More than words…

He is like sunshine
the light that moves my melanin
offering blessings to my high self
the aloe to my wounds
makes my heart beat fast,
rock steady,
the Sun, Ra, keeps me
smiling like…

She has the glow of the Moon
Protected by his faith
my words dress him,
I leave raw greens on my plate,
cause he eats to survive
concentrating on the stars in my eyes…

Moving picture.

I am Shila. Peace and blessings.


The Healer


He called out to her from a distance and she pretended not to hear him.
Not because she didn’t like the sound of his voice,
but because she did not want him to look into her tear-filled eyes.
He caught her, pulled her towards him and asked her to accept his presence.
She lifted her head to see, the face of the Sun.
The time had come.  She smiled.  For the rest of the day.

I asked the elders if I could speak freely, and they said, absolutely.
I earned the right to tell my story, for without the element of truth,
it would all be in vain.  The generations to follow will hear the sound of
my voice, resounding… cause I need these niggas to turn into gods

Asante sana, nakupenda, la la salama…

Shila Iris

Naked Ambition – Come Look For Me


“A single person within a circumstance can move one to change. To love herself.  To evolve.”  -Erykah Badu

How Can I Say No to Such Beauty?

People grow and seasons change, but remember me. This is a beautiful video. Simple, and true. Being in love requires nakedness, complete vulnerability. Can you do it? I know that you can. Peace and love.

I want to sing with you…

I want to sing to you…

I want to sing about you…

… I just want a chance to fly, to cry…

This was the situation:

So, presently
I’m standing here right now
You’re so demanding
Tell me what you want from me

Concluding, concentrating
On my music, lover and my babies
Makes me wanna ask the lady
For a ticket outta town

So can I get a window seat?
Don’t want nobody next to me
I just want a ticket outta town
A look around and a safe touch down

Can I get a window seat?
Don’t want nobody next to me
I just want a chance to fly
A chance to cry and a long bye-bye

But I need you to want me
Need you to miss me
I need your attention
I need you next to me

I need someone to clap for me
I need your direction
Somebody say, come back
Come back, baby, come back
I want you to need me

Come back, come back, baby, come back
Come back, come back, baby, come back
Come back, come back, baby, come back

So, out my mind I’m tusslin’
Back and forth ‘tween here and hustlin’
I don’t wanna time travel no more
I wanna be here, I’m thinking

On this porch I’m rockin’
Back and forth like Lightning Hopkins
If anybody speak to Scotty
Tell him, beam me up

… They play it safe, are quick to assassinate what they do not understand. They move in packs, ingesting more and more fear with every act of hate on one another. They feel most comfortable in groups, less guilt to swallow. They are us. This is what we have become. Afraid to respect the individual. A single person within a circumstance can move one to change. To love herself. To evolve.

Erykah is my lyrical soul mate. Peace and love,

Shila Iris

My Introduction to Anthony Browder


black-history_feb-14_copyright-shila-iris-2017I didn’t know much about Anthony Browder, but I knew that I didn’t want to miss the presentation that he was giving at Kent State University. So, I drove the hour it took to get there, and sat in the packed audience. He shared his research findings about things he’d discovered during his travels to the motherland. It was the first time I’d heard a man speak so confidently about Egypt, it’s history, and it’s indigenous people. My heart beat fast. I was excited. Browder has traveled to Egypt over 60 times and is doing excavation to discover the true history of our ancestors. In the states, he shares this information in carefully orchestrated presentations that teach and inspire. I bought a copy of his book Nile Valley Contributions to Civilization and had him autograph it and sign it over to me and my dear friend who really wanted to be there, but coudn’t make it. I wanted to share the wealth! I got to see Browder present again, 4 years later at the public library, with that same friend! We had a great time sitting round table, talking with Browder after he gave yet another wonderful and historical speech. He is a beautiful man and I love his spirit. One thing that I noticed about Browder, and I believe it is helping to sustain him, is the fact that he had great mentors- Asa Hilliard, John Henrik Clarke, and John G. Jackson, to name a few. I am seeing more and more that good leadership comes with great mentorship. These scholars influenced Browder’s work and he mentions them often, giving power to the their research. I admire Anthony T. Browder for the work he is doing in Egypt, with his daughter and with all the people who want to be a part of this history-making journey of adventure.

Mask Cropped

Shila Iris

My Introduction to Nikki Giovanni


black-history_feb-12_copyright-shila-iris-2017Storytelling has been an African tradition for a very long time. Our ancestors used stories to record history and to communicate important messages through generations. Poetry is the method I use to tell stories, and this is the woman who made me believe that it could be done. Poetry can change minds, change hearts, lead to soul revivals; it has a place on the streets, in politics, in music, up high, down low, poetry is a tool we use to transcend. Back in 2005, I heard Nikki speak in the wonderful Jubilee Hall on the campus of her and my Alma Mater, Fisk University. She was amazing, with her candid interpretations of life, or should I say, thug life! Check out the tattoo on her left forearm. I can’t believe that Nikki Giovanni is 73 years old. Her name sounds like she is fashion designer, but she is indeed a game changer who has tried to help us recover from having our culture stolen. With her pages of accolades, she has been a fighter and a major voice. With her words of wisdom and ability to communicate with people from all walks of life, she has helped us fight against the deeply-rooted injustices targeted at people of African descent. She is more than a writer, she uplifted the Black Experience and taught it to many generations of young minds. My favorite piece from her is an essay named Gemini, in a book also named Gemini. She speaks about her first 25 years as a Black poet, and in this particular essay, she talks about the relationship between Black men and women. Looking back on it, I can see things a bit clearer. I am grateful. Prophetic poetry is a part of our Black history. Thanks Nikki, for paving a way. Peace.

I really adore you,

Shila Iris

Mask Cropped

My Introduction to Spike Lee


black-history_feb-11_copyright-shila-iris-2017“The cultural relevance of his films puts him ahead of the pack.”

I’ve never understood why critics compare Spike Lee’s work to other directors. There is no one like him. His artistic vision is exclusive and recognizable worldwide. As a child, I was happy when the family flick of the week was a Spike Lee Joint. Crooklyn and When the Levees Broke have become my favorites. The provocative issues that Spike addresses in his films, appeal to me. I value realistic art with powerful and transformational stories- not unnecessary, mind-numbing drama. I’d rather learn how to solve a problem, then how to create one. That’s what Spike brings to the table. I will watch mostly anything that he writes and directs just because he has a wonderfully cultivated mind and because his art direction has brought many Black actors to life including: Denzel, Samuel L. Jackson, and Wesley Snipes. He has also brought Black History and the Black Experience to the stage like no other. The words, a “Spike Lee Joint” are a part our vernacular and his creations are a part of our history. I am on his team! Go Spike!

Thank you for visiting African Essence by Shila Iris


My Introduction to Bob Marley




The transformative power of Robert Nesta has touched many souls. It touched me. I didn’t know much about the music of Bob Marley until I was around 23 years old. I heard the song, “Who the Cap Fit.” It was this song that transformed my understanding of human relationships. The lyrics described the level of consciousness that I was reaching. There were people all around me, but I knew that I’d only be able to trust a few. So when I heard Marley say:

“Your worst enemy could be your best friend And your best friend your worst enemy… Some will eat and drink with you Then behind them su-su ‘pon you Only your friend know your secrets So only he could reveal it…”

I said, “wow, that makes sense.” The one’s closest to you, are the one’s that reveal your secrets! That hurt to hear, but it has proven to be true time and time again, Then he said:

“Some will hate you, pretend they love you now Then behind they try to eliminate you But who Jah bless, no one curse Thank God We’re past the worse … Hypocrites and parasites Will come up and take a bite And if your night should turn to day A lot of people would run away..”

From one Aquarius to another, Bob was speaking a truth that I would have to revisit often, to remind myself, not to take things so personal and to love me first. So, I step back from people with undefined intentions. I let go of those that ran away when my night turned to day, and I leave those behind that find it hard to say, “I choose you.” I’m having to realize, even now, in my 132nd season, that I am not perfect, and that I have to keep going back to this proverbial wisdom to find my power. Sometimes, in the absence of parenting or mentorship, I turn to this good music to give me strength and to help me heal. Bob is the one who helped me realize that I require a high level of loyalty in friendships and in love; and it taught me how to read between the lines of what people say. It doesn’t stop at this song! He has a catalog of at least 200 songs that I find to be revolutionary.

Thanks for reading,

Shila Iris