history

for colored girls who considered yaky

poet kush thompson sings a black girl’s song.

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crush of the week: ava duvernay

in case you didn’t know, one of the best movies of 2015 was directed by a black woman.  the film: selma. the director: ava duvernay. a vision with long locks, impeccable style and black consciousness, she just might be politics & fashion’s crush of the year. 

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selma’s been nominated for a golden globe for best director, making ava the first black woman to be nominated for this award.  take a look at this great new york time’s article written about the struggles she and other women directors have faced in hollywood.ava4

rest in power maya angelou

when i was 13 my mother heard dr. maya angelou speak and brought me home a copy of all god’s children need traveling shoes. it took me a year before i picked it up, but when i did, i couldn’t put it down.  reading about a gifted black woman from a small southern town was the first time i’d seen my reflection in a book; i was moved beyond measure. her experiences with malcolm x and dr. king showed me the humanity of the historical figures we often deify, her time spent in africa showed me that despite space and time we remain connected to our roots and her career as a dancer and writer showed me that creativity has no boundaries. in short, i learned that if a woman who had been molested as a child and grew up in the jim crow south could reach her dreams, then so could i.  after reading the book, i promised that i’d live my life just as unchained as dr. angelou.

at the news of her passing my heart is so heavy, not because i’m sad that maya angelou’s physical body has left this earth — her spirit surely remains — but because i hadn’t realized how much she means to me until this very moment. a mighty tree has fallen.

rest well dear maya.  may the ancestors rejoice as you rise.

a little link love 1.21.14

here’s some news stories that made me laugh, excited and shed a tear over the past two weeks:

1. lupita nyong’o won the critic’s choice award for best supporting actress and her speech was per-fec-tion. i’ve watched it at least three times (and shamefully cried each time) because it was so heartfelt and sincere until i’m convinced we won the award together.  she’s making history, and it’s more inspiring than i can bear.

2. michelle obama turns 50 and is as amazing ever. i love her because despite being one of the most recognizable women in the world, she shops at target, is a very hands-on parent, can be seen around town at r&b concerts and restaurants, is always fierce and has a mean side-eye that cannot be touched. happy birthday flotus, i hope i’m as fabulous as you at 50!michelle-4-600x450

3.staci-michelle-yandle.jpg?w=447obama picks staci michelle yandle, an attorney in private practice, as the first black, lesbian federal judge.  she’ll hear federal cases in the southern district which covers illinois, indiana and wisconsin. future judge yandle has spoken about discrimination in the legal field, stating:

when i first started practicing, for a while i did not feel comfortable acknowledging my sexual orientation because i didn’t want it to cost me my job,” she said. “i wanted to be judged on my merit and my merit alone. many members of the LGBT community still have that fear. we are a traditional profession that is conservative in many ways.

i’m happy that president obama has made a commitment to increasing race, gender and sexual orientation diversity on the federal court.

4. boondocks1keep calm, season 4 of the boondocks airs on april 21st at 10:30 pm. the best cartoon since jem and the holograms (yes, i’m an 80s baby), the boondocks is pure genius and centers around the antics of a young revolutionary, huey freeman, his younger brother riley and their grandfather. the satire and allusions are spot on, and i suggest investing in the first three seasons for your viewing pleasure.  it’s effing hilarious.

5. erykah badu is a vision for givenchy’s 2014 spring campaign. i still feel like we’re being teased with only two images being released, but at least we have yet another reason to love ms. badu.givenchy-3-spring-summer-campaign-featuring-erykah-badu-3

 

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.

rihanna’s doobie

rihanna-amas-hairat sunday’s american music awards rihanna rocked a hairstyle many black women have donned since the advent of relaxers — the doobie wrap.  usually worn under a scarf and secured with bobby pins, it’s a protective hairstyle used to maintain our hair’s shape without having to use heat the next day.  most black women wouldn’t run to the convenience store, let alone attend a major event rocking a doobie.  wearing a doobie in public is like leaving your home in your pjs — it’s just inappropriate.

i often interrogate the varied meanings of appropriateness, examining their relationship to respectability politics and the dominant white culture.  i’m keenly aware that black folks often use similar language to refer to or reinforce white supremacy.  however, in the case of doobiegate, white people were enamored, not put off, by rihanna’s hair and miley cyrus has probably fired her hairstylist for not hipping her to this trend sooner.   (more…)

sworn virgins

sworn virgins is the term used to describe biological females in the balkans who have chosen to live as men.  this historical practice dates back to the kanun states whose laws relegated women to the status of property and forbade them to vote, drive, wear pants, smoke, swear, or own guns.  women who chose to become sworn virgins or burnesha were given the same elevated status as men in exchange for adopting traditionally male mannerisms and attire.  as their name connotes, sworn virgins took a vow of lifelong celibacy. today, only a few sworn virgins remain, and photographer jill peters captured the images below:

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images by jill peters via feature shoot