As I’ve mentioned before, Black lifestyle and beauty vlogs on YouTube have been my latest obsession. There are anywhere from 3 to 6 YouTubers I follow and look forward to watching on a weekly basis and I’ve started to realize that for me, it’s not just about make-up and lifestyle. I mean obviously, yes, it’s definitely what gets me watching in the first place. But the other part of it is a sense of community with Black women who are, yes, as enthusiastic about the art of make-up as I am but also a way to feel joined with Black women all over the world who share varying ideas, not only about their favorite beauty products and self-care rituals and routines, but also about their lives their opinions on currents issues, their families, their relationships, their goals and more.
I love it when children run into the frame and interrupt the format of a beauty vlog and mommy just incorporates it and makes it work. I love the heartfelt husband and boyfriend tags. I love the beautiful and countless range of skin tones we have and how relentless some of us are in seeking out products that work for our skin tone and supporting Black business that work towards serving our needs.
Black Youtube constantly reaffirms for me, that I need never step outside of my own community for diversity because we are soooooo diverse. I follow women from the continent, from Canada, from the UK, Ireland and Holland! We’re everywhere and always have been.
Whenever I’m editing footage for our own Soul Sistah Series youtube channel, I’m always as engaged as I was participating in the conversation. I laugh, I dance, I lean in. I feel privileged to be able to create content with someone who emphasizes this form of social media as one of many formats that are integral to our unity, community and self empowerment.
Click below and join as we discuss the ways in which “The Spirit of Intimacy” came into our lives, how minding your business is UnAfrican (LOL!) and how it has positively influenced the ways in which we function in our relationships.
We look forward to discussing the book with you in person at our June 11th event! Today is your last to purchase early bird tickets for $30 so don’t miss out!
Many of us, particularly those from an older generation seem to think of social media as a soulless and empty form of communication. And though I agree that there should be an attempt to balance out our tweeting and instagramma with face to face socializing, I think that the use of social media is only as soulless and empty as the person using it.
I think that Internet intimacy has proven to be very powerful and impactful. Social media communication has built movements, fostered ideas and creativity, built and destroyed relationships. In many ways, social media has given us more access to intimate details of one another’s lives than perhaps ever before. We can choose to be private. We can chose to unfriend or block, but if we choose to have an identity or an account anywhere online, we have provided information about ourselves which can potentially be accessed by absolutely anyone who cares to look. A few years ago I was absolutely terrified to google my name and see things come up that I had long forgotten. But after a while I accepted that if I was going to have an identity on social media, I would have to accept that what I offered at any time was just a reflection of whatever was happening in my life at that time, just life life in general.
When it comes to “following” people, I am very discriminating because just like life, whomever you allow in your circle projects a thread of that energy into your feed that you have to see constantly or however often you check in. I thumb up, love and like a lot of stuff, but I rarely follow anyone new. Whenever I follow anyone new, I know it’s because whatever they offer is something I need to see, read or feel on a regular basis. So really, social media is just an amplified version of our analog relationships after all. How could it not be? We designed it. And we don’t design anything that is not at the core, an extension of systems we’ve created since ancient times. Bethrothals, courting, dating, speed dating, internet dating. We’ve always been seeking the same things.
I would say that one of the many things lacking in internet connections and communications is the responsibility of backing things up by showing up in real life. Granted, there’s a lot you can get across on social media. Like I said earlier, movements and protests have been organized online, companies have been shamed into getting their act together, I know two people who met and married their spouses via internet dating sites. As a means of sharing information, google alone has become ultimate resource for many of us. But ultimately it’s up to us to use that information to bring people together, to create community and empower one another to lead better lives.
I’ll admit to being very challenged with being able to show up to the many events and gatherings I like that pique my interest on the accounts and networks that I follow. But I understand that I have to push myself to not only be drawn to ideas, but also to see them through, particularly if they grate against my comfort level or limiting belief systems about what I can accomplish or have time for. The opportunity and promise for growth and self-improvement has become hugely accessible through social media. When it comes to picking something that speaks directly to what you need, it can be overwhelming. This is why I follow new people so very rarely. Those I do follow tend to deliver a message that I feel can be summed up as authentic, loving, fearless, quirky, joyful, creative, transcendent and unapologetically Black.
If gathering in the spirit of these things is important to you, I hope that you will join us on June 11th as we gather in NYC to discuss “The Spirit of Intimacy” by Sobonfu Some’. And remember that Early Bird tickets are $30 until June 1st.
Go to the amazon link to read more about this wonderful book. If it speaks to you, speak back.
So my girl Khalilah shared this great article with me yesterday, written in 2008 by Alice Walker’s daughter, Rebecca Walker all about how their relationship was torn apart by Alice Walkers “fanatical feminist views.” Rebecca came to her happiness as a proud mother and wife with no help from her mother, a feminist icon, who felt that having children was a form of slavery. In fact, at least according to Rebecca, Alice Walker, a woman whose writing I loved so much in my youth, played the position of detractor, and competitor to her daughter most of her life and very rarely, if ever, as a supportive and nurturing force. I won’t say too much more about the actual article here since Khalilah and I will definitely be discussing it on a future episode of Soultv.
But I will say this.
I have seen and heard the word Feminism defined, interpreted, remixed, reconfigured and re-framed many times and for varying reasons, but the one theme that seems to remain, is the one in which Feminism is understood to represent the strength, capability and independence of a woman without a man and the diminished tone reserved for women who choose to dedicate as much if not all of their lives to motherhood, family and home as they do to their business or career.
The new Miss USA sparked a ripple of controversy recently, when she was asked about feminism and responded that “As a woman scientist in the government, I’d like to lately transpose the word feminism to equalism.”
And as expected, feminist twitter went ape shit, just like they did when Chimimanda Adichie suggested that cis women (God, I hate that term) have a different experience in their bodies and in the world than trans women do because we-were-born-women? All of a sudden, Adichie was painted as an enemy of a community which she is actually an advocate for.
All this to say, as much as I would love to believe in and support a future feminism which includes, supports and addresses the needs of Black and Brown women and mothers who proudly love Black and Brown men and want to find spaces which encourage and facilitate the enrichment, re-education and unification of the Black family and community…
It ain’t happened yet.
But if it does and already has, let me know because I’m down. However, I would strongly suggest a change of name for said future movement because the term Feminism, no matter how much we hyphenate and pre-fix it to suit the present day needs of certain ideas about today’s woman, still continues to carry the oppressive and divisive mission associated with it’s early origins, a mission that was created primarily to suit the needs of white women whose needs at the time when the movement evolved were respectfully relevant and though, they may intersect with the needs of Black and Brown and women, will never be equal to them. And that’s just a long way of saying that our needs are vastly different from those of White women and they always will be.
Acknowledging difference seems to really offend certain people unless they’re using difference to discriminate, monopolize, categorize, stereotype and disenfranchise. I see difference as a guide that tells you how to best serve a population whose right it is to thrive and grow like anyone else on the planet.
My husband and I were confronting some tough challenges last month when my girl at Soulsistah4real texted me a picture of the book, “The Spirit of Intimacy.” It could not have come at a better time.
From reading the book, I learned that the whole idea that when anything bad happens, we have to keep it to ourselves and keep it hidden is like most systems we live under, an oppressive and destructive Western one. The idea we have that in relationships with our significant others, we have to be everything for one another and let no one else interfere or act as a guide is one of many practices that eventually lead to the high rate of divorce in America. “The Spirit of Intimacy” is as described, a guide to Ancient African Teachings in the Ways of Relationships. The importance of ritual to under-gird the foundation and transparency of community as an extension and sustenance of all relationships in the book is a running theme throughout and had a deep initial impact on the ways in which I began to examine ritual and transparency in my own life.
Now, I’m not saying I’m ready to spill all my personal beans to you here on Urban Eve but I can tell you that if I did, I have total confidence that most all women would have the same if not a similar experience to share and that the healing that came from that sharing would greatly outweigh any sense of fear that came from the perceived and conditioned shame of revealing it. If I didn’t practice the ritual of seeing a therapist on a regular basis and do the work that was needed to get me to a place where confronting my own vulnerability is not quite as scary as it used to be, I might not even be able to fully receive the gifts, the priceless wisdom of this incredible little book.
I am and have been one the most secretive most private persons I know! And I know that many of us are. Speaking for myself, I have never felt more relieved, more liberated, more able to release judgement of myself than when I am in a safe space with my sisters who tell me some ish that made me realize I was not the only one going through it. The only way to really connect, to be in true relationship and to experience true intimacy is in the moment where you can express yourself authentically and honestly with those you love and care for. In this way, we help to build and guide one another as I hope to build and be built, guide and receive guidance from you.
At Soul Sistah Series, our goal is to create safe and intimate spaces for Black women to gather and participate in activities that enrich, inform, enlighten as shit is happening all around us. This Summer, starting on June 11th, we will be hosting a series of discussions in NYC, starting with the “The Spirit of Intimacy.” It is an easy, straight forward and fairly quick read and I urge you to get a copy and join us!
Early Bird Tickets are $30 until June 1st so get those right here while they last and don’t forget to share!
We’ve also done some Spring cleaning over on our Youtube account so head on over and check out our latest “Talkin ish” episode.
I wanted to see Southside with You when it was in the theater but it kinda got by me. I didn’t hear much about viewer responses to it. No one I know saw it. It kind of just quietly flew under my radar. So I just recently watched it on Netflix, quietly, one morning in bed.
First of all, this film is beautifully shot. My cinephile eye can’t help but notice that right away. If Richard Linklater, whose films I have loved, had made a film about the Obamas first date, it would pretty much look like this. I’ve never heard of Richard Tanne, the white guy who actually did direct the film, nor was I surprised to discover a white guy was behind the camera.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Southside with You has many great elements in place for an authentically romantic film. The performances are solid for the most part, (when they don’t fall into caricature in a few scenes) with the kind of vulnerability needed to be drawn into the believable nuances and challenges of a budding partnership, particularly between two Black people struggling with the complex and tangled roots of very different backgrounds, yet meeting in the same space of oppressive double consciousness where all Black people meet in this country.
Both actors, Parker Sawyer and Tika Sumpter are attractive but relatable and believable as the soon to be first Black family of The United States of America. They also have great chemistry. Music by Janet Jackson, Slick Rick and John Legend, scenes shot on location in the Chicago Southside community, a running theme of selected paintings by Ernie Barnes whose famous painting was shown the end of the credits on “Good Times’ as well as a thread of discussion about the fictional Chicago inner city family and many more, lend an authentic Black aesthetic to the film.
One scene in particular that I love is when Michelle and Barack come across a community African drum circle and a little girl comes up and takes Michelle’s hand inviting her to dance. Michelle, who up until now presents herself very conservatively, and has only accepted the terms of being out with Barack by calling it a business meeting, throws him her pocket book to him and gets down to African drums with no hesitation. As Barack watches her warmly and intently, it’s easy to see that his heart is opening to her.
Less comfortable scenes include Baracks speech at a Black community church where he gives what has now become a the well known, hope infused, not all white Americans (without ever using the word White) are racist, you can’t judge everyone, Americans are basically good at the core spiel to convince Black people that their struggles to build a community center have less to do with the fact that they are fighting against systemic racism and more to do with the fact they’re just looking at the situation in the wrong way.
Apparently all they needed to do flip the word no… to on…
The second scene to make my heart sink was when Michelle, upon leaving the theater where they had seen “Do the Right Thing” (my personal fave Spike Lee film) is waiting outside while Barack uses the facilities and runs into their boss at the legal firm and his wife. They have just seen the film as well and are having some typical white people feelings about it. This scene is awkward as fuck for so many reasons. Michelle who hates the idea of being social with a Jr. employee in her work place because she’s afraid it will disparage her credibility as legal aid with her boss scrambles to make up a lie about who she’s seen the film with. So then Barack comes out, white boss introduces Barack with great honors to his wife and asks Barack what he makes of the explosive conclusion of the film. Barack tells him that Mookie did it as a way to distract the angry mob from killing Sal. Barack says this like it’s the smartest, most clever shit to say and when white boss leaves, tells Michelle that he only said it to protect his white fragility, and I guess ultimately to protect their positions at the firm. Michelle is furious at being caught by white boss outside of the office with Barack and storms off, with an I told you so rant.
Because God forbid Michelle should care about a Black man who works in her office and her White boss should see it and allow it to negatively inform any decisions about her and her career. All I saw in this scene were the long term and not very dissimilar affects of chattel slavery where in we did not have the freedoms to choose our work our partners or the ability to stay with our families without the fear of shame, torture and death. It reminded me of the time a white guy I was seeing in college once told me that I was only interested a certain Black man because he was…Black. I didn’t check him on that at the time because I didn’t even want to believe I’d heard it.
But I never forgot.
I did enjoy watching what felt like genuine intimacy building between the actors playing Michelle and Barack. I enjoyed seeing them see one another’s imperfections and be drawn to one another for ways in which those imperfections made them beautiful. You could really see how Michelle sharpened and challenged Barack and how he challenged her as well as respected, admired and adored her.
Honestly, I’m a big sap and it’s just wonderful seeing Black people loving each other on the screen. The fact that it was about Michelle and Barack just made me more sentimental about watching.
Let’s not hide from each other. Let’s not cover up what we feel is natural. I want to be free with you. I want you to be free with me. I want to talk, laugh, joke, play and stay in our bare skin for the entire day. Why would we cover ourselves? I find you beautiful and you find me the same. From the soles of our feet to the details of our skin that cover our veins. I see no reason to make you wonder because what you want from me is more than physical. I want to see you as you are. Fully with nothing covering your blemishes or scars. Don’t hide from me and I won’t hide from you…
When I was in High School there was a book of short stories and poetry called Erotic Noir that my BF and I were crazy for. It was this large book of beautifully affirming, liberating self-loving, candid, intimate tales of Black sexiness. It was of course the only book of Black Erotica of I found on the bookstore shelves at the time. There was nothing else to compare it to so it was a very special book for me. That was back in the day when I wrote religiously. I never was and still am not very good at writing about graphic intimacy or sexual experiences and so I would read and immerse myself and admire but I remained uncomfortable with actually writing anything like it.
Thanks White Male Patriarchy.
….actually, no thank you.
But thanks to being raised in a household where I was free to run around naked until I learned to be self conscious, I’ve always been pretty comfortable being naked. But as a Black women however (probably as any woman) it doesn’t matter how comfortable you are being naked. In this world, you learn how to become self-conscious even about being un-self conscious.
I’m not really sure how “The Get Down” turned out to be as good a show as it is. I haven’t had a chance to go through all the credits but I’m pretty sure Nas, Nelson George and Grandmaster Flash himself are among the list of producers. I was pretty sure I would never watch it because I was not looking forward to what I felt was the dominant casting of light skinned Blacks in the leading roles in order to capture viewers. But I wanted to spend time with my husband and he invited me to join him to watch it. So of course I said yes, with reservations.
We’ve only watched the first episode, which is an epic hour and 45 minutes long and I’m already blown away, not so much by the characters initially, which take a minute to really grow on you because of creator, Baz Lurhmman’s traditional A.D.D. direction of editing. The attempt to crunch visual story telling, which mixes old 70s footage of the Bronx with set recreations of circa 70s Bronx, with what was going on in hip-hop, politics, the economy and the neighborhood, while also telling a young love story and the genesis of a rise to fame through mythical hip-hop iconography is dizzying and trippy as fuck.
Of course, I kinda like that.
Just about every frame has something critical to communicate to the viewer. It appears to be cut specifically for the purpose of nostalgia and also drawing connections from the past to the present day sense of Black musical trends and the culture and style and politics that shape it.
I don’t know yet about the episodes to come but there are very few long takes in “The Get Down” episode one. It’s all about movement, color, story telling, and emotionally hyperbolic placement in the artifice, magic, substance fueled, kinetic, beauty of Black people and culture in 1970s Bronx.
There is a dance scene where Cadillac, one of the main character’s opponents, shows everyone just how much power he has by claiming the dance floor. Wearing an all white suit, Cadillac attempts to shift the course of budding romance between lead character Ezekial and Mylene, the girl whose affections they both seek, through the power of dance. This incredible scene made us think about how dance is primarily social, tribal, spiritual and a form of communication that conveys celebration, love, intimacy, challenge, violence, domination, attitude, posturing and more.
There are many things that blew me away in this episode, like the way that the paths between the mythical Shaolin who scales roofs and jumps from building to building risking life and limb for an album and Ezekial, the young, unrealized wordsmith (MC,) converge to form the beginning of a life changing relationship. It speaks to the importance of having a gang or a squad a team of people to support one another and to belong to.
Also, the dialogue tends to go from verbal to lyrical to musical at any moment and I was often left wondering if I was listening correctly or hearing correctly. “The Get Down” is not only a nostalgic and visual feast for the senses. I was uniquely impressed by the heart in it, particularly in the friendship among the young men. I really look forward to seeing how this energy, along with the pace and epic scope of such an ambitious first episode can be maintained for two seasons.
Retrogrades are not negative, they simply shift us around so we can get back into alignment.
Retrograde energy is also highly feminine and in these patriarchal times, on a subconscious level, many of us struggle to accept and integrate feminine energy into our every day lives.
-The Retrograde Effect April 2017
I’ve been actively practicing the art of not panicking since five planets (Jupiter, Venus, Mercury, Saturn and Pluto) went Retrograde this year, starting with Jupiter on February 6th. I knew that if I was going to make it through without losing it, I would have to at the very least cultivate more patience than usual, not only with other people but also with myself.
It hasn’t always been successful. I like things to be where I need them to be, I need things to function as I need them to and I need to be able to communicate as well as I can, whenever necessary.