Thursday, December 19, 2013

Style Icon: Janelle Monàe

So Cover Girl just released their new commercial with Janelle Monàe today. Of course, it behooved your humble blogger to dish about it. Why? Everything about Janelle's looks here demonstrates why she's a style icon. She is a master of the art of simplicity, packing the punch in the details- in this case, the wonderfully structured white sleeveless top as well as the unbuttoned 3/4 sleeve white blouse with form-fitting black pants and signature oxfords. Classic with a bit of wow. Priceless. And that's just the clothes. The makeup? On point as per usual. Then again, one can never go wrong with a natural look, especially with a pop of color (like at :06 with the lip) Black and white has never looked this good! Speaking of :06- who else would totally rock that look at for New Years? Just saying.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

"Like a rose in the cold, will I rise?"...Yes.

Stain glass honoring the founders of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority at Butler University, Indianapolis, Indiana

91 years ago today, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. was founded on the campus of Butler University in Indianapolis by seven dynamic women.  While meditating on the anniversary of this organization your humble blogger has been blessed to be a member of for 5 years, a song lyric came to mind.  That lyric is the quote in the title.  Like the yellow tea rose, which is Sigma Gamma Rho's flower, the Sorority has risen "to heights of great attainment"; and, if grace allows, continue to rise.

It seems no accident that the yellow tea rose was chosen Sigma Gamma Rho's flower. The flower is noted for its foliage during the autumn months, when the chill in the air begins to be felt.  In addition, the "tea" part of the name comes from the unique tea scent it gives off.  Like it's flower, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. has risen in the midst of the cold climate that marked the era in which it began to become a 85,000 plus strong blooming sisterhood emanating its' unique "scent" of enhancing the quality of life within the community.

In 1922, Mary Lou Allison Gardner Little, Dorothy Hanley Whiteside, Vivian White Marbury, Nannie Mae Gahn Johnson, Hattie Mae Annette Dulin Redford, Cubena McClure, and Bessie Mae Downey Rhoades Martin were students persuing teaching degrees at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana.  According to Michael Washington and Cheryl Nunez, Indiana's colleges graduated black students at one every three years between 1861 and 1900. As Sigma Gamma Rho's founders were African-American, one could imagine the hurdles they had to face.  In addition, Sigma formed during the time in which the Ku Klux Klan was reaching apex in Indiana.  Joseph White notes:
" The Klan was at the height of its strenght in Indiana in the summer of 1923. The number of members probably reached its peak by late 1923"
Not even a year into its inception did the founders of Sigma Gamma Rho have to deal with forming their organization in such a climate. Add to that the inequality in the education of black students at the time, one would have to have the heartiness of a yellow tea rose in late autmn to rise.

Rise, however, Sigma Gamma Rho did. With members worldwide, and initiatives such as its partnership with the Centers for Disease Control to fight AIDS and Project Reassurance to address teenage pregnancy, she continues with her "aims soaring upward" towards its mission to "enhance the quality of life within the community".

91 years strong and beautiful as ever.  Like the yellow tea rose, you rise, bloom, and emit your unique scent. Here's to more years of "Greater Service, Greater Progress" my dearest Sigma Gamma Rho.

Works Cited

Washington, Michael H. S. & Nunez, Cheryl L. The Rise of The Greek-Letter Tradition. African American Fraternities and Sororities: The Legacy and the Vision 149.


 THE INDIANA CATHOLIC AND RECORD" (1974). Graduate Thesis Collection. Paper 24.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

UPDATE: Poetry for the People

In April 2012, this blog spotlighted JaDon Davis, Detroit poet and author of the upcoming book Poetry for the People.  In recent conversation, Davis informed your humble blogger that the book is currently in production phase.  Keep those eyes peeled for this new work!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Throwback Thursday-F.A.N.D.R.O.I.D. Edition

So-Tomorrow marks the 3rd anniversary of your humble blogger's first Janelle Monae show, and what a remarkable three years it has been!!! To celebrate, here's Wondaland's video from the meet and greet in Chicago during the Hooligans in Wondaland tour. See if you recognize anyone ;)

(Video Courtesy of Wondaland Arts Society/George 2.0)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

About "Sally Ride"...

Around last week, the incomparable Dr. Nathaniel Irvin III predicted on Twitter that there will many people will be forced to blog after hearing Janelle Monae's "Sally Ride" from her new album The Electric Lady. It behooved your humble blogger to take up the challenge, and will thus muse on the masterpiece here. Firstly, this is one of my favorite tracks on The Electric Lady. It is a soul stirrer from start to finish, hitting the spirit like the waters of Victoria Falls (Yes, Victoria Falls)hitting the rocks at its base. Powerful doesn't even begin to describe it. This is due to the quality of each and every single element that went into the song. Kellindo Parker's masterful guitar notes bring you into the track, followed by Janelle's gut-wrenching wailing of the first verse. Speaking of, the lyrics pack their own one-two punch from first line: "Take me the river/ My soul is looking for a word from God". It only goes uphill (in a good way) from there. Every line is delivered with an intensity that makes it undeniable that they are coming from the heart and moves the emotions in a singular manner. This movement is one where word and sound is expressing what the soul couldn't say otherwise and prompts the imagination to action. Contemplation is the primary action that comes to mind when listening to this song. The blending of the aforementioned vocals with the stellar instrumentation of Kellindo, Nate Wonder, Roman GianArthur and Terrance Brown turn the song into an almost a magic wand. This wand conjures a desire for a place where soul and nature meet, like sitting on a secluded rocky beach during high tide at sunset. Part of that may have to do with the fact that the sound of flowing water is layered in the background of the song towards the beginning. In sum, it takes you to a place of transcendence. This mood continues towards the end, in which Janelle, Nate, and Roman sing a verse that fades out. Returning to the water metaphor, the experience of listening to "Sally Ride" is deep in every sense of the word. Be prepared to enter into feelings you may never know have existed. Guaranteed, a Kleenex or two will be needed on hand for the tears that may roll out. Granted, the entirety of Janelle Monae's "The Electric Lady" is an experience. If one song could be chosen to demonstrate why that is, "Sally Ride" would be one of them. Every part of it comes perfectly together to take the listener to a place beyond the mind or soul's comprehension. It serves as a prime example of why music should never be underestimated in it's power to move the human spirit.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Success of Perseverance

Without going into detail, let's just say the past few months for your humble blogger has been a lesson in perseverance. The New Lexicon Webster's Dictionary defines it thus: The quality of being persistent and persevering Persevering in turn, is defined in the dictionary as present participle of persevere, defined as "to try hard and continuously in spite of obstacles and difficulties". What stands out about this definition is the implication that the process of persevering isn't an easy one and the agency of the person performing the action. That there will be road blocks and detours in life is inevitable. As the aforementioned definition of persevere suggests, it's up to us to try hard and continuously despite this. The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel may not be in immediate sight, but there is a fruit to persevering. In fact, the dictionary describes that fruit best : "a state of glory" It is the wish of yours truly for anyone reading this that you may know the fruits of persevering, no matter what the situation may be.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Joseph Epstein: De Tocqueville's guide

Given we celebrated the founding of America the 4th of this month, your humble blogger was moved to introduce you to this phenomenal biography of one of the sharpest observers of American culture and democracy: Alexis de Tocqueville: Democracy's Guide by Joseph Epstein.  Any enthusiast of American politics and democracy (or democracy in general, for that matter) worth their weight needs to read Alexis De Tocqueville.  Considering his masterpiece, Democracy in America was written in the early 1800's, De Tocqueville may be a bit of a challenging read without some help.  Epstein's biography proves to do just that with a deft writing style and thoroughly researched insight.

Democracy's Guide goes into the mind of Alexis De Toqueville -literally- injecting some of his correspondence during his travels and publishing process into the work.  Epstein juxtaposes this with a comprehensive probe of Early 19th Century Europe and America, illuminating the context in which a brilliant mind from France would  create the seminal work on American democracy. Brought together through an approachable yet insightful writing technique, Epstein shows to be a handy resource in understanding the man behind one of the greatest books written about America.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Bit of A F.A.N.D.R.O.I.D. Moment

Greetings all:

Your humble blogger would like to take some time to fangirl for a moment for. Janelle Monae . It is indeed beyond heartwarming to se the rise of such a great talent. As I type this, she is getting ready to close out the BET Awards, in addition to being featured in new Cover Girl commercials as well as garnering buzz for her single Q.U.E.E.N. Indeed,  hers has been a Cinderella story. What makes it even more heartening is the fact that it was all done on her own terms.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Q.U.E.E.N. emotion picture has arrived.
Your humble blogger would have more to quip about this piece, but she has been rendered speechless.
Why, you ask? Click that play button below and find out.


Monday, April 15, 2013

What's on MsRanaDee's mind at the moment


After a bit of a quandry as to what to post here for this month, it hit me:


(Thanks to my Wondatwin Sareesha for bringing this to my attention)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

On Greekdom, Service, and Growth

Today, a conversation with a co-worker, a member of a Black Greek-letter fraternity went to this affect after telling him tommorow marks my five years in Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority:

Co-worker: (Jokingly) "I don't even want to say how many years it's been for me-[He then goes to say the year he was initiated]-probably before you were even born"

Me: [Tells the year I was born]

Co-worker: "See"

Me: (Referring to the co-workers time as a fraternity member) "That's not old, that's growth"

This hasn't been the first time a member of a Black Greek-Letter organization (BGLO) has placed value to any length of time of active membership.  In a conversation with another BGLO member, the response to my mentioning being active in my sorority for five years was "So you've been in there a while".  Such comments led me to think about the underlying significance in continuous activity in a Black Greek-letter organization for me: continuous service and growth through self-giving. 

Andre McKenzie notes the in his essay In the Beginning, "...the BGLO movement has provided its members with the opportunity to experience the camaradere of brotherhood and sisterhood, service to others, and social and personal development".  This experience is lifelong, given BGLO affilliation "..has continued...through active participation in graduate chapters."  According to Tamara Brown, in her introduction to her book African American Fraternities and Sororities: The Legacy and the Vision (in  which McKenzie's essay is featured) service and growth was inherent in the purpose of forming such organzaitions. She contends they "began to take a better men and women, and affect social change".  How does this happen? This is achieved through a self-giving love of one's neighbor.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI asserts in  God is Love that love is a "journey, an ongoing exodus out of the closed inward-looking self towards its liberation through self-giving, and thus towards authentic self-discovery"  Regarding BGLOs, Brown observes "the fraternal idea is best understood as tangible relationships" which is formed by the reconstruction of the self from an individual to the group. The aforementioned social and personal devlopment fostered through BGLO membership, then, can be seen as being rooted in non-selfish giving of oneself to fellow members and the community at large.  It can also be gleaned that such giving should be continuous.

Benedict XVI further notes in his aforementioned work that "love is never 'finished' and complete; throughout life, it changes and matures and thus remains faithful to itself".  In terms of BGLO emmbership, McKenzie assertion illustrates this, as noted above. Hence, service and growth has an important link to continuous membership in a BGLO.

In a nutshell, to serve one's fellow man is to grow as a person.  This is and has been at the heart of membership of a Black Greek-letter organization.  This has been especially true for your humble blogger.  To the BGLO founders and members that have come before, an insurmountable amount of gratitude and honor are owed to you. To the BGLO members of the present (special acknowledgement to my sorority sisters-you know who you are), this is a love letter to you.  Without you, my Greekdom would not be possible.


Brown, Tamara, Parks, Gregory S., and Phillips, Clarendia M. African American Fraternities and Sororities: The Legacy and the Vision. (Lexington, Kentucky: University of Kentucky Press, 2005)

Pope Benedict XVI. God is Love. (San Fransisco: Ignatius Press, 2006).

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Introducing Venerable Pierre Toussaint

In honor of Black History Month, your humble blogger would like to acquaint you with Pierre Toussaint, a Hatian-born slave who died free in New York City.  His life of service and faith lead Pope John Paul II to declare him Venerable, initating the process which may make Toussaint the first Black North American saint.  Here's a link to one the best descriptions of his story, written by Boniface Haney, O.F.M. and excerpted on Eternal Word Television Network's page.

Monday, January 21, 2013

On Character

A few days ago, yours truly read an article that used a word that seems to be rarely used these days-character.  What stood out was the fact that it was used in describing a person-namely their "growth in character".  How many times do we think about people in terms of their character or even what that term means to us?  As we honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King today, may we take special time to reflect on his dream of people being judged "on the content of their character" and how we can apply it to our own lives.