Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Would you wear these?

Listen. I am from Detroit. And you know how we do when it comes to our gators. Now, I love gators just as much as anybody else from where it gets cold enough to literally freeze your tongue off in January -- you know, cities like Detroit, the Chi and Cleveland immediately come to mind; they're also known for their gator repertoire, too.

There are levels to this gator shit. I mean. Biggie did rap about 'stank pank' gators, right? And usually, that means pink cotton candy colored gators to match the pastel pink suit, mkay? I digress ... But this ... I draw the line at this foolishness.

I have worn snakeskin, eel and all kinds of reptiles (come for me, PETA, and trust you will get molly whopped with a mink-covered fist). But I will be damned if I wear a baby crocodile with waving legs with a sole and some shoe laces on my damn feet. 

I am so confused. Did they forget there was a dead alligator with teeth and a tail  ... on their foot? 

That gator life ain't for er'ybody. They don't set you back a mortgage payment -- or two -- for this nonsense. But y'all can have this foolishness right here. This is NOT Detroit gator approved. This is not what Biggie meant.

I. Can't!

Oprah goes 70s glam

Friday, September 25, 2015


This is how you shut down the Internet. #slay #VeraWang  #WhiteHouseStateDinner

Monday, September 21, 2015

Actress Viola Davis makes history

Congratulations to Actress Viola Davis for becoming the first African American woman to win an Outstanding Actress in a Drama Emmy for her role as Annalise Keaton in the hit Shonda Rhimes' blockbuster, 'How to Get Away with Murder.'

Not only was her speech moving (see below) but she also referenced Harriet Tubman, wearing a chic short natural hair style.  Say it, Viola! I am here for ALL of this.

"In my mind, I see a line. And over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line. But I can’t seem to get there no how. I can’t seem to get over that line." That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s. And let me tell you something: The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there. So, here’s to all the writers, the awesome people that are Ben Sherwood, Paul Lee, Peter Nowalk, Shonda Rhimes. People who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black. And to the Taraji P. Hensons and Kerry Washingtons, the Halle Berrys, the Nicole Beharies, the Meagan Goodes, to Gabrielle Union. Thank you for taking us over that line. Thank you for the Television Academy. Thank you."
Davis wasn't the only African American actress who won last night; Regina King snared an Emmy for American Crime, and Uzo Aduba's earned a second Emmy for Orange Is the New Black. Congrats to the winners! 

And let's be clear: The Emmy's has ALWAYS had a problem with accepting and recognizing actors of color. Historically, it has been a pat on the head -- Black and brown faces in the audience, but very few go home with that statuette. And let's not even talk about the lack of Emmy-worthy roles that go to Black actors and actresses in the first place.

This is what made the wins -- and Davis' acceptance speech -- so powerful.  And this image:


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Lupita rocks it out on the cover of Vogue

In case you missed the slayage ...

Might as well rename Vogue to Lupita. Because Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o KILLED her second cover of the fashion magazine. I mean. The fierceness. Swoon.

If there's one Vogue cover you have to buy, it is this one.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

I'mma die at Zumba

This Zumba lady is trying to kill me.

I promise you that's what went through my head as I skipped and hopped across the floor, stopped, rolled my hips, popped my butt and did the samba ... all on beat ... at my Saturday Zumba class. I mean. Everything started out fine.

Latin rhythms and Caribbean music pulsed from the speakers. I was feeling myself as Jamaican music implored me to 'Wind it, girl'  and Flo-Rida told met to "Lift it, drop it, shake it, pop it" 5 minutes in, along with a slew of sexually suggestive lyrics.

OK. Heeeeeyyyy, now!

I can do this, I thought. I am 40, but ba-bay. I used to break it down .... back in the day. Well, actually a long, long time ago. But I digress. We did not call it twerking back then. But we used to ahem... drop it low.. freaking on the dance floor. This is how I know there's a God. Because there is no video evidence of my foolishness to haunt me or make my kids throw up.

And so now I'm Zumbaing (is this even a word?). Making it work. Getting this workout in. I'm in the back of the class (this is only my third Zumba class in life and ain't no way on earth am I going in the front). I'm feeling good. Like, I got this. Our teacher is Black, lithe, little and in her 30s, I think. So I try to keep up with her, not the older Asian women to my left. Sorry.

I did my best to keep up. 

Some of the moves were very 90s hip hop inspired. I am too old to remember any of the dance's names. But trust me, I did them at some point. I swear, we did a 2015 version of the Kid 'N Play. And Bey would have been proud of how I popped it on that Zumba floor. All I was missing was a chair.

I felt good.

But by 15 minutes in, I wanted to choke Sean Paul's ass for telling me to "Feel Alright." Fuck him. And by 30 minutes in, I wanted to kick my own ass. Then I remembered that I am about to turn 41. No, my body began reminding me. Whomever sang "These hips don't lie" never met these 40-year-old hips.

Damn you, too, Shakira.

But then, the more complicated routines came.

Standing kicks across the room.
Salsa it out.
Pop it.
Work your butt.
Booty bounce.

Shit. Don't I get a break? I am quite sure Zumba is going to kill me, literally.

At one point, myself and two Black women to my right just stopped and sweated. We were out of breath. Damn the little skinny ass Zumba instructor telling us to "Work it!" as she flitted around the room effortlessly. The Asian women on my left had stopped a long time ago.

I am super competitive. And Lord knows my heart. I tried. But I was sweating like a pig. And my knees started to hurt. And my sports bra was failing the girls and I was getting boobie whip lash.

I was struggling and needed Zumba life support. 

I thought someone might have to do CPR at some point. I quickly tried to scan the room to see if there was a defibrillator in the room on standby just in case I needed it. And I had left the baby Aspirins in my purse, in the trunk of my car. DAYUM! This is NOT how I wanted to go out.

In my mind, this is how I wanted to Zumba. I got Zumba dreams and aspirations, you see.

But in real life, it was more like this:

My heart rate craved the "breaks" where all we did was move our arms and slowly swerve our hips like we were werking an imaginary pole. By then, the hour-long class was over. Thank you, Jesus. There is a God. My heart rate was still up, and my knees still ached. I can't pop it like I used to. I left class and sat on the weight machines. The instructor walked by, smiled and said,

"Good job."

At that point, my face was even hurting. Not to mention my ass. But I managed to whisper, "Thank you" and mustered a weak smile.

I hobbled home. My husband took one look at me and said, "What's wrong with you?"

"Zumba," I said through clenched teeth.

"Do you need a massage?" he asked.

I did, but I said no. Too proud.

"Maybe I'll show you some of my Zumba moves," I said. Then I crawled into bed and fell asleep.

My body won't let me forget the torture, and I'm feeling it this morning.Where's the Aspercreme and epsom salt? And I just might take my husband up on that massage offer. But no Zumba moves for him just yet. Not sure if my knees and back can take it.

And there's another Zumba class at 4:30 today. Lord, help me.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Are Blacks in America culturally appropriating African culture by wearing African prints and tribal marks?

I wore a dashiki today. And I adore African fabrics. I am a Black American. And my hair is kinky. Am I appropriating African culture?

An article in ThesePeople.com says that I am: “Black America, please stop appropriating African clothing and tribal marks.” 

Wait. I did not see any of this ish coming. Like none of it. I feel some kind of way about this. Because I do not feel that Black people can culturally appropriate each other. I am Black. Usually, I am mistaken for African. I consider it a compliment; fine with me. But to say that I'm appropriating African culture, when I am African American? Hold up. This ain't Rachel Dolezal we're talking about. I am not Rachel.

And to say that I’m appropriating African culture. Wait. Whuh? Dayum! Last I checked, I was Black. 

When no one was claiming anything African
Let’s back this up a bit. 20 years ago, no one wore African prints (well, very few,with the exception of conscious folks). And 30 years ago, I can remember it clearly: A kid who called you African on the playground meant those were fighting words (it’s not right, but it is what it is). To be called an ‘African booty scratcher’ was the highest form of disrespect in a kids’ world.

No one wanted to be associated with African; it was an insult (we were all brainwashed). We were the,"We are the World" generation. And nobody was checking for anything African.

Fast forward a few decades, and African prints and tribal fashions are ALL the rage. Fashion designers from Ghana and throughout the continent are hawking their African print maxi skirts, dashiki maxi skirts and African print dresses and skirts. High fashion. I'm not mad at them. They’re on mainstream runways, too, with many designers of all colors openly embracing the prints and fabrics of Africa.

And we’re wearing our hair kinky, too. And for the first time in my life, we’re embracing all of our skin tones – from the bluest black to the cocoa and coffee colors. Yaaasss! I'm seeing all kinds of memes positively supporting our African culture. And I am here for it. 

But this article is troubling, to say the least.
There’s long been this divide, a rift, between Africans and African Americans, Black Americans, Afro Americans (take your pick on the name). We’re separated by familial ties and oceans. And stereotypes have flown on both sides of the oceans for as long as we have co-existed on different shores.

‘I’m not African,” says the Black American.

‘Blacks are lazy,’ said the African.

Is this another attempt at division? 

I’ve chosen to embrace our similarities, our common ties, not our supposed differences. Cause one thing for sure, folks certainly won’t mistake me for European. And Africans and Blacks in America certainly have more in common than not. We were taught to hate the very thing that links us both together.

And so the entire article left me feeling some kind of way, as if it was reaching. The article essentially says Black folks in America have no affiliations; I beg to differ.

Which is why this article is so confusing to me. How do you know I’m not African? Did you do a DNA test? And do Africans feel some kind of way when they see me wearing African prints? This is a VERY slippery slope, because what’s next?

Am I appropriating African hair because my hair is kinky? What about skin color? My skin is the color of cocoa? Am I appropriating that, too? I like Jamaican food. Is that appropriating, too? I'm not mad at the African fashion designers making serious money because these fashions are now in vogue. 

I mean. Where does this end? One definition of cultural appropriation is profiting off another culture while not recognizing them as the source, failing to give credit. Is it wrong if you buy these items from African vendors or from companies that get their fabrics from Africa, which is stimulating their economies? 

And then I think about hair products. Is buying Shea Moisture appropriation? What about buying shea butter from Africans at flea markets? Is that appropriation, too? Where exactly does this end?

If anything, I wonder what will happen when African fabrics are no longer "trendy" and the companies in Africa that make these will have less business. That's a real concern.  

I get the concerns, the nuances. I’d never wear anything ritual or holy; that’s not my lane and I would never disrespect the culture or any culture as such. But what if wearing African fabrics causes me embrace that side of me as a Black person? What if it connects me to the African part of my history, my being? Makes me feel closer to something that was once shunned? Is it wrong if a Black woman in the U.S. buys an African print maxi skirt and uses it as a learning opportunity to learn more about the culture? How is that wrong?

I mean, Raven Symone still walking round here talking about she's 'American.' Whatever, Raven.

Where do we draw the line?
Am I culturally appropriating when I wear Aztec prints? Is anyone mad about that? Where exactly is the line drawn here? Cause I want to know.

Listen. We still got work to do. Cultural appropriation is a convo that needs to be had …. Among white folks. Not among us. We need to save some of the vitriol for the folks who wanna be Black until it's time to be Black ... and making bank, too. You know, the Justin Biebers, Kardashians (all 'em) and the Miley Cyrus' of the world). 

And, if anything, we need to check the fashion designers who trot out African fabrics and prints on the runways on non-Black models. If there's an example of appropriation, this would be it, IMO.
Africans and Africans in America are both marginalized. So let me be clear: Black folks culturally appropriating each other shouldn’t even be apart of this conversation.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Stevie Wonder and the braid chop heard 'round the world, well, maybe not

The Internet is a mofo.

No sooner than we thought Stevie had cut that struggle ponytail of his (I know), now we find out that it's not true. Listen. Cut Stevie a lil' slack. I mean. He is blind and all. Now don't get me wrong. I gave a handclap of praise when I thought he did a braid chop. Just because. I did a slow clap.

I mean, I do not know who is stylist is ... just sayin'. And I know it's hard to let go. We big chop all the time and will hold on to raggedy split ends for dear life. I get it. But Stevie, tho! He's blind. Someone needs to tell him.We owe a debt of hair gratitude to the musical genius who created 'Songs In the Keys of Life.'

We can't let him go out like that. Still, I'm mad that we got fooled us big time. I do not like folks playing with my feelings. These memes ain't loyal. Stevie ain't cut ish. That domed struggle braid is still there.

Does Stevie have no friends? He can't. Can your kids or your boo not tell you gently ... It is time to let the braid locs go? I mean. Love Stevie and all. Love him. But nawl. Them braids -- and that bald spot -- are still there. Carry on. Stand down, Internet. Damn, you.