Posts tagged ‘WOC’

“Topless Black Girls” & other keywords that lead to my blog

I am currently taking part in Rosetta Thurman’s 31 Days to a Brand New Blog Challenge! I’m really excited about it because I have been wanting to take my blog to another level, especially with my new life here in Los Angeles and beyond as I start my grad school applications. I wanted to do more with the blog, and I though the Challenge was a good place to start.

For the Day 1 challenge, we were asked to take a look at our blog stats and analyze the stats. There were a few things in my stats that were surprising–for instance, it’s interesting that my “meet elledub” page is still very popular. Didn’t know that many people wanted to know more about the girl behind the blog!

But what was more intriguing to me were the keyword terms that were most used to find my blog. There were a few repetitive ones with obvious explanations (“black girl” “black girl blog” “essence fashion and beauty editor” “for colored girls”); some terms came up because of things I’ve written about on my blog. “Are there any Black People on Mad Men” wasn’t surprising since I’ve spent a few posts pondering that very question.

Then there were some off-the-wall terms; “topless black girls” come to mind. While I’m sure this had to do with this little post I wrote about a topless bust of Michelle Obama, it’s such an interesting insight into what people look for when they look for info about black women online. In fact, one google search on “black women” gives you a strange mix of the mundane and the obscene. It’s very possible that the keyword terms that people use to find my blog is just a microcosm of what’s already out there when it comes to finding images of black women on the internets, which is exactly what I’m hoping to achieve with this blog.

For those of you who do blog, what are some of the craziest keyword terms that people use to find your blog? If you’re participating in the challenge, I’d love to hear from you too.

Advertisements

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?

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.

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.

Black People, Decorum and Privilege

As I settle into another work week, I realize that this hasn’t been a good couple of days for Black America. First, Serena Williams loses her shit after a bad call during the US Open, which cost her the match. Then, Kanye decides to be a jerk (again) and ruin country music star Taylor Swift’s very first acceptance speech at the VMA’S by bum rushing the stage and declaring Beyonce’s Single Ladies video the greatest of all time.

The two situations above may seem very different, but I think the only difference between Kanye’s outburst and Serena’s outburst was a bottle of Hennessey. These are grown ass people who are fairly young. Black, and at the top of their game. So why did they act out in public like they could get away with it?

The way I see it, Serena and Kanye’s fame and talent, and even their wealth will not make up for their lack of privilege. Kanye didn’t get to perform at the VMA’s and was escorted out of the event. Serena lost  the match and had to pay  a $10,000 fine for her behavior. It wasn’t waved away as just being “colorful” the way it was when McEnroe did it, and I’ll venture to say that it’s because she is a Black woman and he is a white male. No matter how high a Black celebrity climbs, they will not just be a celebrity getting out of pocket, they will be a Black celebrity getting out of pocket. They will not escape their lack of privilege to do certain things and be able to LOL it up on the David Letterman show the next week.

That’s not to say I”m excusing Kanye and Serena’s behavior because I think both of them showed an extreme lack of decorum and what my Nana would call “home training.”  Everyone has to be accountable for their actions, but what I need for Black celebrities to understand is that their fame doesn’t put them on an equal playing field with white celebs that act out in a similar manner. Get your decorum game up and let’s cut back on the nigga moments from here on out.

So what you think? Does a lack of privilege mean greater attention to our public behavior?

Guest Blogger: Maia’s Descent is No Laughing Matter

Please welcome my long-time friend D.L. Chandler to the blog as he discusses actress Maia Campbell’s painful drug addiction and her struggle with mental illness. I too was saddened by how so many people made light of the recent youtube, and I hope some of you feel the same way. As always, feel free to post a comment here or hit him up on Twitter @dlc123.

Like many young men in the 1990s, I found actress Maia Campbell to be one of the more attractive young black starlets on television. Early on, I discovered that she hailed from the Greater Washington Metropolitan area just as I did and that factoid endeared me to her as well. Of late Maia Campbell has fallen out of the public eye, and has been unfairly ridiculed by her poor life choices fueled by her bout with Schizophrenia. The daughter of late bestselling author Bebe Moore Campbell, Maia found fame on the LL Cool J vehicle In The House. For 3 seasons, the show enjoyed some mild success and Maia Campbell was a prominent fixture of the sitcom. Once the show ended, Maia worked bit parts in television and small movies, but nothing more.

I am not going to play reporter here and try to guess what happened beyond that point. What I do know is that in the last three years, nude photos of an obviously inebriated Campbell and a very recent video of the actress has appeared on the Internet. The gossip blogs, Twitter, message boards and news outlets (such as The Examiner) have all had their say to the inner workings of Ms. Campbell’s fall. We don’t know what’s leading her down this path nor do we know if she’s ever had adequate help – at least as far as what’s been released publicly. However, what is quite telling is how much of my Twitter feed was filled with hurtful jokes about her condition. The blogs and their comment fields were also filled with the same insensitive and lame commentary found in the linked Examiner piece above.

I immediately felt sorrow for Maia Campbell after viewing the video and wanted nothing more than to protect her. It triggered an almost instinctive brotherly reaction. It was if I saw my little sister on that screen and just wanted to snatch that camera away from her antagonist and whisk her away. There wasn’t anything humorous about this scenario. There wasn’t a reason to make this a Twitter topic of the day. It didn’t have to become this ugly display of humanity – anonymous keyboard cowards levying all types of hurtful, insensitive words towards Maia. I’ve just read that there’s a prayer campaign for Maia Campbell and that’s great. I’m not a religious person but this is obviously a step in the right direction so I support it fully.

Many of us know a Maia Campbell, a young person lost to their own devices and lacking the help, love and care needed to rise above whatever demons ails them. Are we to look at Maia Campbell with pity or are we to act when we see this pattern in our respective cities and towns? What did you truly feel when you saw Maia in that state? What would you do if you saw it? Are you witnessing something of this nature now? Are you out there helping to prevent more lost souls? Are you content with reading the insensitive comments and hashtags on Twitter? I know I’m not. I know that any time I can help a person – young or old – I’m going to give whatever time I can spare. I don’t see how we can look at this as a laughing matter. Moreover, for those of you that I know who choose to see humor in such a sad situation, you’ve lost a huge chunk of my respect.

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?