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How to bring Black History Month with you all year long


I’m Andrea Griffith, a.k.a. AG, a TV Exec and writer based in Toronto, Canada. I started this newsletter because I love to write, but I’ve struggled with having my all-in job as a content executive play nice with my writing practice. This newsletter is a pinky swear between me and moi to write. Thank you for spending some time with me!


My previous posts have been about how I transfer my producing practice to my personal life as I navigate my career, meal prep, sports, special occasions, partner and lil’ peeps love-ups, self-care, self-calm, plus, plus.


This post is a smidge different. I’m fixin’ to mix it up!


Every February, I have the deepest and purest intentions to re-read Audre Lorde, see Black art exhibits, listen to Black-led podcasts, immerse myself in Black cinema, binge Black shows, rock a fly afro - on a weekday. My perennial note to self for February is “Do something special for BHM.” It’s the same time every year, but somehow Black History Month sneaks up on me.


I make it my mission to squeeze in at least one new Black edifying experience, but I feel that work really ramps up this month. What am I saying? Strike “feel.” It does. I’ve been to two massive conferences and helped spearhead a soul-quenching Unscripted Producers' Lab. I start the month with the best of intentions, I blink, and 28 days are gone. Then, we roll right into Women’s History Month. To use Kimberlé Crenshaw’s now infamous term, my intersectionality is front and centre this time of year.


I feel, love, and respect the energy of BHM, but I feel a ton of pressure in February. The requests on me and my time are overwhelming. I brim with joy, excitement, and pride for the month, but it’s also entirely frustrating, difficult, and discouraging.


I can’t unsee how far we need to go with equality, equity, justice, inclusion, and representation in decision-making positions or how biases and preconceptions go unchecked, structures remain inequitable, and discriminatory systems create barriers for anybody Black. We have so far to go to rebuild a world where power imbalances don’t exist for any one group. The crease in my forehead is evidence that I think about this A LOT.


February brings all my frustrations and feels to the foreground. I can’t rack focus in Feb. I’m forced to confront how conflicted I feel.


If you don’t identify as Black, I’m sure you’re a tad conflicted, too. BHM doesn’t feel like it’s for you, right? Or maybe it does. Or maybe it doesn’t register at all. But this is where change and opportunity lie. It IS for you. It’s a reminder to us all to know our shared history and to continue to read Black authors, watch Black content (content where the creative visionary is Black), support Black businesses, and foster Black talent beyond Black History Month.


In this post, I’m bringing together my reverence for Black History Month and Women’s History Month by leaning into my identity overlap with a load of links.


Let’s carry February forward and spread the lovin’ out!


If you’ve been a reader of Yescessary, you know I shout out Black businesses. Holla.


I’m continuing to shine the spotlight, this time on Black Canadian female-led businesses. This is by no means a full list! These are the products and services I personally know and/or use, that’s why it’s localized to my little red indicator on the map.


After the round-up, two yescessaries and an idea I’m floating because I’m trying it right now.


  • 24 Yeses – Black Canadian Female Businesses to Support All Year Long

  • 2 Yescessaries - Two Tips on How I Get My Sugar Together

  • 1 Idea – I’m Trying a Wee-tox (not referencing weed, you’ll see)

Cruise the links, jump ahead. You’re the scroll boss. Do your thang.


24 Yeses – Black Canadian Female-Led Businesses, Organizations, Artists to Support All Year Long


  • For your mindfulness journey: If you haven’t come across her yet, let me introduce you to Dora Kamau, meditation practitioner and self-described “wellness alchemist.” Dora has several free meditations on her site and is the first Black meditation teacher on Headspace. I’m especially fond of this Full Bloom Body Scan and this personal affirmation. Check her out!

  • For anyone afraid of Pilates: I hear it’s great for us gals as we age, but to me, the equipment looks like elaborate torture machines, and I don’t see much diversity in the rooms. And the price? Say what? My curiosity led me to an immaculate, sun-kissed studio downtown called Nice Day Pilates. Owned by Jennifer Winter, Nice Day offers classes online or in-studio. No intimidation, just beautiful motion, and meditation.

  • Makeup shake up: Last year, I took my mom and my sis for a special New Year’s treat to be colour-matched at Paba Cosmetics. Undertones are no joke. Red, blue, peach, yellow? Now, I know. Paba also offers professional makeup services and they’ll come to you for those special glow ups.

  • New prod on the block: Telan Cosmetics is a brand-new brand focused on dark skin. Sweet coverage, breathable, gives all-day good glow and my wallet likes it.

  • Queen or goddess?: I keep Jemika’s versatile hair and body Goddess Butter from Ambitious Naturals in the rotation. I’ll never tire of hearing: “You smell so good, Mommy.”

  • Farm to face is a thing: The ladies at SaSa Soap grow their own vegetables on their farm and use them to make the purest, most moisturizing soap. I don’t have a favourite, and I always have favourites. There’s beetroot, clay, seaweed, zucchini, so many more - all sudsational.

  • My definition of hot oil treatment: I’ve been following Alexandrine, owner of Apprenti Organik. She’s moved from creating beautiful products out of her home to now having a cosmetic lab. I dig her ethos, drive, and aesthetic. Her pics? This oil? C’mon.

  • Charles’s in charge: When Sugar Kane opened in our ‘hood in 2019 I jumped for joy. Not only were we getting a Cajun Caribbean flavour jam, but it was owned by three gorgeous sisters. The design, the vibe, the live music, the food, dat rum punch – on point.

  • My jerk chicken secret (shh…): I’ve made jerk marinade from scratch (even ground the allspice myself, I don’t play), but got to say I like Yawdi’s ready-made. You do need to marinade jerk for at least 2 hours. No cheats! The flava is so much richer.

  • High-level java: Caron Morgan’s Birdy's Daughter brings beans from a height of 5,000 feet above sea level right to you. Small batch, artisanal roasted Blue Mountain coffee from Jamaica is light, not bitter, and yum-licious.

  • Reci-please: I’m making my way through Nadia Boachie’s recipes on Travel and Munchies thanks to this Food Network Canada article by Eden Hagos a.k.a. Black Foodie. I’m marrying this cookie. And these brownies. I think I just invented food polygamy.

  • Put your brand in good hands: Margot Daley (also a Black TV exec) is fostering her love of photography. She’s started her own business with a focus on women entrepreneurs. The pics don’t lie. Her lighting is boss.

  • Meet media changemakers: If you or your company have been noodling creating a podcast, the journalists at Media Girlfriends can help. Garvia Bailey, Nana aba Duncan and Hannah Sung offer podcast production services as well as video. They did a six-part podcast about Black Canadian history called Strong and Free and offer a scholarship to young women and gender diverse students. Kudos to MG for creating opportunities and actively changing diversity in media!

  • For your next watch party: Toni Francis has big audacious goals and I’m all for it. There wasn’t a comprehensive database that featured Black shows or movies - so, she made one. Be Scene Global Media makes recommendations based on your likes and previous views. If I lose you for a few hours, I’ll understand why. Enjoy!

  • For the girls with curls: I’m done with DIY dyes and cuts and am leaving my hair to the professionals. No matter what race or ethnicity, Urban Curls has got you. I’ve never been able to tell if I was low porosity or high porosity. Normal porosity, peeps. Mystery over.

  • Post “wash day” help: My daughter’s curls look drier than the Sahara after wash day. Thanks to this handy curl refresher we’ve had a bounce back breakthrough.

  • Another crown pleaser: The kids and I have seven different hair textures across our three heads. A versatile standout has been Earthtones Naturals. Their shampoo and conditioner work for all three of us. Bonus – they are gracious, heart emoji humans, and it shows in every shipment.

  • Ready to wear: Ethically traded and socially sustainable clothes in maximum happy face colours? That’s Batik Boutique. I dig wearing Maya Amoah’s contemporary silhouettes and styles because I get compliments. I like compliments.

  • More ready to wear: Don’t you love that feeling of reading a book at the right time in your life? A well-timed gift can also hit that hard. I got a set of bracelets from Love and Light Jewels from my friend, Kelly, last year. I was researching black onyx one night and decided that I needed a bracelet. The next morning, I received a package. In it was a gift of gemstone bracelets and one was black onyx. Can you even? I’ll do a post on manifesting. Promise.

  • Grace for your face: So many beautiful products and services at Blumseed! Zakiyyah’s Balancing Face Serum is keeping me in my pretty girl era.

  • Fellow writers hear ye: Writer Jael Richardson started FOLD, the Literary Festival of Literary Diversity, and it’s coming up soon. I attended virtually in 2020 and I loved it. Registration starts March 23rd. We write in isolation, but as Jael says, it is all about connections.

  • More for the creatives: I want to try painting. Not sure when I’m jamming it into the calendar, but I dream of throwing a paint party with my ladies. When I do, I’m going to make my beautiful mess (or my messy beautiful?) at Fresh Paint Studio.

  • Hot haute hockey: Angela James is a living hockey LEGEND and co-owner of The 6ix. If you’ve been to a Toronto Marlies game, you should try women’s professional hockey. No checking and the level of play is shout out loud good.

  • Da best local round-up - Kerin John started the online directory Black Owned Toronto on IG in 2020 and we all know why. Thank goodness she did. The original location is still at Scarborough Town Centre and the new pop-up is at Square One. You can take this gal out of Missy, but she always makes her way back.

There it is - BHM x WHM à la AG. I don’t receive a cut or any pay for sharing these links. I truly believe in these women and love their products/services/talent and hope that if you weren’t familiar with them already, you’ve discovered something new to try.


Please take this list with you into the rest of 2023 and beyond!


2 YECESSARIES – Two Tips on How I Get My Sugar Together


This is the section where I share what I have scribbled in my Idea Log over the years. It’s what works for me and my family and I’m ready to share.


I MEET UP IN MARCH


I say these phrases a lot, “Let’s get together.” “We’ve got to get together.” “When ARE we getting together?” But if I don’t set a DTP (date, time, place), it doesn’t happen.


Jan and Feb are slogs, but March is the month when I’m ready to get out. I don’t love the word networking because it feels like there is an underlying goal. To me, meeting up with former colleagues and friends to hear how they’re doing, what they’re excited about, what’s been challenging, and what they’re planning is a fantastically human thing to do.


I make a manageable list of five to ten people and I really try to make good on that list in the pocket of time between March and May before everyone scatters for the summer. I’m purposeful with this timing and do this every year. It’s important to me to maintain my relationships beyond emails and texts, so I plan. And I set that DTP. That’s the key.


I SHOP MY CLOSET FOR SUMMER CLOTHES EARLY


Ok. Truth. My summer threads are still in bins this time of year. “Shop your bins” didn’t sound like a bait-worthy title. I dig through my spring and summer clothes (that are in bins) every March.


Here’s why:


  1. It cheers me up to know I’ll be wearing them soon. OMG. Winter.

  2. What I thought I’d wear again isn’t always applicable.

  3. Doing inventory on what I already have stops me from buying more than I need. Or more than I thinkneed.

One weekend in March I try on, I coordinate, I vet. I figure out what still fits, because shocker, I’m not getting any smaller. I always find pieces I’ve forgotten about. Closets and bins are like black holes.


I’m hard on what stays and donate or gift what’s not working. When I’m clever and creative, I can make that skirt I’ve had for ten years work. I love expressing myself with clothes and this is a tactic I use to maintain and build my wardrobe. Simply, I spend a little time (before the change in season) thinking about it.


There are already so many cutie pie summer dresses on the racks, winking at me. I will not make eye contact! I don’t buy until I shop at home first.


1 Idea –I’M TRYING A WEE-TOX


I admire the folks that can hard start the new year with Dry January. Kudos to you. I cannot. Or more accurately, I will not. I find that after I detox, I go hard into a retox. Like I’ve earned the right to wreck my organs.


I’ve invented a little something I’m trying right now called a wee-tox. Not weed, wee. It’s not a hardcore detox. I’m adding a little more goodness to my diet and lifestyle and reducing the “badness.” Kind of like a version of Damp January, but starting at this time of year. And I’m adding healthy habits and activities, not simply subtracting the not so healthy.


There are no rules to a wee-tox (yet), but here’s what I’m doing:


  1. I broke up with booze, but I’m allowed a few sips. Sips are yummy.

  2. I’m prioritizing sleep and making out with memory foam.

  3. I’m doing breathwork before bed and during the day.

  4. I’m sunny day walking.

  5. I’m having “quiet time” dates with myself at my fave place - the library.

  6. I eased into last week by taking the Monday off after Daylight Saving. Please try that if you can! The day after we lose an hour is a write-off. Make it a clean write-off.

  7. I’m hitting the steam room.

  8. I’m taking all my vitamins like a goody two shoes and being diligent with black seed oil.

  9. I’m mindful of my water intake, hitting the green tea, green juice, and eating more veggies.

Actually, I’m eating a ton of bok choy. I’m addicted. What is IN that veggie?


To me, a wee-tox is a softer, more sustainable approach to putting health first and I’m digging it. Your version could be different. And obvs, I’m a doctor of love and word play. Contact a certified physician for any health-related matters.


Thought I’d share. Take or leave the name!


That’s it, that’s all folks. I hope you enjoyed the BHM x WHM linkapalooza and the tips from my Idea Log.


I feel your support every time I sit down to write. Thank you dearly for your encouraging comments and for walking with me as I stay true to my writing practice. You fuel me.


Chau for now,

xoAG


P.S. There are no rules for a wee-tox, but there is a song. Soca x wellness practice. Makes total sense. Have a happy day!

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