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DON C x FOOT LOCKER ALL CITY LAUNCH EVENT

If you grew up in the blog era you most likely have feelings of inspiration and excitement attached to this image.


(Pictured: Don C, Taz Arnold, Chris Julian, Kanye West, Fonsworth Bentley, and Virgil Abloh at Paris fashion show in 2009)

And although South Park used it for satire on their show; back in 2009 this was a special moment for many black creatives. This picture is full of legends that have all done and continue to do amazing things individually. To witness everyone’s trajectory from this moment to now is nothing short of inspirational. This picture made us all envision ourselves pulling up to Paris with our crew. This past weekend we were able to tap in with the man holding the Louis Vuitton luggage: the legendary Don C.





We were invited by Foot Locker to attend a private event to celebrate Don C’s launch of his ALL CITY collection and collaboration with Foot Locker. We were hyped! The event was centered around a conversation between Laura Stylez from Hot 97 and Don C himself. They talked about his early design inspirations and how sneaker culture and sports have always influenced his approach to fashion.

A treasure chest of gems mixed with introspective jokes kept all of us engaged and in the moment. After the conversation Don C took his time talking to all the young creatives in the building. 

It was dope to reconnect with friends of The Aware Brand to share our successes and lessons learned. We were also able to tap in with other brands and people who are killing it out here. Everyone was empowering one another all night, it was a vibe.


(@pericolimited)

(@jaetips)

Building a brand can be very frustrating and exhausting sometimes which makes it that much more important to celebrate the wins. From launching at Dose Detroit to our birthdays to the GQ feature as well as some behind the scenes stuff, November has been a big month for us! We are growing and more and more people are seeing it.

 Meeting Don C is definitely one of the highlights of the year so far. He said he likes the brand and followed our IG on the spot. Crazy! It was a full circle moment to be appreciated by someone who has shaped so much of the streetwear culture. It lets us know we are moving in the right direction. 

Shout out to Foot Locker for inviting us and gifting us some gear from the new collection!


(Photos from Richard’s phone and Foot Locker NYC. Photographer @calligrafist ) 

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NEW AWARE CONVOS SERIES

NEW AWARE CONVOS SERIES
     When life gives you lemons you make lemonade. As cliche as this is, it is basically what a lot of creatives and business owners had to do during the pandemic and to some degree are still doing. For us, as important as selling merch is our hearts were in a different space for those first few months of 2020. We didn’t feel right asking for a sale when the world was upside down.
     So we made a pívot.
     Everyone was staying home and using Zoom so we decided to take advantage and reach out to some of our people for interviews. Well honestly they wouldn’t be interviews, they would be aware conversations. Instead of the typical question-answer format we wanted to have conversations that built on ideas and were filled with gems to improve our lives and the lives of our tribe.
We reached out to our network and scheduled 8 convos back to back! One each week, and from that the AWARE CONVOS series was born.
     The feedback was amazing! People had the opportunity to get to know the guys behind the brand and we also introduced our tribe to people they never heard of before which was exactly what we wanted to do. We kept the convos going in the beginning of this year but themed them around what was happening at the time : Love and Heart health for February, Black Womanhood during Women’s Month, and different healing modalities for our Heal Thyself collection. Having the convos on IG live vs Zoom really exposed us to a larger audience. We received DMs of appreciation and love that inspired us to take the convos to the next level.
     The timing was right for in person conversations too as most people are now feeling more comfortable being outside and around others. We connected with Darlene Okpo and set up shop in her bookstore-Adanne in Brooklyn for the first two convos and then flew to Detroit for 3 more talks. We are so excited to release these convos to y’all!
   
     Our first convo is featuring our guy Santos García! Santos gained a wealth of knowledge and experiences working in marketing and street team promotions. After managing artists like Ne-yo for many years he decided to start his own marketing consulting imprint, Sense 93 LLC. We had a dope convo exploring what it means to be aware in the entertainment industry, how to stay grounded and the importance of having a connection to a higher being. Gems on gems on gems!
     Check out our YouTube channel for the video and search “The Aware Brand” on your podcasting platform for the audio. Tap in and share with your circle!
Stay Aware 👁
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CHICAGO IS AWARE👁

 

 

Chi town was good to us! Again.

 

 

Chicago has had a significant influence on the awareness journey of our team. Historically of course you have the Moorish Science Temple of America, which was one of the earliest groups that helped black people in America expand how we viewed ourselves. Then you have the musical influence of Earth Wind and Fire, Herbie Hancock, Common, Kanye, and many others, to the dope fashion scene cultivated by legends like Don C and Virgil Abloh, and last but definitely not least, the Chicago Bulls. All of these influences make Chicago an attractive city to visit. On a more personal note, our team’s consciousness has been shaped a great deal by the spiritual influence of people like Dr Delbert Blair, Rev Gaylon McDowell and Lola Wright. All of these factors make Chicago special to us, so we had to make it an early stop on our Global Awareness pop up tour!

 

This past weekend we popped up at the super dope streetwear store Iridium 77, it was a vibe!

 

We had the opportunity to connect in real life with friends we’ve made during the pandemic and we also made some new connections that we are excited about growing. We also dropped an exclusive tee for our Chicago tribe that is still available online! 



The weekend in the Chi just reminded us of something we already know and believe:

 

CHICAGO IS AWARE👁

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FOOT LOCKER IS AWARE👁


 

 

Growing up in the same building in Spring Valley NY, we were always into art, fashion and music. When it came to clothes, our love for hats is something neither of us could have guessed would be the thing to make us go into business together. Life is funny like that.

Before a website or Instagram page, hats were the first items introducing everyone to the brand in 2017. We were wearing the hats and “selling them out the trunk”; we wanted to see if people would actually buy them, and they did. The message of self awareness and self love spoke to people in a real way and it didn’t take long for us to realize we really had something on our hands.

Whenever we talk about Aware, Drew always talks about getting the initial download from the Universe to start the brand, and that it came to him in the wee hours of the morning-“God’s hour”. There are so many ideas freely floating around in the atmosphere, and we have to be on a certain frequency to catch them. On that morning, at God’s hour, a seed to change our lives was planted.

Now to the juice! We are sure you’re thinking: How in the world did two guys from Spring Valley get their brand in 13 Foot Locker stores??!

The plan was always to touch the people, and we started 2020 with a couple of pop ups before Covid came and shook everything up. We hit the Pandora headquarters in NYC for their Black History marketplace experience AND killed Detroit’s “In The Streets” pop up at the Foot Locker in Eastpointe. In the same month! And it was the pictures and content from that Foot Locker pop up that caught the eyes of some important people on the corporate side of Foot Locker. After a couple of meetings we decided to bet on ourselves and take a chance!







We started with two stores last year, now we are in 13, and only looking to grow more and more. If you ever needed confirmation to trust your vision and follow it, look no further than us. That message from the Universe has the potential to completely change your life. Honor it and work hard.

Check the stores we are in!



Our hometown Spring Valley has been aware, and now Foot Locker is AWARE👁!

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Hell is Losing its Grip

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ALL FALLS DOWN

ALL FALLS DOWN

 

     (Written 5-29-18)  As the spirit of the awakening moves throughout the world, our individual and collective awareness will continue to deepen. This movement causes a stirring that brings up a lot of our past experiences, so that we may look at them with a new perspective. In order for us to heal and move forward in a different and healthier way we have to first be willing to look at the past and see where we were responsible for not showing up as our best, and how that contributed to a situation. The deepest truth is that we are all one. We all come from the singular consciousness that is God, Universe or Source; but too often we choose not to live up to this truth, instead we lean on things like race, class, religion, gender and nation. All these are important qualities no doubt, but are only a piece of the whole puzzle.

 

     One of the most pressing issues for the citizens of the United States right now is the issue of race. Whether it be the murders of black people by the hands of police, gentrification, white supremacist rallies, or the debate about and removal of statues; all these issues polarize the country to the point where we have seen terrible violence where everyone loses. It is the debate and removal of statues that is most interesting to me because it seems to be closer to the base of the race issue and shows where we are in our growth. With the madness surrounding the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, and more recently the relocation of the J. Marion Sims statue in NYC, there is a great divide on what the statues mean and if they should stay.

 

     While many say that the statues are a symbol of history that should be respected, honored and maintained, a closer look will show that this isn’t truly the case. Throughout history statues have been used and are still used as a show of power of the current regime. They stand to say “this is what we believe in now”, and as long as the statues remain, all who see these representations have an understanding of what the current power structure believes. This is why when regime changes occurred the first things to go were the statues. The removal or destruction of statues showed a shift in power and perspective. This is the reality of what is happening now; a dissonance between the old regime and the new incoming consciousness that is waking people up. None of us can change the past, but we must all understand it, and see it for what it is. What are we choosing to honor as a collective? People always throw away old furniture, clothes and whatever else when they have outgrown them. Our collective awareness is growing and we are seeing what no longer speaks accurately to where we are in our growth. What are the symbols of the new consciousness? We have to all get together and figure that out. Times are changing and as a result so will the laws, the education system, the definitions about race-gender-power, and statues we choose to erect as a symbol of the times.

      These dark changing times show we are on our way to brighter days. We all have to think and feel deeply about what it is we stand for and why. The only way to move forward is together, and although the path has its very frustrating, hurtful, and depressing moments, the other side is equity, joy and liberation. We are on our way. Life is about phases, and everything that is built up, eventually all falls down.

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Me and the Homies: Dear Black Man, We Love You

Me and the Homies: Dear Black Man, We Love You

 


    Hopefully you read the piece that came before this one about how we LOVE black women. This is the other side of the coin, a companion piece if you will. Now we know it is popular to talk about how men aint shit and itemize all the ways we are messing up. Much of the points are valid, but as we do with all topics here, we need to put the lens of awareness on why men in general, and black men specifically, are the way they are.

    Before we dig too deep into this, it is important that we can all agree that masculine energy is fundamental to being balanced, and that men much of the time are the physical embodiment of masculine energy, though not always in the healthiest form. What does it mean to be a man? What are the expectations that come with being a man? With women? With other men? These are all the questions we will explore throughout this post.

    What is a man? A huge distinction that must be made here at the outset is that one of the main traits of a MAN is being someone that is able to provide safety for his family: emotionally, mentally, physically, and of course spiritually. The only way someone is able to be up to this task is if they roll up their sleeves and get to work on themselves, pushing themselves to grow into who they need to be. The work required to be fully men many times escapes us because we haven’t had the best models growing up; no one told us the areas where we fell short, and if they did tell us it was in a way we weren’t receptive to for whatever reason. Men and women are socialized differently, with women being encouraged to be more introspective and caring, while men are instructed more in how NOT to be, than how to be. Men are discouraged from articulating their feelings; talking about how you feel, especially in some of the harsher hoods, puts a target on your back. You’re soft. There are people like Daoud Abeid (@daoudsun) and places like The Cave of Adullam (@cave313) who are working with men to try and dismantle those narratives that block us from our greatness.

    It is very difficult to deny the fact that black people in general, and black men specifically are the most feared and hunted people on the planet. Given this, it comes as no surprise that black men make up a disproportionate percentage of the prison system. What happens to the family when the father is removed from the home? Here are some Pew stats:


  1. 4x greater risk for poverty
  2. Girls are 7x more likely to become a teen mom
  3. Children more likely to have behavioral problems (especially boys)
  4. Children are more likely to go to prison or commit a crime

    There have also been psychological studies that looked at the relationship between the father’s presence in the home and young girls menstruation cycle, concluding that the more a girl feels secure and protected by her father, the later in her teenhood her period will come.

    We have to address the issue of many men not having the emotional intelligence needed to be their best selves. For black men, most of us grow up looking up to the local dope boy, or the uncle who garnered all the attention from everyone’s mom and auntie. These examples very rarely had the emotional awareness to impart any real game to the young boys on how to become whole and healthy men. As a result we are usually left with men who are emotionally feral, looking for power, attention, and love in all the wrong places. When life brings this type of man in contact with a potential wife, it can start out great, but in time it becomes a gumbo of emotional abuse, miscommunication and confusion. We have to go back to the drawing board and see which types of relationships are working and how power circulates in these instances. For too long we have been adopting the European model of relationships, marriage, and family, and it has not been working for us. To our detriment we have been looking at how white men conduct themselves, viewing it as powerful, adopting it, and oppressing our women and families as a result. An important point to make about relationship models is the fact that during American chattel slavery the power dynamics between enslaved men and women were more egalitarian, or balanced. This type of power model also brings us back to the said GOLDEN times of our ancient past where the divine masculine and divine feminine were balanced and whole.

    Black man, you are a king; and although you may not be acknowledged as such, it is important to conduct YOURSELF as the lord and master of YOURSELF. Dr. Naim Akbar said it perfectly when he said “You must first be a king of your own personal kingdom. If you can't lead that kingdom on your own two feet, you can't lead a bigger kingdom”.  Our women are looking to us to be the example of stability and discipline; first and foremost with ourselves. Too often we want women to submit to us simply because we are a man, but that viewpoint is the inherited toxicity we have learned from a society that is still in its infancy spiritually and emotionally.

    We didn’t create the circumstances that leave us at a disadvantage, but we can own our power and work to fix our stuff and heal. We need our brothers to hold us accountable for our actions and remind us of our greatness. When it comes to race relations and racism, we know that change will not truly happen until white people really start challenging their own friends and families to dismantle the ideas that keep racism going. Similarly, our communities will not improve until the men challenge the men to be better. The women are tired bruh.

    So next time you are with the homies, don’t forget to bring this up; if we are KINGS, we gotta level up and be KINGS. No one is going to do it for us. There are so many moving parts to our oppression and suppression that we cannot control, but we can control how we show up for one another. No man is ever too big to not get checked by his boy, and when we do it with love, it makes everything that much more powerful. Let's be the change we want to see. 

 


    Dear Black Men, We Love You.


    Are you aware?

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DEAR BLACK WOMAN, WE LOVE YOU

DEAR BLACK WOMAN, WE LOVE YOU

   

    There have been a lot of conversations over the last couple of years around White privilege as an idea and also what it looks like in action in society. Privilege can be easily understood as an advantage, making white privilege the advantage people have in society when they are looked at as or classified as white. The way this privilege shows up in society is that whiteness comes with many assumptions, most of which are advantageous to white people while at the same time working against everyone else, further widening the gap between people economically and socially. White privilege is easy for most people who are not white to identify, and almost always sparks a heated conversation with both sides holding firm to their ideas and perspectives. It is important to note that the pinnacle of white privilege is white MALE privilege, the male part being the piece that permeates all other groups of people.

 

      Each ethnic group is a microcosm of the larger society. With that said, we should find that male privilege in these groups is intimately linked to white privilege in general and white male privilege specifically. The #metoo movement has almost every man feeling like he needs to defend himself against the tidal wave of mistreatment claims made by an overwhelming amount of women. In these times though, the defensiveness is causing men to double down on what they believe manhood is, which is unfortunately in many ways the same exact version of manhood women are challenging. How do we move out of this stalemate between the sexes?

 

    A large part of expanding our awareness around a topic is seeking information on the subject. Beyond all the complaints voiced by women about cat calls, discrimination and other types of harassment, which are all valid issues, there are still other systemic problems that keep women as second class citizens. One of the most known issues is the unequal pay rates between men and women.   In 2019, it is ridiculous that women still make cents to the white male dollar. Here are the numbers:

 

  1. Black women- 63 cents
  2. Hispanic women- 54 cents
  3. Asian women- 85 cents
  4. White women- 79 cents  

 

    This alone speaks to what many women are calling toxic masculinity; a type of masculinity that instead of elevating femininity, degrades it. With all that women in general and black women specifically endure, we as a society still make it our business to prioritize men’s feelings. Why? What can we do to change this?

 

   

     Just like we as black people would appreciate for white people to use their privilege to speak up and act against the injustices of the system, we as black men have to use our privilege as well to work to heal the imbalance between men and women in our community. When black men feel stressed and oppressed we have the option of leaning into our manhood, because we know that is a place of power. We are often ignorant to the fact that when we lean in too hard to being what we think a man is, we become misguided and align ourselves with the type of masculinity that is oppressing our women. Black women have historically always come to the aid of black men, and that energy isn’t always reciprocated, but that is changing. For people who study, they know that for every Trayvon Martin there is a Renisha McBride. Too often our women feel they have nowhere to turn because the society oppresses both her blackness and womanhood.

     If you ask the average AWARE and conscious man, they will tell you they don't mean to be oppressive. Too often we as men see words and actions from women as an attack on our manhood that are actually the opposite; they are meant to build us up and help us grow. Something as common as our lady complaining about our lack of consistency is not an attack on our manhood, it is our beloved queen letting us know that the man she knows us to be, is consistent. He means what he says. He always shows up as his best. The feminine force is always going to upgrade its environment, ALWAYS. If we really want to level up, we have to do a better job at supporting our women, PUBLICLY and PRIVATELY. 

 

 

   Can all the real men please stand up? The men whose masculinity isn’t threatened in these times. The men who know the scales are tipped in their favor and are not afraid of what a world with BALANCE looks like. The men that don't shame women for embracing their sensuality because it isn't packaged for male consumption. Let’s listen to the women in our lives, listen to their experiences, their fears and hurts. Let’s raise our daughters and nieces to see value in themselves. A great quote to end this is a quote from Michelle Obama when she spoke at the Obama foundation Summit in Chicago in 2017:

   

   “We LOVE our boys and we RAISE our girls, we raise them to be strong, and sometimes we take care not to hurt men. And I think we pay for that a little bit”.

 

   So with that said we think it is important to say: Dear Black woman, WE LOVE YOU.

 

    Are you aware?

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Are You Really Looking For Love?

Are You Really Looking For Love?

 

            Romantic relationships are probably the number one topic of interest among any age group. On any given day we can go online and see a meme about how they drive us crazy (especially when Mercury is in retrograde), how a real relationship is measured, and a whole laundry list of do's and don'ts that we are all guilty of violating at some point in our lives. With all the societal pressure of getting married and having children by a certain age like it is some sort of an accomplishment, most of our peers eventually convince themselves that they need to settle down. And while our brains are most certainly hardwired for meaningful social interaction, the question must still be asked: Are you really looking for love?

            When is the last time you've hugged someone? Like really really hugged someone. From a kiss, to a tight hug, to a few hours of great sex, meaningful physical interactions flood our brains with a hormone called Oxytocin. Famously known as the "love hormone", oxytocin makes us feel good. So good that sometimes our bodies respond to people in a way that goes against what we logically want and see for ourselves. So you saying that man put a spell on you or that woman must have put something in the food she served you COULD be correct, but it could also be the love hormone rearranging your perception of him/her.

            Besides our brains being strongly effected by hormones there is also the allure of the "in love" phase. If you're into reading, there is a book we are sure you have heard of: 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman. In this super informative book the author talks about the early stage of a relationship calling it the in love phase. You know when you just start dating that person and they can do no wrong and you agree about almost 95% of the topics you talk about? Yeah, in love phase. We all go through this phase, which lasts a few months at least. Comparable to the beginners luck of starting a business, this phase in a relationship can trick us into thinking a real connection doesn't require a lot of work and maintenance. But they do. Gary recommends we DO NOT do anything too forward in this time, like propose or get pregnant. After the in love phase is over, we sober up and begin to see the person's less attractive qualities, then the real work begins.

            Contrary to popular belief, how we see our partner has more to do with how we see ourselves than anything else. This is why the work to obtain and maintain healthy relationships is so challenging; which brings us to a Rumi quote Dr. Jessica Clemons shared on her IG live session Jan 19th 2019:

 

            "Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it." -Rumi

 

            Barriers. Off the top of your head, can you think of any barriers you may have created within yourself that keep you from truly experiencing love? One of the most common barriers we have is the type of person we keep choosing. There was an amazing tweet floating around about a conversation between two friends. One friend said "I keep attracting bad boys" and the other friend had a brilliant response saying "You attract all types of men, you just keep choosing the bad ones". Not sure who that friend is but she's part of the AWARE TRIBE, she just doesn't know it yet. Too often we choose a person that reminds us of someone we used to date, even though that relationship didn't end well. There is something that person brings to the table that we are almost addicted to, and as a result we walk around looking for our next hit. Relationships that are toxic are ways the Universe/Source/God screams at us "Hey! This needs healing". No matter how much we pray for a good man or woman, nothing will change until we decide to choose different. There are so many other barriers we build against ourselves that we could talk about them for the next few blogs and we still wouldn't have scratched the surface. Lets dialogue more in the comments!

            Ultimately every single relationship we have is a mirror, reflecting what we think and feel about ourselves. As our awareness continues to grow we can take more responsibility for how we view everyone around us, especially the person(s) we are intimate with. We at The Aware Brand want you to make decisions that contribute to your elevation and put you in a better position to win in life. When we make those choices, we are really choosing to embrace our true self, the SELF that is beyond all the pain, fear, and anxiety we experience from time to time. Always remember that self awareness is the gateway to self love. The more confident we become in who we are, the more self love wins. So if you are really looking for love, start with yourself!

 

            Are you aware?

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CARBON: The Black Light of the Earth

CARBON: The Black Light of the Earth

 

 

 

          BLACK has always been mysterious and unsettling to people. If we took a poll on how people felt about the color black in general there would probably be a 50/50 split on people who like it (fashion, company in the black, black people), and those who don't (black magic, occult science, black people lol). Context is really everything, especially when it comes to the color black. The wide variety of looks we can achieve in black is uncanny; we can go from freakum dress to gothic really quick. Beyond the fashion sphere, it is really interesting to observe how blackness shows up in nature. When we look at nature, we have the opportunity to get a glimpse into the mind of the hidden hand that writes the story of all life; the being we refer to as God/Universe/Source. The most notable form of blackness in nature is the element Carbon, and if black wasn't controversial enough for you before, wait until you see what God has up its sleeve.

            At first glance, when we think about carbon our minds go to diamonds, coal for fire, and maybe activated charcoal for a good detox; but when we take a closer look at this essential element we see that its number is 666. Whoa. No, that wasn't a typo, just follow along with us for a minute. Most of us know what Christianity says about this number but you have to admit it is very strange and intriguing that out of all the elements in the periodic table, carbon would be the one to have 6 protons, 6 neutrons, and 6 electrons. Why are we so afraid of this number? Whose perspective are we allowing to control how we see ourselves and the world? That feeling of uneasiness growing in your stomach right now, it is important to know that someone put that there. When we are exposed to new information, we are in a better place to make more informed decisions; without the tight grip of fear and tainted bias. With so many people leaving the churches due to breaking free from such fears, and in some part due to scientific innovations, it is imperative that we all ask ourselves this question: How do we reconcile the two worlds of science and religion in our hearts and minds?

               

 

           The only healthy way to address potential confusion such as this is to tell ourselves a new story, one that integrates the information we now have in a new and fresh way. So here we go!

            According to one of the most brilliant humans to ever live, Nikola Tesla, "black is the true face of light, only we do not see it". Lets not forget that light is a fundamental form of energy, and energy cannot be created or destroyed; it only changes form. If the original face of light is black, then it makes sense that as light continues to change form and become matter, we will see blackness reproduced in denser and denser forms (black holes to neuromelanin to charcoal to black people). In many ways, blackness is the default setting for the SELF ORGANIZING power we know as God/Universe/Source to manifest and createitself over and over. On Earth, that creation takes place through carbon. In as far back as middle school, we all learn that for anything to be considered organic and alive, it must be made from this essential element. The very air we breathe is made suitable for our lungs by the green plants who draw their power from carbon: the black light of the planet. An element whose number also happens to be 666.

            Is the importance of carbon on this planet along with its interesting numeric value enough to make you reconsider your disposition towards it? Has that weird feeling in your stomach vanished? If not, just consider; what would the world be like without carbon? Here at The Aware Brand we like to highlight information in a way that makes all of us stop, think, and take a moment to realize the beauty and power that lives in the world and ourselves. After reading all of this you can still walk away believing that 666 has nothing to do with carbon and everything to do with the devil. BUT, you would be ignoring some huge bits of information solely because it makes you uncomfortable, when the truth of the matter is, growth is always uncomfortable. When you see blackness, whether it be clothes or Black people, we want you to remember that it isn't just a color, but that it is a reminder of God/Universe/Source's mystery and creative power. If we choose to connect 666 with carbon, and acknowledge carbon as the essence of all organic life, a lot of the fear we have around the number will dissipate. It is also important to point out that all colors mixed together make black, so it is no wonder why we always come together in the darkest of times. We need to come together now more than ever to work through our fears, and looking at blackness and carbon is as great a place to start as any.

 

Are you aware? 

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