Lupita Nyong’o on the Beauty of Night-Shaded Skin

Later this evening, like millions of other people, I will be watching the 86th Academy Awards. Now to be honest, I’m pretty hit and miss on the Oscars because I don’t watch them every year. But this year, I want to see who wins Best Supporting Actress  and I’m rooting for newcomer, Lupita Nyong’o.

Frankly, whether she wins the Oscar or not, this young woman has already won big – not only in the many theaters where people have watching her amazing performance in 12 Years A Slave, but also on the screen of life. At only 30 years old, Lupita Nyong’o has captivated the world with her talent, her beauty and, maybe most importantly …

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Make Black History Personal: #24 Cousins by Chance, Friends by Choice

In my life, I’ve been blessed on my father’s side of the family to have lots of cousins. The funny thing is that we don’t distinguish between first cousins and anything beyond that.

In fact, it wasn’t until I was an adult that I heard about the different kinds of cousins. You know – first, second, first removed and all of that. I actually find it pretty confusing because in my family, a cousin is a cousin and it’s that simple. But if you’ve ever wondered about the degrees of cousins in a family, here’s how that works:

You and your first cousin share the same set of grandparents.
You and your second cousin share the same great-grandparents – not grand-parents.
You and your third cousin share the same …

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Make Black History Personal: #23 Our Royal Heritage

Did I mention that we have Royal heritage? Not the crown-wearing kind but Royal, as in the now-vintage typewriter that’s been used by three generations of our family already.

Our Royal was built in 1929, as I discovered when I looked up the serial number recently. My grandmother Hazel was the first in our family to learn how to type on the glass-covered black and gold keys.

The next generation who learned how to type was my mom. She took the Royal to college with her and later got a job as a teletype operator because of her excellent typing skills.

My sister and I were the 3rd generation of fingers in our family to learn the magic of the Royal keyboard. …

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Make Black History Personal: #22 Meeting Obama

The first time I ever heard about Barack Obama was when he was introduced as the keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. I was watching the coverage because my home state governor, Jennifer Granholm from Michigan, was scheduled to speak.

I confess, I was half-paying attention and doing other things at home while I waited for the Governor to come on. And then I heard Barack Obama start speaking. I don’t remember his exact words, but whatever Mr. Obama said literally reached out from the television, grabbed my attention and never let go.

By the end of his speech I was standing up cheering –

All alone.

In my living room.

I knew from that day forward that Mr. Obama would be president. In fact, I started saying …

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Make Black History Personal: #21 Uril Franklin Hollis and the KKK

During my early years, I was blessed with three grandfathers – my mother’s father, my dad’s father and his stepfather. Uril Hollis was my step-grandfather and the grandpa I got to see most when we’d spend the weekend with he and my grandmother in Hamtramck, Michigan.

I didn’t know much about Grandpa Hollis except that his full name was Franklin Uril Hollis, he was born in Mississippi and he didn’t have any children. I knew he was smart – an engineer of sorts at the Music Hall in Detroit. And I knew he had two things he loved to do  – hunt and “tinker” (as Gram called it) in his basement workshop.

My grandmother was Grandpa Hollis’s third wife and best friends with his deceased second wife, …

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