October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Sanity Addiction Part 3 is dedicated to domestic violence and the issue that is still taboo in the urban community.

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Sanity Addiction Part 3  tells the story of a young black girl from Philadelphia named Princess who is at a turning point in her life. She is presented with a new opportunity to attend fashion school in New York so she takes it with the financial help of her boyfriend, who gets sent to jail for presumably selling drugs. Princess ends up ghosting him, quickly adopting a whole new life in New York. And you know that means, the young inspiring fashion stylist starts dating the wrong guy even though at face value he is charming and has a respectable job; he ends up becoming her abuser. I was inspired to tell this story from my own upbringing and having women share their own stories. When you’re in an abusive situation, it’s ultimately a struggle. I’m most interested in the reasons why these individuals stay in the “relationship” until it “gets better” in their own eyes. In general, their strength is as identical to many women in history who have stayed quiet. However, in the #MeToo era enough is enough.

It has become increasingly important to talk about issues that are affecting all of us as more of us go public. It is these stories that I feel most empowered to write about in Sanity Addiction, which is published in Violet Summer Zine. According to a report released by the Hotline.org, “females ages, 18 to 24 and 25 to 34 generally experienced the highest rates of intimate partner violence.” Just this year, I knew it was still a big issue because of the many young women in my network have either experienced or know someone closely experiencing violence in their personal lives, me included. I have also connected with women who have created nonprofits like BMoreLoved.Org, founded by a young woman who is passionate about helping women navigate the complex legal system when dealing with domestic violence situations. She, too, has also experience domestic violence and was able to escape the situation before it was too late. TIME IS UP. The more we talk about this nasty truth currently plaguing our community, the more it will help put an end to misogyny.

Lastly, domestic violence is ultimately ruining and limiting women to live up to their full potential at home and in the workplace.  4 in 5 victims are females experiencing abuse from their male intimate partners. We already know that it is a huge issue but why isn’t anything being done to stop it? It’s a cultural phenomenon. And more importantly, I would like to know why this issue isn’t serious until someone dies or someone’s life is on the line?? Rihanna is one celebrity I admire because she went through a very public domestic violence situation and she never went back to her abuser. Sadly, a large percentage of women do go back due to financial reasons as well as a mental block disguised as love.

Yes, statistics show that nearly 33% of women killed in U.S. workplaces between 2003-2008 were killed by a current or former intimate partner. Growing up in Philadelphia,  I knew a woman who was murdered by her supposed boyfriend at a nightclub. I was at her home the night her life was taken by a jealous boyfriend. She left behind a small baby and a 6-year - old daughter who became very angry at her mother who was not around anymore. So it’s not a joke when other people’s lives are involved and there needs to be stricter laws that deal with not only the abuser but also provides mental counseling for the victim.


For more information please visit https://www.thehotline.org to get involved and learn how to approach and deal with various domestic violence situations.

Read Sanity Addiction for Princess’s story.







Mel Writes Exclusive: Black Owned Nail Salon Junie Bees & Teyana Taylor Hosts Press Conference For Women Attacked In Flatbush

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Let me start out by saying black women are killing it! There's been a lot of encouragement and support in the #blackgirlmagic community because it's needed. Next month, we will reach another heighten sense of inclusion in the world with over 10 black women gracing the covers of high fashion magazines.  I am so excited to see Beyonce on the cover of Vogue US, Rihanna on Vogue UK's cover, as well as Tiffany Haddish gracing the cover of Glamour. I'm also happy Actress and Director Issa Rae is bringing the youth back to Ebony Magazine. That's what they need. And of course, I'm on the cover of Violet Summer Zine.  It's a domino effect.  That's what I hoped would happen for the magazine industry if anything else is wrong in the world when it comes to politics. Well, at least Omarosa is having her share in the media trying to overthrow Trump. 

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 The summer is coming to an end. No one died - thank god. For me, we can all be grateful to at least celebrate life in a brand new way with a sense of accomplishment. If you're reading this, grow up and be the bigger person. 

What's giving me life right now is my passion for writing merged with making money and collaborating/working with other passionate people. What's giving me life right now is the support from my friends, colleagues and also new relationships. 

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But even if some of us are experiencing a good time, black women are still at risk of hate crimes with an unjust outcome. This week I attended a press conference at Junie Bee's Nail Salon hosted by Singer Teyana Taylor to raise awareness to the horrible attack of two black women at an Asian owned nail salon in Brooklyn. The women spoke to the local NY news station about how they were beaten with broomsticks and sprayed with acetone. It was heart-breaking to hear these women speak about the situation all because they didn't want to pay $5 for a shitty eyebrow service. I'm sick of hearing this shit, especially from places that I have also been discriminating against even when I spend my hard earned money on poor services!  What's even more maddening is that the women racked up charges for fighting with the employees at the Asian salon.

 

 The disturbing footage of the fight was actually released by the Chinese Nail Association and the circulation of it is raising awareness on social media. However, NY City Officials need to crack down on these dirty ass nail salons that are constantly robbing predominantly black communities. Most of them are cash - only establishments which is also problematic. Also, many of them still use horrible chemicals that can be deadly. Re: MMA, and they don't warn customers of the materials they are using in the first place. You have a right to know why your nail beds are thin, cracked and yellowing under that cheap nail polish. At the end of the press conference, Teyana announced the women can come to Junie Bees and receive FREE services. 

 

  Now, I don't usually talk race wars but this video is horrible considering the number of legal issues the nail industry has been in over the years for spreading unsafe sanitary practices to their employees and customers. 

The National Action Network team has put their forces behind the women and have organized protests in Brooklyn as well as participated in a press conference at Junie Bees salon early this week. But what we really need is the charges to be dropped. Ultimately, black women shouldn't shop or support at these places. 

Here is a list of places owned by black women that you can purchase your beauty services: 

SKINCARE PRODUCTS:

YOUR SKINCARE SPOT owned by Detriot native Bianca Townsend. I wrote about her black-owned online business here: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/need-beauty-advice-text-an-esthetician-on-your-skincare_us_5a04e571e4b0cc46c52e6938

 https://yourskincarespot.com/

CLEANSE BY LAUREN NAPIER: New York-based makeup artist has developed these amazing facial wipes for a face that glows. I love to have them in my bag when traveling or need to wash my face with something clean. https://www.laurennapier.com/

BEAUTY SUPPLIES

CURL BIBLE is owned by Dana Chanel. She's an entrepreneur currently residing in Philly. The idea came about when she was sick of giving her money to businesses that did not look like her. Plus, her FAITH leads her to create a brand that was reflective of her own morals and also beauty rituals.   www.curlbible.com

Zine Update: Journey So Far

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Update on Zine

Violet Summer Zine is in a different place than it was in 2015 and even eight months ago when the team started to form on weekends and on holidays.  Each year I allow myself to be vulnerable as I write what I think is a reflection of the culture - even if it’s a small percentage. There have been over 14 collaborators who really contribute to the overall all vibe of the zine. They always take the topics so seriously and really do their best work! That’s SO rewarding for me as a creator -- for others to also put their passion into your passion. Many of them, I met up with for coffee or drinks to discuss their pieces which make it even more personal and fun.

At the end, VSZ aims to inspire through stories told in an urban chick-lit perspective. I love the Dressing Up & Normcore story ( in issue 2) , A Glamourous Nightmare ( in Issue 3) , I also love our biography about Meghan Markle in Issue 3 as well! Each year the content gets really robust with information.

Also, did I mention it’s very personal? Sanity Addiction is all true. Some of my friends read it and be like “Damn Mel I can’t believe you want through that.” Well, I’ve been through a lot of disappointment that … blah  blah and some of it is my friends and colleagues stories. So that’s why I like Sanity Addicition to be like super honest. Aramide helped me edit Sanity Addiction Part 3… I felt like I had to write at least part of the story. I am thinking about doing like meet up with all these characters in a story.  They all work or have aspirations to be in the fashion industry but like their careers, things get fucked up on the way to success. That’s what I’ve been dealing with and so I just felt like why not tell the story. In 2018, black women and women of color are experiencing a heightened sense of representation in the media community. I hope it stays like that.

And speaking of Black women, I'd love to do a cover shoot production with someone super fierce. So far, it’s just been me on the cover. But I’d love to shoot someone dope for the cover and really plan for it! Issue 5 I’m gonna do it. Someone so devastatingly chic ( Laina Rauma) , she’ll snatch your edges. Either that, or I definitely want a HOT dude on my cover with me in a thong bikini. he he

One area of the zine I’d like to improve is our “research” section. I want to conduct and report on studies about of the moment topics and then compare them to the millennial lifestyle. I get emailed survey results all the time! So I want to look into having a sponsor help me with researching.

Where are we Going:  

VSZ has grown into this urban literary magazine that is read by a millennial to mature audience. When I say mature, I’m speaking of 40+-year-olds that are young at heart or really curious about the millennial interactions and experiences.  Some white dude who is a veteran tweeted me about how he read my piece in Issue 1 and on my huff post column “Black Girls Tan Too” He loved it. VSZ always gets good feedback on the content. It’s still shocking. I want it to always include long realistic fiction articles to advice and pop culture short features that are both trendy, intellectual and feel-good. It is STILL a beach read!

On Social Media:

Our Instagram is definitely growing and videos still are the most engaging thing online right now. That and memes.  Social media in general though is overwhelming. I never know where my audience is coming from and feedback is everything. That’s why it’s important to be like on every platform. It’s exhausting. However, I have so much content from previous issues that didn’t get much play.

On  ISSUU we have 30,000 reads and over 7 million impressions so people are definitely tuned in, ya dig??  When I started I don’t think I had anyone reading other than my family. So keep spreading the good news.

Follow up on new and old relationships

 I get a lot of compelling emails each week that I don’t answer or I am not attentive to. There are literally free products and interview ideas in my inbox, but I just forget or get too lazy to respond. It’s so bad.  I need to stop being super picky about it and realize that it’s an opportunity that other writers may not have, so now I make it a point to answer all emails. A collaborator told me this so thanks Kipenzi.  Even if it’s saying “hey! I’ve love to run a contest!” to “yes, I’ll sample the product for my publication.”

Being Honest makes me totally vulnerable but it’s worth it

 Another reason why I started the publication is I wanted to be honest. But sometimes, I have to be so honest it’s literally nerve-racking to push publish. If you’ve read my work you may have cringed at some lines, but that’s what makes a good story. When I started writing highly suggestive content, friends, family and even dating prospects couldn’t understand my work. Sanity Addiction Part 2 garnered the most press and helped me legitimize my brand and it was also the most controversial. It’s about revenge porn, drugs, sex and out of control relationships. A lot of people could relate but it’s not a story with a fairytale ending. But not all stories end horrible. So SA is written with "a light at the end of the tunnel."  And that’s why I felt so passionate to put it out there because most of it is true. It was a period after I released SA, that I toned down my work. I regret that because the momentum slowed down. I was caring too much of what people would think. That’s until I had another awakening when I realize that people will have their say, but what I say matters.


Dealing With Shitty Relationships  

Since forever, I had to cut off people and people have definitely stopped talking to me for their own reasons. GREAT, SEE YOU AROUND. People don’t ever really disappear especially when you’re in the same industry. So the one thing I’m good at is NOT burning my bridges.  My mentor says, you’ll go farther if you carry less baggage.  


 

Violet Summer Zine Issue 4 Live

 I am so excited to present Issue 4 of my annual summer zine. This year's zine is on Ego and Truth. It was a "light bulb moment" that came to me after a months of cleansing my own ego while observing the ego's of some very public figures, re: Kanye and Trump. Today's culture is obsessed with catering to their egos that their own truths get lost. They keep feeding their egos like it's going to lead them in the right direction but in reality the truth always surfaces in the most unlikeliest situations. Read our collaborator's take on Ego and Truth... Plus, Sanity Addiction Part 3 explores a young black girl's journey to the New York fashion scene while violating trying to navigate relationships... 

I am so excited to present Issue 4 of my annual summer zine. This year's zine is on Ego and Truth. It was a "light bulb moment" that came to me after a months of cleansing my own ego while observing the ego's of some very public figures, re: Kanye and Trump. Today's culture is obsessed with catering to their egos that their own truths get lost. They keep feeding their egos like it's going to lead them in the right direction but in reality the truth always surfaces in the most unlikeliest situations. Read our collaborator's take on Ego and Truth... Plus, Sanity Addiction Part 3 explores a young black girl's journey to the New York fashion scene while violating trying to navigate relationships... 

Rant #3 of 2018: Facebook is history.

This week Facebook announced that it would roll out its new privacy laws for the European Union. But this doesn’t come as a surprise because Europe has been on top of internet privacy since the 90s. Meanwhile, us “users” in the US are still dealing with who “misused” our data to skew the results of the 2016 Presidential Election.

Let me rewing to the moment I got annoyed... 

It all happened on a calm Thursday evening when a notification from NBC News sounded off on my phone with the headline reading “Without data-targeted ads, Facebook would look like a pay service, Sandberg says. “ Like, Seriously? You know what's following... If Facebook offers a paywall, this could honestly be the cure to my unabiding Facebook scrolling addiction. So thanks!

Facebook found themselves in a pot of hot water. They got in tRoUbLe this month for violating our 4th Amendment right to privacy by manipulating our 1st amendment right to free speech, and finally, our lawmakers have managed to summons the jack of all trades without a diploma, Mark Zuckerberg.  (Side note: I've written about Revenge Porn from a first-person witnesses perspective and I was utterly disgusted Read here. ) For two days, 10 hours in total, congressional committee members, grilled Zuckerberg on what exactly Facebook does with our data once we click on stuff and merely write words we think is meaningless on our "status."  For those who don’t know about Cambridge Analytica, it is essentially a digital marketing agency that Trump used for his political campaign, apparently, they also worked on the Obama Campaign too. They have an office in New York and according to their website, they have since deleted the data they received from another third party called GSR. But nothing is really deleted... Cambridge Analytica is also claiming that they did not violate any terms and conditions of whatever opt in pop up message window they are referring to.  DO YOU THINK THEY DID? Which is the precisely the reason why I’m pissed off? I feel like they did! We need someone to blame for why Trump is sitting in the Oval Office. What are we opting- in to anyway? Where is our precious user behavior report really going? And why is it that so many people seem to have access to it? These social media sites weren’t built with any type of morals. Social media platforms only care about feeding our EGOs and which is earning them millions of dollars worth of advertising revenue.  

Anyone with talking points could have said what Zuckerberg said to the dozens of Senators who just logged onto Facebook for the first time last week. Someone on the news has the same opinion.  Literally, I laughed at every Senator stumble to ask appropriate questions that would someone how nail Zuckerberg.  But the technical terms are just too beyond their generation to comprehend. In addition, Zuckerberg couldn’t define“ internet cookies” which  I find highly suspect!! We all have the same Google. Which is another reason why I’m pissed off? Take us back when you could actually delete your Facebook, and hide your Facebook posts from certain groups, and also back when there was only one inbox per user!!!

With the exception of Cory Booker ( D- NJ) and Kamala Harris ( D- CA), every Senator struggled to ask a question that was somewhat related to the issue at hand: Data. There was this one Senator who asked a question about how Facebook segments data into different buckets, which she called “categories.” Don't ask me her name because I totally ignored. I think she was trying to ask what happens to the data once it’s inputted into Facebook, how is it stored, who has access and is it really deleted, etc. But the lady Senator just couldn't get out the aforementioned words. Furthermore, Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t going to help her decide what she wanted to ask him. And why would he?

This was a time for all those millennials working on The Hill for these Senators for dirt cheap to actually help their bosses stick it to the man. In this case, the man is Mark Zuckerberg.  

Friends, I am truly concerned with the state of our privacy and the lack of security protecting who we are as a society. If data can manipulate human behavior, the future has a lot in store for us, Re: the NYT article below.  We’ll be carrying around terabytes like diamonds on our fingers and stuck in a real-life black mirror episode that won’t end if we don’t wake up.

Sources: 

https://www.facebook.com/democracynow/videos/10156267054878279/

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/09/opinion/zuckerberg-testify-congress.htm

https://ca-commercial.com/news?__hstc=163013475.5e11d9aa4b91c2356a3ddefd714f3c16.1523589551027.1523589551027.1523589551027.1&__hssc=163013475.2.1523589551028&__hsfp=1496384207