By Sharee Silerio

In life, we all have moments that we want to wish away. Whether it’s losing a loved one, financial struggles, an illness, a dead end career or strained relationships, everyone is going through or trying to get through something.

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“Queen Sugar” is no different, which is why I love this show so much! It’s so real, and often reminds me of my life at the present time or of what I have experienced. The show’s representation of life, love, hurt, healing and self-discovery is beautiful.

This week’s episode carries a couple of major themes throughout it – control and fear. We fear what we cannot control and we try to control what we fear.

Charley, Micah, Aunt Vi and Darla demonstrate what fear looks like; in their facial expressions, actions, words and being. It’s amazing to witness how they learn that their fears are unfounded or how to push through them anyway.

This episode, titled “Caroling Dusk”, starts with Charley and Micah talking about their therapy session, Nova and Dr. Dubois connecting in love, Charley realizing that her childhood has crept its way into her adulthood, and Darla feeling the impact of her absence in Blue’s life.

Here is my “Reel Noire” recap of last night’s episode, on the sweet lessons that stood out to me:

1. There is nothing wrong with seeking therapy when you need it. Sometimes we need help to unpack the wounds, frustrations and struggles of the past and present in order to move forward in a healthy way.

In the beginning of the episode, Charley is sitting on a couch in an office calling Micah. He is supposed to be there for his first therapy session, but isn’t able to come. The therapist tells Charley that it’s helpful to talk to her client’s parents so she can help them better, but Charley wants to stick to her concerns with Micah. When Charley can’t weasel her way out of the situation, she takes a long, cautious breath.



2. Learn to take care of yourself before you let others take care of you. You don’t need anyone to rescue you. Rescue yourself.

Last week, Darla lost her job at the parking garage because she went to the farm to help Ralph Angel instead of completing her shift like her manager told her to. Since then, she’s been looking for a job so she can support herself, and Ralph Angel wants her to move in with him. She stays stands strong and tells him that she needs to be able to stand on her own two feet by herself.



3. Striving for perfection stunts personal growth. Progress is the road to freedom and fulfilling all of your potential. Instead of finding a way around obstacles, discover a way to get through them, and choose to learn something in the process.

During the impromptu therapy session, Charley ends up revealing that she felt like her mother wanted her to be perfect growing up. She calls Nova, who shows up to her house after sensing that she needs some sister time. Nova performs a home cleansing ritual then they talk over dinner. After discussing Micah and their new life in St. Josephine’s, Charley reminisces about how much she practiced playing the piano as a child, including the time she walked out of a recital in the middle of her performance because she couldn’t handle the pressure. She mentions that her mom told her she should find a new hobby and they never talked about it again.



4. Give yourself a fresh start each and every time you need it. Start over whenever, however, wherever and as often as you need to. Sometimes creating something from nothing is the only way to see things clearly.

At the same dinner, Nova tells Charley that her momma made her a control freak, adding that “You have a blank slate, with yourself and with Micah. Color it how you want.” Charley tells Nova, “Well, your slate is blank now, too.”



5. Fear is something we must get through in order to fully live this thing called life. We can’t avoid it. It will always exist in some form. Let fear motivate you to make a difference, to become and accomplish all you can be.

Micah and Davis walk into the gym when Davis says that they’re going to play a special basketball game. When either of them shoots a three-pointer, they get to ask the other a question, no topic off limits. Micah shoots a “3” first, then asks Davis a question. Davis shoots one next then asks Micah if the cops roughed him up. Micah responds then says that he felt out of control and was scared, and it was something he hadn’t experienced before. Davis replies, “Fear is a rite of passage for us. The question is, how do you use it to make yourself smarter and better.”



6. Building your dream from the ground up is tough. Resistance doesn’t mean that it’s time for you to give up. Nothing worthwhile comes easy. You have to keep on when things get difficult, when people tell you no, and especially when you don’t feel like it. You must believe in yourself, and surround yourself with people who believe in you, even when you don't believe in yourself.

After Hollywood taste-tests Aunt Vi’s pies, she takes them to local restaurants in the neighborhood to see if they’d like to sell them to their customers. The next day, she’s in the bed when Hollywood walks in the door. He asks her if she’s going to get out of the bed and she tells him that she doesn’t feel like dealing with people. She tears up while telling him that every place she went to said no. He asks her if she’s going to listen to sad songs all day, then says, “That ain’t the Vi I know...it was one day. One very hard, bad day. But you ain’t got to let it turn into two.”


7. The way you treat other people comes back to you, whether it’s good or bad. We’ve heard this many times before, but treat others the way you want to be treated. Reaping and sowing, also known as karma, is real.

Ralph Angel is in an alley, digging in a dumpster when two cops pull up on him (if you watched, then you know why he’s doing this, lol). As he shows his face to them, one of the cops recognizes him, and saves his behind. Toine, the cop who saves him, is a transgender man that Ralph Angel has been friends with for years. During their conversation about Darla and Ralph Angel’s protectiveness of Blue, Toine thanks Ralph Angel for supporting and looking out for him in high school and later in life.


Did you watch the fifth episode of “Queen Sugar”? What are some of your favorite moments?
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Sharee Silerio is a St. Louis-based freelance writer, Film and TV writer-producer, and blogger. When she isn’t creating content for The Root or The St. Louis American, she enjoys watching drama/sci-fi/comedy movies and TV shows, writing faith and self-love posts for SincerelySharee.com, relaxing with a cup of chai tea, crafting chic DIY event décor, and traveling. Review her freelance portfolio at ShareeSilerio.com then connect with her on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.
Kevin Winter/Getty

By Sharee Silerio

Dr. Dre is giving back to his hometown community by pledging $10 million for a new performing arts center at a high school in Compton.

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“My goal is to provide kids with the kind of tools and learning they deserve,” he told Variety. “The performing arts center will be a place for young people to be creative in a way that will help further their education and positively define their future.”

Could this be a response to the backlash of 2013? Was this $10 million donation a part of his philanthropic plan all along?

We probably won’t know for sure, but we do know that four years ago, he received backlash for pledging $35 million to the University of Southern California to help start a program in his and Jimmy Iovine’s name, instead of promising it to a black school or historically black college.

“I feel like this is the biggest, most exciting and probably the most important thing that I’ve done in my career,” Dr. Dre told the “New York Times” then.

Everyday people wrote opinion pieces on it, university presidents asked the rapper and producer why he didn’t choose to donate to their institution, and some people were just mad to be mad – about how he spent HIS money.

I understand the beauty and righteousness in giving back to your community and offering people who are where you came from opportunities to build their best lives, but at the same time, we don’t know someone’s whole financial or giving plan. I mean, is it really any of our business?

Plus, why wouldn’t you help an organization build an entire academy that honors you, your work and accomplishments? If you want to have a say in how it’s done, then it makes sense for you to invest in it.

Maybe his goal was to donate to a specific education program instead of a school’s general expenses. Or maybe no other school presented an idea that matched what his heart desired to put money on.

Regardless of what we think, the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation exists. And it sounds like a great program, described as:

The undergraduate degree program focuses on nurturing and developing original thought, leading to breakthrough products, systems, technologies and more. Drawing on the talents and experiences of industry leaders from a vast array of fields and driven by passionate, committed faculty, the Academy empowers the next generation of disruptors to change the face of society.

Now back to 2017. This new pledge sounds life-changing, too, like it could open doors of opportunity to the arts and media industries for a great deal of teens. Dr. Dre’s donation to the high school will help fund a 1,200-seat theater and digital media production equipment for the center, which is expected to break ground in 2020.

What do you think about Dr. Dre's contribution?
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Sharee Silerio is a St. Louis-based freelance writer, Film and TV writer-producer, and blogger. When she isn’t creating content for The Root or The St. Louis American, she enjoys watching drama/sci-fi/comedy movies and TV shows, writing faith and self-love posts for SincerelySharee.com, relaxing with a cup of chai tea, crafting chic DIY event décor, and traveling. Review her freelance portfolio at ShareeSilerio.com then connect with her on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

By Sharee Silerio

Months after winning an Oscar for Best Picture for “Moonlight”, award-winning writer and director Barry Jenkins has revealed his next project.

His follow-up film is an adaptation of James Baldwin’s 1974 novel, “If Beale Street Could Talk” for Annapurna Pictures.

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Jenkins wrote the screenplay in 2013, with support from the Baldwin estate, around the same time he created the script for “Moonlight”.

The novel is a tale of love and injustice, and Amazon summarizes it this way:

“Told through the eyes of Tish, a nineteen-year-old girl, in love with Fonny, a young sculptor who is the father of her child, Baldwin’s story mixes the sweet and the sad. Tish and Fonny have pledged to get married, but Fonny is falsely accused of a terrible crime and imprisoned. Their families set out to clear his name, and as they face an uncertain future, the young lovers experience a kaleidoscope of emotions–affection, despair, and hope. In a love story that evokes the blues, where passion and sadness are inevitably intertwined, Baldwin has created two characters so alive and profoundly realized that they are unforgettably ingrained in the American psyche.”

An American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet and social critic, James Baldwin was an insightful, iconic writer whose words and stories spoke intimately and powerfully about racial and social issues, most notably the black experience in America.

Jenkins will direct the film, which is his first feature since “Moonlight”.

According to the “LA Times”, filming will begin this October.

“James Baldwin is a man of and ahead of his time; his interrogations of the American consciousness have remained relevant to this day," Jenkins said in a statement, per the “LA Times”. “To translate the power of Tish and Fonny’s love to the screen in Baldwin’s image is a dream I’ve long held dear. Working alongside the Baldwin estate, I’m excited to finally make that dream come true.”

Have you read James Baldwin’s novel “If Beale Street Could Talk”? Are you looking forward to watching Barry Jenkins’ adaptation on film?
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Sharee Silerio is a St. Louis-based freelance writer, Film and TV writer-producer, and blogger. When she isn’t creating content for The Root or The St. Louis American, she enjoys watching drama/sci-fi/comedy movies and TV shows, writing faith and self-love posts for SincerelySharee.com, relaxing with a cup of chai tea, crafting chic DIY event décor, and traveling. Review her freelance portfolio at ShareeSilerio.com then connect with her on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.


By Sharee Silerio

I look forward to “Queen Sugar” every week, especially its wisdom, authenticity and relatable depictions of work, relationships, romance, family, hurt and healing.

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In this episode, like many of the others, Charley and Ralph Angel butt heads – this time over Micah accidentally pushing Blue – but we also get to see them make up, in their shortest conflict so far.

What’s refreshing in the fourth episode, titled “My Soul’s High Song”; is the real, raw love Hollywood and Aunt Vi have for each other. We also get to see Charley’s business savvy in action, while Nova contemplates her next career move.

Once again, “Queen Sugar” surprises, encourages, teaches and keeps us wanting more.

Here is this week’s “Reel Noire” recap, on the sweet lessons that stood out in Wednesday night’s episode:

1. Working is just as important as relaxing. Don’t run yourself into the ground trying to do for the sake of doing. Take care of yourself and rest, so you can live life fully.

Hollywood completes his “honey-do” list when he asks Violet if anything else needs to be done. She’s tells him that he’s completed all of the tasks and should sit on the couch, watch television, grab a beer and wait for her to get home from work so they can do the things couples do. It is clear that this will be difficult for him, based on the look on his face, but it’s his only option.



2. To be a boss, you must have a vision, and you need to know your business inside and out.

Charley and Remy are at the sugar mill with the black farmers collective, and Charley is offering an update on construction plans, equipment and expectations for performance. During the conversation, it’s clear that she has done her research as she’s speaking the farmer’s language with the technical terms she uses along with her descriptions of what’s going to happen. Her presentation was impressive, and a farmer or two even signed contracts to commit to using the Queen Sugar mill for harvest.



3. Don’t forget to see the beauty beyond the world’s brokenness. In the fight for racial justice, dignity, equality, and truth, always make room to acknowledge the good that exists. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the negative, so make sure you allow yourself to see the positive.

Nova has a new editor at the newspaper, and he wants her to find more positive stories so viewers don’t go elsewhere for good news. She tells him that she does some of the most in depth social and criminal justice reporting in the area, and he says that she does great work, but he wants her to “cast her net a little wider” and help them balance the coverage. She responds by saying that it’s difficult to find the good things because “a lot is broken” in New Orleans. He says that not everything is broken, and he wants her to profile success stories, because they’re currently only writing about “problems, not solutions.” She tries to go in a different direction by interviewing an official from the local District Attorney’s office, but hits a dead end when the interviewee doesn’t trust her motives and halts the interview.



4. Become one with the people you want to lead. Don’t forget who you really are – human.

Charley is looking for a new place for her and Micah to live, preferably one that will remind them of home. After her and Remy’s tour of a luxurious spot, they go to the High Yellow for lunch, where they discuss the property. Remy starts with how living in the home, which is near the Landrys, will impact the farmers’ perception of her, and the implications of “black success” looking or not looking like “white success”. Remy tells her that if she wants to lead the black farmers and gain their trust and respect, then she should live and invest in the neighborhood where the mill is located, especially since her purpose for the mill is to uplift the community.



5. You’re never too old to dream!

Aunt Vi and Hollywood are getting ready for bed when Hollywood says that he enjoyed helping on the farm and that he’s going to look for another job. She tells him that he’s just restless and shouldn’t rush into anything. He adds that he likes working and Vi says that she does too.

Auntie then dropped some gems, saying, “They got us thinking that we supposed to work until we die. Then if we don’t, we the problem. Well that ain’t my American Dream. Is that yours?” Hollywood replies in the negative then tells her that his dream is going to sleep and waking up beside her each day, and nothing else matters.

She says that other things do matter, so he tells her, “What, and you don’t think you’re wasting your time at the High Yellow? I see the look on your face when you’re running around. That ain’t a look of love.” She says it’s the “look of determination” and that she worked her butt off for the promotion. Hollywood says that he always sees her most happy when she’s working in her own kitchen, then asks her what her dream looks like.

Aunt Vi responds, “I guess, it looks like me making people happy with my food, my pies. I guess it’s me, having my own business,” with a puzzled expression. He says, “You saying that like it can’t happen. Look, let me figure out what to do next. But I want you to figure out the same thing. We ain’t too old to get ours, baby. We ain’t.”



Did you watch the fourth episode of “Queen Sugar”? What moments do you remember?
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Sharee Silerio is a St. Louis-based freelance writer, Film and TV writer-producer, and blogger. When she isn’t creating content for The Root or The St. Louis American, she enjoys watching drama/sci-fi/comedy movies and TV shows, writing faith and self-love posts for SincerelySharee.com, relaxing with a cup of chai tea, crafting chic DIY event décor, and traveling. Review her freelance portfolio at ShareeSilerio.com then connect with her on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

By Sharee Silerio

Nyakim Gatwech, a South Sudanese model with the nickname “Queen of Dark”, is using her platform to encourage, uplift and inspire black women and girls to love themselves and the skin they’re in.

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Society has long associated the color black and blackness with evil, death and negativity, but Gatwech is having none of it, and is using her platform of over 200,000 followers on Instagram to make it known.

She regularly receives comments about her dark-chocolate-hued complexion, and earlier this year, her Uber driver asked her a disrespectful question about her skin. Gatwech responded with power, grace and pride.

SOUTH SUDAN🇸🇸🇸🇸 A country with people so dark you won't believe your eyes.. skin so rich and teeth so bright. Gosh how I love my country my people and everything that come with it.. I was ask my uber driver the other day he said, don't take this offensive but if you were given 10 thousand dollars 💵 would you bleach your skin for that amount? I couldn't even respond I started laughing so hard. Than he said so that a no and I was like hell to the f*king yeah that a no, why on earth would I ever bleach this beautiful melanin God bless with me. Than he said so you look at it as a blessing? I just 🤦♂️ you won't believe the kind of questions I get and the kind of looks I get for having this skin. On that note #melaninmonday🍫🍫 ||different melanin|| 📸 @piokky 👗 @isaacwest Models: @moliesha95 @odur @chudes0212 @queenkim_nyakim
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Since then, Gatwech has been regularly posting breathtaking photos of herself, including moving poems, words of advice and affirmations that shine a light on the beauty of black skin.

MELANIN MONDAY🍫🍫👸🏿👸🏿🖤 Dear my moonshine dark skin, sun kissed complexion, burn skin or whatever they might call you, You are beyond beautiful and the love I have for is unconditional because you are me. you represent me and I represent you and let show the world how beautiful and intelligent we are apart from just being dark skin, because we are more than what this Society think of our dark skin let stand up for those who can't. Let's speak up those who can't. And stay beautiful while doing it❤️❤️🖤🖤 📸 @piokky 👙 @miss__aude @audeswim 💄 @queenkim_nyakim Model @queenkim_nyakim #saynotoskinbleaching☝😖 #slefloveisthebestlove #melaninpoppin🍫❤️✨ #nubianqueen👌🏿👸🏿 #queenofdark🍫🖤👸🏿 #melaningoddess👑🍫 #southsudanesebeauty🇸🇸🇸🇸😍😍🙌🏿 #blackgirlmagic💫✨ #nuerbeauty😍😍🙌🏿🙌🏿 #confideniskey❤️ #africanqueen👸🏿 #longlegadontcare❤️
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My black is flawless I've never been this proud before My skin never felt so good Was I not used to it? I can't remember when I loved this shade so much My color is dark and lovely. It sings with a rhythmic melody of beauty. My black is loud It yelled at this pale-faced lady the other day She tried to demean my black And just as quickly as she did My black screamed back. My skin roared with elegance Reminding you it is not afraid anymore My black is loved I rubbed it down tenderly today Making sure to touch every inch. Ever so gently it glistened and radiated My black shimmers and still catches attention. It's been kissed and hugged Yet still selfishly wants more My black isn't always easy But I am my black and my black is me. By Jennifer Asiedu 📸 @sethnocentric 💄 @queenkim_nyakim #queenofdark🍫🖤👸🏿 #southsudanesebeauty🇸🇸🇸🇸😍😍🙌🏿 #nubianqueen👸🏿 #melaningoddess👑🍫 #chocolate🍫 #melaninpoppin🍫❤️✨ #darkchocolate #confideniskey❤️ #slelove
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I was asked the other day "how do I feel about being nick name queen of the dark?" My answer was I actually like the name there is nothing wrong with darkness and be call queen is just Cherry on the top. Black is not a color of sadness or death or evil its just the way it has been portray for so many years. So I am the queen of the dark who bring light and love to those around me❤️😍🙏🏿 Project: ||.RARE.|| : : ||.Creative Director, Styled & Photographed By.|| Fashion Designer || @isaacwest : : : ||.Model.|| @queenkim_nyakim || #wcw😍😍😍 #queenofdark🍫🖤👸🏿 #chocolate🍫 #southsudanesebeauty🇸🇸🇸🇸😍😍🙌🏿 #melaninpoppin🍫❤️✨ #melaningoddess👑🍫 #nubianqueen👸🏿 #africanqueen👸🏿 #nuergirlbeauty💁🏿💁🏿 #saynotoskinbleaching☝😖 #myblackisbeautiful💋 #blackgirlmagic💫✨
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If you peruse her comments, you’ll find many that admire her skin tone, saying that they wish they had it. They say that, but to live and walk in her shoes is to constantly rise above oppression against who she was born to be.

Most people aren’t ready for such a reality. Beauty on this level requires strength, self-reliance and unwavering joy.

In a nation and world that praises light as “beautiful”, “right”, “good” and “better”, it’s important to see women who look like us encourage self-love regardless of what other people think, say or believe.

Women all over the world, of various ethnicities, use skin creams and solutions to lighten their skin.

It’s time that we stop waiting for the world to view us as beautiful, because that day may never come. We must recognize the beauty that we are, that we were created to be.

We define beauty. We define ourselves. We are the gift that black is.

Have you had a difficult time loving your melanin skin? What do you think about Nyakim Gatwech’s posts? How can black women love themselves in a world that tells them that they should hate who they are?
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Sharee Silerio is a St. Louis-based freelance writer, Film and TV writer-producer, and blogger. When she isn’t creating content for The Root or The St. Louis American, she enjoys watching drama/sci-fi/comedy movies and TV shows, writing faith and self-love posts for SincerelySharee.com, relaxing with a cup of chai tea, crafting chic DIY event décor, and traveling. Review her freelance portfolio at ShareeSilerio.com then connect with her on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.