Sunday, September 18, 2016

I'm Hyped About The Emmys and The People v. O.J. Simpson

Photos provided by FX



 It's Emmy Sunday! I love awards shows but this one is extra special because actor Sterling K. Brown was nominated for his supporting role in The People v. O.J. Simpson. Brown played my father, former prosecutor Christopher Darden. The show received 22 nominations! Only second behind Game of Thrones.

I'm also rooting for Courtney B. Vance (Johnnie Cochran) and Sarah Paulson (Marcia Clark). The entire cast were amazing. Brown is up against his fellow cast members John Travolta (Robert Shapiro) and David Schwimmer (Robert Kardashian).  Despite the competition the entertainment press report Sterling K. Brown is the favorite.

Tomorrow night I will be ready with my glass of Stella Rosa and popcorn. This is so exciting!

The Emmys air live on ABC, 7pm EST/ 4pm PST.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Cocoa Fly Podcast Update

My heart is in radio and podcasting. That's where I'm planning to shift the focus of CocoaFly.com. I love writing, but I love audio storytelling too. Video is starting to grow on me.

I'm still working out the logistics on iTunes. But feel free to listen to Cocoa Fly interviews already on iTunes. I'm also working on getting it on the Libsyn Podcast Source app.

I'll have more updates soon!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Battle for My Black Womanhood



I broke up with spoken word about 12 years ago. Or maybe spoken word and I took a break. I was more focused on news writing and I felt the scene became so cliche. I felt like I heard everything before and people weren't original. The spoken word scene is smaller in LA compared to Oakland/SF.   Just trying to write a poem was hard for me.

I moved back to the Bay Area and met all kinds of people in the literary scene. New people and and a re-emergence of violence against people of color and women inspired me to write creatively again. It feels really good.

This reading was special because the night before was my surprise breakup. I hadn't slept much, but I wanted to be there. I told the audience that I felt awful and why I felt awful. They were ALL so supportive. I joked that I wished he had broken up with me sooner so I could have better breakup poetry. LOL

 I love this piece because it speaks to my journey to loving myself and the woman I have become. I'm prissy and girlie and hella feminine. Many times it was an internal and external to accept that because society looks down on the feminine, while at the same time try to deny femininity to Black women.

By the way, I filmed this in early August. I have on a leather jacket and a head wrap in August. That's San Francisco for ya.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Feeling Your Feelings After a Breakup

Photo by Kiomi from FreeImages
Today I saw a meme on Facebook that said sensitivity is a super power. It is a super power. And like  a superhero coming into their powers, they have to learn how to release and control them.  They have to learn when it's right to use their power. They must learn how powerful they really are and not be afraid of their powers. But having superpowers isn't always easy. And as the hero learns their strengths, they also learn their weaknesses.

I love and appreciate my sensitivity because it helps me connect to people. It also helps me disconnect from toxic people. My sensitivity, has a Spidey-like sense, that's pretty good at telling me who I should engage with and who I should stay away from.

My sensitivity keeps me in touch with my own feelings. Right now I'm really in touch with my own feelings. Right now I'm hella in my feelings. And I don't like it. But I know I have to feel them to get through this.  I'm drinking an emotional cocktail of disappointment, anger, hurt, nostalgia, but I have to finish the glass. One day I'm mad at the person. The next day I miss them. The third day I'm mad that I miss them. The fourth day I have compassion for anger and hurt for missing them. I HATE THIS! LOL And a breakup raises other questions in my life like, "Why is it so hard to meet the right guy?" or "Are all of the good men taken?" or "Who can I trust?"

My sensitive superpowers got me feeling
some kind of way. 
I know allowing myself to feel without letting emotions overtake me is how to get through. It's a balance of controlling and releasing my superpower. But it doesn't feel good. This is one reason why people turn to drugs, booze, sex, shopping addictions,  etc. They numb their feelings. Feeling your feelings can be torturous. Ooooh when the feelings are good, they're sooooo GOOD. But when you feel like sh*t, it's baaaaaddddd. Those of us with torn hearts have to go through the tears, hating Facebook because it feels like everyone is booed up except you, analyzing what went wrong and what mistakes you won't make next time, missing and hating your ex at the same time, feeling bad because you miss and hate your ex at the same, horny from no sex or having no interest in sex, feeling sad when places you went on dates resurrect memories, wishing you had done something different, and fear. You have to face whatever fears that came out of that broken relationship, so you can move on and trust someone with your heart again.



Not enough booze to drink away these feelings. 
Some years ago I got my heart broken real bad. Like Jazmine Sullivan, Carrie Underwood, Waiting to Exhale Angela Bassett pissed off, bad. No cars were damaged or burned, but I understood why that goes through a woman's mind. Still, ain't no man worth me going to jail over.  Thank God this breakup was not on that level at all. But that other Jazmine Sullivan-angry breakup left me hating my ex. I hated that guy for a long time and wished all kinds of hell on him. Until I realized it did more emotional damage to me than him. I couldn't open my heart to anyone else until I let go of how he hurt me. You know what I did? Instead of wishing him hell on Earth, I began to wish for blessings in my life. The greatest revenge is success. Or as said in the Book of Formation, the best revenge is your paper. I would rather be blessed with a great life and a good man, than for that jerk to suffer. Think about it. If you hate the hell out of your ex and could have one choice, which would it be? Would you rather them be in so much pain and agony that they regretted the thought of hurting you? Or would you choose to be so blessed and happy that he or she did doesn't even matter to you anymore?

In my Wonder Woman shirt with
my superpowers of sensitivity. I'm smiling
because I'm at SF Comic Con.  
I've grown up because I don't hate the person involved in my latest breakup. I hate how they made me feel. I hate that I'm going through this emotional roller coaster. But I learned in the past that I have to deal with this in order to heal from this. I have to feel the rawness and let it pass.  I know this bumpy, emotional ride will end. I've been on this ride before. I've gotten off of it and straightened myself up. I'll open my heart and mind with the intention that the next ride with a special person will be so pleasant, neither of us will want to get off. Hope and faith are good superpowers to have.

*Sorry for the ramble. I just felt like rambling. And I just came back from SF Comic Con which is probably why I'm on the superpower kick.*

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Get Into the Writing Groove Workshop



I'm teaching a writing workshop! I'm so excited to be hosting my Get Into the Writer's Groove workshop on Saturday Sept. 10th at Liminal. The workshop is for writers, new and experienced, who are struggling with writer's block or in a creative rut. I have been there. And thankfully I was able to pull myself out. The workshop I created is what I needed when my creative juices weren't flowing. 




This daylong workshop will be filled with discussion, activities and writing exercises to help you get back into the writing groove. Learn more here or sign up here

Space is limited. This will be a very intimate workshop. There will be NO onsite registration the day of the workshop so make sure to sign up early. I look forward to helping you get into the WRITING GROOVE! 



I'm Talking Mental Health and Self-Care on Hard Knock Radio with Davey D


Listen to the interview here

While taking in the beauty of The Black Woman is God exhibit, I ran into longtime media personality and Hard Knock Radio host Davey D. We got to talking to and he invited me and my friend to be guests on his 94.1 KPFA show to talk about mental health during these violent times. It airs at 4pm.  Below are links to resources. I also have a short video that you can watch here where I talk about wellness tools.

One thing I forgot to mention in my interview is for people to see a therapist. And that when you go seek out a therapist you can ask for someone who is of your culture, race, sexual orientation, sex, gender, etc.


Black People Take Care of Yourselves
This is the short Periscope video I made after the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Whether you're Black or not, I think you can benefit from some of the wellness suggestions I made. I did mention that I had to drink 1 glass of wine to take the edge off. I'm not condoning being dependent on alcohol. For me I just needed a little something to bring me down. Sometimes it's lavender tea, and that day it was chardonnay. But I strongly suggest not isolating yourself and checking with friends.

JFK University in Oakland
I've never been but I know of people who have. They say the counselors, who are grad students, are great. Counseling rates are lower because these are grad students. When I was in grad school, my counselor was a grad student and she helped me get through a tough year.

Mental Health Association of Alameda County
This link has a ton of resources in Alameda County

Call 211 or visit 211BayArea.org
This is a resource when you need info on shelter, counseling, food programs, health programs etc. You can also call for information in case of a disaster. It's a 24/hour line in more than 150 languages.

East Bay Meditation Center
This is a diverse, social justice Buddhist community that hosts daylong retreats and meditative spaces. Their services are donation based. Give what you can. Many of their daylong retreats are for people of color, LGBTQ community, people with disabilities, etc. They've hosted retreats to help people dealing with depression and anxiety.  I'm not Buddhist but I love coming here for the friendly environment and to quiet my mind.

Beats, Rhymes and Life
BRL is a nonprofit that uses hip hop therapy to empower youth dealing with mental health issues. Trauma is one of those challenges and many of us are living with post trauma in light of what's happening in our communities.

Mental Health Podcast 
I hosted a podcast on mental health for a former employer. I have a ton of great interviews, and uplifting stories on mental health for people to listen to.

I wish us all peace and healing. I pray the violence stops. Until then, take care of yourselves.






Sunday, August 28, 2016

Why Colin Kaepernick's Anthem Protest Doesn't Surprise Me

Source: Instagram
Colin Kaepernick shocked football fans when he refused to stand for the National Anthem during a preseason game. Kaepernick explained to the press:

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

I've been following Kap on Instagram for over a year. He has been very open about his disappointment with the unjust police killings of unarmed Black AMERICANS. If you go on his Instagram there are quotes from Malcolm X and  Dr. King. You'll see images of the Black Panther Party and comments about the death of Sandra Bland. This sentiment is nothing new. And he has taken a lot of crap from people on social media before this sit down protest for speaking out against racial injustice. 

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, many white people are caught up in what he did and not WHY he did it. Here are a few thoughts: 


  • For the record I have friends and family who are veterans and work/worked in law enforcement. So I'm coming from different angles in my opinion.
  • I understand if people don't agree with his tactic, but it's sad and sickening that they're not recognizing why he sat down. They're not talking about him standing up for racially motivated killings by bad cops. Which shows how little importance Black lives are to some people. 
  • An argument that I keep reading is that he is disrespecting the lives of veterans who fought for his freedom. But he has the freedom and the right to not stand. That's allowed in this country. 
  • People are saying he's disrespecting veterans. There are Black veterans concerned about these killings. There are Black veterans who have been racially profiled by police. The flag isn't protecting their freedom from racism. Who is standing up for them? Also do some research on racism in the military. Research how Black veterans were treated after coming home from World War II and Vietnam. 
  • People are calling Kaepernick unpatriotic but how we mistreat our veterans is unpatriotic. I know saluting the flag is a way of showing our appreciation to our veterans, but the flag is not providing them housing, healthcare and jobs. We need to do more than salute a flag for our veterans. 
  • He's putting his reputation, football career and endorsements on the line. The comments are so hateful. Which is another reason why I think he is doing this out of sincerity. This may end his career. 
  • His wealth, being adopted by white parents and being half-white are not reasons why he shouldn't silently and peacefully protest. He sees something is wrong and is saying something about it. His race and income shouldn't matter that he cares about innocent lives being lost to hatred. 
  • Racist cops getting away with murder doesn't help the Black community, nor good cops. The Black community continues to live in fear. While good cops are not trusted by civilians. The silence from non-Black people only makes it worse. 
  • I've seen more anger over Colin Kaepernick peacefully sitting down than over Ryan Lochte acting like a fool and a thug in Brasil, then lying about it. Ryan Lochte gets called a "kid" and Colin Kaepernick is called all kinds of nasty names for sitting down. 
  • Don't say you love and admire Muhammad Ali and Jackie Robinson, but take issue with Colin Kaepernick. They also did something similar. Same goes for the Black Olympians in the 1968.
  • An American can still criticize injustice in this country, call for our nation to do better and still appreciate the service of our veterans. As I said, we need to do more for our veterans than stand up for the National Anthem and flag. 

Colin Kaepernick is taking a lot of heat and hatred for this. Disagree with the tactic all you want, but he's making people talk about the issue. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Sterling K. Brown on The Emmy's and the Cuba Gooding Jr. Turn Up

Sterling K. Brown on Entertainment Tonight
Emmy-nominated actor Sterling K. Brown has been all over the media lately as we closer to the Emmy's.

Brown played my father, attorney Christopher Darden on the mega-hit miniseries The People v. O.J. Simpson.  After all of the drama and madness during the trial, I had no interest in watching this series. But I watched and read interviews with Sterling K. Brown and he seemed like a good guy. So I gave him a chance. I'm so happy I did!

Sometimes we see the same actors in Hollywood over and over again. I'm glad to see when other talented people get big opportunities. And Sterling seems like a nice and humble guy. He has the cutest family. So if anyone is going to benefit from playing my father, I'm glad it's Sterling.

Here's his "exclusive" with Entertainment Tonight. The reporter asked him who from the cast will party the hardest on Emmy night. And of course he said Cuba Gooding Jr. Cuba is known for partying hard. Cuba gets lit. Nobody is ready for the Cuba Gooding turn up. LOL

Watch the short interview here.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

My Reading at Books Inc. Is Canceled



My apologies. I will not be reading tonight. I have a stomach virus and for the sake of the public I'm staying home. Sorry I couldn't bring the "heat" tonight.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

‘The Black Woman Is God’ is a Beautiful, Spiritual Experience


Sistas I met at the exhibit posing in front of
Karen Seneferu's work. 
Black women, we need to celebrate ourselves as much as possible. Black women, we need to celebrate ourselves as much as possible. Black women, we need to celebrate ourselves as much as possible.

I NEEDED to take BART, then MUNI then walk 20 minutes to the SOMARts gallery for The Black Woman isGod exhibit. I made it there on the last day. Karen Seneferu and Melorra Green curated this vivid, glorious, woman-made heaven of artwork by more than 60 Black female artists.

I NEEDED to be there because of the Black community’s silence after the killing of Korryn Gaines and so many other Black female victims of police brutality. I needed to be in a space free of cultural appropriation. I needed to be in a space where Black women of ALL shades and sizes are the stars because Black women are so often invisibilized. I need to be in a space of love while dealing with my own heart. With Black women athletes shining in the Olympics and Black Girl Magic all around me, I wanted to celebrate the beauty, strength, magic, color, vulnerability and power of Black women. 

Honoring ourselves in this way is a spiritual experience.  I felt it in the main hall. I felt energy. I felt the ancestors. I felt the Black women who were enslaved, maids, scientists, artists cooks and writers. I felt the spirits of women who were ignored, brutalized or not able to live their potential. I felt the spirits of women who had pride in their culture and womanhood. I felt the spirits of women who wanted the Black women there to know there is so much more to us than our struggle. I felt peace. I felt a sense of refuge. That’s the power of art.

Here are a few of my favorite pieces.

"Zeluma" by Shona McDaniels
photo by Jenee Darden

 If I were a rich woman, this painting would be coming home with me. Zeluma by Shona McDaniels captured me. I love the colors the woman’s rich, dark brown skin and hairstyle reminded me of myself and some of my dear sista friends. I have friends who look like this woman. I see the beauty in them just as I see it in this extraordinary piece.

"Ancestral Womb Portal" by Sage Stargate
Photo by Jenee Darden

 Sage Stargate’s Ancestral Womb Portal Mural shook my soul. I believe the Sage Stargate is only 21. This chalk mural is so powerful. Humankind came to Earth through that womb portal. The mural conveys the Black woman is the galaxy, Goddess and the beginning.  Stargate honors the Black vagina and menstruation – the flow of life and our own creation.  And that glorious, cosmic pink Afro of energy gives off more energy. I see womanism. I see the Black woman as the past, the present, the future and the original. I looked at this work the longest. I feel blessed to be able to see something like that. Seriously. It was a blessing to behold something that magnificent.


"Mammy, Mammy" by Yetunde Olagbaju
Photo by Jenee Darden


This was the display I’ve been waiting to see since I realized Black women suffer from oppression inside and outside our community.  Yetunde Olagbaju’s Mammy. Mammy portraits are DEEP.  Zora Neale Hurston once said that Black woman is the mule of the world. Patriarchy on all levels sucks the life out of us. I see a woman who puts others before herself.  I see a woman who has to put others before herself. Black women are expected to solve and save everyone. Even in 2016 folks are still suckling off us.

 Some of us voluntarily whip out our breasts. How many sistas out there are still supporting and allowing grown men to suckle from them—financially, emotionally and spiritually? She’s providing so much to these “men” who rely on her, but they weigh her down. DEEEEEEPPPPP.



"Mission Accomplished" by Latisha Baker
photo by Jenee Darden

Black Girl Magic came to life through so many textures in the exhibit. Latisha Baker created Mission Accomplished on wood. I’m amazed at how artists are able to turn something simple as wood, into a complex and dynamic art piece. I love images of little Black girls because there’s something special about Black girlhood. I was blessed to have a good childhood and I loved being a girl. Little Black girls have their own style and energy in the world. Her innocence in picking flowers with her doll is so girly. I’m all about Black women celebrating the feminine. If you look close, notice the girl’s hair is braided. Amazing!  I would buy this one too. It reminds me of one of my favorite pieces by Brenda Joysmith called Barefoot Dreams.


I met co-curator Karen Seneferu and she said the exhibit will return next year. I’ll keep you posted. Until then, let’s continue to celebrate ourselves.

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