Read Smoke!

Read Smoke!
My latest book, "Smoke: poems of love, longing and ecstasy" is available for purchase on Amazon in e-book and paperback. Click book for link.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The 'O' Factor in Iowa

Oprah publically endorsed Obama today in a rousing speech delivered before a packed auditorium in Iowa. Literally, she tranformed from entertainment mogul to political power player before our eyes. Iowa is a key state in the democratic party primaries and until this evening, Sen. Hillary Clinton hovered above Obama in the Iowan polls. To make matters worse for the Obama camp, lately news networks havebeen providing scant coverage of his campaign, making it appear that he is slowly falling out of national favor against his political rival. Accordingly Obama went for his trump card. Oprah.

Oprah, a woman that literally holds "America" (not just White or Black America) by its heart strings has traditionally shied away from politics. "I only have an hour," she said during her speech this evening as she explained her reluctance to interview polticians on her day-time talk show. "That's not enough time to lift the political vail." Nevertheless, from the early stages of the Obama campaign Oprah has demonstrated her willingness to use her celebrity and astonishing national influence to help the Illinoise senator inch toward victory.

It is a daring move on her part considering that many will be annoyed with her political bearings (especially Hillary Clinton) but I think it demonstrates brilliant career strategy. Oprah entered the air-waves as the non-threatening, over-weight, asexual talk show host who was charming and fun to listen to. Over the years she has become a swan and one of the best dressed and impecably styled women, really, in the World. Not only that she, has challenged her international audience to address such pressing humanitarian issues as genocide, war, and inequalities in our own back yard. Now that she is her own corporation and has amassed a huge fortune and following, she is using her resources to inspire lasting change.

This is really no different than the legacy of Carnergie, or the Bush family or any other mogul turned behind-the-scenes power player who've used their financial independence as a means of power.

Oprah is a role model for Blacks, for women, and for everyone that believes in the ability of one resillient soul to change the world.

She is fly!

More to come on the speech. I'll post it when I find it on-line.

Black Queens hold Miss USA titles in Major States

Hey Divas,
Looks like the list of the 2008 Miss USA contestants is almost complete, and it appears that amongst the hopefuls, there will be four gorgeous Black queens hailing from New York, Texas, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia. For Texas Queen Crystle Stewart, her state title was a major victory. She was crowned after 5 attempts in the largest, most competitive state pageant. She was first runner up in both 2006 and 2007! Chelsea Rodgers, DC Queen, also holds the title of Miss Black DC USA and is a recent graduate of Howard Law School.
-withness flyness...and crowns,

Posted is Crystle's coronation in the Miss Texas USA pageant. It was such a great moment. Also, this girl is absolutely stunning and her dress is fly (very similar to Zuleyka Rivera's, Miss Universe 2006). She will definitely be in the top ten.

Friday, December 7, 2007

SPOTLIGHT: B. Michael Spring 2008

B. Michael is an african-american designer who has broke into the ranks of high fashion. He's designed for the likes of Cate Blanchett and Halle Berry. His designs are always classic, elegant, with a touch of glamour. He uses very clean, body conscious lines.
The actual show begins at 4.27 on the clip.

Any One Can Comment!!

Hey divas, didn't realize that I had restricted my comments to people with google accounts. Now anyone can leave a comment... and please do!!!-Ike

A Return to Dark Roots?

Ciara and Beyonce, two divas with trade mark blond tresses show up on the Red Carpet this month with noticeably darker hair. Ciara has never looked better better. Talk about butta-fly. She was absolutely regal at the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington DC on the 2nd.

SPOTLIGHT: Luther Vandross, This Christmas

His voice warms me inside and this song alwys puts me in a good place. Enjoy!

Wearing Matte Down!

Hey Divas,
Taking matte lips very seriously this season. (Matte lipstick is a Black woman's best friend. It looks great on us. )

Milani's moiste matte lipstick in Manhattan is a steal and it's the perfect every day, no fuss, matte. It doesn' even require liner. Purchase at Walgreens or for $3.49. (More on Milani to come, this is one hell of a make up line. And yes, it's secretly made for women of color.)

It is the anti-gloss. It is unshear, unshiny, and un-everything we've been doing for the past ten years. The strong matte lip (think 80's supermodel) is slowly making it's comeback. Get ahead of the pack. I think MAC's Rougette available for 14.50 at or at any other MAC retailer is fabolah.

Perfect with a modest eye with bold eye liner (applied with liquid or brush and extended past the lash) and a liberal amount of mascara. A soft cheek, a polished brow and your fab. This color is high drama all alone. Love it . And it loves our luscious lips.
-with flyness and funk (-y lips),

oh wait.... the cheap way to get antioxidants

Just in case you don't want to spend $80 on your bath water....

This product is a serious bang for the buck. Good old Queen Helene. Available at or at your nearest beauty supply store for $4.60.

Oooohhh, Wine Me All Over!

Feeling a bit tired this morning as that large glass of pinot grigio did me in. Going to purchase a cup of jamal in about 20 minutes. Wanted to share with you that wine need not only be enjoyed on the pallette.

Grapes have antioxidant properties that are second to none. Antioxidants protect the skin from free radicals and assist in repairing cellular damage. They are essential to aging gracefully. Common antioxidants are vitamins A, C, E and beta carotene.

Some products that contain wine and grape seed oil are replete with these skin saving properties.
Here' what I like:
Shea Cuvee Body Butter
A moisturizing body butter containing a unique combination of brown sugar, grapeseed oil and white wine, along with shea butter, and vitaminsby the Napa Soap Company. Purchase at Nimly for $20.

Sake Bath
Inspired by traditional Japanese bathing techniques, this product incorporates the detoxifying powers of rice, the relaxing effects of ginger and pine, and it contains an infusion of peaches, a beauty tradition taken from the geisha. This product is out of this world, as is the price. $80 at Fresh.

Crushed Cabernet Scrub
Luxuriating blend of grape seed oil, crushed grape seed, brown sugar, acacia honey and essential oils. Purchase at Caudalie for $35.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Raisin moves from Broadway to NBC to Sundance

The all-star Broadway cast of Lorraine Hansberry's legendary play "A Raisin in the Sun" reunited to do a made for TV movie that will premiere on Feb. 25th, 2008 on ABC. It has also been selected for showing at Sundance, a rarity for tv movies.

Fly Alert: Ash Ryan Velvet Peep Toe

Ja Ja meet Jackie.
Available at Shop Bob for $150.

She said what???

"Did you just try to control my body with your white hand? Don't make me call Al Sharpton."
-Tracey Jordan's wife on 30 Rock
Watch episode here

She said what??? (The Daily Black Woman Quote)

"I wouldn't be the woman I am today if it weren't for the three miserable years I spent at Yale."

-African-American playwright Lynn Nottage to a group of Yale students when asked about her time spent at the Yale School of Drama

Another one dropped the ball

"Men drop the ball all the time" my friend says and don't they? Nevertheless, fly women aren't kept back by a set back. They deal with it and move on. Tonight, I'm up for some girl talk with my dear friend, the Chocoloate Diva. Wait, she's actually just my personal therapist. Maybe some pinot grigio... and oh, I'll listen to this song a few times. For some reason, it always does it for me.

Fly Alert: Soia and Kyo Double Breasted Belted Coat

So sixties with a structured modern twist. This is not your every day coat, as it is white, but whether going to dinner or the theater, and beautiful brown woman would look stellar in this contrasting winter white. Available at for $360.

The Apple Jack Makes a Come Back!

Too bad I didn't have my digi cam with me earlier. I was walking from class and I saw this woman riding a bike (that's how we do it in New Haven) with a fierce apple jack cap. It's been a while since we've seen girls sporting this urban look a la Janet in Poetic Justice and I've forgotten how fly they were. Really, you don't have to wait for this to become a fad. I actually wore them all through high school. It's winter, you need to wear a cap anyway. Don one with one of this seasons fly coats and a mean pair of diva shades and make a statement as you storm the streets. Love it.

The wool cap pictured below if available at Harlem's Heaven Hat Boutique for $65.. It's a man's hat but a women could wear this hat DOWN!

SPOTLIGHT: Chanel Iman, Dior Resort Wear Runway Show, 2007

You betta' live! (Feast your eyes on our next Naomi)

mate, lox and eucalyptus in the morning

Good morning my loves! Woke up late after having a night mare. Life's a haute mess. Going to K2 for my Yerba Mate (I'm gonna call this Cup of Jamal for now on) and bagel with smoked salmon. Also spritzing some of this pick me up on my face: Restorative Facial Mist with invigorating Eucalyptus and calming lavender essential oils. Available for $19 at Garden Botanika.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Real verses Imagined: Tiffany's Rings

All I want for Christmas is this Tiffany's ring!!! It's a Frank Gehry (brilliant architect turned veteran jeweler for Tiffany's). Pave diamonds set in 18k White gold. Retails for $14,000.

But since I have neither achieved immense wealth or fame (give me 'till 2011) nor married rich, It's not happening. Stumbled across some fabulous replica's though at

This sterling silver peridot bubbles ring retails for $36.

This sterling silver and cubic zirconia sevillana ring, also for $36.

The sterling silver and cubic zirconia atlas ring (my favorite Tiffany's collection) is also $36.

SPOTLIGHT: Sharon Quinn, Victor Thompson Runway Show, 1996

Catwalk diva on the Black runway circuit in the early nineties. A plus-sized model known for her incredible presence, confidence, and runway STORM. She's appeared on Monique's F.A.T. Chance, America's Next Top Model, Made, BET's Rip The Runway, The View and more. She runs and is a runway coach and inspirational speaker.

I LOVE how this woman works it. Thank you Sharon for being fierce. Thanks.

Bobbi Brown's Best of Chocolate Lip and Eye Kit

An author friend had this at a breakfast a few weeks ago and raved about how convenient it was. This cute compact contains four eye shadow and four lip gloss shades from Bobbi's Chocolate collection, which contains wonderful hughes of brown and mauve. They look great on women of color. Also wonderful to have for touch ups on an evening out or even during the work day. Love it.
Retails for $55 and it's a limited edition. Purchase at the Bobbi Brown website.

Cup of Jamal, Better than a cup of Joe? A Cup of Jamal has more kick!

I consider this blog to be a public service anouncement.
The following two words will change your life:

Yerba Mate.

Coined "the ancient drink of health and friendship"mate is a tea that is a staple in South America. Why do I grab this every morning? Because I literally am not the same person without it. Mate energizes the body and stimulates the nervous system. It's sort of like a natural form of adderol, except you don't have to cry ADD to get this. Mate does contain natural caffeine but it also contains liberal amounts of xanthine which increases one's ability to concentrate. (Amazing for a college student slaving over a paper at 4 AM in the morning). So yes, I need this to be on point, but there are so many other health benefits.

  • Suppresses appetite and controls metabolism. Used by many for weight control.

  • Eases menstrual cramps when drank regularly, and in a major way. (This, for many women, should be a reason for drinking it alone. )

  • Strengthens the immune system and the body's ability to heal.

  • Fights depression. Literally... makes you feel good.

  • Allergy and asthma relief.

  • Relieves stress.

  • Cleanses colon... yes, some people like to keep it regular.

I've introduced my friends and dad to this and they all say the same thing: What was life before mate?

So next time you feel like making a Starbucks run, op for Mate. You may never turn back.

Here in New Haven it can be purchased at the Koffee 2. It's also sold at places that have extensive tea collections. It can be found at holistic and health food stores and also at Whole Foods. You can also purchase yerba mate on line at This site contains a wealth of additional info about the tea that will change your life.

Fly Alert: Hollywould D'orsay Pump

Deck the halls with bows and peep-toes!!! Fa la la la la, la la la la!!! Love it. $395 at

The Yassir Scarf

For anyone who has ever questioned fashions propensity to reflect greater political and social phenomena, please examine the latest fad to hit the city streets: the Yassir Arafat Scarf (this is my friends name for it). America is wrapped in Middle Eastern geopolitical conflict and young Americans have wrapped themselves in the traditional Middle Eastern 'kifayya'. The scarf has replaced the pretty pashmina and the classic burberry as the new 'it' scarf in metropolitan streets. I think its a subtle way that hip twenty-somethings are expressing their consciousness and dissaproval of war. The scarf is a fad but also a political statement, whether intentional or not. It says let's embrace rather than destruct. Anyways I love it. These can be found for five dollars (just like pashminas) on the street corners of NYC.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Moet Tastes, Zinfandel Budget: The Solution for the Perfume Obsessed

In the words of famous perfumer Pierre Dinand, "Without Perfume a woman is naked." It's so important that a woman's scent is evocative of her personality, her carriage, and... her very womanhood. Quite often the best scents (House of Guerlain, Chanel, Creed) are those made of complex, exotic notes that are designed to tittilate and intrigue the olfactories. Nevertheless you may pay a grip for such fragrances.

NOT anymore. There's a store called United Roots right down the street from Yale's campus that I stumbled into one day, just out of curiosity. To my sensual pleasure, I found over 800 scent types in oil base!!! United Roots carries designer-type scents (Cocomademoiselle, Magnetism, Armani Code, Shalimar Light), essential oils and blends. Every time I go there I stay for over an hour. Oh and prices.... between $5 and $25. Perfume fans, welcome to paradise!

A word of caution: while some scents are enhanced in their oil base (the original base before alcohol is added) others are not. Oil-bases tend to be base-note heavy and they don't have the same dynamic scent-release quality of alcohol bases in which you first smell mostly the top, then the middle, then the base-notes. The oil base tends to flatten the smell. Nevertheless it lasts practically all day, verses 3 to 5 hours, and the little $5 roll-on sticks are perfect for sticking in your evening clutch to freshen up your scent at the end of the night.... or the next morning (a fly diva's got to stay prepared, hehehe).

The website is The store is located at 49 Orange Street, New Haven CT and there is another at 140 Fairfield Ave. in Bridgeport CT. If you are anywhere near this area, it's worth the trip.

Cocktails anyone? LBD Round-Up

One's social calender becomes quite busy around this jolly time of the year. Was wardrobe planning for a cocktail party and stumbled across some exceptional little black dresses. I think this a great season to update your LBD collection. When party hopping or unsure about the attire, the LBD is always fly, always classy, and always appropriate. Give jewelry and shoe choices ample consideration as they are great ways of changing the look of a particular dress.
I contemplated not posting this "Catwalk Dress" from White House-Black Market because the propability that I'll be in it some time soon is high. Nevertheless I was feeling generous. This dress is perfect for a cocktail party of any sort. I love the dip at the cleavage, the origami wrap at the waiste, and the brocade print. These details make this dress look worth much more than $148. On the right woman, this demure dress will get a lot of attention! Perfect for women with fuller hips and a smaller bust. Purchase at

I love the sophistication of this piece. It is simple, elegant, and modest yet still very alluring. The sleeves and high kneck (with pearl details) give it a nice retro 60's feel. Great with these Brian Atwoods I stumbled upon at Saks. Retails for $260 (a steal!) at

Ahhh.... the Nicole Miller cocktail dress is a classic. And for you fly divas that can give Beyonce and J Lo a run for their money (and I surely can), her classic rouched dress will fit your curves like a dream. All eyes will be on you. She releases different versions of the design each season, most of which she doesn't repeat, and if you can pull it off this is a great investment piece. I'm working on my fourth! This sexy tuxedo version of it retails for $385 at

More understated, this Tadashi Dress is nothing short of a knock-out. The way the top wraps at the waiste accentuates the middle (the smallest part of the body) and the top of the garmet shows of the cleavage, neck, and shoulders... the most beautiful region of the body. Yeah, this needs fly shoes with a lot of personality. Retails for $408 at

What a dress!! This Marc Jacobs Mini Dress has holiday written all over it because let's be real, it's the only time you can really get a way with the extravagant design. Will show off an amazing pair of legs (and fabulous shoes). Not for the timid. Retails for $548 at

And the icing on the cake is this sequin dress by Marc Bouwer at Saks fo $548. This dress is fly on top of fly and only for the woman that relishes in attention and wants to be the fiercest woman at the party (hey, it's a worth while goal). And this criss-cross back just says "Watch me as I walk away!" Consider this one for New Years as well. Would be FABOLAH with some Loboutins!!!

SPOTLIGHT: Sade, Kiss of Life, 1994

The effervescent, natural sultriness that is Sade...Love it!

December's Style Icon of the Month: Susan Fales-Hill

Who is Susan-Fales-Hill? Author, television writer and producer Susan Fales-Hill is a staple of New York High Society. The daughter of Josephine Premice, famous Haitian entertainer who shared the stage with the likes of Ossie and Lena, and Timothy Fales, Caucasian socialite. In 1985 she graduated with honors from Harvard University with a degree in literature and history and right after that went to work as a writer for the Cosby Show. A year later she went to work as a writer for A Different World and then in 1998 she co-created the hit series Lincs. She authored the book Always Wear Joy.Today she is a staple of many New York philanthropic and social circles as well as a member of the International Best Dressed List. She and her husband (an African-American banker) reside on Park Avenue.

Why is she fly? We love her because despite growing up in the lap of luxury, this woman made a name for herself as a top student and a big player in Hollywood. On the red carpet, Miss Hill is always impeccably put together in a classic and elegant ensemble that transcends timely trends. I mean... she's on the INTERNATIONAL BEST DRESSED LIST. Not a game. She has an amazing long and lithe body and radiant skin. Her beauty is enhanced by dancer like poise.We also love that she wrote for two of our fav’ shows; The Cosby Show and a Different World. Miss Hill is worldly, she speaks three languages, and is making a place for women of color in traditionally segregated high society of New York.

Back to Basics for Winter Skin

The temperature is plunging, I'm spending more time inside and paying more attention to my skin. Really, the only way to fight dry, parched, dull winter skin is to MOISTURIZE like crazy. I'm not a big fan of lotions either. I think lotion is a wonderful way for companies to save money at the expense of your skin. The main ingredients are alcohol and water. Alcohol is an emulsifier but it dries your skin out and water provides temporary hydration, but no moisture. Historically women of color have maintained soft, ageless skin (think about your grandmother's skin) because they have understood the power of a sturdy moisturizer, even when they didn't have access to retail beauty products. So this winter, overlook all the empty promises in your nearest beauty isle and go straight to the natural source.

1. Raw Virgin Coconut oil: A beauty staple of Philipine women for years, the secret to its incredible moisturizing properties is in its molecular structure. Where as most skin oils consist of a large chain fatty acid, coconut oil consists of a medium chain fatty acid, making it lower in molecular weight and capable of greater absorption into the skin. I use it every morning fresh out of the shower and after two minutes I am left with nothing but shine. No film, no grease. Your skin drinks it and it hydrates from within. You should be able to find some at your local grocer in the food isle. Its a solid at room temperature so its relatively easy to handle. Coconut oil is attributed to deep moisturization, preventing wrinkles, age spots, promoting a healthy glow, and shielding skin from infection. I even use it on my face. Don't by if mixed with mineral oil. It ruins it's molecular properties.

2. Coco Butter: A staple in the Black community that has recently experienced growing popularty in the main stream beauty market. Cocobutter prevents wrinkles, blemishes, and provides wonderful moisture. It can be found in its pure form at many beauty, holistic, and health stores or online.

3. Shea Butter: I use this every night before bed. Shea butter has infinite uses (food, skin, hair, you name it) but it is spectacular for your skin. Shea butter is rich in Vitamins A, E, and F which promote healthy, clear, blemish free skin. It is higher in unsaponifiables ( a type of fat) than most other oils, which is what gives it its extraordinary moisturizing, wrinkle fighting properties. It contains cinnamonic acid which is a natural sun screen. It is also low in molecular weight, thus it is readily absorbed by the skin and it wont clog pores. You can use this on your face especially if you are 25+ and looking to begin an anti-aging regimen. Some say it helps prevent acne. It is also great for treating skin conditons like exzema, which I have so I know! I can't stress enough the importance of having fresh, pure, shea butter that has not been out too long or mixed with chemical additives. Shea butter has comprehensive chemical properties but they are also very delicate properties that will be void if the shea butter is tainted with. Like cocobutter, purchase on-line or at a beauty, health, or holistic store.

4. Vaseline: Good old vaseline! I mean need I say more. Moisture-phobic people knock it now a days but that's okay, let them have dry parched skin. This is still an amazing (and cheap) way of moisturizing the skin, especially problem areas like the feet, hands, and elbows. It's thick consistency protects skin against moisture-loss during the winter months. Yes, vaseline is greasy, as hell. But I like to use it every night before bed all over my body (excluding my face) and then I cover my feet in sweat socks. My skin is incredibly soft each morning. You just can't beat it. Contrary to popular belief, vaseline is not great for your lips. It can even make them more chapped. Coconut oil however is amazing for kissable lips.

With that said, here are some products out there that stick to the basic ingredients. I think it's best to purchase the pure versions of these ingredients, but if you use a product that contains them make sure that the moisturizing agents are main ingredients and not water, alcohol, and other emulsifying agents. Also look out for other excellent oils for your skin in the ingredients list like jojoba oil, avocado oil, olive oil, sweet almond oil, and safflower oil.

Fly Products

1. Chic Afrique Herbals makes amazing soaps with nothing but moisturizing agents such as shea and coco butters, palm and olive oils. The moisturizers are also top quality. The smell... good enough to eat. The company is owned by two black women, one a former doctor.

2. Nubian Heritage's Honey and Black Seed Lotion. Despite the fact that its a "lotion" it's really rich in all the good stuff (shea butter , jojoba, etc.) This company's shea butter cremes are fabulous as well. They are usually mixed with other oils such as lemon grass to soften the consistency. They smell great too.

3. Carols Daughter Sexy Belly is fabolah! It's loaded with shea butter, cocoa butter and jojoba oil and improves the skin's elasticity (i.e. STRETCH MARKS) and also the Almond Cookie Shea Souffle. It's light but oil rich and the Almond cookie line smells incredible!! (Men will notice)