go big girl what you gon’ do?

beach1 beach2beachnew2

i’m not the only woman with a small frame and large chest, but for most of my adolescence and early adulthood, you would have thought i was sent from mars. when was the last time you saw one of those cute $19.99 two-piece bikinis at target with a 34ddd top and size small bottom? you said never? i know. thankfully, bathing suit shopping was sooooo much easier this year when i discovered that asos has an entire line of swimwear for the dd+ crowd.

my new white swimsuit snaps snugly in the back and the three straps on each side really help to ease the weight of my chest around my neck. this was just a test run, i can’t wait to try more.

what are you wearing to the beach this

columbusing alert: gelled edges & big butts

just as christopher columbus “discovered” the new world, high fashion magazines and celebrities continue to appropriate black culture, naming things like big butts and gelled edges the newest trends.

despite vogue’s article titled ‘we’re officially in the era of the big booty‘ and gelled edges being spotted on this season’s runway shows, neither round backsides nor prominent baby hair is “new.” in fact, black folks kinda invented both.  while we appreciate the rare occasions when mainstream society recognizes our contribution to this country’s very existence, especially pop culture, the kind of appropriation pictured above is offensive. why? because it involves failing to recognize the history of an act, as if its originators are invisible.  this fact is especially problematic for black people who are often denigrated for the very things that white americans can espouse as displays of “coolness”.  using black vernacular, rocking gold grills, twerking — and now gelled edges and big butts — breed street cred for whites and limited socioeconomic opportunities for blacks.  this skewed dichotomy is emblematic of larger society and goes far beyond the fashion and entertainment industries.

despite columbusing’s macro origins, one chip in cultural appropriation’s armor could be having more black models, writers and bloggers to fact check these egregious claims and ensure a more responsible cultural exchange. however, until that happens, i’ll continue to feel mocked and exploited by katy perry’s braids and vogue’s recent “discovery” of the beauty of big butts.

a little link love 8.6.14

Renisha Mc Bride1. it’s an age-old strategy that defense attorneys attempt to criminalize the victim of a crime. however, in the murders of unarmed black people this strategy has been a ploy to categorize the victims based upon prevailing stereotypes.  clothing, loud music, marijuana, alcohol and “menacing behavior” were all made relevant in the murders of tryavon martin, jordan davis, darius simmons and now renisha mcbride.  syreeta mcfadden writes for the guardian that “renisha mcbride’s killer wants the jury to think that she was the real criminal.” in her piece, she highlights research around implicit bias and society’s perceptions of blackness that make me wonder if justice will ever be served for the senseless murders by black people by whites.

2. as an nfl player, you get a longer suspension for smoking pot than uppercutting your spouse. shocking i know, but ray rice received a mere slap on the wrist after news emerged that he knocked out his wife in an atlantic city elevator. when sportscaster stephen a. smith seemed to condone rice’s actions by stating the need for women to be held accountable for provoking men, domestic violence advocates around the world rolled over in their graves. professor earl smith writes for the huffington post that the problem is a sports industry and society that has allowed a harmful definition of masculinity to run amok.

3. it’s refreshing to see sociopolitical commentary wrapped in humor and comedian aamer rahman is one of the best. you might remember his standup routine critiquing imperialism went viral last year, and he continues to be a conscious entertainer ridiculing NATO, israel, western governments and american pop icons during sold-out shows.  check him out in an interview with ceasefire.

this isn’t about v. stiviano

donald and vnba commissioner adam silver came down hard on clippers owner donald sterling for his racist comments about not wanting black people at his games.  on the audio recording of sterling speaking to his girlfriend v. stiviano, sterling admonishes her for posting a picture with magic johnson on instagram and embracing her blackness when the world sees her as “a latina or a white girl.”  as the owner of an almost all black team in a sport played overwhelmingly by people of color, it was necessary for sterling to get more than a slap on the wrist and the nba acted accordingly by fining him $2.5 million and banning him for life.  whether or not he will be forced to sell the clippers is yet to be determined.

i wish i could say that the story ended here; however, patriarchy and misogyny don’t take a day off, even when faced with rank white supremacy.  i’ve been inundated by tweets and jokes from both news pundits and sports commentators about how donald sterling’s life has been ruined by a conniving sidechick.  in fact, in a time article condemning donald sterling’s actions, basketball legend kareem abdul jabbar had this to say:

and now the poor guy’s girlfriend (undoubtedly ex-girlfriend now) is on tape cajoling him into revealing his racism. man, what a winding road she led him down to get all of that out. she was like a sexy nanny playing “pin the fried chicken on the sambo.” she blindfolded him and spun him around until he was just blathering all sorts of incoherent racist sound bites that had the news media peeing themselves with glee.

this analysis is not only a red herring because the issue at hand should be donald sterling’s racism NOT v. stivano’s actions, but elucidates a larger point about the harmful tropes women of color face.  unfortunately,  jabbar is not the first man to blame a woman for a man’s actions;  black women have faced this narrative for centuries.  words like “cajole” (to persuade someone with flattery) and “sexy nanny” evoke the stereotype of black women as licentious beings who use their uncontrollable sexual prowess to bait and hook their lovers.  for v. stiviano, a black and mexican woman who is decades younger than donald sterling, this narrative makes her the assailant and him a “poor guy” victimized by her intoxicating ways.  i’m not buying it. in fact, a man with as much privilege and power as donald sterling should not be seen as the victim in any situation, absent torture, where he reveals his personal beliefs.

kareem abdul jabbar isn’t the only person who has described v. stiviano as a shady temptress; sterling’s wife filed a lawsuit against her claiming stiviano “engages in conduct designed to target, befriend, seduce, and then entice, cajole, borrow from, cheat, and/or receive as gifts transfers of wealth from wealthy older men whom she targets for such purpose.” (here goes that word cajole again.)  the lawsuit further states stiviano’s “feminine wiles … overpowered the iron will of [sterling] who is well known as one of the most shrewd businessmen in the world.”  the fact that a black man and white woman in her lawsuit are depending on the same stereotype of a woman of color to deflect a white man’s responsibility for his actions is powerful and proves the impact of patriarchy, misogyny and white supremacy on women of color.  stuck at these intersections, v. stiviano, a woman who arguably helped to protect an entire sports franchise from a bigoted owner, is not applauded, but mocked and blamed. 

donald sterling’s racist beliefs have nothing to do with v. stiviano, and while mainstream society may have taken a bold step against tolerating individual racism, gender-based discrimination against women of color is still business as usual.


that time spike lee went OFF about gentrification

spike-lee1during an event at brooklyn’s pratt institute, spike lee compares gentrification in new york to european colonization — some may call this an exaggeration, but similarities definitely exist.  i totally agree with his call for respect by white people moving into a previously all-black or latino neighborhood.  a community’s culture and traditions shouldn’t change because the dominant group comes to town.

tracy reese on race and fall 2014

race has been a major topic in the fashion industry since iman and naomi campbell blasted last season’s runway shows for having virtually no models of color.  the lack of diversity has prompted the women to start balance diversity, an organization aimed at boosting the number of black models.  while most runways are racially imbalanced, those behind the scenes suffer a similar fate — major fashion brands continue to be led almost exclusively by whites.

our darling tracy reese addressed this issue stating, “there’s so many things that need to change. there are a lot of designers of color, but I think there’s just a dearth of designers out front.”  she went on to say the industry needs more diversity not just in model selection, but in all facets, including public relations.  despite the limitation of being one of only a few black designers with wide acclaim, reese continues to give us some of the best ready-to-wear pieces known to man.  after seeing her fall 2014 show full of texture and bold prints, it’s obvious why she’s one of michelle obama’s favorite designers.

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