RIP Aaliyah! We Remember Aaliyah on the 15th Anniversary of Her Death.

Hey Lovlies!

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the great Aaliyah making her transition. That was a particularly problematic couple of weeks, with this happening not too long before the tragic attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

I remember August 25, 2001 like it was yesterday….I was preparing for my last year in grade school that would take place on August 26. I woke up that morning to MTV (because that was usually what I left my television on the night before. I was a teenager, after all), and the MTVNews special announced that Aaliyah, along with six members of her crew, perished in a horrific plane crash. I. Was. DONE FOR.

aaliyah

She was so incredibly beautiful.

Like, we lost Left Eye of the group TLC four months prior and now we had to say goodbye to Aaliyah, of all people?! My little 17 year-old brain could not compute. I loved and envied her style, her hair, her voice. She was my idol. It wasn’t until much later that I learned that she was to expand her personal brand, moving into designing clothes and being casted in larger, better roles. She was to be in The Matrix sequels; she won the lead role of Honey in Honey; she and best friend Kidada Jones were in the beginnings of creating a clothes label geared towards teenagers.

15 years later, my brain still tries to cope with the loss. She would’ve been such a great performer and global force to reckon with. Yes, we have the wonderful Beyonce and the very talented Rihanna (who, for the record, I am a HUGE fan of). But Aaliyah would still be the greatest. I’m convinced. And for that, Baby Girl, I hope you continue to Sleep in Peace.

Rashad Rawkus created this awesome mix of some of Aaliyah’s greatest hits (which I was personally hurt when I realized this morning that major streaming services does NOT have most or any of Aaliyah’s albums). Please swoop your hair over your face, break out your best Tommy Hilfiger ‘fit, and enjoy this great mix!

Black Girl Magic… It’s Lit

If you know me, you know I’m an avid sports watcher. The only two sports you probably wouldn’t see me watch and be enthused about is golf and basketball. Golf is because I think it’s overly boring. Basketball is because I think the players are crybabies.

But that’s neither here nor there.

I have been watching the Olympics as long as I can remember, and was even supposed to go to Rio de Janerio for the 2016 Olympics for at least a week to be a live spectator. Of course that didn’t happen, because zika. And also: money.

So, alas, I’m stuck watching and live streaming the games from home. I first began live streaming at work this past Tuesday with the finals of the Women’s team gymnastics. I couldn’t wait until NBC Olympic Primetime to see this dynamic group show what they’re made of and I was glad I didn’t wait. They first blew away the competition in the qualifiers two days prior but absolutely killed the game in the finals, taking the gold and leaving the other teams to snack on their dust.

Final Five

The Final Five. Picture taken from NBCOlympics.com.

Y’all? Y’all. This team won by a margin of a little over eight points. That is like a football team winning a game by a margin of six touchdowns. CRAZY. And what makes it even better is how absolutely diverse this team is. I mean, this team was anchored by gymnastics great Simone Biles, who is probably the greatest gymnast to ever walk this earth.

As if Black girls everywhere couldn’t feel any better about themselves, having two black girls just make history for US gymnastics, on Thursday night our awesomeness stretched to both the Olympic pool and back to the Gymnastics center.

At 3 pm EDT the top 24 gymnasts in the world competed for the chance to call themselves Olympic All-Around champion. Led by Biles, the two-hour long program consisted of  sit-on-the-edge-of-your-chair and pearl-clutching moments. As the very last gymnast to complete the all-around, Biles took her time and blew the competition away with her floor routine, finishing more than two points in front of second place.

THAT’S ASTOUNDING.

To really put that in perspective, Biles finished with a larger lead than all the Olympic All-Around champs from 1980-2012 COMBINED. That’s just super human.

Biles

Girl. Yes. YES. Picture by: The Chicago Tribune.

After that display of sheer dominance in a sport where, just four years ago, was lilly white, you would think there would be no way things could get any better for black women in these Olympics.

Wrong.

In comes underdog Simone Manuel, who wasn’t even on anyone’s radar to medal, let alone swim the fastest time, take home a gold medal in the 100m freestyle event AND still be humble about the entire experience. Talking to Michelle Tafoya a few minutes after tying with Canadian Penny Oleksiak for the gold medal, Manuel had this to say:

“I hope that I can be an inspiration to others, so this medal is for the people who come behind me and get into the sport and hopefully find love and drive to get to this point.”

Manuel1

Yes, girl. You did that! Picture via: The Chicago Tribune.

I was tearing up as Manuel was tearing up, because this is such a pivotal moment in the sport of swimming. I know that race shouldn’t matter all the time, but as a black woman living in a time where we are most definitely not safe, this is a beautiful sight. As many black people on Twitter pointed out, just this time last year a bunch of kids were beat up and manhandled by police officers for partying at a community pool because concerned white neighbors believed these kids had broken into their community when they were actually invited to a pool party.

Even though these two beautiful, black ladies worked hard for their respective titles, and probably never thought that they would become a symbol for black women in America, they certainly have. These two have left black woman stereotypes standing on it’s head. The Simones have shown America how fierce we black women can be with a little determination, a lot of confidence and tons of support. We are unstoppable. We are magical.

It’s so lit.

Under Construction

Hey lovely people!

I know it’s been forever since I added anything here but I’m just informing everyone that I will be back soon to update, engage and gossip about the happenings in the world. I will also (hopefully) be starting a podcast soon and you will be able to catch all the episodes right here every week! So bear with me while I get my act together to bring you more good info!

 

-Kyla Larke

Baltimore, Believe

Hey guys,

I took a small sabbatical to get my head together for my last grad school class but I just had to come back to talk about what has been happening on the streets of a city I know very, VERY well: Baltimore, Md.

Rioters destroying a police car on North Avenue

Rioters destroying a police car on North Avenue

The burning of a police van during the Baltimore Riots

The burning of a police van during the Baltimore Riots

Even though I may dispute this later, I am tied to the city of Baltimore. I grew into adulthood upon my acceptance and matriculation into Morgan State University, located on the northeastern side of Baltimore City. I spent five years living in that city, between the ages of 18-23, until karma finally caught up to me for not paying my rent and I was subsequently evicted for lack of rent payment in 2007 (long story but the moral is: pay your damn rent!). Five years of living somewhere is a long time, and ultimately I learned every nook and cranny of that city like I know my hometown of Capitol Heights, which is located 30 miles away from Baltimore in Prince Georges County, Md. I learned to love, forgive, cry, party, laugh, and learn within the confines of those city limits. That’s why, when I turned on the television on April 27, it was hard to see the images of people rioting, looting, crying and protesting on North Avenue, basically the middle (and arguably most poverty-stricken) area of the city.

Let’s back up a few years to when I first packed up my things in late August of 2002 and embarked on my journey to the dorms of Morgan State. Before that day I had only ventured into the city as far as the Inner Harbor and I only went with my parents in tow. Nothing could prepare me for what I saw as I drove through the unknown and often unseen parts. It looked like an atom bomb had been dropped there and the explosion was still taking place. There were boarded-up houses everywhere, cemeteries as far as the eye could see, people who were undoubtedly on drugs walking through the streets like zombies. To say the least, my little 18-year-old still wet behind the ears ass was scared outta my wits. It was nothing I had ever seen before. Sure, there are crackheads and boarded up houses in DC, but not to that magnitude. After my parents helped me move my things into my dorm room and were getting ready to leave, they left me with some advice: “do NOT leave the campus.”

Anyone who knows me knows I rarely follow rules, so within a week I was across the street of the campus at the small strip mall called Northwood Plaza. I knew about the dangers of being off campus: there were reports of students being robbed at gunpoint by people who could spot someone who wasn’t a Baltimore native from a mile away. But I didn’t care. I was bored with the campus and ready to explore what was to be my surroundings for the next four years of my life. As the years went on, I gradually learned all the hot spots, where to go, where not to go, where you should never go. I learned of all the malls, clubs, shortcuts to get to the malls and clubs, I even secured a job or two and learned their bus system. It was like I became a native. But I still wasn’t comfortable with the city. I eventually moved back to PG County when I was evicted and never moved back, but I know strife when I see strife, and the residents of that city are living in strife.

I have seen oppression in that city; I tell people all the time that Baltimore was the first place I was called a nigger. It’s hard to believe because Baltimore is more than 50% black, but when my friends and I travelled to South Baltimore for a party a friend of ours from Morgan was throwing, White people in that neighborhood was very upset to see a bunch of young Black kids invading their space. Therefore, on that cold winter night, us six Black girls were verbally assaulted for the first time in all our lives. I guess that’s why it wasn’t hard to believe the Freddie Gray story or the first-hand account of the racist interaction downtown protesters had with White people by Camden Yards, with them being called niggers and the Whites who were protesting being called nigger lovers.

Help being offered to a man who was maced by police during the riots

Help being offered to a man who was maced by police during the riots

The children of Baltimore, forced to see the carnage and oppression

The children of Baltimore, forced to see the carnage and oppression

Now, I don’t condone violence in any way. I believe love and talking it out is always the answer; I am always called a modern hippie for that. But to understand Baltimore is to understand that these kids in these neighborhoods wanted to be heard. This is not the first time a situation like Freddie Gray has taken place in Baltimore (see this here).  The youth of Baltimore didn’t feel like they had another way to be heard. Yes, there were people rioting who were just taking advantage of the situation, but many of them were not. They were angry. And I am angry that it took the carnage and destruction of one part of the city for them to finally be heard.

When the curfew was announced, many people protested that as well; they are adults, they cried. Why were they being treated like common criminals and being told to be home by 10 pm or else? Why was there heavy police presence in North and West Baltimore but White areas like downtown, South Baltimore and Charles Village were met with barely any curfew enforcement?

There are so many more questions that we as a people will probably never get answered, but now is the time for unity and peace. There was relief, satisfaction and praise when those six in connection with Gray’s death were charged and issued arrest warrants. But this also shows how jaded we as a people are. We are not celebrating a conviction but rather just an arrest of those responsible. Let’s build and rebuild together as a people, let’s show Baltimore and the rest of the nation that we are not dumb, mindless thugs and animals.

Please believe me when I say Baltimore, I stand behind you and believe in you!

 

The Week in Review (February 15 – 21)

Happy Oscar Sunday!

Even though there is NO ONE who looks like me nominated in any of the major roles (actor/actress, director, screenwriter), I will be watching the pre-show to watch all of the fabulous fashion statements that are usually made on the red carpet.

This week came with two snowstorms, a serious Siberian cold-front, and a partridge in a pear tree. With only three days to the work week, I was finally able to sit down and begin to try putting together my digital storytelling piece. First, with the script, it took me a while to get. What do you want people to know about you? What angle do you want to tell your story? These things may sound like little details, but they are pretty big considering the circumstances.

It's snowing? Whyyyyy?

It’s snowing? Whyyyyy?

By the end of the week, I was wiped out from focusing all my energy into keeping warm and not freezing to death while outside. Friday was the coldest day, with temps hitting -20 with the wind chill. By  now, you guys know I am the worst person to deal with when it comes to the cold; all my reasoning and caring for life goes out of the window and I make weird decisions like staying home so I don’t turn into a human popsicle while waiting for the metro bus. However, to my surprise, I got up and made my way to work, only to realize once I got there that out of everyone in my company, only four people decided to come in, myself included.

Lastly, with the Saturday snowstorm, I had nowhere to go, thus forcing me to finally work on the finished product of my digital storytelling piece (link on my About Me page).

Until next time, everyone!

Dear Summer…

With this week’s unbearably cold temps in the Mid-East, I have been thinking lovingly and longingly about the best season EVER (if you don’t know, I’m talking about the good ol’ summertime). I am a summer baby. Nostalgic feelings of baking to death while waiting for the bus or dreaming of laying on the grass, watching birds spontaneously combust into flames is my kind of weather – not this bitter cold, waiting to turn into an icicle if you stay out more than three minutes.

I digress.

Since I have been impatiently awaiting the beginning of warmer weather and beautiful breezes, a girl has nothing left to do but to prepare for it. And by prepare, I mean shop.

My wallet has seen some milage the past few months, but anyone who knows me knows I am a frugal, bargain shopper. I don’t pay for anything full price unless I really, REALLY want it.

One Website I have fallen in love with lately is Swell.com. Piliging through the sale section I came across this beautiful Billabong dress.

swell1swell2

Gorgeous, right? And the best part: it was only $51, down from the original price of $64!
Okay, okay. That’s not much of a discount. But when you’re a size small, you have to snatch the items you want up fast.

The next couple items I picked up came courtesy of lulus.com. The first dress was a beautiful white dress with yellow flowers.

yellowdress1yellowdress2

Soooo perfect for those days I feel like jumping up and going downtown to enjoy the sights of the beautiful cherry blossoms that bloom in the Spring along the Tidal Basin (those native or familiar with D.C. will know what I’m talking about). The two things that stuck out to me the most are the criss-crossed back and the bottom fishtail-like hem. Because I am short and this dress was apparently made for tall women, I may have to add a belt so I won’t trip over this dress repeatedly while walking down the street. And this dress…was only $25!

The second dress from Lulu’s was one I was keeping a close eye on for weeks. The original pricetag read $115 but I managed to snag this for $50. Now THAT’S a bargain!

greydress1greydress2

Grey is supposed to be all the rage this spring (no, seriously. It was one of Pantone’s chosen colors for Spring 2015). This grey number looked like it would be heavy from the pictures but, after receiving this in the mail, I was pleasantly surprised. What stuck out to me is the stitching seen along the midsection of this dress. So gorgeous and different.

The third Lulu’s dress featured is this short number:

floraldress1

I immediately saw this dress, priced at $25 in the sale section, and thought “summer brunch”. It has that kind of charm mixed with a touch of sexy that would be ideal for an outside Sunday brunch along the Georgetown waterfront.

Finally, this $14 lace maxi dress was the steal of the year:

navylace

I can literally wear this ANYWHERE! Well, maybe not Six Flags or Kings Dominion, but you get my drift. With a cardigan, I will be work ready. With a long necklace and some strappy sandals, I can be date ready. This dress is versatile and I love it! The best part is the minimal top and bee-utifully laced bottom.

Well, that’s it for now. I will certainly update this post when I can actually wear these outfits. I dare not wear them now; I value my life and would prefer not to be frostbitten. What was your favorite? Want to see more of my super huge spring/summer haul? Any other sites I should know about? Sound out below!

Later, Fashionistas!

The Week(s) in Review – February 1-14

Hola guys! I missed writing you all. Last week was a blast (no, not really). Let’s get started.

So even though I missed a week, there’s nothing much to report other than me being on Death’s doorstep. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but a head cold combined with a stomach flu can make anyone ask God to take them out of their misery…

Because of my “Man Down” situation, work for that week didn’t really get done. I didn’t even get back to work until Thursday and I was still out of it until yesterday. Valentine’s Day. I technically had a Valentines, but between my boyfriend having to work and the snow and wind being completely disrespectful, all we managed to do together was grab some Chipotle.

love-heart

As far as class goes, I came back with a vengence! I have finished the writing portion of my thesis (yay), only having graphs and photographs left to add. I still have to include more work examples to my marketing portfolio, which is becoming increasingly harder for me to figure out. I also need to figure out how to create an actual homepage. Once I do these two things, I may be done with my portfolio. Yayyy!

Well, until next time!