Alex In The City: Hill Harpers “Letters to an Incarcerated Brother” Book Signing and Conversation at Brooklyn Restoration

20131113-193907.jpgThis weekend I got to meet one of my favorite people, for a second time! You may have heard of him, he attended Harvard with our current President, he is a NYTimes best selling author, an actor (Covert affairs and my personal favorites were his cameos on The Game and his role opposite my SISTER Dr. Kerry Marisa Washington in for colored girls) and an activist and advocate and probably 6 other awesome things I can’t think of right now but most of all he is close to me as a person that I look to for guidance and inspiration through his work so much so that when I decided to build my own outlet, this very blog, I used one of his quotes as the headline on the home page.

Hill Harper.



I met Hill for the first time at Essence Magazines annual Essence Music Festival in New Orleans. Hill was on a panel at the convention center and he took time after the panel to take photos and sign books. I have a funny story about how I got my book (The Conversation) signed that I won’t share the details of today but it was so worth it. When I heard hill was coming to Brooklyn I HAD to be there. Not to mention Brooklyn Restoration is so close to where I live.

I had just recommended Letters to an Incarcerated Brother to someone on twitter who was looking for a good read when I stumbled into the Greenlight bookstore to pick up a calendar of events that included Hills presentation. I immediately texted my friends inviting them to join because I was surely going and I was definitely buying the book.

What I love most about Hills books is that you don’t just read the book, you have homework to do afterward and you can always pass the book on and bless someone else’s life with it, unless of course its hand signed by Hill himself in which case you Share some integral passages via email with those you think my benefit from it in order to avoid having the person you loaned said autographed book to losing it without a trace (yes I’ve had an unanticipated parting with my first copy of the conversation).

Hills most recent book “Letters to an Incarcerated Brother” addresses the mass incarceration issue in the United States and more specifically in the African American and poor communities.

Hill began his presentation asserting that Mass Incarceration is an issue that no one talks about and later recounted part of his struggle with his publishing process was his fight with a publishing house that was convinced that this was an issue that Hills audience, or anyone for that matter, are not concerned with or interested in the issue.

He guided the audience to the first passage in the book; A letter from an imprisoned 16 year old boy that after reading Hills first book (Letters to a Young Brother) wrote Hill a very honest and moving letter from, but not in the usual fashion of moving and honest letters like we get from loved ones. The letter made it evident that the young man was writing and probably also reading at roughly a 4th grade reading level for an average American child. After reading the letter Hill recalled asking himself “Had he failed us or have we failed him.”

Thanks to Hills commitment to young men and women, to his community of readers and fans and his understanding of a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr,. he admits to carrying with him “We are all tied together in a garment of mutual destiny” Hill took a pay cut and put up a fight to publish this book and make it an agent for change.  You can purchase the book HERE. The book includes a list of prisons to send a copy to via the warden for the Prison library.

Check out my throwbacks with Hill and a few Photos from Saturday night Below !







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Scandal Hiatus Therapy – Season 1- 101

Since Scandal is on a Winter Hiatus and I have only recently begun to do episode reviews I am going back in time over the next few weeks and recapping some of the first season episodes and episodes from the first half of this second season!


101! – Sweet Baby

First things first, I really remember watching this episode in my bed and ending up at the edge closest to the TV clutching my throw pillow with excitement. I didn’t know Harrison as Harrison, he was still Columbus, no less sexy, but not Harrison just yet. I had been waiting on this. I LOOOOOOOOOVE Kerry and I knew I would be supporting Scandal for her if for no other reason. I am a political geek and avid lover of The West Wing so I was more than ready for a juicy political drama to sink my teeth into. The back-story of the show and it’s creator were also motivators for my viewing and then I saw the wardrobe and I lost it, OK OK enough reminiscing, lets flash back!

In this episode we are taken away within minutes by Harrison and Quinnsay’s interaction. I’m not sure when I completely lost it, when I saw Columbus looking like a magically delicious chocolate snack machine or when Quinn described being stood up at that bar as equivalent to falling face-down on a runway and called Harrison a 12 year old baby lawyer or when Harrison hit her with the Gladiator line! Let’s just agree that I was hooked very early on. Ok? Ok.

Olivia Carolynn Pope, bow down ladies and gentleman! Say hello to the woman who introduces herself  as the queen of compartmentalization! She is talking to Steven, who I might add I do not miss nearly as much as I had anticipated,  about  his proposal and then swiftly proceeds to go pick up a baby box from Ukranian mobsters ignoring that fact that she is $3 million short because she is just that gangster. She handles that, while I scream at the TV with glee, and the first thing I am wondering when they get back to OPA is WHY IN THE HELL IS THE BABY IN A BOX?

While re-watching this episode I couldn’t help but think, ah, these were the good old days when Abby was cynical yet obedient  Cooperative, problems got solved, and Olivia had her first reflective moment in which she tells the married-man-lover within herself everything she knows about the practicality of her and Fitz’s relationship. Sully St. James got the good talk down about how the person he loves shouldn’t have to be a secret and so on and so forth and whatever else Olivia needs to get out of her system so she can stop force feeding it to herself because we all know deep down inside she is thinking “screw the freaking moral majority!”

Oh the good old days when David was an undeniable opposing force, a non-conflict of interest having as USA, Olivia’s gut was worth something and the Gladiators of OPA were, well, they were real Gladiators doing gladiator-esque things. Now… well we will talk about that later.

Now the most important part of this episode, the Oval Office Scene!!!!!!! Who storms into the Oval office and throws their purse down demanding the presence of the leader of the free world? OLIVIA POPE, that’s who! She was on fire and seeing red! Then, in comes Fitz ,sexy, presidential, obviously still smitten and heartbroken. I had a feeling that there was something more when she stopped Quinn mid-sentence about that ‘sweet baby’ comment but I was still doing back-flips on the  inside when Fitz and Liv affirmed what I had been thinking. I literally wanted to cry. Between the emotion of the scene and my utter pleasure with this show i could hardly give my smiling cheeks and pressed eyebrows a rest. I was IN!

Olivia was ‘saying’ don’t touch me but when Fitz’s hands were on her body I could just feel her melting, I thought the poor thing was going to spill out of the television screen. It was the proverbial electric touch, the undeniable chemistry, the heavy breathing and fast paced heartbeat, Liv didn’t stand a chance. If Miss Cyrus had not walked through that door I really don’t know…. Ok I DO know what would have happened I just don’t know how they would have managed to do it in an inconspicuous time and do a decent cleanup.

Shonda, Kerry and Tony had me on a very very short leash by the end of this first episode! And you can see how far we have come since then!

Whew. It felt good to look back. I hope everyone enjoy’s this trip down memory lane. If you like it, I will continue with other episodes, If not, I will probably still continue but the more response I get the more episodes I will recap. Deal? Deal!

Happy Scandal Thursday Gladiators!



New Year, New Vision Board

I am opening up in a new way. I believe so strongly in my vision board and the law of attraction that I usually only create my board with those very close to me and it does not leave my room once it is up. I feel compelled to share my testimony and knowledge with others so I am sharing.

I always say that every genius (visionary) needs someone that they can trust their vision with and that it should be kept in a sacred place. I still hold that idea to be true and I am not spilling my guts here but I am sharing more than I ever have before.

A vision board is a physical representation of goals and aspirations and visions that we have for ourselves. Each board is created using magazines and newspaper clippings or anything else to create a collage of sorts with words and images that are a reminder of goals and personal beliefs and creeds, wise words, positive motivation, reassurance and affirmation all targeted towards ATTRACTING what what it is that we want from life. Your vision board should be put up in a place where you can see it everyday. I suggest creating a vision board in an environment that is filled with positive energy and friends or family but if you are more in tune when you are alone, do it alone.

I usually create my vision board at a vision board brunch with my closest friends and family. The brunch is complete with fruit and cheese snack-plates wine, mimosas, frittata’s, laughter, good conversation and positive energy!

I also recommend reading or watching or listening to the secret or any other books that share the intricacies of the law of attraction. The concept is not simply about putting the glue and scraps on the $.79 poster-board, without context and knowledge and belief in the power of what you are creating it really is not what you intend for it to be. Read some literature on the subject when you get a chance.

I hope this informs and inspires someone that needs it!

Stay beautiful people!

Made with Love!


Holiday Gift Guide!

The Christmas holiday is only weeks away and the shopping rush is in full swing!
whether you are looking for gifts for co-workers, secret Santa,  friends, family members, boyfriends, girlfriends or cute little baby cousins, I have got you covered. My holiday list of favorite things is full of great gifts that can be ordered or picked up in stores in time for the Christmas Holiday and are all under $30!!!!!!

1. Lush Bath Bombs and Shower soaps

Mr. Punch

I love Lush products, I have used their handmade soaps -like the one pictured above- , their fresh face masks (featured here), and their bath bombs, all of which are amazing. Lush cosmetics hand-makes all of their products from fresh organic ingredients and prides themselves on never testing their products on animals. This would be a great gift for any ladies in your life and the bath bombs are great for kids too! Units of the Bar soap and bath bomb sell for $5-$8 each so you can make a little luscious goody bag or gift basket.
Find these products online here at Lush’s online shop or in a local Lush store.

2. The ‘Favorite’ Wine Glass

camille-23-oz.-red-wine-glass (1)

I call this my Olivia Pope glass but I have become quite fond of it on nights when I am completing a hefty amount of homework, having dinner solo, or just relaxing with a nice glass of wine, some popcorn and ABC’s hit show SCANDAL! This glass is the perfect gift for the wine-lover in your life. Just as the tea/coffee lover in me has my favorite mug, the wine lover in me knows that my sacred wine glass is a must-have! This 23 Oz Camille glass retails for $13 at Crate and Barrel.


You can walk into your local crate and barrel or order online, they also have plenty of other goodies for holiday decorating, cooking, and gifting!

3. Oster individual blender


This is an awesome gift for the busy health-nut in your life. Having an individual blender has made all the difference for me, especially in the morning when I get behind schedule and still want to start my day off with something nutritious and tasty I throw some greens, fruit, coconut water or fresh fruit juice into my mini blender for about 60 seconds and hit the road. This Oster individual blender comes in several funky colors and are on sale in Targets online store for $19. You can also order on Oster’s website and enjoy all the great details and even geta free smoothie recipe!

4. A cup of joy and a joyful song!


Give a gift that will leave them inspi(RED)! This holiday season Starbucks and iTunes have pledged to donate 5% of each Kind(red) gift card purchase to the Global Fund. The cards can be ordered via Starbucks’ online store   and include a $15 iTunes card and a $15 Starbucks gift card. I am a Starbucks gold card holder so this is something I could appreciate and the iTunes gift card is all too popular in my family, we all have an extensive music collection, this gift is a great way to bring cheer to a music and/or coffee lover.

5. Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness –


A gift for the book-worm. I don’t have as much time as I would like for leisurely reading but I make time for pieces like this! An in-depth look at the current state of race relations in America as told by over 100 interviewees to MSNBC correspondent Toure’. “Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness” is a page turner, a conversation starter, thought-provoking and honest. You can order it on Amazon or in your local Barnes and Noble, it’s also offered in audio form on iTunes  Check out the NYT review here!

6. Magazine subscription

I am a subscriber of  O magazine, InStyle, Black Enterprise, and a few others. Most subscriptions are no more than $20 and come with great gifts and deals at this time of year. Fitness, running, and nutrition magazines are great for those in your life that are dead-set on their new years health kick or lifestyle change, support them with some consistent and reliable literature!

7. 1 lb dumbbells


This is another great gift for a health-nut or a person that is always on the go. I got a pair of 1 lb Neoprene weights with my Cardio Barre home system and thought they were kind of silly seeing that I am no stranger to weight lifting but I was surprised when the workout got in full swing, my traps, triceps and deltoids were all burning! The number of reps combined with the light weight still burns fat but it also builds lean muscle. My real pleasure with these weights comes from their ability to travel easily. On the weekdays I take them to work with me and use them on my 15-minute break when I walk around. They are perfect for co-workers that want to break away from the cubicle or desk for a few minutes a day to get their heart rate up. You can pick these up in most department stores or order them online through The Sports Authority for yourself and a few fitness pals, they retail for a low as $2 each! 
Other gifts I am giving this Holiday include Yummy Chocolates, Nail Polish, Pajamas, cosmetics, photo albums and homemade baked goods! Please share some of your holiday shopping adventures and ideas and if you use any of my suggestions let me know how they go over! I would love to hear of all the Holiday festivities and functions.
Until next time, stay beautiful people!

Keep your face to the Rising Sun


Being that I am deliberate and sometimes overly analytical I decided to take my own approach to buying my 3-year-old cousins birthday gift. I am not a parent yet but I love children and I’ve had my fair share of time being a part of the village it takes to raise a child. Through that time and through time spent reflecting in my younger years and how they helped mold me into the person I am today by creating an OK base for me to build on I have come to understand how important it is for young children to be handled carefully and wisely. I try to be a positive contribution to that process with my younger family members and I was especially glad to do so this weekend when I found what, to me, is the coolest Barbie of all time!



Yes, that is a President Barbie! Yes, they even had her as a woman of color! I was delighted, to say the least to be gifting this amongst other things to my young cousin. Even if she doesn’t understand or even realize, I was giving her more than just a doll. I felt like I was giving her something that helps her increase her positive self image, something that lets her know what possibilities life holds and let her know that I believe in her, myself, other girls and women no matter where they come from or the color of their skin. Not to mention the recent re-election of our President, who happens to be a man
Of color making history, this was a really fun gift to give. A huge thanks to the White House Project and Matel for helping put such a great product on the shelves, and one of my favorite retailers, Target, for having it in stock!

I hope my little bitty birthday gift does at least a little something special for the young queen!

I also got her a book, I am, of course a huge advocate for early childhood development, parental engagement etc etc, so I got her one of the great books from my childhood; Brown Bear, Brown Bear!


I am proud of my little cousin and I hope she enjoys her gifts. I look forward to seeing her in the coming years as she blossoms and spreads her wings learning to love life as a young Queen, to live it to the fullest and to never be afraid of how great she is becoming.



Hot Hair


This weekend I returned to one of my favorite styles: the twisted bun. It’s a clean style that easily transitions into a funky twist-out that I don with a cute headband or ribbon.

Per a recommendation I styled this bun with Paul Mitchell’s daily conditioner which, by the way, smells like sweet rain and heaven! The conditioner was a clearance buy from Target: marked down to $9.08 from $12.99.


A twisted bun is great for fall and winter when wetting your hair everyday isn’t really healthy or practical. This style lasts for a few days and transitions really well when the ends are unpinned and separated with moisturizer or oil.

If you have any questions about the product mentioned or this style please feel free to email me or leave a comment.

Until next time, stay beautiful people!

– Zan