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Essence

The Message Tracee Ellis Ross Has For Womb Invaders

Tracee Ellis Ross is reclaiming her fertility privacy and would appreciate if people could ‘get out of her womb’. In a recent Vanity Fair  article, the actress said that the pregnancy of her character, Bow, on the hit ABC series Black-ish triggered a lot of people to inquire about her own baby-making plans.

 

“Last year, I was [fictionally] pregnant all season,” Tracee told the magazine. “That brought on a lot of comments and questions and pontifications from people with no invitation…I literally have said to people, for real, no joke, ‘Why don’t you just get out of my womb? Like, get out of my uterus? What are you doing in there? And why are you asking those questions? And what makes you think you can ask that?’”

Per Essence, Ross called the unsolicited inquisitiveness by complete strangers an extension of patriarchy, which dictates women live their lives according to a certain set of rules that typically includes marriage and motherhood.

“Part of what patriarchy has created for women is this siloed-off experience, with one answer for what a good life looks like,” she said.

This isn’t the first time Ross addressed the issue of living life on her own terms. During her speech at Glamour‘s 2017 Women of the Year Summit, Ross said that while she’s built a life she’s proud of, people often tell her that she can still be a mom so her life will be meaningful.

“I have built an incredible life. I have become a woman that I am proud to be. And then someone tells me about their friend who adopted a child at 52 and how ‘it’s never too late for your life to have meaning,’ and my worth gets diminished as I am reminded that I have ‘failed’ on the marriage and carriage counts,” Ross said.

Loved My Essence + Ford My City 4 Ways Food, Arts, Music and Lifestyle Festival DC Stop Experience

I had quite a busy, yet amazing and awesome weekend at the Essence + Ford My City 4 Ways pre-event dinner and food, music, arts and lifestyle festival’s DC stop.

The second annual event gives both brands an opportunity to bridge their respective audiences in a festive journey that infuses culture, celebs, influencers in an open air venue that is the revitalized  Union Square Market.

Before the Saturday day-long festival, I was fortunate to be invited along with a few bloggers, social media taste makers and the like to pre-game the evening before at a Dine and Paint and Sip and Paint event at ArtJamz, a preeminent creative art space in Dupont Circle, launched by DC’s Capitol File Magazine’s editor in chief Michael M. Clements, in the spirit of independence and innovation of the Washington DC artistic influences of Duke Ellington, Dave Chappelle, Marvin Gaye, Go-Go Music, Chuck Brown, Dave Grohl and more.

Before dinner, I sat down to chat briefly with Raj Register, Head of Brand Strategy and Growth Audience Market at Ford, who shared that Ford came up with the concept with Essence to curate from a “grassroots level” an experience event to be developed to the national level. The concept selected DC, Memphis and Atlanta because of these three cities’ high concentration of women and the opportunity to make maximum impact and reach for the target demo.

Register shared that Ford has a new partnership with the WAZE app “so instead of looking on your phone like we know you shouldn’t be, when you plug in your iPhone, it will activate the app”  and also talked a bit about other forthcoming tech partnerships. Some current and future vehicles will have “Wi-Fi” connectivity. “If you want it, we have it,” she added. Another wonderful addition is the rear view camera tech that will be standard in all vehicles moving forward! That’s great news for families. Good stuff!

During the festival the next day,  participants and attendees would get an opportunity to “Ride and Drive“, e.g., take a test drive or ride along in Ford’s recent vehicles in their fleet, and experience the new technology and other amenities for themselves first hand. It’s all a part of a mission to cultivate new brand affinity in emerging markets.

Back to Friday for a bit: after enjoying a yummy salmon dinner with wine, I and my fellow bloggers headed down to ArtJamz’s studio space to create our very own artistic interpretation of the Ford Mustang Pony. In between brush strokes, we noshed on dessert, a nice sampling of cupcakes and chocolate covered strawberries. It was a fun time!! I loved meeting new friends there and connecting and networking with the wonderful dynamic group of women who organized the event. It was a marvelous sisterhood experience!

Here are a few photos from the evening:

I enjoyed this dinner of blackened Atlantic salmon with grilled asparagus and potatoes au gratin so much, I went home and purchased a few stalks of asparagus to recreate the meal later.

Meeting new blogger baes!

We were joined by renowned artist Hamilton Glass who recreated the campaign’s logo on a wall in the art and dine studio.

At the event the next day, I ventured out in the drizzly day to experience the last stop of the My City 4 Ways tour, after a stop in Atlanta and Memphis late last year, the other two cities on the tour.

I got there just in time to catch a panel of entrepreneurs hosted by friend Tiffany Aliche, The Budgenista that included another friend,  Arsha Jones of Capitol City Mambo Sauce and Tees in the Trap successful multi-million dollar business ventures along with Roc Nation apparel’s Emory Jones on the panel as well.

Also, I am a new fan of Melissa Butler, the founder and creator of a line of vegan lipsticks called The Lip Bar. She too was on the panel. Her brand was there offering all attendees a free matte lip stain!

Our Bellyitch Bumpwatch alum Kelis served up some of her specialties from her new cookbook, “My Life on  A Plate, then later participated in an on-stage Q&A talking her new line of sauces called Bounty and Full,  and balancing motherhood with a recording career and entrepreneurship.

Here are some photos from the My Ford City DC event at Union Market nabbed from social media, my own personal pics and a few official photos below:

Yas!!! #BlackAlley #myfordcity #mycity4ways

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Southeast-DC born and bred band Black Alley shared their brand of  unique musical elixir that the group describes is made up of hip-hop, soul, and rock to create  a genre-bending sound called #HoodRock”, adding some authentic DC flare to the event.

DC’s own Grammy-nominated, BET Awards-winning recording artist Raheem DeVaughn swooned the audience with some soulful R&B crooning of his own power hits and a few other well-known covers.

Chef Resha of the very popular Carnal Dish blog provided a sampling of delicacies from her kitchen.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bi-F887AehM/?tagged=myfordcity

I am in the market for a new SUV myself and our first family car was a Ford Explorer. It was also awesome to get to ride in a 2017 Fusion because I never realized how roomy the 4-door sedan was inside and so much so that it could sub for the larger vehicle we were planning to get. I really dug the dual control temperature system and the fact the new 2018 versions will be Wi-Fi-enabled.

Also, I checked out the latest version of the Explorer. It has been upgraded substantially since with a quad tip exhaust and 20-inch machined aluminum wheels with painted pockets,a powerful 3.5L EcoBoost® engine, sport-tuned suspension and a best-in-class 15 365 V6 horsepower with a six-speed SelectShift® automatic transmission.

And practically speaking, the seating remained pretty spacious with lots of cargo room in the back for family road trips, hauling furniture or groceries. I love the hands-free, foot-activated liftgate feature as well as the 180-degree camera with Split-View and Washer.

For safety purposes, the vehicle also comes with a branded Ford Safe & Smart® Package feature that alerts you of unintentional lane drifting  and allows you to set cruise control and select the speed and distance you want to maintain from the vehicle in front of you.

Lots of good stuff. We definitely will be exploring (pardon the pun) this option on our search.

The Lip Bar did lipstick makeovers.

I listen to WKYS-FM on the radio in the evenings at times so it was also great to see one of the DJs on there I admire, DJ Little Bacon Bear (real name Khalia Canty). I asked the petite curly haired DJ about the origins of her name and she shared it came from a childhood friend for a fictional dynamic duo they formed.

That friend is now a flight attendant. “I’m sure she’s no longer going as our childhood name,” the 5’1′ 100lb young talent  laughed!

Captiol City Mambo Sauce and Tees in the Trap vended and I copped a fab “Thug Wife” Tee!

Overall, it was a wonderful weekend experience that I highly recommend everyone attend if they can the next time the tour makes a stop. There are new cities being added as the festival expands! Keep an eye and ear open for them when announced! I’ll keep you guys updated when I hear again!

@essence @ford “My City 4 Ways” DC #MyFordCity ??

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Tia Mowry’s Crowning Moment at Essence’s Black Women In Hollywood Awards

How adorable and regal was Tia Mowry who was honored  at the EssenceBlack Women in Hollywood Awards”that took place at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel last Thursday.

Hosted by Insecure’s Yvonne Orji, the event brought together Hollywood heavyweights like Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine, Margaret Avery, and Ava DuVernay in the pre-Oscar celebration that highlights innovative and accomplished visionaries, as Deadline describes the event.

Mowry too is a vet to the industry though she is around the same age as newercomers Tiffany Haddish,  Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o, Orji, Lena Waithe and other younger honorees.

View this post on Instagram

☺️ @essence #blackwomeninhollywood

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A memorable capstone of this event was a photo shoot and video crowning of all the honorees.

Mowry’s husband, Cory Hardrict, is seen in their video gently placing a crown on the second-time mom-to-be’s head in an endearing Instagram share.

So sweet! The couple share a 6-year old s¡on Cree who is anxiously awaiting the arrival of a baby sister.

The Tia Mowry’s Quick Fix host announced the gender of her baby in a cute video on the YouTube channel.

Meanwhile… back at the ranch, the cookbook author and actress has been quietly giving us life via her Instagram account with her cute self.

Showing off her Preginista! Here are our fave looks:

10 Things You Can Do To Help Find Missing and Exploited Children

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When I was in high school, my best friend and I were on our way to the drug store we both worked at and traveling on our usual path that requires us to cut through the parking lot of a shopping center.  As we strolled, we passed by a parked car sitting alone in the back lot and in the broad daylight, we saw a girl who looked like she was 8 or 9 giving fellatio to a grown man.

We were shocked and paused. The guy was in the driver’s seat with his seat pulled back and it looked like there was another young girl in the back seat.

When the girl saw that we were aware of what was going on, she looked up frightened and startled. She stopped and pressed her hands and face against the glass. We didn’t know what to do. Between the two of us we memorized the license plates of the car and made our way to work.

When we got to the store, we were still hesitant and unsure of what to do because we just weren’t sure what we saw. After  discussing it more with other clerks for a few minutes, we called the police. The officers that came questioned our story.

“How do you know it was a child? It could have been a teen who has a baby face. How do you know it wasn’t consensual?” they asked. My friend and were dumbfounded but the questions made us start to doubt ourselves. Were we wrong to call the police?

Finally, the officers drove over to the parking lot to see if the vehicle was still there but it was not.

This all happened before Amber alerts and stuff like that so I am not sure the cops did anything more to flag the car of if they just dismissed it as deviancy, juvenile delinquency or whatever, but I doubt there wasn’t much concern to find those girls. This all happened in Maryland, and the DC, Maryland and Virginia area has long been a haven for sex traffickers. In fact, there is a Department of Justice task force dedicated to this geographical area.

And the cavalier and seemingly unconcerned attitude of the officers reflect old policy regarding runaways, exploited and sexual trafficked girls back then.

I’m glad there is a new effort to find kids that are reported missing, even runaways because they are most vulnerable to child predators. When I was child myself, three grown men exposed their private parts to me as I walked to the store, commuted on a rail train or was walking to a bus stop from school. I never told my parents but my experiences tell me that runaways especially are susceptible to be found by one of the many perverts running loose, on the hunt for children to exploit.

I posted my experience on Facebook recently, tagging my best friend who then confessed that she always thinks about that young girl.  I do too. I also think of the other girl who I saw in the back seat, a very thin and emaciated with big black curly hair, pale white skin.

These days, there is a pandemic in many cities around the nation of missing girls, and in Washington, DC alone, there has been  501 cases of missing children in the first three months of the year and 37 girls have gone missing in the past few weeks. These cases have gotten little national attention despite the fact that there is a missing girl each day, practically, in the past few weeks. It is slowly getting national attention as  Essence, Teen Vogue and The Grio, and more recently the New York Daily News have reported on it.

Because most of the missing children are black and Latina perhaps,  black lawmakers in Congress have asked the Department of Justice to intervene.

When a child is listed as a runaway, they are not provided the same attention as one listed as being kidnapped or missing, The Grio’s , George Johnson pens in an opinion piece this week.  He notes that the media stops treating the girls with much urgency when they are listed as a runaway, leaving the families of the missing little support to find their loved ones.

It’s common to find people among the general population also being dismissive and saying, “well they just ran away.” But, so what?

Johnson writes that inaction “makes black and brown women easy targets for human sex trafficking, which correlates with the statistics showing that 40.4 percent of victims are black women in comparison to white women (26 percent).”

I believe that we parents, moms, dads, caregivers, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends are all jointly responsible for keeping all of society’s children safe because they are one of our most vulnerable populations. Even a sassy teen who talks back, dresses provocatively and is sexually active is a child and can be exploited, and deserves being cared for.

As Johnson notes, we all know the names Natalie Holloway, Elizabeth Smart, Caylee Anthony, Jon Benet Ramsey as their cases are nationally known but the stories of missing children like Relisha Rudd in DC is not. I’m based in DC so I am well aware of Rudd’s story. It was a very big deal locally to discover this missing 8 year old who was last seen on surveillance camera walking with a janitor in the homeless shelter she lived in with her mom. He eventually committed suicide in a wooded area shortly after Rudd was reported missing and she has not been seen alive since despite months of searching.

Regardless of any perceived discrepancy, we, individually have an ability to do out part. Collectively, those individual efforts matter.

After what I witnessed as a teen, I want to empower more everyday people. We all can help locate missing and exploited children, if we keep our eyes and ears open and don’t shut our mouths when we see something wrong.

  1. Share a photo circulated by police and media when it comes across your social feed. The more eyes on the missing child, the higher the liklihood someone may see her and report it to authorities.

2. Be vigilante and study photos and description of girls posted. It only takes a few seconds of your time to look, even if you choose not to share.

  1. Keep the lights on your porch or the front of your home on at night.  If someone happens to escape an capture, they’ll run to a place with a light on in hopes the people inside are friendly and may help. Again, it’s all of our jobs to protect all of our children.
  2. If your Spidey senses start tingling and you happen to overhear any convo with a child and adult that you suspect may not be related or friendly to the child, watch for other signs of possible exploitation.

  3. When you pass a parked car, be vigilant and alert, look into back seats of vehicles in parking lots. Abusers won’t walk around with a victim in fear they’ll get caught. They’d leave them in the car. If my friend and I hadn’t coincidentally looked in the car as we walked by, we never would have seen what we saw.

  4. Take note of suspicious behavior, memorize distinguishable features of any suspected adult and mark down license plates numbers as this will be helpful for law enforcement officials. A tattoo, unique birthmark, odd article of clothing are better than general descriptors like  white male, tall, dark hair.

  5. An unkempt child with a decently dressed adult (male or female) may be neglected and/or abused. Be alert.

  6. A well dressed adult male with a young girl who may be inappropriately dressed could be a john and she may be forced into prostitution. Consider this when deciding if you will say something or report it.

  7. Don’t get less concerned when you learn the child is a runaway. So what? A runaway child deserves help too.

Sadly, some parents and caregivers are neglectful as well so calling the authorities on random people may not be cool, but as a friend said, it might be worth it if it means one child’s life might be saved.

Also, keep your eyes on your children in public places and if you have children who walk home from school or take public transportation to work, school or activities, reiterate safety rules to them almost daily. They may consider it nagging but your words ringing in their ears constantly works. They did for me. To this day, I still recall my parents’ advice

And social media and tips do work to help find missing kids. For example, 16-year old Michigan boy, Cody Page, was recently found thanks to social media.

A link to to an article on The Center for Missing and Exploited Children Facebook page states:

“Detectives with a cyber crimes unit traced him to the Morongo Basin area thanks to his Facebook use.

In a four-month period, Page used Facebook over 3 million times, Koski said. The cyber crimes unit determined that the provider of the Internet he used was HughesNet, and from that they narrowed down his computer to his father’s house on El Camino Road in Twentynine Palms. Local officials went to the house, but didn’t find Page.

Police began blanketing social media with photos of the 16-year-old, asking locals to keep an eye out. Since Monday, the center’s hotline received more 10 tips that narrowed down the search, Koski said.”

Page was a foster kid who ran away, it appears. “The preliminary investigation revealed Page was not the victim of a crime and did not require any type of medical attention.  His biological mother was found nearby and is cooperating with detectives.”

See, yes we can. Let’s do this people!

Kelly Rowland to Launch a Make-Up Line for ‘Chocolate Girls’; Joins Michelle Obama’s First Single

make up artist

Given the limit of quality make up for darker complexioned women, singer phenom Kelly Rowland will soon fill the void by collaborating with her make up artist Sheika Daley to release a line of make up for “chocolate girls” as she described it to Essence magazine.

In a recent interview at a Claritin and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America-sponsored event, the former Destiny’s Child girl band member gave some deets about the upcoming project.

“My makeup artist Sheika Daley and I are actually starting a makeup line we’re making sure we make, well, we’re starting off with lashes and then we’re going to have it grow for all women,” Rowland told Essence. “But definitely making sure we have our chocolate girls covered. Gotta get the chocolate girls in there! We have to have that, you know. I think Iman has done a beautiful makeup line and I want to do it too!”

kelly rowland 4

 

No word yet on its actual launch date or what stage in production the line is currently.

When not designing make up lines, Rowland and our other Bellyitch Bumpwatch alum and current second-time mom-to-be Kelly Clarkson were lending their voices to First Lady Michelle Obama‘s first single.

The empowerment anthem, titled, “This is For My Girls”, also features Zendaya, Janelle Monae,  Chloe & Halle, Jadagrace and Lea Michele, Billboard notes.

Veteran songwriter Diane Warren penned the song, Rap-Up reports.

It is all part of the Obama administration’s Let Girls Learn initiative and the White House’s #62MillionGirls campaign, which aims to help “more than 62 million girls around the world” complete their education.

Listen to the song here:

Run’s House’ Vanessa Simmons Instagrams Belly photo

Instagram
Actress and reality TV star Vanessa Simmons  shared a photo of herself and her blossoming belly to her Instagram fans recently.
“First lunch meeting of 2013,” the MTV star from Run’s House  and Daddy’s Girls captioned the photo.
Simmons’ dad is Hip Hop legend Rev Run and uncle is business mogul Russell Simmons. She announced in September 2013 that she and  boyfriend Mike Wayans, son of veteran TV actor Damon Wayans are expecting their first child together.
She’d been MIA for months due to extreme morning sickness. She told Essence.com that cherry-flavored Slurpees are her weakness.
“Every time my mom calls me she asks, ‘Where’s Mike?’ and I’m like, ‘He’s at 7-Eleven,” she confessed.
Simmons also noted that she’s not rushing down the aisle just yet.
“I don’t want to be a pregnant bride,” she told the site. “I wanna have a beautiful wedding, hopefully a destination wedding where I can show off my figure in a beautiful long flowing dress.”