Fashioning Your Identity- Booklist

Soul searching? These are 20 books that can help you discover yourself from the inside out. Happy Black Afro-American History Month!

Term/Definition of the day:
Cultural Nationalism: the celebration of the contributions of black people to world history


1. Black: A Celebration of a Culture by Deborah Willis


2. African Beginnings by James Haskins and Kathleen Benson


3. Black Venus 2010: They called Her Hottentot edited by Deborah Willis


4. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou


5. Iconic by Lakesia D. Johnson


6. Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class by Lisa B. Thompson


7. My People by Langston Hughes, photos by Charles R. Smith, Jr.


8. Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson


9. The Sweet Breath of Life: A Poetic Narrative of the African American Family by Frank Stewart and Ntozake Shange


10. Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the present by Deborah Willis


11. Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver


12. The Social Theory of W.E.B. Du Bois edited by Phil Zuckerman


13. The Tao of Wu by The RZA


14. Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals by Saul D. Alinksy


15. The Dance of Anger: A Woman’s Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships by Harriet Lerner


… and then if you want to get into fashion, I found these books to be authentic guidelines to wardrobe

16. New African Fashion by Helen Jennings, foreword by Ike Ude


17. The Sartorialist: Closer by Scott Schuman


18. The One Hundred: A Guide to the Pieces Every Stylish Woman must Own by Nina Garcia


19. The Style Strategy: A Less-is-More Approach to Staying Chic and Shopping Smart by Nina Garcia


20. The Little Black Book of Style by Nina Garcia


I have read all these books and I believe I gained a broader understanding of identity and of what fashion means to people. Maybe you can read them and understand more about yourself as well.

Peace and Love,

Queen Duafe for African Essence


The Winter Won’t Last Forever- Check Out Harvest Girl – CREATE Inspire LOVE Life

I was browsing and I found this wonderful shop that I want to share.

With the spring and summer approaching, you’ll want to invest in additions to your wardrobe. I do not think these clothes are too expensive because of their design and exclusivity.



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I couldn’t help but to think of Jill Scott‘s song after looking at this store.

I also found this video that is connected to the line of clothing. It is a sister doing poetry. I like it!



In this very new year, I want to take a minute to remind everyone what African Essence is about. I love doing this blog and I am very thankful for everyone who reads the articles, follows us, and everyone who sends positive vibrations this way. We will continue to encourage people to find out WHO and WHAT they are in this very tough world. We added a new tab above. PLEASE CHECK IT OUT! The story is a wonderful testament TO LIFE. It’s tough to share stories where we play bad roles, but I am brave in this manner. May the story reach your heart and journey on with you. Hope you learn from it.

This year with every new post, we use a soundtrack of songs to express the messages. The playlists are very diverse. Music is a great connector when trying to communicate. For the feature article, the playlist is the following:

Nneka: Heartbeat

Lyrics: “You throw stones, can’t you see that I am human, I am breathing; but you don’t give a damn.

Madonna: Secret

Lyrics: “Happiness lies in your own hand, It took me much too long, To understand how it could be, Until you shared your secret with me…”

Janelle Monae- Neon Valley Street


May this song reach your heart
May your ears love the sweet melody
Every note, every chord
I’ve arranged them for you and for me

May the sound of my voice be your guide
Bring you closer to me
Let us bathe in the noise
Let the love in your heart speak to me

For now, I’ll pretend
I’m holding your hand

We met alone forbidden in the city
Running fast through time like Tubman and John Henry
But the time was wrong
Illegal aliens moaned
It’s such a pity that the city’s just a danger zone
Atomic blues bombing hearts like Iraqis in Babylon
The droid control will take your soul and rate it
Berate, slay it
You hate it and debate it but you don’t get caught
And outlaw outrunning the law, ha

May the strings make you smile
May they always remind you of me
For now let’s pretend
I’m holding your hand



We have never attracted negative energy within the realms of African Essence and don’t intend to start now. We say this because there are some very horrible and spiteful forces out there that attempt to critique and judge and pretend to be GOD. Well, we have to fight them and keep it positive. Despite these negative influences, we are still powerful and full of love! We want to give that love to whoever is willing to receive it. In doing so, we cannot dwell or be held down by anything that happened in the past. It’s like the history of the African in America. It is wise that we definitely acknowledge our past, but we have to keep moving. If you are the same person that you were 6 years ago, then you are dying.
I am queen. I always tell people, I am not the same person from yesterday. Each and every day I grow and learn and live and breathe and thank the universe for allowing me to be a part of it! Here, at African Essence, we march forth in our desire to be the best!

We will not allow our past to suffocate our future. That’s what I am and who we are!

African Essence is a spiritual place for people who want greatness in their lives. Our readers are dedicated and have shown great support over this past year. They have helped us to grow and change in a positive direction. We gather and talk about identity, culture, and many other topics that help define who and what we are. Thanks to everyone who supported African Essence through this first year of blogging.

I (Queen Duafe) started African Essence because young girls ask me all the time about the way I dress. The way I dress can be described as colorful, original, and most definitely ethnic. My ethnic dress code is not strictly African, although it is what I love the most. I am of African descent living in America. That means a lot when it comes to identity because the identity of the African American woman has been tampered with from Harriet Tubman to Michelle Obama.

Moreover, I admire and adore Indian and Caribbean dress. I study dress codes from all over the world. My garb is not really about fashion. Actually, fashion is the least of it. It is really more about discovering one’s true identity. Before you can ever begin to cloth yourself correctly, your mind has to be righteous. If you are thinking sexually, than you project that. If you feel horrible, you may just look that way. If you have nothing but brown shoes and white button up shirts in your closet, you have got be able to be comfortable in it. Wardrobe is not about getting attention. It is about being able to walk into any situation and look confident. Through African Essence, we help you choose the clothing, accessories, and attitude that look best on you.

When you are dressed comfortably and respectfully, you are able to achieve much more in life. You cannot be at your best if you are looking your worst. African Essence is about helping women to adorn themselves in a way that is pleasant and respectful. I cannot describe my dress as fashionable, edgy, fabulous, fierce, or any such term. I can only say that, what you wear reflects what you are. So often do we see women in clothes that are too small, too tight, too big, too dull, too crazy, or just NOT becoming of who or what they are. We never want to draw too much attention to ourselves with our attire. We just want to cultivate a good spirit world around us. I am confident in everything that I wear and from my experiences, I pull some great energy from my dress code alone! Sometimes, I may wear something catchy, but the universe knows that my intentions are to help people and give them a broader perspective on how to dress. I do not desire attention. I find that people with low confidence and esteem, who really admire my style can show hate instead of love. It doesn’t faze me, though! I love you too.

Our women and girls need an alternative to modern day FASHION. The women portrayed in media are often nude, light, with long hair and eye lashes. They show off their curves in the worst way and they force our younger generations to think that the less you have on, the better you look. I see girls do it all the time. It doesn’t do them any good in the long run, if they want to admit it or not. Show some respect to get some. Be all that you can be… I believe in you.

I do not pretend to be perfect and I do not encourage anyone to do so. We all go through trials, life is that way. Pointing the finger and attempting to ‘expose’ someone via the digital landscape is never an acceptable way to express your contempt for another. It is COWARDLY. I encourage all who visit African Essence to keep it positive and show some love. All other things are not necessary in this spiritual circle. We are beautiful. God created me just like he/she created you! I am African and so are you! Love me or leave me alone! Our ritual at African Essence is to put out love. We do not allow hate to poison our cipher.



In saying this, I encourage you all to click on my FEATURE STORY tab above. This year, I will frequently feature a new story that I hope can help or inspire someone to change their life. These stories are written by me and are real.

Peace and love to you.

Queen Duafe for African Essence


My New Year Start’s Today

Today is February 13 and it is my birthday! I am excited! I never really get excited on my birthday but this year I am grateful for so many things, including all the new and wonderful people who have become a part of my world. I can thank my greatest friend in life (he knows who he is) for introducing me to so many new ideas, people, and feelings… we have a chemistry only true friendship can understand.

SMOOTH IS LIFE TRAVELS WITH YOU BESIDE ME… Thanks for being real and being so kind and tough and respectful and thoughtful and supportive. You have helped me evolve as an artist more than anyone. Peace and love to you always.

So… I love being an Aquarius. The sign defines me and I define it. Now it is time to write.

This is my first blog entry of the year. I wanted to write many times, but for some reason I could not! I think I had to get into the groove of the year. I was discouraged from making observations about the year and making resolutions until I made some major decisions about my life. My new year starts NOW- February 13. My birthday always feels more like a new year for me. In the past I have not been a big birthday person, but it means a great deal to me this year because I feel like I have more wisdom than I ever had. I have grown tremendously and I do not mind getting older. I welcome age. I can already see myself loving my gray hair when that time comes!


I’ve noticed changes in my body. It looks like I will have to get more active this year because my skin feels different and my face looks a bit different.

I’ve noticed changes in the way that I think. Things do not affect me the same. I want more now and I have this constant desire to find freedom.

I’ve started to face reality. I used to struggle with the here and now. I wanted people to be how I wanted them to be and I wanted them to change on the spot. I am not too concerned with these types of things anymore. My biggest concern is connecting myself with nature and seeing the world.

I used to have time to waste, but as I get older I realize that I need to keep pressing on. I do not want to play as much anymore (well, maybe just a bit). I love to have fun and smile every moment that I can… smell the flowers, if I may. I just realize that work and play have to match. THE KEY IS: USE MODERATION IN EVERYTHING THAT YOU DO. Overuse and abuse make you grow old faster. Bad habits make you grow older as well. Only take what you need. Only buy what you need. Only use what you need. I accept enough to get by. Do not be greedy. Have you ever been at a cook out and watched that one person load their plate up until it is spilling over? Then they laugh and make meaningless comments trying to come up with an excuse as to why they are being greedy? DO NOT BE THAT PERSON. Take a little and leave some for others, move on. Do not accept anything for free. Work for the things you desire in life.


I ushered in January with history and poetry and art. I celebrated Kwanzaa with a group I perform poetry with: The Griot Project. We celebrated our 2nd Annual Kwanzaa this year. We had all observed Kwanzaa in the past, but we decided to celebrate it together and invite people to our celebrations. For 7 whole days we did this. Each evening we had a brief ceremony, ate, had discussions, took pictures, gave gifts, and glowed in the midst of our ancestors knowing they were proud that we took pride in our African American Identity- no watering it down.


I made Kwanzaa gifts. Since I paint and create, I love to give people art. I used old vinyl records to create Africa-inspired designs. 


I enjoyed making these gifts and spending time with friends. I invited my friend Robert over ON my day which was Nia: Purpose (we all take a day and do research and share our findings with everyone who comes). He brought his friend Jennifer who I had never met. She later connected me with another poetry group in Columbus,Ohio. I was very grateful. This is why I enjoy meeting new people because it seems we all touched each other and were there at that particular time for a reason.  THAT WAS MY NEW YEAR!

I also spent time with my friends from Umojah Nation Reggae Band. We went to Oil City, PA. They had a 4 hour gig welcoming in the New Year! Yes, 4 hours! It was fun. I do not have a picture from that day because I think everyone was too cold to pose!

Well. this year I hope to do some extensive traveling and see my family more.

More to come…

Check out my birthday playlist:

1. Jill Scott: Spring Summer Feeling

2. Telepopmusik: Don’t Look Back

3. Esthero: Thank Heaven for You

4. Janet Jackson: When We Oooo

5. Madonna: Secret

6. Maxwell: Bad Habits

7. Corinne Bailey Rae: Closer

8. Portishead: All Mine

9. LiAnn La Havas: Don’t Wake Me Up

10. Erykah Badu: Out My Mind, Just in Time

Peace & love and thanks for reading,

Queen Duafe of African Essence