From mint to rooibos to matcha, take the time to pour into yourself

Pouring tea into a tea cup from a tea kettle.
Pouring tea into a tea cup from a tea kettle.
Photo: Erik Witsoe/EyeEm/Getty Images

I grew up on an island that remained a British colony until 1962, so of course tea was part of the ingrained routine of life. To break the fast in the morning? Tea. To calm your spirit after school or the workday? Tea. During the day as needed for a pick-me-up? You guessed it, tea! My mother is a born and raised tea fanatic, and she passed that energy along to me. There is no time of day that she won’t advise me to drink an “NCOT” as she calls it — a nice cup of tea.

“I don’t need…


This weekly practice of care comes with valuable lessons

Elderly Black woman smiling while on a video call at home.
Elderly Black woman smiling while on a video call at home.
Photo: FG Trade/Getty Images

The voice on the other end of the phone is creaky, and the words are slow. But the warmth and gratitude are such a comfort, despite the distance between us. This year, I decided to make intentional, regular time to catch up with older relatives and family friends. I call it Call Your Elders Day, and it has become such a balm to my spirit. If you’ve got loved ones you’re far away from, I highly recommend it for both you and for them.

The longer the pandemic goes on, the more homesick I feel. I was born and raised…


No more New Year’s resolutions. I’m giving myself grace in 2021.

Black woman singing freely into a microphone.
Black woman singing freely into a microphone.
Photo: Hello World/Getty Images

When I look back on the last 12 months filled with devastation and pain, Lucille Clifton’s 1993 poem “won’t you celebrate with me” comes to mind.

…here on this bridge between

starshine and clay,

my one hand holding tight

my other hand; come celebrate

with me that everyday

something has tried to kill me

and has failed.

Last month, as I waited for 2021 to arrive, I saw myself on that bridge, holding my own hand. Hugging myself. I am filled with gratitude, wonder, and other more complex emotions at just having made it through an unbelievable year of loss…


Bobby pins, green rollers, and Hot Wheels — what do YOU keep in your purple velvet bag?

Illustration: Olivia Fields

Many alcohol brands are collectable and covetable, but can you name one better known and beloved for its accessories than Crown Royal? When I asked my parents about Crown, they didn’t know the brand’s name. But when I said “the purple bag” there was instant recognition.

“Oh yeah! We have some on the bar right now,” was my dad’s response. Knowing him as I do, that bag has already been earmarked for another purpose. I learned from the best. Recycling and upcycling is what we do. It’s in the blood. That bag will most likely wind up in his tool…


Remember the back porch, garage, or basement freezer? Yeah, us too.

Illustration: Chelsea Charles

Before March 13 of this year, I was relatively comfortable in my home. I thought we had everything we needed. City life was the life for me. I was all about taking public transportation to get around. My family and I loved all the pleasures of downtown — restaurants, bars, live music, random festivals, Chicago’s general beauty and awesomeness. I miss those carefree days.

Time under quarantine has revealed some essential truths about my life and my choices, what I enjoyed versus what I needed. And what I need right now is additional fridge and freezer space. I literally dream…


From hula hoops to jump ropes, it’s time to make a playdate for yourself

Black woman roller skating outside.
Black woman roller skating outside.
Photo: Tasneem Howa/Getty Images

Did your mom play with you? I mean really play, like get on the floor and pretend with dolls or jump rope with you or play hide-and-seek for hours?

It sounds super sad to ask myself that question, or my siblings, and to consider what it means when the answer is a resounding no. However, I think kids of older, old-school parents might understand. My mom was born in 1939 and was the eldest of the family. She was raised to be seen but not heard and to be utterly presentable when either case was called for. Always expected to…


Putting on your face isn’t as important as it used to be

Black woman applying cream to her face in front of a mirror.
Black woman applying cream to her face in front of a mirror.
Photo: NickyLloyd/Getty Images

I grew up with a mother who believed in “putting on her face” before even venturing downstairs to greet company. She long proselytized the power of wearing makeup as a spiritual pick-me-up. Beauty was an exercise I was expected to perform from my earliest stages. Makeup and clothing were types of armor my mom taught me to put on before facing the world. My first, most visible act of interrogating beauty and bucking the norms I was raised to uphold was to cut my hair short in college and then go natural. …


From Kool-Aid to sorrel to ‘red pop,’ we can thank Mother Africa for our affinity for crimson refreshments

Red drink with lemon wedge and metal straw.
Red drink with lemon wedge and metal straw.
Photo: Naomi Rahim#381686/UNI5CrGINS/Getty Images

When I close my eyes and visualize the first drinks I fell in love with as a child, the memories are instant and vivid. The recollection isn’t of a flavor as much as a color — red. Long before I understood the international significance of this diasporic beverage note, or its cultural connections across generations, I had a lifelong love affair with scarlet beverages. And the passion endures. Walk with me along the red drink memory lane; maybe we share similar recollections.

Sorrel

This is the most iconic Caribbean red drink, the one that speaks most to my childhood and my…


Hair can be both a political statement and a statement of convenience

Black woman shaving her hair, with a peaceful expression.
Black woman shaving her hair, with a peaceful expression.
Photo: Masego Morulane/Getty Images

There’s a popular Coco Chanel quote: “A woman who cuts her hair is ready to change her life.” Oft repeated, but for good reason. A big chop can be a great way to announce to the universe that you’re ready for a life shift. But what does a big chop signify in times like these when life has shifted? For months now I’ve been observing my salon-dependent friends go through the pandemic, sharing their hair and beauty struggles online. Some have leaned into the times and learned to do their own braids or twists through online tutorials. Many have chosen…

afrobella

Beauty, hair and culture writer. One of WWD's 50 Most Influential People in the Multicultural Market. Often called the Godmother of Brown Beauty Blogging!

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store