Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Baby Mama Drama

Do you want to get married? Do you know why you want to get married? If you actually answered these questions, you probably sprouted off some trite answer like "companionship" or something about the Bible. I'm not so sure there really is a compelling argument for marriage...at least not for me. I don't knock other people's choices, but I'm not 100 percent that will be the end-all for me.

This is completely opposite of my family and how I was raised. My family is Black, Southern, Christian and conservative. We don't shack (that's living with a boyfriend/girlfriend without the benefit of marriage, for the uninitiated), we don't have shotgun weddings (when the first baby's an unseen guest at the wedding reception) and we don't become baby mamas. Period.

So when I read A Belle In Brooklyn's treatise on Black women and single motherhood, I was prepared to roll my eyes and disagree with yet another snobbish, elitist, East Coast conservative view of unmarried women and their threat to the family values of Black America. But I didn't. I thought her reflections were an attempt to understand what is going on and relay her own experiences. Above all, she seemed to be searching for answers.

Here's a little of what she wrote:

I don’t judge “trends” by what celebs do because they are a lil’ different than the masses (and I also don’t think being popular or talented makes you an automatic “role model”), but the prevalence of single Black moms in “reality” is backed up by the by the numbers— 70% of Black children are born to unwed mothers. And in case you think that’s just manipulated stats at work, the writer-icon (a very involved Mommy) estimates that four out of five women that she talks to about mommy-stuff are single moms.

I thought this was interesting and telling. When I envision my perfect family life, I don't necessarily see a ring or a wedding album, but I see a man by my side and children. When I hear that 70 percent of Black children born to unwed mothers I know (from my own interactions with Black women and children) that those kids won't have a consistent man in their lives. I know that their mothers want to get married, they want the white dress, ring and fond memories of Pop Pop doing the electric slide at the reception.

Belle's blog assumed something that I don't necessarily see as true: That when women get married, they stay married, thereby ensuring that family structure throughout the child's life. This doesn't usually happen for American families and is even more unlikely for Black American families.

Overall, I like that someone is talking about the Black family, because we do have a lot of work to do. Not to get "back" to any perceived familial utopia, but to move forward and get to place where we are more functional. For some that may include marriage, and for others something else.

Read: Reflections: Single Mothers


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Disconnect: Cosmetics + Career

Why is that when a woman is successful and stylish or successful and beautiful, both of those traits have to be acknowledged, as if they are expected to be mutually exclusive?

Example: "Producer [of London's production of Legally Blonde]Sonia Friedman says she, 'Identified with Elle. It's embarrassing, but I did. Elle is a great role model for women. She shows that there's nothing wrong with wearing pretty clothes and lipstick, while still being a strong woman.'" [via Jezebel.com]

Huh? Whoever said that being a strong women meant forgoing style and cosmetics?

It's sometimes hard for me to understand how it was for older women who climbed corporate ladders and broke glass ceilings and what-not, but it's annoying when women like Elle Woods are supposed to be a world apart from other career women because they like pink. Oy vey.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Black Feminism: Uncool But So Necessary

[What does a Black Feminist look like?]

Modern Feminism is hot, hot, hot, and probably has been since Gloria Steinem, donning the most mod pair of glasses ever, hit the international stage with intelligence, style and a gang of White supporters.

I have identified as a feminist for a short while, probably less than two years, but I've made up for lost time by voraciously consuming pro-women's media (Cosmopolitan doesn't count) and staying abreast of and supporting campaigns, elections and movements that help women. There are young feminists, old feminists, feminist blogs, feminist Twitters, feminist magazines, but there aren't any Black feminists.

Oh sure, there are Black women who call themselves feminists (like me), but women exploring the gnarled, juxtaposed relationship between race, class and gender? Not really. And if they're there, they're not buoyed up like their White counterparts. Even mainstream media doesn't ignore Black women, but they make the fatal mistake of attempting to discuss our gender and social station without also discussing race and class, which makes any argument only surface-level.

I want to do that. My friend and Twitter soulmate Nikita wants to do that. I'm sure there are other Black women that want to.

Food for thought:

"Black feminism argues that sexism, class oppression, and racism are inextricably bound together"

In Search of Our Mother's Gardens: Womanist Prose by Alice Walker

Womanist Musings.com

Latoya Peterson, the hip-hop feminist, is amazing...Google her ("older feminists being insensitive to issues of race, class or sexuality")

Erica Kennedy's a feminista

Rebecca's Walker's "How my mother's fanatical feminist views tore us apart"

Rebecca Walker on Twitter

Monday, November 02, 2009

Tales of the Public School Nothings

“Why do you talk like that?” “You’re not like those Black kids.”

Before I donned the standard white dress of my fifth grade graduation, I had heard phrases like that all too many times. According to a report from National Public Radio titled “Mind the Gap: Why Good Schools are Failing Black Students,” I was something of a “straddler,” or Black kids that navigate the rift between privileged classmates in advanced academic programs and the friends they leave behind, mainly Blacks and Latinos without the same societal expectations. This peculiar duality that many minorities experience is precisely one of the reasons why schools are failing them.

At my neighborhood elementary school, I took classes in a small annex that was dubbed “the pod,” where the city’s only elementary Magnet program was housed. While the greater school was predominantly African-American, the Magnet school was mostly White. I excelled in my classes and still managed to retain neighborhood friendships, though both sets of peers regarded me as something of an oddity. I didn’t appear to subscribe to the limited and often negative view of Black achievement, as others did.

And because of my educational environment, I was taught: challenged, constructively criticized, encouraged, and rewarded. I was told that I was smart, and expected to behave accordingly. My teachers were given positive cues on how to deal with me because of my past markings. And while my education was the best that my city could inexpensively offer, it often felt that my schooling was nothing more than an accident, a byproduct of being in a class full of White students that the teachers were eager to reach.

But the real achievement wasn’t a Black girl making the grades, rather a Black girl making the grades without “selling out.” “Mind the Gap,” spoke to students in Northern New Jersey who were straddling the space between achievement and authentic African-Americana, which are often seen as being contrary.

At the core of this issue is a damaged sense of self in the Black community that is reinforced by academic tracking, which is often prejudiced and biased. Black children who make it to honors, Advanced Placement, or Magnet classes (in and of itself a feat at some schools) find themselves ostracized and forced to deal with social implications never present for White or Asian students, who see themselves all throughout the top tier of their school’s hierarchy.

There are certainly Black success stories within public schools. I did well throughout primary school and attended a prestigious all-Black college on a full scholarship. I graduated in three years and am now a writer. It’s not a stretch to say that in the gamble that is the nation’s public schools, I won. But what can be done about the losers?

The solution certainly isn’t a simple one, but part of it should be a representative sampling of ethnicities at all levels of education. Standing against this, as “Mind the Gap” proved, are the middle class parents who are mobilized and ready to fight for their kids’ spots at the top. But the question that’s never asked is, “What have those children done to deserve their status?” Is it really a question of intelligence or hard work, or have those children simply been dealt a winning hand?

Listen to the documentary in its entirety at www.prx.org.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Don't I Look Like a Feminist?

I'm trying to get someone to tell me how I can become a full-fledged member of feminism's third wave...to no avail. Oh well, at least this pic makes me look informed, intelligent and infuriated.

-- Whitney

Monday, October 12, 2009

Project FAIL

Hello (in a sad voice). I miss this little blog! I feel like I haven't posted in forever, even though I was getting some momentum earlier in the year. The culprit is, as it always is, my maniacal, obsessive personality.

You see, I started a book blog with one of the my best friends. It's called Uptown Literati and it's got a blogspot, but we've also got a dot com and we update daily and we have contributors and we do interviews and we just joined a blog network and we also have a weekly column on Clutch and we need to get someone to design the template and we try to Twitter a couple of times a day and we update our Facebook page too...and I'm not good at balance, which is ironic because I'm a Libra and this is my birthday month and our sign is the scales. My partner (blog partner, not life partner) still manages to keep her blog looking fresh and dazzling, despite the UL strain. I can't do that.

It's like when I get on one of my exercise kicks. I'll work out everyday at 180% until I make myself sore and don't want to work out for weeks, except that I don't get sore from being chained to my laptop. I type and type, send emails, edit posts, post posts, research partnerships, read books online, look for new contributors, connect with other nerds on Twitter, I send frantic text messages at all hours in the morning (Nicole normally ignores them...), we email back and forth all day, I spend HOURS editing posts to plump them up and make them perfect (in my eyes). I put friendships on the line, all that, and it does nothing but feed my gluttonous need to see UL succeed. Guys, it's SUCH a cute idea :)

I've also become a little obsessed with Erica Kennedy. There, I said it. She's AMAZING! She's soooo smart, and she wrote a really great book that I can't stop talking about (literally! UL blogged about it, I wrote about it on Clutch...twice!) and I can't stop checking her blog, which she updates, like thrice daily with the most relevant and interesting stories that people proceed to write the most relevant and interesting comments on. Ugh. It's an obsession. She also Twitters and I find out about other fab Twitters through her. It's really, really sad.

Sooooo...that's why I neglect you, 1016, because I'm too busy obsessing about other blogs that are not you. I apologize....

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Am I Black Enough For Ya?

No, actually you are not.

The crop of '80s babies whose parents sacrificed for their kids to grow up in the right neighborhoods (i.e. not a brown face in sight), attend the right schools (again, mostly white, regardless of the rigorless curriculum) and talk right (i.e. using white colloquolisms, not proper grammar) really piss me off.

In some ways, I'm one of them. Technically, I've always lived West of the interstate that runs through my hometown, either in a suburb or sufficiently close to one to be considered suburbia. I entered a Montossori program at 5, a magnet school at 6 and thus was privy to my share of "Well, that's an interesting hairstyle" comments and damn-I'm-the-only-Black-girl-at-this-sleepover-again moments.

But, on the other hand, I grew up with a huge Souhern Black family. Which meant that I always knew the latest ghetto dance, had plenty a recommendation for a good, cheap hairbraider and could hand-game with the best of them.

Because I've moved within different worlds my whole life, it always annoys me when people who are more one-sided feel superior about it. Like, "Oh, I'm a wannabe Valley girl with bad weave. I'm better than you." Or, "I'm so hoooooood. Get on my level." Either personality is annoying, but the Oreo complex is the most offensive. Mainly because it's rooted in the same prejudices that kept Black people out of those white (not rich) neighborhoods and schools. The idea that because white people embrace it, it must be better.

Just because you listen to Maroon 5, doesn't mean you have eclectic taste. It only means that you like Top 40 hits. Like the rest of the world. Just because the slang you use isn't normally heard on MLK Boulevard, doesn't mean that you're speaking the King's English. Your speak isn't "better" than so-called African-American venecular; it's just different. Just because you have "Daddy Bought It" plates on your car instead of a baby Jordan dangling from the rearview, doesn't mean you are more cultured; your culture is just not stereotypically Black. But you still are.

And again, I find it so obnoxious because the mentality behind it is "Well, this is white, so it must be better." I attended Howard University ("H-U!") and I vividly remember all of those Freshman year, "rep your set" talks. The Black-neighborhood kids against the white-neighborhood kids (I repped both), the private school folks against the public school people. The gist of what a lot of the Oreo kids would say is that their parents wanted the best for them, so sending them to ABC Avenue High School and making them the only one in their class was the best option. The school's often didn't offer any special programs or super-duper advanced classes to prepare them for a good college. They were just white.

I just never understood that. Probably because my mom was so vehemently against me and my sister going to school in predominantly White neighborhoods. She never explained to me why, but I believe it was because she understood the sense of pride and community you get when your principal, counselor, teachers and fellow students are Black. When everyone is actively engaged in the process of learning and growing, not just about academics, but also about history and culture. Maybe it was because she recognized that some of the best academic programs our city had to offer weren't at the nearby Catholic school or Joe Schmo White School, but in historically Black neighborhoods, like the one that she was raised in and where our grandmother lived.

But at the end of the day, that's high school, or middle school, or some other school that's in the past. So anyone that carries that experience around like a badge of honor, please shut up and sit down.


Friday, July 31, 2009

Gratuitous Inspiration

I love these chicks! And the way left-side twin is rocking the strapless-high waist look is so inspiring. Boxy blazers and a empire waist? Nothing wrong with that either. I'm collecting images in the hopes that it will ignite my imagination for my fall wardrobe. Y'all know how much I love that season, and this time, I want to make it extra fly!


Saturday, June 06, 2009

The New Black

[Careers in non-profit organizations are the new black]

Here's a thought: Careers at non-profits are the new magazine jobs. Let me explain. So, I was IMing my friend yesterday when we got on a pretty familiar topic.

Friend: I don't know. I think [my magazine freelancer friend] is actually leaning in another direction outside of journalism now.
Mags are over.
me: here here!
me: i think i'd like to go into nonprofits when my mag career is over
NP's are the new mag
Friend: I like that.

The demise of the magazine industry is a popular point of discussion among Journalism alums (myself included), so I've had some time to think about what my post-magazine career should be, and a non-profit is the perfect fit.

Consider this: Both careers offer fashionably low pay rates, stylishly dressed co-workers (albeit, a different sort of style) and that self-righteous attitude that can only come with industries populated by upper class white people.

To further prove my point, Stuff White People Like rated Unpaid Internships in both fields #105 on their list. They said, "White people view the internship as their foot into the door to such high-profile low-paying career fields as journalism, film, politics, art, non-profits, and anything associated with a museum. Any white person who takes an internship outside of these industries is either the wrong type of white person or a law student. There are no exceptions."

[Lisa Bonet, clutching one of her babies at the Farmers Market. How much of a stereotype can you be?]

And if the quick-to-spend, quick-to-drink Carrie Bradshaw was the woman du jour of the '90s, certainly altruistic Earth mothers like Angelina Jolie and Lisa Bonet are the It girls every yuppie or buppie worth her salt aspires to in this decade.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Media, Magazines, and Me

I have an on-again, off-again love affair with women's magazines. It's well-documented throughout this blog, if you care to take a look. For example, after swearing off the book as an overrated, grown-up version of Seventeen, I bought a copy of Cosmopolitan this weekend (for research, though) and actually enjoyed flipping through it. Yes, there are much better ways to feed my mind, but sometimes it feels good to get lost in a trashy romance novel (see Cosmo's red-hot read section) or take a silly quiz about your commitment style.

[This is the issue I bought, and it rocks]

I recently listened to an old episode of Fresh Air on NPR that featured Zadie Smith. Being a literary novelist, one wouldn't expect her to be all that keen on non-news magazines, and she wasn't. She said something that struck me and stayed with me:

[Zadie Smith, author of novels like White Teeth and On Beauty]

I was glad there were no magazines for black women when I was a kid because I didn't want to read that stuff. And when I do read a lot of magazines about women I just feel very depressed and very alienated and very sad...The idea of being publicly represented, even though it was a big idea in the 80s and 90s, I think every representation is a generalization. I'd rather be my particular weirdo self than have a magazine called, I don't know, Mixed-Race Girls. I'd just rather be my own mixed-race girl, I don't really want advice on how to be a mixed-race girl.

Keep in mind that she's British, so maybe she wasn't aware of magazines like Essence or Honey when she was a teen or young adult. But I've never really been able to sum up what bothers me about women's magazines until I heard her say "I don't really want advice on how to be a mixed-race girl." I've hinted that all the self-help tips annoy me, but that seems like a really succinct way to say that most lifestyle content is about being better in some way, which is always a disaster.

Also keep in mind that I pen lifestyle content for a living, so I may be biased.

-- Whitney

Monday, May 04, 2009

On Mother's Day

On Mother's Day, I have a whole lot to be thankful for, and a lot of that is wrapped up in Ronda, my mom.

I'm so thankful that she lived to raise me. I'm so thankful that she loved me, and nurtured me, and put up with my stubborness, and taught me any number of really cool things. Among them: how to make a Dairy Queen blizzard at home, how to hem my jeans, how to be a good Christian woman, how to fill out a job application and how to effectively complain about bad service at a a restaurant. I think that last one comes in handy the most.

Beyond childhood, I'm thankful that I can pick up the phone and call my mom whenever I want. My cousins, who lost their mom when they were 18 and 25 respectively, aren't that lucky.

I'm thankful that she taught me to be a good daughter and a good sister. Her and my granny were so close, they were like best friends. They called each other all day long and saw each other everyday. My mom was well into her 30s and my granny was still washing, drying and folding her clothes. And those of me and my sister, too. What can I say: the perks of being the baby of the family. My mom is also best friends with her older sisters (she has four of them). Two of them have passed away, but they were an extremely close unit of women. I learned by example that a sister is the very best thing in the world a girl can have, and nothing, not money or men, friendship or job, should weaken that bond.

I'm thankful that she loves me. Totally, unconditionally, fully and without preamble, in a way that I probably will never understand unless I have kids of my own. When I hurt, she hurts. When I'm glad, she's glad.

I'm thankful that she taught me to be my own woman. To not let others' opinions or wills dictate my life. When I was 16, she let me go off to a boarding school, even though she told me (years later) that she cried for days before I left. She knew it was a great opportunity and wasn't selfish with me. When I was 18, she put her foot down and said that I couldn't go all the way to Washington to attend Howard University. I went anyway, and I'm thankful that she challenged me. It let me realize how strong I was.

And, finally, I'm thankful that she is who she is, because it has allowed me to be who I am.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Animals: They're Just Like Us

I had the pleasure of seeing earth last week with two of my girls, and I loved it! Of course, halfway through the movie, Nicole leaned over to me and said, "This is amazing. Most of this footage was on the Discovery channel show 'Planet Earth.'" Damn! So I just paid $8 (I buy the children's tickets at the kiosk. Shh, don't tell) to see something that other folks saw for free?! Well, on the show they have Sigourney Weaver narrating while the movie featured James Earl Jones, but still.

This segment of the series (I believe it will be three parts; the next part is Ocean coming Earth Day 2010) focused on mommies and babies around the planet. There was a polar bear family, a herd of elephants and a humpback whale with her baby, along with some other interesting characters thrown in.

Even if you're not nature-y (I'm completely not), you'll appreciate the careful storytelling and magnificent score of the movie. I was glued to the screen, feeling nearly every emotion along with the on-screen families. I was heartbroken when a baby elephant lost his mother in a cloud of dessert sand. He managed to follow his mom's footprints and set off on a trail, only in the wrong direction. When the humpback and her calf literally crossed the world in search of delicious vittles, I was tense as they navigated treacherous waters and were forced to loudly flap their wings so that the other would know that they were present and safe. And the adorable polar bear cubs! Seeing their first, exciting adventure outside of the cave that they were born in, watch them learn to walk on the slippery snow and eventually leave mama bear's cave, was really really cute.

Something that I kept thinking is how fortunate we humans are to have hands. The elephant, the polar bear and the humpback could only will their babies to stay close to them, and were unable to scoop them up and carry them. My friend Latrice said that I was applying human emotions to animals, but I think that we're wrong to underestimate the complexity of non-human intellect and emotion. I'm certain that any mom, human or polar bear, wishes for more ways to keep their babies close and safe from danger.

I also couldn't help but make a couple of food chain comparisons. The elephants that were forced to make themselves vulnerable to hungry lions at the watering hole, the shark that came out of nowhere to take a bite out of some very large mammal. Even though there isn't another animal out there that naturally eats humans, people are pretty good at making themselves predatory. Credit card companies, mortgage lenders, slumlords and companies that feed on the poor (hey Wal-Mart!) all come to mind when I think of human predators.

earth is a freakishly enjoyable movie, full of brilliant images, haunting music and the gentle pride that is James Earl Jones' voice. Go see immediately!

-- Whitney

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Girl Genius Over Here!

[No idea what this picture has to do with anything]

Have you ever come across an old email, or letter, or story and thought, "Wow, I wrote that?" We all walk around with the vague impression that we're competent and maybe mildly intelligent (well, at least I do), but every once in awhile we're forced to sit up, look in the mirror, grin slyly and think, "Damn, you're fierce."

This happened to me today as I was going through my emails from last summer. I was trying to find the cute little tree do-hicky that Hearst Corp. puts on the end of their emails that say, like, don't print this email or the Earth will perish, or something to that effect. I ran across my application to become a style writer for my absolute favorite website, Jezebel. I was just a young buck then. 22-years old, interning with the uber-fab Translation and looking for a full-time editorial gig. My cover letter (which is excerpted below) scored me an interview with the company, the opportunity to do an edit test, but no cigar. Still, I think it was pretty hot. I wrote:

The writing bug hit me around 2nd grade (with no warning and quite rudely) and my dream since then was to work for a glossy, women's magazine. Through the years I regularly sated my fixation by devouring Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, Vogue, and Marie Claire and the like before I came to the realization that the magazines, collectively, kind of suck (this category, of course, excludes Jane. May she rest in peace). Besides lacking in substance and ignoring real issues that real women deal with, they exist on the presumed platform that women are wack and need to improve. Get Thinner Thighs! Shiny Hair is Yours Now! Make Him Want You!

Where is the voice that gives a big, jovial high-five to women as they are? The presence that says you and your beer belly are fine the way that they are and, more importantly, the ice caps are melting, public schools are failing, our economy is in the tubes and John McCain is actually serious about becoming president—these are of equal importance. So, though I love to write about women and what's relevant to us, I'd rather do it at place that includes all that we are, not just weight-loss and/or sex tips. Enter Jezebel, Stage Right.

Amazingly, I still feel that way. Of course I looked at the letter and immediately spotted some punctuation errors that I wish I could go back and correct, but c'est la vie.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Weird Girls

[Lady GaGa]

If you read this blog even a little bit, then I'm assuming you're a bit of a weird girl/guy. After all, the whole premise of the site was to create a space for me to put my unique, quirky, and always weird spin on everything from pop culture to politics to style.

I've always been a little weird. Ask my mom, my sister, my aunts or cousins and they'll probably tell you that they always thought that girl was strange. I read a whole lot, I could be a little withdrawn in social and family settings and I never felt like I fit in growing up in my hometown. Fast-forward 20-something years and I know that all those things were mandatory experiences for an aspiring writing. I mean, when was the last time a book about being perfect and having all the answers won a Pulitzer?

Music has always been a place for weirdos. See Prince, Sinead O'Connor, Tupac and Erykah Badu. And being different has always been sort of a gimmack, I guess. But the onslaught of weird girls, arguably the first generation of strangies really allowed to roam and be themselves, have been marketed, monetized and analyzed to the nth degree. I'm talking about Amy Winehouse, Janelle Monae, my new favorite Lady GaGa and a slew of others that I'm forgetting. Solange, Rihanna and the like were always sort of the commercialized version of weird, so I won't include them.

As I was jamming to The Fame in the car this weekend, I began to think how absolutely cool it is to listen to an album by a woman writer who isn't constantly waxing pathetic about her man. Yes, that is a not-so-subtle nod to the Beyonces, Jazmine Sullivans, Monicas and Keri Hilsons of the world. I love their music, but a girl needs a break from all that heartache.

I heart GaGa even more after reading quotes like these:

"Because of Amy [Winehouse] very strange girls like me go to prom with very good-looking guys."

Heart, heart, heart her. Long live all the weird girls of the world.

-- Whitney

Monday, April 27, 2009

Remembering Bea

[Bea Arthur]

I didn't want to start this post with lyrics from "Thank You For Being a Friend," because, frankly, I'm tired of the deluge of media folk referencing that song. I actually didn't know how to start this post. I've watched "Golden Girls" since 1990, when I was 5 years old and used to snuggle up to my g-ma and watch GG and "Empty Nest" back to back after the 10 o'clock news on Channel 5. The room would be ice cold (we're Southerners. No heat gets in our home.) and my granny would have on her silky nightgown. She would cackle all throughout the thirty minute episodes. I would laugh too, but mostly at the facial expressions or physical stuff, since I had no idea what menopause, Fez Parker or impotence meant.

Between 1990 and today, I have never stopped watching that show. Reruns on Lifetime, then I bought the DVDs, plus watching them on YouTube, the show is just as much alive to me (and many of my Black, 20-something friends) today as it was in the 80s and 90s.

As I got older, it wasn't just Dorothy's deep voice or Rose's confused expression that made me laugh; I started to understand the jokes. Rose was even more naive than I was in seventh grade. Blanche was waaaay too hot in the pants to be post-menopausal. Dorothy and Sophia were the funniest mother/daughter duo I've ever seen on screen.

So, of course I was deeply saddened when Estelle Getty, famous for playing little, minxy Sophia, passed away. And when my sister texted me Saturday afternoon that Bea Arthur was gone, I was gone. I had dug up my first season DVDs earlier that day out of boredom and was watching the hilarity that started it all when I heard the news. I wonder if, by some strange chance, my deep, deep devotion to the show had led me to those episodes? Don't laugh, it's possible!

How can I put into words how amazing Bea was? We all know she was funny and intelligent and unflinching in her portrayal of all sides of a woman. I wasn't aware until recently that she was a staunch supporter of AIDS awareness and animal rights. Ashleigh told me that she also hated cheesecake. Really?!

She was my favorite Golden Girl, the one who I most identified with. And, since many other bloggers have echoed the same sentiment, I'd be willing to guess that she was the most popular; probably because she was everywoman, in a way.

Before "Sex and the City," before "Living Single," before "Girlfriends," there were four single ladies living it up in a stucco house in Miami, eating cheesecake, telling stories, sharing joys and pain, for the world to see. Age was only a state of mind for them, as they were as active and vital as anyone else running across the primetime screen.

It goes without saying that I am mourning the loss of Bea, and what she represents.

Read other tributes to her:

Jezebel: Bea Arthur's Top 5 Contributions To Pop Culture
NPR: Cheers to 'Maude' Bea Arthur
The Cynical Ones: Bye, Bea
Afrobella: RIP Bea Arthur

-- Whitney

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Kim K Ain't No Thicky Thick Girl

[Not A Plus-Size Body, Us Weekly]

As if she read my mind, Kim Kardashian recently updated her blog, and responded to Us Weekly's assertion that she would be rocking anything from Forever 21's plus-sized line.

She said:

"I am a huge fan of Forever 21 and I'm very happy they have expanded their line to include a plus-size range, but I am not in that size category and this article makes it sound like I am! I am a curvy girl and I love my curves, but curvy and plus-sized are two very different things. I work really hard to maintain my curves while staying slim and healthy, so to be classed as a 'fuller-figured woman' of extra large proportions is a little offensive. For the record, I am a size 2, not 2XL."

Yes, the tone was a bit snarky, but she's ultimately right. A round ass and big boobs do not a plus-size person make.

Read my earlier thoughts on the curvy vs. fat thing here.

Monday, April 20, 2009


[Katherine as Allison, Seth as Ben in Knocked Up]

I was watching Knocked Up last night, as is my custom when I am bored and need to keep the TV on as background noise. As usual, the annoying twit that is Katherine Heigl's character Allison was really getting under my skin. I twittered my hate of her, but that still didn't absolve my feelings.

Maybe because my 'Net was down (f&*k you, Comcast!) and because my apartment was a mess, but I didn't feel like cleaning it up, or because my hair was also a mess but I didn't have time to wash it and let it dry before I had to go to bed, but I just started to get really mad at Katherine-as-Allison, and her ilk.

Why is it that cool dudes always go for bitches? When I say bitch I mean a girl that's prissy for no reason. A girl that's stuck up for no reason. A girl that thinks she's God's gift to a dude because she has a vagina. A girl that treats a guy like crap just because she can. I don't have anything fundamentally against girls like that, but it's sort of annoying when it seems like trill guys go for them.

Like Seth Rogen as Ben Stone in Knocked Up. That's a dude that I'd kick it with. He's funny, nice, unpretentious and understands the merits of being intoxicated. So why did he immediately fall for a girl that is the exact opposite of cool?

It's like when guys complain that women like asshole-y guys. Now I feel like I know what they mean. Is it woman and man's natural tendency to go for mean people? Is it about balance, or is it really a cultural thing that we believe that if someone's a bitch it must mean that they have a lot to offer?

Whatever it is, add it to the list of things that supremely piss me off.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Thicky Thick Girls

[Image courtesy of Clutch]

The media, it seems, will never tire of dissecting women's bodies. They claim that women think about their bodies all the time. They claim that so-called real women look to celebrities for body inspiration. They claim that our body image effects the way that we carry ourselves and prompts us to sometimes engage in not-so-great behavior.

Frankly, it's a little annoying. The only discussions about body that I ever seem to have are between some web story and the comments section. Two of my favorite websites, Jezebel and Clutch, both recently ran stories about body image, from two decidedly different angles.

Jezzie hypothesized the world's new acceptance of curvier figures, like Coke bottle Joan Holloway from "Mad Men." Hortense argued that we aren't really beginning to accept new body types, but rather just replacing one unrealistic expectation with another. Good point, as the ultra-sensual, tiny waist/big breast/round ass combo doesn't present itself naturally for many women.

One thing that's always really weird for me when white media types talk about "curvy" is the fact that most of the women don't actually have curves. Curvy, at least in my mind, denotes a roundness in some desirable place, like your breasts or hips. It urks me when it's slapped on someone just because they're overweight. Like Queen Latifah or Adele. I have lots of curves in my stomach; they are called rolls. And no, I don't consider myself curvy. Humph.

Along those same lines, I really wish black people would stop calling fat people thick. Clutch explores the fairly recent phenomenon here. I blame that damn Mo'Nique. I don't know if it's the desire to take a word with a positive connotation and apply it to a body that the world doesn't view as positive or even attractive, or something else. But it's just misleading, annoying and inaccurate. Furthermore, what are you saying about yourself if you have to lie and describe yourself untruthfully?

Which also brings up a wider question. Is acceptance of our nation's growing waistlines even healthy? Five years ago I would have said yes. We are all unique individuals and have a right to live our lives the way we want to. No one should judge you solely by how you look anyway. Today, the answer is pretty gray for me. I wrote a story about a new scientific study that literally scared the pizza out of my hands. The gist: Black folks have horrible heart health and we die prematurely because of it. The sad part is that I shouldn't have had to read it; I've lived it.

My grandmother, grandfather, uncle, aunt and another aunt all passed away within just a few years (my uncle and aunt died just three weeks apart), and all to preventable disorders like heart failure, obesity and stroke. One of my aunts had been overweight nearly her whole life and, growing up in the South, hadn't wanted for male attention. In fact, my mother (who has always been scrawny), used to wish that she had the big legs and full boobs of her older sister.

I'm not placing the blame of anyone's health on our culture; I think it's amazing that Black people have created our own standard of beauty. But over half of my entire immediate family was wiped out my freshman year of high school, and the cause was essentially a horrible (albeit very typical for Southern Blacks) lifestyle. And that lifestyle, which sometimes produces beautiful thickey thick girls, is what I am afraid we glorify when we denounce someone who is obese as just thick.

Does anyone out there hear me? Do you feel me?

-- Whitney

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Embarassed, much?

I'm not easily embarrassed. Well, at least not by other people. I embarrass myself constantly. Like when I walk around all day thinking that I'm looking cute, but realize around 7 p.m. that my zipper's been down since I went to the bathroom at noon, or when I notice a fellow commuter noticing me plucking my facial hairs in the car. Those, to me, are sufficiently embarrassing moments.

What other people do, whether my friends or family, with me or away from me, isn't reflective of me, therefore I can't be embarrassed by it. I find that, among similarly upwardly mobile black people, I am in the minority with this opinion. Is it just me, or does it seem like BAPs are the most easily abashed folks in the world. Especially when they're in a mostly-white environment. These strange creatures from Planet Uppity-For-No-Reason are quick to shush their friends ("being an ill-educated arsehole is quiet work, you minion!") and work extra hard to distance themselves from restaurant or store patrons that are engaging in too much blackery for their taste.

I've had this theory for a few years, but it has been fully honed since entering the virtual training ground for empty attitudes that is my alma mater. I was once at a party with a friend when one of my favorite songs came on. I deigned to raise one arm and let out an excited yell, only to be met with "We are not going to get drunk and act crazy tonight!" Umm, excuse me?! Why the hell not?! Oh, sorry, I forgot that the invisible ass sticks we're all clinching prohibits fun.

I recently went to my neighborhood Ross store and was forcibly and annoyingly reminded of this concept. I was attempting to return a nightstand that I had bought a few weeks back, but had sat in my trunk since then. I was partly too lazy to bring it in to my apartment, but otherwise just forgot that I had bought it. I figured that if it wasn't memorable enough to make it out of the car, I shouldn't have wasted the cash on it to begin with.

So, after waiting in line for nearly half an hour, mere moments from passing out from the mysterious, flu-like sickness that had washed over me that day, I went up to the register and handed the attendant my receipt. The barcode was smudged, and therefore she claimed that she couldn't process the return. Dear readers, what would you have done? I made a stink. Not a mean one, not a loud one, not a disrespectful one. It was just stinky enough to show the cashier (and later her manager) that I was not one to be dicked by Ross Dress for Less.

While waiting for the manager to make a few calls, I watched the cashier take the next few customers, all of whom were black. Maybe it was my imagination, but I could have sworn that they were all extra-polite to her. She, the non-English speaking woman that looked at them up and down with disgust as they smiled and said "Hi," seemingly imploring with their eyes that she (a woman who probably hates blacks in general and looks down on you because of your skin. Regardless of your college alumni plates and Pan-Hel window stickers) not lump them into the same category of neck-rolling, finger-pointing Negroes that dare to demand rational, fair treatment at discount stores.

RME. Fellow Ross patrons and your ilk, please get a life.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Monday, March 09, 2009

Biracial Glamour

[Alexis Bledel as Rosie the Riveter]

By now I'm sure that you've seen the Glamour magazine tribute photos floating around the 'net. To celebrate the mag's 70th anniversary, they got some of Tinseltown's pretty young things to re-create iconic photos of glamorous, legendary women.

The honoree list was top-notch, if not a little predictable. Billie Holiday, Michelle Obama and Althea Gibson were the only African-American women, while Dolores Huerta was the only other woman of color depicted. To start, I loved the concept. Old meets new, flavors of the month meet icons, yatta, yatta, yatta.

But I was a bit peeved that out of the three Black women honored, all of them were replicated by biracial women. Paula Patton as Billie Holiday, Alicia Keys as Michelle Obama and Chanel Iman as Althea Gibson. Billie Holiday was a pretty fair-skinned (though, by my knowledge identified as African-American, not as mixed) woman, so it wasn't much of a stretch to see Paula don the famous flowered headdress. Michelle Obama is not only the product of two Black parents, she is by most accounts of a dark brown complexion.

[Paula Patton as Billie Holiday]

[Chanel Iman as Althea Gibson]

[Alicia Keys as Michelle Obama]

So Alicia Keys, though she is beautiful and fabulous, was a bit of head-scratcher. As my co-worker pointed out while we were discussing the issue, it would have been a great opportunity for a high-profile book like Glamour to feature a dark-skinned woman for a change. I don't regularly read the mag, but I can be certain that women of color in general are a rare sight.

Now, I don't personally know the staff of Glamour, but I am completely sure that they are incredibly hard-working, talented and smart, if not clueless when it comes to the Black community. So, I'll give them some insight into who I would have loved to see portray Lady O:

[Gabrielle Union. She's a UCLA graduate from a strong, Midwestern family. Resemblance, much?]

[Kerry Washington. Yes, you're probably tired of me talking about her, but she keeps it classy and chic, just like Michelle. ]

[Keshia Knight Pulliam. She's a Spelman grad, a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and an all-around wholesome young woman. And, umm, she's Rudy Huxtable. Need I type more?!]

If you haven't seen the images, they are on Glamour's website. I posted a few of my faves below.

[America Ferrera as Dolores Huerta]

[Emma Stone as Carrie Bradshaw]

[Hayden Panettiere as Amelia Earhart]

Who would you have liked to see portray these feminine icons? What other icons would you have liked to see Glamour honor?

Enjoy the day!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

She's A Twit

Oh, that Solange. You all know about my well-documented love/hate with that highly debatable child and she insists on providing me with fresh fodder on a near daily basis.

Today my girl is at a hair salon getting extensions. How do I know this, you ask? Because she tweeted me so. Her status updates for the last hour (as of March 3) have been something like this:

"At the hurrr salon. Under the dryer. Mad @ my stylist. I told him I just got this damn tattoo so be delicate. He didn't listen."

And "My moms been a salon owner for almost 30 years. I think growing up in one, I'm the anti "guuuurrrl" hair salon."

Hmm, where do I start? First off, I fully recognize that I'm lame because I do follow her twits (I'm one of the 17,772) and secondly, I'm actually dedicating thirty minutes to typing up this post. Yes, yes, I realize this.

But isn't there something to said about a celebrity that updates thousands with her every move, even when those moves take place in a hospital or hair salon?

It's weird because I don't feel there's anything wrong with it when I do it (twitter.com/BadGirl1016, check me out!), but it all of a sudden becomes really perverse and self-serving when album-hocking singers do it.

My friend Michael, who keeps me laughing all day with his blunt, completely truthful observations said this over Gchat:

Michael: She will be twittering at her own funeral.
"I'm dead, ya'll."

2 seconds later: "It's not so bad."

4 seconds later: "I wonder if God likes Bjork, too?"

My sentiments exactly. Check out this story I wrote on Diddy's tantric sex twitter extravaganza.

-- Whitney

Separated at Birth?

[Richard Wright from "Sex and the City", Professor from "Gilligan's Island"]

Or, not really since one is like 50 years older than the other. Very random observation: Richard Wright from "Sex and the City" and the Professor from "Gilligan's Island" look sooo much alike! Is Richard (don't know his real name, sorry!) like the Professor's son or something? It's crazy.

And who wants to see another appearance from the infamous Richard "eating another woman's sushi" Wright in the Sex and the City sequel? Anyone, besides me?!

-- Whitney

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mermaid Dresses Become Her

Take a look at these two dresses. One she wore to the Oscars last weekend and the other she wore in a recent photoshoot with Ebony magazine (cover image below). Though I wasn't a fan of the Oscar choice (it was a House of Dereon original, y'all), you have to give it to Bey for sticking to what works for her.

One word: Fierce! First off, let's talk about the hair. Big, curly and a more natural, darker hue definitely works for my girl. Could this be a return to the "Work it Out" days?

Actually, now that I look at this still from the video, that yellow-gold hair color was too, too much.

Something about Beyonce that I absolutely love? She gives Black publications the very best interviews. Remember that last Vibe cover that she did? Or the Giant issue where she boldly went where no other pop star had went before: posed for a magazine with hair curlers atop her head.

In this issue, she revealed a little something about her new, domesticated life with Jigga and why she'll never retire. Check it out.

-- Whitney

Monday, February 23, 2009

You Look Like You Work at a Hasidic Meth Lab!

This was the hands down funniest moment of the Academy Awards last night. Ben Stiller's dead on imitation of Joaquin Phoenix was worth every other painstakingly tedious moment of the rest of the telecast.

FYI: "You look like you work at a Hasidic Meth Lab!" will be my standard insult from here on out.

-- Whitney

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Solange sipping (and twittering) on sizzurp

Note: This story didn't make it onto another website, so I'm going to throw it you cool cats.

Solange Knowles recently had a little run-in with a syrup bottle. Don't worry, it wasn't the illegal, chopped and screwed kind, but it did land the "I Decided" singer on the floor of an airport (probably Los Angeles' LAX) and eventually in a hospital for dehydration.

According to Sol-Angel's twitter blog, she drank a little bit too much NyQuil sometime between midnight and 2 a.m. EST on February 17 (her twitter status was "never taking nyquil again. I feel so wierd.").

What happened next is unknown to anyone, even the singer who confirms that she passed out sometime between writing this tweet "I'm closer to Julez! I'm" and typing "Woaah......How'd I end up in the hosptal?" about an hour later, around 5 a.m. EST.

The youngest Knowles kept up a steady stream of Twitter updates, totaling 12 messages during the two hours that she was in the hospital, letting all of her 10,000 followers know that she was "super dehydrated" and hooked up to an IV, that Mama Tina came to see her in the hospital ("my mom is here! I'm ready to go! I'm fine now! Just let me go home and drink Gatorade!") and that she was pretty embarrassed about the whole thing ("I've been embarrassed enough today.")

Solange joins a recent celeb trend of blogging while in treatment. Erykah Badu recently twittered throughout the birth of her third child.

-- Whitney Teal

How much info is TMI? What do you think about celebs twittering through birth and dehydration?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Can I Have a Quick Word?

To tell you how obsessed I am with purple (wait, have I already written about that here? Not sure...). It's my hands-down fave color and I'm really feeling this Solange with the purple, "Star Trek" meets tribal eyeshadow. You think I can get away with that for work tomorrow?

On another, but related, note. Will someone please buy me this new Baby G watch? Do you remember in 10th grade when anyone who was remotely cool had a "talking" Baby G? Mine was purple! Ha!

-- Whitney

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Supermarket Survey

My decision to stop at the store was a whim. I knew that I had waffle mix at home, plus bacon, but that I had gulped down the last of my Sunny-D. So I stopped in the neighborhood Safeway to pick up the juice drink, but also got a carton of eggs, a few Snickers ice cream bars, a box of frozen T.G.I. Friday's quesadillas, all impulse buys. With my few purchases loaded in the grocery cart, I wheeled it to a check stand and settled behind a tall, buff Black dude. As I put my stuff on the conveyor belt, that very familiar feeling of supermarket shame came over me. He was buying fruit, bottled water, healthy stuff. My junk food looked unhealthy, wasteful, and worst of all: immature.

What's worse is that I experience this feeling nearly every time I visit this store. I've never felt it before, but something about this boutique Safeway with the sophisticated clientele always makes me feel like an overgrown kid with a horrible diet. Ah, yes, and here is the woman with the large tub of Haagen-Dazs, a Butterfinger bar and a six-pack of Wild Cherry Pepsi putting her items in front of the lean, mean, running machine and his VitaminWater, boxed couscous and pita bread.

But amid all of that, I can always muster up a minute feeling of superiority when I bust out my Baggus. They're colorful, eco-friendly grocery bags that I carry with me always. After living in New York, I came to assume that everyone despised wasteful plastic bags as much as I did, but since moving to marry-land, I've seen that me and my strict, no-plastic policy are in the minorty. I lost one of my three baggu's recently, and therefore have been on the hunt to replace it.

I've considered trying out one of their new, funky-colored designs. Or moving away from the familiar brand to another, equally cute, equally cheap bag.

Decisions, decisions.

-- Whitney

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I Love This Image

[Michelle Obama, Vogue, March 2009]

Monday, February 09, 2009

25 Things, Divided by 5

[Solange, Giant]

Everyone on Facebook has been posting these notes with 25 Things about them. The premise, as I'm sure you already know, is you write down 25 things that most people wouldn't know about you, or that you find interesting and you tag your friends, who are then supposed to post their own note. I've been tagged a couple of times, but I have a strict no-notes policy on Facebook so I haven't responded.

Plus, as I'm sure you know from reading this blog, I'm not terribly interesting and don't really believe that people care about when my left big toe was broken by a dresser drawer, then the toenail turned black and fell off, leaving me without a nail for like a month. True story.

So instead of doing it the traditional way, I've decided to post just 5 random, mildly interesting Fun Whit Facts. Enjoy. Criticize. Make Fun of. It's your choice.

5 Whit Facts:

1. I listen to NPR all day. Literally, all day. My car radio is always on WAMU 88.5 (although if someone is in the car with me I'll sometimes hastily turn the dial to WPGC or click on the Jazmine Sullivan disc in embarrassment). I also download the podcasts onto my work computer and listen to interviews and book readings on my iPhone while I'm doing my hair or brushing my teeth.

2. People that don't work (and complain about money) disgust me. Excluding people with disabilities or that for some other reason can't physically work. And, I don't include stay-at-home moms in this category since caring for children is HARD work. But, I mean people that complain about money, but won't go looking for a new job. Or people that turn down jobs because the pay is not what they want or it's not their absolute dream job. That kind of stuff really irks me and is so prevalent among young people today. I guess because I come from a family of stone-cold hustlers, it's really, really hard for me to have sympathy for someone who is lazy. My motto: If you don't work, you don't eat. I like to eat, therefore I work as much as possible.

3. I am the most easily annoyed person alive. Really, try me. I have a list of pet peeves as long as the state of Texas and will readily list them off to you. My latest is people that compare themselves to me. I'm me, you're you, no comparison. Like for example if I mention a new dress. "Ugh, I don't like dresses." Cricket, cricket. Hence why I bought it for myself, and not for you.

4. I tend to form really weird girl-crushes. Like my most recent ones are Solange and Zooey Deschanel. Zooey for the obvious reasons and Solange because I just dig her all of a sudden. She's still sort of an annoying twit, but you've got to love someone so unapologetically bratty. My girl-crushes, like my guy-crushes, rarely last long and they normally end after a month or two of me furiously googling them and reading every interview they've ever done, seeing/listening to all of their work and chatting about them endlessly to anyone who'll listen. Then I get burnt out and watch Superbad for the 800 millionth time.

5. You probably only know about 2% of me. I am really, really private. The people closest to me don't even really know me. I don't know why, but I've developed this idea that if I say what's really on my mind people will hate me afterwards. I'm working on not stifling my thoughts, but it takes awhile to re-train yourself, you know? If you read my blog then you are probably way more intimately acquainted with me than my friends and family.

-- Whitney

Thursday, February 05, 2009

In Transition/Random Musings

I'm growing out my hair relaxer and it's been a really great experience. The last time that I know for sure I had a relaxer was near Labor Day 2008, but I may have had another one after that, I'm not sure. I haven't been really strict with relaxing for a long time so it's hard to keep up.

Anywho, naturals call the in-between stage "transitioning," meaning that you probably have two very different hair textures coming out of your scalp and that you're having to tend to both textures.

I feel as if I'm constantly transitioning. The great profession that is writing/journalism/publishing (which I chose very, very willingly) has often put me through the ringer and required that I be very adaptable, moving from city to city, writing for different publications, freelancing here and there.

So much so that since I graduated from college in May of 2007 I've lived in three different apartments (two in the D.C. area and one in New York), not to mention the five months in Fort Worth, Tex. that I spent while I saved money to move to New York.

I've worked for countless companies since then, from temporary jobs to part-time retail jobs to internships to freelance gigs.

And I have to tell you, that I loved nearly every minute of it. My life has had such a feeling of vivrancy and immediacy and spirit. I feel like a hustler, someone who's able to make it anywhere. My goals and dreams come in very clear when my back is up against the wall, I learned from those experiences.

My life now feels settled. Which in some ways is AMAZING! I never thought that I'd enjoy doing things like paying bills online or furniture shopping or gasing up the car. But they're MY bills, paid with MY money, furniture for MY apartment, gas for MY car. I love it! Yet a sneaky part of me feels as if settled = domesticated. And I wonder if I'll ever write that novel before I turn 25, or publish any of my short stories in The New Yorker, or write a screenplay, or direct a documentary. When I feel like this I get soooo antsy. I start to think about moving to London or L.A. I tell myself that there's a whole big world out there that I haven't seen.

Which brings up some really fundamental questions. How do we ever have the time in the day, or the weeks in a year to pursue all of our dreams? When we've accomplished one goal, does that make the other, more distant goals less of a focus in our life? Is growing older really all about growing stale?

-- Whitney

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My Water's Smarter Than Yours

[my water's like, smart?]

Humph! The CVS across the street from my job had a sale on 33 oz. Glaceau Smart Waters, so I bought a few. They taste pretty normal, but I love that I can get 50% of my daily water requirement in one bottle.

I am NOT a big water drinker. At all. Never have been. But I know that H to the Izzo (pardon my corniness. I write corny stuff all day, errday, so it kind of seeps in) is essential to great skin and hair, not to mention controlling ones weight. Ugh.

So far, I've been pleasantly surprised by how much water I drink when I only have to think about getting through 2 bottles a day. Happy times are being had!

Whit Whit

Thursday, January 08, 2009


[john and alice coltrane]

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Changing Faces

So, I'm a little obsessed with the Photo Booth on my Mac...

[sometimes, i just look at it, and wonder who invented anything so cool...]

[but then i get caught up, and wonder what the hell is on my ceiling...]

[i've been setting my hair on small rollers, to help grow my relaxer out...]

[and i really can't stop pulling on the curls...]