All posts by Urban Eve

About Urban Eve

I'm a Black woman in a white washed world which is shifting gradually and beautifully into consciousness. I have an overdeveloped sense of play, a love of nature, art, photography fashion, literature, irreverence, irony. I am a late bloomer, a girly woman, a sado-sensualist, a pleasure cooker, a shedonist, a huge film fanatic, lover of DIY craft and the endless gifts of nature. I love that I was born a Black Woman because there are no limit to the potential I will unfold and manifest through my re-connection to my rich, broad, magical, spiritual history and ancestry, through research, community, nature, prayer, imagination and creativity. I like being still, moving swiftly and creating instinctively.

My Black Woman Halloween Costume on a Budget

I’m a Black woman.

I’m on a budget.

I have always loved Halloween.

I wouldn’t be caught dead at the Halloween Parade these days.

I’m not necessarily sure I want to be present at whatever corny Halloween shenanigans my company it doing.

Basically, I just want to sit at my desk and roam the streets in a costume on Halloween.

LMAO!!!

And this year, I’ve figured out a way to do that.

Seat at the tableI’ve decided to be Solange on the iconic cover of her hit album, “A Seat at The Table.”

Think of it.

All I need is a wig, some duckbill clips and I don’t even have to wear any make-up (right, like I’m leaving my home without make-up). I can judge the people who don’t know who I’m dressed as and high five and kiki with those who do all while honoring a great album and a talented Black artist, sitting back, looking cute and not having to fiddle with an stupid mask, glitter everywhere, bunny ears (though I like some bunny ears) or anything that sticks out, melts, falls down or needs to be constantly adjusted.

I’m weary of the ways of the world.

Now everyone will know!

LOL!!

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“You Hate All Black People As Much As You Hate Yourself”

How many ways can a person say racism is the real bread and butter of our American mythology, and in how many ways will the racists among our countrymen act out their Turner Diaries race war fantasy combination Nazi Germany and Antebellum South – states which, incidentally, lost the wars they started, and always will, precisely because there is no way those white racisms can survive the earth without the rest of us types upholding humanity’s best, keeping the motor running on civilization, being good, and preserving nature and all the stuff worth working and living for?

-Kara Walker

As a Black person, going to see an art exhibit by a Black artist means that you will be surrounded predominantly by White people who like to discuss form, line, light and composition rather than content. I’ve only gone to see exhibitions lately that are pretty hardcore in their examination and critique of the atrocities committed by White people on Black and Brown people so I’ve had to get used to tunneling through and stepping in front of White bodies, avoiding White gazes and just taking in the work without letting my feelings of disgust, anger, violence and sadness overcome me.

Kara Walker 2

Kara Walker’s show at the Sikkema Jenkins & Co in Chelsea left nothing to be speculated on as far as what her subject matter expressed. The ugliness, the horror, the perversion and sickness of White racism, bleeds off of every piece. There were a couple of pictures I took of images, which I still cannot post on social media because they are for me, too triggering.

22291465_10155718930603149_5363872275001101401_oWhen I think of what it must take for Walker to get these images on the paper, mentally, psychologically, spiritually I can only hope that it serves as a form of catharsis. I don’t know how White people take in images like this casually, and I try not to preoccupy myself for too long, wondering how. My guess is that it’s the same way they can imagine that anything about America’s history as it has been taught for so many years could possibly be built on anything but lies, genocide, murder and hate.

After passing through a large room of about 5-6 of the large scale hand cut paper silhouette pieces Walker has become well known for, full of the darkest, most disturbing indictment of White Racist violence via chattel slavery and the modern day products of it I have seen since Kerry James Marshall, I came into a room of more traditional sized framed pieces filled with dark paint. The first one I looked at had a few snatches of hand scrawled words on it that were hard to make out until I leaned in close.

“You Hate Black People as Much as You Hate Yourself”

It is glaringly obvious who that message is for. There is no question of its authenticity. And it’s frighteningly clear that the truth of this statement has played out from the enslavement of the first of our ancestors until this very minute. This message I feel, is the one which White people are responsible to allow into every pore without the promise of acceptance, forgiveness, sympathy or love from Black or Brown people to keep them from the rawness and destruction of it’s sting.

Because we are beyond apologies now.

The day after I went to see the Kara Walker show, White nationalists in Charlottesville Virginia were on the march again, with lit torches chanting “You will not replace us.”

Later on Dove released an insidiously racist image of a Black woman pulling off her shirt to reveal a White woman’s face and body.

 

And to that I say:

You cannot replace us.

Without us you have only the mirror of your sins to reflect upon.

In her artists’ statement for this show and in her pieces,  it’s obvious that  Kara Walker is clearly fed up. She knows that showing White people to themselves has very little chance of changing anything because up until now it never has. But as Auntie Nina Simone once said, an artists duty is to reflect the times. Because time will always tell.

Thanks to social media and the Cheeto in charge,  though the times haven’t changed much, the ways in which they are being reflected is broad, immediate, often explosive, and perpetually evolving. This is only the beginning.

 

The Only Reason I Can Never a Watch White Person’s Make-up Tutorial

This will be short.

 

BECAUSE BARBIE

BECAUSE BECKY

BECAUSE AMERICA

 

The only reason I started watching youtube beauty tutorials, reviews, GRWM (Get ready with me if you didn’t know) or style vlogs was to see Black women doing it. I mean, initially, I started watching to find my shade twins and see how certain colors, foundations, lipsticks I like, might look on me. But I ended up watching and following Black women across the Diaspora with a broad range of skin colors because we are so gotdamn beautiful and the range of our skin tones is NO LIMIT!!!!!

And I LOOOOOOOOVE watching Black women put on make-up. I just do. I love all the different ways, the reasons, the looks, the attitudes, the approaches.

I clicked on a White chick’s video once but

NAH

NOPE

WHY?

Nothing for me to learn there that I haven’t been working on the daily to unlearn. And I mean personally, it’s just not attractive to me. That’s not what I’m checking for. I’m checking for me. And it’s not to say that White supremacy is not still alive in complex and dangerous ways on the Black channels but at least there I feel like I care about what’s happening. I’m invested, because I am represented.

And I can work from there.

 

 

Have I been Choosing Failure?

Do you know how many times I’ve watched the film The Hustler with Paul Newman and still not understood why some people choose to loose?

Newman Giphy

Never seen “The Hustler?” Never mind. My film fanatics will get it.

But I wanna bring the rest of you in.

Let’s try this:

Beloved are you more committed to your anger than you are to your dreams and pleasure? Observe what happens when you in all your receptivity call upon the passions never expressed. Ignite the bouquet of flowers along your spine. Don’t judge anything. Just observe. 

-From “You Look Like Something Blooming”

By India Ame’ye

I was heading downtown to Brooklyn for an orientation last Saturday morning and unless I truly don’t give a fuck, (and sometimes even then, to be honest) I pride myself on getting to events and meetings on time if I have anything to do with it. But like most people who commute via mass transit in New York, I often have nothing to do with it. Especially every weekend when the MTA decides to put you through train travel hell.

All that to say,  I had transferred to the third downtown train and was pacing in a virtually empty car which crawled along at a snails pace like it had no where to be when I realized I was not going to be on time. In fact I was going to be late. I’ve been is this situation enough times already and it’s always hard for me to avoid getting upset.

I was pissed. I was infuriated. I had to squeeze the hell out of my cellphone just to displace my violent energy into something I couldn’t hurt or destroy. Then I decided to just sit and read this book. Whatever was going to happen would happen. I couldn’t control it. I had done all I could.

All this over being late. I have problems…

And that’s when I read the passage from India Ame’ye. And this is a teeny tiny footnote at the end of page 170.

It occurred to me that YES, I have been more committed to my anger than my hopes and pleasures! And for a looong time! But hearing it, reading it out loud and outside of my own head for the first time just made me think, made me realize how fucking wrong that is. When did that happen? Who would do that?

But there it is. Over identification and investment in anger which is closely connected to fear of failure breeds a kind of lifestyle that always ensures failure. Because no matter what good you have in your life, no matter how talented, how capable, how unique, how worthy you are, if you don’t actually believe in it, you’re not really living, You’re busy avoiding imaginary pitfalls that haven’t happened yet. And even when they do, the idea should never be to hang out in the pitfalls but to learn from them and transcend them. You’re  not supposed to remain perpetually at the starting line watching others race and think you’ve figured out how to never be disappointed by never daring to try.

That sounds extreme. But I think most of us are conditioned to do this in one way or another. We think someone else will do what we need to do and do it better, or that we weren’t meant to do it anyway so why bother?

Where does that kind of thinking originate?

Some of us are conditioned to treat the world as if it could never have existed without us.

I’m not going to give you my specific theories as yet but I will say that a large percentage of it is intentional and systemic.

And I really want to move away from it.

Candle

 

There are many of us who subconsciously dedicate so much time and energy into our own failure through self sabotage. I’m there quite often myself. But as we become more conscious we have to demonstrate an understanding that the terms which we have been conditioned to accept are deeply dysfunctional, unhealthy and totally inauthentic to who we really are. And then go discover who we are by being who we are, in effect,  we have to create ourselves again…

For the first time.

So I was late but I wasn’t turned away as a I feared I would be. And I got exactly what I needed, plus a little bit more which I will happily share in my next entry.

 

How Have I Only Just Discovered Laura James?

I look to art and design a lot for inspiration, motivation and occasionally to improve my mood. And when I say art, I mean anything from fine art to street art, to fashion, to performing art, to the way any medium is crafted to mimic or honor or comment on a vibration that resonates intentionally with the human heart. Like when Migos says ssskrrrrrrt!

I like art that effectively communicates a feeling and expands or explores it. The feeling cannot be contrived with the crude and oppressive language of mainstream or standard commercialization. Obviously, for a series of reasons, not all art is effective in disrupting those destructive normative conditions. And so it’s all the more sweet and priceless and irreplaceable, that feeling when you come upon a work, which connects you squarely to your spirit in it’s execution.

This was how I felt when I came upon Laura James painting of Oshun as I was perusing pinterest for Orishas, which is what I do for inspiration and motivation and to improve my mood when necessary, along with the 7 other things I do at the same time on the internet.

I have a page on my board called “The Originals” where I curate images of Orishas created by artists utilizing all kinds of mediums, interpretations. Visually, Oshun is one of two of my favorite Orishas to see images of.  I don’t want to incur a wrath of jealousy among the others so I won’t say who my other faves are here. But there are sooooooo many! So many depictions of Oshun!

YemeyaGo ahead and google Oshun now and click on the images link. Make sure you come back, although I can understand if you don’t. You got lost in Oshunlandia™. You drowned in Yemeyatopia™.

I GET IT.

 

 

 

Of all the incredible images of Oshun I have collected on Pinterest, this one below just filled me right up and in all the right places.

It’s the colors I respond to initially. I love colors and the way in which a good painter uses color combinations and shades to evoke specific themes, feelings, moods and undercurrents of energy. Laura’s colors are playful but not juvenile. They are unapologetically vibrant and joyful and seem to reference a lot of popular Mexican and Egyptian art.

orisha-OSHUN-by-Laura-James

Then it’s the forms. Laura’s Oshun curves her hip to pop her booty out to the left, her proud breasts jutting out in the opposite direction of her head which is tilted towards an up-stretched arm as she looks down into the water, which she is pouring from a soft pink shell onto the ground. There are also fish being poured from the shell. There are bees buzzing around her yellow clad form, ya know because she’s sweet like honey. The tail of a peacock in a tree on her right hangs down almost to her knee. There are birds gathered in a tree to her left. There are lotus blossoms and lily pads at her feet. the tiny yellow orb in the upper left corner seems to be descending into the blue of a twilight sky. In fact all the plains of the painting, the hills, the ground are painted in the same blue that blue goes shortly before it turns into night. There is purple in the blue. There is yellow in the blue. There is blue in the blue.

The shapes are simple, triangles, ovals, wavy lines. The bottom of her dress blooms out in a series of down turned  lotuses. On her waist is a belt of cowrie shells. Her hair is a rolling network of orange and blue circles that mimic the tale of the peacock.

And the last sweetest detail, a form, which seems to imitate a cloud or gust of wind is a brown face curled in profile looking down over her with an approving smile.

OH, I love this painting!

And lest I forget what looks like a frame of uniquely arranged cowrie shells painted around the entire edge, against an outer frame painted in gold.

I didn’t even know James painted this image of Oshun until last week. The more I looked at it, the more I needed know about the artist but the signature on the low res image I saved was hard to make out. I recognized Laura, made up what I though was her last name and let google do the rest.

Laura James 2.jpg

I learned that she is an Brooklynite of Antiguan heritage! YAAAAAAAAZZZ!!! She Blackity Black! And she has painted a series of religious, spiritual and secular images in the same style. She calls her art, “Art for the People.” I have to keep my eye out for her next show because I would love to see her work  up close. Anything more I turn up or discover about her, I will happily report here.

 

Saving My Coin for Fenty

Full coverage vs serum foundation, blending brushes, transition shades, highlighter, primer, setting powder, eye shadow base, facial serum… Over the summer my obsession with make-up expanded my jargon and practice a great deal. I have gone from the one foundation that I first bought when I first decided I wanted to wear foundation to…I don’t know, like…

10?

That might sound like a lot but I like to experiment. I have had to do a lot of experimenting and sampling to find the products that work best for my skin, my shade and my budget and in the last week or so, I have finally gotten to that point My nightly make-up removal and skin care routine is real and consistent. My morning make-up routine is also a ritual I look forward to literally every morning. Depending on my timing, I might miss out on one or two things but the foundational basics never get skipped. I believe that if you can slay every day, whatever that means for you, you should.

D myricks

So now that I do all of the things and I would like to mention that my make-up routines consists of brands from two amazing Black owned beauty companies, Juvia’s Place, whose eye shadow pigments are incredible and named for cities and locations and monuments from the continent of Africa like Burkina and Gizeh. The highlighter I used on special occasions (and at work, who am I kidding? LOL!) is by Danessa Myricks, part of her Illumunaters powder line in “Gocha Glow.” Danessa reminds me that Black people can never shine too much. The light against the numerous shades of skin we live in is lit for real. Her models are on the next level of Glow Up. And I have never seen any other highlighter that shows up on my face the ways hers does.

 

So of course, now that I have all the make-up arsenal I will need for a while and am no longer shopping around and experimenting, Khalilah drops me a line this weekend that Rihanna’s line of make-up Fenty Beauty is about to drop on September 8th!

So what’s a supposed former make-up junkie to do?

Ignore my idle impulses at Sephora or any other make-up brands online and save my coins for Fenty! I mean duh! It’s Riri! I gotta check it out. I may have all I need but I have to support my girl. At the same time, I also really want to guard against buying anything that looks similar or identical to any make-up I already have. Other than that, I’m excited to see what she has to offer because if it is truly inspired by her wild, playful, intense, out of the box spirit, it’s gotta be good.

Hey Siri, Where Can I go to find Black Joy?

I knew we weren’t going to be able to fly off to an island for vacation this Summer and I was fine with that. There are plenty of great places to go in New York for a decent staycation. I also knew Mercury retrograde would come along and shred our ability to communicate effectively whatever the heck it is we wanted to do during my staycation. And that was fine too. This is not my first time at the Mercury Retrograde rodeo.

What I did not know was that hundreds of unmasked White Racists would take to the grounds of Charlottesville University on Virginia with lit tiki torches, protesting their rights to not be replaced? It seemed inevitable that once they were allowed, (because not one law enforcement officer stepped in try and stop them) the KKK, Masks off Eddie Beuer edition would go on a violent rampage.

My husband and I were was hosting a late lunch with family when it happened and to be quite honest, there was so much going on, that it didn’t sink in for me until they had gone. Khalilah had texted me and I didn’t check the info until later on.

Who wants more salad with Goat Cheese? Who the hell turned over the Taboo hourglass timer before time was up. Image of White men with Tiki torches? …is this a new add for camp gear?

Nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnno.

It’s a trip down racist ass memory lane, the good old boys’ lynching days are back, well never left but most definitely ushered in with no attempt from government or law enforcement to shut it down, call it out, hold it back until blood was spilled and a life was taken. Actually, no, not even then, still to this day, it has not been dealt with. Because it’s never been dealt with. Its been ignored, enabled, perpetuated, supported, maintained, slapped on the wrist…

So naturally my instinct is to wanna get the heck out of town… but where in America is safe for Black person these days?

I like to travel. I like to go on long drives upstate to Nyack, Woodstock Hyde Park and such. And all the time that I have been doing these things, I’ve been aware that the further I get away from NYC the more I am surrounded by uncomfortable Whiteness that I can no longer sidestep the way I have done for years. In just the last couple of weeks, any plans I had to leave the relative safety of my apartment or NYC has been cancelled.

Understand that for me, ever since Travon Martin, and now with this recent Charlottesville event, Whiteness has indisputably come to be mean violence, brutality, terror, fear and a deep psychological sickness. And the struggle to disentangle myself from it’s very deeply destructive and embedded structure is real.

whitness.jpg

My husband and I searched the internets frantically for places to go in New York where Black people lived, owned property, could be seen in community. The best we found was Martha’s Vineyard. But ultimately, anger and frustration and heaviness gave out to weariness and no one wanted to spend that long driving with no concrete idea of exactly where we were going. The Blackest place we could be was in our own neighborhood (Inwood) and in Brooklyn where I was born and a large chunk of my heart still resides. We spent the afternoon there lounging in the magic of nature, the soft breeze, the slowness of pace and nostalgic respite that the Botanical Garden has always been for me. I was frankly shocked at how comfortable I was staying close to home. But then these are some shocking ass times we’re living through and self care for Black and Brown people everywhere, however they can get it, is vital as fuck. It always has been.

Neutrality has been neutralized and there is no longer a place, nor perhaps should there ever have been, a place for White people to be satisfied with simply not having been there on the day when their forefathers decided to institute decades of systematic, mental, physical and spiritual terror on enslaved and descendants of enslaved Africans. Most of my life as a Black woman, I have been open and accepting of most White people (Ha!) thinking that this was a choice I had made rather than an implicit instruction. If I had chosen to be as open and accepting of my own people, I’m certain I would have learned sooner how little choice I was afforded by a majority of White Racists who existed quietly all around me. The good Whites, the liberal Whites, the oblivious, the seemingly harmless Whites in the cut who do nothing, say nothing, plead ignorance because they claim no one told them otherwise, and  in the age of massive social media oversharing and limitless access to information, they remain inactive, dumb, and ultimately dangerous and destructive.

Sigh….

I would totally have asked Siri where we could go to find Black joy but Siri sounds like a White chick to me and she does not sound down for the cause. So I switched her off. I don’t need her. Never really did.

We stayed in the hood and found whatever peace we could there while we could because we will surely need all the energy we can get to gear up for next month. Because August has been crazy…

Guess what September is going to be like?

I Feel Like Something Blooming

Life showed up differently for me when I realized that everything is sex and sexual. Once I learned that, life became dare I say easy or easier. It’s like when you’re watching a movie and begin to cry. You are being penetrated in your heart to trigger tears. Penetration is sexual; the movie scene is going inside you. Ahhh (throat open please). Sitting in nature is sexual. Communicating with a stranger is sexual, as the communication gives rise to the inner body penetration or what we call “feelings.” Watching CNN is sexual; the news either leaves you frustrated, hopeless or pissed off. The information has penetrated and is now inside your body. With that consideration and understanding, when I now eat food or drink something tasty, I sen that excitement, nourishment and joy throughout my body temple.

-India Am’eye

As a girl, without the consciousness or language to express it, I experienced taste and physical touch as sensual and necessary to my most primal reasons for wanting to live. Color, texture and natural/artistic sensory experiences came next. I will even say that I have not had the language to express this or the affirmation of it until reading these lines from “You Look Like Something Blooming.” This book is next on our list as part of the Soul Sistah Series monthly book series and it is blowing my mind. This excerpt is just a little sneak preview, though you can pick it up and start reading anytime.

Continue reading I Feel Like Something Blooming

White People Stories in Black Face

I recently expressed on my Facebook page that I wished Jay-Z would drop a new project from 4:44 every week for the rest of the year. Ya know, just to have something to balance out some of the absurd fuck shit of a nightmare taking place daily in the Whitehouse right now.

Having switched over from Apple Music to Tidal when 4:44 dropped, I get really excited when I tap on the app and see a new video or footnotes for a video from this brilliant project.

Now, I have to say, that although I love this album, Moonlight as a track on it’s own was always my least favorite. It’s the only track on the album I don’t ever really need to hear when I listen to 4:44, not because of the message, which I totally get. It’s just, as a music track, it doesn’t really move me. But see, that’s the genius of 4:44. The visual components to each track, present a deeper read of each one. And the video of Moonlight, which dropped this past week did just that.

A good friend shared the promo from Issa Rae’s IG account with me and I was really excited and delighted to see this tongue in cheek reimagining of “Friends” with an all Black cast, featuring Issa Rae, Jerrod Carmichael, Lil Rey Howery, Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, and Tiffany Haddish. Their theme song was “Friends” by Whodini which I thought was greatness. I was all set to just sit and watch the cast act out word for word what I believe is an actual episode from the dominantly White casted hit show. Watching these actors go through the motions of playing a Black Chandler, Ross, Monica, etc., it became clear how this was also a satire of the show itself. But then it goes even further by following Charmichael offset after a break in the scene.  He discusses the questionable success of this Black Friends version with comedian, Hannibal Buress who doesn’t mince words about his feelings on how far Black people have come in their ability to tell their own stories from their own perspectives.

“You gonna do black ‘Full House’ next? ‘Family Ties?’ Why stop there? ‘Home Improvement?’”

This is where I believe Jay begins to asks the real questions. And it ties right into a conversation I was having with Khalilah this weekend about films like “Girls Trip,” which has received many mixed and conflicting reviews from the Black community (I haven’t seen it yet) and the Netflix movie, “The Incredible Jessica James” (I watched this weekend) which imagines a reality where class, gender and relationships issues are on tap but race is addressed zero times. It’s like the new formula is just put Black people where you normally see White people, be sure to keep some White people in there and wallah! EQUALITY!

We stuck in lala land. Even when we win, we gon lose was a line I didn’t like hearing. It’s a hard truth. I was so anti- “Lala Land” last year, it was ridiculous. I was disgusted that Hollywood was harkening back to the days of old in this day and age as if those good old days were good for anyone else but White people. The fucked up thing is, I like musical films from that time. But uhhh, I didn’t have to not live through that time. Musical films came about as an attempt to distract and entertain Americans living through a brutal depression.

CAN WE PLEASE MOVE THE GENRE FORWARD?

Doris and Lynching

In Peck’s “I am not Your Negro,” the solid case for White people delusion is made with scathingly juxtaposed old Hollywood scenes put up against images of lynching and Black civil rights protesters being beaten and of Dorothy Counts being spat upon by a bunch White children for attending on of the first schools in Charlotte, NC to be integrated.      At the same time that fucking Doris Day was singing in her pristine make believe kitchen set in front of a camera, Black people were literally being killed because they demanded the right to sit at the same food counter with Becky.

In 4:44, Jay Z has interrogated several key systems of oppression and has taken it a step further by questioning what our true voices are. Can everything we do to thrive, to be seen and heard and felt stop being a reaction to what White people do or think about what we do?

Can we see ourselves outside of the oppressors gaze?

 

All for Love and Love for All

Sunday evening found me, my husband, my dad, mom who has been visiting with us for the month of July, my brother and his wife, at the very last show of “The Three Musketeers” at Marcus Garvey Park. The classic play, based on the book by author, Alexander Dumas, was performed, free to the public, by Harlem Classical theater, which I never even knew existed until a few weeks ago. My friend and co-worker, an elder Trini, told me about it and urged me to go. I’m so glad I listened to her and brought the family.

Continue reading All for Love and Love for All