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A Seed. . . Momma Maya

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For many Dr. Maya Angelou was more than a beloved poet, author, singer, dancer, actor, national treasure, educator, civil and human rights activist. Dr. Maya Angelou fulfilled, unknowingly perhaps, the role of mother / nurturer. She enlightened individuals across oceans from varying cultural backgrounds and religious affiliations, impacted consciousness of human existence by demanding of us an awakening. For that reason I have always seen Dr. Maya Angelou as Momma Maya. Over the years, Momma Maya's pen partially chronicled her pains, joys and successes. Each story reaching deep and stirring the seed within reader, listener, student or friend to recognize all aspects of life: the sun, the rain, the beauty, even the hell. Thus fertilizing our lives with the seeds from her own.

Her words, provocative; her voice, soulful; her essence, inviting. The reality of Maya far greater and grander than the idea of her. This day, with her passing, I, one among many, an admirer and lover of this phenomenal woman, cannot boast sadness nor feel a sense of loss because she is no longer physically here. What Momma Maya represents has always transcended physicality. She was never contained by it. Momma Maya is. And because of Momma Maya we know ... we understand the song of the caged bird and the joy experienced upon its release.

To a love beyond love.

Maya Angelou in San Francisco, at the time of the publication of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, 1970. (© Bettman/CORBIS)

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One of My Favs! India.Arie: The Sistah is Fierce!

You know I love this chick, so it's really no surprise that I was happy dancing the moment I saw a tweet from this songbird debuting her new single, "Cocoa Butter" from her forthcoming album. India is one of the baddest in the game. Lyrically and in every way that matters, she, Jill Scott and Rachelle Ferrell do it for me.

You were missed lady. You were missed.

Press play. Listen, bop, dance, sing, sway and feel. Hit replay and do it all again.

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Judge. Jury. Verdict.

  • Did you see her last night? I can't believe she allowed herself to be filmed wearing that?
  • You got a mirror? I suggest you look in it, because clearly you did not have an opportunity this morning.
  • Wait? Tell me she isn’t wearing white after Labor Day? Who told her that was acceptable?
  • She lip-synched the National Anthem? And with all that pageantry. What the hell? Chile, puh-leez! She needs to go sit down with that foolishness.
  • She should just slap a perm on that crazy mess of hair! Walking out the house looking like that. It's embarrassing.
  • You know she should just go on and BC. Remove all that chemically processed hair and embrace her natural beauty.

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The verdict has come in. The gavel has come down.

We are GUILTY.

What’s sad? It doesn’t matter if we don’t know the details, or perhaps we have a few or we know the entire story, we (me, myself and you) render ourselves judge, jury and issue a scathing verdict, broadcasting worldwide via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and some other social media site sharing our judgment on the matter. Sometimes it's regarding a primetime reality show and sometimes it's our relationships with each other.

In Los Angeles and New York, media moguls are reclining around the table in a boardroom brainstorming possibilities for the upcoming spring and fall season television line-up, hoping to bring to market the next big reality show. Armed with data reflecting the viewing habits of certain demographics they know that cattiness and bitch fests are slam dunks. Their bottom line is increased because cattiness sells and bitchiness sends the ratings into the stratosphere. Female viewers are more interested in watching women gouge out another woman’s eyes, tug hair, kick arse or speak words that incite rage, fury and are blatantly disrespectful.

With all of our daily chatter, I do believe we make their jobs easier. We provide them with the narrative and from this they storyboard, focus group and package to the masses. Do we object? Or do we subject ourselves to hours of watching? What's worse? When the show is over, we cut a side-eye at a sister on the street and wonder what her objective could be.

What was once man’s ultimate fantasy has become our own: Women wrestling in mud, slipping and sliding all over the place in bikinis and the like. When did that become something we actually enjoyed? The catfights? The name calling? The neck rolls? The eye rolls? The ridiculousness of it all?

Now I know I probably stand alone on this limb — with a few million women — but watching that is not my idea of entertainment. Regardless of race, I do not want to watch my sisters treat each other in disrespectful ways. Granted, reality dictates there will almost always be someone who aggravates us and steps on our last good nerve, but why broadcast the fallout in such grandeur. What's the objective? To hurt? Or perhaps laugh at someone's pain?

You want more responsible programming? We have to be responsible consumers. I still believe in the power of the people. Television programs require viewers. These programs require financial backing from advertisers. Advertisers remain vested based on numbers. With dwindling numbers, programs are cancelled. It has been proven throughout history, when there is enough of an outcry or demand for change of any kind, the most beautiful thing imaginable occurs: revolution.

Once upon a time, we moved mountains, changed laws, redefined a people and that's only in this nation. Don't tell me it cannot be done. The world over we've seen proof that mountains of impossibilities are scaled by perseverance and determination of a united people.

I don’t judge you, my sister. Here’s my hand. I stand with and walk along side you because you are a reflection of me.

The revolution must be televised! Let’s script it.

* Originally posted on BlackHairKitchen.com March 12, 2013 *

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Meet the Ladies

The Harlem Holiday Doll Show was this weekend at LeRoy Neiman Art Center and as you read in a few Facebook updates or news posted on this site or by virtue of knowing me, I have developed a healthy obsession for these dolls. Tanya Montegut, creator of these precious, unique and splendid pieces, is the bomb diggity.

So as promised, I attended the event and did so with every appendage of limbs crossed in hopes of rounding out the females of the Experience Life from a Different Perspective series with a Megan and Stephanie acquisition. Well, guess what? I have indeed found my chicas! Meet the ladies in all of their fabulosity (don't give me the stank side-eye; look it up, according to Webster it truly is a word):

The-Ladies

Now in all honestly, I'm not sure if I'm done acquiring all of the women. There are still a few sisters who require representation and who knows what individuals will pop up in future novels. I certainly don't; we shall see.

Right now I'm all about acquiring the mens. So who's up first? Chase, of course. Then Derrick, then Peter, then David....

Interested in your own DollsbyMonTQ contact Tanya. The holidays are right around the corner ... think books and dolls!

Toodles!

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Introducing . . .

 
She was the complexion of a Hershey Kiss with black shoulder length wooly hair. Her hair had natural waves that came from opening twists and running your fingers through them to give them a bit of body.
— Never Said It Was Easy / mr
 
Katherine Richards

This description references Katherine Richards. While writing the sequel, the second Kat made her appearance, she quickly became one of my favorites in the series. I'm sure that as you read she will maneuver her way into your heart, as well. In my opinion, she is that good. Here she is in all of her fabulousness.

So what about Megan and Stephanie? What happened to them? In December I'll be attending the Harlem Holiday Doll Show at Leroy Nieman Art Center, expect for me to return from this event with a few more characters. Fingers crossed for Megan and Stephanie miniature embodiments to jump out at me and scream for me to take them home. We shall see.

Love Kat? Let Tanya know. Interested in attending the doll show, here's the information:

For three days I had the pleasure of attending (thanks to a friend) the Arts Off the Main exhibit at the Jacob Javits Center. While I was able to speak with many about my novels, I was in attendance to lend my support. This year, three shows were combined into one and some of the hottest talent in Crafts from around the country were able to share the spotlight with the likes of Woodrow Nash, George Nock, Franco Castelluccio, Stuart McClean and Edwin Lester. Well, Tanya Montegut of Dolls by MonTQ was present and you know the rest ... her dolls were a hit! What's not to love about sisters captured in miniature?

Although a number of Tanya's dolls spoke to me, they always do, one in particular held and kept my attention. My original thought was to round out the cast of It's Simple with either Megan or Stephanie or acquire both, so I was surprised when I found myself coming back to this doll and recalling a passage from the sequel, Never Said It Was Easy.

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Recap - Circle of Sisters 2012

As an author and a first-time vendor at this event, I must say I enjoyed myself immensely. One thing I enjoy slightly more than writing is conversing with lovers of literature and like-minded individuals about the things that matter most to them. Circle of Sisters at Jacob Javits provided that platform, allowing for this exchange of ideas and beliefs. So much so that at the end of the first day of this two-day event, my voice sounded much like sandpaper — coarse and gritty. Surely tea and a few hours of sleep would remedy this, right? Absolutely not. With one more day of this level of talking ahead of me, I was certain any and everything I uttered would be unintelligible and the sisters would give me the side-eye as I tried to answer their questions. I managed with the help of my incredible team: my daughter, Nia and my dear sisterfriends Nicole and Stephanie. On the first day, the husband and son also came out to lend their support. Love them! Of note, no matter how many events I attend, Tia Maddison and the cover photography of It's Simple are of primary interest. At Circle of Sisters this was no different. Not only was Tia her fabulous self, but this time she was rocking her one-of-a-kind Moetleh bag thanks to booth mate and bag creator, Winnie Burch.

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"Are you an interior designer?" I can't tell you how many times women and men thought It's Simple was about interior design or that I, myself, was an interior designer because, as they shared, the cover art was so "stunning", "beautiful" and "elegant." Incorporate the table presentation and the 5' x 8' banner, one could easily understand how that assumption could be made. However, after sharing that the cover art was a welcome into the lives of Chase and Tia and a taste of what's possible in their own homes as well as relationships, the women readily agreed that we need to associate positive self portrayal and beauty of our surroundings in the pages of literature and other forms of media when it comes to people of color. Each time I heard women or men, regardless of race, affirm this, I was refreshed.

The ensuing conversations were insightful, encouraging and filled with personal examples of the beauty in their lives. Some boasted years of happy married life; others years of struggle and therapy before the marriage became something each respected, wanted and finally cherished. I loved listening to others share their experiences and how those experiences shaped how they handled subsequent relationships. One such lively discussion took place minutes before the doors opened to the public on Sunday with vendors, male and female, passionately sharing their views on what each partner should bring to the onset of the relationship and what was needed to maintain it.

For every three positive exchanges, there was one negative. Belief in the possibility of better did not exist because their experience(s) had been filled with heartache, betrayal and pain. Hope for them wasn't an option nor a viable choice. Those exchanges saddened me, yet still I could not help but want more for them ... for us. But is it possible to experience better if you don't believe better is available? How can individuals exist without hope or a belief in something better? The reality and hard truth is, many live in that realm of disbelief and hopelessness. That is their universe and the orbiting stars, moons and planets align daily sending and sharing the same sentiment to its human creator. My reality is to write for both the believer and non-believer in hopes that some day, one day, some thing will awaken a seed of newness in their spirits and they will shift their outlook to reach for more.

Saturday and Sunday were filled with many of those exchanges, stories, dancing, lots of laughter and a whole lot of love and fun with participating vendors and those in attendance. The team even managed to take in the sights on the convention floor and the daughter, accompanied by her Auntie Nicole, met and posed with Nicole Ari Parker and Olympic swim team silver medalists. Lucky her.

Congratulations to the winners! Tina Billie and Charmaine Parker are the winners of the It's Simple Saturday and Sunday raffles. The lovely centerpieces featuring the sequel to It's Simple, Never Said It Was Easy now belongs to them. Enjoy!

As of this evening, Sunday, October 14th, my voice is still not a 100%. Yet in spite of this unfortunate occurrence, I look forward to attending Circle of Sisters 2013. Hope to see you there!

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Michelle Richardson on Good Morning Caribbean with LT Goodman

This Saturday, August 4, 2012, Michelle Richardson will be LT Goodman's special guest on Good Morning Caribbean-Weekend Edition (10:00 a.m. - 12 p.m.) at 11:00 a.m. Tune in and join us. It's sure to be a fun and insightful interview!

UPDATE

Enjoyed my time with LT Goodman this morning on Kallaloo Radio. The hour was an enjoyable one, full of laughter, insight and discussion. Thank you for offering a place where authors and others can share a bit of themselves with your listeners. It was truly my pleasure.

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Michelle Richardson featured in Harlem World Magazine

You really have to love surprises. Do you know the kind I'm talking about? No? Well, it's the kind where the word oblivious best suits you; the kind where your face is truly twisted in confusion before you actually realize what just happened. I attended the Harlem Book Fair on Saturday, July 21 with my crew and daughter and we had an absolute blast chatting with readers and authors before taking ourselves over to Spoonbread Too to dine on fine authentic Southern cuisine. After all, we deserved it. We worked hard and our tired feet sung a similar tune, but I digress. Food does that to me.

Anyhoo, here's the write-up I was greeted with this morning. Thank you Eartha Watts-Hicks.

Harlem World Magazine

Michelle Richardson and her daughter, Nia

Nia and MR

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MR Interview with Jamie Fleming-Dixon of ForColoredGurls.com

Michelle was recently interviewed by Jamie Fleming-Dixon for ForColoredGurls.com to discuss her novels It's Simple and Never Said It Was Easy. ForColored Gurls.com was founded when Jamie noticed that mainstream magazines for teens and young adults did not feature and showcase enough positivity and/or substance in their messages nor did they include a significant representation of women of color. Only recently have these glaring disparities gotten mildly better. Jamie's immediate remedy to this issue was to create For Colored Gurls (a play on words from the 1975 stage play for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf by Ntozake Shange).

Her website is about inspiring and empowering women to live their most fabulous lives now so it is fairly easy to see how Jamie and Michelle would have lots to discuss since they share a common passion to empower women of color regardless of age.

Click on the ForColoredGurls logo below to read Michelle's candid interview with Jamie.

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