After leading with Maya Angelou, I racked my brain for my next black Shero for this series. I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while so I actually have a reserve of quite of few photos in my inspiration folder. I’m going to be continuing this past black history month and women’s history month. Some will be tied to the civil rights movement, some will be tied to Hollywood and pop culture. Some will kick down doors forcefully and some will create a tidal wave of change, solely for being themselves — a brown girl on celluloid.
photo by Shaina Moskowitz
Today, I’m honoring Diana Ross. Oscar noms, Grammys, Lifetime Achievement awards, two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Kennedy Center honors, The Presidential Medal of Freedom (the highest honor that the prez can give an American civilian), 18 number one hits and album sales that make her the most successful female artist in history according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Wow!
As a kid I was mesmerized by her in The Wiz — I’m sorry Judy Garland but Ms. Ross was definitely doing it for the culture. She helped build Motown and remains a force in pop culture. The kind of woman that performs her own tribute and brings her whole family on stage, the kind of woman who can loose her fanny pack, tweet about it and it’s returned unharmed to her. You have to respect Ms. Ross.
She’s a life force and energy and some of my favorite photos of her were capture of her dancing, one night at Studio 54 in the late 70s. She is a dynamic life force and I hope to embody that.
shot at Simon Hotel in Fort-de-France, Martinique
I love those moments when everything seems to be perfectly aligned. Earlier this month, the team at Ferragamo sent me an awesome pair of aviators with rainbows in the lenses telling me about the brand’s history with rainbows. Rainbow has been an iconic element for the brand since the 1930’s when Salvatore Ferragamo developed the rainbow wedge sandal for actress, Judy Garland. I was so excited to receive them, especially as my mom often calls me the “rainbow in her cloud.” This is from a quote often attributed to Maya Angelou which she in turn got from a 19th c. southern black song.
When it looks like the sun wasn’t going to shine anymore, God put a rainbow in the clouds.
How fitting as the first legend in my self-portrait series of Black Women in History was Maya Angelou.
She said this during an interview in 2011 on Oprah’s Masterclass.
We joke that London’s cloudy and rainy, but like Dr. Angelou, I’ve had so many rainbows during this last month here. For which I am so grateful. And, as I tear up when I’m on my flight back to NYC this week looking at cloudy London overhead, I can chicly cover my face with my Ferragamo sunglasses and call on my rainbow.
What are you going to do to be the rainbow in somebody’s cloud today?
Maya Angelou reading in her dressing room before a performance at Village Vanguard in New York City. (photo- G. Marshall Wilson)
Maya Angelou is a world renowned American treasure. A literary hero, civil rights activist, poet, playwright and so much more. I think every young black girl remembers reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings for the first time. Still I Rise is the soundtrack in my head on repeat. That glow, that confidence? Thank you Maya Angelou. For me, as a kid, Maya Angelou was one of my first understandings of a living legend. You heard about Martin Luther King Jr. to Shakespeare, but none of these people were still alive. “She did all of this and she’s still living?!” I thought. “I could meet her?!” Sadly, that never happened but Maya Angelou is still a light and source of inspiration to me. After the election last year, when I simply didn’t feel like writing, Maya Angelou’s words pulled me out of the fog like the north star and is the pillar of my content for ‘N A Perfect World still.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery this is the first of a series of self-portraits I’m working on of me, channeling my black sheros. Let me know what you think and your favorite Maya Angelou book, poem, quote, speech, etc.
It is no secret how much I love Sayulita, Mexico. In fact, my first official travel writing assignment was about Sayulita, Mexico for Stylecaster. My friend Leah was an editor there and she had heard me go on and on about this magical place I fell into. I wrote one story about Sayulita and the rest was history. Maybe if there was no Sayulita, there would be no ‘N A Perfect World?! Who knows! Before this piece for Amuse, my most recent piece was for HRH to be, Meghan Markle’s no defunct site, the Tig. And I’ve barely written a proper guide for ‘N A Perfect World on Sayulita. That’s the thing about this amazing place. There really is something for everyone and no shortage of magic in this town. Trust me, I haven’t even scratched the surface in my Sayulita secrets. But here are a few more up now on Amuse!
I love the power of Instagram. I think it helps me with my ultimate goals of inspiring young people of color to get out there see the world and take opportunities that they might otherwise shut themselves out of. As I mentioned earlier this week in my study abroad post, I get countless DMs connecting with people and I get to dish out advice, words of wisdom and learn from you!
One of the people that reached out to me was the brilliant lawyer and fashion blogger Kelechi Uchendu (@kaykaysway92). She interviewed me for Detroit Fashion News where I dolled out advice for making it in the fashion industry, what inspires me and talked about what I wanted to accomplish in the upcoming months / years. I recently revisited the article and couldn’t believe I didn’t share it with you guys on NAPW. It was on my instastory (sorry, sometimes my brain is fried with so many channels!). I want to thank Kelechi again for giving me this platform and check out the article guys!
One of the most trafficked stories on ‘N A Perfect World is 10 African American Friendly Travel Destinations. I see you guys ;). I am a born and raised New Yorker, currently residing in London. In the current state of the US’s administration, I am not surprised with the influx of activity on this post. I definitely need to update my list, send more tourism dollars to “shithole” countries. With sites like On She Goes (that I’ve contributed to), Travel Noire, Nomadness etc. this was a “thing” way before travel companies started to pay attention. I’ve gotten tons of emails and DMs from WOC — I’ve even been fortunate enough to meet some of you — telling me about your experiences traveling, asking for my advice etc. A question that I’ve gotten a few times that I LOVE is young people of color in the United States considering studying abroad and asking me my take on how the student experience would be for them in X country. In some instances, their parents fear racism. I’ve been trying to answer everyone individually, but here’s a much better video of my take on the issue.
Enjoy and let me know what you think. As always, if you have any thoughts or questions, feel free to message me, or comment on YouTube, Instagram, the video, Twitter — I’m super available guys!
Being over here for months at a time on and off, one of the things I miss the most is my full wardrobe — hey, it’s taken me decades to build that gargantuan mess and I do often feel like I have the perfect thing, or at least stylized ideal outfit, for every occasion. As I mentioned in my post about the Painswick this fall, getting away to the Cotswolds is a lovely respite for Londoners. And, while going to the English countryside, I wanted to look the part!
Thanks to the team at British brand Jack Wills, I ventured to the Cotswolds in style. In my herringbone blazer (my own) and my Jack Wills Halesowen kilt, I think I definitely looked quite smart, don’t you think? I think it’s the first proper wool kilt of adulthood and it really is so warm! I’m so excited to wear it through the winter.
Jack Wills blanket scarf