The Black Girl Magic Lit Mag Horror Issue

One of my writing goals for 2016 was to do more fiction writing. I’ve been having several short stories swirling around in my head. I’ve received a lot of rejection emails. So, I was pleasantly surprised when Black Girl Magic Lit Magazine accepted one of my stories…this past summer. It was a dream come true. I tried again for their horror submissions call, but alas it was not meant to be. I’m not hurt, though. Reading some of the excerpts from the latest issue, I can tell the competition was stiff! So grab their first horror edition. It’s a great way to get some early Halloween scares in 🙂

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Brown Girls Do Ballet

A week later, I’m still staring off into space trying to process Prince’s death. As a proud Gen-Xer, Prince’s music was an integral part of my childhood. The iconic singer’s album “Purple Rain” came out in 1984, right as I was preparing for middle school. Even as a kid, I recognized the magnetism of his music, if I didn’t understand it completely (or catch onto all the sexy double entendres that Prince was notorious for).

Since his passing, there have been numerous articles/tributes honoring the singer. One article that stood out to me looked at Prince’s relationship with women entertainers. Prince seemed to have a genuine respect and admiration for talented women. This is not to say he was perfect. He did tend to engage in colorism in the women he choose to promote and was said not to be the greatest guy to be in a professional (or intimate) relationship with, but overall he did go out of his way to highlight exceptional women.

One person he is credited with giving shine to is Misty Copeland, the first black woman ballerina to be a principal dancer in the American Ballet Theater in over 75 years.

How Prince Gave Ballet Star Misty Copeland Her Big Break http://www.sfgate.com/entertainment/the-wrap/article/How-Prince-Gave-Ballet-Star-Misty-Copeland-Her-7294782.php

The popularity of Copeland has created an increased interest in black female ballerinas. Copeland’s journey has been particularly inspiring to little black girls who rarely see themselves reflected in the world of ballet. The organization Brown Girls Do Ballet goal is to provide space for black girl ballerinas and other girls of color.

“Brown Girls Do Ballet® is a start-up organization dedicated to promoting diversity in ballet programs through various media platforms, training resources, and an exclusive network in the world of ballet. The mission of Brown Girls Do Ballet® is to help increase participation of underrepresented minority populations in ballet programs through organizing and arranging ballet performances and providing resources and scholarships to assist young girls in their ballet development and training.” http://www.browngirlsdoballet.com/

If you scroll the website, the images of all the brown girls in their poses/outfits is beautiful and touching. Almost makes me wish I was a little girl again. Never mind the fact that I have two left feet 🙂

See Prince what you started…Rest in Peace.

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SheaMoisture: Break the Walls

10 years ago, I went natural.

I decided I was sick of having to get up early on Saturday mornings for hair appointments and sitting for hours for a style that lasted only a couple of weeks.

I also wanted to give my hair a break from chemicals.

Sometimes I wear braids or curly wigs when I want a fuller/longer look, but I keep my own hair happily kinky.

Like most black women, I went through a ton of products after going natural. Eventually, I started using SheaMoisture. The products are pricey, but have been great for my hair.

Recently, the company aired the commercial “SheaMoisture: Break the Wall.” I had to laugh when I saw it, because the commercial looks at what black women often talk about..our small “corner” of hair products in stores.

Some folks have found the ad patronizing. Poor black women have to go to the ethic aisle, as if there is something wrong with that. And/or think it’s just a way to attract mainstream (white women’s) dollars. White women won’t feel “scared” to go to the ethnic aisle if the products are in the regular “beauty” aisle.

What do you think?

Favorite Things-3

A couple of weeks ago, I tried to make a sweet potato pie.

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I got the ingredients
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I did some boiling
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I misread the recipe and found myself with a mess. Wonk, wonk 😦

I should’ve known it was going to be a flop. I accidentally grabbed yams instead of sweet potatoes from the store. Yes, there is a difference 🙂

In any case, I was happy to recently come across a new zine called “Cooking With Mama, A Soul-Food Zine” by Patricia Jones.

“A legacy in a ladle: 
I was born in California, my mother was born in Kentucky, and her mother was born in Alabama. These recipes traveled with these women and they continue to nourish our family as I pass them on to my daughters. The most important ingredient of each of these meals is without a doubt Love. Cook these meals with the people you love in mind, including yourself. The flavor begins there. Bare in mind, these recipes are very traditional. There are not many quick shortcuts in here. You can’t be scared. No dippin your toes in, you got to put your foot in it.” -Mrs. Jones https://www.etsy.com/shop/PaperMulatta

The “Cooking With Mama… zine brings together my love of eating/recipes (y’all know I’m a foodie 🙂 and zines. This zine is definitely one of my favorite things this season. It would make a great gift for the foodie/DIYer in your life!!

I will be going on winter break starting today and will return early January. It’s been hard these last few weeks for folks across the country. This is a time to connect with loved ones, regroup and keep pushing ahead in 2015.

*Here is the recipe I tried to make. Maybe y’all will have better luck than me. 

No-Fail Sweet Potato Pie (I failed..haha 😉

3 sweet potatoes

3 eggs

1/2 cup evaporated milk

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

Dash of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 store-bought ready to bake 10-inch pie

Scrub the sweet potatoes but do not peel. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the sweet potatoes and boil until tender when pierced with a fork, 30 to 40 minutes; the timing will depend on the size of the sweet potatoes. Drain well, let cool, and peel. Place the sweet potatoes in a bowl and mash with a potato masher until no lumps remain. Measure out 2 cups; reserve the remainder for another use.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs until blended. Add the 2 cups mashed sweet potatoes and beat well. Stir in the milk until well mixed, then gradually beat in the sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. Add the vanilla and stir well. Taste and adjust with a little more spice, if you like.

Pour the sweet potato mixture into the pie crust. Bake until the center is firm and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool before serving.

Makes one 10-inch pie; serves 6 to 8.

 

Favorite Things-2

These days there is a better selection of toys/books for Black children. If I had children, I would probably indulge them and buy everything.  Check out my favorite things for the young folks in your life 🙂

1) Little Miss Rue – Zuri Doll: I heart QuellyRue’s designs. As a fellow DIY (Do It Yourself) creative, I respect all the hard work she puts into her handmade products. She recently introduced dolls into her line. Little Miss Rue is adorable and looks oh so cuddly 🙂

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Photo from: http://www.quellyrue.com/product/zuri

2) “Flying Lessons” written and illustrated by Kayin A. Talton Davis: I actually got  a chance to interview Davis for a project, a year or so ago. She was very nice and has a lot of passion for her work. Her book “Flying Lessons” was inspired by the “The People Could Fly” a book about slaves who possessed magical powers to fly away to freedom.

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Photo from: http://shop.soapboxtheory.com/products-page/paperworks/flying-lessons/flying-lessons-a-lola-and-luella-adventure/

3) Doc McStuffins Puzzle: Whenever I give toys/books to toy drives, I make sure to provide culturally diverse items.  I came across the “Doc McStuffins” line by accident. I had never heard of the show, probably because I don’t have a lot of kids in my life. The creator of McStuffins, is actually a non-black woman. The show/merchandise is also promoted by Disney who I am usually giving the side eye to.  But how can you resist such a needed character in Black children’s lives?  I’ll give this one a slight pass 😉

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Photo from: abcpartyideasforgirls.org

 

Sista in the Brotherhood

A few days ago, I went to see the play “My Walk Has Never Been Average.” The play looks at the lives of black tradeswomen.

“My Walk Has Never Been Average, written by Roberta Hunte and Bonnie Ratner, is a multi-media presentation based on the lives of women whose stories are never told. Adapted for the stage from in- depth, first-person interviews with 15 Black women in trades, labor and crafts, these stories reveal great inner strength and accomplishment in the face of the multiple oppressions facing Black working class women in America. These are stories of families and communities, of fighting for survival and achieving success, and of relationship dynamics when women move out of nontraditional roles.” 

I laughed, got a little misty eyed, and did a lot of signifying with other black women in the audience. It was a great experience.

I was happy to hear Roberta Hunte (professor/co-writer of the play) has decided to make a short film on the same subject matter.

“We are excited to bring to life our short tradeswoman film! The story is about a young black tradeswomen named Laniece as she arrives at her new job site. Though she is eager to work, her co-workers are less than welcoming. She struggles and in a moment of difficulty, she must figure out how to rise above her situation. The film reflects the experience of many tradeswomen, but also, it also touches on the wider theme of personal transformation–with a dash of humor.” https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dawnjones/sista-in-the-brotherhood

She has started a Kickstarter campaign I love a good DIY (Do It Yourself) project.

Support if you can 😉

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Kevin Hart is anti-black woman

The unfunny “comedian” Kevin Hart continues to show his disdain for black women, particularly those of the darker hue. In a recent interview with Playboy he tried to justify his disparaging remarks about black women:

“I’m not a political guy. I don’t really deal with Democrats or Republicans. I don’t find that funny. And I don’t talk about the gay community, be it male or female. No thank you! It’s such a sensitive subject. I’ve seen comics get into serious trouble by joking about gay people. It’s too dangerous. Whatever you say, any joke you make about the gay community, it’s going to be misconstrued. It’s not worth it.

Listen, that was just me being silly on Twitter, playing on a trending topic. Some people were offended by it, but that’s always a risk with comedy. Nobody’s going to find everything funny. I didn’t feel I had to apologize for something that was misconstrued and taken out of context. I have no ill will toward women, not dark-skinned women, not light-skinned women. I was just being silly. I’m a comedian. Being silly is my job; it’s how I pay my bills.”

Obviously, I don’t think he should start insulting the gay community. However, he contradicts himself with his statement.  Basically, he is saying that humor should not be politically correct and black women should learn to take their “lumps.” BUT the gay community is off-limits because he doesn’t want to get into trouble. But shouldn’t all folks be fair in love and war, since that is what he is arguing?  Also, he doesn’t think he will get into trouble insulting black women?  I find that interesting. I think a lot of black male celebrities know they can get away being offensive towards black women, because of our status in this racist/sexist society.

Sadly, some black women agree with him:

“One has to wonder if black women should chalk up his comments as comedy, especially when we’re being used as the subject matter. Would people be happy if he started to tell jokes about gay people and stopped telling ones about dark-skinned women? Or, better yet, should Hart tell jokes about dark-skinned LGBT women and men? Thankfully we live in a world where free will exists. If people truly find Hart offensive, it’s just as easy to stop supporting what offends you.” Kevin Hart Claps Back Against Allegations of Hating Dark-Skinned Women

I think a lot of black women have absorbed the anti-black woman/anti-black racism that is currently dominating the entertainment industry.  Also, looking at the writer’s picture, she is not a very dark-skinned black woman. I think people do not understand the abuse and hostility very dark-skinned black women receive in this country. We don’t need an unfunny “comedian” trying to get his fame/project his low-self esteem on us too.

Black women should not let unfunny Kevin Hart continue to think it’s okay to drag us in mainstream media. Even our black girl children aren’t safe:

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Hart mocks actress Quvenzhané Wallis on Saturday Night Live.

Things black women can do:

Boycott “Think Like A Man Too” (it will probably be on bootleg soon, anyway)

Let BET know you are upset Kevin Kart has a show on their network
(I know, I know BET the prototype for degrading black women, but give it a shot):
Black Entertainment Television
BET Networks
1235 W Street, NE
Washington, D.C. 20018-1211
202-608-2000
Hart is also on twitter,
so you can let your displeasure be know personally: @KevinHart4real

Black Feminist Film School Fellowship Fund

I love interesting DIY (Do It Yourself) crowdfunding projects.  I came across the Black Feminist Film School Fellowship Fund on Facebook. They are so close to their goal. Support if you can 🙂

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“The answer, the vision, the liberation. Black Feminist Film School is an initiation journey that will transform all involved toward love and light. I invite you to join in and support in the ways that make sense for you….Black Feminist Film School Summer Session (bffs Summer Session) will take place June – August 2014. We will be focusing on building skill and practice as Black Feminist storytellers using the filmmaking medium and accompanying art forms. Within the three month session we will cover all phases of filmmaking including research and writing, pre-production, production and post-production.” http://www.alexispauline.com/apgblog/cause-view/support-the-black-feminist-film-school-fellowship-fund/

I have a lot of respect for Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs. She’s an amazing young artist/organizer/radical activist. She is also a fellow zinester.  I have the SPEAK! CD that she and fellow women of color zinesters created a few years ago.   It should be added to folks DIY collection. Check out this great interview with Dr. Gumbs:


 

The Pamphleteer Project

I heart zines and Indiegogo campaigns, so you know I’m feeling The Pamphleteer Project:

“HI! MY NAME IS MARYA– I’m the founder of ABQ Zine Fest, (now in its 4th year) The Albuquerque Zine Library, and a co-founder/curator of The Tannex, a DIY performance clubhouse, in this outpost, in the high desert of New Mexico. I love my creative community, and I do a lot to support and nurture it. I’m asking for your support as I embark on a new project that expands my love for zines, self-publishing, and storytelling . . .THE PAMPHLETEER PROJECT MISSION: to help diversify existing zine collections, or help establish new ones by presenting women/feminist focused, people of color influenced, gender-inclusive zines and comics to groups and collectives around the world.” https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-pamphleteer-project

I have met Marya a couple of times at zine festivals. She’s a great writer, researcher, and artist. I love her Mocha Chocolata Momma zine (isn’t the name da bomb…yes breaking out my 90’s slang).

Y’all know I’m big supporter of DIY (Do It Yourself) folks, so help Marya if ya can! She has some nice perks! 🙂

Hav Plenty & Medicine for Melancholy

As y’all know, I’m not big into romantic comedies. I tend to find them cliché. However, I do try to give black romantic films/romantic comedies a chance. I do think more black love stories need to be told.  A few days ago, I came across the old 1997 (1998?) film “Hav Plenty” on Netflix. The film was part of the big explosion of black movies in the 90’s (“Set It Off,” “Boyz in the Hood, “Just Another Girl On the IRT,” “Love Jones,”  “Soul Food,” etc.) Unlike the beloved romantic comedy “Love Jones,” Hav Plenty tends to be forgotten.

While I will always heart “Love Jones,” Hav Plenty is a more charming movie. It’s an indie film with an obvious low-budget. The film also tweaks the cliché love story line. Hav Plenty was written, produced and directed by Christopher Scott Cherot:

“Lee Plenty is an almost broke would-be novelist and Havilland Savage is rich and very beautiful woman and his friend. When she invites him to her home for New Year’s Eve, they start to build up a romance.”  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0126938/plotsummary?ref_=tt_ov_pl

Cherot does a good job playing the funny and sarcastic Lev Plenty (it’s also bizarre he kind of looks singer Christopher Williams and they have the same first name!)  The beautiful Chenoa Maxwell plays Havilland Savage (she currently stars on the reality TV show “Crazy.Sexy.Life”). Throughout the film, the two characters engage in witty banter as a way to hide their true feelings for each other.

The film holds up well after all these years. I kinda wish that the film had been given a wee bit bigger budget. It looks horribly cheap in some scenes. But then again, the charm of the film/genuine moments are due to the lack of budget…so what can ya do. One of my favorite scenes is when Plenty is sitting in the car and looks at Havilland wistfully as she walks away. Damn. We’ve all been there.  I still teared up a bit on that part 🙂

It was strange how Cherot disappeared after this film. As a matter of fact, I Googled and found an old  “where are they now” article with a focus on Cherot. After reading the update I believe that  (1) sometimes folks are meant to do that one amazing thing and that’s it.  It doesn’t mean they are a failure, it’s just that they did what they were supposed to do and that’s okay.  (2) it speaks to the challenges faced by indie black directors and the fact that things have only gotten a little better (3) perhaps, Cherot forewarned his future in film making with his ending line in Hav Plenty “I got the deal and the girl and I only sold out a little bit. It’s what I wanted…right?” 😉

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After I watched Hav Plenty, I also watched “Medicine for Melancholy.”  “Medicine…” is a contemporary black love story. It’s another charming indie film by director Barry Jenkins. Medicine for Melancholy came out in 2009. The film follows Micah (Wyatt Cenac) and Jo’ (Tracey Hegginswho decide to spend the day together, after a one night stand. Micah is feeling Jo,’ but Jo’ has a boyfriend. Ouch. I liked “Medicine for Melancholy” because it also tweaked the love story narrative.  It’s unique, because yes it’s about two folks jonezing on each other, but the film also explores how black love can be affected by gentrification, racism, and interracial relationships.  Particularly, if you are two young black hipsters living in San Francisco.  I also liked that tweak of the love story, as we rarely see films about black hipsters/alternative black folks. 

My only compliant with both films is the underdevelopment of the black female love interests. The films are still worth checking out, though.  Especially for folks like me who aren’t big into romantic movies. You won’t feel too icky, after watching these two films 🙂