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I’ve moved!

I finally made the big step and moved the blog to it’s own server. You can now find me at http://www.lorynwilson.com!

See you there!

-elledub

5 places to go in DC

For today’s blogging challenge, I’m doing a list post. If you’ve seen my previous posts, you know that I recently returned to my hometown of Los Angeles after living in DC for 8 years. I am happy to be home and it was a much-needed return, but I can’t even tell you how much I miss DC and I can’t wait to go back.

With that said, I’m letting my nostalgia lead me and am doing a list of 5 places to go in DC. This list could be much longer, but I didn’t want to get carried away and I wanted to focus on my faves.

1. Cafe Asia sushi is my favorite food, and this was my favorite place in DC to get it. Also, I enjoy the 2 dollar sake during happy hour. I’ve been to the Rosslyn location too, but I really love the atmosphere in the DC location.

2. MarvinThere’s so much to say about Marvin. I can’t tell what I like best–brunch on Sundays or DJ Stylus on Mondays! Shrimp and Grits is my favorite thing on the menu, but my standout memory of Marvin was going there on a random Thursday for a J-Dilla tribute/DJ Set. One of my most fun times in DC.

3. Perry’sI added this partly because I just love it and partly because I once went there with Rosetta, my homegirl and the one who originated the 31 Days to a Brand New Blog challenge. It’s another place where you can get sushi, but it’s really a Latin-Japanese fusion kind of place….and they have a fabulous rooftop.

4. Lounge of IIISo many great memories were spent at this little bar on 10th and U Streets, NW. Great hip hop music, cheap drinks, what more could a girl ask for?

5.Eatonville Zora Neale Hurston is my favorite author, and I’ve had some great times at this restaurant on the 14th Street Corridor. Great soul food, decent drinks, and amazing artwork on every wall. And it’s another place Rosetta and I used to hang out 🙂

If you live in DC (or you have visited), what are your favorite places in the city? If you live outside of DC, where are your favorite places to go in your city?

Kanye won’t let Twitter be great: an open letter

Dear Kanye,

Hey bro. How’s it goin?

It was very cool to see this story about your performance at the Facebook offices. I have to say I’ve been a fan of yours for a while, so it’s very cool to see social media music colliding in such a great way. Even after the emo madness that you unleashed on 808s and Heartbreak, I’m proud to say that I can’t wait to see what you do on Good Ass Job.

But that’s not why I’m writing you this letter. I’m writing you this letter because of you recent shenanigans on Twitter.

and my personal favorite because it’s only stating the obvious:

Taken by themselves these tweets aren’t so bad. But I’ve taken a look at your timeline, Yeezy, and I can’t say that I like what I saw. A whole stream of tweets and nary a retweet or @ reply to be seen. Shame on you, Kanye.

Twitter is about influence, it’s about connection, it’s about sharing information. One could argue that there’s some narcissism wrapped up in why people tweet, and I get that. But you take it to another level. Not only do you randomly follow just one person, but you don’t even interact with that one person you so haphazardly decided to follow!

Kanye, the problem is simple. You have an opportunity to really show us how influential both your image and your music can be, but unfortunately that opportunity is slipping away. Instead of interacting with your fans and giving us a glimpse into your world the way Big Boi or Chrisette Michele does, you give us tweets filled with verbal vomit about jogging in Lanvin or a new Rolex you just bought.

With all that said, I can’t say I’m necessarily surprised that you’re cuttin’ up the way you are on Twitter. I mean you are the guy who interrupted Taylor Swift at the VMA’s last year. But what do I know? I’m just a social media geek in California with high hopes for Twitter’s potential–potential that you’re currently sh*tting on.

Kanye, my request is simple….just let Twitter be great.

and you can go run tell that, homeboy.

On Badu and Our Bodies: Are We Comfortable In Our Own Skin?

Reposted from A Black Girl’s Guide to Weightloss, an awesome fitness blog that I frequent and you should too. Erika says everything I’ve been thinking when it comes to Erykah Badu’s video for “Window Seat.”

I had my moment of analyzing Erykah Badu’s latest video, and then – like most things pop culture – I was over it.

Until…

I just so happened to read Naked & Unashamed, and catch this quote at the end:

“People have to be comfortable in their own skin before they can be comfortable with someone else’s.”

Since this is a website about embracing oneself, being aware of one’s shortcomings and loving oneself enough to put in the effort to make ourselves better, I had to take a stab at it.

In all honesty, I’m beyond the video. I do enough analyzing all day… I’m not really moved by a music video, no matter how compelling it may be. I’m way more interested in the reactions to the video than I am the video itself.

Among one of my favorites, we have this:

“Typical…black women stripping nude in a video and debasing themselves. And you wonder why you are the least respected and sought after.”

Obviously, I don’t agree with that, but there’s a larger issue at play, here.

Sports Illustrated can have an entire magazine devoted to white women in swimsuits – suits, mind you, made of much less fabric than what Badu was wearing before the blurring began. SpikeTV can host some of the most misogynistic garbage I’ve ever seen (though, full disclosure, I do my fair share of laughing at it, too… What? They show CSI repeats.) Playboy has women showing their cookies, their cupcakes, their twinkies and their muffins. That’s just what they do. They model... They act – it’s a job… It’s Playboy – what do you expect?

A Black woman appears in a music video – saying nothing about whether or not she’s fully clothed – and she’s “just a video ho.” A Black woman poses in a bikini in a magazine, and it’s “She couldn’t wear more clothing than that?” A Black woman working on her flexibilitymust be doing it for sexual reasons. Don’t let her admit she takes a pole dancing fitness class.

Hell, Badu even tweeted the link to the video that inspired hers – a white male/female duo running Buck. E. Naked through Times Square, NYC. They’re just lovable, playful scamps running ’round an already sinful city, though. No big deal there. Erykah, however, is showcasing why no one loves Black women… by doing what the hell she wants to do in her music video.

There’s “debasing” going on, alright. It’s not self-imposed, though.

“People have to be comfortable in their own skin before they can be comfortable with someone else’s.”

Either we’re apologists for the sexuality of our non-Black counterparts, or we have set standards so high for Black women that exploring ourselves is no longer acceptable. We’re doomed to be one monolithic mass, regardless of our individuality… because someone we don’t know – someone who, essentially, doesn’t really give a damn about us – insists on trying to save us from ourselves. Since, y’know, we’re turning ourselves into whores. We’re always seeking to make a Black woman somebody’s Jezebel, in dire need of our “help.”

Not familiar with Jezebel?

The portrayal of Black women as lascivious by nature is an enduring stereotype. The descriptive words associated with this stereotype are singular in their focus: seductive, alluring, worldly, beguiling, tempting, and lewd.Historically, White women, as a category, were portrayed as models of self-respect, self-control, and modesty – even sexual purity, but Black women were often portrayed as innately promiscuous, even predatory. This depiction of Black women is signified by the name Jezebel.

There’s also this one, that I love:

Next, there is Jezebel, the bad-black-girl, who is depicted as alluring and seductive as she either indiscriminately mesmerizes men and lures them into her bed, or very deliberately lures into her snares those who have something of value to offer her.

I can’t help but wonder if our need to make a Black woman into a Jezebel comes from our failure to understand ourselves: what parts of us are sexual in nature, what is not; what should be seen as sexual, what should not; what should be considered hazardous, and what is harmless exploration – the kind from which lessons are learned.

Am I an advocate for sexual irresponsibility? No. Am I saying it’s ok to “be a slut?” If we share the same definition of “slut” (see: sexual irresponsibility), then I’ma go on and say “no.” Make no mistake, I don’t give passes for behavior that is not my own. However, I am a hippie at heart, and while I have my own standards for how I behave and interact with others in public, I can’t force those standards on others. I’ve never turned down the opportunity to offer up my opinion when asked for it, but making judgments and imposing those judgments on others as guidelines by which they must abide… are two different things entirely.

And while there are many who might not see – nor care about – what I’m saying here (and that’s okay), it’s worth pointing out – when we, as Black women, insist on reducing even the most innocent of our actions to Jezebelism, we perpetuate the notion that that’s all Black women are. That’s all you can expect of them. Being the Jezebel. Being the sirene.

Having said that, all I have from here are questions. Are so many of us so uncomfortable with the concept of sexuality – our own sexuality – that we can’t even identify when something is sexual or not? Has it stifled our intellectual understanding of sexuality? If we have “passes” to dole out, why are we not doling them out for ourselves? Do we often see inherently sexual messages in inherently non-sexual situations? Collectively, are we so repressed and limited in our self-comfort, that we can’t help but to project this repression onto others? Why care so much?

Must we make everything a Black woman does publicly be about her “whoring?” Or, are we really just projecting our own discomfort on other women who look like us? Like I said: from here, all I’ve got is questions. Well, questions… and this:

“People have to be comfortable in their own skin before they can be comfortable with someone else’s.”

Vogue Italia’s Black Barbie: A Step Forward or a Step Back?

This month, Vogue Italia is doing another take on last year’s successful Black Issue: a fashion spread featuring all Black Barbies.

from Jezebel:

Last year, Italian Vogue shook the fashion world with its “All Black issue, which sold out on many newsstands. This year, the July issue features Kristen McMenamy on the cover, but comes with a delightful supplement devoted to black Barbies.

It is Barbie’s 50th birthday, after all, and Mattel does have those new black Barbies to promote. And while this supplement is not full-sized like a regular magazine (it’s about 6 inches wide; 7.5 inches long) somehow the doll scale makes sense.

As a girl growing up in Los Angeles, my mother always made sure to buy us Black dolls, especially Barbies. I even had a Black Ken doll! And while it was great to have a doll that looked like me, the reality was that it still sold me and other little girls dangerous ideas about what a woman’s body should look like, and what was considered beautiful. In preparing to write this post, I spoke with a friend of mine who happens to be a Black dad with a young daughter. He told me that while he reluctantly buys his daughter Barbies because she loves them, he is concerned about what it teaches his little girl about having a positive self-image. As a result, he makes it his responsibility to teach his daughter about how special and beautiful she is as a black girl.

I loved Vogue Italia’s Black Issue last year. I loved that it featured Tocarra, a voluptuous, curvy woman who was far from a size 2. And I like the concept of using all Black Barbies in a Vogue spread. But I have to wonder if it is actually a step backwards. Barbies themselves use the white female body as a the prototype for beauty. Even the new Black Barbies do not have the hips, ass and curves that myself and other Black women possess. It’s great that Mattel has barbies of all shade, but what about all sizes? What taking into consideration that other races and ethnic groups have different ideas of what women’s bodies actually look like? The fashion industry often creates fashions, ad campaigns, and yes, even Barbie photo spreads that leave Black female bodies out of the equation and therefore, out of the question when defining what a “perfect body” looks like and who is able to possess it.

So what does everyone else think? Is the Black Barbie issue of Vogue Italia actually progress? Or does it still perpetuate anxiety and even denial of the Black female body as one that is indeed normal and beautiful?

Byron Hurt: An Open Letter to BET.

A lot of the outrage about the BET Awards sprang from Michael Jackson’s death, but its not really about MJ….it’s about BET’s failure to create program that portrays the Black experience in a positive light. It’s part of an ongoing problem, though Byron Hurt’s open letter to Debra Lee is a excellent start. Feel free to send your own letter to them as a sign of support.

Dear BET

I wrote this letter and sent it to contactus@bet.com, bobbette.gillette@bet.net,loretha.jones@bet.net, and stephen.hill@bet.net.Feel free to copy, paste, and customize this letter to adequately express your thoughts. If anyone has better ideas on where this letter should be sent, i.e. executives at Viacom (BET’s owner), please let me know. I am open to ideas and suggestions.

Be fearless, feel empowered, and raise your voice.

___________

June 29, 2009

Dear Debra Lee,

Sunday night’s BET Awards show was a disgrace. It’s sad and unfortunate that your network, owned by Viacom, continues to crank out mediocrity and perpetuate negative stereotypes of black men, women, and children. Although you likely received high ratings for the awards show, there is no honor in reinforcing the status quo’s opinion of black people. Your tribute to Michael Jackson and the overall show had its great moments, however, BET failed to deliver a solid, quality show. Rather than “raising the bar” and presenting African-Americans as a creative, proud, dignified people, BET lowered the bar for the entire world to see. The BET Awards drew a huge audience to watch a tribute to Michael Jackson, but left millions of viewers feeling disappointed, embarrassed, and reduced to classic stereotypes.

During the most blatantly sexist performances of the night, the executives at BET failed to act and display intelligence, courage, and leadership. Show executives watched, approved, and applauded as artists Lil’ Wayne, Drake, and Cash Money brought young, under-aged girls onto the stage to dance and serve as window dressing while they performed “Every Girl,” a song that reduces girls and women to sex objects. In a culture where one out of four girls and women are either raped or sexually assaulted – and where manipulative men routinely traffic vulnerable women into the sex industry – it is not okay that BET allowed this to happen. BET owes its entire audience – particularly girls and women around the world – an apology for its failure to intervene. BET should also take immediate steps to ensure that this kind of sexist performance does not happen again. Sunday night’s show epitomizes why so many black people worldwide are fed up with BET and feel strongly that your network inaccurately represents black men and women.

Please take my letter and criticism as one that represents millions.

Sincerely,

Byron Hurt

Things of Note

Starting this week I will be posting interesting links from around the blogosphere:

  • Oklahoma Women’s Network speak out about Sotomayor cartoon published in Oklahoman and why it’s sexist..I particularly take issue with the image of Sotomayor hanging as a pinata…among other things. More on this later.
  • Cheryl Contee at Jack and Jill Politics gives her thoughts on Obama’s Cairo Speech…which is on Youtube in case ya missed it.
  • Renee at Womanist Musings talks about disability and motherhood…
  • Alyssa at Voz Latina is asking for donations to build a new home–the house that her and her partner live in is foreclosing in a few days’ time. Make a donation and help support trans homesteaders.
  • And finally, some lolz. What if your coworker used AutoTune, T-Pain style?