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HBCU Homecoming Rules + Playlist

It’s HBCU Homecoming Season! The time of year when historically black college and university alumni from across the country come together to fellowship for the biggest friends and family reunion football game of the season.

I can already smell the food on the grill, see the hugs, hear the band, and see the pageant waves from the homecoming queen and the royal court during the parade, but before you make your homecoming plans here are a few rules for alums:

HBCU Homecoming Rules Tik Tok

1. Pace yourself! You’re not 21 anymore.

2. Don’t go uninvited to people’s personal tents and eat their food and drink their drinks when you haven’t been invited to do so or didn’t contribute.

3. Have a place to stay or get a hotel room.

4.Have fun! This is not about work or your career right now.

5. Drink some water and stay hydrated and know your limit.

6. Stretch before you go to the party, so you won’t have to utilize an Icy Hot patch the next day after strolling, droppin’ it too low, or dancing too hard.

7. Take pictures and make new memories. However be aware that you have a job-career now, so be cautious of what you upload to social media or update your “privacy” settings or “close friends” list.

8. Do NOT act like you’re single when you are not!

9. We remember you Before the degrees and titles and also how you treated folks years ago. As Dr. Maya Angelou said, “People may forget what you said or did, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel” remember that and act accordingly.

10. Get tickets for different events you and your crew plan on going to and have cash for various vendors.

11. Have a portable cell phone charger.

12. Wear comfortable shoes at the tailgate and walking on campus

13. Do NOT pretend like you were a student at that school when you weren’t.

14. Think about a weather friendly hairstyle. Example: You just got your hair pressed and it’s gonna be humid or cloudy out, so plan accordingly.

15. Last, but certainly not least don’t forget to contribute your time, money, and resources back to your HBCU to impart into future generations.

Follow me on Twitter: @asiamber and let me know what HBCU you represent in the comments below!

Apple Music Playlist

Tidal Playlist

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Stevie Wonder Playlist

Living legend, Stevie Wonder, is a musical genius in my opinion. Here’s a playlist of some of my favorite songs of his. Click below to listen on Spotify and click here to listen on Apple Music click here for Tidal.

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Israel, Jordan, & Egypt Trip

Listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or whatever platform you listen to podcasts on.

Click here to listen The past two weeks in Israel, Jordan, and Egypt have been a spiritual and emotional awakening and a breath of fresh air for me. Seeing The Middle East and North Africa for myself has been amazing. The pandemic and life itself have been a LOT to deal with, so this trip has been a relaxing reset. I have traveled overseas before years ago while I was in college I studied abroad in various Italian cities and have vacationed in London, England, Paris, France, and Athens and Santorini, Greece. Yet, this trip just feels different to my soul and was my first international trip since 2016! Also, my mother traveled back in the 80’s to Israel and other places and my maternal grandmother traveled years ago to the Holy Land too, so it’s in my blood to explore!

At the Pyramids of Giza in Giza, Egypt

I went by myself with the Go-Ahead travel group,(click the underlined link for more info.) which consists of various cultures and types of people from across the U.S.A. The tour company also has payment plans and take care of everything like flights, tours, local tour guides and translators, security,and transportation for you and was worth it to me! I was also happy I went with a travel group and not alone because it was a LOT of pick pocketers and people that prey on tourists, so I am grateful for the local tour guides and the security we had on the charter bus in The Middle East/North Africa. Also, to see the touristy sites be prepared to wake up early or go earlier in the day when it’s cooler and less crowds or research the better time of year to go. This is a major factor for a religious region with different holidays. Seeing places that I’ve only read about in The Bible or National Geographic or heard about from Westernized media has been very eye opening.

The Temple of Hercules at the Citadel Ruins in Amman, Jordan

Traveling and learning more about the three Abrahamic Religions✝️☪️🔯(Christianity, Islam, and Judaism) and this Holy Land for myself has expanded my mindset on religion and spirituality. The people in Jordan were so kind, yet very curious about me and some Jordanian teens and small children came up to me out of curiosity and intrigue wanting to take pictures and interact with a darker skinned Black American like me.

Young Jordanian teens who asked me to take selfies with them.

I felt like a celebrity or something with all the stares in Amman and Aqaba, Jordan. The culture here in the Middle East & North Africa is different. Not as many people were looking down at devices all day as much and actually talk to one another or make do with so much less and women dress much more conservatively in beautiful fabrics and coverings (hijabs)and have beautiful eye brows and makeup. Some of the Jewish men in Israel wear yamakas on their head. There is internet-WiFi at the hotels I stayed in, but not many English speaking options to watch and very censored and dubbed media outlets. In Israel the people primarily speak Hebrew, English, and other languages. In Jordan and Egypt, the people primarily speak Arabic and English and other languages too. So far the top highlights so far of my trip have been in Israel floating in The Dead Sea with no swimming or floating device!

Relaxing and floating in the Dead Sea.

I can swim and love the water, but The Dead Sea is so salty and the pull of gravity below sea level literally makes you float on your back and the sea salt water and oil makes your skin feel like you have been at the spa! So cool! Then riding on camels in the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan was amazing. The scenery literally looks like a screen saver or movie set, but this is nature! This is real life! I had to pinch myself and after taking so many pictures put my phone up and just absorb the environment. I am in amazement with the people of the Bedouin tribe with NO GPS and being in the middle of the desert with no lights etc. they navigate the land by camels and star gazing and looking at the mountains.

In the Wadi Rum Desert in Jordan.

Reminiscent of the wisemen in The Bible Story of the Nativity of men following the stars to find Jesus, Mary, and Joseph to give them gold, franksense, and mur. Also, the camel’s hide feels like soft carpet! As a believer of Jesus seeing the places in Jerusalem and Bethlehem and going to the places where Jesus walked and performed miracles was chillingly moving. Going to the Western/Wailing Wall to say a prayer and put a prayer in the wall in Israel was powerful and going to the Garden of Gathsemene where Jesus prayed the night before he was crucified gave me chills.

At the Wailing Wall in Israel where the men and the women are separated on different sides and have to dress more conservative.

I was also in awe seeing the pyramids and sphinx in Giza, Egypt and The Nile River and I immediately thought of Moses and the book of Exodus in the Bible and the film “The Prince of Egypt.”

The Nile River In Egypt
Kissing the Sphinx in Giza, Egypt

The ancient ruins and wonders of the world have stood the test of time! I also thought of Michael Jackson’s Egyptian themed “Remember the Time” music videos. Also, it was eye opening going to the Holocaust Museum and memorial in Israel. It was heart breaking seeing the remnants of such evil. Out of respect I did not take pictures inside of the Holocaust Museum.

The outside of The Holocaust Museum in Israel.
The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

It was also interesting and so beautiful looking at the ancient places, architecture, and ancient ruins in Jarash, Jordan or Al-Khazneh (the treasury) in Petra, Jorda, which was also featured in “The Indiana Jones” Movie series and have stood the test of time. Also seeing the Upper Room where Jesus and his disciples ate At The Last Supper and where King David was buried in was intriguing too.

Al-Khazneh (The Treasury)
Petra, Jordan

Going through the border control to leave Israel and enter Jordan and seeing the walls that divide the Holy lands and the political, religious, and repercussions it has on the people in the area were eye-opening. In Israel, young men and young women must join the military at 18 and it was interesting seeing them patrol the streets and holy sites with rifles. Whereas in Jordan and Egypt I didn’t see as many weapons just a greater police presence. In Israel, Jordan, and Egypt there really aren’t a lot of pork food options due to the religious aspects of the area.

Modern sculpture known as the Statue of Faith, made of Galilee stone, stands at the top of Abrasha Park in the Old City of Jaffa on Tel Aviv, Israel
Fresh fruit form the market!

However the grilled lamb, fish, chicken, hummus, pita bread, potatoes, rice, fruit, and vegetables were so fresh and good and people drink lots of hot tea. I don’t think there are the same preservatives there are in the food as in the USA.

Egyptian kabobs, rice, and fries
Sunset in Aqaba, Jordan

Also, the time change is about 6-7hours difference. So when it’s afternoon or evening here it’s early morning or middle of the day or night back home in the USA. Soccer and Basketball are major international sports so it was cool seeing people enjoy that. There is so much more I can say, but overall this has been a trip of a lifetime. I will forever cherish these moments. Thank you, God!

The manger of Jesus in Bethlehem
The Garden of Gathsemene in Israel where Jesus prayed the night before he was crucified.
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The Beyoncé Bracket & Playlist

I finally finished The Beyoncé Bracket. I didn’t create this game. I just found it on social media and filled it out. As a member of The Beyhive, 🐝 I found this bracket’s song selections were kind of difficult to choose from, and certain songs on the bracket are better performed live in concert versus just listening to in your headphones. I’m excited about The Renaissance album era! The new album drops 7/29/22!

There is also different energy on stage when Beyoncè is performing on tour alone versus performing with Jay-Z. I’ve also provided a blank copy of the bracket, so you all can play too. Click the link below to listen to my favorite songs on my Beyoncé Playlist on Spotify and click here for the Beyoncé Playlist on Apple Music and here for the playlist on Tidal.

This bracket game is similar to the NCAA March Madness Basketball Tournament bracket instead of teams it’s songs. Out of the categories given you pick the song out of the two that you like more and that song advances to another round with other songs. Kind of like 2 basketball teams play a game and the winner moves on to the next level game and competes with other teams. It’s fun! Let’s play!

What are your favorite solo Beyoncé albums so far?

My Beyoncé album collection
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Sampled Songs Playlist

Kanye West sampled Chaka Khan’s 1984 hit R&B ballad “Through The Fire” on his 2004 hit “Through The Wire” off “The College Dropout” album. I think sampled songs are generation gap connectors and a way to introduce older songs to younger generations. It’s also a way for newer artists to pay homage to the great artists before them. SAMPLED SONGS Playlist Links below. What’s your favorite sampled song? Check the playlist below on Spotify. Apple Music users click here and Tidal users click here.

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Thirty-Something

January 15th was my Birthday! I feel blessed to share a birthday with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated’s Founders’ Day. I’m grateful to God for another year of life and for the lessons I’ve learned and am continuing to learn.

Check out www.anchor.fm/asiamber and other platforms to listen to the “As-I-Amber” podcast “30 on 30” episode from last year, where I went more in depth about the life lessons I’ve learned so far and still learning. I never would’ve imagined entering my 31st birthday still in a global pandemic.

I wanted to be on a beach chillin’ with my toes in the sand listening to the ocean waves crash. Instead of being on an island for my winter birthday I went to an exhibit at the museum, got some Hibachi, watched the live stream of the UGA parade, and chilled at home waiting for the snow flurries to fall! The pandemic and life in general, have taught me that things don’t always go our way and that sometimes we make plans, but God laughs.

It seems like yesterday I was a 16-year-old who just got her driver’s license and was on MySpace listening to the girl group, Danity Kane. Now, I’m an official adult that pays bills, has to wear contact/glasses in order to see far away clearly, yet still watches Disney Plus, needs a snack, and a nap to function. The young people on Tik-Tok would call me “old” and older adults call me “young.” I feel in between.

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.- Edith Wharton✨🪞💫

In my twenties, I had lots of adventures as well as ups and downs. I gained weight, lost friends, gained friends, and lost weight. I studied abroad and graduated from college, moved back home with my parents, then moved out of state to a city where I knew no one. I worked in photography, applied for numerous jobs, and now work in Corporate America. I traveled the world visiting New York City, Italy, Greece, London, Paris, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. I’ve also gone to numerous concerts seeing Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Ariana Grande, Kendrick Lamar, Janet Jackson, Solange, Jazmine Sullivan, Drake, Future, Migos, OutKast, Monica, Erykah Badu, and JoJo perform. I guess you can say I like music and live my life to the fullest.

My travels to Paris, Greece, London, & Italy.
At Beyoncé & Jay Z’s #OnTheRunII Concert in 2018.

I know it is 2022 and this is not an episode of Netflix’s “Bridgerton” set in the 1800s. Yet, depending on your culture or environment in some places when a woman hits her 20’s and early 30’s the majority of her peers in her age bracket have children and are getting married and if you’re not a mommy, fiancé, or wife by a certain age you’re looked at differently.

Currently as an unmarried thirty-something woman with no children I enjoy my freedom to pick up and go without having to consider anyone else, yet sometimes some people peculiarly look at me because of that. There is an unspoken, yet loud sound of the tick-tock of an accomplishment timer and biological clock. We are bombarded with various messages about getting older and what that means regarding fertility or relationship status.

Society tells us what we “should” be doing or accomplishing by a certain time frame. Then in this digital age, it is so easy to compare our lives to what others choose to display on social media and we think that we “should” have accomplished certain milestones by a certain age, and if not you’re somehow “behind” or a failure in life.

But, I’m here to remind you all and myself that God made you a unique individual. Everyone is displaying their highlight reel on social media, but you don’t always know their behind the scenes. Everyone’s life path is different and it does not make you better than or less than if you have achieved or experienced certain things more or less quickly on this journey of life.

Remember you are fearfully and wonderfully made. According to Galatians 6:4-5 (MSG) “Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”

I feel like a butterfly that has gone through metamorphosis during my 20s and is now breaking from the cocoon to take flight. I’m continuing to live my life like it’s golden and am excited for all the things that God has in store for me. Cheers to this new chapter of life!

Listen on iTunes/Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you listen to podcasts.
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90’s Girl Groups

This weekend the next #Verzuz battle will be R&B girl groups, SWV vs Xscape! I like both groups, but I grew up with my Mommy playing SWV around the house and in the car while I was in my car seat so I’m biased, but if we’re talking song writing credits it’s gotta go to Kandi and Tiny of Xscape. Anywhoo, If you’re a fan of R&B and 90’s Girl Groups check out this Spotify playlist below. Click here for Apple Music & here for Tidal.

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MySpace Mix

You had at least one of these songs on your MySpace page or voted for it on 106 & Park! Listen here on Apple Music or below on Spotify.

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Generation NEXT

Amber and a special guest discuss Millennials and Gen-Z. Listen here on http://www.anchor.fm/asiamber. Also, available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Available on Spotify & Apple Podcasts
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Hit Different

*New Episode” of “The As-I-Amber Podcast” go to www.anchor.fm/asiamber to listen. 📲 We’re discussing how things “HIT DIFFERENT” now and how our viewpoints have changed.

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The Isley Brothers VS Earth, Wind, & Fire Playlist

Timbaland and Swizz Beatz recently announced that the next Verzuz Battle on Easter Sunday will be The Isley Brothers vs Earth, Wind, & Fire! Who are you going for? In the meantime here’s a playlist to get us ready. Click below to listen on Spotify, Click here to listen on Apple Music, and Click here to listen on Tidal.

From My Dad’s DVD Collection
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Jay Z’s “American Gangster” album

I had the opportunity to write about two songs, “I Know” & “Blue Magic” off of Jay Z’s “American Gangster” album. Click here to read about it on As Told By Kia’s website.

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Beyoncè’s #Homecoming

Beyoncé’s #Homecoming film chronicles the singer’s 2018 Coachella music festival performance. Beyoncé was scheduled to perform at the 2017 Coachella music festival, but was pregnant with twins Rumi and Sir Carter, and had to postpone her performance to 2018. The Coachella music festival held in the California desert was way too expensive for my budget, so I was happy her performance was live-streamed on YouTube to watch for FREE! I was so hyped to be able to see an amazing performance from the comfort and air-conditioned atmosphere of home. I remember April of 2018 setting my alarm to wake me up so I could watch Beyoncè’s highly anticipated Coachella performance on YouTube. As soon as the drum line and band and dancers came out I screamed in excitement! Beyoncé’s epic two-hour 2018 Coachella performance had a live Black drum-line and many other band members, dancers, and even cameos from her husband Jay-Z, her sister Solange, and her Destiny’s Child group members Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams. One of my favorite parts was when Beyoncè and the band swag surfed and danced to O.T. Genesis’ “Everybody Mad”, and oh so much more! As an HBCU graduate and Beyoncè fan, I felt so proud and validated that she paid homage to Black college and band culture during her 2018 Coachella performance and she is financially giving back to HBCU’s!

I remember in high school some questioned my choice and looked down on me when I said I was going to a historically Black school for college. My college experience at Fort Valley State University gave me opportunities to travel the world from NYC to Italy and has helped to shape me into the person I am. I wanted to see more of the behind-the-scenes of Beyoncé’s iconic and legendary performance. I may be biased, but Beyoncé’s work ethic is phenomenal! I’ve been blessed to have seen her in concert four times and she gives her all on stage! Who else can sell out stadiums in seconds, make award-winning albums, make films, have a family, and go on a world tour all within a short time span?!?! With that being said don’t forget to watch ” HOMECOMING” on Netflix and listen to the “Homecoming” album as well as my “As-I-Amber” podcast episode available on Spotify, iTunes/Apple Podcasts and other podcast platforms.

 

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The ArchAndroid

On this episode Amber & Zac are discussing Janelle Monáe’s #ArchAndroid album. Click here to listen or go to http://www.anchor.fm/asiamber. Also, available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Listen on Apple & Spotify Podcasts
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My Hair, My Choice

I like the choice of wearing my hair in different styles. Most of the time it’s because I get bored easily and other times I don’t feel like doing my thick hair or permanently having my hair look the same. Some say “it’s just hair”, but to me, it’s not. Haircare is a multi-million-dollar industry and hair is sensitive and controversial topic. Even comedian, Chris Rock, did a documentary back in 2009 called “Good Hair” about black women and their relationship with natural hair, hair straighteners, and weaves. I have noticed how some people treat others differently based off of their hair texture, hair color, hair length and hair style. I have also been treated differently or receive more or less attention depending on how my hair looks.

More recently film maker, Matthew A. Cherry’s , animated short film “Hair Love” about a black father styling his daughter’s natural hair won an Academy Award. More and more black people are embracing their natural curls and coils. However not every person, workplace, or environment is as accepting. The state of California is one of the first states to ban discrimination based off of ones natural hair, with The Crown Act, but other places have currently not followed suit. Recently I’ve read dozens of articles on how some people have been suspended from schools, sports teams, fired from jobs and even told they would not be able to walk at graduation ceremonies, not because of the content of their character, but simply because of their hair texture, hair color, or hair style preference. Why are we judging someone solely off their natural hair and not their character?

In our society depending on the community or culture hair that is straighter or wavier or long is considered ‘good’ and anything that is not like that is considered ‘bad’.  I had relaxers (chemical hair straightening) for 14 years of my life and at age 19 I decided to stop getting relaxers and “go natural” (stopped using chemical straightening). I decided to go natural because the stylist I had been going to moved and I was away in college in another city and didn’t feel like experimenting with any more different stylists who said they did relaxers, but ended up damaging people’s hair. I was also curious how my natural hair looked because I couldn’t remember a time when I didn’t have relaxers. I also did not want to cut all my hair off so I transitioned by getting weaves and braids.  IMG_0856

I have now been relaxer free for 12 years. I get my hair blown out and flat ironed and I sometimes wear it un-straightened. One thing that I’ve noticed is that my natural hair is healthier and thicker than it was when I was getting relaxers.  I still like to wear braids and weaves simply because I think they’re pretty and less maintenance, especially when exercising. There is nothing wrong with wanting versatility in hair. Just because you choose to wear your natural hair chemical free, just because you choose to get relaxers, just because you choose not to wear weave does not make you better or less than. How do you know someone isn’t battling an illness or dealing with hair loss? Not everyone that wears their hair straight or weaved is bald or hates themselves.  I find it interesting that whenever I have my hair in a certain style I attract certain people or get more or less attention. I often wonder why this is. I wonder if people think about that when they’re speaking to a person. Whatever happened to style preference and upkeep? What if you want your hair straight today and curly next week? What if you want length and don’t have the patience to wait until it grows a certain length? What if you want to have short hair without actually cutting your own hair? All I want to say is let’s focus not only on hair style, but what’s underneath, like our hair health and spiritual health.

Here is the Apple Music Playlist for Hair & Self Care and Spotify playlist below.

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5yYxskT0n2wixFXoTqRrtF?si=BS86ddF2RXScHatTXYfeUw