February 24, 2015

Eau de Patchouli & Weed: Giuliana Rancic's Media Blunder & No Love for Black Girl Realness

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Zendaya Coleman at the 2015 Oscars
n 2013, Black women across the social media-sphere galvanized in support of 7-year-old Tiana Parker when administrators at the Deborah Brown Community School in Tulsa, Oklahoma chastised, then sent her home for wearing her natural hair in dreadlocks, because they believed her hairstyle 
wasn't “presentable.”

That same year, 12-year-old Vanessa VanDyke was threatened with expulsion when Faith Christian Academy in Orlando, FL told her to cut her Afro (a natural hairstyle she’d worn her entire life), after her mother complained to school officials that her daughter was being bullied and mocked about her hair.

Additionally, last year the U.S. military faced criticism after rolling out hairstyle restrictions that seemed to target Black women, before deciding to allow natural hairstyles like two-strand twists and removing words like “matted” and “unkempt” from their style and grooming guidelines.

Needless to say, I can probably outline an entire list of incidents that illustrate the politicization of natural hair as worn by Black women and girls and the myriad ways we are disparaged for styles and attributes most commonly ascribed to us, while white women and young girls are lauded as trendsetters for appropriating those very same styles. But, alas, perhaps rapper Nicki Minaj was onto something when, during a 2013 appearance on the Ellen Degeneres Show, she said, 
“…It’s the ‘white girl’ thing. …If a white girl does something that seems to be, like, Black, then Black people think, ‘Oh, she’s embracing our culture,’ so they kind of ride with it; then white people think, ‘oh, she must be cool because she’s doing something Black.’ …It’s weird. But if a Black person do a Black thing, it ain’t that poppin,” when asked about Miley Cyrus being credited for Twerking.
And that seems to be the general sentiment of most mainstream media personalities and journalists who cover pop-culture, style and entertainment.

February 18, 2015

#BanBossy: Why Critics Need to ‘Lean Out’ of Jessica Williams’ Business

In case you haven’t been following along, The Daily Show host and political satirist Jon Stewart recently announced that he’s leaving his chair later this year, after 16 years of acerbically skewering the donkeyish behavior of the conservative media, politicians and pop-culture, much to the dismay of viewers. Comedy Central said the network plans to continue on without Stewart, prompting many fans to speculate on who’d replace him.
Many names have been jockeyed about (Samantha Bee, John Oliver—who already has a pretty cushy gig on HBO—and even Aisha Tyler), but the one that landed at the top of the heap was that of 25-year-old actress and comedienne Jessica Williams, who has been knocking it out of the ballpark for the past year or so as a correspondent; unabashedly tackling hot-button issues like street harassmentsexual assaultraceracial profilingthe politics of Black hair and inter-political relationships.

January 23, 2015

'Light Girls' - The Good, The Bad, & The Cringeworthy

Curious, but skeptical, I decided to turn to the OWN network on Monday night and watch the premiere of Bill Duke’s second documentary on colorism Light Girls, a follow up to Dark Girls—which explored the marginalization and ridicule darker complexioned Black women face. 
Light Girls continued the ongoing discussion about intraracial discrimination and presented personal anecdotes from more than 200 people on the opposite (most preferred) end of the complexion panorama; interviews with lighter- skinned Black and biracial (half-Black) women, including TV journalist Soledad O’Brien, actress Raven-Symoné, glamour model Amber Rose, and “image activist” Michaela Angela Davis, among others.

January 08, 2015

#LessClassicallyBeautiful: Viola Davis Sticks it to New York Times & Mass Media

Photo credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images
This past September, New York Times writer Alessandra Stanley wrote a passive-aggressive feature on actress Viola Davis and her role in the titillating new series favorite, How to Get Away With Murder. Stanley not only ascribed the ‘Angry Black Woman’ trope to Davis’s character Annalise Keating (and acclaimed TV producer and screenwriter Shonda Rhimes) in the opening paragraph, but she also suggested that the actress inhabited an unlikely position as a leading a woman on Primetime TV, because she isn't as “classically beautiful” as actresses like Halle Berry (who is biracial) and Kerry Washington (whose aesthetic, style and stature are considered 'safe' enough to placate, and even inspire, mainstream TV and film viewers).