4 Black-owned British beauty brands you need to know

Chantelle Kimberley highlights four black women to watch in the British beauty industry >> READ MORE

Maryland Sets Up First Statewide Commission On Lynchings

With all the recent racial tensions in the United States, it’s refreshing to see that progress is being made in the area of racial justice. Similar to how tribunals were set up in the aftermath of the Rwandan Genocide and apartheid in South Africa, tribunals are needed in the US to repair the lasting and historic damage of racial violence and terror in America.

SourceWhat To Expect From The Nation’s First Statewide Commission On Racial Terror Lynchings

Sudan

How is Sudan Doing After Bashir Ouster?

Image credit Jedrek B via Flickr (CC).

On April 11th after five days of sustained protests outside of the compound of the Military High Command in Central Khartoum, the Minister of Defense and First Vice President of Sudan, Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf made a televised broadcast to the nation, announcing the arrest of President Omar El-Bashir and an unspecified number of other high ranking officials primarily associated with Islamist Movement.

Source: Sudan’s national salvation

Tuskegee Heirs Create Hit Kids Comic

In 2016, artist Marcus Williams and writer Greg Burnham came out of nowhere with a Kickstarter for a comic book concept that blew everyone away. They took the real-life story of the famous Tuskegee Airmen, the first black military aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps (the precursor to the U.S. Air Force) and updated it with kids and superpowered mechs to create Tuskegee Heirs .

Source: Tuskegee Heirs Creators Mix History With Fantasy To Create Hit Kids Comic

New Opportunity for Black Entrepreneurs Around the World

CALIFORNIA (March 16, 2019) The Afropolitan Shop today announced new features to give black men and women around the world an opportunity to make a living online.

In an ambitious plan, the online company launched a 6-week online course to train black entrepreneurs to enable them to start and run sustainable, black-owned businesses from scratch.

“You don’t need to have a business to enroll. My job is to help you start and launch the business of your dreams.” said course coach, Beverly Lwenya.

black-owned business

When she created a blog in 2007 to share African stories and images with the black diaspora, Beverly had no idea that her blog would evolve into a sustainable online business. Today she makes decent returns from her blog-turned boutique-The Afropolitan Shop where she sells African handmade accessories. To build on this success, this Kenyan-American woman is adding The Afropolitan Academy to her brand to share her business insights with other black women around the world.

The course, called How to Build Your Own Global Afropolitan Brand That Sells, is designed to equip anyone from those who are just discerning whether to start a black-owned business to those who have already started on their business journey. The course will give them the skills and resources they need to double their growth and amplify their impact in their communities while expanding their influence in the black diaspora.

The program will see participants acquiring strong marketing skills and proven ways of building and maintaining customer loyalty.

Participants will gain a better understanding of social media-particularly on how to use platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to connect their brands to the global market.

Learners will also be taken through effective ways to attract mainstream media coverage, particularly with international news outlets. By submitting their businesses to international news organizations, they will connect with the Black diaspora easily.

After completing the 6-week course, participants will join a global mentorship and social network dubbed The Afropolitan Academy where they will gain lifetime access to the tools and resources necessary to bring their business ideas to fruition.

“You’ll get two phone consultations with me every month for 30 minutes and 4-days of e-mail access per week. I’ll also be giving you a video call to track and assess your progress,” said Beverly Lwenya.

About Beverly Lwenya.

Beverly is a seven-year veteran in the online business space. She is a Shopify and Facebook Ads expert with marketing skills from leading institutions in both the private and public sector.

About the Afropolitan Shop

Afropolitan is a fusion of the word “African” and “cosmopolitan” and represents sensibility, culture and a worldview.

In 2007, Beverly created a blog called the Afropolitan Network to highlight stories and images of the African Diaspora.  Later, she expanded the blog into an online boutique called The Afropolitan Shop.

The Afropolitan Shop is now a global brand specializing in designer handmade accessories. The shop aims to celebrate African designers and artisans for their prolific and imaginative handiwork while giving them access to the global market.

How to Start an Afropolitan Business that Sells

What is an “Afropolitan” business?

In 2005 Taiye Selasi wrote the article “Bye-Bye Barbar” where she coined the term “Afropolitan”.

My life changed after learning that term.

As a Kenyan born, British, and American bred woman, I realized that finally there was a word to describe my third culture experience and also my hopes for how I engage with the world. And I didn’t have to choose one or the other but could hold both my rich African heritage with my American and British upbringing. Tayie notes in her article:

“Ultimately, the Afropolitan must form an identity along at least three dimensions: national, racial, cultural – with subtle tensions in between.” 

Finally!

A way of viewing the increasingly interconnected world of the African diaspora. I started my business The Afropolitan Shop and soon realized that there was a perception that “Afropolitan” meant a sort of neo-colonization of Africa. A one-way engagement that only distributes culture and finances from Western countries to Africa. 

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

I see an Afropolitan brand as one that originates from someone of African descent anywhere on the globe. That frees the term from being tied to any one particular region.

You can be an Afropolitan with an Afropolitan brand selling in China, Chile or Chad! The African diaspora, estimated to be about 1.3 billion people worldwide (that’s 1 out of every 5 people! ) is by no means a monolith, but a community connected by its common starting place: Africa.   

Africa is Rich

Eric Osiakwan in his TEDx Berkeley talk, coined an insightful term “KINGS” of African economy which is an acronym for Kenya, Ivory Coast, Ghana Nigeria, and South Africa. If you are from one of these countries you are specially positioned to lead the African economic boom. 

But even if you’re not from one of these countries, but still reside in Africa, there is hope. 

One of the best ways for Africans to start a profitable business is to do so online. This will exponentially grow your audience from your neighborhood or city to the world. 

I can’t stress that enough.

There are people all over the world searching for products and services every day that are available in Africa. Why not sell to them?

The three most revenue-generating ways to start selling to the global market are:

  1. Stat an online shop and sell physical products
  2. Sell digital products such as an ebook, online course or videos
  3. Start an African online coaching business and access global clients

So whether you’re from Angola or Zimbabwe–you can get started creating generational wealth that will stay in Africa and build your legacy. 

African Americans in the Diaspora

The next biggest community of Africans are in the United States. When it comes to business, black women in the US are the fastest growing group of business owners! That’s quite a feat in the home of capitalism. Whether they are selling goods or services, intellectual property or influence, the black community in the US is continuing to demand curated and catered products particular to their needs.

I dive deeper into this in my online course specifically made for black entrepreneurs who want to make money online and reach a worldwide audience. Learn the method that’s helping millions to make money online.

This is where an Afropolitan business comes in.

From this point of commonality, namely being of African descent, come shared needs that we have yet to tap into. These skills and resources are traded in the global market at a premium value.

There is no reason why more Afropolitan focused business can’t exist to meet this demand. For what they’re worth and more.  

Rafiki African Dolls

Rafiki Dolls

I started crocheting to make toys that people can use to speak into the lives of children and pass a blessing to them.

-Wangari Kamau

These beautiful, stitched Rafiki Dolls are from Umba Creations started by Kenyan Wangari Kamau and her collective of women seamstresses. She explains, “Each toy comes with a set of blessing cards which the parents or guardians can use to bless their children on a daily basis. The hope is that the kids will keep these dolls and pass them on to their children or others and say ‘these blessings were spoken over me.'” 

We all know how historically difficult it has been to find dolls of little black girls and boys. Now they are more accessible than ever. If you have or know a child, this would be the perfect gift.  

Senegal Opens Museum of Black Civilizations to Public

DAKAR, SENEGAL [via VOA News] —After an official inauguration last month, Senegal finally opened the Museum of Black Civilizations to the general public this weekThe four-story structure is home to one of Africa’s largest art collections and has room for 18,000 works in all.

Visitors on the first day, like Solange Lopes, expressed enthusiasm for the new institution.

She says she loves it and “it is really impressive. It is really magnificent to have so much African art brought together here,” she says, “because it is from here, it is from Africa.”

Calls for art to be returned

The museum opening comes amid global calls for European countries to return African art looted during the colonial era.

A recent report commissioned by French President Emmanuel Macron identified 46,000 objects at the Musee du Quai Branly museum in Paris that would qualify for repatriation.

Corinne Diagne from the U.S. state of Texas visited the museum on opening day with her husband, Amdallah Diagne, who grew up in Senegal.

She thinks the museum would be a great spot for visitors to see African art on the African continent. She says European countries should return the artifacts.

“This is the time,” she said. “I think this will be a great way to bring African art back to Africa and give people a central location they can go and see.”

Visitors are pictured at the newly inaugurated Museum of Black Civilizations in Dakar, Senegal, Dec. 6, 2018.

Conversation on global scale

Museum Director Hamady Bocoum says the museum will be a space for conversation on a global scale.

The museum is not for Senegal, or just Africa, or the diaspora, he says, “it is a museum of black civilizations throughout the world.” It has to be a space where we celebrate black culture, he says, but also a space where the black cultures dialogue with other cultures.

With contemporary exhibits at the museum as well, artists from Dakar hope the Museum of Black Civilizations can also lend exposure to the city’s vibrant contemporary art scene.

Senegalese visual artist Djbril Drame says he thinks the global spotlight on Dakar can help local artists.

“The museum is new, but already it has international coverage that can bring them a lot of credibility,” he says, “for Senegalese artists and contemporary African artists.”

For now, the new museum’s workers are happy to welcome visitors.

Soon, many in Senegal, and beyond, hope the museum can also welcome African art back to the continent.

The American Dream Isn’t for Black Millennials

By Reniqua Allen

Via the New York Times

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.

When I was younger, I wanted to be like Khadijah James when I grew up. She had a really “black”-sounding name like mine, ran her own magazine business, was not too girlie, remained down for the people, achieved what she wanted, was loyal to her friends and had a fine man. She was also fictional. But that just made it better: The actress who played her on “Living Single,” Dana Owens, better known as Queen Latifah, was from New Jersey — just like me.

Today I laugh at my early-90s notion of making it. Yet, at its core, it never really changed. My American dream was to not mess up. My dream was to defy expectations. To be unpredictable, to do something better and something more than my ancestors did.

The American dream, the idea that anyone can succeed through hard work, is one of the most enduring myths in this country. And one of its most prominent falsehoods. As I entered my 30s, still navigating what achieving the dream would mean, I wondered what other black millennials were feeling. I wanted to figure out what my generation of black Americans thought about the promise of the American dream and how we can attain it.

Over the course of several years, beginning in 2014 through last year, I spoke with more than 75 people in their 20s and 30s from places like New York; Raeford, N.C.; Jackson, Miss.; and New Orleans. They were Americans from various parts of the African diaspora, class backgrounds and sexual identities. Many of these black millennials told me that their dreams can’t be realized in the same ways as others’ can, particularly their white counterparts, despite perceptions of equality in this “woke” generation.

They were frustrated by the reality of limited opportunities — and also frustrated that many people, including black people from different generations, didn’t understand why we couldn’t just pull up our pants, find a job with our fancy degrees and be happy.

I had many of these conversations at a time when unarmed black men and women were being fatally shot by the police, which led to social movements, many led by people in my generation. But after it was proclaimed to the world that our lives mattered, as video after video of young black people being harassed continued to circulate widely, it often felt like opportunity and even justice would never be ours to claim.

Today, young black Americans are not being chased down by dogs, we don’t have to fight to use the same restrooms and water fountains as people who don’t look like us. But we’re still tired of having to prove our humanity and trying to make sure that America makes good on its promise.

I’m an early millennial or, as some people put it, an “old millennial” — meaning I am among the first of the generation that has come to be defined by this term. I attempted to claim a piece of my American dream through homeownership, and quickly I saw how much of a falsehood that dream could be.

I bought my first home in August 2005. I was working as a production assistant at a television network and was excited that I would now have a visual marker of success. I was 25, just a few years out of college, and everything felt possible.

At the time, I was making $28,000 a year — nothing much, especially when you live 10 minutes away from Manhattan — but credit was free flowing, and I qualified for a $250,000 “no doc” adjustable loan. It wasn’t a lot, but with some savings and some money that my mom and great-aunt promised to give me — a privilege a lot of black people don’t have — I knew I’d be able to make a 20 percent down payment.

Almost all of my closest family members owned their home: My grandparents, my great-aunt and, most important, my mother. She bought her home several years after I was born and constantly talked about how tough that was to do in the early 1980s as a single woman. She was always clear about the importance of owning your own things. It meant having control over your life; it meant freedom.

So back in 2005, it seemed like a good idea to buy an apartment. I looked in Englewood, where I grew up, but in the East Hill neighborhood, across town from where I was raised. My mortgage broker told me I needed to get out of my adjustable loan in two years and get a conventional mortgage. She sort of warned me it was a bad deal, and I could understand why. But she didn’t warn me against doing it at all. She was black, middle-aged and seemed to take a “by any means necessary” approach to black people owning property. I understood that, too. I marched up to my new, small, one-bedroom apartment on the Hill, satisfied. It felt as if I’d broken barriers.

But when I got a notice in the mail about five years after I closed, I felt dizzy. It was not long after the financial crisis. The letter said that my mortgage company had been charged with giving subprime loans to black and Hispanic people around the country and asked if I wanted to join a class-action suit. I had most likely been the target of predatory lending. I had known from the start that my income could make me a target. I’d heard the words of the broker. But because of my race? It hadn’t crossed my mind. I was devastated.

I was reminded of this moment years later, when I was talking to a young man named Bleu who lived in Florida.

He loved playing basketball, did well at his charter school and hoped to become a forensic scientist — the version of the American dream that rewards merit and achievement, his version of saving for a mortgage. His family had no resources to get him to college, though, and he took a job at a fast-food restaurant after graduating from high school. He tried to enroll in a for-profit college, but the monthly fees got too expensive. He dropped out after he missed the third payment.

We were talking by phone as he drove home from work one night, through Tampa. He was talking about the political climate and racism today. “Not only do you have to worry,” he said, “about not having food to eat, but as a black person, you have the added burden of just trying to make it home alive.”

And then he got pulled over by the police.

The two officers, one black and one white, pulled him over because they said he ran a stop sign. They let him go with a warning, but Bleu said it was a good example of how precarious his life is: “Imagine if I got a ticket. Now think about how would I pay my bills and pay that ticket and pay whatever court cost that they would give me if I had to go to court?” He continued: “Making $200 every two weeks doesn’t leave much room for incidentals like this.”

How much room is there in anyone’s life for a mistake or the perception of a mistake if you’re young and black in America? How much of the American dream hangs in the balance? For the dozens of people I talked to, the reality is that if we want our dreams to come true, all too often we have to be almost perfect, making the right decisions all the time. Not getting that ticket. Not listening to that mortgage broker. Not speaking up.

I left the letter open on my dining room table for months. Ignored the others that followed. I was never able to send back the form to join the class-action suit. I couldn’t admit that I had been duped. I wanted to have something that felt like mine.

I know the history of this country, know the history of redlining, know how my grandparents were locked out of neighborhoods because of their skin color. But for some reason I was still surprised. I would say I was mad, but more than that, I was hurt that I had been lulled into some kind of false bourgeois comfort that had made me think that my life was different from my predecessors’ lives. Sure, I had made it up that Hill, but at what cost?

I let the letter sit until it was too late. Years later, I got another notice. The mortgage company had decided to settle the discrimination case. It would pay a fee of several hundred dollars to each homeowner who had signed on to the class-action suit. Sometimes I’m still mad about that money I lost.

I finally decided to put the condo on the market in 2018. My version of the American dream downsized and put on hold. I sold it for far less than I paid in 2005.

Reniqua Allen (@rnz1) is the author of the forthcoming “It Was All a Dream: A New Generation Confronts the Broken Promise to Black America,” from which this essay is adapted.

Natural Hair Revolution Unravels Racist Beauty Ideals in Caribbean

Via (Made for Minds)

Carolina Contreras’ natural hair salon, Miss Rizos, sits on the second floor of an old colonial building in the heart of Santo Domingo’s “zona colonial,” the historic colonial district of the Dominican Republic’s capital. The salon itself is bright and airy, the space amplified by floor-to-ceiling windows and lined with chairs facing large panel mirrors. Unfinished wooden pallet shelves and beauty stands hold a jungle of potted plants, an army of hair products and a closet full of Miss Rizos merchandise stamped with the slogan “Yo amo mi pajon,” or “I love my afro.”

In the Dominican Republic, loving your hair doesn’t come easy. “I have to go through a process with my clients, of convincing them that their natural hair is beautiful and giving them permission to cut it,” Contreras said.

Read more: When natural hair becomes a journey to oneself

Contreras, a Dominican-American activist, entrepreneur and influencer, launched Miss Rizos in 2014. The space is the first of its kind on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola: a hair salon for Afro-Latinas and Afro-Latinos who want to wear their curly hair naturally, rather than have it chemically relaxed — a choice that’s still stigmatized in many parts of the world.

More than that, the communities Contreras has fostered — both online and in real life — have spurred on the natural hair movement in the DR and across Latin America, challenging social attitudes and empowering women to shirk and subvert the beauty standards they’ve been raised with.

Good hair vs. bad hair

There’s a strictly enforced hair culture in the Dominican Republic. Big, curly hair (a “pajon”), has historically been seen as ugly, unruly, and associated with Afro-Dominican roots. People will hurl insults at women and men who wear their hair natural, sometimes calling them dirty or disgusting. Women who want to work in “professional” jobs — in a bank, as a teacher, as a lawyer — are compelled to wear their hair straight. A 2016 study by the Perception Institute in the United States confirmed that black women with natural hair experience bias in the workplace.

Two stylists work on texturizing the curls of a client at Miss Rizos salon in Santo Domingo Dominican Republic (DW/Fran Afonso)

The salon’s team is made up of stylists from across the country who specialize in cutting and styling curly hair

In the Dominican Republic, such attitudes have to do with the complicated history of the country’s Afro-descendants and the influence of European colonization. Issues of race, class and Eurocentric beauty ideals are tangled up in the way people wear their hair. Historically, “pelo malo” — bad hair — has been hair that is tightly curled, coarse and kinky, like an afro, while “pelo bueno” — good hair — has been hair that is silky and straight.

But to Contreras, it’s more complicated than that. “I don’t think it’s just that I’m Dominican, and so I want to erase my negritude and claim my Europeanness,” she said. “It’s more that society, including the world at large, and not just the DR, is sending me these messages about what success looks like.”

And “success” comes at a cost: The chemical relaxing process is painful, expensive, and can take hours. Contreras recalls relaxing her sisters’ hair when she was younger. “Not only was it my mom and these stylists who were inflicting pain on me, but I was also inflicting pain on my three sisters,” she said. “I remember telling my sisters, not that long ago, ‘Your hair looks bad and it looks ugly, so let’s fix it, because you have school tomorrow.’ And now I’m leading a natural hair movement.”

Carolina Contreras at her salon Miss Rizos in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (DW/Fran Afonso)Contreras talks a client through the intricacies of how the right cut will change the way the curls fall around her face

At Miss Rizos, clients like Larissa Lembert Archivald love to see Contreras and the stylists flip the “pelo bueno/pelo malo” dichotomy on its head. “The women are so warm and enthusiastic, and they offer so much empathy to their clients,” she said. “They listen in detail when you describe what you want, and it just makes me feel at home.”

The natural hair movement began in the US in the early 2000s and spread to the Caribbean, Latin America and parts of Africa. Now the rejection of Eurocentric beauty standards and movement towards embracing one’s natural hair have been taken up by advocates around the world.

Read more: South African schools under attack over afro hairstyles ban

Lembert Archivald works as a doctor in Seville, Spain, but was born in the Dominican Republic. She says when she comes home for a visit, she’s blown away by how much things have changed: “It’s completely magical to arrive and see people — from the customs booths at the airport to more ‘formal’ offices — showing off their beautiful hair,” she said. “When I was growing up there were no salons or resources for natural hair, or to educate ourselves about how to move forward and love our blackness, which is so stigmatized.”

Filling a gap

In Contreras’ case, her domain — a salon and community outreach, talks and workshops, online communities with a following of more than 130,000, and a collective stepping-away from the good hair/bad hair dichotomy — began as a personal blog.

After Contreras made the ‘big chop’ — when women cut off all their hair that has chemical relaxer in it, leaving just the new growth — she says she was subject to name-calling and insults. But soon people began approaching her in the streets, at work, at the grocery store, asking her about her hair and how she maintained it.

Read more: ‘Dye your hair black!’ — Is Japan against individuality?

“People would ask me questions like, ‘How did you do it?’ ‘What was the process like?’ ‘What products did you use?’ These were random people stopping me in the street — but hair was this huge taboo. So I thought, I should start a blog,” she said.

Alongside the overwhelming curiosity for curly hair, Contreras realized, there was a need for Spanish-language resources on how to care for it, what products to use and how to style it.

At Santo Domingo's 'Afro Feria,' or Afro Fair, crowd members gather to watch a performance (DW/Fran Afonso)

At Santo Domingo’s annual ‘Afro Feria,’ or Afro Fair, which celebrates the identity and culture of curly and afro hair, a crowd watches a dance performance

Opening the salon seemed like a natural extension of Contreras’ advocacy work. Miss Rizos is much more than a place to go for a haircut — it’s a space for women and men to share information and hair-care tips, seek out the company of like-minded people and learn how to address the discrimination they face about their own “pajones.

Empowerment via natural hair

Contreras tells the story of a 16-year-old girl from Santiago de los Caballeros who wrote to her looking for advice. “She said, my school principal is telling me that only prostitutes wear their hair curly like that,” she said. “So I told her, ‘you’re going to tell your principal this, this, this and this,’ and I listed a few responses. And the next morning she told her principal everything I told her to tell her, and this girl was set! She was good to go. Sometimes people just need the tools.”

The hair salon has become a battleground in the war people of African ancestry are waging against the cultural status quo.

“I try to empower women by making them learn how to love and care for something that they were taught to hate,” says Contreras. “In that, they feel better about who they are. It’s powerful.”

Lembert Archivald can attest to that: “We have to love ourselves for what we are: a beautiful mix. It reflects the struggles and eras of our island.”

Monday Musings

Hello Afropolitans!

I hope you’re all enjoying the new month. Well, have I got a story for you!

*Pulls out chair*

Wellllll, for about a year now I have been wondering how to best utilize the The Afropolitan Shop (TAS) blog. As you might now TAS started as a blog in 2006 called The Afropolitan Network, which highlighted afropolitan stories from around the world. It still remains a passion of mine to publish and share culturally relevant snippets from around the globe about black culture. That’s why I’m going to be rolling out a brand new blog this month.


I’m really excited about this, because we’ll be sharing interesting snippets from every corner of the Afropolitan globe. My small team of 2 volunteers (I pay them with hugs and love hearts ❤ for now!) and I will still focus on fabulous African fashion and design, but will also branch out into the world of music, art, literature, religion and much more! With the common theme of uniting Afropolitan stories and ideas from the people doing the talking. So sit back and enjoy the new look! If you have any questions or suggestions for stories feel free to email me at: beverly@theafropolitanshop.com

Love Africa,
Beverly