An Ode to The African Fada

The African Fada is comedic relief for many people today due to the greatness of the interwebs.  One of my favorite comedians that delivers life with an African Fada is Godfrey.   (Side Note: Fada is Father, with the accent of my father applied.)   When I tell my friends stories now about what I believe are regular conversations with my parents, they laugh to the point of asthma attacks, however I can attest that at one point in time, there was nothing funny about the African Fada.

My Dad is the epitome of The African Fada.  The epitome.  Growing up, I could not stand him.  I felt that he was my personal enemy of progress. Social progress that is.  His goal was to figure out how to keep me from greatness among social circles at school and pursue the greatness of an education.  I could not go anywhere without his personal stamp of approval which meant chauffeuring me when he wants to and picking me up when he is ready… if he agrees to me going.  I had less than 5 friends (because most classmates were thinking…um your life sucks; I’ve heard about your Dad), and he had to know all of their parents and feel good about the parents.  Seriously, he evaluated and shaded everybody without missing a beat.

The Master of Petty

I remember in middle school how my phone usage was monitored with a fine tooth comb.  My Dad was so petty that he refused to get call waiting (you didn’t even know that was once an option did you?) because he wanted to know when I was on the phone after school.  He would call the operator to interrupt the line, just to put the fear of God in me.  Once that interruption happened, I knew that if I didn’t have the most legitimate reason for being on the phone, trouble for me!  Thank God for my Grandma.  I would quickly hang up and dial one of my Grandma’s friends so that when he called back, she was on the phone, not me.  Oh yes, I became gangsta with it.  I’m not getting grounded today!  I will watch The Cosby Show & A Different World tonight!  My Mom finally got pissed about the petty and called and added the call waiting and three-way call feature.  I literally did a baptist praise dance that day, and I was raised Catholic.  Go figure.  The stories of my African Fada Petty Chronicles could go on and on, but I’ll save that for my book.

With all of his petty ways, and tough shade, the one thing that I know now is how amazing his method in fathering me truly is.  My skin is soft at the touch (Shea Buttah Goddess), but I am such a thick-skinned individual, because of my African Fada.  I was raised on brutal honesty.  My nickname was ugly duckling.  Yep.  He would say it, and cackle.  I would just look at him and ask God to be reunited with my real Dad.  Now that I am a Swan, I laugh.  My Dad knew what he was doing.  He did not want me to know that I was pretty.  He only wanted me to focus on being smart and doing whatever I could do to become more smart.

Outside.  There is nothing for you outside today.  Go upstairs and read your books! – The African Fada

Today, I make bookmarks. See?  He shopped for me with the intention of making me look as unattractive to boys and young men as much as possible… and it worked.  I was a tomboy because of my wardrobe, thanks to my African Fada.  Everything was big and baggy.  Luckily, so was Hip Hop in the 90s, so I managed to get by without looking extremely odd.  I also kept all of my mom’s stubs of eyeliner.  Bold eyes and glossy lips allowed me to stay in stealth mode as I walked through the halls of school.  I was not a “cool kid” but I was smart and I had a great smile.  I survived.  Now… I am a fashion curator.  Sigh.  Deep Sigh.

The Culture Clash

The cultural clashes between my Dad and I were Game of Thrones epic, and I spent a lot of years being bitter.  He made a few big mistakes with me. He thought that dictating what he wanted for me in my life without considering what I wanted would work in my adulthood.  It didn’t.  At all.  We spent a several years without communicating… at all.  He alienated me from the family because he hated my boyfriend (he wasn’t African enough or educated enough), he wanted my educational plan executed according to his standard, otherwise I should not speak to him.  It was a lot.  As his first born, I picked up his stubbornness and I went toe to toe with him, which was a HUGE taboo in the community.  Family meetings.  Family lectures from Uncles and Aunties.  A lot of tears.  A lot of yelling matches.  A lot of silence.  I hated my African Fada.

The Night That it All Changed 

Two years ago, while going through the process of moving out of state and prepping my house for my absence, I met with my contractor and found out that I had termites living in the basement wood panels without paying me rent.  I couldn’t believe it.  I just upgraded my carpet.  My roof was just fixed for a pretty penny.  Painting.  I thought I was done.  Now I need to gut out my basement!?  I’m soooooo damn exhausted… and broke.  That evening, I was talking to a friend of mine about my issues with the house and he asked what my Dad was going to do.  I responded, nothing.  He does nothing.  We don’t really talk.  He gasped.

Friend: No way.  You asked your Dad for help and he said no?

Me: Well, no.  I didn’t ask him.  He’s so controlling and I just don’t want to deal with his …

Friend: Wait a minute.  Let me tell you something.  You may have your issues with him, and I don’t know him. But knowing what I know about you, if you ask your Dad for help, he’s not going to tell you no.  I have a friend who allowed her previous issues with her Dad to keep her from communicating with him, and when he died, she nearly died from regret and heartbreak.  Don’t be like her.  Call him.  Ask him.  Let him tell you no.

Me: (Silence).

And so… I went home.  I tried to sleep, and just kept crying because I was so frustrated and afraid that I would not be able to achieve my moving goal due to this new setback with my house.  So, I called my Dad.  My African Fada.  I called him.  It was almost 11pm.  He answered immediately and I just started crying and yelling.  And then…he cried.  And then I apologized.  And then he apologized.  And then we talked to each other, not at each other.  And we put together a plan to handle my basement.  He had me back.

And my life changed.  And so did his.  In the moment, we were both adults and we grew.

We finally let all of the hurt feelings go.  We set aside the pride of wanting to be right.  We let the bitterness from the past go.  We let those salty tears be the last time that we would yell at each other and get upset with each other.  We let it go and we allowed God to enter into our relationship.

My Ode

Since then, my African Fada is my guy.  He’s still ridiculous, but I have grown to appreciate him for who he is and what he is to me.  In Sierra Leone, there isn’t a Father’s Day or a Mother’s Day.  Parents are held to such a high regard everyday, they don’t need a holiday over there.  America can be a tricky place to foreigners, especially when it comes to trying to stay true to your culture and raise your kids with your culture in such a melting pot. Moreover, it’s hard to be a black man in this country.  Imagine being a black man who is foreign to this country and it’s evolving culture, so different and liberal from your own.  Imagine dealing with racism and prejudice attitudes from all kinds of people, including some that resemble you.  Imagine repeating yourself multiple times per day because you have an accent that people can’t seem to understand, even though your knowledge of the English language surpasses their own.  Imagine earning an income that must support your family in the United States, and your family members in your home country, even though you will be the last to be promoted, even if you should be the first to be considered due to your hard work and educational achievements.  Imagine all of that and more as your daily burden as you drive through rush hour listening to NPR because you must know what is happening around the world before you get home to watch CNN.  As you enter the door and look at the new bills that have arrived in the mail, you come home and the daughter is inquisitive, witty, bold, confident, and cleaver and is trying to get you to say yes to her request, because she just wants to be cool.  She also wants money.  Then multiply that daughter times three.

With Love- Miss GK

This is an Ode to the African Fada.  Not just for Father’s Day.  Everyday.  If you have an African Fada, raise your hand with a comment.  I bet you have stories for days…

 

 

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?BnB

As a traveler, I absolutely needed to know the skinny on this internet buzz. Thanks Tryphena for digging deeper and giving us the real about it. I will be signing up, and I am going to tell ALL of my friends about it! #Airbnbwhileblack

wedontsitoncouches®

By now we’ve all heard the stories. There’s the North Carolina man who was banned from AirBnB after denying a potential guest, a black female, and releasing a barrage of racial slurs against her. Then there’s the young black man who, after being denied lodging, requested the same property under a different name with pictures of white men in his profile and was accepted immediately. And there’s the young black woman who, after having tremendous difficulty securing an available property, shortened her name to something less “African-American sounding” and changed her profile picture to a cityscape instead of her likeness and has had no trouble booking since.

#AirBnBwhileblack

This hashtag has caught on like wild-fire among those who have experienced racial discrimination while attempting to use the accommodation-sharing site.

As a very active traveller for both work and personal vacations, I have used the website and accompanying app to find accommodations in…

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Self Care MUST Include FUN

Hi!

I am stressed many hours of the day, but it disguises itself as motivation to achieve.  Thank God.  Anyhoo, there are moments when I realize that I am actually stressed, and it is usually when I become extremely hard to communicate with.  So much so that I don’t even understand myself.  That’s when I know that the time has come to indulge in pure, unadulterated fun!  If you know me, then you know that I am a self-proclaimed (and can back my shit up) expert in funning!

Now, you don’t have to engage in fun the way I do, but I suggest that you take notes and try some things out that I may mention from time to time.

  1.  Get to know the benefits of Eventbrite.  Eventbrite is a great source to get connected to fun events curated by tastemakers that may be influencing you already and want to provide you with some fun.  Some curators even offer free tickets if you sign up early.  Stay Woke!
  2. Avoid ruining your fun with bad shoes.  Look.  I am a fashionista.  I understand the need to look good out here, but invest in a happy medium.  When you allow style to get in the way of fun, you’re the loser.  Invest in beautiful, stylish, comfortable shoes.  If they must be heels, arrive at the venue early so that you can secure a good seat.  Planning for fun.  It matters.
  3. Don’t be afraid to talk to people who you don’t know.  I meet really awesome people whenever I go out.  I also meet some assholes.  You know what?  The awesome ones make meeting an asshole here and there bearable.  Be nice.  Smile.  Share a joke.  Dance.  Hey, if you want to make out, make out.  Also, don’t be a judgy bear.  Don’t judge yourself, and don’t judge others.  Manage your own funning.  Okay? Kk.
  4. Dance!  Find your signature move at home in the mirror by yourself.  Get so comfortable that when your song comes on, you can do that signature move with ease and enjoy yourself!  Have fun.  If you know me, you know my life is dedicated to bodyrolling.  In the name of Jesus.  #bodyroll
  5. Be safe.  Having fun doesn’t mean do all of the stupid things.  Maintain your wits about you ok?  Be safe with your intake of all things, including someone else’s body parts.  That is all that I will say about that.

 

Recently, I enjoyed Memorial Day Weekend in the best way.

  1. I celebrated the birthdays of my Sistahcousin Wums in Washington, DC at a rooftop bar called Avery’s.  I say yes to Avery’s. Every time.
  2. I celebrated my sister and business partner, Sallay’s birthday the next day in Manhattan at Hudson Terrace, a rooftop club. I was high on Gemini ALL WEEKEND!
  1. I attended Young Paris’s new album release African Vogue at a rooftop bar called Output in Brooklyn, NY.Photo Credit: sojeffro & IG: ennuinature
  2. MY HOLIDAY WEEKEND WAS LIT.  THE LEVEL OF LITUATION WAS AWARD WINNING.

Did you pick up the common themes here?  Are you beginning to understand the key to my Self-Care this summer?  Rooftops Affairs. Birthdays.  Good African & Caribbean  Music. Basically, if you are celebrating your birthday on a rooftop, chances are, you will have fun and… you should invite me.  I need to maintain my self-care regiment. Bodyrolling.

#bodyroll

~Miss GK~

10 reasons why EmpowerHER 2016 was Empowering

I woke up for the Inaugural EmpowerHER Conference in NYC after sleeping for two point seven five hours. Yep. I took a nap. A whole entire poolside nap on the eve of a business conference. Instead of sleeping, I decided to finally do the thing that was looming over my head. I decided to finally add content and images to Gayima.com. I needed to show up to that conference feeling accomplished and comfortable with myself.   “My Rules for Me” #3 was at play here. As if the clothing line isn’t enough. However, that is the way that I felt. A saying that I heard often while growing up that still resonates with me kept me motivated that night. “ Don’t just speak about it. Be about it.”   Although I have owned Gayima.com for years, it’s just been sitting there, parked. However, as I grow, I am learning that I have a voice that can capture the attention of the masses in a way that is uncommon. I have a lot to share and I want to create a safe place where people can visit and learn from others and myself. I want to share with the world what it is to be a first-generation African American businesswoman who wants to:

  • Empower people through conversation and education
  • Slay daily and show others how to slay in ways that compliments who they are, inside and out.
  • Have historically difficult conversations about things that people of African decent should be discussing.
  • Share how I love to have fun and practice self care.

That’s about it. So I started it. I published it. I have way more plans for it, but hey. It’s out there. Watch me grow.


After making my eye bags disappear, I grabbed water and jumped in the whip (aka The Uber) and went to EmpowerHER 2016. Now, the day was long and amazing with so many details that I could give you a two hour recap and still have more to say, however, I’ll give you 10 reasons why EmpowerHER 2016 was empowering:

  1. The Perfect Entry Greeter: As my uber driver pulled off, I saw a tall, dark-brown skin, well-dressed African-American man standing with broad, confident shoulders in an opening who welcomed me to the event with a 1000-watt smile. Welp. Good Morning to you sir! Okay Blavity! This is nice AF already… (and I KNOW that his FINE black life matters too). Also, I am certain that this is how I will be greeted when I arrive to heaven. Shouldn’t EVERY conference I attend from here on have a man such as that gentleman at the doorway to greet me? Should it not? Take notes from Blavity’s planning team. Amen.

  2. A Perfect First-Impression: I walked up and was greeted with smiles from beautiful black women. One of the first to greet me happened to be Blavity’s founder, Morgan DeBaun (and I didn’t even know it). All of the women were just so radiant and beautiful and professional and melanin rich. Once my name badge and complimentary bag of goods was in hand, I immediately walked over to the breakfast table. They had fruits, cute mini bagels and cream cheese, cheese Danish and more greatness. The orange juice was refreshing and after elegantly scarfing it all down, I was ready to socialize and get focused.

  3. An Awesome Host: Our host for the day was this beautiful, radiant, upbeat lady named Danielle Leslie. She was all smiles and kept the crowd engaged and excited to listen to each presentation. She even contributed to the dialogue by using herself as example of how she can testify personally to successfully being about your business. She was also stylin’ in her fierce leather jacket. Great selection Blavity!

  4. The Keynote Speaker Dropped Gems and Usies: I met THE Awesomely Luvvie a few years ago when she was handling her business in Washington, DC. I follow her online and fell in love with the online community that she has created. She is just as smart as she is funny, passionate about the Popes (#SCANDAL), a voice to be reckoned with when discussing social issues, and above all, she’s African. I knew that she was going to come thru with Gems of knowledge and she did not disappoint. With the goals that I am working towards, the knowledge that she dropped was received at the perfect time. Yaaaasss Universe! Yaaaaasss! SUBSCRIBE AND GET YOUR LIFE TOGETHER. The Queen has even written a book!

  1. Self Care is necessary to attain & maintain success:

20160521_103943.jpgImagine a panel of women with different skin tones, hair textures, economical statuses, shoe budgets, educational backgrounds, and hip measurements that took a moment from their successful, busy lives to share with you what they do to ensure that they maintain their sanity while still reaching for their super high goals, and ACHIEVING THEM. Imagine this same panel of women taking moments from their delivery to compliment each other and bond with one another, as well as with the audience.   If you attended, then you know how special it was to watch these women, especially Hey Fran Hey (#mygirlcrush).   If you attended, then you know that you saw yourself in some way in each woman on the panel, and as you took to Instagram to follow them or shared their IG with the person sitting to your left, you felt amazing because you were in the presence of greatness and you knew that you are also great.

Let me just leave this here: This amazing panel of #blackgirlmagic was moderated by Elaine Welteroth!


6.The Greatest Lunch Break was at EmpowerHER 2016: In the upper level of the space, you could shop & network with vendors while snacking on a cute muffin. In the lower level, the panel members made themselves available to chat and take pictures with them. Or you could just chill and eat fresh cold cut sandwiches with all of the trimmings and meet new friends.  It was dope!


7. The only time a Breakout was wanted by a Woman: The breakout sessions were pretty informative. I actually took a moment to sit and observe what was happening around me. I wanted to take it all in. This was my first business conference of 2016 as a full-time entrepreneur, no longer earning a paycheck from a Corporate America firm. The moment was surreal. I watched in amazement how all of these African American were quickly organized into 8 different smaller groups based on like-minded goals and talked with each other, shared ideas, listened to ideas, took notes, exchanged business cards and allowed the spirit of togetherness to take control. I was watching a fantasy happen around me and to me that I did not even know that I had.


8. I finally got to ask my question! Yay! One of the things that was challenging was getting selected to ask your question to the panel. I get it. It’s more of us. However, I quietly negotiated with the microphone man and then… it was my turn. Because I am extra, I asked two questions. #shrugs

Q1. What book(s) do you recommend reading as an entrepreneur?

Q2. What quality do you look for when deciding who you want to join your team of workers?

A1. Kelechi, the owner of Zuvaa response resonated with me. She mentioned the book #GirlBoss, by Sophia Amoruso, Founder and CEO of Nasty Gal.

A2. Kelechi also mentioned how critical she felt it was to work with people who will show up and ACTUALLY work. Value team members that will put forth their best effort regardless of their compensation.


9. Netta. Nine is for Nettaaaaaaaaa. The Black Lives Matter Movement is real AF. I appreciated how Morgan took us down the path to help us understand the Blavity team’s connection to the movement and Netta. Netta share a bit of her life journey and her motivations as well as some of her future plans. Her story will make you proud to be in her presence. She is a brave young woman who is simply inspiring.


10. The Beauty of Femininity: As I looked at my phone that was dying a slow death, I couldn’t believe two things. The first moment of disbelief was how in the world did I allow myself to walk out of the house without my phone charger. Because my phone is petty AF! My phone hits 20%, begins to graciously Serena Williams twerk on me then quickly slides down the pole to 0% shamelessly in a matter of 7 minutes. “Sorry“ by Beyonce’ should be the ringtone during this moment. The second moment of disbelief was how did I not know that Feminista Jones was my hero until this conference? She made me laugh. She made me cry. She made me reflect. She made me sigh. She made me love being a woman, even more than I already do. Feminista Jones and her panel mates discussed the realness of being an online activist.  We heard from ladies behind the scenes with Change.org as well and the power that a simple hashtag can have like #Oscarsowhite.  With great hashtags come great responsibility, and it is not all that glamourous. They kept it real. The work that they do is not for the weak in spirit.


EmpowerHER 2016 was indeed empowering for me. I cannot sit and wait for someone to make my environment comfortable me. I must take action and work to create a space that is comfortable for me to flourish in. I must celebrate all of the moments, big and small and remember to take care of myself.

We all deserve to be seen. We all deserve to be heard. We all deserve to be empowered.  I am empowered to be about my business.

Thank you Blavity.

EmpowerHER 2016 was a success.

 

~Miss GK~

 


Did you attend EmpowerHER 2016? What were some of your favorite moments?   Do you plan to attend the next event? I highly recommend it! Drop a comment below.

A Note to Self

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Put into words what will always resonate with you and become your guiding principles every single day as you jump off of the cliff called The Unknown with a few dollars and faith.  Then live by these words.  Everyday.

My Rules for Me

  1. Self-Care is essential. Take care of yourself spiritually, and everything else will fall into place.
  2. Be true to who you are. For example: You are a giver. Don’t stop giving; just exercise aptitude when determining who to give to. Some people are pure trash. #FACTS
  3. Compete with yesterday’s self EVERYDAY and feel comfortable sleeping ONLY when you’ve outdone yesterday’s self. Like Karen Civil advised you, “Pace yourself. It’s your race and you’re not in competition with anyone”.
  4. Build a team that is smarter than you, but believes in you and your leadership. Don’t forget their hard work. Compensate them before you compensate yourself.
  5. Remain humble. You have always been awesome because you’re cool as a fan, as confident as your Mom, but as giving as your grandmother. Be a beautiful humble woman who is here to serve God and serve face. You can do both. Don’t hesitate.
  6. Love is the key. Recognize real love from your friends and family and nurture it. You have been hurt by fake love. It happens. Don’t beat yourself up about it when it presents itself. Instead, look it in the face, call it out, and smile. Watch it slither away. Works every time.
  7. Work your ass off for yourself as much as you worked your ass off for the previous employers. No one knows your value more than you. It’s time to shine and finally be appreciated for it. Also, refer to number 2. We don’t need these under-eye bags. Not cute. Not the Amyang way honey.
  8. Never forget your legacy. Ever. Let the spirit of your ancestors guide you. You are here because of so many who made so many sacrifices. One day, with God’s grace, you will be apart of your children’s legacy too. Make your grandchildren as proud of you as you are of your grandparents.
  9. Sometimes, you want to glare. Sometimes, you want to snicker with a raised eyebrow at some of these (expletive) people who are bad-hearted and tasked with the goal to block your success. Sometimes you want to be PETTY. Stay affable and kill them with that killer smile backed by truth and success. Let that be enough.
  10. You are an unapologetic woman. Be careful not to be unapologetically wrong. It will happen, so keep it to a minimum and never hesitate to apologize when you are wrong. You are fallible at times, but you are still wonderful.

 

Congratulations. I am proud of you. Keep making me proud of you every time that we meet in the mirror, every time we catch a glimpse of each other in reflections, every time we have moments alone together when we meditate and concentrate. Every time that someone from your tribe looks at you. Let their energy be positive, fruitful and a reflection of who you are.

Love,

You.

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If you are reading this…still… you are a trooper.  Thank you!  I encourage you to write a note to yourself and reflect.  Become more aware of yourself for yourself.  My moment was intense AF.  Have you had a moment like this?  Let’s connect.  Feel free to share here.

Gayima