Monthly Archives: November 2017

Who’s on Your Buy Black on Black Friday List?

You do have one right?

‘Cause if you’re in the Diaspora and haven’t noticed the incredible things that are coming out of Black owned and small Black businesses lately, you’re definitely missing out. I mean not only is there are there always Black owned and made jewelry and make-up for junkies like me, but my Soul Sistah, Khalilah put me on years ago to the Black owned companies that create the kind of basic goods we use in our lives every day! Detergent, cleaning supplies, deodorant, toothpaste, and more. If you follow  We Buy Black, you are sure to find anything and everything you have bought for years from “trusted” White owned brands (that we don’t even think of as White owned because White supremacy is constructed to be invisible) made by and for us!

Now look, I’m not saying everything I buy is Black owned…..

YET!

But I damn well am working up to it. Because every time I scroll through IG or on the interwebs or Khalilah, who is herself a Black entrepreneur, shoots me a link to some dope Black owned business, or Dupe Black on IG which puts me on to Black owned beauty alternatives, I get so hyped at how beautifully reflective, soulful, industrious and entrepreneurial we truly are. Heck, a girlfriend of mine just recently sent me the product summary for a brand she’s planning to launch soon because she needed some feedback and a critical eye. I am so proud of her and honored that she would tap me to hold her accountable. I am so proud of all of us, who push past fears designed to keep us trapped in economic slavery to materialize our dreams of liberation, spreading Black Joy, health, love of community and empowerment.

Vote Black

Just this week I recently got some amazing soaps from HerbnEden and a few beautiful pairs of earrings from Toni Daley that I just adore! They are items that fill me with a satisfaction which is more fulfilling than what comes from base consumerism. Knowing that my money is going directly to supporting a business that is Black owned allows me to see the broader return on my investment in my community. I also love  how much more transparent small Black businesses are. I connect with so many of the owners online because they are so much more visible and accessible to their community and that feels so connecting and conducive to building and cyclical support.

I was gonna be stingy and keep my list to myself but that’s sooooo White Supremacist. LOL!! So I’ll share a few. I used to hate Black Friday but now that it’s been reclaimed by actual Black businesses I am so excited to invest my dollars where it counts, I can hardly wait!

JXL Pops is an earring maker of some seriously “Poppin” earrings and her Black Friday sale online is going to be “Poppin with Purpose” I am really looking forward to this sale. I have seen sneak peeks of her new Blackkity Black line and well, if you wanna see it you know where to click.

This is The Read, one of my favorite podcast has Black Friday merch that probably launched already which means that they might already be sold out because their stuff goes mad fast. But it may be worth a check out.

Juvia’s Place is the only beauty line I own three eye shadow palettes from and they’ve been on sale for days now so Black Friday is gonna be real. I’m virtually crouched and ready to grab the Saharan palette so if I push passed you to throw it in my cart it, don’t take it personal. LOL!!

CREADnyc.com, founded by my girl Khalilah will launch the pre-sale of “The ABCs of The Black Panthers” this Friday at 9am! I was honored to play a role in editing the book so I got first looks at the incredibly beautiful illustrations and lovingly crafted narrative that guides both parents and children to learn about the members of the Black Panthers and other seminal Black Activists who played key roles in their formation and ideology. I plan on buying several copies myself because the holidays are right around the corner.

UMMM… soooo this is not Black Friday related and I know I’ve mentioned it once or a hundred times already but you know Fenty Beauty is dropping her Stunna Red Lip Paint on the world on Thanksgiving right? I’m hoping she’s got like 5 other lip colors poised to stun us as well but I’m getting it no matter what. That’s just one more dope thing to be thankful for.

Advertisements

Take my phone?

 

Through a my good girlfriend, I had the fortunate opportunity to see Chris Rock’s Total Blackout Tour a couple of times at a secret showing in Brooklyn last month. And I was thankful to see it there at the BAM Harvey theater because it was nice intimate setting and a Very Black experience. Oils, cocoa butter, Spike Lee, Toure’ (Toure’ is always there. LOL!) and like my husband said when we went the second time, Black people show out when we show up for someone we love so the show is in the audience as well as on the stage. It’s just beautiful all around.

The set was hilarious, and though I haven’t always agreed with him, I’ve loved Rock’s comedy for a long time. Many of his jokes from this set stayed with me long after we left but there’s one that I’ve wanted to write about for a while, one that I keep turning around in my head. Like all good jokes, it’s obviously more than that.

Rock, in his candid discussion of his divorce (he was married for 16 years!) and the reasons he felt it occurred, said that his parents has been married for 40 years, and yet because of technology and social media, he feels that he was had more contact with his wife for more of time that they were together and that essentially he and his wife had been together longer than his parents. LOL!!

He went on to explain that his parents didn’t see one another all day and when they finally saw one another after work was done they had “pertinent” information to share with one another. There was no face timing, texting, liking, posting. They were apart for hour and hours in which all manner of things could have happened to them or their families (especially in pre-civil rights America)  and they would not have been able to get word to one another until the end of the day. Rock said that with technology and social media, there’s no way to miss anyone these days and that missing people you love is important for the relationship.

It really made me think. Social media is always touted as a tool for connection across so many barriers, real, imagined and constructed. And in many ways I believe it is. But in other ways, I feel like we’ve never been more estranged, isolated or lonely as a society.

Here’s a good example, still related to the Chris Rock Show.

I’ve been to plenty of live show tapings before but this was the first time ever that I was at a taping where we were all asked to lock up our phones in a pouch that could only be unlocked again once we left.

Oh, it’s like that?

I was game as long as I could still keep my phone on me. LOL!

I’m not gonna lie. I’m a photographer so the first time I went with my girlfriend,  my eyes were consuming the set like a meal at various points during the beginning of the show, thinking of all the amazing angles and shots I could have taken. But slowly I began to just take in my surroundings, take in the show and be fully present.

The second time I went with my husband, they took longer to seat everyone so I just looked at all the people shuffling in, the beautiful hair styles, the unique and eclectic outfits, the way people moved, greeted one another, waving at friends, dancing, yelling, hugging, dapping. Plus the people in our section smelled amazing. LOL!

During one of the opening sets by a Black woman comedian I tapped the woman sitting next to me who was there with her bae and asked if she had heard the comedians name. She didn’t and tapped her bae to ask him. She said the woman’s name was Janelle James.

No biggie right? If I had my phone I probably would have just googled what I made out phonetically. If I had my phone I might have been in it the whole time and hardly ever looked up and anyone. If I had my phone I definitely would have been bitching about the time and when the show was going to start.

By the time Rock came out the entire audience was on their feet clapping and cheering. No pictures could be taken, no recording, none of the material or anything about the experience could be leaked. And I think it was a great advantage for everyone.

All of the jokes, stories and setups I remember from Rock’s show were from memory alone. Of course I did see it twice but still. LOL! I made a list of notes afterward.

I know I use social media to avoid and distract myself from a lot of things. But sometimes I’ll be watching YouTube or scrolling through IG and it will hit me that I’m only looking at moments in time, edited moments, some contrived, including my own. My husband will tag me on ten things throughout the work day but when we get home, we’re often tired and rarely ever talk about any of the stuff we posted. We hang out in different spaces of the internet and so much happens, so much information is consumed and shared that it’s not possible to process or discuss it all. It’s not even necessary. More than half of it is just junk food, click bait, fodder, waste.

When did so much waste become so much more important than finding time to connect with one another?

Rock joked that after all this social media engagement with their SOs women have the nerve to say something like “We never talk anymore!” to their husbands.

“I know everything you did today!” He said. “And I know how everybody felt about it.” LOL!

But do we really know how we feel?  I have to schedule time to check in in real ways with people I care about these days in ways that used to happen all the time when I was younger. Most of my high school years, before cell phones and Facebook, I spent actual time with people I cared about. If we hung out, it would be to really interact, to share an experience, to sit down and eat together. There was nothing virtual about it. And there were a lot of feelings! LOL!!!

Nowadays it’s like my feelings only get explored deeply with another person when I’m sitting across from my therapist or once in a while with my good girl friends or when I make concerted effort to ask bae when he’s available to have a “talk.”

These days, a lot of our connecting has become all click click, swipe, post, like, thumb up, send, cut, paste and then every once in a while, eyes will meet. Every once in a while, a real conversation will occur. Through social media, we consume waaaaaay more tragedy, intimate detail, emotional drama, celebration, protest, and a variety of other complex performances, and behaviors than we ever could have before.

And it’s exhausting.

But it’s become normalized.

Chris Rock is a youthful 52 and I can tell from what he posts on social media that he’s more of a in the moment kind of guy. He’s had to get used to social media as a business  and promotion tool so that he can stay current and relevant and I totally get that. I mean despite everything I’ve just said about all it’s ill, there is so much I  love about social media. And as someone who has taken on a second job working for an organization run by a courageous entrepreneur, I can attest to how important it is to be consistently visible on social media platforms because much like the physical spaces we used to socialize in before, social media is literally where the major hangouts are now.

Hanging out in virtual reality. Jamiroquai was not lying.

This brave new (keeps getting newer LOL!) social media world is our new normal, just like every technological advance has always pushed society into new levels of communication and exploration of connection. We can’t go backwards. But times like this, sometimes it’s really a relief to have someone else to take your phone away, lock it in a bag, give it back to you and be like, now enjoy the fucking show.

 

 

Maaaan..if I hadn’t read Zora Neale Hurston in HS, I woulda been even more of an asshole.

I was editing a fantastic blog entry for CREADnyc last week about the importance of Black female authors in Highs School. Please get your life, go there now and read it but remember to come back! LOL!

Among the 3 Black women authors Khalya wrote about, she mentioned reading Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God” for the first time in college.

The crazy thins is I had been thinking about that book a lot lately, not necessarily because it was among my favorite works of fiction, but because it was assigned reading in my high school humanities class and because it was the first ever book I had ever read in dialect. And I can remember like it was yesterday how quick I was to look down my uppity nose at that writing until it was made clear to be my my teachers that this book was not only worthy of cannon like status, but that it was, and is, a brilliantly written piece of literature, meant to be studied, deconstructed, theorized and revered.

As Khalya mentions in her piece, we all know what it’s like to struggle with Shakespeare, but love iambic pentameter or hate it, we see Shakespeare held in the highest esteem absolutely everywhere. And as Khalya also points out, no one has ever spoken like that. Where as dialetic is a phonetically written expression of the way real ass people talk. We hear it all the time. But we rarely ever read it. The only other example of a book written in dialect I can think of is, Trainspotting by Irvine Walsh which the film by the same name is based on. I love that movie and I totally respect that it was written in Welsh dialect but ain’t nobody got time for that! LOL! I had to watch the film with subtitles!

But back to Zora. See, when I was a teenager, I was already walking around thinking I was better than other Black students because I thought I acted and spoke the way I was taught was acceptable and appropriate. And although I hated reading dead White people classics, I never said a word in protest about it. By 9th grade I had already started reading Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Angela Davis’ collections of Short stories and Terry McMillan and I was very proud and feeling myself about that. But that just meant I was a snobby Black chick. I couldn’t stand Donald Goines and a lot of the work that came from what was at the time,  just developing “Black lit” genre from publications such as Triple Crown. I never read Zane or Push by Sapphire because I didn’t think these writers were worthy of being considered “literature.” Even in an alternative, progressive public charter school that was very subversive in it’s approach to education, I had still developed an idea about what I considered to be good writing that was of course informed by oppressive White supremacist media. I knew what kind of writing flooded the mainstream and occupied the majority of my YA bookshelf and none of them were written by in dialect by Black women.

In America, a young Black person’s learns very early that the only rewards worth anything are the ones we get for aspiring to Whiteness and hating ourselves and one another. Racism never sleeps. Slavery was never really abolished.

Their-Eyes-Were-Watching-God

The introduction of “Their Eyes Were Watching God” in high school impacted me in ways I wasn’t even aware of until now because it was placed on the same level by my teachers with Shakespeare, Salinger and Harper Lee. In addition to Romeo and Juliet, we also read and did a class production of scenes from “A Raisin in the Sun.” We read “Down These Mean Streets” by Piri Thomas who grew up in the same neighborhood in Spanish Harlem where I attended high school. This was a rough book for me to get through as well, more because of the content than anything else but when I look back on it, I remember appreciating some it’s rawest moments the most.

As a huge fan of reading, if I hadn’t been exposed to these books as a teenager I might have tied myself to the notion that great fiction and literature could only look and sound one way or only be produced by a certain class of Black people. The fact that most of us are not exposed to these writers until college is no coincidence. Self hatred in Black people is a seed planted by institutional and systemic racism that historically has always been bent in one way or another on creating slaves.

Thanks to resources like CREADnyc.com, which I am continually proud to be a part of and the brilliant educators and writers there as well as Decolonizing Education Publishing which was created to empower Black children with sociopolitical consciousness and yes, thanks to the Cheeto in Chief, those who have dedicated themselves to Black revolution are providing integral entry points to the dismantling, diminishing and dencentering  of White supremacy.

Much like Janie, in “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” Black people are the world and the heavens boiled into one drop. We don’t need to conform, convert or assimilate in order to be worthy of love, equity and humanity. We never have.