Folks stay talking about The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Once in awhile, we take a different approach and highlight the fascinating array of happy black girls and guys (hbg’s) we know and love. Sometimes we feature those we admire from afar as well. It’s our humble attempt at sharing the wealth of information that comes our way about great people.
I interviewed our latest HBG late last summer. She was so centered and willing to share. That’s one of the things I enjoy most about this column, it allows me the honor of offering true stories others might benefit from hearing. But last summer was a hot mess. Pun totally included. I was in no way, shape or form to curate this particular column effectively. BUT you know how I know I chose the right person to start with this year? Because when I explained that it might take me awhile to share her story, she understood. No questions, no judgment, only honest, sincere understanding. She wished me well and waited patiently for the results. That meant so much to me. I feel like we could all benefit from having folks in our lives who allow quiet time. Ms. Mercer is one such person. She and the entire LR crew make me yearn for a life in the lushness of their combined Southernplayalistic creativity! Don’t know what that means? Well…Read on, feel the heat and Get to Know an HBG name Crystal C.
::GET TO KNOW AN HBG (HAPPY BLACK GIRL) ::
1. Welcome to the HBG! Please tell our readers your name, where you’re from originally & where you currently dwell. Hello HBG Lovers! We are in divine company, for I live on every moment HBG gives to planet Earth. I am Crystal C. Mercer, world traveler, native and lifelong resident of Little Rock, AR.
2. Do you wake up happy? I wake up happy most days. When I don’t, I have little reminders written in permanent ink on the mirrors in my house. One says “I love you”, another reads “You’re beautiful everyday” and my favorite is “You’re the baddest woman in the universe!” I hope every woman feels that way. Too many times the inhumane nature of man tries to define and stamp out our true essence. Those notes are a reminder when I forget… I am here and I have much to be happy for.
3. Do you have a morning routine, ritual, trick etc…that contributes to your having a good day? My morning ritual is a sacred series of steps to engage my brain into positive thinking. I light five white candles every morning. Three are placed on my fireplace mantle next to a photograph of me and my father dancing at my brother’s wedding. My Daddy, Attorney Christopher C. Mercer, Jr. was a Civil Rights Humanitarian and community leader. He transitioned in November of 2012. The first three of the five candles go to him to illuminate a happier time when he was alive and well. The fourth candle lights an oil burner in my master bath with lavender oil to soothe me during the day and the fifth and final candle goes to lighting another candle. That is its purpose, energy doesn’t die, it transforms, and it helps me understand that the light will continue. Even when I transition, I know my flame will flicker in the hearts of others.
4. I once had an employer who felt like my good morning greeting and smile was just too much. Some folks can’t handle the light. Tell us, what’s your first call to action when someone unexpectedly tries to hi-jack your happy? If someone tries to unexpectedly hijack my happy, I smile harder and keep it moving! My Daddy always said “Kill people with kindness”. Well, a few people have dropped dead trying to snatch my smile. They can’t have it, I was born smiling, gonna die with one too! And sometimes people don’t mean to be grouchy. It’s hard being sad, been down that road and bought 12 tee shirts. Everybody is going through their own thing. So even when they act like they don’t want a smile, maybe they need a smile… So I smile anyway.
5. Survival is essential. There are a few things I like to keep at the ready just in case. I guess that makes me a bag lady, but I’m cool with that. Tell us, what are 5 things you keep in your mental and or physical “I’m gone be alright HBG Survival Kit”? My top five things in my
“I’m gone be alright HBG Survival Kit” follows thusly:
- Diana Ross Greatest Hits– I listen to this once a day. I have many artists that I love, however, Diana makes me feel sexy, vulnerable, shy, crazy, empowered, like a woman. I can go through a range of emotions with her and know things are going to be just fine.
- Avocados– super green food that is cheap and with a pinch of garlic salt, I’m good for the day. It’s been my go to snack food since I have been Vegan for the past 9 months.
- Family Photos– I have photographs of my Daddy, my brother when we were kids, my mama, grannies, cousins, you name it, I’ve got it! Looking at the love we share gives me hope and strength. That could be the only way I survive if they are with me in some kind of way.
- Personal Care Diddy– I never leave home now without my Shea butter, a spare shirt, tooth brush, fresh undies, and pads. I need to be ready to stay a day anywhere in the world free of being ashy and looking like day old mess. Always got to keep it fresh!
- Fabric- I have the desire to create and fabric changes everything. I’m sure I can tailor any space to my liking with a few bolts of my favorite prints.
6. Share something you think the 12 year old HBG version of yourself would appreciate about you now. The 12 year old Crystal would appreciate that the 31 year old Crystal knows how beautiful she is. 19 years ago, with a face full of acne, a head full of uncontrollable curly hair (which I adore now), a flat chest, and a year into my period, I could not see past my awkward shell. Now I know that it’s just a shell. And puberty was the chrysalis between childhood and womanhood. I was beautiful then, acne and all, I just didn’t know it until now.
7. If you feel like it, tell us a little about what you do to keep the lights on? (your profession). Sunlight by day and candlelight by night keeps the electric bill from being high! But to keep that current of electricity flowing through my home, I am a freelance performance artist (acting and poetry) and Sole Proprietor of two companies: Columbus Creative Arts + Activism and SAFI Custom Home Body. Columbus Creative fusing arts and activism, using theatre and performance as a tool to provoke thought in areas like social justice and education. SAFI, which means “fresh” in Swahili, is my design company, using bold prints and textures to create custom items in home decor and personal care. Check me out via the web: www.columbuscreativeartsactivism.org or on Facebook:www.facebook.com/ccSAFI
8. In your opinion how important is the company you keep? As extroverted as I am, I enjoy my privacy, so in moments of quiet or personal victories, it is super important about the company I chose to keep. Our close friends and family are reflections of things we like- or don’t like and choose to keep around. I have three rules in my home. I want Peace, Love, and Food. My company better have one of the three if they’re in my space!
9. Has anyone ever given you the side eye because they didn’t get you? Or just plain wasn’t ready for you? Details… Details! I get the side eye so often. I chalk it up to people’s own insecurities, but many times folks are friendly… even if they’re pretending, they try to match my positivity. Either way, I win. We either begin to break down walls or we know which walls not to breach. I get me, and she’s good enough, so I’ll rock with that before I rock the side eye boat.
10. Any upcoming events, projects etc …that you’re involved in that you’d like to share with our readers? The life of an artist is never ending! My daily design work with SAFI Custom Home Body can be seen at www.facebook.com/ccSAFI. Custom Drapery, Accessories, and more! My next major project with Columbus Creative is producing the inaugural C. C. Playwright Festival (CCPF). The CCPF, celebrating and amplifying fresh new voices in theater arts, sets the stage for 10 one act plays to be selected, work shopped, and fully produced. For more information about submitting an one act play, or general information, visit: www.columbuscreativeartsactivism.org. Also YOU CAN DONATE to the CCPF. Follow our campaign at www.gofundme.com/dtu4q8.
11. Last but hardly least, do you have any final comments and or shout outs? I want to give thanks for all the HBG on this here Earth and beyond… We do exist. Peace my sisters and peace to the brothers. Also, a special “I love you” to my niece, Claudia Gisele Mercer, who I promise to make a HBG all the days of her life. Welcome to the world baby! It’s been a great few days and I know we will have more of them together.
Devoya Mayo is Co-Creator of The Happy Black Girl
Get To Know An HBG is her favorite column to write.
You can contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org