My Weightloss Journey – Down 21 Lbs.

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Caption: The picture on the left was taken this week. The picture on the right was taking the first week of August of this year. 

In August while at my family reunion, I was looking at photos of myself and quickly realized that I was largest I’d ever been. For the first time ever in my life I felt embarrassed about the way that I looked. I was instructing people taking pictures “get a close up.” Motioning for them to only capture me from the chest up. It was bad…

Add to that, earlier in the summer while getting up to walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night I felt dizzy and had to hold on to the wall. My mind was telling my body to move… and my body wasn’t moving. It was so scary that I ended up going to the hospital. My blood pressure was through the roof. When they were able to get my blood pressure down, I was instructed explicitly to take medication 3 times a day to help regulate my blood pressure.

That health scare along with how I felt about myself led me on a journey to becoming healthier. I was an athlete in High School. I ran track and that was the period in my life where I was the healthiest. At the age of 12 I actually got diagnosed with high cholesterol! On the outside looking in at that time I was “healthy.” It was then that I learned that a person’s physical appearance doesn’t necessarily correlate to what’s happening on the inside. At that time I stopped eating pork and beef, and never added it back to my diet and my cholesterol dropped significantly.

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Caption: I try to be super intentional about eating enough veggies and balancing out the type of meals I have each day. If I know I’m going out to a bar at night, I’ll drink nothing but water the entire day. 

So back in August I made a decision to make better choices as it related to my diet and as it related to my fitness. Here are 10 things that I’ve done that have worked for me:

(1) Invest in workout equipment at home. I am just not a gym person! My husband and I took some money and invested it into a treadmill purchased on Amazon. My phone cost more than the treadmill. [Insert angry emoji]. We also invested in a weight bench, free weights, resistance bands, jump ropes, kettle bells etc. We basically created a gym in our basement. This has been helpful for me because all I have to do is go in the basement to get my workouts in. Before we had the equipment it was a struggle for me and often became an excuse for why I couldn’t or wouldn’t work out. I had to remove the opportunity to make that excuse.

(2) Keep it simple. My approach has been to work out for 30 minutes, for 5 days a week. After I do my cardio on the treadmill, I do conditioning workouts. I have watched my waist get small, my arms get smaller, everything is firming up!

(3) Don’t totally deprive yourself when it comes to the diet. I love ice cream. At this point, I’m not going to give ice cream up! Maybe once a week or so I have a root beer float. I try not to beat myself up over it. The key is just moderation. At some point in the future that may change. Despite having an occasional root beer float, or cupcake, or cookie, I have still lost 21 lbs!

(4) Press play. Music helps motivate me. I turn it all the way up! Give me a jungle or tribal beat and lots of bass and it feels like the workout just does itself lol. Spotify actually has really nice curated playlists organized by genre and Beats Per Minute. You can check out my very eclectic Work Out Playlist here.

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Caption: This is my “eating calories” face lol. 

(5) Do it first thing in the morning. I am much more likely to work out if it is the first thing I do every morning. Plus, I get good energy and I can start the day with being proud of myself. Sometimes I can’t work out in the morning due to other obligations but my good weeks are those where my workout happened first thing in the morning.

(6) Make substitutions. I read the back of labels now more than ever and check for the sodium and the sugar. Too much sodium raises my blood pressure and too much sugar makes me fat, and often leads to an energetic crash. Instead of eating so many cookies I now eat graham crackers. My max is usually two rectangles but often one is all that I need to feed my craving. Read the labels. Instead of telling yourself no sugar and binging out when you have a bad day, say yes to sugar but just eat a healthier kind. I’m also a big fan of smoothies so if I’m having a sweet tooth as a meal replacement I’ll have a smoothie.

(7) It’s ok to mess up. There have been some weeks where I have not worked out all 5 days, but if I was able to do 3, I was ok with that and said I’ll try again next week. The thing about this journey is that as long as we are living, we have the opportunity to make better choices. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t meet your standard for the week or for the day. Go to bed (my solution to most things lol) and try again tomorrow.

(8) Celebrate the small victories along the way. I initially set a goal in August of losing at least 35 lbs before my birthday (January). After about week 6 or 7 I was down 13 lbs and I celebrated that with some new workout gear. If I have a really great workout I will post it on social media as a celebration that I did it! I made it through! Today, I am down a total of 21 lbs! I have not yet my goal, but the sheer fact that I am over halfway there is something to celebrate. These micro-celebrations are the motivation and the carrots that you need to keep going.

(9) Address your emotions. Overeating and eating unhealthy things for me is directly connected to my mood. Now, when I’m feeling a certain type of way instead of reaching for a Pepsi, I reach for my journal. Instead of visiting a Sweet Shop I’ll text or call my bestfriend to vent to her. Our emotions are very powerful and are often the reason we make poor or unhealthy decisions.

(10) Do what works for you. Every body is different. What works for me, may not work for you. Someone may go on a particular diet that works for them, the same diet may make you sick! Some people give up dairy and meat. Some people eat more dairy and more meat. Your journey to better health and weight loss is your journey. Experiment with different things until you find the formula that works for you.

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My next doctor’s appointment is on 10/29. I’m excited to see how this weight loss has impacted my blood pressure and overall health. This has not been easy, by a long shot. I do not like working out and I’d love to be able to just eat and drink what I want, when I want. But that’s not my reality. I take it one day, one meal, one workout out at a time. Incrementally over time, I’ve been more consistent than not, and I am seeing results.

Feel free to comment any questions, suggestions or resources you may have below! Sending you encouragement if you are on a similar journey. You can do it!

How To Create Room In Your Life For What You Really Want…

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Caption: Earlier this week my husband & I wrote down five intentions, tied them on sticks and then stuck them in our plants. Whenever we water our plants, it is a physical reminder to water our intentions. 

When you ask yourself what do you truly want, what comes to mind?

Perhaps you want to be a full-time entrepreneur. Maybe the photo of a lifetime love popped up. It may not be that deep for you. Maybe you’re up for a promotion at your job? You’re trying to muster up the courage to ask for a raise? Perhaps life is good and you’re looking for less… less stress… less pain… less struggle.

Either way it goes, I truly believe that if we are to get the things we want (or remove the things we don’t want) we have to create room; literal space to welcome the thing, the person and/or the energy into our lives.

PHYSICAL SPACE

If your physical space is cluttered, you don’t have room to add anything. I’d strongly suggest doing a deep clean – physically removing trash, papers you no longer need and dust to give whatever you are looking for a landing strip in your life. Have you ever lost something and went on a rampage to find it only to discover that it was hiding in plain site? Here are some additional ways you can make room physically for what you want:

A. A dedicated journal or notebook. – Writing things down takes it out of your mind and brings it into the real world.

B. Space on a shelf. – The simple act of creating space on a shelf, is a dedicated action to your desired outcome.

C. A basket or container – Similar to the idea of creating space on a shelf. This may be an option for those who are limited in space. This is also great if you find you need to be mobile. I have containers for my scrapbook stuff, containers for my jewelry making, and even containers for my spiritual tools – incense, essential oils, etc.

D. A Room – I know people who have prayer closets or prayer rooms. Craft rooms, etc. Dedicating an entire room to your work, or to something else that you care about is symbolic of how much something means to you and the priority it has in your life.

MENTAL SPACE 

The human mind is powerful. Did you know that your body cannot tell the difference between an action it performed in real life and an action it simulated or visualized. It is what made Muhammad Ali one of the greatest to ever do it. Our minds are the gardens that either grow (or kill) our seeds. Here are some ideas to create mental space for your desired outcomes:

A. Time on your calendar. – Dedicated 15 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour a day, a week or a month to your dreams. Protect that sacred time and honor it. Even if you are just spending time with yourself, add it to your calendar like you would any other appointment. Show up for yourself. Show up for your dreams.

B. Mastermind conversations – A mastermind conversation is strictly focused on meeting your goal. Meet with your mentors. Meet with the experts. Spend some time with the people who can help you move the needle.

C. Seminars/Workshops – If you want to start a business, attend workshops and seminars. There are SBA’s in every state that provide free programs and workshops that can help you actualize your dream. Go on Eventbrite and search for free events connected to your dream. Find others who share similar passions, subscribe to e-mail lists, etc.

D. Read books & listen to podcasts – The time you spend reading a book and listening to podcasts can really make the difference in helping you to “level up.” You can often filter podcasts by topic – lifestyle, business, etc. Often the people who are the leaders of a particular field host podcasts.

EMOTIONAL SPACE

Moods are magnets. If you feel motivated, you will attract more motivational energy. If you feel like a loser, you will attract loser energy (be careful with that one, because the energy may come in many forms – personal or professional). Do whatever you can to manage and move your moods. Here are my recommendations:

A. Affirmations – write your own or find them online. Repeat them at least a few times daily. Carry them in your purse. Say them when you first wake up or before you go to bed.

B. Mood Boards or Vision Boards – Create a visual of your desired outcomes and display the board somewhere you’ll see it everyday. I’ve written extensively about vision boards. Start here. I collect things all year that resonate with me and that represent what I’d like in my life the following year. I spend New Year’s Eve (or the last week of the year) taking down last year’s Vision Board, and putting up my new vision board before midnight. I also keep the contents in my old board in a scrapbook, because I believe that even when I take them down, I am still holding space for those things to come into my life.

C. Convos with loved ones. My best girlfriends and my husband are my greatest cheerleaders. When a seed starts to sprout I speak to them because they share in my excitement and my joy. Most of all, they encourage me to go for it, and that’s the kind of emotional energy you need when your goals and dreams and ideas are in their infant stages.

D. Remove the barriers. Get rid of the excuses. Turn down the volume of the naysayers (not those offering constructive criticism, but those who are just negative and haters for no other reason than to be petty, shady and ugly). When I decided to start pursuing a healthier lifestyle 9 weeks ago, I knew that if I had to leave the house I’d be less likely to work out. I purchased a treadmill and set it up in the basement to remove that barrier or that excuse.

SPIRITUAL SPACE

I believe that our desired outcomes must align with the energies and the realities of the universe. We work in collaboration with the universe and all of the things and the beings that are a part of it. For example, if you are pursuing a promotion, you often aren’t the only one being considered for that promotion. It is usually you and at least one other person. If you don’t get it, it just means that it wasn’t for you and it was for the other person. You are not lacking in any way or wrong in any way or undeserving in any way. Your path is just different and that particular thing was not for you at least not at the moment. If you get the promotion, the other person has to remember that same. Entitlement is a helluva drug. The more that we can detach our personal egos, feelings and lives from something, the happier, freer and lighter we become. The only thing that belongs to you is your body. Anything else that you receive is a gift from the universe. Here are my recommendations for how you can be in better collaboration with the universe.

A. Prayer – Prayer is the language that spirit speaks. Write your prayers. Say them out loud. Send your desires and your hopes and your dreams to the spirit world with love and humility.

B. Meditation – I see prayer as sending messages to the universe, to God, to our ancestors. Meditation is for them to speak back. Meditation is when we focus ourselves. It is when we are still enough to align and realign our energy with the flow of the universe. Guided meditation is super helpful when you’re just getting started. There are tons of apps that can help you with this if you need assistance. Also if you are on Spotify, they have a host of meditation playlists and guided meditations that you can listen to.

C. Open your heart and open your mind. – Open your heart to the gift of friendship, the gift of love and the gift of abundance. If you are feeling paranoid, distrustful, bitter or fearful – you need to process that. Talk to a counselor or therapist. Write in a journal. Release those energies. It is said that fear and faith cannot occupy the same space at the same time. The same goes with your mind. If someone is sharing information or resources for you and all you can do is interrupt them or think about the millions of ways of why you can’t do it or it can’t be done, your mind needs to be opened. I am not saying that any of this is easy. When I first met my husband as my boyfriend I had a laundry list of the reasons that marriage was a mistake and a bad idea… and I shared it with him! I was carrying the baggage of abuse and of a failed marriage and thank God that he saw past all of that fog to my heart and true desires. He and I will be celebrating 9 years of marriage next year!

Every day I try to remove those things that are no longer serving my highest good out of my life to make room for those things that I truly need and want in my life. I hope this was helpful and I hope that your dreams are a little closer to being real today than they were yesterday! You are a powerful being with the capacity to transform your life. Transformation is not easy and it is certainly not always fast. Be patient with yourself. Give yourself some grace. Take it one action at a time and before you know it, it will be done!

No More Playing Small…

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” ― Nelson Mandela

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Today, I participated in a panel on WCIU’s The Jam TV Show as an expert for job hunters. This opportunity came to me because of a social media post I made a few weeks ago about hiring talented people. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m usually a behind the scenes person. Don’t get me wrong, I can speak live on camera, but when given the option I usually push other people forward to speak, and only speak when I have to.

I was also joined by two powerhouses on today’s panel, and two women I have deep admiration and respect for – Adrienne Samuels-Gibbs and Kris Christian.

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Today I made a decision that I will no longer play small.

When given the opportunity to highlight my accomplishments, my plans or my voice, I will seize it.

When someone sees something good in me that I may not see in myself, I will be gracious and receptive, instead of dismissive or reductive about it.

When someone advocates for me, I will respond to that advocacy with affirmation and confirmation.

When the next step toward my dream is visible, I will take it and will not feel guilty about it or feel bad about it.

When a person wants to take a photo with me, I will pose with great posture and serve face, hip and lip.

I will nominate myself. I will write myself in. I will show up for myself.

I will walk in my calling when I hear my name called.

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You can watch the full segment here.

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Thank you to Producer Melissa Perez for the invitation!

Note: I am wearing my signature Crystal Ball Bracelet in Pyrite + Amethyst, as well as a necklace from Love Peridot. My custom jewelry and accessories can be purchased here.

 

 

Designs By DNS… My New Jewelry Collection

In the spring of 2014, my friend Dana Todd Pope complimented me on the jewelry I had on at the time. She also told me that my accessories are always amazing and that one day I’d “design my own collection.” I remember feeling so good that someone even noticed and my friend Dana is an incredible artist so the compliment meant even more coming from her.

When I was in High School I had a job working at Marshall Fields at the Flagship store in downtown Minneapolis. My assignment? The accessories counter. I sold belts, scarves and other outfit accents. I enjoyed when my clients of all ages would come in and need my assistance finding the perfect scarf or belt to go with their outfits. I was about 16 years old and it was then that I learned how the accessories really make the outfit.

I remember being into crystals as a little girl, but recently returned back to my love of them. I have a great collection of loose stones but my favorite way to work with the energy of the stones is through wearing them. I’ve amassed a pretty impressive collection of bracelets, pendants and rings. One of the things that I’ve always loved is purse charms, but I had not seen purse charms made out of crystals.

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Caption: My collection of non-crystal purse charms. I wear one of them daily with my bags. 

All summer I’ve been going through the process of learning about creating jewelry. Experimenting with different tools and supplies. I’ve finally gotten to a place where I’m ready to begin selling and launched my Designs by DNS collection yesterday! Here are some of the pieces currently available:

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Each of my pieces use Genuine Gemstones and each is created around certain energies. The purse charms are centered around the energies of love, abundance or prosperity. The bracelets are called Crystal Ball Bracelets and have a large stone surrounded by smaller beaded stones. I am excited that to bring another offering to the world and I am looking forward to helping people ROCK their magic as I have done and will continue to do! I’d also like to thank my friend Dana again for her words of affirmation AND for being my first customer! I’m so grateful and appreciate!

Currently I’m…

It’s been a while. Before diving in to a topic, I wanted to catch you up on what I’ve been up to. I’m planning to get back into my weekly routine again. As you will see below this Summer has been intense!

Reading… I’ve been reading social media primarily and spiritual books. I created a list on Twitter called Sources of Light. Here are the Twitter Handles currently included on that list in no particular order:

  • @TheSerpentCast
  • @MillennialTarot
  • @OshunsM
  • @Neptunebbys
  • @AmeliaQuint
  • @thejessicadore
  • @blackgirlinom
  • @LalahDelia
  • @drcrystaljones
  • @blksoltheory
  • @TatiannaTarot
  • @jessicalanyadoo
  • @moonandquartz
  • @thehoodwitch
  • @TheMidheaven
  • @oldewaysbrujo
  • @ashleighdjay
  • @graphicMedium
  • @starsmoonandsun
  • @angelicabastien
  • @JSoAbove
  • @TheMeccanism
  • @heymysticmamma
  • @chaninicholas
  • @GabyHerstik
  • @YungKundalini
  • @amberjfinney

The nice thing about the Twitter List Feature is that you can name your list whatever you want and then you can add whichever handles you want to it. When you click on the list, you will only see the timelines of those who have been added.

Playing… More than last Summer, I have been really being intentional about getting out in Chicago. I attended Pitchfork Festival to see Chaka Khan, Dram and Lauryn Hill, and I also have gone to a few social events including Sophistiratchet Radio’s Brunch-n-Trap Event (thanks to my Bestie Jamila for the invite).

Watching… My favorite TV Shows currently on the air are Queen Sugar, Love Is, Insecure & Power. The season finales of Queen Sugar and Love Is aired this week, so they won’t be back until 2019, but one of my other favorite shows Greenleaf comes back next week. Most of my favorite shows are on OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network). It is so encouraging to see a black woman be able to green light and provide a platform for such rich, beautiful content about black people. I pray that as I pursue and achieve my personal goals that I can continue to make room and create opportunities for others.

Trying… Honestly I’ve been removing the word “try” from my vocabulary. I believe that “try” is like a chicken exit to not do something. Either it is… or it isn’t. If I am still in “try” mode there is usually something else there to unpack… fear, reluctance, etc.

Cooking… My hubby was away more often than he was home for most of 2018. He has been home for about a month and I have been practically living in my kitchen. This week alone I made 3 new recipes – Spinach Enchiladas, Chicken Gumbo (I bought boneless or filet chicken thighs and non-pork Chicken Andouille Sausage). and Tonight I’m making Teriyaki Wings. I won’t link to the recipe until I taste it to make sure it is actually good! The first two recipes will definitely be in regular rotation.

Eating… I’ve been eating well. Drinking more water and cutting out sugar. I’ve set some health goals for my birthday in January and eating well is a big part of my ability to achieve those goals.

Drinking… Since I’ve been hanging out more socially, I’ve discovered that my favorite alcoholic drink besides Moscato Di’Asti, and Prosecco is a Mai Tai.

Calling… my bestie more often. We have the best conversations…

Texting… using lots of Emojis and GIFs.

Pinning… I’ve been thinking a lot about my Fall Wardrobe. The weather today felt very Fall-like. Fall is also my favorite season. You can check out my latest Pins here.

Tweeting… I’ve been super active on all of my social media platforms. My favorite thing to do is watch TV and Tweet at the same time. You find the hashtag for the show to see what everyone else is saying and you can contribute to the conversation. Most of the time I’m laughing and having super insightful and reflective conversations with people who are taking in the same content. It’s pretty amazing.

Crafting… I’m working on a major craft project that involves crystals and gemstones. I’m hoping to have some things to unveil no later than the beginning of October.

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Caption: Beads for an upcoming project. 

Scrapping… My honey and I took the most epic road trip. We drove from LA to Tucson, AZ, to Marfa, TX, to Dallas, TX to my family reunion in Atkins, Arkansas, and back home to Chicago. We drove 7 – 8 hours during the day and then would hang out in a different town each night. We had a chance to see places in America that we’d never see, catch up and spend some good quality time together. I’m excited to scrapbook that trip. My husband jumped out of a plane for the 60th Annual Air and Water Show with the Golden Knights. I have of ton of pics. I have to order prints from my favorite Printer – Persnickety Prints and then I can get busy.

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Doing… Exercise. I’ve been back in the saddle for two weeks now and it feels great. Someone asked me if I’d gone Vegan recently because my skin looks so good. I said no, but have significantly increased my water intake and I’ve added exercise back into my life.

Going… Connected to my craft project I’ve found a wholesale Bead Store in Downers Grove that I’d like to go to. First I need to make a list of the beads I’d like to purchase.

Loving… Life. This has been a great summer.

Discovering… myself. I finished up a journal that started in April of 2017 recently. I started writing in new journal today and look forward to continuing to work on and with myself.

Enjoying… So every night before I go to bed, I usually watch my two favorite Instagram Comedians – @iamzoie and @yep_im_kajun. I really enjoy falling asleep laughing every night and the first thing I remember when I wake up is going to bed laughing!

Thinking… As the organization I’ve founded Art of Culture Inc. has been undergoing a rebrand from Donda’s House Inc. it has given me the opportunity to really comb through our business model, our infrastructure and our future. I can’t wait to share publicly some of the things I’ve been thinking about! Stay tuned…

Feeling… productive! The sun is in Virgo, and since my Moon is in Virgo, this feels like a really good time for me. Eclipse season really tore me up! I’ve been feeling grounded and rooted and I am certain that is because of the energy of the earth sign!

Hoping for… I’m doing some consulting work and I just put in a bid for a major client. I am hopeful that the contract will come through as I am super excited about what I can bring to the table for them!

Listening to… my Spotify workout playlist almost daily and “Whipped Cream” by Ari Lennox. I’ve also had “Mood” by dvsn on repeat and “Ooh Nah Nah” by SiR featuring Masego.

Celebrating… my company’s 5th year Anniversary was 8/1! We’re planning a super cool Pop Up Event on 9/30! We’re also planning for our first gala in February.

Smelling… I burn a Frankincense and Myrrh Incense Stick every morning when I first wake up and I believe that is my favorite scent right now. I’m also loving the Black Cherry Merlot candle from Bath & Body Works.

Thanking… God, my ancestors and my loved ones for holding me down and making me feel so loved.

Considering… Halloween Costumes. Think I’m going to take a trip to NOLA with the hubby for Halloween. I haven’t been since Mardi Gras and I usually go every 3 – 4 months! It’s been 5 months and way too long.

Finishing… our rebranding work. My amazing team and volunteers have been meeting with me weekly for 90 minutes – 2 hours to discuss updating our documents, policies, mission & vision, etc. We present our work to our larger community on Saturday and have an internal deadline of September 1st for everything to be done.

Starting… two new Media Projects. Hubby and I are starting a podcast together soon and we’re working on a book. More details coming soon about both!

Fashion Inspiration

I have been catching up on one of my favorite TV shows, The Crown, and I came across this beautiful outfit:

I believe that my favorite decade for Women’s Fashion was the 1960s! The looks are so timeless!!! Here are some more images:

I love shopping at thrift & consignment stores! Clothing was constructed so much better back then to me. I hope you’re enjoying your Sunday!

Mood Board: Capturing The Magic in the Net

Mood Boards are common tools used by individuals in visual-heavy professions like interior design, event planning, and graphic design. According to Dictionary.com: a mood board is an arrangement of images, materials, pieces of text, etc., intended to evoke or project a particular style or concept. Check out this How To Create A Moodboard resource from Canva.

I screenshot stuff I like from the internet and instead of keeping it in my private archives, I’ve decided to share it with you, in hopes that it may spark something in you or inspire you. I am also an avid Pinner on Pinterest. You can check out my Pinterest “pins” (items I’ve saved) here.

CARDI B

Cardi B recently released an album. She hosted a listening party on Fashionnova’s Instagram Story account. Here are some of the graphics:

Notice how all of the images are “on brand” with the album cover, including taking the very popular meme and converting it into a branded image. During the campaign they played a snippet of one of Cardi’s songs and many of the graphics had some sort of movement. Lessons from this campaign include:

(1) Brand Consistency – Fashionnova used the colors from Cardi’s album, so that everything worked in harmony.

(2) Brand Leverage – Cardi was able to access the 11.4 million Fashionnova following, in addition to her own 21.9 million followers. When it comes to amplifying your brand, you have to “link” or “connect” with other people who may not be in your network. You can assume that the people in your network are going to support you, but how can you build a bigger base for your product or service? What existing and established brands can you partner with to amplify your outcomes?

Beychella

I could go on and on about Beyonce’s Beychella performance. Instead, I’m going to focus on lessons learned for those who are entrepreneurs.

(1) Accessibility is important. Beyonce & team likely knew that many of her fans would not be able to attend Coachella. So YOUTube & Coachella partnered up to stream it live… for free. It is clear that this was a coordinated effort BECAUSE Beyonce frequently spoke during the performance about the people watching at home. This was also a great move for YOUTube, because they can study whether or not Live Streaming Festival shows is a business venture they should pursue. While the concert was free, imagine being able to pay a fee to access this content in the future. Additionally, Tidal has been playing around with live streaming (via Jay-Z’s Made in America Festival), so this also gives Tidal insight into their streaming vs. YouTube’s streaming. It will be interested to watch what happens moving forward…

Additionally, people there using their phones were sharing their own captured content. Beyonce & Team were able to “control” the narrative and the imagery around what was shared because consumers, with options are generally going to go for the “official” and most high quality footage they can find.

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(2) Timing is everything. Within 24 hours, Beyonce’s website had tons of photos from the show, including lifting up her costume designer Balmain. Beyonce also had Merch available and ready to go within 24 hours of the Coachella showcase. In addition to the 99,000 people in attendance at Coachella, imagine those of us who streamed at home?! When we have access to such a major or captive audience, we have to be able to give them a call to action. We can’t rely that they will care in 24 hours. Take advantage of the moments you are given (press coverage, speaking opportunities, live shows, etc.) to earn some income (via books, merch, additional services, etc.). I like to call this “layering revenue.” The key is to be ready.

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(3) Be a philanthropist. It was also announced that Beyonce offered scholarships to students attending specific HBCUs. This program is called the Homecoming Scholars program and more information is available on her website here. This aligns with her #beygood initiative. Always think about how your for-profit initiatives, can be opportunities to support a cause or mission.

(4) When people visit your website, it should be clear what you want them to do. On Beyonce’s website the only text that you see is the OTR II tickets for sale. You can click the bars on the left hand side to see additional texts and areas of the site, but it is clear that the Call to Action is to first buy tickets for the On The Run Concert. Imagine your website as the roadmap to your brand. What is it that you want people to do when they visit?! Also keep in mind that you don’t have a lot of time to keep their attention so visually, prioritize the things that are important to you.

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(5) Lastly, I grabbed this screenshot from Lenny S (@kodaklens) IG Story of a Fenty Activation at the Festival. Generally, simple items in repetition are incredible. This activation was probably not very expensive and I am sure that everyone wanted to take a photo with it, so it doubles as a photograph background & signage.

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(6) Also this:

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Serves the same purpose as the Fenty Sign. It’s beautiful, serves a functional purpose of signage, and the little box in the window is the perfect picture frame! This was for the Revolve Music Festival.

So these are the items that grabbed my attention this past week on Social Media! Happy creating!

How To Manifest

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Caption: A list of my goals from 2004. 

I am a huge believer in the law of attraction, in energy, and in our ability (in collaboration with the spirit realm) to manifest certain things into our lives. I have been in intense study for the last year or so, learning best practices and the methodology behind manifestation.

My earliest memory of manifestation starts with High School. I used to write these lists of my future goals, two of included graduating from college and eventually starting an organization. I am happy to know that those two things have happened. Here are some tips for manifesting things in your own life.

1. Bring the idea from your head & heart into the real world. Use all 5 of your senses in order to actualize what you want to manifest into the real world. What would it look like? What does it sound like? What does it taste, smell and feel like? You can create a vision board and/or journal to really get your ideas out of your head and into the world.

2. Speak to trusted people about the idea. When you verbalize what you want, you are that much closer to manifesting it. Especially when you speak to people who love you and care for you and want to see you have your hearts desires.

3. Ensure that people will not be harmed or minimize harm as much as possible (to avoid the cosmic/karmic boomerang). When it comes to manifestation, things are generally going to work out for your greater good and for the greater good of others. Be sure that in manifesting your desires you aren’t causing harm to others, because that may be the reason why your desires won’t manifest.

4. Make room in your life for whatever it is that you want. If you want to manifest a new business, start the process by securing the domains and social media handles. Begin writing your business plan. If you want to manifest love, take yourself on dates and give yourself the love you want from another. Create literal space and time in your life for whatever you are calling into your life.

5. Be sure that what you want is intrinsically motivated. Do not try to manifest something that is really to impress or please others. That’s not genuine or authentic, and you may in fact get it but be unhappy or unfulfilled. Manifestation has to be about you and your contribution to the universe.

6. Realize that time is more complicated than just dates… there are seasons… Understand that we do not have control over when things manifest in our lives. Sometimes it happens quickly… sometimes it can take years, but ultimately when and if it does happen, it will be at the time that is most appropriate for your life. Don’t give up faith and hope. Keep living life and before you know it, you will be looking at what you wanted actualized. Ecclisiastes 3 is one of my favorite verses:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?

10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.

13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.

15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.

16 And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.

17 I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.

18 I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.

19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.

20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

21 Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?

22 Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?

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Caption: A list of my goals at 18 years old. I actually need to go back through and add more checks to those things that I have accomplished. 

7. Keep living and firing on all chakras (cylinders)… Manifestation is connected to gratitude. It is difficult to manifest when you are working with energy of desperation, bitterness, or anger. Be grateful for what has manifested in your life, in order to make room for more. When your fists are balled up, you aren’t able to open your hands for more blessings.

8. Have a vision but also be fluid about the execution of the vision. Things may not manifest exactly as you envisioned. For example, if you want a house, you may get a condo at a really good rate. Ultimately the house is about ownership, and the universe may give you want you want in another form.

9. Do the work… What you want isn’t just going to fall out of the sky. You actually have to do the work!

10. Do the research… Do your due diligence to figure out the steps to manifest your dreams. Is there a financial component? Do you need to hire consultants or contractors (in the case of interior design or real estate)? Do you need a stylist or photographer? Write out the steps from idea to manifestation, and do your research so that you can know what you are getting yourself into.

11. Connect with others who have already manifested what you’d like to see in your life and LEARN. You will not likely be the first to manifest or the last. Try to connect with others who are doing what you want to do, or who have what you want to have and learn. Not from the perspective of jealousy or envy, but from the perspective of being a student of their success. Remember that you may not be able to take the same exact path that they took, but you can certainly learn lessons from them.

12. Be reflective. Think about what you are learning about yourself and others as you work to manifest. You are likely going to learn lessons about patience. About collaboration. About resilience. Be sure that you learn the lessons intended for you. Healers often say that lessons in life repeat until we learn what we need to learn. Do you find yourself facing similar challenges over and over again? There may be a lesson or a “board” that you haven’t been able to pass, but need to in order to get to the next level.

13. Understand that everything that is supposed to happen will happen and that just because you want something to manifest it may not…. but even that is ultimately for the greater good. “What’s meant to be will be.” “If it comes, let it. If it goes, let it.”

14. Listen to your gut & your intuition. It is truly the 6th sense. In addition to the 5 senses, there is a 6th sense. Your intuition/your gut. It is just as valid in terms of processing information as the other senses, and some even argue that it is more helpful in processing information. Don’t be afraid to follow that little voice, or that feeling in your stomach.

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Caption: A list of my goals from college. The checkmarks represent those things that have been accomplished. I actually need to update it because I have more things to check off. 

15. Pray. Don’t underestimate the power of prayer! Pray to your God! Write letters to your God. Speak to your God. Prayer is significant, as I believe that we need spiritual guidance or spiritual support.

16. Fast. Fasting is a spiritual act. It helps you to hear the spiritual messages and clear away the spiritual clutter. It is a form of submission, and of gaining control of the “flesh” or carnal body.

17. Seek spiritual guidance. Seek spiritual advisors (pastors and priests). Seek healers. Seek astrologers. Sometimes you may need some insight from another spiritually strong individual.

18. Use crystals and other spiritual tools that are known to hold certain energy. Here are the top crystals for manifestation:

  • Citrine (manifests abundance)
  • Quartz (amplifies your desires)
  • Rose Quartz (for manifesting love)
  • Amethyst (for manifesting wisdom & spirituality)

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Another tool that I like to use is the Vision Board. You can read more about making a vision board here.

I created an ultimate bucket list, which I call my Manifesto. Check it out here.

How To Survive Mercury Retrograde…

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I think of Astrology like I think of the weather. It is helpful for us to know the weather for the day so that we can dress accordingly and make plans for travel. We don’t necessarily “judge” the weather, it just creates the environment that we find ourselves in.

When it comes to Mercury Retrograde, it particularly affects people who have Mercury in their chart. Different planets “rule” certain signs. Mercury rules  Gemini and Virgo (ancient). In modern society Virgo is ruled by Chiron. Your sun sign is just one tiny component of your astrology. It just so happens to be the one that most people know, but astrology is actually about all the planets and where they were at the time that you were born. In order to get an idea of that you’d have to get what’s called a birth or natal chart.

My sun sign is Aquarius, which is ruled by Uranus, so I have to be mindful of whatever Uranus is doing in the sky. In addition to planets being associated with certain signs, they are also associated with certain elements of our lives.

Mercury rules:

Communication,

Information,

Networking,

Travel,

Trade,

Merchants,

Commerce

A “retrograde” occurs when it appears that planets are spinning backwards from our perspective on earth. The planets are actually NOT spinning backwards, it just appears that way. All planets experience a retrograde.

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Most astrologers view retrogrades as a “review” of the areas that the planet rules. I think of retrogrades as “chicken exits” on the rollercoaster of life. We have a window opportunity to make another choice that can shift the trajectory of our lives.

Mercury Retrogrades (like other retrogrades) impact everyone, regardless of your signs, but it impacts those who have mercury in their chart more intensely. Mercury Retrogrades are also noticeable because so much of our daily lives are about communication, information, networking, travel, trade, merchants and commerce. Some planets rule things that are not as concrete and top of mind, so the effects of those retrogrades are not as apparent.

I am a Gemini Rising (or my ascendant is in Gemini), so Mercury retrogrades affect me particularly strong. Your rising sign is how people experience or view you, versus your sun sign which is who you are at your core (may not be as easily seen/known by others). Most astrologers recommend paying attention to your rising sign, as it is a more accurate portrayal of your personality than your sun sign.

Mercury also impacts me in the following ways:

Moon in Virgo – The moon represents how we process emotions, as well as our self-image.

My North Node is in Gemini – which impacts my spiritual life lessons.

My 4th House is in Virgo – which rules the home, family, roots, my deep emotions and my self-worth.

You can get your birth chart narrative for free here: http://astro.cafeastrology.com/natal.php

Here are the 2018 Mercury Retrograde Dates (according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac):

  • March 23 to April 15
  • July 26 to August 19
  • November 17 to December 6

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So here are my tips for how I prepare for and experience the Mercury Retrograde, which is coming up on

  1. Exercise more patience and grace. – It is easy to get frustrated when you feel like you are experiencing miscommunication and your flight gets canceled. Remind yourself that Mercury is in Retrograde, so that you can be a little more patient and give others a little more grace.
  2. Slow down – When you are moving too fast, it is easy to make mistakes. Slow down and double check details and communications.
  3. Phone a friend. – Ask friends to help you review documents to ensure that a piece of written communication is delivering the message that you intend. Especially documents that are high-stakes.
  4. Give yourself more time. – Try not to make any rash or quick decisions. It’s always ok to ask for more time.
  5. Try to avoid signing contracts. – I try to avoid signing contracts during retrogrades. It is also recommended that you don’t make major purchases during this time as you may experience issues with whatever you purchase.
  6. Save your documents more frequently. – Save your work, as you are typing, and back up your photos, videos and documents. Technology tends to be wonky during retrogrades.
  7. Ask lots of questions. – Instead of assuming what someone means, ask them. Try to get things in writing, and don’t move forward just based on a verbal agreement. Because Retrogrades are a period of review, it is a great time to get in touch with how you truly feel and what you truly think about things and people.
  8. Use your journal. – During retrogrades, I try to record my thoughts and my feelings, just to have another record or way to process my day to day experiences.
  9. Repeat affirmations. – Tell yourself “everything happens for a reason.” Remind yourself that the universe and/or your God is conspiring in your favor. Be gentle with yourself and be kind to yourself.
  10. Remember that nothing lasts forever. – Remember that sunshine always comes after the rain. Remember that emotions are just as fluid as the moon (which changes every 2 1/2 days!) and ultimately Mercury eventually goes direct (when a planet is not in retrograde, it is direct).

Note: I am not an Astrology Expert. I have been studying Astrology for about 2 years now, and I’m still learning. For expert advice I’d recommend connecting to a real astrologer. My favorites are @ashleighdjay, @chaninicholas@naimonujames @thehoodwitch and @jessica_lanyadoo.

SPOILER ALERT: Wakanda Action Plan – A Guide To Manifesting Wakanda

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Caption: My sister Laurinda & I after we saw the film this past Friday for the first time.

NOTE: Please do not read if you have not seen the film Black Panther! There are spoilers!!!!

Why Black Panther The Film Matters

The best part of Black Panther was seeing all of the little kids walking out excited.

In addition to the customary:

What’s your favorite color?

What’s your favorite food?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Another ice breaker for little people is “who is your favorite superhero?”

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Spiderman, Superman, Batman and Captain America when unmasked are not reflections of little brown boys and girls.

There is Miles Morales, who is to replace Peter Parker as Spiderman, and he’s Black & Latino:

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In many cases Black Superheroes on film have been a part of the ensemble… they contribute to the overall mission but they are NOT the leader or the focus of the storyline.

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Check out this list of 35+ Black Superheroes, ranked by fans.

Imagine what it meant for women and girls when Wonder Woman was introduced in December 1941. It brings me to tears to think that when asked, black children can now say that their favorite superhero is “Black Panther.”

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Wakanda Action Plan + Lessons From The Film

Black Panther as a film is important because (Note: Spoiler Alert!)

(1) “It is the first major superhero movie with an African protagonist; the first to star a majority black cast; and in Ryan Coogler (“Creed,” “Fruitvale Station”), the first to employ a black writer and director.” (New York Times)

(2) Africans and African Americans are often portrayed as primitive, second-class citizens, slaves, ignorant, ghettoized, etc. I’ll never forget my mother sharing stories about her education about Africa. She talked about seeing Tarzan, and learning nothing but limited and negative portrayals of the continent.

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(3) Women are strong, intelligent and assertive. In Black Panther black masculinity is not challenged by black femininity. The male characters express vulnerability – they cry, they show affection to women. In the council of elders, women are represented & play an equal role. The most intelligent character, who is a scientist is T’Challa’s younger sister Shuri. The leading general of Wakanda is Okoye (played by Danai Gurira) who ultimately brings peace by threatening to murder her lover W’Kabi, challenging the stereotype that women make their decisions emotionally.

(4) The film addresses colonialism and white supremacy. The black characters are allowed to express their fear and apprehension of white supremacy & colonialism in ways that are reflective and honest. There are parallels between the most important natural resource “vibranium” with Africa’s actual natural resources – gold, diamonds, etc. Check out this article 12 Ways To Be A White Ally, and this comprehensive tool with tips for being a Strong White Ally. I also wrote a blog about different actions that can be taken to combat racism here. Also if you are a parent, here is a curated list of books that you can read with your children to begin teaching them about racism.

5) The black people in the film are diverse. There are those that live in the “urban” city of Wakanda, those that live in rural areas W’Kabi (played by Daniel Kaluuya) and M’Baku (played by Winston Duke) who lives in a snowy, mountainous area. Then of course you have Erik Killmonger who was an African raised in America.

(6) The tension between individualism and collectivism. T’challa has to wrestle with protecting the safety & security of Wakanda, vs. sharing resources and information for the black diaspora around the world.

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(7) The promise of intergenerational unity. The elders are held in high regard and contribute in meaningful ways to the society. In order for the King to rule, he has to seek council of the ancestors through a ritual. It is the elders that facilitate the challenge rituals.

(8) Hip Hop is the soundtrack. Kendrick Lamar’s voice is heard periodically throughout the film. The film opens with Too Short’s “In The Trunk” and Oakland, an homage to Ryan Coogler’s roots, as he is from Oakland. Oakland also has significance to Black Americans because it is where the Black Panther Party for Self Defense was created in 1966. Notice the symbolism between the classic Huey P. Newton photo, founder of the Black Panther Party and T’Challa:

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Check out the music video Kendrick & SZA did for “All the Stars” which is on the Black Panther Soundtrack:

(9) The film offers a solution at the end – collaboration and cultural exchanges as King T’Challa sets up a center in Oakland where his genius sister will lead a STEM Program for the kids in Oakland. It is a pan-African approach that many African & African American thought-leaders have explored. According to Wikipedia, Modern Pan-Africanism began around the start of the 20th century. The African Association, later renamed the Pan African Association, was established around 1897 by Henry Sylvester Williams, who organized the First Pan African Conference in London in 1900. For further study about Pan-Africanism read the writings and listen to speeches by the following individuals. When it comes to this study I recommend first looking for primary sources where the individuals are speaking directly about their philosophies and then you can read interpretations and second-hand accounts to draw your own conclusions.

(1) Malcolm X

(2) Kwame Nkrumah

(3) Haile Selassie

(4) Marcus Garvey

(5) Muammar Gaddafi (who was pursuing a new currency that all African countries could use prior to his death)

The University of Chicago hosted a Pan African Conference last Fall and created a library with useful articles here.

Here is a list of the top 25 African American Conventions. If you are aware of others that you’d recommend for others to attend please drop a link in the comments section below.

I am on the local advisory committee for Policy Link’s Equity Summit and encourage you to attend the convention in April if you’re in or near Chicago. We are anticipating 4,000+ attendees.

Other things you can do to advance the themes of Black Panther in addition to increasing your knowledge and linking up with other black people (and allies, as the CIA Agent in the film was an ally & we need people of other races to advocate, speak-up and in some cases literally fight against oppression with us)

(1) Donate to an organization that is doing great work in the community. (Donda’s House is always in need of support and I encourage you to learn more about our work with young creatives here or make a contribution to support the work here. Imagination is one of the most important and underutilized tools that we have to fight oppression and our work at Donda’s House is about cultivating the imagination so that we CAN have more Ryan Cooglers, Chadwick Bosemans, Lupita Nyongo’s. Feel free to drop a link to your own organization or favorite organization in the comments below so that more people can learn about you.

(2) Support black-owned businesses. Check out the Brij Embassy (it is an economic approach to creating Wakanda). Also Saint Heron (Solange’s company) has curated lists of Black Owned Businesses in multiple cities available here.

(3) Donate & support black candidates. Shout to my brother Michael Tubbs who is Mayor of Wakanda Stockton, California. Learn more about him here. Follow him on Instagram here. Follow him on Twitter here. I can’t even describe how proud I am as we met through our connection with the Children’s Defense Fund and our mentor Marian Wright Edelman. If you can’t donate volunteer to collect petition signatures, make phone calls, etc. for candidates.

(4) Support black artists & black content creators by purchasing their art, attending their concerts, gallery showings, sharing their work on social media and sharing articles written about them and their work. In 2018, Metrics are super important and it doesn’t cost anything to “like” or “share” content.

(5) Learn more about Afrofuturism. Check out this article here. This article here and finally this article here.

(6) Support the past, present & future of those involved with the film.

Director & Writer- Ryan Coogler – Profile here. On instagram here. Ryan Coogler is not on Twitter.

Writer – Joe Robert Cole – Profile here.

Original Comic Book Writers – Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (now deceased).

THE CAST:

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T’Challa – Chadwick Boseman – Profile here. On instagram here. On twitter here.

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Eric Killmonger – Michael B. Jordan – Profile here. On instagram here. On twitter here.

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Nakia – Lupita Nyong’o – Profile here. Instagram here. Twitter here.

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Okoye – Danai Gurira – Profile here. Instagram here. Twitter here.

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Shout out to the entire Dora Milaje! #squadgoals #tribegoals

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Everett K. Ross – Martin Freeman – Profile here. Not on Instagram or Twitter. There are a couple of fan sites for Martin available.

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Wakabi – Daniel Kaluuya – Profile here. Instagram here (it’s him but he has no posts yet). Twitter here. (Fun Fact: Daniel was also the main character in Jordan Peele’s “Get Out”)

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Shuri – Letitia Wright – Profile here. Letitia is not on Instagram. Twitter here.

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M’Baku – Winston Duke – Profile here. Instagram here. Twitter here. (Apparently this brother has women barking like dogs and willing to move to the snowy mountains lol, at least according to my timeline…)

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N’Jobu (T’Challa’s Uncle & Killmonger’s Father) – Sterling K. Brown – Profile here. Instagram here. Twitter here.

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Ramonda – Angela Bassett – Profile here. Instagram here. Twitter here.

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Zuri – Forest Whitaker – Profile here. Not on Instagram. Twitter here.

For the remainder of the cast click here.

THE CREW:

Music – Ludwig Goransson. Instagram here. Twitter here. Check out this interview of Ludwig discussing the soundtrack here.

Director of Cinematography – Rachel Morrison. Instagram here. Twitter here.

Casting – Sarah Finn – Instagram here. Not on Twitter.

Production Design – Hannah Beachler  Website here.

Set Decoration – Jay Hart –  Not on social media.

Costume Design – Ruth E. Carter  Instagram here. Twitter here.

To view the remainder of the crew click here.

This is resource. Please feel free to list any links to articles, black owned business directories, articles, etc. that would be helpful for others as we all collectively pursue manifesting Wakanda, as it was represented in the film.