Celebrating Brown Beauty, Hip-Hop Artists Ambush & Kareem Ali’s ‘Love In My Heart’

Emelda De Coteau
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Emelda De Coteau

Mother, wife, sister, friend, writer / blogger / creative organizer, budding photographer... These are just a few of the many hats I juggle each day. I believe creativity is oxygen for the soul. I created Live In Color blog to celebrate the beauty in every moment, from faith to inspiration and motherhood.And it is soon becoming Pray with Our Feet blog which will focus on the intersection of faith and activism. Follow the inspiration on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/praywithourfeetblog/
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Photo Credit: Keston De Coteau

It’s challenging being a brown girl in a world where lightness is synonymous with beauty. Some of us feel invisible at times, ignored and marginalized. Often, when we are acknowledged it’s through the prism of stifling stereotypes, from gold digger to gum poppin’ baby mama.

Ambush & Kareem Ali, a DMV-based hip-hop duo, are out to change all of that. Their latest track, “Love In My Heart” is an ode to everything commercial rap refutes, authentic black beauty. The video, shot by Keystone Productions (yes, full disclosure, that’s my hubby’s company) follows one woman’s journey to self love.

We watch as she struggles with a boyfriend who refuses to see her, even as she acquiesces to his notions of Eurocentric femininity. But Kareem Ali reminds us with a confident grin, his voice steady over the vibrant beat, “…when chocolate looks good, baby, nothing looks better.”

In a world where singers and rappers extol “yellow model chicks” without hesitation, it’s refreshing to hear and see a brother admiring skin tones the color of rich mahogany. Images matter immensely; this visual essay, these rhymes, stand as a testament to the power of resistance, and a willingness to define ourselves for ourselves. It’s all rooted in love; Ambush & Kareem Ali didn’t have to work to convince me.

Enjoy more of their music on SoundCloud.

Live In Color! – Emelda

Nicki Minaj Collection at Kmart

Emelda De Coteau
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Emelda De Coteau

Mother, wife, sister, friend, writer / blogger / creative organizer, budding photographer... These are just a few of the many hats I juggle each day. I believe creativity is oxygen for the soul. I created Live In Color blog to celebrate the beauty in every moment, from faith to inspiration and motherhood.And it is soon becoming Pray with Our Feet blog which will focus on the intersection of faith and activism. Follow the inspiration on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/praywithourfeetblog/
Emelda De Coteau
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Nicki Minaj surrounded by models at collection opening in October
Photo Credit: Vibe Vixen

A few months ago, someone nonchalantly mentioned Nicki Minaj launched a clothing line at Kmart (October 9 officially). Honestly, my first thoughts were pink, cheap, cheesy, and next! I had zero confidence in her collaboration with the big box retailer.

Still, I think of her as a style icon. She reintroduced pink and red lip hues to young African-American women. Those full bang wraps she rocked remain smoking hot, and that oversized bum inspires booty photo shots, and butt lifts all over the world. She is hip-hop’s Lady Gaga – sexy, raunchy, and over the top!

Photo Source:  Blond-a-holic Buzznet
Photo Source:
Blond-a-holic Buzznet
Photo Credit: Complex Magazine
Photo Credit: Complex Magazine (October / November 2010)

Despite all of this I remained uninterested, especially with overwhelming work and family obligations. Well, on Christmas Eve with just an hour to spare, I hit Kmart, less than a mile from home. Other holiday shoppers hurriedly searched for presents; talk about an intense mood.

I intended to buy Bentley and Zion (my 2 baby boys) pajamas. I looked to my right and there it hung, the Nicki Minaj collection. Against all of my reservations, I stood mesmerized for several seconds. Yes. My eyes squinched, the bottom lip dropped. The line is presented like visual art; it’s vivid and eye catching. Wait. Am I standing in Nordstrom or Kmart?

What Christmas Pajamas? In a matter of seconds, this Baltimore woman became a “Barb” in Nicki’s world. The collection is beautiful, sexy, unique, well thought out, and true to her personal style. All the pieces I selected were under $30, and the sweetest part? I could take an additional 40% off!

Well, I hear your next question. Where would you wear these clothes? I think of it mostly as unique party wear. There are some pieces for the office, like a tailored white blazer with a large gold button.

But you know what? This is ground zero for rebels, bad women who resist regular, and love to break rules. Sound like you? This is your line.

My only precaution is to care well for these pieces, laundering on a gentle cycle, and purchase your true size. The fabrics look great, but are not as resilient as higher end ones. Sizes range from small to extra large so if you have curves like I do there is a range of beautiful, tasteful options to express your personal style.

Beauty and fashion for the masses! No matter what your bank account looks like, you too can be fashionable, fabulous and bold!

Live In Color – Valencia

I’m Not Sorry for Being an Overcomer

Emelda De Coteau
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Emelda De Coteau

Mother, wife, sister, friend, writer / blogger / creative organizer, budding photographer... These are just a few of the many hats I juggle each day. I believe creativity is oxygen for the soul. I created Live In Color blog to celebrate the beauty in every moment, from faith to inspiration and motherhood.And it is soon becoming Pray with Our Feet blog which will focus on the intersection of faith and activism. Follow the inspiration on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/praywithourfeetblog/
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Valencia Pearl, beauty/ style editor for Live In Color blog
Photo Credit: Keston De Coteau, Keystone Productions

“We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future.”― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

My morning was uneventful; the day was going as planned. My 4 youngest children were on their way to school. I was dressed, beauty kit packed and ready to go. Before I left, I logged on to Facebook. It was mostly more of the same from my friends, but I noticed a simple photograph published by eight-time GRAMMY-nominated singer Ledisi.

Singer Ledisi  Photo credit: RTY Photograpahy courtesy of Instagram
Singer Ledisi
Photo credit: RTY Photography courtesy of Instagram

Her weight loss was remarkable; she looked like a different person. Her brown and blonde streaked locs were curled and hanging beyond her shoulders, her pearly-white teeth gleamed through crimson-stained lips. The baseball shirt stated simply:”I’m not sorry.” The caption read: “I’m not sorry for evolving.” My response? “I’m not sorry either, girl” in agreement.

A friendship just ended in my life, and I was ok with it, too. We were not good for each other. I did not care about what my former friend thought; I did not care about the feelings our separation caused either. She helped me to legitimize the fact that I put my life, and future ahead of theirs, and that was perfect (it’s OK to be selfish).

I felt better emotionally, physically, and my soul was partially healed. A 10 pound weight airlifted from my heart.  Immediately I began thinking of more things I should not apologize for such as:

1. I’m not sorry for having children without a husband.

2. I’m not sorry for having gigantic dreams!

3. I’m not sorry for being happy.

4. I’m not sorry for believing in myself!

5. I’m not sorry for being opinionated.

6. I’m not sorry for being glamorous.

7. I’m not sorry for not giving a fuck.

8. I’m not sorry for not caring if you judge me for cursing above in #7.

9. I’m not sorry for being 100% real!

10. Last, but not least, I’m not sorry for being an overcomer!

Releasing the Weight!
That felt good, and trust me the list could go into the hundreds. I released myself from responsibility for things that I should not have responsibility for in the first place. Your parents, friends, family, boss, spouse, children, and the world hands you things they cannot conceptualize, then judges and scolds. If you don’t change, they may even turn their backs on you, too.

I should never have to apologize for being happy, but some people are so full of hatred, they cannot understand the source of your joy. If I could pick one thing that meant the most to me at this moment it is this: I’m not sorry for being an overcomer!

Photo Credit: Keston  De Coteau  Keystone Productions
Photo Credit: Keston
De Coteau
Keystone Productions

We all have a past life; we all make mistakes. We all have done things, or had things done to us we wish never happened. I remember growing up in Baltimore’s neighborhood of Northwood on a tree-lined street, raised by a single mother and older sister.

We rode roller skates, played with a neighborhood dog named Max, and climbed a small tree in the front yard. My childhood was uneventful, and by American standards normal. There were no Daddy issues. I didn’t witness dosmestic violence. I was not sexually molested, and my Mother nurtured and uplifted me.

Falling In Love Young & Birthing Babies
Yet for some reason I fell in love young. I became pregnant at fifteen, gave birth at sixteen, and carried another baby soon after. Twenty days before turning seventeen, I gave birth again. While I’m not releasing myself from responsibility for reckless behavior, at 34 years old, I’m not apologizing for being a teenage Mom.

I loved, nurtured, and supported them enough to become successful young adults. They are in college, working towards providing a life for themselves. No. Those babies are adults now, and how exactly did your children turn out again?

But yes, that happened, 2 children before the age of seventeen, and their father was arrested for murder 2 months into my son’s life, 1 month after we conceived my daughter. Ouch. You do the math. Pampers, wipes and bottles bombarded me.

Grown Woman Determination
Still, I was too busy for devastation. I pulled my grown woman panties all the way up, finished high school and attended college. For I am an overcomer, and not sorry for it. The story does not end here.

By the time I turned 21, I brought another child into the world, this time a baby boy. I called him Zion. My life a Pete Rock and CL Smooth song, who knew? Yup, I did that again. My mother died 13 months later after battling heart disease and complications from diabetes. Eight months passed, and I birthed twin girls. All the drama that ensued nearly cost me my mind. But remember “I’m not sorry” I became a baby-making machine. I spit out 3 babies in twenty months.

I was not a whore. I am not a whore. I did not sleep with whomever requested. Yes, loved lived within my heart in several instances. I cannot say thoughts of an abortion never entered the mind. In fact, I lay on the table when the doctor almost ended my daughter’s life. God weighed down on my conscience. I spared her life, defied my Mother and continued with the pregnancy.

Walking In Victory
I’m so glad I listened to Christ. My daughter completes me, and brings such pride and joy. She’s a high school senior at one of the most prestigious all-girl private schools in the country, awaiting her college acceptance letters from schools like Hofstra University, St. John’s University, and Spelman College. She overcame in my womb. She definitely is not sorry! My last, the final chapter, is the baby, my angel, Bentley. So, that’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 fatherless children.

Pause, go and get a drink of water. I’m not sorry for not caring what you think about me.

I have always provided a life for my children, and a very good one. My family is normal by all definitions. They travel, attend summer camp, and the best schools in Baltimore City. My oldest recently graduated from Baltimore City College high school, and is a freshman at Coppin State University. The eldest daughter graduates from The Bryn Mawr School next June.

They have turned out to be dynamic young adults. Raising my children is the greatest achievement of my life, and “I’m not Sorry” about that!

My son with his City College high school ring and diploma
My son with his City College high school ring and diploma
Photo Credit: Panache Photography


Moving Into My Destiny
I moved from raising my children to working and providing a life for them on my own. I battled depression and now inspire greatness in others. I went from hating men to having flowers delivered.

I lost love and healed this heart enough to love again. In 5 months I lost 50 pounds, and became a Zumba instructor. I gained the weight back, and have a plan to lose it again.

I abandoned a conventional job at Head Start to pursue my lifelong passion of beauty and style, and am currently in beauty school. I moved from average to overachiever.

I no longer choose what I think you want me to do. I define my own life. Recently, I took on another role, Beauty / Style Editor of Live In Color blog. Pause! Praise break!

Photo Credit:  Keston De Coteau Keystone Productions
Photo Credit:
Keston De Coteau
Keystone Productions

I am set free by his stripes. God told me yes. No one on earth can tell me no! Hold your judgment, your opinions about my past do not matter to me. I am living fearlessly and without apology! I’m not sorry!

Live In Color! – Valencia
Edited by Emelda De Coteau

Talk Back
Tell us what you are not sorry about!