Links of the Week 04/19/2013

1. How Sketch are Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches? [Beauty will Save the World]

Yes! Society does need to delight in women’s minds and abilities but alongside women’s beauty- not instead of. And I would argue that it is the same for men. We should delight in men’s minds, abilities, and beauty. This is why I would have loved to see more than two short clips of a male subject. Hence, there are faults to this video no doubt. The presence of more men involved would have fought another lie that self-image is only a female problem. And when I say involved, I mean as subjects not merely as informers (like the male artist depicted as the male source of affirmation telling females that they are beautiful). Because a woman’s beauty needs to be celebrated not merely by men but by other women too! And a man’s beauty needs to be celebrated not merely by women but by other men! Just as we learn to identify and celebrate beauty in others, we cultivate the aptitude to recognize it in ourselves. This has been made a difficult task in our society and the Dove Real Beauty Sketches touched on it.

As long as this is a conversation on beauty, this cannot be about defining -but about recognizing. For beauty is not for us to define how we want; it is for us to appreciate what it is.

2. Not your erotic, Not your exotic [Suheir Hammad] 

don’t seduce yourself with
my otherness my hair
wasn’t put on top of my head to entice
you into some mysterious black voodoo
the beat of my lashes against each other
ain’t some dark desert beat
it’s just a blink
get over it


Links of the Week April 1, 2013

Hi Everyone,

We were away last week. Actually spent it in the beautiful mountains of Colorado. Hoping to write a blog post related to that experience soon.  But here are some articles and blogs that we thought were interesting.

1Beyoncé asks women to ‘bow-down’: Is this an identity crisis? [ The Grio]

And this is why it seems so… jarring, really, for Beyoncé, after 15 years in the game, to start calling fellow women “b***hes” and demanding that they “bow down” like they are her lowly subjects.

Maybe Bey’s picked up her husband’s hip-hop swagger and God Complex by association, but I wish she’d put it back down. If for no other reason than as much as everyone dislikes a sore loser (like Cole appears to be), they loathe an arrogant winner even more. (And it’s not because she’s a woman. Kanye West is maligned for his arrogance, too.)

24 Amazing Black Women They Don’t Tell You About in School [Our Common Ground]

Even as a slave, Elizabeth Freeman, known as Mum Bett most of her life, had the audacity to sue for her freedom. Born into slavery in Claverack, New York around 1742, Freeman, at a reported six months old, was sold, along with her sister, to John Ashley of Sheffield, Massachusetts, a judge in the Massachusetts Court of Common Pleas. Enslaved to Ashley until she was almost 40, Freeman was spurred to action when the mistress of the house Hannah Ashley tried to hit her sister with a heated kitchen shovel. Freeman intervened and was hit instead, leaving the house, vowing to never come back.

Aware of the 1780 Massachusetts state constitution and its declaration of all men being free and equal from Sheffield’s many conversations, Freeman sought the services of Theodore Sedgwick, an attorney with anti-slavery sentiments. In 1781, a Massachusetts court awarded Freeman and another of Ashley’s slaves named Brom their freedom in Brom and Bett v. J. Ashley, Esq., even requiring Ashley to pay damages.

3. Why It’s Important to Keep Knocking [ The Simply Luxurious Life]

One of the most significant lessons to learn as we each traverse toward our most ideal life is to keep a burning persistence within ourselves. For when we set our sights on what we wish to achieve and are able to not be distracted by an endless list of goals that only tickle our fancy but then quickly lose our interest, we streamline our energies toward an eventual success.

Links of the Week 03/16/2013

1. Stop Following the Rules [Happy Black Woman]

Just because you go to college and get good grades doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll land your dream job. Ask all the unemployed college grads and they will tell you. Just because you go on to get a Master’s degree and your own condo and a nice car still does not guarantee you happiness in life. And we all know that even if you follow The Rules in any dating book or manual to the “T”, you are not guaranteed love for a lifetime.

That’s because The Rules were created for all the people who are satisfied with “good enough.”They are perfect for the people who are fine with someone else telling them what to do with their lives and how to do it. The Rules are for people who are willing to settle for a mediocre life because they aren’t willing to put in the time or effort to create an amazing one.

But for those of us who want more out of life, The Rules are useless. We see that they can only take us so far and then we have to figure out the rest ourselves. We realize that we’re actually sick and tired of playing by The Rules anyway.

And then we decide to create our own.

2. Swedish Mannequins! [Feminist Philosophers]

Swedish Manequins in H&M store

Swedish Manequins in H&M store

An H&M clothing store in Sweden is being hailed by women around the world after a photo of two surprisingly curvy mannequins there were photographed and posted online.

“Dressed in skimpy lingerie, the mannequins displayed softer stomachs, fuller thighs and generally more realistic proportions than the traditional department store models. For comparison, most mannequins in the U.S. are between a svelte size 4 or 6—a departure from the average American woman who is a size 14.”

3.Joan Morgan on Black Sex, Identity and the Politics of Pleasure [Parlour]

To me Beyoncé does work that isn’t discussed beyond ‘Why did she have to gyrate that way?’ or ‘Why is she wearing that kind of clothing?’

I want to get past that. I want to look at how people, and women, are getting pleasure from what Beyonce does and so is she, and why that’s important.

Links of the Week 02/22/2013

1. Let’s get rid of ethnic churches. [Chine Mbubaegbu]

Our society is becoming increasingly multicultural. But a multicultural Church isn’t just about political correctness. A multicultural, diverse Church is beautifully symbolic of the God whose very essence is unity.

The Church therefore should be the last place where, before entering, I put on the Cloak of Race and stand side by side with those sporting the same attire as me.

The Church should be the one place where the cloak matters least; where we stand together with one sole, unifying identity.

2. Django, in chains. [CNN Opinion]

Tarantino stated his goals and interpretation of the Oscar-nominated film’s impact: “I’ve always wanted to explore slavery … to give black American males a hero … and revenge. … I am responsible for people talking about slavery in America in a way they have not in 30 years.”

He went on, “Violence on slaves hasn’t been dealt with to the extent that I’ve dealt with it.”

“Django Unchained” is being projected on screens around the world, out of context: A slim percentage of consumers have any real understanding of what took place during slavery, one of history’s most prolonged, barbaric and celebrated human rights violations. Sadly, for many Americans, this film is the beginning and the end of that history lesson.

A big reason slavery is avoided in American storytelling is guilt. Unlike the Holocaust, when it comes to slavery, our people were the bad guys. But we’re not German, so we can rail on Hitler and the Nazis all day without thinking critically about our legacy.

For descendants of slaves, and all Americans, our ovens — the slave plantations — are tourist destinations and wedding venues, home to preservation societies and guided tours. The “good ole days,” when faceless black folks with zero potential were merely quiet, collateral damage.

America’s minimal comprehension of slavery combined with the kind of trivialization “Django” offers renders us ill-equipped to empathize with its victims. This is a chicken or the egg manipulation: “Do I know nothing about the complexity of slavery because it’s not that big a deal, or must it not be that big a deal because I’m only vaguely informed?”

3. Bongi Ngema Zuma:  I chose to be his fourth wife [BBC World News]

BBC interview with South African President Jacob Zuma’s fourth wife, Bongi Ngema Zuma. She is speaks about her foundation, and her marriage to Jacob Zuma.

4. The Oscar Pistorius File [Africa is a Country]

The South African Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius shooting and killing his girlfriend seems to be the only news out of that country these days. Nothing else seem to matter. Even Usain Bolt was asked his opinion during what seemed like an interview to promote a brand on CNN. Bolt declared himself “shocked.” Shocking. There’s also the ridiculous: Femi Fani Kayode, a former Nigerian government minister, —in a rambling Facebook post—blamed Steenkamp for her own murder. Pistorius, Kayode claimed, “was provoked into a murderous rage by his pretty little lover (who) played on his insecurities and inadequacies.” Steenkamp was a “creature from the sea” sent by the devil. Okay? Incidentally Kayode wasindicted for money laundering last week.

Links of the Week 02/09/2013

1. The Power of Michelle [ For Harriet]

Messages that decry my value as a black woman and elevate the status of whiteness are non-stop. Black womankind is reduced to a gyrating rump on prime time television, a cluster of conniving welfare queens with no ambition.

Despite criticisms about her “work,” I believe our First Lady has advanced women’s interests in a powerful way. Simply by being who she is, where she is, Michelle Obama is disrupting reductive narratives about what it means to be a black woman in America today

2. Turning Fairytales into Reality [The Simply Luxurious Life]

If happily ever after is depicted as finding our metaphorical Prince Charming, perhaps what it literally means is not that we should all aspire to find that one person to complete our lives, but to dare to dream grand, wildly amazing dreams that surpass even our own expectations. A life that is rich with travel and endless new experiences – it can happen. A life lived as a well-paid writer/graphic designer/designer – it can happen. A life that involves owning your own boutique selling beautiful independent designer garments and accessories – it can happen. 

3. New web series, ‘African Time,’ focuses on individual experiences of Africans living in the United States [Africa is a Country]

The lightheartedly named African Time is a lovely new web series produced by the Waave + Dada artist collective.  Each short episode consists of a different individual discussing their individual experiences as Africans living in the United States.  There are no frills to speak of, with subjects speaking directly to the camera, usually in front of a black backdrop.  Yet, many of the characters and their anecdotes are captivating enough where it doesn’t seem to matter how bare bones the whole production is.  This is especially true for the episode (video above) entitled “Smiles and Popcorn,” in which the mother of one of the series’ creators, Mawuena Akyea, discusses her confusion with what she calls the ‘cut-and-paste smile’ of white America and the absurdity of the buckets of popcorn (and refills) available at American movie theaters.  More than anything else, Mrs. Akyea provides viewers with a unique and subtly biting analysis of some of the nuances of American culture.

4. Some of us are fierce. [consciouscypher]

We are not represented for all that we are, not to mention that historically white feminists have had a lot to gain from our misrepresentation. We were simply collateral damage in their search for liberty/equality with patriarchal white men.

And as a young black woman, seeing her on stage, singing songs such as baby boy or single ladies with Destiny’s Child gave me more pride in being a black woman.

So for you to tell me that Beyonce was out there objectifying herself is just a no no. Especially because she was up on that stage refusing to objectified. Everything about Beyonce and her all female band screams FIERCE. Partly because they completely defy the prevalent male and white gaze. They were unapologetically powerful while revelling in their femininity at the same time.

5. A Defiant Dance of Power, Not Sex: Beyoncé, the Super Bowl and Durga [David Henson]

Because Beyoncé’s performance Sunday night in New Orleans wasn’t about sex. It was about power, and Beyoncé had it in spades. In fact, her show was one of the most compelling, embodied and prophetic statements of female power I have seen on mainstream television.

That a Black woman claimed and owned her power during the misogynist, consumerist celebration known as the Super Bowl only highlights Beyoncé’s brilliance and boldness.

Links of the Week 2/1/2013

1. Questioning Obama, Yes I think I will [Integrated Memoirs]

Last night, I engaged in a debate that involved politics. It was on the subject of the continuous and senseless murdering going on in Chicago. I presented one point of view, and the other debater presented a different point of view. The debate wasn’t the issue; the issue is that I took a stance that *gasp* questioned how our president, Barack Obama, hasn’t spoke much about it, and he hasn’t visited with the families of those victims unlike the victims of other senseless murders in towns that present a different ethnic tone (I’m trying to be PC here…I hope it’s working)…the debate brought to my attention an imperative question, and that is, “Why is it wrong for anyone to question the actions of the president, particularly a black person?”


2. Scandal Creator Smacks Down Criticism Of Her Writing Choices & Why Some Black Women Still Don’t Get It [Acts of Faith]

Olivia Pope is an educated, attractive, feminine and powerful woman. She is a strong woman with a little “s” – not a martyr or a mule. She is flawed, but not depraved. She is also career-driven. Does her complicated love life personify the modern Western woman’s dilemma in showing you can’t have it all (because excelling in a pressure-cooker lifestyle and demanding career requires such a commitment that everything else falls by the wayside? She has a team of associates who refer to themselves as gladiators in suits and they will jump off a cliff for her, yet they are all single and child-free. She is fully three-dimensional and grounded, but is her life an ideal? She’s front and center on the show and the love interest of the most powerful man in the world. Kerry Washington brings a lot of vulnerability and we see her internal struggle at denying the passion she feels for this man however inconvenient it is. The on-screen chemistry between Ms. Washington and Tony Goldwyn as President Fitzgerald Grant is palpable and completely believable. Without it, this romance thread would be DOA and Scandal would be a completely different show. Kudos to Ms. Rhimes for bring out the best in her actors and writing roles that showcase their best work.  I wouldn’t oppose having a real-life moderate Republican President like Grant in office in real-life, especially one whose tv alter ego wants to affect positive change. The bottom line is we’ve not had a character like Olivia Pope before and she shouldn’t be the last.

Links of the Week 11/24/2012

1.There are a Million Ways to Get What you Want [Happy Black Woman]

Immediately, I began to feel like a total failure because my decision to pursue a PhD had been very public – on my blog and in my circle of friends. I had told all of my colleagues and peers about my goal to become “Dr. Thurman” only to end up quitting soon after I started. The discomfort was inevitable, but as soon as I quit the PhD madness that was dragging me down, I was inspired to fulfill my purpose using other means. I learned that I didn’t need to have those three letters behind my name to make a difference.

What’s most interesting to me now, as I reflect, is what I did after I quit my PhD program.

I did start changing the world – on my own terms.

I wrote a book to help people build meaningful and rewarding nonprofit careers. I quit my job and went completely out on my own to work on projects that I believed in. I got serious about coaching people on how to access their own leadership skills. I started this blog to fulfill my personal mission to encourage women to live their ideal lives. I started speaking more and doing more and risking more and becoming more of the person I was meant to be.

2. Malala Yusufzai[So she is]

“Malala doesn’t just represent one young woman, she speaks out for all those who are denied an education purely on the basis of their gender.” So says Shahida Choudhary who is campaigning for the 15-year-old symbol of women’s rights to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

3. 30 Things I Learned on My Way to Age 30! [Urban Bush Babes]

This little birdie just turned 30 and I have to say that this year has been eventful to say the least! I have grown leaps and bounds! I got engaged, planned my own wedding, got married in Big Sur, California, honeymooned in Muai, Hawaii for 10 days, moved 1 week later to another state into a house after being in NYC for 27 years, I got a brand new car, and I’m looking for a new job! What else could I have possibly wanted or have done for my 30th birthday??? I didn’t want a thing! I already have more than I deserve and I give all the glory to God for taking my mess of a life and turning it into something I could have never imagined or dreamed up for myself! Here are 30 things that I have learned along the way.