“Whip My Hair”

October 18th, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink


Today I came across two dope videos concerning one of my favorite topics…Black hair. Two in one day? It was like, a sign…I just had to share.
First is a video that I found on a friend’s Facebook page that made me smile. Another positive Sesame Street video that’s helping to boost the self-esteem of little brown girls everywhere! I love it.
And the second (drumroll please) is Willow Smith’s much anticipated video to her new single, “Whip My Hair.” I LOVE this song, and now I LOVE the video. It’s catchy, it’s fun, and Willow is adorable. She’s doing her thing and I’m all for it. Get it girl!

Whip My Hair BMF
Uploaded by BlakMusicFirst. – See the latest featured music videos.
Just came across this mash up and I had to add it to the mix. Lol. I’ll say it one more time…LOVES IT.

Gchattin’ #Glee: Season 2 Ep. 3

October 14th, 2010 § 2 comments § permalink

We share many things in common including a fondness for musicals, sweet potato fries, and Lauryn Hill, but what keeps us talking every Tuesday night (or Wednesday morning), other than overall deepness, is our LOVE of Glee.

Since 800 miles between Chicago and New York separates us, Google gets a major shoutout for helping us stay connected. And because Glee is kind of deep, it’s only natural that it’d end up on the blog. So behold the first installment of our weekly “gchattin glee.” (We’re kinda late and currently starting one episode behind this week’s, but we’ll catch up.) Join us in the comments section.

Season 2 Episode 3:
“Grilled Cheesus”

So…first thoughts?

Amber: I think overall this was a very solid episode. It was definitely EXTREMELY layered and they tackled a lot of issues, but I think for the most part they did it well.

Liz: Yeah. Agreed. I thought they handled the different view points pretty well…of course there were the random stuff….I was kind of disappointed with the gospel or should I say “gospel.” Although, I did love that version of Bridge Over Troubled Water.

Amber: Yes! So, when the episode first began, I was CONVINCED that it was going to be a gospel episode and was beside myself with excitement. And then unfortunately suffered a very real disappointment when that was not the case.

Liz: Yeah, that first song Mercedes sang was pretty generic. And I had the same thought too…”YES! Please Gospel….oh wait….maaaaan…..”

Amber: Right?! I mean come on, Mercedes is like a gospel powerhouse and they know this!!! For a second I thought they were going to have her sing “His Eye is on the Sparrow” and I swear had that happened I would have died…happy.

Liz: That would’ve been amazing!!! Best song. Better than what she did.

Amber: Totally. I also thought their rendition of Bridge Over Troubled Water was well done, but since you bring it up, can we please discuss the Black Church scene??!! So deeeep!

Liz: Ha! You mean the classic ”look, it’s Hollywood’s version of a Black church with every possible stereotypical symbol to represent it.” And that’s the most POC Glee has ever seen…

Amber: Yes, YES! I was thinking the same thing. So the church is where all the Black people in Lima, Ohio hang out. That one black football player probably goes there too and was chillin in the back row. His grandmama is head of the usher board.

Liz: LOL. Indeed. I was trying to imagine that casting call.

Amber: To be honest though, they probably did just roll up in a Black church and stick a flyer on the bulletin board…i’m just sayin.

Liz: It would be the easiest way…It’s interesting to me that the only actual religious space shown is a Black church. What do you think of that? Given that it’s meant to be an episode that covers “religion” in a broad sense.

Amber: It’s very interesting that you bring that up. I think it’s a lot like you said earlier, the Black Church is a symbol that Hollywood feels comfortable using to represent religion and a number of other things, such as community, personal and emotional strength, and of course the music…we can’t forget about the music. In a way, these are things are characteristic to the Black Church and can be found in it’s history. But they become dramatized, exaggerated, and taken out of context in Hollywood’s presentation of them and what is produced is more of an imagined version of the Black Church that is closer to stereotyping than reality.

Liz: And by creating an imagined version it becomes a “safe” zone. Not sure why or what that means…especially since Black churches have historically been a powerful force of political and social change (not exactly “safe”). So where’s the bite? It’s usually outside the church walls in Hollywood. Here (and in other shows/movies) we see a place where white people might feel welcome…they may be a little uncomfortable but they’re getting hugged! As opposed to all the other Hollywood images of black communities which tell you that you better watch your back….and duck into the nearest church. And because that makes them more comfortable, they’re less uncomfortable with the religious part. All making it “safe.”

Amber: Safe Black spaces for white people. LOL. Hilarious. I totally agree with you, I think in this case it’s “safe” because like we said, it’s a presentation of religion that is familiar within mainstream Hollywood. Also, Kurt could visit a Black Church and be removed, engaged, and touched at all the same time–welcomed into the loving Black community where older Black women, “the mothers” of the church (Okaay pentecostals!), give you hugs and encouraging smiles.

Liz: The hugs and smiles (and hand holding) would totally happen lol…just sayin’. Haha. But yeah…

Amber: Not if he was wearing that hat…I’m just sayin…lol.

Liz: Yeah I definitely thought that too. Like, riiiight….he wouldn’t get any looks?

Amber: He would’ve gotten a whole lot more than looks…smdh. Although, I have to say, it looked good on him, he was rocking it!

Liz: He was! And somebody else in the church was feelin it too. I’m still stuck on the fact that it was the one space shown…so interesting to me. Hollywood loves this scene (hey I can love it too).

Amber: I agree with you, it’s a great point, and to be completely honest, it was another one of my assumptions from the beginning. I just felt in my bones that eventually there would be a Black church scene by virtue of religion being the central theme of the episode and because Mercedes is a main character (with a mean Aretha Franklin alto).

Liz: Yeah. And I was thinking about how a white church scene would probably be very liturgical, high church and therefore come off as dry…or it could be hands in the air and shouting and that comes off as threatening (in a religious zealot sorta way).

Amber: On the other hand, a Black Church scene is pretty standard in Hollywood, all you need is black people, choir robes, and some fans, and you’re good.

Liz: Add a good man and you have a Tyler Perry movie. ;)

Amber: Ha! True that. OK…so what did we think of Kurt’s views on God and the Church?

Liz: Hmmm….which were, there is no God?

Amber: Yes, but I also think that he was very defensive. Even though he firmly stated that he didn’t believe in God, it was clear that much of his reasoning was heavily influenced by negative experiences with religion. There was a lot of anger there, which I do believe is warranted, and it’s interesting that the writing emphasized that pain.

Liz: I think you’re right. He seemed to suggest his beliefs were based on logic, but it was also obviously very emotional. His pain is real. But Mercedes in the end points out that his defensiveness is hurting his friendships. People are reaching out to him, not to pressure him, but because they care about him.

Amber: Agreed. But I do think that when you don’t subscribe to others’ beliefs it can become a tricky situation. Especially because in this case it was very personal. They weren’t just having lunch one day and somebody decided to be a witness…ya dig? So I can understand where he is coming from in the sense that if he didn’t think prayers were going to work, why waste his time indulging his friends?

Liz: Totally. I’ll say one of my favorite scenes was between Sue and her sister, when her sister asks “do you want me to pray for you?” I got a little teary eyed (of course), because I think that’s so powerful. Ask the question! These kids (cuz they’re in high school right? unh-huh) can just ask the question. Can I pray for you and your dad? The answer will be what it will be…and if it’s no, then that’s okay. Nothing says a prayer has to be public anyway.

Amber: This is true and I think in the end he did realize that his friends were just trying to help him in the ways that they knew how and it was the sentiment that mattered. The love and support of your friends during tough times is very important.

Liz: Yeah. But I definitely agree that they were really expecting him to respond to their desires rather than what he needed….which is perhaps either the fault of the characters or the writing (and how they may see prayer).

Amber: Explaaaain.

Liz: lol. Which part?

Amber:How the writers may see prayer…?”

Liz: Well I got to thinking about this idea that prayer in this show was very public…they all wanted to show Kurt that they were praying for his Dad. Which might suggest that the writers see prayer as more of a communication between people rather than a person and God. Not that people don’t get together and pray…cuz we know they do but…you get what I’m sayin?

Amber: I do, but I also think that the a major underlying theme of the show is self-expression through song and through the club, and that the easiest way to have an open conversation about religion was to do it through the music, which in turn made the prayers seem very public.

Liz: True. And I don’t necessarily pin my interpretation on the writers. Religion + Hollywood is sooo hard and usually not very good…so I give them kudos for not totally pissing me off. Lol.

Amber: Word. I actually loved how they ended the episode. The “What if God was One of Us” number was so perfect and worked so well with Kurt being honest with his father about not believing in God, but believing in the two of them together as a unit. I thought it was pretty powerful.

Liz: Agreed. It also emphasizes our humanity – there’s something to unravel: the “sacred” emphasizes our humanity. If we ask the question, what if God was one of us, then we have to examine how we treat each other…and how perhaps we treat God. Also, side note…I loved Kurt singing “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.” And Kurt can cry….for real. He makes me teary-eyed…or makes me cry (ahem). Best crier on the show? Yes.

Amber: Oh, hands-down. He also has the cold shoulder thing covered. He legitimately gives THE BEST side-eye. Loves it. One of my fave scenes was when Finn tried to hug him and he gave him the “Boo, really though? Let’s not even go there” face. Priceless. Passed D.A.R.E. with flying colors!

Liz: LOL. So true.

Amber: I also thought that they made excellent use of “the sacred,” first introducing it when Kurt’s Dad attempts to explain why “Friday night dinners” are important, and then bringing it around full circle at the end of the episode when Kurt proclaims his belief in the sanctity of family! Good job, writers.

Liz: It was a good Glee theme…they always have one. ;) (although next episode and next discussion – what the heck was that theme?). But it was interesting to think of it in the context of high school students trying to figure it out. And the adults around them (help or hinder?).

Amber: Indeed. Actually, I thought that the adults (minus Sue) were pretty hands off this episode and left open a lot of room for exploration, especially Mr. Schu and Emma. And “grilled cheesus” is hilarious…also pretty darn good writing, I must say.

Liz: Oh, Finn…you make me afraid. (Also side note…but speaking of Jesus images, have you seen Henry Poole Is Here? Good movie.)

Amber: I have not…I’ll put it on my list. ;) Any other thoughts/themes worthy of discussion?

Liz: Well…there was the Religion and State aspect….Sue represented the classic argument against any religious representation in schools. Although, she came around (the show arguing that it’s a form of student expression?).

Amber: I still think they should do a real gospel episode…I’m just sayin.

Liz: Can we start a petition???? PLEASE. I would be soooo happy. I’ll even make a list of suggestions. Lol.

Amber: YES. Petition in the comments section. ;) And I already have some suggestions too “1. Mercedes to sing Mahalia Jackson….”

Liz: Amen. ;)

“WE are Family!”: A response to #NWNW

October 9th, 2010 § 4 comments § permalink

Oh Liz,

This is indeed a layered topic and one that I had been pretty indifferent toward until you brought it to my attention a few days ago. But now, after having read several blog posts on the issue and having done a little research on the “No Wedding, No Womb” campaign, I can’t help but sit here with furrowed eyebrows and a clenched jaw.

In short, I think the #NWNW campaign is extremely offensive, misguided, and counterproductive. As you mentioned, it tackles a huge issue, but is overwhelmingly simplistic and offers a solution that is elitist, discriminatory, and inherently problematic. I guess I can respect Karazin’s motives (sigh), but this movement is fundamentally flawed for several reasons. Here are just a couple that have been floating around in my head:

1. The #NWNW campaign is not just heteronormative, it is downright heterosexist.

If the #NWNW campaign is advocating for strong two parent households and loving relationships why is there NO conversation about LGBTQ individuals in loving supportive relationships who have children or may want to have them in the future? Are they not important enough to be a part of the conversation? (Do you know what allows you to blatantly ignore or refuse to address issues that are pertinent to the everyday lives of others? When you can identify as a member of the privileged group.) Advocating for marriage before having children as a solution to the “crisis” facing the black family is a slap in the face to the millions of Black LGBTQ individuals in this country who are unable to get married because they are forbidden by law to do so. The campaign ignores the fact that the “traditional” notion of the familial unit within this country is constantly changing. By defining marriage as a union only between a man and a woman, #NWNW denies that familial structures within the black community have always been diverse and come in many different forms. It also turns this campaign into an elitist and moral one that promotes white middle-class heterosexual values (with religious undertones), and ties it with physical limitations on women’s choice and the female body. I mean, come on. Really, it’s just tacky.

2. The “Nuclear Black Family” is a myth.

“72 % of Black children are born out of wed-lock.”
OMG. Okaaaay. We get it. **rolls eyes** So, we like to quote statistics, huh? Well here are a few more for you:
-Suicide rates for African American adolescents have increased over 200% in the last decade
-African Americans comprise 40% of America’s homeless population and only 12% of the United States population
-Nearly half of all prisoners in the United States are African American
-Over 20% of African Americans do not have health insurance
-The poverty rate for Blacks is nearly twice that of whites
-Unemployment rates for Blacks are twice the national average
-In 2004, African Americans had the highest age-adjusted all-causes death rate of all races/ethnicities
Hurts your heart a bit doesn’t it (sigh).
I quote these statistics to make the point that looking at a statistic, some numbers, without context doesn’t allow you to have a deep and meaningful conversation about solutions. There is a whole lot afflicting the Black community and I just really don’t think that babies born to parents who aren’t married is the problem. It’s only a symptom of a host of institutional and infrastructural inequalities in this country namely health, socioeconomic, educational, and racial. Using marriage as a central focus to talk about the problems facing the Black community is moot. We need to be talking about strengthening individuals within our communities and advocating for the necessary state and federal aid, developmental programs, and support to do so.
And to be really real, the “Nuclear Black Family” is a myth, prevented by becoming a reality through many historical and structural forces i.e., chattel slavery (*Cues Paul Mooney* “FOUR HUNDRED YEARS”), Jim Crowe, employment discrimination, and the prison industrial complex to name a few. I’m not saying that a Black man and woman can’t be in a loving relationship and have and raise children together. Obviously, this can and does happen and it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing. BUT, historically and culturally Black families have existed in MANY different forms—the “standard” mom, dad, and 2.5 kids is just one of them. And however we may try to deny it, this society privileges certain familial structures over others and it is reflected in the ways that we think about family and in the denial of rights and support to individuals who do not fit into the mold. We can’t all be the Huxtables…I’m just sayin.
I agree with you that a conversation about healthy relationships is very important, especially for our youth, but I think it needs to be a separate one and not held in the context of #NWNW.
And just to let you know, I’ve already bought my ticket for the “’oh hell no!’ bandwagon” and I’m chiiiillin on board, sippin’ a glass of wine, and giving a FIERCE side-eye to this entire campaign.

“First Comes Love, then Comes Marriage, then Comes the Baby in the Baby Carriage.” #NWNW

October 8th, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

So Amber,

I was reading the latest post on The Crunk Feminist Collective, a call for a “No Uncle No Uterus” campaign, and was thoroughly confused for a good minute till I realized it was a critique on another campaign, “NWNW.” And I had no idea what that was.

Thank goodness for Google. Turns out it means “No Wedding, No Womb” and is a campaign of 100+ bloggers writing in support of marriages before pregnancies in black communities.

And it’s apparently created a stir (I love the blogosphere). In my googling discoveries, I’ve found various critiques: one reporter writes, “Regardless, the bloggers associated with “No Wedding, No Womb” aren’t focused on the outcomes for children. The campaign is instead telling black women how they should act sexually. Reducing women to their childbearing capacity is right there in the title: Wombs are blocked off until matrimony.” Another writes, “While Karazin’s heart is in the right place, I have to agree that equating marriage with familial and economic stability is wistfully wrongheaded….I think what Karazin’s trying to get at, in our sound-bite culture, is that poor women, all women, need to value themselves enough to protect themselves from the avoidable pitfalls in their already difficult lives.”

Here I think are the critiques: having a campaign for marriage does not solve poverty; it does not address the institutional and historical causes for persistent poverty; it shames women and promotes a narrow view of family.

So first off, yes to all of the above. Making marriage the solution to poverty and violence is not a good solution. Marriage alone can not solve the inequitable policies hurting families (whatever those families look like). Nor does placing the responsibility solely on women solve anything. There is an element of “slut-shaming” to this, mostly because where are the men in this solution? What’s their responsibility?

But with all that said, I don’t necessarily want to jump on the “oh hell no!” bandwagon against NWNW. I wouldn’t sign up to blog for them, but when criticizing their campaign, neither do I want to deny that there is something going on when 72% of African American children are born out of wedlock. That “something” is not just one thing (or two or three), but I am hesitant to completely dismiss a discussion on marriage and relationships.

I don’t like it when ten year olds ask me “do you have kids?” before asking me if I’m married (or even have a boyfriend). I’ve written before about teenagers’ views on relationships and the brokenness of their understanding. Many of these teens come from families that do not have a solid two parent relationship – whether married or unmarried. In order to understand how to relate to one another, they need to see other strong relationships.

Let me be clear: there are hundreds of issues flying and dancing around this statistic. I think NWNW is too simplistic, lets men off the hook and ignores wider social and political problems. And really, it’s just another tired story about what black women need to do that CNN will probably run with analysis from a panel of “experts” (yay Steve Harvey!). And then there’s the whole issue of it being heteronormative…

But I do think it’s okay to ask (along with a million other questions), how do we solve gender/relationship/family issues on a personal and social level?

Let’s have a holistic approach to understanding the problems facing our children, young people and families. Let’s understand that marriage is only a good solution if it is healthy and stable – and fighting against that health and stability is sexism, racism, classism, all those damn “isms” and the policies that go with them.

And there are fantastic single moms and dads (aunts and uncles and grandparents) who raise healthy, supported children in this world. And there are married couples who don’t. For a variety of reasons. But, how do we address all those reasons? Is there just one campaign or solution?

No. It’s complicated. And so deep. I don’t know how to unravel it all….

My disclaimer: I’m posting this without feeling entirely comfortable with it. With every sentence I write, another sentence pops into my head that problematizes the one before. But since this blog is really a conversation, I’ll consider this post only the beginning.

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