Why They’re Heading Out On An 11-City Wedding Engagement Tour

Antoine Kinch and Shaunte Otey in a photo shoot for their wedding-engagement tour. (TE & TOINE FACEBOOK PAGE)

Antoine Kinch and Shaunte Otey in a photo shoot for their wedding-engagement tour. (TE & TOINE FACEBOOK PAGE)

Sure, their 11-city love tour might be a tad excessive. But it’s also a reflection of a generation of African Americans who’ve truly gone global.

By Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele

An abridged version of this article was published at The Root on February 14, 2015.

Antoine Kinch hopped onto an ottoman in a swanky New York City rooftop lounge to toast his fiancee and thank their family and friends for making it out to celebrate his and Shaunte Otey’s wedding engagement. Antoine, a 37-year-old engineer, spoke giddily about how he was marrying a longtime friend and a woman whom he at times refers to as a “unicorn” because he still can’t believe that she’s, well, real. Why? Shaunte, also a 37-year-old engineer, is black and—the adjective that makes her oh so surreal—fine. 

“True”—one of Antoine’s engineer friends blurted out midtoast—“not a lot of cute, black female engineers,” he quipped, while everyone laughed. Antoine finished his speech and reminded everyone to use the hashtag #TeAndToine when sharing photos and video from the party on the InstagramTwitter and Facebook accounts specifically created for their wedding-engagement tour.

Yep, you read that right: their tour.

If you’re a friend or a relative of the soon-to-be Kinches and you missed their New York City gathering in January, no worries, you can catch the smiling duo this Valentine’s weekend celebrating with loved ones at another fabulous engagement party in Oakland. And if trekking it to the West Coast proves to be too burdensome, don’t fret, the pair are taking their love celebration overseas at the end of March, where their Italian brethren and sistren can nimble on prosciutto and olives, perhaps, at their engagement festivities in Milan. A couple of days after that, Antoine and Shaunte will be wining and dining with comrades in Munich, Germany, and then it’s off to the Czech Republic to clank beers with their acquaintances in Prague.

I hope the literary equivalent of jetlag hasn’t got you pooped because we’re not done yet. Where were we? Oh, right—Prague. After that, the newly engaged and their Parisian friends will be noshing on croquet-monsieurs, perhaps, at a fine eatery in France towards the beginning of April. And then it’s off to partake in an authentic Sichuan cuisine at wedding engagement gatherings in Beijing and Shanghai.

engagement city guide

Antoine Kinch and Shaunte Otey in signage for their wedding-engagement tour. (TE & TOINE FACEBOOK PAGE)

Sometime in May, they’ll resume the U.S. leg of their tour in the nation’s capital, a stone’s throw from where Shaunte grew up in Virginia. After Washington, D.C., the lovebirds are promising to nail down dates for tour stops in Los Angeles and Chicago.

At this point, some of you are probably furrowing your eyebrows at all the pomp and circumstance of the whole shebang and wondering what possessed them to go to such lengths—literally—for the engagement. (“All he did so far was buy a ring, take a knee and y’all already taking a victory lap?,” wrote one of my editors after seeing their itinerary, which is mocked up like a faux movie poster.)

But during an interview with The Root to commemorate all things “love” this Valentine’s Day weekend, Antoine and Shaunte talked about how their endeavor is equal parts a reflection of the digital times that we live in, where social media is used to document special occasions in people’s lives; the euphoria they feel as late-30-somethings having found “the one” in each other; and, just as important, a natural extension of their lives as travel junkies.

Antoine and Shaunte are proud members of Nomadness Travel Tribe, an online resource for black travelers. The engagement tour was a perfect way to tout their identities as African-American nomads of sorts—a lifestyle that has gained a lot of recognition in recent months because of the online spaces popping up to commemorate the trend.

Shaunte Otey and Antoine Kinch (Facebook)

Shaunte Otey and Antoine Kinch (Facebook)

“Individually, we have had such lives on different coasts and friendships in different pockets,” Shaunte explained. Antoine added that since everyone they know probably won’t be able to make it to the wedding, he and Shaunte thought: “Instead of them coming to us, why don’t we go to them?”

They’ve both already shown signs of a nomadic existence, living and working in the U.S. Antoine grew up in New York and has lived in Boston; San Jose and Oakland, in California; Philadelphia; the state of Maryland; and now Raleigh, N.C. Shaunte, a Virginia native, has lived in Los Angeles and San Francisco and also has a spot in Raleigh. Their passion for traveling has taken them to Brazil, Peru, Turks and Caicos, the Netherlands, Italy, Cape Verde, India, Equatorial Guinea, Mexico and Aruba—just to name a few.

“You’re on the road too much. You travel too much. You’re not going to settle down,” well-meaning loved ones would tell Shaunte, advising her to “sit still” if she wanted to snag a man. Then she attracted her match in Antoine—a guy whom Essence named one of its most eligible bachelors in 2012.

However superfluous the tour may seem to some, it knocks down stereotypes about how black people are rigid, unadventurous and don’t travel. Plus it’s nice that Antoine and Shaunte—middle-class African-Americans from working-class roots—clearly have the coin to luxuriate and explore the world alongside fellow avid travelers.

Shaunte said she and Antoine receive messages from hopeful people who had given up on love, and people who are only now making space in their schedules to start seeing the world. But for Shaunte, as she begins her journey with Antoine, there’s no time like the present.

“It doesn’t make sense to save all of your money until you’re dead,” she said. “I want to experience all that this life has for me.”

She added: “Life isn’t promised.”

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Root TV: He’s Black, “Illegal” & Torn Over Obama’s New Immigration Actions

Jonathan Jayes-Green bravely came forward to weigh in on how the president’s recent executive actions on immigration will affect his life, and why it is imperative that we connect the dots between the distrust that black citizens and black undocumented immigrants have for law enforcement.

By Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele

This article and Root TV segment was published at The Root on December 15, 2014.

Jonathan Jayes-Green immigrated to the U.S. from Panama when he was 13, but it wasn’t until his senior year in high school, when he began to fill out college applications and financial-aid forms, that he realized how much of an impact his status as an undocumented immigrant would have on his ability to attend college and climb the ladder in America.

But for Jayes-Green, the college process was just the tip of the iceberg as he considered how differently and cautiously some undocumented immigrants have to go about living their lives in the United States. Jayes-Green is Panamanian, but in America he’s a black man first and foremost. And even though Americans tend to think of immigration reform as an issue that largely affects Hispanics, there is a sizable population of black undocumented immigrants from the Caribbean and Africa who are now living, learning and working in the U.S., just like Jayes-Green. They, too, will be affected by President Obama’s recent executive actions that will shield nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation.

In The Root TV segment above, Jayes-Green speaks with The Root’s Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele about his experiences and sheds light on the similar concerns that black citizens and undocumented communities have about being unfairly targeted by law enforcement.

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The Root TV: Whose Race Legacy Will Reign Supreme: Obama’s or Holder’s?

One guy seems to be playing chess, the other checkers, and The Root staff is torn over whose strategy will fare better in the long run.

By Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele

This video and an abridged version of this article was published at The Root on September 7, 2014.

I often wonder if President Barack Obama ought to take a page out of Attorney General Eric Holder’s book when it comes to being mindful about his legacy as the first African-American president, in the same manner that Holder seems to be astutely mindful (and adept at crafting) his own legacy as the country’s first African-American attorney general.

It seems as if one guy is playing chess (Obama) and the other checkers (Holder), and to be honest, I’m not sure which of the two is the wiser. After watching these two from a distance for the past six years, I still don’t know who I would put my money on in a poker game.

Although, I have to say that I am leaning toward Holder’s strategy—for lack of a better word.

Ever since he assumed his post as the nation’s top law enforcer six years ago, Holder has been extremely candid: here’s a list of all the times Holder demonstrated that he’s never one to mince words, particularly when it comes to the issue of race.

Then there’s Obama, the one with the “measured” approach. It seems his modus operandi has always been the long game. When people were up in arms about how Obama should have been more stern and upset when expressing anger about the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., The Root’s associate editor, David Swerdlick, reminded folks of the hierarchy that people seem to overlook: Holder gets his marching orders from Obama.

And while that pecking order is correct, I’m still concerned that Obama seems to be resting his laurels—and his legacy—on the idea that most Americans will readily get that. Or that down the road, Americans will remember. Essentially, I’m concerned that Obama is overestimating the memory of the American people by the way in which he chooses to convey his passion about issues of racial justice.

In today’s world, we ingest sound bites, memes, 15-second Vine videos and sensational photos that circulate on Twitter and Facebook. And so I suspect that in this final stretch of Obama’s administration, as people begin to form opinions about Obama’s race legacy—that is, what he’s done for black people—they’ll reminisce back to just a couple of moments: his race speech during his 2008 presidential campaign, his “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon” comment and, perhaps (but not likely) the My Brother’s Keeper initiative that he’s been touting of late. Yes, Obama has done a lot for black Americans (being the first black president is a major accomplishment in and of itself), but I suspect that a lot of the wonky policy stuff like Obamacare and increasing grants for students headed to college might not be on the tip of people’s tongues when they’re sitting around the kitchen table or at the barbershop waxing about “The Obama Years.”

Holder’s race catalog is, again, far more demonstrative. His we’re “a nation of cowards” speech (that reportedly caught the White House completely off guard) is pretty representative of how he has never hesitated to wag his index finger furiously at America for the way in which it has tried to sweep racism, and its symptoms, under the carpet. And then, more recently, there are those heartwarming photos of Holder doling out handshakes and hugs in Ferguson. These are the moments that will leave an indelible mark on the national conversation about race.

Holder’s got his eyes on the prize, and Obama seems to be resting assured that people will eventually recognize his influence and appreciate his approach. But knowing a thing or two about the way the collective American memory works, I’m not convinced that’ll be the case.

In The Root TV video above, I fret about Obama’s race legacy and The Root’s associate editor David Swerdlick tries to reel me back in.

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WATCH: There’s No Such Thing as a ‘Bad’ Match-Up | Episode 20

Why Carrie should develop compassion for the part of herself that is attracted to harm.

By Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele

This is Part 9 of a 9-part analysis of Carrie and Mr. Big’s relationship from Sex and the City.

Experts Featured:

(1) Drew Joseph, MA, LMFT, provides individual and couple therapy to adults in Washington, DC. His therapeutic methods are informed by psychodynamic psychology and Shambhala Buddhism. Learn more about Drew Joseph here.

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WATCH: Carrie, Natasha, and the Ghost of Mistress Past | Episode 19

Therapists say that if a Herculean amount of effort isn’t put into figuring out why a person cheated, chances are it’ll happen again.

By Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele

This is Part 7 of a 9-part analysis of Carrie and Mr. Big’s relationship from Sex and the City.

Experts Featured:

(1) Janis L. Evans, M.Ed. holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology. A graduate of Howard University’s School of Education, she has been delivering mental health services for over twenty-five years in the District of Columbia where she is licensed and operates a solo private practice. She has developed expertise in helping couples with conflict resolution and communication, and individuals with depression, anxiety, unresolved childhood trauma, and exposure to violence and traumatic events. She is a member of the American Counseling Association and the Association for Spiritual, Ethical and Religious Values in Counseling. She is also certified by the National Board of Certified Counselors. Follow and connect with Janis on Twitter, Facebook, her website, and her written work.

(2) Laurel Fay, M.S., LCMFT, is a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist and owner of Laurel Fay & Associates, LLC. Ms. Fay has a Bachelors degree in Psychology and Child and Family Studies from Syracuse University, and a Masters of Science degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Maryland at College Park. She is also an Approved Supervisor and Clinical Fellow of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).Ms. Fay is specially trained to work with couples, particularly around marital, communication and intimacy issues. Fay has given workshops on couple and family relationships for several organizations, including the Pro Bono Counseling Project; she is also a business coach for private practitioners, and is a frequent presenter on the topic of starting and growing a practice. She is the current President of the Middle Atlantic Division of the AAMFT, and she has been in private practice since 2001. Follow Laurel on Twitter at @laurelfay

(3) Drew Joseph, MA, LMFT, provides individual and couple therapy to adults in Washington, DC. His therapeutic methods are informed by psychodynamic psychology and Shambhala Buddhism. Learn more about Drew Joseph here.

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WATCH: The Runaway Groom: Working Through Big’s Unspeakable Act | Episode 18

How to process the ordeal when the stakes are high, and he’s three-times a groom.

By Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele

This is Part 7 of a 9-part analysis of Carrie and Mr. Big’s relationship from Sex and the City.

Experts Featured:

(1) Janis L. Evans, M.Ed. holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology. A graduate of Howard School of Education, she has been delivering mental health services for over twenty-five years in the District of Columbia where she is licensed and operates a solo private practice. She has developed expertise in helping couples with conflict resolution and communication, and individuals with depression, anxiety, unresolved childhood trauma, and exposure to violence and traumatic events. She is a member of the American Counseling Association and the Association for Spiritual, Ethical and Religious Values in Counseling. She is also certified by the National Board of Certified Counselors. Follow and connect with Janis on Twitter, Facebook, her website, and her written work.

(2) Laurel Fay, M.S., LCMFT, is a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist and owner of Laurel Fay & Associates, LLC. Ms. Fay has a Bachelors degree in Psychology and Child and Family Studies from Syracuse University, and a Masters of Science degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Maryland at College Park. She is also an Approved Supervisor and Clinical Fellow of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).Ms. Fay is specially trained to work with couples, particularly around marital, communication and intimacy issues. Fay has given workshops on couple and family relationships for several organizations, including the Pro Bono Counseling Project; she is also a business coach for private practitioners, and is a frequent presenter on the topic of starting and growing a practice. She is the current President of the Middle Atlantic Division of the AAMFT, and she has been in private practice since 2001. Follow Laurel on Twitter at @laurelfay

(3) Drew Joseph, MA, LMFT, provides individual and couple therapy to adults in Washington, DC. His therapeutic methods are informed by psychodynamic psychology and Shambhala Buddhism. Learn more about Drew Joseph here.

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WATCH: The ‘Big’ Chill: Why Mr. Big Always Distanced Carrie | Episode 17

Here’s some insight into why Big felt incredibly anxious about Carrie’s role in his life.

By Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele

This is Part 6 of a 9-part analysis of Carrie and Mr. Big’s relationship from Sex and the City.

Experts Featured:

(1) Laurel Fay, M.S., LCMFT, is a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist and owner of Laurel Fay & Associates, LLC. Ms. Fay has a Bachelors degree in Psychology and Child and Family Studies from Syracuse University, and a Masters of Science degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Maryland at College Park. She is also an Approved Supervisor and Clinical Fellow of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).Ms. Fay is specially trained to work with couples, particularly around marital, communication and intimacy issues. Fay has given workshops on couple and family relationships for several organizations, including the Pro Bono Counseling Project; she is also a business coach for private practitioners, and is a frequent presenter on the topic of starting and growing a practice. She is the current President of the Middle Atlantic Division of the AAMFT, and she has been in private practice since 2001. Follow Laurel on Twitter at @laurelfay

(2) Drew Joseph, MA, LMFT, provides individual and couple therapy to adults in Washington, DC. His therapeutic methods are informed by psychodynamic psychology and Shambhala Buddhism. Learn more about Drew Joseph here.

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WATCH: Why Suppressing Your ‘Inner Devil’ Can Actually Hurt Your Relationship | Episode 16

Yep, here’s why wanting to sabotage your relationship is a fairly normal thought.

By Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele

This is Part 5 of a 9-part analysis of Carrie and Mr. Big’s relationship from Sex and the City.

Experts Featured:

(1) Drew Joseph, MA, LMFT, provides individual and couple therapy to adults in Washington, DC. His therapeutic methods are informed by psychodynamic psychology and Shambhala Buddhism. Learn more about Drew Joseph here.

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WATCH: Carrie & Big Should Look Forward to the Post-Fight | Episode 15

Relationships are about ‘rupture and repair’, not about never having a rupture.

By Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele

This is Part 4 of a 9-part analysis of Carrie and Mr. Big’s relationship from Sex and the City.

Experts Featured:

(1) Laurel Fay, M.S., LCMFT, is a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist and owner of Laurel Fay & Associates, LLC. Ms. Fay has a Bachelors degree in Psychology and Child and Family Studies from Syracuse University, and a Masters of Science degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Maryland at College Park. She is also an Approved Supervisor and Clinical Fellow of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).Ms. Fay is specially trained to work with couples, particularly around marital, communication and intimacy issues. Fay has given workshops on couple and family relationships for several organizations, including the Pro Bono Counseling Project; she is also a business coach for private practitioners, and is a frequent presenter on the topic of starting and growing a practice. She is the current President of the Middle Atlantic Division of the AAMFT, and she has been in private practice since 2001. Follow Laurel on Twitter at @laurelfay

(2) Drew Joseph, MA, LMFT, provides individual and couple therapy to adults in Washington, DC. His therapeutic methods are informed by psychodynamic psychology and Shambhala Buddhism. Learn more about Drew Joseph here.

 

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WATCH: The ‘Fear’ that Carrie, Big and Miranda all Share | Episode 14

Even though they manifest in different ways, they all dread the fact that they need other people.

By Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele

This is Part 3 of a 9-part analysis of Carrie and Mr. Big’s relationship from Sex and the City.
Experts Featured:

(1) Janis L. Evans, M.Ed. holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology. A graduate of Howard University’s School of Education, she has been delivering mental health services for over twenty-five years in the District of Columbia where she is licensed and operates a solo private practice. She has developed expertise in helping couples with conflict resolution and communication, and individuals with depression, anxiety, unresolved childhood trauma, and exposure to violence and traumatic events. She is a member of the American Counseling Association and the Association for Spiritual, Ethical and Religious Values in Counseling. She is also certified by the National Board of Certified Counselors. Follow and connect with Janis on Twitter, Facebook, her website, and her published work.

(2) Drew Joseph, MA, LMFT, provides individual and couple therapy to adults in Washington, DC. His therapeutic methods are informed by psychodynamic psychology and Shambhala Buddhism. Learn more about Drew Joseph here.

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