Friday, July 17

Things We Love About #GrowingUpBlack

#GrowingUpBlack is trending online and if you've clicked it you've probably experience some nostalgia...if you're black.

There are a few moments we love about growing up black and some, not so much. It has been an experience, If you can relate chances are you grew up with some flava.

What were some of your favorite memories...or memes of growing up black? follow this conversation and the latest updates on Trey Anthony's Facebook fan page.

Saturday, July 4

Ava DuVernay Won’t Be Directing ‘Black Panther’ Movie

The first Black female superhero movie director moment is going to have to be put on hold...for now. 

It turns out those rumors of Ava DuVernay directing Marvel’s Black Panther movie were not totally factual—she considered it, but passed.
The Selma director told Essence she did meet with execs about bringing the story of Marvel’s first superhero of color to life, but they had different ideas of how to move forward.
“I guess I'll declare my independence from this rumor on 4th of July weekend and Essence weekend!” DuVernay said on her way to accept a McDonald’s 365 Award during the Essence Festival in New Orleans.

“I'm not signing on to direct Black Panther,” she added. “I think I’ll just say we had different ideas about what the story would be. Marvel has a certain way of doing things and I think they’re fantastic and a lot of people love what they do. I loved that they reached out to me.”
The Black Panther movie is currently in the works, with Chadwick Boseman (Get on Up) slated to play the role of T’Challa, the ruler of the fictional nation of Wakanda and the first Black superhero to appear in a mainstream comic book franchise in the 60s.

“I loved meeting Chadwick and writers and all the Marvel execs,” said DuVernay. “In the end, it comes down to story and perspective. And we just didn't see eye to eye. Better for me to realize that now than cite creative differences later.”
The civil right pilot she recently shot for CBS, tentatively titled For Justice, didn’t get picked up. “We turned it in the week of the Baltimore uprising, and we had an uprising in our piece when we filmed it,” she said. “I think they thought it was a little close to real life. But I had an absolute ball making it.”

DuVernay, is currently filming a love story set against Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. 

Read the full post here.

You can follow this conversation and the latest updates on Trey Anthony's Facebook fan page.

Friday, January 16

Write What Is Sacred Workshop Is Back In Session!!!

Happy New Year!! GET IT DONE!!

It's a NEW year!!! It's time to take bold steps towards achieving your goals and pursuing your passion. Join me for the Write What is Sacred creative writing workshop in Toronto Canada on Jan 31st from 10am-3pm. This class is for new writers, emerging writers or established writers.To ensure this workshop is  accessible to all, slots will be offered at a sliding scale of $49 to $99 dollars. Register for class now to take advantage of these awesome discounted rates!

Friday, December 12

10 Black Women Media and Film Makers Who Inspire Us

by: April D. Byrd

Congratulations to Ava Duvernay on becoming the first Black woman director to be nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Director in the motion picture category. Her nomination and those of other black media and film makers may be over due, but it's still inspiring. Film makers and other creative women in media like Ava give me hope. Media is a powerful tool. I'm hopeful and inspired by Ava and other creatives because their success, along with their drive affirm that our voices can and will be heard, but also honored.

Ava's work is praise worthy along with other talented black voices shaping media and film. For media creators young and old, it's good to see people who follow their passion and gain reputable success. There are a number of Black women media pioneers who are rising to the occasion and serving as inspiration, hopefully for more creatives to come. Here are a few play makers who are changing the game and leaving a legacy for the next generation.

Can you think of any other Black women in media and film who are changing the game? Tyra Banks, Queen Latifah, Karen Civil? You? Let us know your thoughts and picks in the comments section below. You can follow this conversation and the latest updates on Trey Anthony's Facebook fan page.

- April D. Byrd is a Writer, and the creator of

Sunday, November 30

Hands Up In The Air

By: Trey Anthony

4.5 minutes after I read that a grand jury decided not to indict officer Darren Wilson, I sent a text to my sister in North Carolina.
"You need to get my baby out of that f*&&ing racist place called the U.S. south!" 
'My baby' being my one year old precious baby nephew. A few weeks before my sister had sent me a video of my nephew at a Yo, Gabba Gabba concert, a one year old at his first live musical concert! He is wiggling and dancing in my sister's lap. Dimpled fat cheeks, laughing, eyes wide open, hands up in the air. I watched that video on repeat, laughing, tears rolling down my cheeks.

My sister and I text back and forth debating on where is the safest place to raise a young black boy. What city can he be guaranteed a chance to reach manhood? We can't think of one... 

The absurdity of our conversation is not lost on me, neither is the realism of the conversation; we are trying to save a life. Later, my mother weighs in on the conversation, after all, this is her first and only grandchild. She has the audacity to want this little boy to live.  She has plans to attend his foot ball games, piano recitals, graduation, perhaps some day if she allows herself to dream boldly... his wedding. We know if we do not act soon we will run out of time. My mother shares that she has read on the internet that Hawaii has the least amount of black men in prison, plus she assures me that President Obama was raised there.  Do we dare to hope that he could live? And perhaps some day even be president? We quickly do the math. My sister had three more years to finish her PHD, and then as a family, we can swiftly make our exodus to Hawaii!  We speak in hushed, nervous but excited tones.  I swallow the rising bitterness that begins to swell in my throat and grow in my heart as the realization hits me that this is a conversation my white friends will never ever have to have with their mother or sister. In three more years my precious baby will only be four years old. His black skin and maleness will not yet be deemed a threat. Now when he puts his hands up in the air, he is an adorable, dancing baby. For now he is safe...

I read the transcripts of Mike Brown's friend, Dorian Johnson, who was with him the day he was gunned down by officer Wilson.  I learn that Mike Brown also had his hands up in the air,  as officer Wilson fires several shots which hit Mike Brown's,black body, two of them in his head. Before he falls to the ground, Mike Brown, gasps, " I don't have a gun..."   

As I continue to read, the ever present black fatigue threatens to overtake me again; the bitterness I can no longer swallow.  Hawaii seems too far away. I fear that we are running out of time.  I know with certainty that death can creep upon black boys lives in an instant, when they are on their way home from buying skittles, or as twelve year olds playing in a park, or when their hands are up in the air.  I know their lives aren't worth much. No matter have many hash tags are now trending I know that #blacklivesdontmatter. 

But I need my precious baby's life to matter.  It has to matter!  I'm haunted by Travon Martin, Mike Brown, and Tamir Rice. I wonder if their families ever planned an exodus to Hawaii. I wonder if their mothers quickly did the math. I wonder if they knew they were running out of time. I wonder if black fatigue overtook them. I wonder if they knew their son's lives didn't matter. I wonder what was Mike Brown's last thoughts before he was gunned down with his eyes wide open, his hands up in the air....I replay over and over the video of my baby, he is dancing, laughing, eyes wide open, his hands up in the air. Tears rolling down my cheeks.

Thursday, November 27

Quvenzhané Wallis Slays Hard Knock Life Performance On Dancing With The Stars

by: April D. Byrd

This performance of Hard-Knock life by Quvenzhané Wallis and company was fierce. If you didn't catch it on the show Dancing With The Stars here's the replay, or even if you did it's worth watching again...or several times. The awesome young star who we first came to love in Beasts Of The Southern Wild is back at it again.

Quvenzhané  is starring in the remake of the film "Annie" which is opening in theaters on December 19th.  I'm looking  forward to seeing her performance in the film even more now. Go girl!!

Watch Below:

Are we agreed this was the cutest thing ever?! and how much are we loving that the host was pronouncing her name right! Leave your thoughts/comments below, and Join in on the conversation on Trey Anthony's Facebook Fanpage.

-- April D. Byrd is the Creator and Editor-In-Chief of

Tuesday, November 18

Why Solange's Wedding Fro Was The Real MVP!!

Congratulations to Solange Knowles and Alan Ferguson on their recent wedding that  "broke the internet". After the recent Kim K magazine cover that the media was buzzing about, it's good to have some pure, decent, good news floating around. That  moment when you break the internet for showing your class, instead of your a** well anyway... weddings are always a good look for pop culture!

Solange was classy at her wedding indeed! We're rejoicing with her and wishing her all the best this time around.  Can we talk about that fabulous fro now?! That baby was a game changer! Solange's wedding is blowing up social media for being stylish and unique, but the fro itself is worth the buzz! when was the last time you saw a sista' or anyone rock a beautiful fro to their wedding?

Congrats to that beautiful fro!  It's not often that we see women rocking their natural fro to their big day. The natural movement has had a lot of glory thanks in part to Solange being an advocate. Her wedding fro was definitely a positive statement. Be yourself, be comfortable in your own skin...and hair.

We've been lauding Solange's transition ever since she started her natural journey and she has always made a statement with it. She's continually given others the confidence to love our natural texture. I consider that going bare for the right reasons. It's rare not to see a lot of make-up, gloss and glam at weddings.  Consider this blog a toast to Solange's vows before God, to her fabulous hair, and embracing natural beauty in a society that exploits photo shop, cosmetic surgery, and fictionalized beauty ideals!! Salud!!

Kudos to Solange for rocking her natural fro... oh yeah... congrats on the wedding too!

Beautiful wedding fro, you're the real MVP!!

Ladies, Gentleman would you rock your natural fro to your big day? How simple would you go? Leave your thoughts/comments below on Solange's wedding day fro, and Join in on the conversation on Trey Anthony's Facebook Fanpage.

-April D. Byrd is the Creator and Editor-In-Chief of 

Friday, November 7

Adoption and Teachers and Watching What You Say

by Ajike Akande

The weirdest thing happened the other morning when I dropped Z at school ON TIME!  Yes, I realize the fact that I managed to get him to school on time is, in itself a weird thing, but it’s not the weird thing I’m referring to.   (You’ll be happy to know if you read my posts about my encounters with the Late SlipLady last year, that Z has been late only five times this school year!)
The weird thing took place when I ran into his teacher who has been on parental leave since last January, when Z was in grade 1, and will be returning as his teacher this coming January.  We started chatting about Z’s struggles in math, which are significant and out of the “everybody learns at their own pace” range.  She said, “Well you don’t know the family history, right?”  Wait, what?  Come again? 

If you are new to my almost weekly blog posts, Z is adopted.  He came home at four months.  He was born close to Toronto, where we live and our adoption was through the public system.  He is awesome.  He is also a kid, so sometimes he hides his awesome.  I am happy to tell you all of these things.  On most days, Z is happy to tell you these things.  What I am not happy to share, nor do I appreciate be asked about, are the details of his family history.  I also do not appreciate the assumption that the more challenging things about him, such as his inaptitude for math, are connected to his family history, which, of course, is assumed to be bad. 

I am not saying that family history, medical and otherwise, is not significant, but as Z’s parents, Wife and I can, with or without asked-for support, consider the role of our son’s birth family’s history play in his current abilities and share what is necessary.  Where he comes from is important.  It’s part of his life story.  His entire life story has and will always be important but it his personal story. 

Interestingly, in this same conversation, I mentioned (bragged) that our Z will be playing a mouse in the professional production of The Nutcracker this year.  Not surprisingly, the teacher did not look sympathetically at me and say “Well you don’t know the family history!”  So his special talent in and unwavering love for, dance could not have possibly been a gift from his birth family?  Can we please stop demonizing the birth parents that place their children for adoption?  Can we please stop assuming that they have influenced their children negatively?  Please stop assuming you know where my kid comes from.  And please stop blaming his birth family.  It’s really nobody’s business what Z’s history is until he or we invite them to make it their business.

2 yr old Z ready to garden...obviously
And yes, there are occasions when a child’s history, biological and otherwise, is essential to supporting them in school, but I just wish that people would simmer down with the assumptions and trust that all parents want what’s best for the children and will share information that is relevant and important to help their children learn.  (I do know that there are parents who have kept truly pertinent information about their child, be they adopted or not, from teachers and caregivers but this is not the norm.)

Reflecting on this exchange, I wish I had told his teacher that her question/comment was inappropriate.  I also wish I had said, “What difference does his family history make? He is a student who is almost two grade levels below in math, what are you going to do about it?"  Instead of playing detective and trying to find answers for who or what caused this problem, spend some time trying to understand his needs as a learner and just teach him.  Start where he’s at (not where he should be) and teach him until he learns it.  Not easy, but kinda simple, right? 

Phew, glad that’s off my chest!  Thank you for reading my rant!

XO Ajike

* Some of you reading this may be thinking about race being a factor in the teacher’s comments.  For the record, I think it is, but I just don’t have the capacity or time to grapple with that issue in a blog post.  Additionally, I know that I really only skimmed the surface when it comes to issues around disclosure and adoption.  I hope you understand that my lack of depth here is not for lack of understanding of the issues. 

Wednesday, October 22

'Roid Rage

by Ajike Akande

Where I live the temperature has dropped significantly and there is no denying we are deep in the heart of autumn.  It’s either grey and rainy or brisk and sunny.  With the arrival of autumn is also the arrival of flu season.  Don’t worry this is not going to be a post about the flu shot and whether or not you should get it.  In my house some of us get it, and some don’t for a variety of reasons.  Regardless of the flu shot, however, our Mr. Lee will spend many weeks of the next six months hacking, taking his puffers and hanging out in the emergency room at our local children’s hospital.  It’s all good times for him throughout the many months of cold!

Mr. Lee has poorly controlled asthma with a side of 4 anaphylactic allergies.  He is also a buzzing, busy three year old who is otherwise healthy so I rarely shelter him from people who are sick, and therefore he catches every virus his snotty buddies have to offer.  Don’t get me wrong, I encourage frequent hand washing and request that he not lick people as a way to greet them, but he’s wee, and if licking makes him feel closer to his friends, then that’s a risk we’ll have to take!  Truth is, I would be happy if he got sick less and if every cough didn’t turn into a trip to the hospital for heavy doses of Ventolin (airway opener) and inhaled and liquid steroids.  The high doses of steroids are really, really bad for a small body (any body actually) but when it comes to breathing the benefits outweigh the risks.  It’s not just stress on his body that I am concerned about it’s also the monthly experience of spending time with a three year old fountain of energy loaded up with steroids!  I am not exaggerating when I say that my three year old has ‘Roid Rage! 

Do you know Animal from the Muppets?  This is regular Animal.  This is also essentially regular Mr. Lee. 

This is what I imagine Animal looks like full of steroids and Ventolin.  This is a fraction of Mr. Lee’s intensity when full of steroids and Ventolin. 

Last weekend I spent two days hanging out in the emergency unit with Animal aka Mr. Lee. 
I never forget that I’m a lucky mom.  I know that Mr. Lee’s trips to the hospital will last only a day or two.  He has never had to be admitted because we are now experienced and comfortable taking care of our sick, but pretty healthy, guy at home.  We know when to return to the hospital and they’re always open (thanks for that, by the way).  I’m surprisingly not worried about a sick Mr. Lee.  Unfortunately, my chill attitude about our little asthmatic was challenged when I took him in last weekend and his oxygen saturation was low enough that he needed an oxygen mask.  I was informed by the nurse, as she quickly got an oxygen mask on him, that my baby was apparently about to pass out.  I was surprised he usually doesn't get that bad, but he gladly took the oxygen mask and gladly tore it off when he didn’t need it anymore.  Being the weirdo that I am, as soon as I knew that Mr. Lee was okay and in good hands (i.e.: not mine), I stopped worrying about him and turned my attention to my favourite anxious thoughts reserved for when I am with my children’s health care providers: Do they think I’m a bad mother?  Do I seem neglectful or uncaring?  Do I seem totally neurotic?  And my favourite over the top thought: Do I have Munchausen by proxy?  Who thinks these things?  Anyway, Mr. Lee must have noticed that I had hopped on my crazy, anxiety train and it was up to him to get me off.  Fully loaded on liquid steroids and 34 (I kid you not) puffs within an hour of “rescue inhalers” to open up his airway, he got to work on redirecting my attention.  How you ask? 

You know who has an unnatural level of strength and anger?  A three year old on a drug that increases his heart rate.  I am not sure if Mr. Lee wanted to guarantee that I never have any more children (never going to happen) or that I never use the bathroom again without crying, but the swift kicks between my legs were a surefire way to guarantee that I remembered that he was the man of the hour.  And why stop at kicking?  He bit me, scratched me, slapped me and my favourite – he grabbed my face so hard with his razor sharp nails and held on while screaming at the top of his lungs.  I had been trying to quell the screaming (to no avail) but was grateful for it when he wouldn’t let go of my face.  A nurse – not our nurse, but a nurse taking care of a much calmer child, came into the room, wondering if I was removing hairs from my child’s head one at a time, causing him to scream out for help.  She took one look at me and leach-boy and jumped into action to release Mr. Lee’s painful grip around my cheeks.   After I told her that I loved her, as you do, she smiled and suggested that I walk the wild child around the emergency unit until the doctor could see him again.  The walk about was a good idea indeed and grabbing sterile bottles and gauze and pushing dirty linen hampers around is not at all disruptive to the families with truly sick children and the health care professionals trying to care for them!  Sorry hospital friends, I am hoping that the cost of hospital parking will cover the damages.  

Listen, I am not giving up on our goal to drastically decrease the number of times we visit the ER this school year, but considering that this is the second time since the beginning of September, the odds aren’t looking so good.  Of course the silver lining, because usually if you look hard enough, you can find it, is that nurse Anju and I can catch up every month and talk about our twins and I can watch another set of talented medical residents make it through another year. I am starting to feel a real closeness with the ER staff and let’s face it “sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name”!  

Cheers, (just kidding)

Stay healthy! 
XO Ajike

Thursday, October 16

Infinity Scarves, Panic Attacks & Over-sharing

by Ajike Akande

When I was pregnant with our first set of twins my mother told me that she would pay for me to have a tummy tuck after the babes were born.  Please note she didn’t even qualify this offer with statements like “If you want….” or even the less kind “If you need…”, she just went for the jugular (or tummy, in this case) and assumed that I would both need and want a tummy tuck!  I was offended and shocked and seriously considered calling the feminist police!  This story, by the way, has nothing to do with anything, I just really wanted to share it with you folks because well, an actual person (who I love beyond words), offered to pay for my future tummy tuck.  This kind of thing warrants documentation!   Full stop. 

A few interesting things have been brought to my attention recently:

1.  I over-share on this here blog.  My brother said this.  He’s a nice guy and all, but we have never really seen eye to eye about anything.  This is not only because he’s 6’6 and I am 5’3.

2.  One of my nearest and dearest friends told me that she finds my commitment to the infinity scarf unsettling and annoying.  Something about it being a way that otherwise disheveled parents make themselves look put together.  She declared this truth as though it’s a bad thing.  I thank God every day for infinity scarves and that there is a surefire way to take leggings (yes they are so pants) and runners up a notch!

3.  My unfocussed rambling, out loud and in writing, is charming and adorable.  Nobody said this or probably even thought this but it’s so true, right? 

Okay so before you close your computer and stop reading this nonsense, I’m going to bring this all together.  

Last Saturday I had my first by-definition panic attack.  I actually had my first panic attack after our first baby Isaiah died.  I don’t really count that time because temporarily falling completely apart and shattering like glass is, in my view, not an exceptional response to the loss of a child.  I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, so I could be wrong in saying that what I had after Isaiah died was not a panic attack but I am going with it, therefore making last Saturday’s panic attack my first. 

If you have never had a panic attack, just don’t.  There are a bazillion other, less scary, things to do when you are alone in your house.  I felt like I couldn’t breath.  I couldn’t catch my breath.  My heart was racing; head was spinning.  I thought it would never end.  My mom, who I called on the phone, but could not actually speak to, listened to whole thing.  It was all she could do.  Unbeknownst to me she was getting ready to leave her house while on the phone in case she needed to come over.  I thought I would have to go to the hospital.  But after about 20 minutes the panic attack was done.  I was catching my breath and sipping water.  I was relieved to discover that panic attacks do end and don’t cause actual heart attacks.

I would love to say that my panic attack was caused by some sort of cognitive distortion - that my mind was focusing on something that isn’t real or awful or that I was letting a fear take over.  The truth is, I was trying to solve some very real problems – how to ensure that there is always someone available to be one on one with Miss O, how to approach Z’s teachers about the fact that he is seriously behind in math, how to support Wife in her efforts to spend quality one on one time with G-Dog whose anxiety goes through the roof when she is being separated from her siblings, how on earth to stop Mr. Lee from calling me a Butthead and about a million other things.   With the pressure of family time (nuclear and extended) over Thanksgiving it was all too much.  

Not that long after losing control of my body and thoughts during a panic attack, I was back to mothering as Wife and the kiddos came busting into the house after riding scooters.  We played and got on with the business of being a busy, chaotic pack.  Naturally, I dawned my infinity scarf.  I looked like I had it all together.  I didn’t, but nobody could tell.
On Tuesday I had an appointment with my psychiatrist (This may be what my brother was referring to when he said that I over-share!).  Feeling that feelings of intense anxiety – not full-blown attacks but serious anxiety, were becoming a consistent part of my days, I decided I wanted to ask for a prescription for Ativan.  This seemed like a reasonable thing to help me get through those moments when I couldn’t just breathe through the anxiety.  Unfortunately, the challenges of asking for psychiatric drugs is not lost on me, so I was worried about how “the ask” would go.  I posted this on Facebook:

Because my friends are awesome, I received some hilarious suggestions. 

This is what I chose to wear:
Not seen here: black skinny jeans and colourful canvas shoes (conservative with a touch of cheery)

I considered the look featured below, but with the scarf, I just thought I looked too together, and that she would think I was possibly asking for the drugs to sell not for personal use! 

I guess I passed the imaginary test.  I got me some Ativan.  I have not filled the script.  The yoga breathing, that I have never and likely will never use while doing yoga, seems to be working.  I am aware more aware than ever, how much time I spend on looking like I have it all together.  I needed my Facebook family to help me decide what to wear to the psychiatrist, after all.   The makeup and sparkly jewelry, the scarf and the well-timed sarcastic remarks make my depression and anxiety really palatable to those around me including the people who are in positions of power with the ability to directly impact how I manage my mental health.  I “pass”.  I have access.  I have education and knowledge and money.  I have confidence.  With this power and access, I am able, with far greater ease than most, to care for my babies and myself.  When not in the middle of a panic attack or one of the many frustrating and hard parenting moments I face every day, I remember this privilege. 

My take away from this post?  (I’m pretty sure I write just to find the answers to my own burning questions.) 

1.  Buy more infinity scarves and know that sometimes I wear them because well, fashion, but sometimes they may also double as a mask.  I am not the only parent using this (or another) mask to look like I've got it all together.  The parents that we see at the park, in the grocery store, at work, who look like they’re doing just fine, may not have it together at all.  They may be employing the "fake it ‘til you make it" strategy just like me. 

2.  Be aware of the privileges that I hold that make it never easy, but probably easier to deal with my mental health issues. 

3.  I am doing fine without a tummy tuck.  Thank you very much! 

4.  It is totally reasonable to cut my hair every two weeks, even if I have hardly any hair to begin with, because it makes me look like I have it all together and it makes me feel hot! 

Gotta go.  My barber is calling me to the chair.  Not even making this up.  

XO Ajike