As adults, the holidays are more about spending time with family, friends, and loved ones than receiving gifts. In fact, in my family, we do a Secret Santa gift-exchange so that the focus isn’t on fighting through the massive crowds at the mall and stressing out, trying to find the perfect present for each and every family member. So, because of this, I usually don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what I want for the holidays.
But this year, I decided to go old-school, if even just for myself, and make a holiday wishlist just like when I was a kid. All but one item is under $100 and there’s a good mix of practical and fun stuff too. So if you’re still stuck trying to find the perfect gift for your impossible-to-buy-for loved one or if you’re looking for a holiday gift for yourself, check out my list!
For those of you who don’t know what Afropunk is, in just a few words, it’s a two-day alternative music festival that incorporates fashion, art, food, activism and other creative expressions of blackness. It originated in Brooklyn but now has festivals in Paris, London, Atlanta and Johannesburg, South Africa. Afropunk is a huge event that is a convergence of many different interests, but for me, the dress-up aspect is the most exciting part. Just do a Google search for “Afropunk fashion” or “Afropunk street style” to see what I mean. Or better yet, continue reading!
Last year was my first time going to Afropunk, although I had been wanting to go for several years. When I finally made it there, I ended up having so much fun and decided that I would definitely go again next year. This year rolled around and I was able to get my ticket early, thank goodness because the prices go up as it gets closer to the date. This is an issue for some since prior to 2015, the concert was free of charge. But one thing to note, whether you consider it a good or bad thing, once it stopped being free, the acts moved closer and closer to being mainstream. The concert still features alternative acts, but I think one difference is that Black alternative music is becoming more popular, as I mentioned in my post, “Is Alt-R&B a Thing? (What I’m Listening to These Days & a Review of Ravyn Lenae).”
Anyway, I was super excited about this year’s show, which would have, among other acts, a Saint Heron Stage that included performers curated by Solange herself. So I got a group of 6 of my closest friends and family together to go with me. We were going to have a mini girls trip! I even created a What’s App group chat for us to plan. For weeks, the seven of us chatted and laughed about what outfits and hairstyles we would be rocking for the big event. We sent each other Pinterest pictures for inspiration and thought of DIY ideas for accessories and anything else we could think of.
I get so annoyed when people complain that America is “getting too sensitive”. What does that even mean? Is it wrong to respect humanity so much that we get upset if anyone commits mental and emotional violence on others with their words and actions? Is it wrong to be concerned that negative ideologies, beliefs, and stereotypes are being reinforced by the media or people who simply like to hear themselves talk?
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy fun and “ratchet” music and TV or a (thoughtful) satire or a sarcastic joke as much as the next person but sometimes humor and entertainment value are used as excuses to continue to cast a blind eye on how marginalized groups are treated and viewed in this country. Sadly, the unwillingness to learn about others takes precedence over understanding others’ experiences in order to simply treat people better. And it doesn’t stop at entertainment and social media. There are many offensive things that take place in our everyday lives that have been so accepted that it is hard to convince people of their harmful nature. Things like work and school micro-aggressions, exclusionary practices, and cultural and ethnic erasure and homogenization are just a few ways we have ingrained ignorance into our existence.
Just like the Black family, Black women have had a similar struggle to be represented positively and accurately on TV. It’s important that Black women are not only given more roles but that these roles are accurate and positive, thereby making them for us, not just about us.
But throughout the years, it has seemed like too much to ask to see TV shows that were both about Black women and also made for Black women. Black women have been awkwardly inserted into TV shows as the token on mostly white shows or as incidental characters on shows with Black ensemble casts (e.g. if the star of the show is a Black man, he will most likely have to have a Black girlfriend, wife, mother, etc.) These characters don’t always necessarily speak to our real experiences as Black women and that is usually not the purpose that they were created for.
I believe that for these shows and characters to be not only about us as Black women, but for us, the shows must be created by Black women, or at least feature our writing or direction so that we can have more control over how we are portrayed. Then we can create characters that exemplify attainable #BlackGirlMagic as well as the relatable girl-next-door persona. We don’t need any more characters who represent the gamut of negative stereotypes; from being fetishized to being the best friend with no love life to being the angry Black woman. In addition, it’s important to note that depending on the era, the face of the Black woman and how we want to be portrayed on television changes.
One thing you should know about me is that I like listening to a variety of music depending on my mood – from 90’s-00’s R&B, to Indie-Pop, to Trap Hip-Hop. So I’ve been wanting to write a music blog post for awhile now. One of my favorite genres to listen to these days is what music know-it-alls are calling Alt-R&B, despite whether the artists themselves want to be labeled as such. Pretty much if the artist sings, their production has Hip-hop or R&B influences, and they aren’t mainstream, then they’ll probably be considered Alt-R&B. I feel like it should be deeper than that but that’s pretty much the trend I’ve noticed. Sometimes, these artists are characterized as Neo-Soul but, although I love the Neo-Soul of the early 2000’s, I don’t 100% agree with that characterization of the music today. I’ve even heard Electronic Soul or Future Soul as labels. I’m not sure about those either.
Anyway, some of the non-mainstream-R&B artists I’m listening to now are Sampha, FKA Twigs, Banks, Hiatus Kaiyote, The Internet (and Syd), Little Dragon, Kelela, Abra, Kilo Kish, Nao, and Xavier Omar (fka SPZRKT) – just to name a few. And I haven’t even gotten to the producers and DJ’s like Sango and Kaytrynada. These singers do vary from more of a jazz-funk sound to more electro pop and sometimes right there in the R&B lane. But what is most important to me is not the label, it’s that it’s not the stuff you hear on the radio (no shade) and it always gives me good vibes. To get an idea of the sound, think of the songs and artists you would hear in a coffee shop in Brooklyn, on the Insecure or Atlanta soundtracks, or at AfroPunk.
Yes! Spring is finally here. But the weather seems to be on a different page every day. One day it’s cold, the next day it’s warm and sunny, and the next it’s raining. While I’m not here for this annoyingly unpredictable weather, I am here for new, beginning of season looks. As I have been saying throughout the seasons, velvet everything and fringed, distressed denim have been trending and will continue to do so. Below are two ways that I have styled these trends and a chance to snag these items for yourself!
Something that I have been wanting to write about for awhile is the plight of the urban novel. I love a good urban romance or street lit book, but there are so many nowadays that it’s a challenge to find ones that are written up to a certain standard. Even so, there’s the common misconception that poorly written hood fiction is a direct result of the skill level of the authors who write them, but this isn’t necessarily true.
Urban novels often get a bad rap, not only because of their “hood” content but because some of them are not written well. As I have been toying with the idea of self-publishing my own books, I’ve realized that much of this has nothing to do with whether an urban novelist is less capable of forming a grammatically correct sentence than a mainstream fiction writer. Instead, it has very much to do with the self-publishing process or, in the alternative, with underfunded publishing companies who sometimes can’t afford to hire a good editor.
I wanted to take some time out to write a little bit about what my goals for this blog and my personal goals are and my journey to get there. My vision is to create a brand for the multi-dimensional femme identified person that represents lifestyle interests and social justice as two things that are not mutually exclusive. More specifically, I want to create a blog that discusses art, fashion, pop culture, and socio-political issues from the perspective of a feminist, queer, woman of color. However, as I continue to build this brand, I’m not sure that I always make those things clear. It’s a work in progress. Now that I am writing full-time (at least for now), I have more of an opportunity to delve further into this adventure.
As those of you who have been reading this blog from the start know, it all began with me trying to figure out how to incorporate my desire to write into my life as more than just a hobby. Secondly, I wanted to figure out a way to return to my passion for social justice since my legal career unexpectedly took me in the opposite direction over the years. Neither writing or fighting for social justice are easy goals or things that would necessarily earn me a living, but last year, I decided that I was ready for the challenge. So, I started this blog, began freelance writing, and have been learning so many things along the way.
Everyone can agree that representation of Black people in the media is a huge issue, but our reactions to the attempts made to be more inclusive vary depending on each of our own experiences. It’s obvious that there is not enough representation of Black people on TV in general, but the other concern is that the representation that we do have is not always positive or accurate. The argument over what positive and accurate representation looks like is an argument that we have been having for decades, especially when it comes to the portrayal of the Black family and the Black woman.
Often the argument comes down to whether we as Black people disagree with the constant barrage of stories with a slave or house servant narrative or whether we are annoyed by stories featuring characters with almost superhuman qualities or “unrealistic” excellence. Do we feel alienated by upper-middle class Black families on TV or do we feel offended by the stereotype of poor Black families on TV?
As those of you who follow me on Instagram may know, I have been wearing Miyi Hair faithfully. It is hands down the best hair I have ever used. I’m not normally an extensions girl, but I have had a few sew-ins in my lifetime. This is the first time I’ve used kinky curly hair and I love it! Miyi hair is 100% virgin, human hair and comes in a variety of kinky curly textures, as well as a kinky straight texture. The texture I have is 3b/3c and I used 14′, 16′, and 18′ bundles. This hair is super soft and the amazing thing about it is how versatile it is. You can wear it with a very defined curl or you can brush it out to get more texture. You can use different products on it, or no product at all, depending on the look you’re going for – just like your natural hair! Best of all, as Glams, you can use my exclusive discount code, #THEGLAMFEMME to get 10% off your Miyi Hair bundles. Continue reading for a full hair review.