First there was Belle. Now we have Black Chronicles II.

So excited to see this exhibition. I may take my youngers to see it with me too… 

The Letter That Writes Itself

Today is my 25th birthday. I thought about marking it on my blog with a letter to my younger self. I wrote a letter to her a couple of years ago and it was really therapeutic, and so much has happened in the years since I was sure the letter would be really wise and deep and stuff. The only problem is that my life right now is a colourful mess. A glorious, colourful, at times painful, but ultimately exciting mess. I can’t make head or tail of it for my 25 year old self, let alone for a younger version, so I left the letter idea alone.

It’s weird looking back and trying to make sense of the progress that you’ve made, wondering if you’ve made any progress at all because the path has turned into a maze and there are no signposts in this part of town. While I’m excited about turning 25, I feel like a small child in some ways waiting for someone to explain all this to me. All the answers I was so sure of at 21 or 22 have melted away in the harsh glare of life.

This was my mental state when my 14 year old sister (in law) handed me her phone one night and told me to read the group conversation she was in. Out of nowhere one of the girls in the conversation announced that she didn’t like my sister: "I’m just being real yeah, I just don’t like you." Immediately a boy chimed in "OMDZZ, (endless emoji’s) I respect you though, cos I don’t like her either, just being real (100% emoji)." These two went back and forth about all the reasons why they didn’t like my sister, punctuated by the occasional "Oh my gosh, you guys are too raw!" or something similar from other participants in the group, but no one directly called either of them out or stuck up for my sister.

I was having flashbacks to secondary school: I was angry, I was hurting for my sister and I was wondering “what the hell can I say to make her realise that this doesn’t matter?” I just didn’t have the words, so I gave her back the phone and I said something along the lines of “they’re dumb and cowardly, don’t worry about it, they don’t matter”. I sat in the car in silence for the rest of the journey trying to come up with something a bit more substantial.

When we got home I finally worked out what I wanted to say, and what I wished someone had said to me when I was in similar situations in school. I told her that she was talented and confident and some people can’t handle that. I told her that right now it would hurt but in a few years she’d look back and she’d understand that some people can’t feel good about themselves without tearing others down. I told her that one day she would understand that to be extraordinary in life was a challenge to everyone else who was happy with being mediocre, and that she should never let anyone else try and intimidate her out of being great. I told her that it was all part and parcel of the road to greatness, but that she was destined to be amazing. She grinned at me wildly and went to bed.

My sister had just completed a two week programme called Junior Apprenticeship, modelled on the Donald Trump/Alan Sugar TV show. The group conversation was her team. One by one everyone had been fired until my sister and just one other contestant were left. My sister came second and won money and other prizes, everyone else in her group didn’t chart on the scale. I’m proud of her, but I’m not surprised. She’s fourteen years old and stays winning.

During the course of the programme one of her ideas was to design and sell t-shirts. She told my mother-in-law that she decided to do it because a couple years ago I tried my hand at designing and selling t-shirts. For me the results were mixed, but for her it was all part of her winning formula. After our little conversation I remembered this and immediately stopped regretting my previous foray into streetwear. If it inspired her and helped her succeed in her programme then it was all worth it. I also realised that as I gave her that pep talk I was also talking to myself, my sixteen year old self and the woman as I am now.

I write a letter to my younger self every second I spend talking to my younger sister. All the pain, drama and mistakes now make sense when I’m able to guide, advise and support her through her stuff. And the child-like Jendella that sits inside this 25-year-old Jendella, confused, sometimes scared and still trying to make sense of the colourful mess around her, she really needs to know that: "One day, you’ll look back and it will all make sense, I promise you."

Jendella (then known as Diamond-Eyez lol) at 15 years old.

Filmed & Edited by JENDELLA.

Dope interview on the MDMflow blog with Sharmadean Reid, founder of WAH Nails and WAH London, and loads of other dopeness in between…

The Middle Distance (Short Story)

Why did I write this story? I dunno, I think I was exploring possibilities in both life and art… Anyways, I submitted it to a few places but it never got anywhere…maybe because it’s a bit too weird. Or whatever.

Anyhow, presented for your approval entertainment…

The full spread of the SS14 shoot I creatively directed for MDMflow is up at StreetwearBabe. If you go there you’ll also get a discount code for summer lip colours…don’t say I never told ya… The full spread of the SS14 shoot I creatively directed for MDMflow is up at StreetwearBabe. If you go there you’ll also get a discount code for summer lip colours…don’t say I never told ya… The full spread of the SS14 shoot I creatively directed for MDMflow is up at StreetwearBabe. If you go there you’ll also get a discount code for summer lip colours…don’t say I never told ya…

The full spread of the SS14 shoot I creatively directed for MDMflow is up at StreetwearBabe. If you go there you’ll also get a discount code for summer lip colours…don’t say I never told ya…

new things, part 2 | toot-toot | jendella.co.uk

Couple snaps from the pop-up studio I held over the weekend at the Young Motherhood preview exhibition in Peckham. Couple snaps from the pop-up studio I held over the weekend at the Young Motherhood preview exhibition in Peckham. Couple snaps from the pop-up studio I held over the weekend at the Young Motherhood preview exhibition in Peckham. Couple snaps from the pop-up studio I held over the weekend at the Young Motherhood preview exhibition in Peckham. Couple snaps from the pop-up studio I held over the weekend at the Young Motherhood preview exhibition in Peckham. Couple snaps from the pop-up studio I held over the weekend at the Young Motherhood preview exhibition in Peckham. Couple snaps from the pop-up studio I held over the weekend at the Young Motherhood preview exhibition in Peckham.

Couple snaps from the pop-up studio I held over the weekend at the Young Motherhood preview exhibition in Peckham.

Self-Portrait, 2014

"August child
Of the sun on high”

(One of my favourite lines of Japanese poetry written by a workman describing the Empress in a poem written on the construction of the Palace of Fujiwara.)

Happy August.

I turn 25 this month.

I’ve been having these grand ideas about “rising to meet my destiny” and all that super-zen stuff there.

I’ve already had my quarter-life crisis so I’m good on that front. I’m happy with my freelance pennies so you can miss me with that “un/underemployed millenial” stuff. I don’t want to buy a house, I don’t care about a pension, and I’m not bothered about the price of a Masters degree so those struggles are not mine.

I would like to learn how to drive at some point in life, and I really need to cut down on my sugar intake. But other than that. I’m good, I thank God that I can say that I’m good.

In the spirit of rising to meet my destiny I’ve made a few a lot of changes to my website. Have a look.

#THROWBACKTHURDAY HOMIES!!!

Don’t ask too many questions about the picture above, but I wrote something about being a “Christian” “artist” for UKGospel.com and you can read it here.

Three Things I’m Into Right Now

(Or at least a week or so ago when I first wrote it…)

Our Lives On (In?) Film

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When I heard that Cardy Films was going to release the entire first season of Life of Hers in one go I thought that it would be a perfect opportunity for an evening of binge-watching. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) it didn’t work out like that as I’ve been waist deep in Young Motherhood stuff, so I could only steal away enough time for an episode at a time (you know, how we used to watch stuff in the old days). The delayed gratification made me savour the series more, and it all ended too quickly anyway, but either way Life of Hers is great for many reasons and here are the first two that come to mind.

First of all: that title sequence. Totally besides the fact that I recognised a few of my friends’ baby pictures, I found it strangely emotional. Maybe I’m really sentimental, but seeing all the little black girls stirred something within. It reminded me of myself as a little black girl and all the little (and not so little) black girls that I know and love. So strange, and yet so familiar, to see such a solid representation of us in all our dimpled, balloon-chasing, care-free glory. Sometimes it feels like the world has told us forced us into being these other things (#StrongBlackWomen, Defenders of Our Collective Womanhood, Fighters, Survivors and all the rest) but it’s just really nice to remember how we once were.

Life of Hers is about four millennial (oh Lord how I hate that term) black women navigating various crossroads in their lives involving career, ambition, love and religion. As much as the four main characters are black, the series is way beyond race and ethnicity. It’s an honest examination of the contradictory period of life many of us twenty-something women find ourselves in, it just happens that for once it’s black and brown faces that take centre stage.

I wrote my degree dissertation on the importance of black women self-defining their own identities on screen and how it’s truly the only way to realise true depictions of our authentic selves. I could publish the 8,000 word essay on this blog, or I could just tell you to watch Life of Hers as a perfect example of what I was talking about. So just watch it, yeah?

An Instruction Manual on Blackness

Following in the theme of self-definition, I just finished reading Baratunde Thurston’s How To Be Black. (Reading it in public is highly recommended. The looks on people’s faces as they saw a young black woman reading a book called How To Be Black, were priceless.) First thing I thought was “I wish someone gave me this book when I was a twelve-year-old token black girl in a predominately white secondary school” and with chapters such as “How to Be the Black Friend” and “How to Speak for All Black People”, this is the perfect guide for any discerning young individual with skin of a darker hue. Get yours today! *salesperson smile*

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But seriously. This book is great. A cross between a memoir and humorous observation of being a black face in some very white spaces, this book has an edge that I find really engaging. It’s less instructions for perpetuating blackness and more a manifesto for self-defining your own blackness and as a Harvard-grad-tech-geek-Pan-Afrikan-raised-crack-war-witnessing-absently-fathered black man, Baratunde is a great spokesperson.

What I’m finding really interesting about this book, even a couple days after I’ve finished it, is this blend of memoir, humour, art and politics. Baratunde brings in the voices of his carefully assembled “Black Panel” (with one white Canadian for a taste of the exotic) who are comedians, artists, writers and creatives themselves, and have addressed this “blackness” thing in through their own work. I particularly love this quote from Elon James White, a comedian, on defining blackness:

Black people define blackness with everything that we do. So, right now I’m shooting this video and someone’s sitting in their house thinking, “Ah man, black people love shooting videos on green screens,” because I’m defining it. People are like “Why do you have servers in your house?” I’m like, “Because I need information, this is how I put stuff out there.” Because black people like computers, son! We love server farms, we like LAN gaming, and we define it every time we do something.

Oga Jona

After I finished reading The Miraculous Deliverance of Oga Jona by Chimamanda Adichie, I literally (as in I actually) clapped my hands together and said “she’s done it!” out loud. “Done what?” you ask. Well, she’s done what I’ve been thinking about and what intrigued me about How To Be Black, she’s merged art, reality and politics into this thing that is both challenging but digestible. While How To Be Black is clearly a manifesto of sorts, The Miraculous Deliverance… is more of a suggestion of possibility. A quiet suggestion of how things should (could?) be. There’s a time for a preaching, and a time to not be preaching and I’ve always wondered in my own work how to communicate my thoughts and ideals without pounding the pulpit too hard. I’m quite often so passionate when I talk, table-thumping and gesticulating comes so easy to me, but Chimamanda has provided a quiet example of another way. Her graceful carriage of self continues to leave me in awe. #FanGirlForLife

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Do you have suggestions of what I should get into next?

Last Thursday we went along to the preview of the WAH London range by WAH Nails’ founder, Sharmadean Reid.

It was dope.

You wanna know how dope?

Well, read what I wrote about it on #DoingTheMost.

Here’s the video from the private view of the Young Motherhood Project Preview Exhibition a week and a half ago…

With only a couple days left of the crowdfunding campaign, I’m asking you all to think of the possibilities…

Last week I was on the radio talking about the Young Motherhood project. Listen from 1hr in to hear the good-good.