Becoming Black

Thoughts on Race and Racial Injustice.

Huey_Black Lives

My heart is heavy. It seems like every season there is a new hashtag and a new black body being violated and paraded. Videos of brutality being shared, beautiful quotes and deep passion and then silence. The silence only lasts so long until we have another video, a fresh wound, another tragedy and the cycle resumes. I am exhausted as like many others. Tired of fighting the battles of ignorance every time someone opens the gateway to their gut to utter “All Lives Matter”. Throwing that statement around like I am too stupid to see the reality of that statement. Every thing about that phrase is an intentional decision to remain clothed in the steaming warmth of your ignorance. It is an unyielding weapon used to scar and irritate the wounds that have been inflicted on us repeatedly.

I believe that Black is something you become and I can say this knowing that I have not always had to be Black. Growing up in a predominantly racially homogeneous setting, my race was always secondary, it was something that existed on the screen but not in my daily life. Imagine my surprise when I moved to Canada and suddenly Blackness was no longer an option. It was a mantle that was thrust on me with every interaction. If you started in this setting, it is easy to think that Black is how you were born. I had a professor who told me once that Blackness as a construction is simply something that exists in contrast to Whiteness. At the time I was deeply offended by this but slowly I came to understand that Blackness is not birth, it is history. A deep and complex history that is often over simplified. I say all of this to say that when someone makes the statement that BLACK lives matter, this is not a light and witty comment. This is not as basic as the colour of one’s skin, it is not as simple as stats even though statistics often help to buttress this point. It is a statement that speaks to historical pain. It refers specifically to the consistent systemic disregard for the humanity and well being of a specific group.

The media is quick to isolate the incident and the individual. “Black man shot by police”, “Black man with criminal record shot by the police” “Black man with criminal record who may have been armed shot by the police”. The use of his Black identity constantly feeding into this historical brand that distances him from his humanity. He may have been a father, a community leader, an innovator or as has now been made relevant; a great swimmer, nonetheless his Blackness takes precedence over his humanity. The search for reasons why he deserved to be killed begins; did he protest? was he armed? did the Officer perceive him to be a threat? how Black was his Blackness? At this point I am shaking.

I recently had a little old white woman ask me or rather tell me that she doesn’t understand why people have to bring race into everything. She felt comfortable to tell me this “because I sounded so educated” (Yes I had to pause and talk myself off the ledge of clawing at her face). I proceeded to let her know that there is a reason she doesn’t understand, but in her lack of understanding she CAN NOT tell a person of color where they can or can not bring up their race because race was not something that they decided on. No one asked them whether it was convenient to kill their people or to deny them of employment or to disrespect their families and their cultures or to enslave them. Race was not a choice that we made so when someone makes the decision to speak to you about how their race impacts them you have no right to silence them.

Ignorance is a decision. There is a wealth of rhetoric explaining why Black lives matter so before you decide to spew garbage, educate yourself. The importance of Black lives, or Indigenous lives or Latin lives does not diminish the relevance of anyone else. This needs no explanation.

And to the individuals in Dallas who thought it was wise to also commit murder, who you epp?! No, really, who sent you? Anger is justified, murder is not. Don’t be so consumed by fury that you become the very thing you hate.

Rest in Power!

Stay Breezy | DIY Floral Jumpsuit

Happy Canada day guys!

floral jumpsuit

I am beyond delighted to be sitting at home typing this on this gloriously rainy day. I have taken a walk, had breakfast and now sipping a cup of chamomile as I watch the rain fall. Could there be a more perfect day?

4c long hair

Well maybe not more perfect but the day I made this jumpsuit was pretty high up there. This is so comfortable and breezy and rather chic if I do say so my self. I attempted making a jumpsuit a few years ago and to say that didn’t go well would be a huge understatement. So starting off with this project I was very cautious and tried to give a bit more allowance and it certainly paid off.

jumpsuit for summer

To cut, I used sweatpants and a chiffon camisole that I have. I cut out the pants first and made sure I could slip them on with absolutely no resistance. This is an important step because if the pants are even a little bit snug you may not be able to enter into your jumpsuit at all. Also consider that my fabric has no stretch so I really couldn’t risk not having the allowance.

jumpsuit outfit

For the top I cut it in three pieces; one front piece and two back pieces. I did this so that I could have the key hole opening I created here. This also allows me enter into the jumpsuit, again as the fabric has no stretch to it I had to really consider my entry and exit points.

floral summer outfit

To finish things off, I connected the top to the bottom with a waist band and added an elastic band with a zigzag stitch to give it a bit more shape.

Jumpsuit details

Added straps, strings to tie the back and finished my neck line and voila!

Vibes by willyverse
bag available on Willyverse.com

Say hello to the summer uniform 😛 The floral print really drew me to this fabric and I was absolutely thrilled with how this turned out 🙂

Pictures by Willyverse

Brown Girl Blue Thunder | Off-shoulder summer dress

gypsy mini dress

Hi Guys!

Presenting the most comfortable dress I ever made! I’m still twirling in delight as I type this!! (okay not literally but I’m pretty excited as you can tell).

Off shoulder dress

On the summer inspiration menu today is an extra simple but super on trend dress! For this dress you just need to be able to cute two rectangles, hem and add elastic to it! Trust me it doesn’t get much easier than this.

diy off shoulder dress tutorial

Now it shouldn’t surprise you too much that I wanted this dress to be multi-functional. I believe that an outfit truly earns its place in my closet when it can be worn a couple different ways (which reminds me, I’m due for a closet purge >.<).

ibegan Enang Ukoh

If I had a thicker chest or if I made the shoulders tighter I could have worn this as a strapless dress as well but oh well 🙂 one-shoulder would have to suffice.

4c afro hair

This would be perfect for all of the summer barbecues because you can eat to your heart’s content without looking like you’ve been stuffed into your jeans. And you can probably sneak a treat or two away in all this volume 😀 (JK. please don’t say I sent you to do that oo!)

ankara off shoulder dress
Yes those are pockets for extra treats 😀

So if you would like to DIY this dress here are a few easy peasy steps to follow. Even if you don’t sew, fabric glue should work just as well.

brown skin and afro

  • Figure out how long you want the dress and the overlay to be.
  • Cut out the dress rectangle, add about 4 inches to the width for some extra room.
  • Cut out the overlay (this should be 3 times your shoulder width or 2.5 depending on how much volume you want).
  • Seal off both rectangles with sewing or fabric glue.
  • Center the bodice under the over lay. (This might be a good time to cut out arm holes for yourself).
  • Attach the overlay to the bodice with a zig-zag stitch or your fabric glue.
  • Fold over the top edge to create a case for your elastic to go through. (The elastic should stretch comfortably around your shoulders.
  • Using a safety pin, feed your elastic through the hole and sew the ends. (I would recommend sewing this part just for added security.
  • Close up your hole and hem any raw edges.

ankara dress

There you go! A summer dress made by you ^_^

Until next time, let me know if you try this out! 😀

bags by willyverse
Bag available June 8th- http://www.willyverse.com

Pictures by Willyverse

Drip

Thoughts I have in the shower

If I go back to bed right now what would happen?

Why do we cry when we poop?

Is there ever an hour in the day when everyone in the world shares the same date (given time difference)?

What kind of parent would I be?

How do we know what we like?

Do we like things because we think we should?

What would the world be like if money never existed?

I wonder how thick my hair is

What if Obama called and I didn’t pick up because it was a US number and you know, long distance charges (nahh it was probably a spam call).

Why do I keep getting spam texts any way?

What would I do if somebody harassed me on the street car today. I’d probably yell at them and threaten to punch them if they talk to me. Lol! no.

What if I’m stronger than I think.

Is baby talk a real language?

Why do people always talk to babies in that weird voice.

Do babies think grownups are kinda silly? Is that why they laugh?

Who came up with folk tales like “why the tortoise has a cracked shell” and why didn’t they just say “I don’t know” as opposed to the elaborate narrative.

What if the tortoise was actually pushed from the sky because of his greed.

Nahhh that doesn’t explain why they all have cracked shells.

Mmm I wonder how much its costing me to stay in here and think.

 

 

Wavy

Ankara duster coat

Wavy Coat

Hi Guys!

Another spring day, another slay :). This coat is the prelude to my bomber jacket that I promised. The sleeves are made of a fleecy fabric I got a long time ago, don’t remember what exactly it was called but I’m fairly certain it’s the same fabric used for sweatshirts. I lined the entire coat with it as well for added warmth.

Ankara Duster Coat

The ankara used for this coat is a Vlisco print, it may be older or out of stock but the fabric was gifted to me by my mum and I just knew this fabric was made to do beautiful things!

Ankara jacket

The raglan sleeves made this a slightly easier project than my bomber jacket, so much so that I had to go back in on my bomber jacket and change the sleeves. I picked up the ribbed cuffs at King Textiles when they had a sale on them.

Spring Outfits

The only thing I might consider doing differently on this coat is adding shoulder darts. This is something that I discovered randomly as I was scouring the internet for inspiration one day. Making a raglan sleeve could sometimes create a wider neckline depending on the fabric so shoulder darts just allow everything sit nicer on your shoulders 😀

Vlisco spring coat

I have worn this coat with a few different outfits and I get compliments on it every time. However, I was sooo feeling myself in this outfit. Got these pants from the thrift store and I had my doubts on whether I would be able to pull it off but once I chucked this belt on it I knew I had found a keeper!

Spring OOTD

Spring time is all about the wishy-washy weather, cold in some spots and boiling once you turn the corner so it’s nice to be able to whip this coat on and off depending on what I’m feeling. It also helped that the wind had me looking extra fly ;p

Duster Coat Outfit

More spring vibes on deck so stay chuned

Pictures by Willyverse

The Nigerian Woman | Rooted

Yosola Paul-Olaleye

Hi Guys!!

YossiePaul

Back again with another amazing Nigerian woman! I remember growing up how the instant rebuke for doing less than your peers was “do they have two heads?!”. I am however convinced that Yossie does! 😀 How else do you describe someone who is a published author, working on her Masters degree and gearing up for a PhD. and of course maintaining the daunting responsibility of being entertaining on social media!! Always true to her Yoruba roots and an all round pleasure to talk to and learn from, I know you would enjoy reading about this Nigerian Woman just as much as I did!

Who are you (What are the things that make up your identity, likes, interests, quirks)

You’d think people would be comfortable with this question given that we are supposedly self-obsessed, but I still struggle with it. In any case, I’m a 22-year old wearer of many hats – at least, I try to be. I feel it’s my duty to be able to do many things for myself, and this is probably to my detriment.

At the moment, I am studying for a master’s degree in Communication Governance at LSE. In my spare time, which is technically no spare time at all, I work on an online publication with friends and I try to build platforms that will potentially change the way we discuss issues concerning Africa and ‘development’.

I am also an aspiring writer, and I published my first book in September 2015. It is a collection of essays and poetry about home and various experiences of womanhood. It is dedicated to my grandfather, the man whose influence shaped my life and work.

Two things make up my identity, really, and those are books (by which I mean words and everything about them) and Nigeria. This is because everything I do finds its way back to my love for words, language, and literature; and whenever I think about my work and my goals, I think about ‘home’.

What do you feel being a Nigerian woman means?

On a very simple level, I think of it merely in terms of our places of origin, our names, our histories. But I am also interested in how the above shape our identities and influence our character.

Being a Nigerian woman for me is about knowing where I have come from – which I understand as my name and my family’s lineage – and leading a life that glorifies that history. I come from a long line of women who have changed their environments and the lives of the people around them, and I feel it’s important for me to follow that path and do something meaningful for Nigeria/Nigerians, especially girls, perhaps in education.

Maybe being a Nigerian woman, for me, is about contributing positively to the growth of our home?

Has your identity as a Nigerian ever been questioned? Why and how did you respond?

No, it hasn’t. If anything, my identity as a Yoruba woman has been questioned, but that’s because I don’t like pepper (read: hot food). Sometime last year, a friend generously went out in the night to find some food for me. He came back with Nando’s and I didn’t think much of it because I figured we couldn’t go wrong with chicken. Wrong. At some point, I realised my mouth was burning and so I asked him if he got extra hot. He turned his face away from me and said, “You have a Yoruba mother.” I was like: Yes, and so? That I have a Yoruba mother doesn’t mean I eat pepper, please. So I had this dramatic moment of, “Please don’t kill me o!”

It was quite hilarious. I actually love the look on people’s faces when I say I don’t like super hot food. It’s like, “ah ahn. You sure sey you be omo Naija like this?” Yes, I’m sure. I don’t understand what people enjoy about tapping their heads while eating because of pepper.

When did you become conscious of your identity as a Nigerian woman?

I think this happened sometime last year – I think I fully came into myself in 2015. I had always known that I was ‘Nigerian’, insofar as I was born and raised in Lagos. I had always known my full name, and I had always been aware of the influence my childhood experiences had on my person. But, last year, I started to think about my childhood, and my relationship with my grandfather, who, in many ways, tried to make us all aware of where we came from, of our names, of our history. This is why I dedicated my book to him and why I wrote the short essay about home and my grandfather.

I started to think about what my name means, and how to make sure it drives me, and that’s when I started to feel strongly ‘Nigerian’. That said, being away from home makes me feel somewhat removed from the reality of Nigerian living.

What are you most proud of when you think of Nigerian women?

Ooh, the fighting spirit! I mean, it could also be described as shakara (especially if you’re Yoruba), but I think it’s wonderful. And it’s also not restricted to Nigerian women. I think African women all over the world share this, and it’s what makes us – our grandmothers, our mothers, all of us – remarkable. Don’t worry, no feminist propaganda here (although that wouldn’t be amiss). 😉

Where can people find you and your work?

All over the web, literally. I have placed all my digital footprints in a central place for ease: www.about.me/yossiepaul

 

 

Kilikili

One dress multiple options

kilikili vlisco

Hi Guys!

Back at it again with a green dress :D. This fabric breathes nostalgia~the beating of wooden drums and little girls *cough* me *cough* popping on stage with our waist beads and kilikili wrappers. I remember this fabric as yellow and red but I am definitely feeling the new versions cropping up.

diy dress

This dress doesn’t really have a front or back per se, it can be worn both ways. Wearing it in reverse allows the option of wearing it as  a summer dress. Alas as winter lingers on I have respected myself and worn a sweater with it.

ibo star fabric

Lining was important for this outfit because I believe it gave a bit more structure. I used a v-neck dress that I currently own as a pattern and extended the neckline  for one side.

In hindsight, as opposed to cutting on the fold, it may have been better to cut four pieces and have a seam down the middle.

green dress

Good to note that while this dress may appear to be very straight, cutting it as such was a mistake. I had to go back in and taper  the top a bit to avoid looking like I was wearing a barrel :/

Other than those points I think it was a simple enough dress with plenty of movement and versatility.

Pictures by Willyverse