Posts from the ‘Black Society’ Category

Omar Thornton: Casualty of Racism?

From Afro Ink:

For anyone, white, black or otherwise, to walk into a business and murder the occupants, for any reason, is horrifying. No one goes to work expecting to be slaughtered, and my heart goes out to all the families touched by this tragedy.

But we don’t live on the “Little House on the Prairie“. Gone are the days of old fashioned wisdom and the prevailing of cooler heads. Today, we live in a volatile society. People murder each other over nothing, everyday. And it doesn’t take much to push people’s buttons. And if you add a sociopathic personality to that mix, you get a walking time-bomb.

Before the DC sniper shootings, the face of mass shooting culprit was often a white one, but when the shooter is black we rarely stop to think about how racism or discrimination played a role. I think it’s very possible that in the case of Omar Thornton it did–and recent stories have pointed to this fact. We should really have more conversations about Black people, racism, pathology, and sociopathic behavior. The connections could amaze you.

One could say “What does it matter? Innocent people were killed.” But without understanding the link between a violent act and outside factors that lead up to someone to go on a killing spree. That said, it wouldn’t surprise me if instead of asking these type of questions, the media is still focused on the “black man goes and kills people” angle. Sigh.

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Essence Hires a White Fashion Director

Yes, you read that right.

From Fishbowl NY:

The door continues revolving atEssence: now, the magazine has named Ellianna Placas as its new fashion director and Tasha Turner as its new senior beauty editor.

Placas will make her debut with the magazine’s 40th anniversary September issue and will oversee the conception and packaging of Essence‘s fashion coverage, feature stories and multi-platform packages. She began her career in publishing styling cover shoots for 0: The Oprah Magazine. Placas has also worked forUs WeeklyReal SimpleNew York,More and Life & Style.

Former Fashion Editor Michaela Angela Davis had some choice words to say about Essence’s recent decision on her Facebook Wall:

“It’s with a heavy heart I’ve learned Essence Magazine has engaged a white Fashion Director. I love Essence and I love fashion. I hate this news and this feeling. It hurts, literally. The fashion industry has historically been so hostile to black people–especially women. The 1 seat reserved for black women once held by Susan Taylor, Ionia Dunn-Lee, Harriette Cole(+ me) is now-I can’t. It’s a dark day for me. How do you feel?”

….

There is one precious seat at the fashion shows that says Essence the magazine for black women. When asked, “What is your unique perspective for black women?” How is that answered? Even if they got Anna Wintour herself (which editors inside Essence assure me she is NOT) it still would hurt. From a brand perspective there should be a unique lens through which information is filtered…at Essence it is believed that filter is black, female..connected through shared history and soul…I believe we’ve not come far enough for this move.

There’s already been a lot said about this story, so I’ll try to make my comments on this brief. Aside from the most obvious argument–that having a white fashion director at a black women’s magazine raises a few eyebrows–I have to make the point that not hiring Ms. Placas based solely on her race would have been discrimination. But furthermore, Essence has been white-owned for quite some time now, so how surprised can we really be?

I do worry about how having a white fashion editor at a magazine that is supposed to be devoted to the life and style of Black women will effect the magazine’s brand, as Clutch brings up in their write-up on the news.  What does it mean when a magazine for Black women sees fit to have a white fashion editor when there were so many other (black) candidates to choose from? What about her experiences positioned her to become the editor at a Black women’s magazine? And what will she do differently that a black editor wouldn’t have done?

On the other hand, maybe we can’t judge too harshly until we see what Placas does. I’ve heard this argument several times this week, but it’s hard when as a girl I looked to Essence to see images of black beauty and style and I remember wanting to be as regal and as beautiful as the women in the magazine. Essence fashion spreads made me embrace everything that black beauty was and could be.

What does it mean when a new fashion editor of the most popular black women’s magazine didn’t grow up with that experience?

Are Marriage rates trumping our Unemployment rates?

While the rest of the Black Blogosphere is still reeling from that Nightline Faceoff about why Successful Black Women Can’t Find a Man (I guess unsuccessful Black women fare better, whatever that means), I think we’re all failing to pay attention to a bigger issue: why successful Black women can’t find a job.

A friend of mine shared this NY Times chart that shows  how different groups are effecting certain groups of people. Depending on what group you select (Black Women, White men with a degree, Black men without, etc), it shows you the unemployment rate for that group.

For Black women of all levels of education, the unemployment rate is at 11 percent. What bothers me is the gap between White and Black women’s unemployment–the same chart showed that the unemployment rate is just under 6%.

Does anyone see a problem here?

It really does seem as though perhaps Black women are being passed up for jobs that are otherwise going to white women or men. But more troublesome is that we are so stuck on how single Black women are that we don’t stop and reflect on how unemployed we are, which whether we know it or not DOES effect our dating and relationship life; if you’re not gainfully employed, your focus won’t be on finding a man; most times you’re busy hustling trying to find a job that will afford you the time and the money to actually go out and meet someone. And yes, I do think unemployment is why so many Black men are single as well (but no one wants to discuss those numbers either).

Granted, it’s not a sexy topic at all and it’s not one people are writing books about or putting on panels about how Black women can find job. But to me, this is a much bigger issue than whether or not I’ll find a Black man to marry or whether I’ll marry my current partner. To hear other people tell it, you’d think being single and a Black woman was a crisis, but what bothers me is that being single is being presented as a crisis while our unemployment rates are hardly even whispered about. The Economist of all things had a whole article about why Black women are sooo single and yet no article about the fact that some of us can’t find a job? #iCant.

Even though I’ve recently found a new job,  but I went several months without finding something after being laid off in January. But just because I was able to find a job in three months doesn’t mean that there isn’t a Black woman out there who is still looking and wondering how she’ll pay her rent. Let’s deal with that situation instead of berating her for being single (or just not married).

Tyler Perry, step away from the camera.

Last week we found out that Tyler Perry revealed the cast for his film adaptation of for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow was enuf by Ntozake Shange.

Read ’em and weep:

Black Voices has learned that writer/director/producer Tyler Perry has selected the cast for next film, ”For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf.

At last night’s premiere for his latest film, ‘‘Why Did I Get Married Too?,’ the black box-office maverick revealed that the cast will include Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Whoopi Goldberg, Phylicia Rashad, Jurnee Smollett, Kimberly Elise, Kerry WashingtonLoretta Devine and Macy Gray.

Based on Ntozake Shange‘s award-winning 1975 play, the film is scheduled to shoot in June in New York with a possible winter 2010/ 2011 release date.

I’m not even going to go in on the cast for this film nor about Tyler Perry films themselves because I know there are plenty of conversations going on about that. I know that we are all looking at Janet Jackson getting top billing and wondering why she’s there in the first place. I know we’re wondering when Macy Gray became an actress or why one “aight” performance in Precious makes Mariah Carey a capable of playing, say the Lady in Red. And lastly, I know many of us are questioning of Tyler Perry knows what he’s doing with a Shange play in the first place, or if he knew about for colored girls… before Oprah mentioned it that one time at Sunday Brunch.

for colored girls… has a special place in my heart. When I was 17, I had the amazing honor and privilege of spending a whole day with Ntozake Shange in Taos, New Mexico during the Taos Poetry Circus. While there, I participated in her small group poetry workshop where I shared some of my work. I spoke with her in depth about for colored girls… and her inspiration for it.

So when I heard the news that Tyler Perry was directing for colored girls, I was disappointed.  Nzingha Stewart, a black woman director, was originally slated to direct the film adaptation of the play, but all of a sudden I started to see Tyler Perry’s name all over it.

Hmmm. There’s something totally wrong with this picture, and it has nothing to do with Janet Jackson getting top billing.

I’m certainly not convinced that Tyler Perry is the best black filmmaker out there regardless of what his box office sales are. But my biggest problem is he is seemingly unable to give up the reins of power, step away from the camera and allow for other Black screenwriters and directors to have their shine.  What would have been wrong with Nzingha Stewart directing the film and even selecting her the cast by herself while Tyler Perry funded and promoted the project? Nothing, unless he wants to convey the message that he is uncomfortable sharing   the wealth and  the limelight with other (young and/or female) talent.

Precious was not a perfect movie, but if it didn’t show us anything else, it showed that Tyler Perry has the potential to fund the projects of other Black filmmakers and help make them a success. Part of being a leader in any industry is helping other young people rise to the top as well. The Black experience is not a monolith; some of us like myself never grew up with a character like Madea. Because of this, it’s important that we have a large variety of filmmakers who can speak to the myriad of ways a Black person can experience and live in society. Perhaps a successful, wealthy director like Tyler Perry is in a position to support other directors in their projects, but what bothers me more than his so-so movies are his unwillingness to step from behind the camera and let someone else take a crack at it.

All the Scholar Ladies

I came across this great video made by a few students from the Hope Christian School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I love seeing black girls expressing themselves and a positive way, and I’m glad to see it wasn’t another group of kids imitating the video move by Sasha Fierce move.

And I can’t help but be inspired/happy about how their rendition is all about doing well in school. I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did.

(h/t: Just JoNubian)

How You Can Help Haiti. Right Now.

Cross Posted from Rosetta Thurman:

Yesterday, I made my very first donation by text. Tears rolled down my face as I punched in each number on my cell phone. I couldn’t stop crying because I wanted to do more. So much more.

As you all know, on January 12, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti. As a result, the country is in ruins, and more than 100,000 are feared dead. Up to 3 million people could be affected by this earthquake, the worst in 200 years. Given the recent events and devastation brought upon Haiti, I cannot think of anything more important that we can do right now than to lend your voice, efforts, and money to our brothers and sisters in Haiti who are in such desperate need now and will be for the long term. For right now, aid officials are asking folks NOT to collect donated goods as there is no on the ground capacity to distribute unsorted random goods and won’t be for some time. The devastation is such that they also don’t want people going down there independently as roads are closed and not passable. So, the best thing to do right now is to give cash. The quickest way to give is by mobile giving through your cell phone. Here’s how:

* SMS text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross relief efforts
* SMS text “YELE” to 501501 to Donate $5 to Yele Haiti’s Earthquake Relief efforts (Yele was established by recording artist Wyclef Jean)
* Canadian folks can text the word “Haiti” to 45678 (Canada only) on behalf of the Salvation Army in Canada

Your donation goes to the recipient charity, and the donation appears as a charge on your carrier bill. You or your organization can also make a gift to any of these charities that are on the ground providing assistance. The Washington Post has compiled an even more comprehensive list of charities to support.

If you cannot give money, please give your thoughts and prayers to the people of Haiti during this tragedy.

If you cannot give money, please show your support on Twitter or Facebook. Many folks are looking for ways that they can help right now. Please consider updating your status message with something like this:

* Text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross relief efforts. (Facebook)
* Text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross relief efforts. #Haiti (Twitter)

If you are in the midst of planning any events to support the relief effort, please consider collecting MONEY instead of supplies. Governments worldwide are responding to the current disaster by sending search and rescue teams as well as goods. Relief organizations are also ramping up their efforts and sending out calls for support. The best thing we can do from the U.S. right now is to send our thoughts, prayers, and money.

“Yele” means a “cry for freedom.” Let’s please do our part to let them know we hear their cry.

If you’re in Washington, DC, here are a few ways to get involved with relief efforts:

Helping Haiti from the Hill
Thursday, January 14, 2010
6:00-8:00pm
At
Hawk ‘n’ Dove
Upstairs bar
329 Pennsylvania Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20003
Please join us for a happy hour fundraiser to support the emergency relief efforts that are severely needed in Haiti. Each contribution makes a difference, not matter the amount. Donations will be made to the Red Cross and Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti.Helping Haiti from the Hill
Helping Haiti from the Hill

Thursday, January 14, 2010, 6:00-8:00pm

Hawk ‘n’ Dove
Upstairs bar
329 Pennsylvania Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20003

Please join us for a happy hour fundraiser to support the emergency relief efforts that are severely needed in Haiti. Each contribution makes a difference, not matter the amount. Donations will be made to the Red Cross and Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti.
Crisis Camp Haiti

Saturday, January 16, 2010 from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

This Saturday, CrisisCamp will bring together volunteers to collaborate on technology projects which aim to assist in Haiti’s relief efforts by providing data, information, maps and technical assistance to NGOs, relief agencies and the public. This event is free and open to the public. You don’t have to be technical to volunteer time. Please visit the event page for registration, logistics, and more information as the planning unfolds.
January 20 Fundraiser for Haiti

The Black Professional Network DC will be hosting an event to raise funds for the victims of the recent 7.0 earthquake in Haiti where an estimated 100,000 lives may have been taken. Renowned singer Loide Jorge and her band will be performing. 100% of raised funds and goods will be provided to Yele, a nonprofit founded by Wyclef Jean that provides relief efforts in Haiti.

When: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 6:00pm-1:00am
Where: Liv, 2001 11th Street NW St (11th and U St) Washington, DC

Please post any events, fundraisers or other organized relief efforts that you know of in the comments. Are the Young Nonprofit Professionals Networks doing anything? Please let me know!

Black, Successful, and (not so) Unhappy

It’s taken me a long time to talk about the now-infamous Helena Andrews profile on Black Girl Blogging, because it made me so upset. Not because I think there is truth to how lonely, sad, and unlovable black women are, but because I know that there isn’t much truth to it to begin with.

What really sticks out to me are the lack of narratives about Black women who are happy for reasons other than finding and keeping a man. The “single, sad, lonely Black woman” meme assumes that without a man we can’t be happy and can’t even begin our search for happiness.

My black girl blogger-in-crime Rosetta Thurman has started a “happiness project” of her own called The Diary of a Happy Black Woman. A few nights ago on Twitter, she talked about why she has decided to embark on this new project.

I hadn’t thought about this angle of the story until I saw it mentioned in the above tweet. What really has annoyed me about the whole damn dialog about the poor, single Black women is that it not only paints all Black women as unlovable, but it also assumes that until we find a man we can’t be happy or fulfilled. It even pre-supposes that Black women should be perpetually unhappy.

Yes, there are Black women out there who are sad and who are lonely…and perhaps who are also angry. But those feelings often have very little to do with their marital status (or lack thereof). Many of us  can find ourselves feeling that way even after we’ve found the supposedly elusive relationship with a successful Black man. I should know: I was one of them for quite some time before ending my last immediate long-term relationship (another story entirely).

It’s true that I have since then started a new relationship with a new partner, but I spent the better part of 2009 getting back in tune with the things that make me happy outside of being with someone who liked me and cared about me and took me out on dates and stuff.

In 2009, I lost 42 pounds after getting back in touch with physical activities I love (yoga, dance, walking/jogging), and doing something else I loved too–cooking delicious, healthy meals. I explored new angles and avenues to the media career I have chosen for myself and began to carve my own niche. I traveled to different cities and went to some great conferences. I kept in touch with old friends and made new ones. And I did all of that despite not having  a boo by my side to witness me doing all of this. I did the “brave” thing and started last year without a relationship, having broken up with my then-boyfriend around this time last year. And I regret not one damn second of it.

My soror and friend Cheri had a great response to the profile on Helena Andrews, with whom she happened to have attended Columbia once upon a time:

She said “I’m a successful black woman” several times, listed off the things that validated the statement, and then says she isn’t happy. I know many women who describe themselves this way, and they too end up in that same place at the end of the sentence. “I’m a successful black woman, why can’t I find love or happiness?”

It might be worth while to go back to the beginning of the sentence and see where we made a wrong turn.

What is success? I’ve heard it described a number of ways: having a degree (or two), a house, a car, a job, the right clothes, and/or invites to the right parties. Some women define it as beginning married or having a child. But in many cases, all of this “success” is not accompanied with happiness.

If what you want is happiness, then are you really successful without it?

Someone along the way told us the work is done once you get the tools. We want a cake – so we get the eggs, sugar, and the flour…. but we leave them on the counter and go get ready for the club. We go out, drink, dance, have a good time, and wonder why we don’t have a cake with cute rose petal frosting details when we get back. We want the results but have not done the work.

In this first week of 2010, I’ve had the chance to think about what new things I want to do at Black Girl Blogging this year and in years to come. If there’s one thing Helena Andrews’s new book Bitch is the New Black and the accompanying profile in the Washington Post showed me, it was the need for more Black women telling their stories and having their stories told their way. Stay tuned and join me as I feature and highlight Black women (and a few men) who have made their lives and their work about a pursuit–or several pursuits–of happiness.