Jada Michal Phillips – Divine Baby, Master Teacher

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Jadabug as illustrated by Stacey Robinson

7 years ago, today, I became a mother. After 10 arduous hours of labor, she was here – my love, my heart, my Jada. But…something was wrong and a week after her arrival my husband and I found out that her time on this earth would be short. Extremely short. It would be a miracle if she made it out of NICU. Her father, Marques aka 7evenThirty, and I surrounded her with love and positive energy. Our families surrounded us with love, stopping by the NICU almost daily just to hold and talk to Jada. Marq and I sang “Umi Says” and his song, “Star,” to her every night to calm her spirit and ease her to sleep. And so after almost two weeks of performing this ritual, she came home.

We had put so much effort into decorating her room that we couldn’t imagine her not ever gracing it. The day we brought her home was full of tears, fear, and gratitude. Our baby was home! Day by day she got better, accomplishing most of the things she shouldn’t have been able to do. We knew early on that this little girl was feisty and strong and wise beyond her years. Jada knew things and when she looked at you, she looked at you – through you- into your soul. She had a unique relationship with everyone she encountered; a certain game, a special noise – that one, signature thing she did with just you. She marked us.

Things started to take a turn for the worst. Marq and I were scared and hurt, but we couldn’t allow ourselves to give up on her. If Jada wanted to leave, it would be her choice. And so that time came when she made the decision to transition. She was 5 months and 3 weeks. My god! To say losing her was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do is a laughable understatement. I lost my mind, my sense of self, my heart, my reason for living. Who was I now? As a creative, nothing is more marvelous than creating another human being; and I had played an instrumental role in creating one of the most amazing human beings I’ve ever known. But she was gone.

So now, 7 years later, I’ve had to heal and find myself again. It’s actually hard to believe I would’ve had a 7 year old kid! But there are those moments when I can hear her special cry, recall her sweet smell, and remember her annoyed face (She made that face quite often!). Those memories remind me that she was, in fact, here and that I was actually a mommy.

I could go on and on about how incredibly dope Jada was – I mean she was the flyest of them all. But I’ll end it with this – she was and is my Master Teacher. I’ve learned more from her than anyone else in my life. She didn’t speak a single word but communicated so much to Marques and me. She is our guiding star and light…we will never be the same.

Fly on, Jadabug! Enjoy your new trip around the sun! 7 | divinity

Much love and respect to Stacey Robinson for creating a lovely illustration of Jada. He captured every little detail of our beautiful daughter! Check out more of Robinson’s work at http://staceyrobinson.tumblr.com/. {peace}

Ekua Holmes – Painter, Collage

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(l to r) – 1. MLK Jr. Day Google Doodle; 2. “A Matter of Time”; 3. “All Weather Friends”; 4. “Girl with Literature”

When I saw today’s Google Doodle, appropriately honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I had to know more about its creator. Thank goodness for Google because within seconds I found the artist! Ekua Holmes, a painter and collage artist, created the lovely image of MLK Jr. arm in arm with other activists. It as if Aaron Douglass and Jacob Lawrence’s works had a love child! It’s absolutely gorgeous and her other works are just as beautiful. See them here,  http://www.ekuaholmes.com/.

{power}

Kadir Nelson – Illustrator, Author

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(from l to r) 1. Illustration from Nelson Mandala; 2.  Forbidden Fruit; 3. Heavens Awaits; 4. Shirley Chisholm ; 5. Illustration from A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis by Matt De La Pena; 6. Painting from The Africa Series; 7.  Illustration from Heart and Soul; 8. Kadir Nelson

Kadir Nelson can push paint around a canvas like nobody else, consequently his career has been remarkable. He has illustrated over 25 books, a few of which he also authored. Nelson designed postal stamps for the United Stated Postal Services and created memorable album covers (i.e. Drake’s “Nothing Was the Same” and Michael Jackson’s “Michael”). I’m in awe of how he depicts light hitting skin…it creates a certain mood in each and every piece. Definitely check out more of this man’s incredible work at http://www.kadirnelson.com/.

DOPE VINTAGE STAMPS

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(l to r) 1. 1981 African and British Commonwealth stamps; 2. 1982 South West Africa stamps; 3. Cameroon stamp [artists unknown]
I’m not a stamp collector but these vintage African headdress stamps make me want to become one. I’m in love! My favorite stamp is the one of the Herero woman; the angle and colors are perfect.