Monthly Archives: October 2016

Team Make-Up!

“And for me that look is deeply personal. It isn’t about what is in fashion or what the rules are supposed to be. It’s about what I like. What makes me want to smile when I look in the mirror. What makes me feel slightly better on a dull day. What makes me comfortable.”

-Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

 

No shade at all to Alicia Keys’ choice to be bare faced and those women who have chosen to follow in her footsteps, but for me, it is so refreshing and inspiring to read that as the new face of a British Make Up brand called No7, Chimamanda stands firm in that  her Feminism is not defined by stripping herself of that which makes makes her feel proud to be a woman; namely make-up.

As face paint does in many indigenous cultures for men and women from birth to adulthood, so the role of make-up has evolved in various stages of my life as I’m know it has in the lives of many women.

I loved make-up from a young age almost mmediately. I learned make-up from watching my mom whose signature brow pencil is still Maybeline and who still will never use anything but pure Khol liner on her eyes. I learned it from the fashion magazines she brought into the house and from my Jamaican Godmother who did a short stint as a model when she was in her 20s. I used to rifle through her dresser drawers when she had parties in her home in Brooklyn. I will never forget the way she looked at me when I emerged on her roof one night where guests milled around, wearing a a deep shiny (Remember when lipsticks weren’t all matte?) almost Cranberry red lipstick I chose from her dresser drawer. I had defiantly smeared the color on my lips in her bedroom where I spent time lazily soaking up the  intoxicating femininity of her surroundings. Even in the dark I could see her shock and disapproval as she told me to turn around and take the lipstick off immediately before my mother saw me. So I was immediately hooked.

I was hooked by the impact that make-up had on the way in which adults saw me and later by the way in which it impacted the way my peers saw me. I was not yet consciously aware of it but I realize now knew make-up was enhancing and bringing forth some part of the powerful woman in me that made people stop and stare. It was an un-evolved, defiant and irresponsible embracing of that power but I enjoyed every bit of it at the time. In High School, black eyeliner was my staple and a loud sparkly pink Brucci lipstick with Strawberry scented roll on gloss were my make-up staples. I put them on in the restroom each morning and wiped everything off before I went home.

In my early 20s I started wearing foundation and power, plucked out most of my eyebrows and drew them in severely. Nuance in the way I applied make wouldn’t really emerge until my early 30s when I discovered that wearing make-up didn’t have to mean looking like you were wearing it all the time. I discovered that busy eyes needed a simple limp and a bold lip looked great with a simple eye. During a few years spent working at Barnes & Noble I poured through Kevyn Aucoin books and began to understand that make-up was no different than face paint, a face dressing, drag, war paint, tribal paint. And I fell in love with it even more.

Lately, I’ve come fully into my own with the way that make-up and colors on my face make me feel and influence that way I show up in the world and the energy I give off in my every day interactions and also how truly ancient and spiritual the role of face paint and masks have always played in our lives as human beings. We have learned from animals and nature how to evokes certain looks to represent status, how we feel, what we desire and more.  It’s important for me to be able to look at myself in the mirror and be happy with what I see, to smile at myself before I start the day, as much when I feel like crap as when I feel willing and ready. It’s also important for me that I take of the canvas on which I express myself daily. And It feels good to know that Chimimanda Adichie, a woman whose work and spirit I so deeply admire and respect, gets it!

While make-up should not be an equation of what it means to be beautiful the way it has been in a society dominated by Patriarchal and Western standards, it has been a part of what many women since ancient time have understand as a rite of passage to womanhood as well as an enhancement of the power and beauty of the woman you are or are becoming.

 

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Bear Pussy (Wait, I have a point here!)

My husband watches quite a lot of wildlife and nature programs. Because of him I have learned to love “The Dog Whisperer,” a show would never have watched otherwise. What Cesar Milan really does is teach people about themselves and the ways in which much of their dogs’ behavior really reflects the owner. My husband loves dogs but I would also say that he has a deep appreciation and love of all animals and has since he was a child.  He learns a lot from them, things I am always surprised and impressed by.

Last night I walked into the living room while he was watching  a program where two large male bears were locked into a palpably intense physical battle. I stopped and stared at the screen. It was hard not to be drawn into the such a dramatic and urgent looking struggle

“That looks intense.” I said

“It is.” Says my husband. “It’s a battle for the right to fornicate.”

So naturally I’m hooked right?

“A battle to the death.”

The camera cuts to the one lone female they’re both fighting to mate with chewing grass. After one of the males walks off frustrated, the other one who is now the victor guards the female for several weeks because she’s not yet “in season.”

“See,” says my husband. “Even in the wild they don’t just run up and grab the pussy.”

I’m dead.

Dead.

How could we live without men, without males, without the male species?

I couldn’t. I wouldn’t want to.

Urban Eve: Birth of a Nation Review

I could go on for awhile about how incredible every aspect of this film is, from the stunning cinematography, to the direction, the score, the writing, the performances and brilliant casting, but there are two main aspects I would like to highlight in this review.

I was struck in the first 20 minutes at a scene in which Nat Turners father is humiliated by White land overseers for trying to get food for his. This scene played like a mirror reflection of the hundreds of Black men who have been, lynched, tortured and murdered in the last 3-4 years for doing nothing but being Black and alive.

When I was a young girl watching “Roots” for the hundreth time in the late 80s, I did not feel the closeness of these atrocities breathing on my neck the way I did in the theater on last Saturday afternoon. Not all the Gil Nobles and “Tony Brown’s Journals” and “Eyes on the Prizes” kept me from feeling like I couldn’t still walk the streets freely and ignorantly, feeling that that we had made sure progress, that that was then and this was now and that as Blacks, we were now protected by freedoms we were once deprived of. I knew then with the certainty and privilege of the sheltered that things could never slide back into that horribly inhuman time not so long ago when my people were slaughtered for wanting to drink, eat and go to school with people who were taught to believe we were less than human.

But here we are in the middle of one of the most sadistically surreal and nightmarish election cycles between two candidates; one, an outlandishly unqualified racist, sexist bigot and the other insidiously deceptive, corrupt and elitist, neither of whom I can get behind with the remotest of enthusiasm. We have been recorded being shot and killed, choked and beaten at the hands of an insane and pathologically fearful Police force and the jails are being filled with Black men and boys at the highest rate ever to make corporations rich.

For most Black people watching BOAN, the only difference between Black slavery in the America of the 1800s and 2016 may seem merely like the change of date. I could not, no matter how hard I tried distance myself from the constant fear in my chest that erupted each time Nat Turner was afforded the kind of experience that every human being has the right to; learning to read, earning the role as a servant of his people through his preaching of the Bible, falling in love, getting married. I went to see the film with SoulSistah4real and we did our share of moaning, sighing, humming and everything short of rocking ourselves to keep from feeling so deeply what we feel on a regular basis whenever we learn about the next Black person who had their lives taken by someone who was challenged by their right to exist.

And then there’s  BOAN’s stance on  Christianity. Never before have I seen such an indictment of Christianity’s role in our mental slavery. But perhaps it was only overtly clear to me because I have Black people around me who constant feed me with information to support this truth. By the time I saw this film it was like a glaring confirmation of what has already become clear to me. When they gave us the Bible, they took us for real. It’s much easier to free someone physically than it is to free their minds. White people stay knowing this, even on a subconscious level. They are the masters of mind fucking. That’s what “Mad Men” is predicated on after all. That’s what the whole survival of the White race has always rested on. Bamboozling, swindling, stealing, robbing, poisoning, swapping out our connection to the divine with a symbol and valuing the worship of that symbol above all things, using it to justify all kinds of crimes, perversions, wars and genocides.

The use of score in edition to several beautiful visual elements, illustrating the spiritual connection of Nat’s selection as a prophet and leader of his people to ancient African oracle is undeniable and beautiful. Wherever there was a reminder, a token, anything to remind the viewer that the ancestors were present, moving Nat towards his destiny, I felt elated.

To witness the evolution of Nat Turner’s disillusionment with the ways in which his learned connection to God through Christianity has been pawned at the hands of his own Master and a crooked pastor, is to watch most of us flailing on a daily basis in a void, trying to make a home out of no home, trying to claim a right to rights that were never meant to protect us, trying to claim our rights as Americans in a land our forefathers were stolen to build when the word American was never meant to describe us. It is to see the way in which we have been and still are truly enslaved by Christianity.

I would recommend this film to everyone. I think it should be used as an educational tool and that class trips should be planned to go see it. It is the first major release of an American slave narrative film of this era that I know of, which brilliantly depicts resistance in slave rebellion  as more than just the breaking of physical chains and the literal removal of oppressors. It does this with humanity, vulnerability, passion, love and fearlessness. It starts what some may deem to be a controversial discourse about exactly how far America has come around issues of racism, law enforcement/enslavement amd true liberation for Black people. If America has just been trading one form of enslavement in for another, what does Black liberation really look like?

In Bed with Solange

All my niggas in the whole wide world

play this song and sing it on your terms…

 

In a moment of much needed intimacy, my husband laid in bed with me last weekend and held me while listening to Solanges’s “A Seat at the Table” the only album I’ve been listening to on repeat since it was released. For me, good music always shows up at the right time, for healing, for protest,  rejoicing, reflection, meditation, mourning and more.

For me, it came at a time when a recent personal challenge had me folding in on myself and all I could do was rest and wait. I played “A Seat at the Table” on my iphone for the first time while under covers and it seeped in through the cracks of my sadness like water. It gently elevated my mood into a lighter but stronger place. I couldn’t deny it’s bold and reflective Black and feminine message and the authentic space it has carved out alongside all the incredible unapologetic Blackness that’s been popping off everywhere lately, in film with “Birth of a Nation” in TV with “Queen Sugar,” “Atlanta” and more.

By the time my husband got on the bed with me I had probably listened to it several times and was still hearing new things, feeling new things. I laid up under him while he squeezed me and held me and we actually listened to the whole album together, singing and smiling, laughing and playing footsie to the beat with a candle burning. LOL!

I cherished every minute. I mean it was exactly what I needed in life. My man, my new favorite album and a sense of joy, promise and divine connection, despite everything.

Soul Shift

Times like these

I wish for witches

Wise women,

Apothecary instead of bodega,

Sitting by an open fire Sisters,

A long walk in the woods

Towards water,

A large rock to perch on while meditating

On the ripples of change,

Open air Sage and Santo Palo burning

Low united chanting

And soft but deliberate movements.

Times like this I wish for community rituals

And prayer through song,

The things white men tried to erase from me,

They return again before too long,

Breaking through the surface of violence and wicked wrong,

Tearing down the walls of fear and greed.

Life flows forever home

into her arms.

 

-ZGDaniel

10-1-16