the country /So you can’t see where I stay
So go and grab the reporters/So I can smash their recorders
Yeah they confuse us with bullsh-t/Like the New World Order
Meanwhile the DEA/Teamed up with the CCA
They tryna lock n—as up/They tryna make new slaves
See that’s that private-owned prison/Get your piece today
They prolly all in the Hamptons/Braggin’ ’bout they maid
F-ck you and your Hampton house/I’ll f-ck your Hampton spouse
Came on her Hampton blouse/And in her Hampton mouth
Y’all ’bout to turn sh-t up/I’m ’bout to tear sh-t down
I’m ’bout to air sh-t out/Now what the f-ck they gon’ say now?


In your face, down your throat, this New Slaves video reeks of propaganda-like, dictator type presentation and rhetoric. I don’t hate it, I don’t love it, but I prefer it; its beautifully bold, almost ‘Dada’ like and fearless. I’d be more convinced if it were coming from an unsigned, independent artist in the likes of Immortal Technique, rather than a signed, corporate contract having, massive mansion owning, multi-cars and jewels flaunting, label whoring, Kanye West, who now seems to have forgotten all of this, while biting the hand that feeds him, but what do I know? I only know what the media conveys, and is that always the whole story? While there are some alleged truths throughout Kanye’s lyrics, the fact that its him, spewing it, resonates as contradiction. Then again, how massive would it be for mainstream and hip hop music to get back to its roots of truth again? Perhaps Kanye West is simply growing and doesn’t deserve to be classified, or boxed in, and forever associated with all of his publicized meltdowns that has come before this; I won’t mention it.

Words like his, passion like his, realization and knowledge presented like this, in a straightforward, distraction-less, hypnotizing, big faced video, BROADCASTED to the masses for consumption of the millions, could actually inspire folks to wake up and learn about whats really going on around them, consequently, firing them up to do their own research and seek further leadership, or activism. Conversely, such could inspire worse in others, who would not only pull the plug on Kanye’s projected, grand epiphany, but also his career, and even his life. What black man has  survived the successful unbolting and revealing of  alleged skeletons in America’s closet? “Controversial,” would be too weak of word to describe the potential upheaval that music videos like “New Slaves” has the power to incite. So long as folks aren’t really listening and believing, or taking Kanye West and his lyrics seriously, but are definitely buying it, there is no problem, nor real controversy.


Testimony of A West Elm Walker | AIDSWalkNY 2013

Drenched and soggy, the West Elm team schlepped, trooped, laughed, and danced in the rain, through a six mile stretch of puddles, mud and pavement, in New York City’s Central Park and Riverside Drive for the 28th Annual AIDSWalk New York fundraiser, this year.  Collectively, West Elm raised $19K+ and counting, including some awareness along the way. We sported T-shirts that read, “Walk = Learn, Walk = Love, Walk= Life.”

All of us had our own reasons for participating. I walked in memory of my father and my half sister’s mother who both died from the disease. My sister, in her mid-twenties, a strong mother of four, lost both of her parents to AIDS; a woman 20 years my elder, who was raised with me when I was younger is currently living with HIV, and so, one foot in front of the other guided me from the moment that I told myself that I could do this AIDSWalk, to the moment that we reached the finished line.

I’m grateful to have been part of the West Elm team of spirited walkers, especially those who allowed me not only to huddle under their umbrellas, but to clutch their arms, while they held it up for two and half, maybe three wet and windy hours. I’m grateful to Marisa Mariani, West Elm Scarsdale’s General Manager who sponsored me, and William Kissel who led our team, as well as my Facebook friends and family who supported me and this cause, collectively contributing $500, in a period of six days. I’m hopeful about the difference that it will make in the lives of those impacted by HIV/AIDS.

Thank you Joseduarte Alves, Alex Allen, Dominique Brown, Keishia Brown, Clarice J. Epps (Smoothskate), T.G., Dion Griffiths (Dee Griff), Jay and Caroline Jaffe, Marisa Mariani, Latisha McCracken (Jus Listen), Kristin Price, Paul Widerman and an anonymous angel for your donations and an unforgettable experience.

Ebony Brown

aidswalknyphotofromwilliamkisselebonybrownNew Pic Added!  Courtesy William “Billy” Kissel

At the finish line take 2!

Front of our T-shirts (AIDSWALK NY Team West Elm)

During the Walk….

20130519_110821Back of our T-shirts

This is the halfway mark, 3 miles done, 3 more to go….

Halfway mark, take 2….

I’ll always remember that umbrella and the beautiful person holding it!

FINISHED!!! AIDSWalkNY Certificate of Completion! WE DID IT!

Even still, our work for this cause isn’t done. The CDC.gov reports that nearly one in five people who have HIV, don’t know it, and so, this is one way that it could continue to be passed on. How we choose to live our lives and care for ourselves is our prerogative; I’m hopeful that we take more and more responsibility for our health as we learn more, going forward.  If you want to support this cause, but thought that the deadline passed, please know that donations are still being accepted through Friday, June 14, 2013:  http://awny2013.kintera.org/ebonybrown

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