Zendaya slays, first on the red carpet, then intellectually 

Lots of love to Zendaya for not only rocking a natural style proudly on #OscarNight but also rebutting the ignorant comments made by E correspondents Giuliana Rancic and Kelly Osbourne in an eloquent, multidimensional and spot on manner. These so called correspondents chose to suggest the locs Zendaya rocked on Oscar night made her seem like she smelled of ‘pachouli oil’ and ‘weed.’ How did she respond? By challenging the absurd stereotype that led them to make such an ignorant statement and naming at least 10 amazing, influential people of color with locs including 9 time Grammy nominee Ledisi and the first black woman to be nominated for  The Screen actors guild award in the directors category Ava DuVernay. It’s difficult for grown women to hold their own under the watchful and misguided eye of  Hollywood’s Eurocentric beauty ideals so for a star so young and successful to hold her own in this situation is truly inspiring. Her complete fearlessness in the face of racism, and her willingness to call it what it was should not be soon forgotten. Keep shining baby girl. 



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#100LettersToMakeTheWorldBetter details & tips

Peace beautiful people.

Thank you for your interest in Young People of Color Incorporated and the 100 Letters to Make the World Better community action project.

It is our hope that we can compile 100 letters by March 1st which will be sent to various elected officials, police/ community liaisons newspapers and publications in order to keep the international conversation about police brutality and racism alive in the global consciousness and to have the ideas of those directly effected by racist policing given a stage to share their views for a more equitable future with the world, and most importantly, those with the power to make change. They may have the titles, but we the people know how best to save our own communities, and we must take control of our own destinies.

I Just wanted to give you a clearer picture of what your letters should entail to best achieve the desired effect- transformative change!

Focus questions to consider for letter submissions:

For letters addressed to elected officials:

What kind of legislation can we draft that addresses racial disparities in the stopping, detention, arrest, prosecution and/ or unlawful execution of people of color, which results in the death of a Black man, woman or child every 28 hours?

For letters addressed to police-community liaisons:

How can we create opportunities for police and the communities they are supposed to serve and protect to build trust without ignoring the realities of race in how each group perceives the other?

For letters addressed to publications & newspapers:

Why is it important to keep the conversation on the militarization of police forces and armed citizens, particularly against people of color, in the public consciousness?

Feel free to submit multiple letters, include personal anecdotes and reference current events, historically relevant information and other grassroots initiatives that are trying to make a change in their microcosm.

Send submissions to youngpeopleofcolorinc@gmail.com

To be part of the March 1st Social media storm that will accompany the letter writing project send a photo of yourself with a #100LettersToMakeTheWorldBetter sign with your letter.

Spread the word!

Wishing you all a 2015 full of love, light & the changes you wish to see in the world.

Tajh Sutton
Founder
LocLoveLivesHere
Young People of Color Incorporated

Facebook.com/Locloveliveshere
Twitter.com/locluvliveshere
Instagram.com/Locloveliveshere
Locloveliveshere.tumblr.com

Facebook.com/ypocinc
Twitter.com/youngpplofcolor
Instagram.com/youngpeopleofcolorinc
Youngpeopleofcolorinc.tumblr.com

An open invitation to participate in black history in the making #100LettersToMakeTheWorldBetter

I think your voice would be a great addition to the current global dialogue taking place about police brutality and racism, as well as the work being done within communities of color to curb the violence we inflict on one another. I may not know you personally, but I believe in people, and am willing to build with anyone who can discern right from wrong regardless of their background.

My name is Tajh Sutton and I am the founder of Young People of Color Incorporated, a New York based non profit that aims to foster critical thinking, empowerment and creativity among youth POC. Using the performance arts, Pop culture, hands on experiences and social media, YPOC strives to provide our youth with the tools they need to build the future they deserve. I also run an online community called LocLoveLivesHere which provides melinated loc wearers and lovers a place to be encouraged and inspired in their authenticity and pro Black politic.

However, in spite of these efforts, and the efforts of humanity minded individuals like us, there is an abundance of work to be done before the American Dream is a reality for every man, woman and child regardless of race or hair texture or style.

It is for this reason I am compiling #100LettersToMakeTheWorldBetter , a collection of anecdotes and multi dimensional ideas that will act as a blue print for moving away from militarized and racist policing and community violence and toward effective protection of all citizens and historically accurate understandings of the inherent flaws in our judicial system and the purposeful creation of the cyclic poverty and disenfranchisement that keeps so many people of color in dangerous, resource deprived neighborhoods and situations.

It may sound heavy but the only way to move forward without repeating the past is to acknowledge it. Many battles have been won in the fight for racial equality but the war is far from over. It is our hope that by having people from all walks of life come together and voice their concerns and provide tangible, meaningful solutions relating to police/ community interaction, judicial policies, and their hopes for a more equitable, accessible future for all, we can keep the national conversation about police brutality going and act as agents of change by using our collective voice to make a statement:

Our anger is legitimate. But it is not the sentiment to focus on. Our passion has brought us together. We are organized, intelligent and multi talented. And if given the opportunity and the resources we can and will create plans, policies and procedures that not only foster accountability, but also improve police/ community relations and restore the people powered nature of our democratic society.

I hope you’ll participate by contributing a letter to the #100LettersToMaketheWorldBetter project.

They will be distributed to a wide array of publications, newspapers, police unions, blogs and elected officials during the first week of March so email submissions to youngpeopleofcolorinc@gmail.com by March 1st.

We will also be participating in a social media storm on March 1st to celebrate reaching our goal of 100 letters (which I hope you’ll help us meet!) by posting one letter excerpt per hour with a photo of the author holding a #100LettersToMakeTheWorldBetter sign.

To participate in the social media storm simply include a photo of yourself holding your sign in your letter email as an attachment.

Looking forward to building with and being inspired by you.

Peace, love & truth.

Tajh Sutton
Founder
LocLoveLivesHere
Young People of Color Incorporated

Facebook.com/ypocinc
Twitter.com/youngpplofcolor
Youngpeopleofcolorinc.tumblr.com
Instagram.com/Youngpeopleofcolorinc

Facebook.com/Locloveliveshere
Twitter.com/locluvliveshere
Locloveliveshere.tumblr.com
Instagram.com/Locloveliveshere

One week til the #YPOCSelfLoveSessions !

YPOC is hosting #SpaDay just one week from today & #SuperheroDay this Friday! Join us for a weekend of empowerment, information, entertainment and holistic health maintenance as we guide our youth through activities, assignments & discussions geared toward helping them learn about their glorious past, advocate for themselves in the present, and making the most of their bright futures. You can sign your son up for super hero day Friday 2/20 and your daughter up for spa day 2/21 or you could RSVP for both days if you have a group of little ones you would like to participate. Parents are welcome to stay but must purchase tickets also in order to ensure we have food/ supplies for every attendee! You can also show solidarity by participating in the #100LettersToMakeTheWorldBetter project. Get more info, RSVP and purchase your tickets using the Eventbrite link below! So excited for the first annual #SelfLoveSessions it’s only the beginning! #YPOC #YPOCSelfLoveSessions #BlackHistory #BlackPresent #BlackFuture #BlackPride #BlackPeople #Tributaree #SelfLove #CriticalThinking #Creativity #Empowerment #Grassroots #NonProfit #NYC #Brooklyn #Education #Politics #BlackLivesMatter #BrownLivesMatter

rsvp & purchase tix to YPOC Sekf Love Sessions here: spa day, super hero day & 100 letters to make the world better

A quick note on the #ChapelHillShooting

My heart is with the victims of the #ChapelHillShooting and as I look at/ hear coverage of the story I am reminded who the corporate media works for and what narrative works for the power elite. It certainly isn’t one where brown people can be victimized. The crime of being Muslim seems to be as dangerous an infraction as walking while Black. We MUST come together and build.

Let’s call out this hate crime for what it is. No one should die over a parking dispute, and still worse, be blamed for their own murder due to the religion they practice. Don’t call out every Muslim for the violence and extremism of some. Let’s not forget slavery was enforced by Christianity and the Crusades were waged in the name of religion. Having religion and knowing God/ living right are NOT the same thing. They comin for us all using the same tactics. Pay attention. #POCUnite

The Best Overlooked NAACP Image Awards Speeches of 2015

Been seeing incredible speeches made by Viola Davis and Uzo Aduba this awards season. I want to shed light on some of my favorites that aren’t going viral although they should be.

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The first was made be Tracee Ellis Ross at the NAACP Image Awards 2015 when she accepted her award for Best Actress in a comedy series.

Ross challenged us all not to represent ‘well’ or ‘correctly’ but instead reminded us to embrace the fullness of our womanhood and to acknowledge the fact that our stars are not the parts they play, they are actors playing a part.

In this new age of resistance against social injustice and with the awakening and growing volume of the ‘conscious’ black community, black stars and especially actors are the subjects of much scrutiny whenever they play a role that can be considered stereotypical.

The social constructs tackled in shows like Empire and Scandal are lost in a sea of commentary about how Kerry is with a white dude and Taraji is being too ‘ghetto.’ Really? We’re just going to ignore the poignant commentary on homophobia in the black community and the true to life situations reflecting government corruption because you want every black woman on TV with a black man and every black man on TV to be straight? Sorry but that’s not real life. And these things don’t make a person any less black.

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Which is why I was ecstatic to see my girl Taraji P. Henson receive the entertainer of the year award. She is an amazing and multi dimensional actress who has received a lot of flack for some of the roles she chooses, but like she said in her speech (which quoted my boo from another lifetime Tupac) ‘I may not make the change I want to see in this world but I could spark the mind that changes the world.’ She also spoke earlier in the night about using her art to be a beacon of light and tell a wide variety of stories.

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David Oyelowo, best actor winner for his role in ‘Selma,’ made one of the night’s most powerful speeches, humbly reflecting on brotherhood, giving all the nominees love, expressing his gratitude for the opportunity to play such a ‘transcendent human being’ as MLK and the importance of supporting Black female directors by ‘voting for them at the box office.’

Ava Duvernay’s impeccable style and poignant speech outlining the racial realities for Black men in America definitely deserve an honorable mention no matter how salty I am that not ONE female victim of police brutality was mentioned.

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And now I’m just going to show off the young people. You know Tajhy luh da kids!

Yara Shahidi, Marcus Scribner, Miles Brown & Marsai Martin of ‘Blackish’ on ABC.

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Quvenzhane Wallis of ‘Annie’

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On Labels, Love & Unifying the Struggle

You know, we give words a lot of power. I’m not one to say words can’t hurt you, because words start wars and turn entire nations against select groups of individuals. Words can literally kill. But I think those that recognize the power of words, and the power of the people, should be extremely cautious of what they can do and how even the most ‘conscious’ ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’ individuals can be swindled into unnecessary, problematic and distracting (not to mention counter productive) wars of words.

For example, terms like ‘bad bitch’ and ‘nigga’ are all but forbidden in most ‘conscious’ black circles. There’s constant shade and endless memes comparing ‘queens’ to ‘bad bitches’ and ‘real niggas’ to ‘real men.’ While I don’t want either of my children referring to themselves as bitches or niggas I will not have a classroom full of kids who grew up like I did.

There are parents who refer to themselves, each other, and their children using these terms. There is a constant stream of rhetoric laid over impeccably produced and popular music suggesting that this is what/ who to aspire to be and what/who to talk/be like in order to be liked, respected and well known.

Understanding that, whether or not I agree with it, is key as an educator. No child wants to learn from someone who clearly thinks they/ their lifestyle/ their family is somehow ‘less than.’

And in the greater scheme of things, its titles like ‘bitch’ and ‘nigga’ that relegate us as seemingly incapable of being victimized. (You know how those niggas/ bitches/ black kids are!)

So yes, maybe you want your daughter or son to consider them-self royalty, and that’s cool. Maybe they’ve got their head on straight and happen to like trap music, and are familiar with the terminology as a result, and they’ve incorporated it into their vocabulary. Maybe they’re completely lost and operating under the influence of a faulty and unrealistic value system that puts boobs before books and ass before ambition.

Regardless, they still deserve our love and care. They may not understand or be invested in the struggle but those are still our people and the whole point of the movement is to unify, uplift and empower.

Not just the self proclaimed Kings, Queens and kente wearing folks who choose to ignore the transgender struggle and the specifics of black male misogyny. Not just the sistas with natural hair. Not just the ‘respectable’ black people that won’t scare, embarrass or make you uncomfortable.

This is about all of us.

Mind your manners, watch your words and look out for one another.

There is no group more critical of one another than us. Constantly in-fighting instead of building on the similarities and unifying around the struggle with respect to individualism. (Cause, intersectionality!)

…………………………………

I don’t have any closing remarks.

I didn’t even mean to write all of that.

Happy Friday?

Lol

A Quick Note on Whitewashing via Photoshop

That InStyle cover is bogus, yes, but Kerry Washington can’t help how they choose to photoshop her images.

Referring to the image as Unrecognizable is a bit dramatic. At the end of the day Institutions like magazines, that are not controlled by us, will always pull this foolishness.

I’m still proud she’s on the cover. She deserves to be. What would be dope is if all the celebs whose photos this was done to came out against it. That would be something.

As someone with a fiancé who is a photographer/ Retoucher I can tell you that skin lightening is a choice when editing an image, not just a part of the process, so let’s let these publications know it’s not right to change our appearance in order to put us on the cover.

If you respect the artist you are featuring they shouldn’t have to be physically altered to produce some new final product before publication. Our celebs need to speak up when they see themselves 3 shades lighter. It’s not ok.