Monthly Archives: May 2013

Being Nice To Other Women Is Not Weird.

Have you ever had someone say something to you that just made your day? Made you feel special? Pretty? Loved? Cared for? Important? Healed? Honored?

Yesterday, I had an experience that I want to share. After a long and expensive trip to my local Costco, I’m in line paying for my goodies and I notice that the cashier has beautiful naturally curly hair. Anyone who knows me can confirm that I am a curl junkie and follow more natural hair VLOGgers and beauty gurus on YOUTube than I pay attention to the local news on CP24. I digress, as soon as I approach the lady I immediately tell her how beautiful her hair is and that I think it’s absolutely gorgeous. My children were with me but are well accustomed to seeing me dole out a random and deserved compliment here and there or help someone if  they seem to require some assistance so, it’s nothing out of the ordinary for us.  The lady smiles and exclaims a compliment back in my direction, and says she was going to tell me but didn’t want me to think that she was “weird”; the compliment isn’t the point of the message.

I accepted her compliment, blushed and joked that her and I could be weird together because there’s absolutely nothing wrong or weird with being nice to someone. Now, maybe it’s just the Maritimer in me, but I truly believe that to uplift another person’s spirits or ingratiate them through a random act of kindness or care; to simply extend a warm grin in someone’s direction can be a symbiotic experience. Hey, I never claimed to be an altruist…

As women, why do we feel that being openly friendly or nice to someone is “weird”? Hands up, who learned that in kindergarten? I know I sure didn’t, in fact I learned the complete opposite. (Shouts out to Mrs. Terriault!) Better yet, who teaches this to their children, especially their girls? This attitude of coldness and distance has to be corrected within the black community and you know why? Because we need each other.  The same way the adage “It takes a village to raise a child.” is true; women need women to help fortify each other and keep our heads and hearts healthy and strong.

From an anthropological viewpoint, in most cultures, historically women are a social group unto their own. They share in the common responsibilities of maintaining and supporting their respective villages and communities. They rely on each other to share in the birthing then rearing of their children through educating them, minding them, protecting them, helping to heal them and in effect, nurturing them. Although there are certainly social hierarchies, women are valued at least in the eyes of other women.  This is critically important to the success of our geology. We are the caregivers and role models and we are the nurturers. If we don’t demonstrate to our children that to be kind is to be human, perhaps we’re inadvertently teaching them to operate in the opposite code of morality. Perhaps we can use the model of “symbiotic uplift” and take it further by using it as an ideology for our own cultural and educational support.

Here is my challenge: For one week solid, seven whole days, take every single opportunity that presents itself to be kind, supportive, complimentary or simply polite to each and every member of the feminine species you come into contact with. What you get out of it is not the point of the exercise, it’s what we put into it that might create a small light of encouragement for someone else’ sake. The more we uplift and encourage each other, the more supportive our communities become and the more nurturing, support and positive reinforcement our children receive in kind. A strong and supported woman can move mountains. Think about it…

And as we know, Light reflected is enlightenment infinite…



Filed under Black Canadian, Musings, Women

Physical Beautiful

Physical Beautiful

Confuse not my outer self with beauty

Dig into the depths of me

The shallows of my arrogance

The misconceptions of my naivety

The candid notions of my youth

Respect my intensity and always yearning for the truth

Know me

Accept my intellectual.

Embrace my inhibitions

Understand me in my modesty

My opinion is not shy

Know that my spirit is not timid

Let my love protect and saturate you

Be baptized within my vision

Know me

Need me to inspire you.

Look into my value

Regard my eyes beyond perception

Let my integrity allure you

Thirst to be my sole companion

Behold the contours of my wisdom

The refinement of my character

Know me

Consider me wonderful.

Find comfort in my loyalty

Be mystified by my bravery

Understand that I am sensitive

Trust and know that I am dedicated

Feel protected by my humility

Be humbled by my maternity

Know me

Acknowledge my maturity.

Love the content of my essence

Be awed within my presence

Aroused by my entire being

I am matrifocal, I am metaphysical

Truly philosophical, respectful of the spiritual

Believe that I am sensual

Know me

And you will find I have surpassed physical beautiful.

~Rachelle M. Turple

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There Is No Thing In The Universe Which Does Not Speak

Eye Of The Universe

The introverted eyeball too close for you to see

reflection is essential to truly see yourself

you see…

The Universe alive, acute, beautiful esprit

evolving everchanging


Free from ego, purely id,



primitively free

All within the world has meaning

a reason just to be

Itself, it has a soul despite all ambiguity

Our greatest mirror, our witness over we

to negate this principle


~Rachelle M. Turple

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Sweet Vaseline

Sweet Vaseline

Sweet Vaseline

We were
Cocoa Butter babies
with Afro-Sheen dreams
petrolleum Jelly
Sweet Vaseline

Butter caramel complexions
or hazy black blue
deep chestnut amber
opaque onyx hue

No matter the color
It’s all good for you
put some on your acne
She’s good for that too

Or, moisture depraven
split cracking lips
desperate elbows
skin dry as chips

We went from nasty and ashy
rusty to bronze
and all that it took
was to slather her on

Unruly, malicious
beautiful brown
curly delicious
natural crown

For wear anywhere
for skin or for hair
Sweet Vaseline
was our vanity fair

Rub a little bit on
Rub a little bit in
surely took care of
our beautiful skin

Silkingly glowing
shine head to toe
soft and luxorious
beautiful fro

Now yes, we use Keri
and Noxema is fine
Especially when used with the
Venus Divine

We up and moved on
to Intensive Care
and found other products
to lovely our hair

New Cocoa Butter Babies
smell of powery dew
but what was once good for us
is good for them too

Black universal
cultural esteem
we all can remember
Sweet Vaseline

~Rachelle M. Turple


Filed under Poetry

Creating Cultural Comfort Zones.

Rosemary Sadlier, President of the Ontario Black History Society points out that “African Canadian students need to feel affirmed; need to be aware of the contributions made by other Blacks in Canada; need to have role models; need to understand the social forces which have shaped and influenced their community and their identities as a means of feeling connected to the educational experience and their life experience in various regions of Canada. They need to feel empowered.” (From the TDSB resource guide: African Heritage Month – 2002)

This is as true in 2013 as it was in 2002. It was as true in 1603 when the first freed slave, Mathieu De Costa arrived in Nova Scotia as a translator for Pierre Dugua as it is now.

I think that Ms. Sadlier was on to something… I have long since opined that the identity of Black Canadians is intertwined with those who have come before us. I know from experience that to belong to a community of people who are derived from a similar historical context shapes, molds and influences the way one views one’s own self.
Having had my own early childhood education impressed upon me largely through black teachers, principals and role models who understood the importance of educating through showing us examples of other black intellectuals, dignitaries and pioneers; I can say that it has certainly left an indentation of how important that connection is for me.
Move 1800kms from Nova Scotia to the GTA in Ontario and the learning environment changes dramatically. Suddenly, the Black student is a minority in a sea of minorities. How then do we foster a learning environment that is conducive for connecting that student to their own culture as a Black Canadian? The answer is simple; we create an environment that exposes the learner to elements of familiarity. Even the briefest of exposure will create the comfort zone that is critical for supporting the Black student in a way which influences confidence, creativity and self-discovery.

Now, in defining fore mentioned comfort zone. It must be a place where the Black learner feels at ease, comfortable, safe and without stress. Naturally a place like this can be supportive toward a young mind. We can even reason that a learning environment like this and coupled with a facilitator who is as animated and passionate as they are educated, we have the recipe for success! I already know what you’re thinking and I can smell what the proverbial rock is cooking. How can we foster such an environment in our school systems? Quite frankly, due the diversity of our populace, the lack of school board funding not to mention cohesion in designing a set plan for the public school environment, at this time at least, it’s nearly impossible, but lest we forget the adage, “Where’s there’s a will, there’s a way!”. As parents, community leaders, youth educators and mentors the onus is ours to create these comfort zones. In our living rooms, our dining rooms, through private workshops, literacy activities and Black education programs.

If our foremothers and forefathers could give us religion, wisdom and understanding in rudimentary shacks, cabins and open meadows there is absolutely no reason whatsoever that we cannot take up the torch and create these niches from with our very own contemporary nooks and crannies.
Do you believe that educating our children should be left entirely to the proverbial powers that be? Why or why not?
I’m interested to know your thoughts on this…

Inspiration please!!!!!

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Inspiring The Black Learner.

[in-spuh-rey-shuh n]
1. An inspiring or animating action or influence: I cannot write poetry without inspiration.
2. Something inspired, as an idea.
3. A result of inspired activity.
4. A thing or person that inspires.

What inspires? What calls the young mind into action and sets alight the flame of creativity, original thought, focus or the intention to send something meaningful into the universe?

I believe that for black students, inspiration is as essential to learning as emotion to love. Without inspiration, young minds are not called to action and set to work.
Inspiring black youth can be as easy as introducing them to the notables of old…

Richard Wright was a controversial author, poet and overall personality. In the 20th century his literary contribution to the African American diaspora helped to ignite the spark of change for race relations, or lack thereof, in the United States. By today’s standards, Wright would be considered “gansta” on many levels; He wrote contentious poems and short stories about his thoughts on being black. When he wrote Native Son, he was accused of making the character Bigger Thomas, a statement of white society’s stereotypes and confirming their worst fear of black men. In an already tumultuous, racially charged and conflictual society; Wright was a Black man unafraid of his voice, his power, his masculinity or his Blackness. He was even a registered red card carrying communist.
Richard Wright was a rebel because had the courage, the intellect and the communication skills to vent his frustration of the status quo and subsequently, influence the change he wanted to see to it.
He is a hero because he used words as weapons. Almost a hundred years later, we are still inspired by the historical and sociological impact he made on the literary world. By using his mind, his time and his pen effectively, he was the change that he wanted to see in his world.
Wright was one bad mutha-shut-yo-mouth then and still is today.

I guess my point is that Canadian Black youth are inspired through various contemporary outputs and arguably, much rap and hiphop music are just as lyrical, poetic and socially relevant as anything that Wright ever gave us; He was one of the greats who paved the way but if you think that JayZ, Kanye or Talib Kweli do not understand the significance of Richard Wright or that they have not been lyrically inspired and called to action through the remnants of his social commentary, you must be smoking and not even the good stuff.

Richard Wright is one author of many and to our black learners, we must unmask our literary trailblazers one by one so that their light in the world ignites and inspires the potential in each one of our children.

Light reflected is enlightenment infinite…

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Filed under Black Youth, Education, Literacy