Get To Know An HBG (Happy Black Girl) Mariah Rankine-Landers

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 first met Mariah Rankine-Landers on the internets. Facebook to be exact, by way of our mutual friend the lovely Mia Birdsong. Together, these two incredibly talented ladies, create a blog called Canerow. OhhhI like the way that sounds… A Blog Called Canerow. AnywayShort story short, I liked her commentary and wit and she reminded me so much of Mia, Starr and myself, that I had no choice but to weasel my way into her circle. Wait, that kind of sounds vain when I say it out loud. At any rate, she’s pretty fly & I think you’ll enjoy getting to know her.



Mariah taking a break in Yosemite National Park | Source MRL

1. Welcome to the HBG! Please tell our readers your name, where you’re from originally  & where you currently dwell. Hey there Happy Black Girls. I’m Mariah. I grew up in Merced, California (the key to Yosemite). Now, I live with deep pride in beautiful Oakland, California.

2. Do you wake up happy?  Yes, I do! But let me explain.  I am NOT a morning person.  I do NOT enjoy talking to other people when I wake up.  But this doesn’t mean that I’m not happy first thing. Usually I ruminate in the dreams I’ve just had which are most often pleasant (or at least weird enough to enjoy thinking about) and help to set the tone of waking up in a great mood.   My bed faces the beautiful Oakland hills so I wake up to a scene of tree-lined sky splattered with a scenic concrete jungle scape.  The purple and misty blues of dawn are always stunning to take in. 

3. Do you have a morning routine, ritual, trick etc.… that contributes to you having a good day?  I do and I think it’s part of not being a “morning person.”  First thing is that I pray (talk to spirit, whatever you want to call it). I give thanks for being on this planet and think of the people I love. Then I imagine scenarios that I hope to manifest such as traveling, spending time with a lover, finishing a project at work that I’m into….I’m all about envisioning and daydreaming and praising the universe for all the beauty that exists.  Then I put the kettle on and make a cup a coffee or tea (I’m trying to drink less coffee), and sip it from my Fleur de lis Afro Girl mug.  

Coffee Mug
Fleur de lis Afro Mug| Source MRL

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?  I try to redirect them. I offer something easier to think about or say something quip and funny to make the heavy go away.  If it’s something gossipy that is hurtful, I try to acknowledge something positive about the person/situation. My super Jedi trick though is to imagine a force field around my body to protect my spirit from negative energy.  

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”?   I LOVE this.  I’m going to start calling my strategies for feeling good my HBG survival kit!

  • 1)  So, first thing is a mantra from my dear spiritual guide, LeRoy White.  It’s a song called “Breathe and Smile” and I sing the chorus over and over (silently to myself),  “Breathe and Smile, Breathe and Smile, Breathe and Smile and the world will set you free.”  I love it so much. 
  • 2)  Lip gloss, Lipstick, Chapstick.  Don’t care what you call it, gotta have some color, moisture and shine for my lips!
  • 3)  I’m hesitant to say it, but maybe someone will relate to this, but I talk to my grandmother, my best friend, a former lover and my father who have all passed on. I check in with them and ask for guidance, protection, comfort, all that emotional stuff that one needs. I miss them all so much, and I’ve had countless signs that they are still with me here on earth.  It’s kinda freaky actually. 
  • 4) Music! Speaking of happy, Pharrell is charming the pants off me lately!  But for real, it’s all about working steady with some background music on! Or working out to some deep, happy beats! 
  • 5)  Black Ink- I LOVE to doodle with fine tip black ink pens. I am religiously carrying them around to take notes, sketch ideas, and write.  

6. Share something you think the 12 year old HBG version of yourself would appreciate about you now.  Well, to be honest the 12 year old me was pretty sad.  That was the year I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.  But the 11 year old me was SUPER happy and the 14 year old and the 17 year old me.  Let me tell you what 11 year old me would say  “I really thought you’d be more like Gandhi by this point (I was obsessed with Gandhi at this age) with some kids and a husband and a house. But I’m LOVING the whole independence thing, loving who you wanna love thing, and loving other peoples kids so you have all that time to explore the world.  Dig it!  I also really love that you went for the dreadlocks and then back to these natural curls.  Well done! Stop stressing and do more art. One last thing, you need to go camping, see some stars and sit by a stream soon.” 

In Jamaica with her Grandfather & Brother.| Source MRL

7. If you feel like it, tell us a little about what you do to keep the lights on? I never close my curtains. Honest to goodness, I like the fishbowl effect. There’s always natural light filling my space.  I do all the regular cliché stuff like being outside, meditating, working out, so aside from that boring commentary I will say that I keep the lights on by expressing love as much as possible.  Let me also include that friend time is deeply important to me.  I have the most amazing people in my life! 

8. In your opinion, how important is the company you keep?  SO IMPORTANT! The energy that other’s carry can and does affect you. If you’re not feeling their energy, steer clear.  I believe bad energy can really be harmful to your spirit.  

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’m sure this happen’s a lot without me really being aware. I have a big, hearty laugh that I get from my dad that is definitely off putting depending on context of where I am. I laugh a lot at work and I know I probably irritate the hell outta the some folks who need it nice and quite to work. But recently, yes, I’ve had to deal with someone who really just doesn’t get me, and it calls into mind internalized racism and the structures of power around race that are at play.  It takes extra effort to remind myself that I’m great and smart and capable when I’m met with forces who want to tell me otherwise.  One of my new tricks is to call to mind all the strong women who have guided me in this world (family and friends) and speak their name silently as if I am them(I am my Mary and Gina, I am Nikosha, I am Mia, I am Jeannie, I am Jah Yee and Lubia.  I am Hedy, Serian, and Sharon, I am Ngozi. I am Mariah).   It reminds me of my power and wisdom.  

The gift of good company | Source MRL

10. Any upcoming events, projects etcthat you’re involved in that you’d like to share with our readers?  Oh wow, where do I start?! 1) Well, if you’re into education, check out the Integrated Learning Specialist Program that I direct out of Alameda County Office of Education. It’s a three core course program for any educator to be certified in Integrated Learning (Arts Integration, Culturally Relevant Strategies, Ongoing and Authentic Assessment practices, and Collaborative Curriculum Design).  CEU’s are available. 

2) I also spend my down time working on CaneRow ( and like us on FB!).  Canerow is an online site created by our girl Mia Birdsong (an HBG blogger) and myself to be reflective of the histories, lives, experiences, and dreams of people of color, and seeks to equip our communities with a resource that enables us to show our children a world that reflects the spectrum of who they are.  I love spending time finding articles and images to post on Canerow.  Though I have to say, often I’m digging through content on the web for much too long to find worthy posts.  We need more literature, stories, and experiences about folks of color that aren’t rehashing the slave narrative or noshing on a stereotype of perceived experience.  We really want to encourage others to write and expose stories, images and experiences that show us in our day to day, normalizing the fact that I’m a black girl with a big fro and I’m riding a bike and eating a pear and listening to a playlist that includes Nirvana, Santigold, JT, Daft Punk, M.I.A, Les Nubians, Indigo Girls and Stevie Wonder.  We are all complex individuals with unique life experiences that have helped shape and steer who we are.

3) Lastly, I’m working with Chapter 510, which is a made in Oakland literacy project modeled after 826 Valencia.  I serve as their educational advisor helping to set the vision for the work, which I love doing.  It’s really exciting to have a program running in Oakland for Oakland youth to get free one on one coaching in writing.  We’ve started with in-school projects to support the learning goals set by the teachers.  Already, the teachers we’re working with have seen a huge difference in their student’s work.

Love Oakland Mural | Source MRL

11. Last but hardly least, do you have any final comments and or shout outs? I feel like you’re asking me to pick the best Facebook status of all time.  That’s a lot of pressure.  So to all the daydreamers who are holding it down and adding love and beauty to the collective consciousness of humankind I want to say Thank You!  





one day


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

2 thoughts on “Get To Know An HBG (Happy Black Girl) Mariah Rankine-Landers

  1. Jeannie says:

    Oh, my oh, my Mariah. It’s always been your sweet light, making me fall for you at camp before I saw you (all hail The Laugh), leading me to imagine getting to be your mother, and celebrate getting to be your lifelong friend, without fail. And finally, as the remarkable Precious Ramotswe (played by Miss Jill Scott) says in her lovely sing-song voice, “Africa, Africa, Africa, Africa”. You are the beauty, the broad blue skies, the sun and the blessed rains of Africa. It’s an honor to know you. When I’m blue, I remember you’re there and I am lifted up. Thank you.

  2. joy graves says:

    I really enjoyed ready your story… on this Monday morning. You have inspired me to dream and be happy …. I’ve also learned sumthin ‘new your website canerow which , I will be checkin’ out today…thank you…

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