J’adore Haiti and the case for Universal Humanity

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Haiti’s been on my mind alot lately. If I had to count, then we’re talking a year of waking thoughts where I never wanted to forget that there was a Haiti or a Haitian people at home and abroad.

My first post on Dasheen, a love letter to my own dear St. Kitts felt so right to me, and beyond that I just knew that the next needed to be post-marked directly to Haiti. I don’t know why I imagined that such a letter needed to come straight from the heart of a native Haitian. I guess you learn as you go.

Yet, this is not a love letter per se. This is just my heart and mind converging. I wrote down my thoughts yesterday during an all day Fundraising and Stewardship session (how apt) at my place of work. I didn’t know I would post it, but it feels right and timely.

Permit me, as this wants to go far beyond any kind of cultural conversation. It is a human conversation and as I listened to morning radio this week Jeffery “cousin Jeff” Johnson summed it up nicely as he stated matter-of-factly: “What we need right now is universal humanity.”



Music Monday: Gyptian via N P R’s Tiny Desk Concert Series

NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert Series has been in my ear for a hot minute.

The genius of the unplugged set is such a powerful draw, and it just works so well in the small studio-like venue, that so often feels and looks like the corner in the very back of the library. If you can’t imagine music so sweetly sung in a library, as in the instance of Gyptian’s Jan 5th 2011 showcase, I would dare any librarian worth her salt to complain or shush 🙂

Needless to say that as ‘Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton spin their favorite new tunes and live concert recordings from around the country’ I am all ears.

When I first saw/heard that Gyptian aka Windel Beneto Edwards would be next up, I was mildly interested. Although that last is not be taken out of context, as this series is really about the discovery of off-(sometimes off-off)-the-beaten path mix of musical talent. However, Gyptian was not a stranger, but at the same time, I was not so well acquainted with his music. I fully expect all you voracious music lovers out there will tell me if I have been remiss in my lack of attention.

I mean I am familiar with the unstoppable Gyptian/Nicki Minaj collaboration in the way of the “Hold You” remix as its constant radio airplay in 2010 and even somewhat now was/is hard to escape. Yet, as I’ve discovered that is only part of the story.

At the close of 2010, I viewed a video via VP Records’ YouTube channel and lo and behold it was Gyptian performing “Hold You” on the Soul Train Music Awards, which had aired live, except this performance had been preempted for a commercial break. Now, I won’t even run off the mouth here, but I will unequivocally say one thing about Gyptian: That man can perform his and your pants off!

For me, it has to be all in the way he actually sings into the mic. Many singers (and he is that) don’t have a live rapport with the mic. And beyond the mic, there is a noticeable building of the intensity with his audience. Case in point: The Soul Train audience seemed to start out a bit lukewarm, but they livened up, and it become apparent that they loved the delivery because it was a genuine package being delivered to them as if the song/lyrics and they mattered.

And if the above performance was a mild tease, then imagine my ear-to-ear grin of surprise as I was reeled in again by the NPR take.

Obviously, the man gets it. He gives it—with a full-on Marvin Gaye feel for sounds that very frankly appeals to the female element as he growls into the mic with a straight face—and I for one am deeply appreciative. Enjoy his set of “Hold You,” Beautiful Lady,” and “Nah Let Go,” very nicely backed by Anthony “Tony Bone” DiFeo on guitar as I delve into the annals of Gyptian the artist and maybe even get open on Gyptian the man.



[author] [author_image timthumb=’off’]http://dasheenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Blowing-in-the-wind-Bio.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Hi there, I’m Tynisha Leon, writer, West Indian, mango-lover, founder and Editor-in-Chief of DASHEEN magazine — the online destination where Culture. Feeds. Imagination! If you seek to inno­vate, pro­mote and/or contribute to posi­tioning a Caribbean peo­ple and gen­er­a­tion most positively then link me! Bless! [/author_info] [/author]

Mane Attraction: Healthy Hair Challenge meets Kinky Twists

Much encouraged by MopTopMaven’s Healthy Hair in 2011 Challenge, I’ve made the personal and now open promise to take her up on it!

I don’t consider my hair to be unhealthy, by any means, but I do consider myself a lazy caretaker of it, and in that I also recognize some utterly lazy tendencies. One example which comes to mind is my lack of patience with detangling, which coincidentally gets prominent mention in her piece. Alas, I know what I need to do, but I am neither consistent or invested in doing it. That will certainly change in 2011

I imagine those who know me may say to themselves–or me: ‘but you always switch it up’ and ‘I never know what you’re going to do with your hair from day to day.’ And yes, while that’s true, my preference for “protective styles”, ranging mostly from wigs to headwraps has not really been that protective, as very often I am not optimally mindful of the hair hiding underneath.  I have to admit that I’ve been far more invested in making myself presentable for the world at large and my various activities.

I’ve decided: No more!

So what does a Healthy Hair Challenge in 2011 look like for me?

As a jump-start, my commitment to my natural hair and myself starts now! In fact, it started on Christmas day 2010—and it looks and will continue to look much like the featured image at top. It’s protective styling all the way for this woman. And my protective styling of choice for the foreseeable future is kinky twists.

I happen to love kinky twists. I love the color selection that can go from Rihanna’s Calypso-red to Beyoncé’s sun-kissed honey blond to more au naturel notes and tones. I love the overall flexibility and styling options of the do.

This particular do, took this sistah 10 hours to complete!

It was not the easiest undertaking, no thanks to my perfectionist tendencies, but it left the most satisfying afterglow as I considered the $145 – $190 I had just invested into myself, instead of a stylist. (Have you seen my wanted list! 🙂 )

kinky back

As part of the healthy hair in 2011 challenge, I plan to redo my kinky twists every 2 months, which means that I will leave them in for 7 weeks, after which I will take down, deep-condition and let my hair breathe and rest for a week, after which I will retwist.

What will my maintenance regimen look like while the twists are in?

O-Town’s weather has been extremely unpredictable of late. However from past success, I know that I will still need to keep my hair moisturized and my scalp clean.

Products that have worked in the past and therefore being employed again:

  • Dr. Miracle’s Braid Relief Spray Formula or my awesome mix of Rose Water and Glycerin—for overall moisturization and conditioning for hair at root and along the kinky twist through tip.
  • Jojoba and rosemary essential oil mix—as needed for direct application to the scalp.
  • Sea Breeze or mixture of Apple Cider vinegar and water—applied with a cleansing cloth, cotton swab or even a Q-Tip for weekly scalp cleaning and maintenance.

There might certainly be more that I have not yet thought of or encountered, but I will update as I go.

Just know that your natural hair is beautiful beyond measure, every strand is a novelty, every style a function and story. However, natural hair takes patience, it takes love and it takes an investment in the knowledge base of the structure of hair that most of us have not seen since we were too little to know the difference.

Another day, another opportunity I always say.

Becoming Natural: Here’s to the healthiest of hair journeys beginning now, stretching into 2011 and beyond!


[author] [author_image timthumb=’off’]http://dasheenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Blowing-in-the-wind-Bio.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Hi there, I’m Tynisha Leon, writer, mango-lover, founder and Editor-in-Chief of DASHEEN magazine — the online destination where Culture. Feeds. Imagination! If you seek to inno­vate, pro­mote and/or contribute to posi­tioning a Caribbean peo­ple and gen­er­a­tion most positively then link me! Bless! [/author_info] [/author]



New Music Monday: King Konris is an “Unstoppable Force”

Whether you prefer to call it Kaiso, Soca or Calypso, for me it is all the beating heart of generations, the domain of the absentee ballot and never to be forgotten—it is the great social commentator.

And Oh Jah indeed, the music is sweet!

If memory serves, few events were looked forward to as thoroughly during Carnival time as the Calypso Competition.

Where J’Ouvert gave a body the opportunity to transform, and be transformed, the Calypsonian, quite naturally and without fear (and sometimes even favor) gives voice.

Whatever had blown over, or been blown over. Whatever was simmering below the surface. Whatever had gone unasked, unanswered, or been covered up by the very political “no comment” Everything is fodder and fair game to the Calypsonian and in a Calypso Competition.

This year’s Calypso Competition in my homeland (Sweet Sugar City) was no exception.

In a return to New Music Mondays and for your listening pleasure, here is the 2010-2011 Soca Monarch Champion—King Konris!

Here’s King Konris’ winning and crowd pleasing performance. Truly Epic!

I do have to admit a sincere love for this one and in particular the lick of that chorus line. It goes hard!!!

I consider myself a Culture warrior. I am a Culture ambassador. I am a Culture lover. I believe as the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964) says that “Culture is the widening of the mind and of the spirit.”

And I love how the fearless Lioness/entrepreneur Winnielle Pereira of the “Irie Lioness Boutique” (look for an irie review upcoming in 2011) puts it best: “Lets keep it real, I am in a festive place…the place I grew up and call home. Though I was born in Antigua, I am a Kittitian through the many years I lived on this beautiful island. Africa my roots… but this is where I live.. so! i going share one of the songs that taking carnival by storm.. the people love it… it going be blazing from plenty speakers.”

Well, it’s blazing from this woman’s speakers! Ha!

Whatever your political alliance, wherever you may find yourself in this world, we can all stand (united) and take this message to heart. The call is to one and all.

“Unstoppable Force, when we move as one, let the whole world know, they can keep SK down, and when we reach World Stage, a lot of dust go raise, yeh we small but we tallawh, and we go turn up de place.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’off’]http://dasheenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Blowing-in-the-wind-Bio.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Hi there, I’m Tynisha Leon, writer, mango-lover, founder and Editor-in-Chief of DASHEEN magazine — the online destination where Culture. Feeds. Imagination! If you seek to inno­vate, pro­mote and/or contribute to posi­tioning a Caribbean peo­ple and gen­er­a­tion most positively then link me! Bless! [/author_info] [/author]

J’Ouvert Beach Chill 2010: Live and Direct from Sugar City!

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JBC poster 1

Somewhere out there, on a little island paradise some 65-square miles, known to lovers the world over as Sugar City and the uninitiated as St. Kitts, West Indies, they are in the thick of it!

J’Ouvert that is. And for the curious and the culture-conscious, a good and quick summation of J’Ouvert can be found here.

By now the revelers would have tramped, they would have wiled and wailed, and laid aside every weight and care. In times past all good things would have come to an end around 11am. This year, thanks to the organizers of J’Ouvert Beach Chill 2010, the party continues on a beach without sand, or what has been dubbed “The People’s Official J’Ouvert Chill Zone!”

JBC 2010 promo

For those who are so blessed to participate and be in the place, there is the guarantee of an afternoon filled to overflowing with fun, relaxation and sizzling entertainment for both adults and children. As if that weren’t enough to entice, there is the added lure of an 18 feet water slide and foam party! “Well my peace!” as my sister would say in full Crucian accent. LOL

For the rest of us (myself included) we are invited to live vicariously through the live online stream here and please stay tuned for Dasheen’s followup post with pictures.

The big idea behind this historic and what is promised by organizers to be an annual event: ‘Revive the Revelry and not the Rivalry!’

From the looks of things that should be no problem!

Love All Ova!!!


Sunday Sessions: Thinking Outside the Box

Blue Santa!
by Claire Panchoo James

Claire Panchoo James

My daughter received an early gift from the “Blue Santa” here in Baytown (Texas)! She called and was so excited! She said mom if St. Croix only thought of its citizens this way! They gave her a microwave and a big bag of presents for her little one. Tears came to my eyes. I was going to give her that same gift. She needed it but now I can get her something else. I started thinking about my home and I wondered how wonderful that would be for the people.

It is not every day that you see racing police vehicles going down the street to deliver presents. It is usually to arrest someone or a call to crime. It is good to know that those sirens were bringing joy to the less fortunate. I also got to thinking about how wonderful it would be to restore some sense of trust and respect for the V.I.P.D. (Virgin Islands Police Department). There are some people who I know have good hearts and do a great good within the department for the people outside of solving crimes. You never know, maybe, they might just be more cooperative.

The city gave out free presents, drink and cookies. The bikers of the town use City Hall every year to also give out presents and today gave away four hundred and fifty bikes. Wow! What a way to make the little children look up to grown folks in such a positive way. The governor is not expected to hold these events the departments are responsible to represent their programs within the community with the approval of the State. The schools take a list of homes and children who are in need and deliver turkeys and presents each year to help the city bridge the gap. The churches also provide these services even if you are not a member.

I am a mother of eight and I was not qualified for public assistance in St. Croix just because I had a little piece of property but my children and I lacked greatly within the home for things. I was an employee of Hovensa and still couldn’t maintain all that I needed to.

Something to think about for our community! I love outreach and the idea melted my heart but rather than waiting to come home to do it I decided to share the idea because there might just be some little child whose parents cannot afford to give them anything.


*Republished with Permission



Grace is newness. It’s one of those moments that just has it’s own rhythm and which literally caused my heart to skip beats. I’m still here and I find that I need grace endlessly.


Stones…rocks…tributaries and muck…

These are smooth stones, jagged rocky relations
and wasted energies
These are ducks among swans
Water flows carelessly off their backs
“I have no vested interest in that…”
These are their words

Early birds arise
Only at wills and testaments
Blood thick as water is gathering mosquitoes
The uninvited imbibed at her wake
it was a certified
Raucous turned legend

Stones are slippery friends
They shift loyalties
One is easily appeased
Two are misinformed
Three are no-shows
These were only lessons
Par for the course
Deaf calluses don’t comprehend
Soft spots often feel overwhelmed

Rock is foundational
Founding fathers
oblivious to strain and stains
and name calling (or so they claim)
Become sirs
Needless grandeur
Pent-up mothers
Solid with treacherous sharp edges
become sojourners of truth
safe only if there are running shoes

(Sneakers are so impractically expensive)

I came barefoot and bald
Lone finger extended
Harder lessons
truth streaming
No beginning
Tuesday night prayer meetings
Wednesday night youth meetings
Thursday night Bible studies
Friday night deliverance services
Saturday morning Sabbath study
Sunday morn’ and nightly worship
No ending….

Mondays are for digging urine holes
to a redemption sing-along

There is a vision of flying
But no, it is the reality of the fallen

Covering my face

Falling into grace

Copy­right © 2010, Tynisha C. Leon


The Writer Sessions #1

Place: The Casa

Purpose: The Writer Sessions (ramped up by NaNoWriMo)

Participants: Me, myself and I (Although I do have some ride-or-die girlfriends who are working it out on their own terms elsewhere in the City Beautiful)

book on wood

So, did I mention somewhere along the line after it gets dark, this writer fancies herself a burgeoning novelist?  You see, while I’m pursuing this blessed DASHEEN thing, and working ever so diligently behind the scenes, with folks so much smarter than myself to see it through to its full potential, I’ve also been working on other important and life-affirming things.

What could be so important that it has taken up every bit of my mind this month: Well, I’m writing my 1st novel!!!!

Walking into my destiny is what it feels like and I am high stepping—Naturally!

I’ve been imagining this one—as yet untitled for a little over two years now, when the seeds were first planted as the poem Boy (Piano). And if I were to tell it all, when I’m trying to get an idea out, it feels so much more secure and real, if and when it comes through in some poetic form first.  I love how it can begin there, a simply haiku, or maybe some free verse with the ultimate license to change and become anything—even a play.

The art of wrting… Yes! So, there was something there with that Boy…, but I didn’t touch it at all until NaNo 2009, where I thought:  Maybe. Just maybe this thing could also fly.

Since then, I’ve been writing, not so diligently, but, but…  I L O V E how exercisingwhat in my life represents a gift—God-given and driven make me feel so vital!

I bless God for DASHEEN and NaNo, as they have both served to encourage me in the understanding of writing as discipline and not just art.

Currently, I am multitasking here (posting) and there (writing), while Faceboking and vibing to Stephen Marley’s Mind Control interspersed with his brother Ziggy Marley’s classic Love is My Religion album. It’s the perfect mesh, familiar to me and these characters and so the words are flowing everywhere.

My encouragement to writers:

Don’t stop. DON’T STOP! Don’t ever stop, not even when you’re told to, or even when you think you have it in you to hate what’s on the page. You are a vessel.  You don’t necessarily control the pour of the energies, the direction of the flow, or the hot, or the cold, or the lukewarm.

Your only responsibility:

To be available and ever ready.

The following is an excerpt of my Boy…  And no, I am not afraid, for if someone can take this next and make it magical, I could almost bring myself to give you permission to. Besides that, stealing is so NOT sexy! 🙂

After the prison of gray and Freud, the blaze at half-past dead should have made more of an impression. He should have been undone by any and all of it. It should have absolutely brought him to his knees.

Instead, he stands tall, a peacock’s pride apparent in the mix of island swell and adopted New York swagger. He is flanked, quite obstinately, two feet in the back, by men he does not know. They didn’t see fit to introduce themselves and he couldn’t see past their disapproving glances to care one iota. Their only attempt at fraternity—black formal tails, tuxedo shirts with stiff ties, the buffed patent leather that traps their feet, and the pristine white gloves that play accompaniment.

They remind him of a chain gang revival, even as he might have placed himself afar off riveted. And they looked the part, these men who had sized him up immediately as useless, telling him to follow, when he should have led, regardless of his best wishes.

Copyright © Tynisha C. Leon 11/12/2010

He has yet to be named. I mean he’s been “Boy” for so long. What to call the man?? We’ll see what comes.

My enduring thanks to the ones (small cheering section that they are) who already believe I can move mountains and will be standing in line somewhere just because) xo



[author] [author_image timthumb=’off’]http://dasheenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Blowing-in-the-wind-Bio.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Hi there, I’m Tynisha Leon, founder and Editor-in-Chief of DASHEEN magazine — the online destination where culture feeds imagination! I am a cul­tural war­rior first and fore­most; and for me that sim­ply means that I am a light bearer for all things intrin­si­cally cul­tural and Caribbean. If you seek to inno­vate, pro­mote and/or contribute to posi­tioning a Caribbean peo­ple and gen­er­a­tion most positively then link me! Bless! [/author_info] [/author]

Thank God I’m Natural

I just saw this and loved it!!! Thought this beautiful lady should certainly be celebrated!

Meet Ms. Nieva and she is proudly natural!

Ms Nieva

You know what I think really got me, it was when she said: “This Christmas out with the one plait and in with natural curly hair styles.”

It’s something to just let your hair be, and then discover that crown and glory in the unpredictability of its natural state can really be and do anything!

I just love that’s she’s changing it up, and letting her hair go—in the best way of course!

So Ms. Nieva, thank you for letting me CELEBRATE you in this quick Dash in/Dash out!


Swag for the Cure

I feel privileged to introduce my friend and fellow-writer Melissa Stillman to the DASHEEN family. I was so excited when she sent me this copy, firstly because she is such a talent, and secondly because she has been such a cheerleader of what I do on here! As we are all aware October or Pinktober is set aside for Breast Cancer Awareness. There were any number of ways to get involved and really show support for a cause that has touched so many of our loved ones, friends and women (even men) in general. Melissa, her sister Jennifer and her nephew Caleb raced for the cure! Enjoy her reflection on that experience.



By Melissa Andrews-Stillman

M, Jen and CalebI love free stuff.  I’m a couponer, a deal site subscriber and the first in line for a sample. So after collecting my medallion at the finish line of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and whisking a banana and yogurt cup off the refreshment table, you know my sights were locked on the exhibit hall—code for lots of free pink stuff (I also love pink).

While there were some great giveaways that totally fit the event and the cause—like pink New Balance under eye stickers (similar to the grease smudges football players wear to cut glare and increase intimidation)—quite a few left me scratching my head. As much as I love free goodies, I couldn’t figure out how changing a product to rose-colored packaging made it relevant. (That didn’t keep me from picking them up, of course.)

In the days since the race, I’ve been reflecting on the concept of Pinktober. Does slapping a pink ribbon on something really increase awareness of the disease and support for finding a cure or is it just “holy junk”? And how do the growing numbers of those who have been touched by the big C feel about the influx of pink, from blush to magenta, during the fall?

In the end what was probably the least-interesting piece of swag I picked up on race day, a magnetic pink ribbon, has done the most to inspire me. I’m adamantly opposed to cause ribbons on vehicles, so I stuck it to my treadmill. Now every time I workout I think back to walking the 5K with my sister, nephew and thousands of others in support of survivors and in memory of those lost to the disease—a sea people, wrapped in pink for a purpose.


Melissa Stillman is a UCF grad who is married to her high school sweetheart and works as a writer for a faith-based non-profit. Her freelance work has also appeared in The Orlando Sentinel and Central Florida Lifestyle Magazine.


The Musings of Dr. Garfield Alexander


The Doctor Is In

This one is a bit tongue-in-cheek. Certainly. Maybe a bit of a campaign rally. Hopefully. Off the beaten part. Definitely!

I am reminding myself that the only promise about Dasheen’s Wow Blog installments was: that place online where I simply had to go back into the annals and devour everything the person(s) had written.

The above is still the standard.

Garfield Alexander’s musings on Facebook reads much like my cumulus definitions of a blog—not just diary, but chronicles, storying—‘read more’ musings on life, love, heartache, aches in general. There are debates, there is a predilection to ROOTSiness (a very good and righteous thing) as well as a term Alice Walker affirmed in the title of her 2004 work of poetry—the ‘absolute trust in the goodness of the Earth.’

Or else why would he even bother.

For me: It is an open forum; it is a safe place; and it has become essential daily reading.

Garfield Alexander: Daddy, Doctor, Son, Lover, Friend, ROOTSman and Rebel-Writer/Poet himself. I’ll let him tell it.

Have you ever thought about getting an actual blog or website?

    Thought about it for a brief moment but then I got so caught up on Facebook that it became my blog.

When you started on Facebook, is this the path you envisioned?

    No. Originally I created a Facebook page for my medical program “Housecall” on ZIZ TV our local television station here in St. Kitts and did another for me personally. Because of my focus on my personal page I soon neglected the “Housecall” page. On my television program, I try to demystify medicine (as there exists a lot of medical myths) and make certain medical topics less taboo, so I had the same intentions when I began to disseminate medical information on my Facebook page. But because as I said this is my personal page and I’m not just a doctor but a man, a father, a son, a student, so too must my topics reflect my multiplicity. Whatever occurs in the recesses of my mind is manifested in writing. So on any given day you would find articles, quotes, videos, music, poetry.…

What drives you on the daily to be so dedicated in this?

    For too long we medical professionals and scientist on a whole have kept the knowledge encoded in complex terminologies to give the impression that only we can understand. I feel it’s a doctor’s job to do more than just sit behind a desk, awaiting the meek and ignorant to pay homage to him, seeking his wisdom then paying tithes. We (men of science) have been blessed with a talent not only to heal but to educate.

Favorite posts/topics of yours?

    I don’t have a favorite post/topic, what I do have is a favorite repercussion. Any post/topic that incites debate, banter or illicits a genuine response from a reader.

Any surprises thus far?

    Yes. I’m surprise that I have over 1000 friends even though mines is not a typical Facebook page, there isn’t much hype or drama that attracts the usual “Facebook crowd”. I’m surprised that less than 2% of my friends comment. I’m surprised at the amount of people who have told me that they sign in to Facebook just to see my page or that mine is the first page they search for when they sign in. I’m surprised that Facebook is the most populated space on the planet after China and India…(he laughs—alot—here)

Who are you reading currently?

Dan Browne’s – The Lost Symbol (Just finished)

J.A. Rogers’ –  World’s Great Men Of Color (Daily)

Mark McWatt’s –  Suspended Sentence (Just started)

What are you listening to?

    These have been in rotation for the past 2 weeks:

 Movado, Tarrus Riley, Queen Ifrica, Damian & Nas, Etana, Linkin Park, Oricha, Ricardo Arjona

Best advice you ever gave your little one?

    “Listen to you Mommy, because I do…”

Best advice she ever gave you?

    “Daddy you have to speak nicely to Mommy and love her…”

Lastly, how has culture fed your imagination?

    For me culture is identity, it’s what differentiates one people from another. I grew up in the 80’s and early 90’s when St. Kitts culture was enriched by great musicians, poets, writers, leaders. When the working class was impoverished, but found strength in each other. While I was growing up there was a culture of togetherness, respect for the elderly and community child rearing. I grew up exposed to the teachings and stories of the elderly and the Rastaman. The Rasta culture evoked in me a spirit of blackness, black supremacy, Pan-Africanism, repatriation, and self-love. The culture that I was exposed to growing up fed me, enriching me and my imagination.

Follow the good doctor’s musings at:



[author] [author_image timthumb=’off’]http://dasheenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Blowing-in-the-wind-Bio.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Hi there, I’m Tynisha Leon, founder and Editor-in-Chief of DASHEEN magazine — the online destination where culture feeds imagination! I am a cul­tural war­rior first and fore­most; and for me that sim­ply means that I am a light bearer for all things intrin­si­cally cul­tural and Caribbean. If you seek to inno­vate, pro­mote and/or contribute to posi­tioning a Caribbean peo­ple and gen­er­a­tion most positively then link me! Bless! [/author_info] [/author]

Conscious Minds on the Rise

“Jah is watching all the time. That is why it is revelation time. Babylon, society hurting mankind. You got to see it with your own mind…”

Ten Months.

In this day and age, that could very well represent a lifetime—for the better or worse. Circumstances can change on a dime; visions shift, dreams are dashed—realized, people come and go. Dessert and disaster exchanging hands.

Ten months ago, two men who met on the edge of a get-by job, where they couldn’t talk because of the system they worked under exchanged notes. Not the gossipy, juvenile ones, but fearless dreams on paper for their eyes only. They were giving their dreams definition, coloring in clouds to make solid that which could and would change in the blink of an eye.

In those notes were the humble beginnings of a movement. The movement called Conscious Mind Records Incorporated.

Ten Months—that the lifespan of this young record label, and while that time-frame represents growth, it also represents the foundations of a legacy.

“Conscious Mind Records is a company that is going to bring the people—all people together,” says CEO and artist Thomas A Jenkins III aka “T”. “[We’re] coming in a way to save the world and not in a conceited way, but we want to help and we can.”

You only understand his audacity when you grasp his trajectory—Born in Lorain Ohio, grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, graduated high school in South Bend Indiana, 8 1/2 year military stint in Special Ops, and currently attending to Full Sail University for his Bachelors in Recording Arts. He sang at 19, even got himself recorded. Dabbled in rap. Fell in love for a bit. Found his voice there.Did recordings for other people. Loved the Marvin’s, Al’s and of course the Bob’s of the world. Just always dug music and wanted to be around it.

“Music has always been my calling,” he says “When I was 19 I was listening to a lot of R n’ B and did a lot of singing. It was only after I was in the military that I actually starting rapping more. Rapping was like poetry in a different way. Rapping felt better to me and it still does.”

So why Conscious Mind? Who is the label speaking to? Who does it want to lead?

“Our style of music is more enlightening. A lot of music especially in hip hop can be very negative. Even if artists are not trying to purposeful be negative, that how its coming across. Conscious Minds is like an awakening.”

As I listened, I couldn’t help but see splices of The Roots with their visual and aural impact. Remember You Got Me. In that video, folks were down in the streets, not marching, not rallying, but sleeping in one context, but for all intents and purposes just dead to what was happening all around them—around us.

“It’s not all talk and it’s not all negative. It doesn’t always have to be negative,” he stressed. “Yes we are singing the realities of life, but when we’re singing the realities we’re also bringing the solutions and saying this is how these things can change.”

Change agents. It’s a newish term that gets tossed around of late without much consequence, but even I wasn’t numb to their passion.

“I have a lot of experiences,” said T. “Some of the things people do out there always rapping about dope boy this and that. I can talk about something and say its not right because I’ve done this or that. I fought for this country in Special Operations, so I can talk about that too. I don’t sound like an old man when I’m rapping, but I have a lot of knowledge.”

And you really feel like what Conscious Mind has to say is that important?

“In ’01 I was in Africa and I saw Viva La Tupac on the wall. This is like 8 to 10 years after he was died. I don’t care if no one ever sees my face as long as they can hear the words I’m saying. We want to touch the world.”

John Leon aka Souljah Bless who also assumes the dual role of the President and the artist was quick to add: “It’s slowly starting to catch on like rust!”

I don’t know if I need a disclaimer here. But full disclosure: John Leon aka Souljah Bless is my brother-in-law. Now, you know the feeling when you think you have someone figured, that you’ve encountered all that there is to see and know about that person? Well, Souljah Bless and this partnership of friends that make up Conscious Mind Records was a bit of a revelation.

“People are always talking about the feeling the vibe that we’re giving to everyone,” says Souljah. “People always tell us that they can escape the world when they come and see us perform. It’s peaceful.”

Astounding facts, when you imagine that Souljah never had dreams of being an artist, had never even picked up a mic—imaginary or otherwise until a few months ago.

“Going from not doing no kind of music and performing to having people appreciate your music. It could have been the complete opposite,” says Souljah. I went in on that level the vibe was right and it was.  From the beginning my vibe was on a conscious level,”  “I always feel like it was something I wanting to do, not really on the mic as a singer, but making people aware. Changing their tune, their frequency. Tuning them.”

Talk to me about the name Souljah Bless. How did he come to be apart of this movement?

“It just so happen I had a shirt from way back. It was the patches I had on it. I was wearing that same shirt that day. I looked down and one patch said Soldier and one said Bless. One old shirt you know and what it said to me was I already chose my name beforehand. Everything felt right again. The soul of Jah is with me and within every body and I feel that I could use the meditation that God gives me—this consciousness if you will, and use it to help other people and bless them.”

T and Souljah Bless

T & Souljah Bless

So which do you gentlemen prefer: The executive or the artist?

T: I love being an artist. To me that’s my main thing. I actually love having any part there is to do with music. There is nothing better to me than to be on stage. The CEO is nice, but I don’t really look at it as being my company because we are a family and everyone does what’s necessary.

Soldier Bless: I love being the artist, but being the president of anything says someone has confidence in you. The artist is supplemental. For me being the president allows me to be the artist. I like the fact of the overall feel of the next accomplishment, especially when you never thought you could do it.

It sounds like it’s been a blessed 10 months. What’s next?

“It’s been a wild ride and I didn’t expect it to happen as fast as it has,” says T. “God has been blessing us. I see the year ending with us completing Souljah’s album, my album and Society’s Poet album. We have people who are interested in investing in this and we have people who we deal with. Especially in this industry we want to weigh our options before we let investors in. Eventually we will have to have distribution and by May of next year we should be full-fledged in the stores. We go with the flow with a lot of things.”

The growing Family includes:
Touch of Royalty which has been consolidated under Conscious Mind Records Inc and Society’s Poet and their infamous Spoken Word Revolution, also under the Conscious Mind family.

“We all care about reach other enough and we care about what we’re doing. We have dinners and we have a big pot luck. God just put the right people in your life and we all blending like we belonged together.”


In a time when it seems music has lost its soul, when the majority of music being made is only made for the money, and not for the love of it, Conscious Minds is definitely on the Rise. Link them at:

You Tube



[author] [author_image timthumb=’off’]http://dasheenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Blowing-in-the-wind-Bio.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Hi there, I’m Tynisha Leon, writer, mango-lover, founder and Editor-in-Chief of DASHEEN magazine — the online destination where Culture. Feeds. Imagination! If you seek to inno­vate, pro­mote and/or contribute to posi­tioning a Caribbean peo­ple and gen­er­a­tion most positively then link me! Bless! [/author_info] [/author]


The Power Suit

In the interest of resuming work, and getting down to business once again, both personally and for the many who have been impacted by the current economic depression, I offer this new installment of DASHEEN called Resume Work.

This one hopes to lead and aid in your ownership of your life’s work.

At this point, we should all be aware that it’s not about how good you look on paper. Whether you are of the functional, chronological, combination, targeted or even CV (Curriculum Vitae) crowd, it can all feel like a crap shoot.

If you are a person interested in climbing someone’s ladder, well on your way, have been summarily released (fired, laid off etc) from ladder-climbing duties, actively looking and pursuing job offers or you an entrepreneur or as I prefer a passion-preneur, everyone who is an individual with a hustle should have a Power Suit!

What is a Power Suit: A power suit for my money has always been about superb tailoring that gives the confident man/woman who wears it an aura that is an indelible and unmistakable first and lasting impression!

A Power Suit is about CONFIDENCE, which is not akin to arrogance. Much like a perfect signature scent, this CONFIDENCE should herald your arrival. It signals that you are here and your purpose is to leave your mark.

A more studious definition:

A power suit is a conservative tailored suit worn by men or women to project a sense of self-confidence and authority. The phrase came about in the 1980s, when a big-shouldered, dark-colored suit was the norm for anyone who wanted to be taken seriously in the business world.

So there’s some history there, but I’m not interested in evoking images of Wall Street and/or congressional types and the men and women making up the ranks. The current height of joblessness and workers apathy requires a definite more focused and individualized approach.

The word nondescript comes to mind when I think about all the good advice given for dressing to interview. “Dressing” lends itself to the food world with much more aptitude that when applied as a descriptor of who you want to be on this journey. It doesn’t speak to your style or your vibe or what you uniquely want to bring to the table.

My take-away from all the how-to-dress-for-the-job-you-want advice over the years has been: If I have to dress like a clichéd idea of an accountant, then I simply wouldn’t be applying.

My thinking again here: While I know I could represent a first-rate, stellar version of myself, I could not and would not do justice to someone else.  Obviously this theory only holds water, if you’re NOT applying for an accounting or acting role.

You see, I am convinced that even in these hard times, the career/job/venture hunt should also not be about a pack mentality. And, I am very well aware that the experience of many as they’ve gone through the job-hunt-ringer, has been that of the mass interview. However, especially there, you need to excel at being an individual, and even a bit of a rebel.

Truth and experience says you must be virtually everywhere to win an audience with someone or anyone.  Woody Allen says that “80% of life is showing up”  That is some divinity right there. It is nothing but the truth! You and your power suit need to show up!

The Power Suit is ready and willing to become the live conduit between YOU and that audience.

Your Power Suit should:

  • Define you to the point where putting it on any other shoulders renders it mute, and causes it to be ill-fitting. This is the YOU filling out that suit.
  • Remind you of who you are at the core and why you are here (there) in the first place.
  • ALWAYS get you at the very least an audience.

BOTTOM LINE: Your Power Suit is your NEW RESUME and your NEW ATTITUDE.

I hope some are cheering right now.  I know it’s been hard on so many levels for so many, but not to worry, your style session follows:


You have lots of room for play and color.

Your suit starts with a full evaluation of your body, wherever you’re at. Too often we wear a suit whose silhouette not only has nothing to do with who we really are, but does nothing complimentary for the body we live in. I love MyShape as my personal body cheat sheet. Give them a look-see.

Where are your seams hitting? Would you shine in a princess seam? A more boxy pro­file, a peplum design? What about a light trench-style?

What about the waist of your pants? Are they hit­ting you at the most flat­ter­ing point? Can you pull off a high-waisted trouser?

Don’t limit your­self or your options. In fact, you might consider deconstructing that pant or skirt suit totally and/or opt for a dress instead.  I happen to think that there is nothing more powerful on a woman than a well tailored sheath.

Psyche's Sheath Style

Psyche's Sheath Stylings

The lines of a sheath has universal appeal, and please know that one hitting you just below the knee to about mid calf will pay dividends.

Black is always wonderful and powerful all on it’s own, but consider one in jewel tones along the lines of deep aubergine, garnet, sapphire etc. And if you must do black, consider one that is one-shouldered or bandeau if appropriate, since all will be pulled together with a jacket and/or I’m almost nervous to say a cardigan with substance (something Chanel-inspired comes to mind).

Still needing inspiration, check out the lovely Psyche (pictured above), over at Economy of Style who does wonders with a sheath dress! Her closet choices hit all the high points of well-loved, individualized power dressing.

If you have now figured out the jacket shape that suits, then you have a game changer on your hands. But ah, this is only a beginning, let’s consider shoes.

Instead of a functional pump, why not a functional peep-toe pump or slingback with a fresh manicure on display. This shoe doesn’t have to be beyond 2 inches even. Just a smidge of height and the opportunity to add some color, even an irreverent one will set you on the path.

At the very least, you’ll have a mood elevator for when you look down and take that final breath before going in to get your job!

I’ll leave the hosiery decisions to you. My feelings—freshly shaven legs with a little glowing lotion or a light application of gelled oil will establish things nicely.

And I would never, ever tell a woman what to do with her hair, but rather offer a small suggestion: Think 40’s, 50’s glam in the way of a chignon (off to the side).

A smart watch, some interesting & meaningful studs, a clean, naturally made up face, specifically leaning toward a nude (bronzy or skin-tone) or a punchy matte lip (I’m feeling Revlon’s Matte Line) or stain. With a barely there made-up face, a slight wing on the liner plays to beautiful advantage and adds positive interest.  If there must be gloss, center it in the middle and keep it there.



While I would love to see you all pivoting in some Ozwald Boateng, I understand that you need the job first, but that the environment may not be all the way inclusion to this kind of hit parade.  But there are some takeaways from Sir Boateng’s take on Saville Rowe.

No longer should you relegate yourself to the domains of Black, Navy, Grey or Brown. Now the call here isn’t to abandon. We are only re-imagining your suit here, not deconstructing as we suggested above with the ladies.

Think texture that could go anywhere from suede to linen. I pause at seersucker, but then again the power suit is not just about the Corporate right (or left).  It’s exclusively about generating confidence.

Think sheen that is all of a subtle shine. I read somewhere that such a suit makes a man look lively, vigorous and virile. I can dig that, so I imagine that you can too.

Think a graduation of color that is ombré going from a lighter jacket to a dark pant in the same color family. Be unconventional and take it in the other direction—light on the bottom and dark on top.

Think a thicker pinstripe. And oh yes, you can and should wear a pinstripe suit during the hunt!

If you remain shy on any of the above, consider a punchy (color) shirt or tie. In the latter, a Windsor knot with a bit more flair or even a skinnier tie would not be inappropriate.

Watch your proportions with everything, your jacket should not hit your kneecaps (not the venue) and the hem of that pants will thank you if it can just brush the arch of your shoe. If you are ankle grazing, then my expectations are that that pant is slim streamlined.

Serious note: Your movement should never be impeded by a power suit.

Patent leather shoes would be nice touch. The high shine and intensity is sure to bring a modicum of attention. Are you ready for it?

Cuff-links are not necessary, but would add a serious, deliberate edge. I’m telling you as a friend to go for it!

I won’t tell you what to do with your hair. A clean Caesar. Twisted up. Fro-ed out. Dreads pulled off the face and held in queue at back. A sleek or tousled do. Do your do!

And I know you have a statement watch so get it set, ready and go.

I would caution the wearing of any other statement jewelry other than the optional cuff-links though.

From head to toe all things must be considered in the makings of Power Suit. Remember, it’s not about any brand, it’s about YOUR BRAND! And I hope you are developing it.  For now your mission is to WOW them!


The Power Suit is also a power trip. Beyond the trimmings, it is also about a positive, proactive, power-game. You must absolutely believe your own hype. After all, the suit does not make the man or woman. It only aids in the flight.

Feature Slider Photo Credit:  Street Etiquette

[author] [author_image timthumb=’off’]http://dasheenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Blowing-in-the-wind-Bio.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Hi there, I’m Tynisha Leon, writer, mango-lover, founder and Editor-in-Chief of DASHEEN magazine — the online destination where Culture. Feeds. Imagination! If you seek to inno­vate, pro­mote and/or contribute to posi­tioning a Caribbean peo­ple and gen­er­a­tion most positively then link me! Bless! [/author_info] [/author]

Wanted: Dolce Vita Lace-Up Boot

I’m not in the market for a boot. And certainly one that is neither tall, nor sleek, so why did these Dolce Vita for Target® Lace-Up Boot stop me in my tracks?

Dolce Vita laceups

Could it be my military musings and that black jacket (love) I previewed recently?

Could it be the golden details in that angled zip and grommets channeling delicate Victorian lace-ups?

I couldn’t tell you what made me put them on, except an interest in Target’s GO Designers and their collections for the brand which does inspire at the very least a look-see, if not an outright purchase in my experience.

I was wearing my Stella Express flare jeans, so the marriage of jean to boot wasn’t even that great, but I abandoned my lipsticks and Cantu Shea Butter purchases to run and find a fulllength mirror. LOL

I tucked, untucked and rolled the jean… I left the zipper open part way, then zipped it all the way… I went down low and scrutinized the bends and breaks of the faux leather.

My happy conclusions: These would do nicely. Not to mention that the hubby was in tow and nodding appreciatively.

But do you want to know when an item is truly working on a find ladies and gentlemen?

It’s when you have that not-just-in-the-movies montage of your life in them, and can clearly envision at least two, if not three ways to make the item work with things you already own.

I had that. And I think what I loved mostly was the unexpectedness of them. While not my type of boot on the surface, they had a voice and it was soulful. I like what they’re saying and I am wanting, but you know what, I’m also getting.


My Style: 5 Perfect Jackets

There was a long awaited chill in the air last night that mellowed into the coolest breeze this morning. I think we got up to 83 degrees today in Orlando. So, let’s talk jackets!

The prevailing trends for coats this fall/winter season are still all about the details. Military/Equestrian, unexpected ruffles, skirted hems, and colors that run the gamut.

I will not be running out to get any new coats this season. It is Central Florida—Orlando after all, and I already have what I need in the lone baby pink leather trench coat which made it when I moved from New York, along with two fall-lovin’ vests that I think are the business.

In this new environment, jackets have replaced my coat-love in a beautiful way.

The things I look for in a perfect jacket: Classic styling with an unexpected twist, princess seaming details, bold color, interesting textures and the ability to multitask i.e. from casual to dressy, or on rare but happy occasions, allowing me to be hands-free because it’s holding the cellie, lip gloss or lipstick, the debit card and driver’s license, and mini Altoids. Sounds demanding right, but function and style together are an intoxicating combo.

The Lineup:

Shrunken Jean Jacket

Shrunken Jean Jacket

You know when Wal-Mart gets it right, it just does! The denim on this is a dark wash with a soft almost chambray weight. Perfect with office wear—sheath or slacks and a dressy tee, or just over a tunic and leggings/jeggings. I’m wearing it here with my Maxwell dress. I paid $19.99 and I wouldn’t normally pay that much for a jean jacket from Wal-Mart (only because I can wait out a sale like no one’s business) but I had to have it! So glad I took that leap.

Purple Shag (Nap-texture) Jacket

Purple Nap-Texture Jacket

I might not know what to call this one, but words won’t quite do it justice anyhow. It was swiped from a rather unfortunate dress during the last clothing exchange I attended. As an aside, I sometimes wonder if it’s wrong to separate a whole outfit at events like this. Is there clothing exchange rules and etiquette that I should be following, even if there are no rules? Well, I usually don’t do shoulder pads, even in the interest of investing in the di rigueur linebacker displays, as seen on the streets and on the catwalks. It’s just not one of the things that attracted me about the 80’s or women in the 80’s. So I am mildly surprised that I find this jacket so irresistible. I love the feel of the “nap” that is not scratchy or uncomfortable in the least. Here I am wearing it with capris and a sheer tee, but I already imagine it with boyfriend jeans, jeggings and skinnies. I can see it being worn unbuttoned, buttoned or wrapped to the outer limits and held together with broaches.

Swing Jean Jacket

Jean Swing Jacket

This is not the kind of jacket that I usually wear for my body type, as there are no princess seams in sight, and that seam directly across the chest area can get complicated if not downright fussy. However, with a sheath or pencil skirt and an irreverent tee, it lends that quiet sophistication. I love that it’s jean with a sheen and I love those big faux tortoise shell buttons. Great unexpected find. If I remember it was from Ross. The price was anywhere from $16.99 to $19.99.

Candy Pink (Vintage) Girlfriend/Boyfriend jacket

Candy Pink Jacket

Another find at the clothing exchange. No separation anxiety here. It’s a size 14 and needs a bit of tailoring, but oh how I love those big gold buttons that recall a bit of military. And it’s double-breasted! Only in a boyfriend/girlfriend jacket would I be able to pull that one off! In my fantasies I see it with this lace number or this cobalt blue beauty.

Black Military-Style Adirondack Jacket

Black Military-Style Jacket

My first thoughts here, I really wish black photographed better. Regardless, I think I saved the best for last. This jacket hits all my high points. It has beautiful details galore—from the military-style on the sleeve, to the huge, perfectly appointed lapels that can be worn up or down, to the hidden zip in front that does in fact go all the way up, to the angled pockets, to the ruched waist and tie. The fabric is cotton/nylon with a slight sheen. Did I already say how much I wish this photographed like the dream it is. lol Ah well, I’m looking at a weekend trip to New York and I am imagining only needing this one jacket. I’m so in love. $19.99 at Ross—I would have paid more and that says it all!

***Thank you to my photographer. It was a pleasure working with ya love!***