god ugly

faith and ugliness

remember when i wrote about knowing better and doing better?

well, one area in which i have to know and do better in is in my faith. i’ll admit that it has ebbed and flowed more than an ocean tide. it’s been overwhelming in the face of amazing opportunities and parched in times of deep disappointment and sorrow. 

i know that the sheer definition of faith is to have it, at a steady pace, throughout trials and tribulations – but how sway?

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[burden of a black man] owl’s words


[ed. note: just when i thought the series was going to come to an end…some people came through per my stalking emails!

i sometimes try to remember how i come to follow certain people on the twitters. i don’t remember how owl came to me, but im glad. he makes me think and offers an interesting point of view.

as for this series.. which in light of recent grand jury injustices – is even more important than ever. and i’m so happy that the voices of black men and women are being seen AND heard.

the future is here. and the revolution will be tweeted. written. and vined.]

here are owl’s words.  

Often when asked, ”How am I doing?”, my initial response is, ”Adorable”. Yet, it was not always like that. Furthermore, even in my more than comfortable socio-economic situation, I still feel a certain trepidation with job applications. My tremors typically start around question seven, sometimes they attempt to hide it from me on page two under question twenty-two, but it is always there. The question I regard as the bane of my existence:

“Have you been convicted of a felony?”


It disturbs me to no end. Regardless of my two degrees; regardless of my work ethic; regardless of my professional resume: the answer to that question and the subsequent background check tend to weigh more heavily than whatever I have done since, whatever I did. One history trumps the rest of my history. Without bandying about numbers too much here, I am pretty certain that I am not the only US Black male that gets a certain jittery feeling when approaching that question. In today’s climate, I am not the only US Black person to feel this way, I am sure of that. However, this is my burden.


As a burden, as a concern that often holds me down, or lowers my stature, I do consider it a social responsibility to inform or warn (as it were) those that may be thinking, behaving, or somehow along the same trajectory of consequences I have been on. US Black males do not always listen to one another, credibility amongst ourselves being one of those things we lack as a people, so often my words fall on deaf ears until that first case or that first serious run in with the law. There is always some law that young Black people, and males in particular, are breaking because the overall US culture, the social hegemony, has informed many that all our behaviors are somehow criminal.


Couple that with the reality that much of the grey area in between not going to jail for simply being Black in the USA and the particular choices that I have made are beset with respectability politics that are not only limiting, but often are belittling. I attended what we refer to as a predominantly Whyte Institution for undergraduate university level training. The Whyte children there wear their pants at the cusp of their derrière, they walk with a swagger, they talk with a sense of rebellion and recklessness, and yet they are not labeled criminals. Respectable behaviors as a means of social mobility, or more to the point of this essay — a means of being treated as a human with various phases of maturation—does not seem to cease the bullets or handcuffs. Ask John Crawford of Ohio how much not reflecting the styles and ways of urban US Blacks stops police from assuming the criminality of the Black body.


So, for me, the burden is maintaining a livelihood with a reputation that stigmatizes me, while also mapping routes for others to navigate this society that do not infringe on their personal self-expression. I do find my Self in a much more privileged space than I have probably ever been in. It is due to a loving US Black Woman that forms the fulcrum of my support network. The ability to network and communicate my gifts without questions number seven or seventy-five anchoring and burdening me being the secret of my success…

-J. “OWL” Farand. you will want to follow him on twitter here. and check out his blog here. #justdoit 

buy local, give local: my top 10 social network buys

as hard of a year as this has been – i’ve been immensely grateful on many fronts. one of which is the support of my friends and random strangers of my talents and pursuits. whether my writing or my event planning – people have put more stock into me, than i sometimes put into myself.

like with many of us, money is tight around these parts. i always feel guilty when people do things for me that i can’t do in return. 

2014 was the year i decided to make an effort to do it. it’s not always about the amount most times, it’s about the effort. a RT on Twitter, a like and share on Facebook – those can go a long way. you never know who is going to going to see it, who just so happened to be looking for an ___ vendor, or happens to have a lil extra in their pocket they want to spend. 

so tis the season for sharing, caring and all that jazz – i’ve made a list of small or not-quite-fully-formed businesses that i’ve used this year. they are here because they are my friends, or because the customer service is so above and beyond (because we all know that’s really important these days). 

and because i don’t have eyes and ears anywhere – i want you to add to the list! let’s make this a who’s who of who to shop from and support. 

so in NO particular order:

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10. Black Girls Are Magic Teespring campaign. before people were mad about #blacklivesmatter, people were getting in a huff over black girls re-claiming their magical powers and proudly rocking it. created by the fearless auntie PBG, and available for every black girl in your life – nothing wrong with a little magic on your chest. 

9. Blavity swag gear. this may be slightly cheating since i’m a team blavity member – but i am proud to support a site that digs for and promotes underground talent around the world. including little ole me. (#shamelessplug). when they open up shop.. it’s gonna be fire!!! hint: socks. SOCKS!

8. Lauren Michelle Photography. you know that friend who is always talking about something. like somewhat obsessively? they don’t do it for a living or know their worth or their talent? but then they do, and start a website and a facebook business page. and do professional things? that’s her. if you live in the austin area and have a baby, need a professional headshot, are getting married, are fly and want it captured outside a selfie…

7. Cinema Bun. this is not a product or service per say..but it’s my blog and i’ll do what i want to. created by future oscar winner for screenwriting and directing Tonja and the gif-god and future curer of diseases Berook, it’s movies and pop culture. what’s not to love? 


6. Scribed by Tere. so i used to love sending out cards. birthday. christmas. even throwback to our grade school days valentines cards. but.. life..and the price of stamps threw that to the bottom of my to-do list. and over time my hand writing has deteriorated (which is a shame). enter..the homie with awesome handwriting and wants to do it for you! im glad im using her in her infancy of her business.. because with the amount that i made her write.. my bill shoulda been 3 times higher! nothing beats a handwritten note in this electronic era, so am happy to encourage more of it! (oh and tell her to re-open an etsy page or something). 


5. Kill Pink. Miss Jia is an awesome twitter follow, but is also a talented person! I don’t know her personally beyond the twitters, but she’s added to this list for her high level of professionalism, her awesome website and her GREAT customer service. my custom bracelet is in the mail and im SO excited. it’s rare that i treat myself to something ‘frivolous’ – but i know this will be well worth it. 

4. Shelley’s Catering. i came to know Shelley via a client and now they are both friends of mine. i remember looking at her quote to the client, thinking there is no way all this can be done for this price. or the food isn’t that good. i was wrong on both fronts. 


3. Dayna Lee Collection. i always try to remember how i even came to know a person/vendor. i want to say i saw a framed creation via WE network and knew i needed to have something. (i clearly have a thing for handwritten-ness). her IG makes me want to buy a house, and have an office with a wall devoted just to her stuff. in the mean time.. i just ordered Christmas gifts and they come wrapped like this! cmon!!! 

2. Cocoa Cheeks. remember when #8 on this list? exchange photography for makeup and you got another L in Texas who is passionate and talented and needs to take them to south beach and beyond! 

1. Lawrence Kerr Photography. i know he’s the second photog on the list, but the fact that somehow he’s become the official (and in his words only) photographer allowed to capture my son on his birthdays…well…that should say it all. 

that’s it! (well not really). i know lots of talented people who haven’t YET supported financially – but am more than happy to spread the word on hard-working people who will do good with your dollars. this may just end up being something i do twice a year. i like it. #motioncarried. 

while we are here – did you know i’m an event planner? and i travel? my business website is under construction but you can sign up for new of the release here or follow my business twitter account here (i’ve never shared this before…this is a pretty big deal). i’ve gotten a lot from these vendors – giving to them brings me more joy than from what i get.

that’s the real reason for the season. (well that and Jesus’ birthday and all). 


what’s your word? any small businesses you want to link or shout out in the comments? even if it’s yours!! be sure to include social media links or websites!