What's wrong with Wakanda?

    Dig this, you are a five year old black girl or boy, you walk through Walmart with your parents and you find yourself seeing characters on cans of soda, in the toy department, even on the books, on the hats, shoes, t-shirts, dresses, and socks that look like you. That's powerful. Depending on how you grew up, seeing black books or media, and knowing your history may not be out of the ordinary but where I come from it is. Accessibility is taken for granted by many who have or have had access without asking or fighting so it's easy to misunderstand this moment and it's totally forgivable. But you've got to stop downing people for being excited.

    To all the really woke folks and those who had their own copies of "Something Beautiful" or "Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters", and can recite excerpts from "A Raisin in the Sun" here is why us basic negroes is happy. In this movie a cast full of black characters from Africa, in Africa, equally represented as powerful and important across gender lines and positions are vying for control of their own resources with technology created and perfected by a young black woman. All delivered in a package simple enough for the masses to access and understand. The elite don't get it, and that's fine but get yo ass out the line so Akhil and Raya can see the movie and leave with the images of an entire cast of people they can pretend to be today, and even better, grow up to be tomorrow.

    By Black Panther being a Marvel film, it's automatically inserted into pop culture and where is pop? EVERY-FUCKING-WHERE! Think about the year that Cardi B had, and just imagine every actor from this movie and the movie itself being half as popular. The trickle down is children across the world being as hype about Wakanda, as you were about Bodak Yellow. You've got video games, re-issued comics, action figures, halloween costumes, fan art, bed sheets, two soundtracks... It's everywhere, and my son and all the curious little children and adults of color get to see that. You can buy an assortment of items with the Black Panther's characters on them everywhere, not just from the black owned stores and events. White children will be at school fighting over who's gonna be T'Challa. The same way we fought over who would be the Red Ranger, Wolverine or Batman.

    As a fan of Marvel it was a great movie, as a black man who spent about 3 hours in college, yes some things could've been tightened up (the soundcloud joke was terrible) and I wish that N'Jadaka and T'Challa could've figured out another route because they were both right. And as a Father and someone who was once immersed in cartoons, books, and movies in a way that rivaled eating, bathing and sleeping I am ecstatic. 

    Think about the questions children will think to ask -- questions about the characters, their clothes, and Africa. Yes Wakanda is a fictional place but that's a teaching moment you wouldn't have after Batman or Thor or Lord of the Rings. The youngest character in the film, Shuri, acts as chief engineer and scientist for her country and her work was what ultimately won "the battle". How is that not a big deal? Every little girl left knowing she could be a Queen, a warrior, protecting the King (who's supposed to be the most powerful guy in the film) or the creator of a world of technology. N'Jadaka literally took over a government because he felt entitled to it and wanted to see change. He came asking critical questions and challenging traditions and history with his idea of better, all with a clear understanding of how their government worked and how to participate in a way that benefitted him. 

    We turn almost anything into curriculum these days, this shouldn't be different. Again, Wakanda ain't real but neither is half the other shit we pack in books and feed to children. If you have a moment please understand how dope this is for someone else if not for you and keep that negative divisive shit to yourself.

Spread Love It's the NOLA Way

We live in a world where the things we say can be just as dangerous as the guns we carry. I chose to put these words on shirts to add a little light to the series of messages we ingest daily from music, clothing, advertisements, TV, and casual conversation. 

Throughout my life I can recall a myriad of times where phrases like "murder capitol" and headlines filled with death. Crime seemed to replay like songs on Q93. In the last decade I have consistently educated myself on as much as possible and with every lesson came enlightenment and an increased (and sometimes unwarranted) ability to see more of the wrongs we commit against each other with more clarity. Whether on the international or local level I can see the bad in ways that I never could as a child. Some say we have more media to blame, but all I know is it makes me tired. Even to witness smaller instances between friends and associates weighs heavy. To constantly, with or without choice, observe so much ignorance and evil is just plain tiring. 

Growing up I wasn't spared by mean people or poor experiences. I was scrawny, poor, and not exactly cool. I know what a bully is; I am too well acquainted with embarrassment. I have questioned the things adults tell to children dozens of times, but amidst all the bad experiences it was the good moments that kept me moving forward. Wisdom from the old folks on the stoop as my mama walked me to school. Grace from counselors and disciplinarians when I went astray. Extra care from teachers when a math problem got the best of me or enormous amounts of seemingly unnecessary love from church members and family friends, there were even strangers who picked up the slack when my absent father and sick mother couldn't afford clothes or experiences that would make me a better person. This is what I remember when I feel like being less than happy or less than loving. This is why I put it on the shirt. 

Every time someone passes me or anyone is wearing the shirt they have to read it, they have to think about it. The statement is a direct confrontation with what many believe our city to be. It is an instant seed to sprout good vibes within those who dare to accept the challenge of spreading love. 

This is a mission that I take on every day, in my work as a DJ, producing events from a place of necessity instead of hustle, and creating things that help others with little to no personal benefit. With the sharing of these shirts and hoodies I can recruit others to live out the mission as well. We must Spread Love, not hate; we must continue to love those around us as New Orleans taught me and countless others. This city and its people are comprised of many different minds and souls, all who have embraced "new" people and ideas as if they were their own. This city absolutely isn't for sale, but is absolutely for love. 

I ask that anyone reading this please share some love. Whether a hug or smile emoji…or sharing your change or a meal with someone who goes without…or starting a conversation with someone new to your street or city…or just being kind to everyone you meet for the rest of eternity (sounds easy right!?).

We must Spread Love because it truly is The NOLA Way.