Posts from the ‘What’s good in Washington’ Category

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?

V V Brown is a Bad Broad

This week I had an opportunity to see V V Brown in concert with Little Dragon here at Liv Niteclub in DC. Her music was just a breath of fresh air. I think she did almost every genre of music in her performance, from rockabilly to hip hop. Yes, I said rockabilly.

Anyways, just check out her acoustic cover of Kid Cudi’s Day N Nite:


Did Desiree Rogers have a Personal Branding Problem?

I’m sure some of you saw my short vlog bidding Desire a farewell. While I still think DC will be a little less fabulous, a recent NY Times article made me re-think my position when it comes to the reasons for Desiree Rogers’ departure.

First, there was this opening paragraph:

Ms. Rogers had appeared in another glossy magazine, posing in a White House garden in a borrowed $3,495 silk pleated dress and $110,000 diamond earrings. But if the image was jarring in a time of recession, Mr. Axelrod was as bothered by the words and her discussion of “the Obama brand” and her role in promoting it, according to people informed about the conversation.

“The president is a person, not a product,” he was said to tell her. “We shouldn’t be referring to him as a brand.”

…But that’s the thing. The Obamas are a brand. While they may not be a product, there is a level of personal branding that was a part of both President Obama’s election campaign and now his presidency. And I realize that some people hate the idea of personal branding and that it’s taking away from the fact that we’re dealing with people and not products. But in my mind, the thing that makes personal branding so key is that it is about who you are as a person and the aspects about yourself that you want reflected in the public eye. I really believe that if Desiree Rogers wasn’t creating events that were reflecting the “Obama Brand”, they wouldn’t have happened.

Then the Salahis happened.

While I do believe that there’s a little bit of falling on the sword going on with Desiree’s departure, I think there was also the issue of balancing building her own personal brand and also still promoting the Obama brand and making that her top priority.

Here’s what I mean by that:

Ms. Rogers’s hip style, expensive clothing and presence at fashion shows at first were seen as symbolizing a new Camelot but ultimately struck many as tone deaf in a time of economic hardship and 10 percent unemployment.

The White House eventually clamped down on her public profile. She was ordered to stop attending splashy events and showing up in fancy clothes on magazine covers. When Michelle Obama learned one day that Ms. Rogers was on a train heading to New York to attend an MTV dinner, the first lady told her longtime friend to cancel, associates said.

When I read this, the first thing I thought was: Wait a minute. She was going to go to this MTV dinner without the White House’s permission and, moreover to a dinner that Michelle Obama wasn’t invited to? #iCant.

I realize that perhaps Desiree was trying to build relationships but the way to do that when you’re the White House Social Secretary is a.-to not be in a hurry to be in the limelight and b.-build relationships within DC. To my understanding, it seems as though the White House Social Secretary must have a knowledge of the way Washington works and it’s possible Desiree didn’t grasp hold of that knowledge. But more important, she may have been doing the #2 item on this list of how to get fired for building your personal brand: putting her own brand over the White House brand when it came to her own priorities.

Seems like a classic case of not balancing your brand with the company’s brand. And in that case, it easy to understand how Desiree could have gotten in trouble with that.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still sad to see Dez go but I’m starting to understand how the idea of personal branding could have played a role in why she left.

Bye Bye, Dez.

I have a webcam and a working microphone now, so expect more short videos.

This one is bidding Desiree Rogers a farewell after the news that she is stepping down from her post as White House Social Secretary.

DC is going to be a little less fabulous.

A Millennial Briefing with no Millennials

Well, that’s effective.

or not.

Last week the Pew Research Center held a briefing on their newest study on Millennials. I had first learned about this briefing via Twitter, so I started to watch the streaming video online. I was disappointed yet not surprised to find out that not only were most of the presenters old white guys, but according to a few colleagues of mine, they weren’t in attendance either:

As it turns out however, fellow Millennial Decker Ngongang was one of the few in attendance. He let us know via Twitter that the briefing was not only invite-only (ha!) but also that virtually all the presenters were old enough to be our dads as were the attendees.

So how is it that old white guys are suited to comment on how they think we “kids” live our lives? (Paul Taylor kept referring to Millennials as “kids” when many of us are actually grown adults, as Rosetta Thurman so eloquently pointed out.) By not inviting Gen Y folks to come to your event or even to present the study, Pew is sending the message that they have no problem probing and theorizing about us but DO have a problem with us being present when they present the data, which I have an issue with.

Now of course there were some exceptions to the rule. In fact, someone did tell me that there was one 27 year old in attendance, and my friend Decker was there. But to them I said the following:

Pew’s first mistake was making the event invite-only (which is rare of them apparently). Their second mistake was doing a whole briefing about Millennials and only inviting a few of the “important” ones rather than reaching out to, say, Gen Y bloggers like myself and others and perhaps some folks from their networks who fit in that age group. Thirdly, making all the presenters old white males didn’t help either.

The findings themselves were pretty interesting as well and seemed to tell the story of the privileged Millennial, which of course is an entirely different post.

Where I’ve Been (Or, Why I took a Hiatus)

When I’m down, I just draw some roses/on a pretty piece of paper/…halfway through I feel so much better/I imagine happiness/and it runs right to me, such amazing beauty–Georgia Ann Muldrow, “Roses”

Things have been noticeably quiet around here, so I thought I’d tell you about what’s been going on and what I’ll be up to next.

About 3 weeks ago today, I became a casualty of this recession: I was laid off from my job. During those first few days, I felt so many different emotions at different times. First I was sad (I cried for the better part of the afternoon on day 1), then I was angry (why me?!), and then scared sh*tless (how will I pay my rent?).  I had to take an extended time away from updating my blog to go through all of these emotions, and to take some time to reflect and map out my next moves. But as time went on and as the biggest snowstorm in DC’s history blew through my hood, I started to feel, despite it all, happy.

That isn’t to say that this time has been easy or that it isn’t stressful. Being unemployed is always difficult no matter what the circumstances were that lead you to it. I know Im not immune to the challenges that lie ahead, nor the present. But more than anything else, I’ve made the conscious decision to take this time of “(f)unemployment” to learn more about what it is I really want my career to look like, and how I want to pursue my own happiness from here on out.

Lately, I’ve been listening to the song “Roses” by Georgia Anne Muldrow:

The song challenged me to meditate on what was really important in my life, the things and people I had to feel grateful for, and the ways that God has continued to bless me. Everytime I feel frustrated or when sadness starts to creep up again, I try to think more about my strengths and less about my weaknesses. I focus on the few things that made me smile, the people who made me laugh throughout the day.

Soon after I discovered “Roses”  for the first time on Blip.fm, I came across an article about the artist who wrote and performed the song, from an issue of LA Weekly published just last year. She was discussing her philosophies on life, her new baby boy, and her music. One part of the article discussed the remix of “Roses” featuring rapper Mos Def, and how that moment caused a type of paradigm shift for her:

“It was an inspiring thing because the week that [Mos Def asked to remix her song ‘Roses’ for his new album], I stopped calling myself broke and started to follow certain spiritual laws one must observe in order to call oneself successful,” she says. “You can’t cancel out all the resources from the divine realm, which are trying to help you. I’m very inspired by what energies can be brought in through cleansing the bad habits and negative energies toward myself. Or directed toward what I think about myself. And that’s the most inspiring thing, because that’s what ‘Roses’ is about: finding happiness from within.”

Keeping the faith and staying positive during challenging times isn’t easy but I think I’m doing a little better than I thought I would. Every day I have to remind myself that I’m alive, that I’m capable, that I’m healthy, and that I have friends and family who love me.

My 26th birthday is in exactly a week. As I approach the second half of my 20s I find myself considering what I want 30 to look like. I sometimes wonder if I would have started my own company by then or if I’ll be married with children. Then I realize that there’s no exact way to predict where you’ll be 30, nor is it a magical age where everything will necessarily fall into place. The only thing I know for certain is taht I know and believe in my heart that I’ll be happy.

For now, I’m reminding myself just as Georgia Anne Muldrow sings in “Roses” that happiness and fulfillment–in my career, in my friendships, in love–is a journey. Every day I am striving to act on my knowledge that not only does my happiness start with me, but also that a little bit of faith really does and will go a long way.


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.