america

a subtlety up close

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DSC_0131 1 when you walk in the smell hits you. the air seems thick with sugar, and i had an urge to stick my tongue out to taste the invisible molecules. then i turned the corner and laid eyes on something magnificent. with the sun beaming down on her face, kara walker’s sculpture of an enslaved african woman almost brought me to tears.  wearing a scarf on her head while posed like a sphinx with large breasts and a round behind, the woman represents both caretaker and the overly sexualized black woman.  by using something sweet to represent the tortured lives of slaves working on sugar plantations, the artist puts us at the epicenter of an american paradox.

DSC_0153 DSC_0174 sugar triggers serotonin in the brain — the sweet substance is like a drug that can give people a physical high.  however, instead of experiencing bliss, slaves lost their limbs and lives to feed the american sugar economy. DSC_0211

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girlhood

girlhood is a french film that debuted at this year’s cannes film festival.  the film depicts the lives of black teenage girls coming of age in a paris housing project, and unlike american films that seem to fetishize black women’s suffering, this film takes a more holistic look at the girls’ lives.

 

girlhood is scheduled to debut in the us next year.

my hair, my way, go to hell

french montana learned the hard way about messing with a black woman about her hair. after posting an instagram picture clowning tichina arnold’s gelled down edges, the actress snapped back with the toughest read i’m sure he’s ever received.ta and fm

hearing about this situation begged a larger question for me: why is there so much commentary and criticism around black women’s hair? for example, twitter is constantly ablaze about blue ivy’s hair. you’d think beyonce and jay z were depriving the child proper nutrition the way people feel the need to go in. then there was that whole gabby douglas fiasco.  the poor child couldn’t even relish in the glory of winning an olympic gold medal without folks talking about how her hair was poorly groomed. and don’t forget all those chewbacca memes poking fun at pam oliver during her super bowl coverage. according to the masses, she offended humanity by not having a fresh weave for the event.

add tichina arnold to the cast of sisters mentioned above, and there’s an undeniable pattern of black women being victimized by our community’s stringent standards regarding our hair. like most black women, i grew up getting my hair pressed, braided, pulled and curled, but must admit that i never enjoyed the experience. while it was a chance for me to bond with my grandmother who was a dynamic kitchen sink beautician, we certainly could have found other means to deepen our relationship outside of mild-grade torture.

with these experiences in mind, i’m extremely critical of any beauty standard in our community that 1.) removes people’s individual agency over something as superficial and insignificant as strands of hair and 2.) lacks a clear male equivalent.  the former plays into respectability politics and what black folks, in particular black women, must do to remain upstanding ambassadors for our race. dare to miss your appointment to get your weave tightened and you shall be outcast and ridiculed, fodder for social media posts that reach millions of people. the latter point connotes the role patriarchy plays in forcing women into a role where our appearance is grounds for widespread celebration or degradation — both defined by the male gaze.  it’s not surprising that french montana and not a sister posted the above photo of tichina arnold. it’s male privilege that gives him license to fire shots at a celebrated actress in such a public manner.

in light of yet another hair controversy, i have a psa for my beloved community: whether our names are blue ivy, gabby douglas, pam oliver or tichina arnold, we will do whatever we good well please with our hair. we invite you all to go to hell on scholarships if this fact displeases you.

i never watched snl…until now

i don’t watch saturday night live.  i remember being in high school, and when my mostly white classmates would reenact scenes from the show i’d be totally lost and slightly bored.  however, it’s not that i’m not a fan of sketch comedy, but i don’t typically watch television shows that, as a black woman, i find unrelatable.

recently,  snl has faced lots of scrutiny for its lack of diversity and kenan thompson’s comments that the black actresses who auditioned “weren’t ready.” black folx thought thompson’s comments were insane and the show was simply failing to meet the responsibility of creating a diverse cast.  writing for slate, tanner colby’s analysis of the show’s not only mostly white cast, but racially homogenous writers, staff and work environment is the perfect description of the difference between diversity and inclusion:

maya rudolph, for instance, has no shortage of talent, but her success on the show probably had as much to do with her ability to form relationships with white people as it did her ability to land a joke. because that’s what working at saturday night live is. it’s not performing live on television at 11:30 on saturday night. it’s hanging out with a peer group of mostly white writers, producers, and crew members and forming the relationships necessary to be given the opportunity to perform live on television at 11:30 on saturday night

according to colby, it takes not only a black actor or actress being invited to have a seat at the snl table, but for he or she to have the ability to form relationships with peers aka assimilate into the dominant group. then sasheer zamata happened.  she’s 27, has a drama degree from the university of virginia and will be joining the snl cast on january 18th.  oh, did i mention she’s black? and hilarious?  check out her standup comedy and see for yourself why i’ll be tuning into snl for the first time in my life next saturday night at 11:30.

the day after

the day after an injustice you wake up and wonder if it was a dream.  you search your memory to recall the events from the day before.  you remember the news reports, the twitter feed, the facebook posts.  they all remind you of the verdict: not guilty. the day after an injustice you feel restless.  rally? prayer vigil? scream? no solution to mend a weary soul comes to mind.  the day after an injustice you go to church and wait for the pastor to deliver a message that will make sense of hundreds of years of oppression and violence, but it doesn’t come.  you walk around the city aimlessly, looking for something, anything to help numb the pain.  the day after an injustice you think about your grandparents and ancestors who experienced injustice with no retribution their entire lives.  you think about all the stories they told you about segregated schools, lynchings, white mobs and backbreaking labor and know that nothing has changed.  the day after an injustice you turn to your mentors, james and grace lee boggs, dorothy roberts and bell hooks to help explain this world.  the day after an injustice you feel the blow to your will to fight, but arrive at a renewed spirit to continue the struggle in the name of those who fought before you.  the day after an injustice you re-dedicate your life to ending inequity because that is the only reason you were born.

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rest peacefully dearest trayvon.  we will always remember.

a little link love

start your week with some good reads…

interior design

1.  head over to design sponge and check out all the cool things people are doing with painter’s tape (including this beauty <—).

2.  politics and fashion on tumblr is the place where i scout interior ideas.  check out the pics curated by the minimalist design blog blood and champagne.

3.  this delicate and airy washroom featured on chevrons and eclairs is everything!  mental note: light pink isn’t only for baby girls.

fashion

1.  i lost my shit when i saw this dress on hanneli mustaparta.  every woman over 5’8″ should own a similar cap sleeved-maxi dress with a cinched waist.  why? it’s like painting the perfect picture on a blank canvas. 

2.  i’ve been in desperate need of fall fashion inspiration.  tommy ton provided just the fix.  mozey on over and get prepared for serious eyegasams.

3.  i literally smdh when i saw blaire of atlantic-pacific in today’s outfit post.  visualize: stripes + utility jacket + feathers…gawwwjusss!

politics

1.  america breds terrorists. and they are white not brown.  perfect title for the article on white-nationalist-terrorism posted by the crunk feminist collective.

2.  wait a minute.  did nike REALLY think it was a good idea to create a “gold digger” t-shirt inspired by the 46 female athletes who won gold medals at the olympic games?  *sniffs air for the stench of sexism* yep, they were serious.  

3.  the majority of new yorkers surveyed by the new york times say the new york city police department favors whites. ummmm, duh.