March 17, 2015

Dark Roast, Flat White … Race 101? Why Starbucks’ #RaceTogether Campaign Lacks Steam

If there’s anything I love swilling more than red wine and vodka, it’s coffee. A delicious, highly-caffeinated, bold, dark, unflavored and unsweetened with just a splash of creamer cup of coffee. Frequently, I’ll amble into the nearest Starbucks… a place I have an ‘it’s aight, I guess’/ hate relationship with, to get my fix.

But now that Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has rolled out a new campaign called #RaceTogether—an initiative that’s meant to encourage dialogue about race between baristas and customers—I can now tack on ‘thoroughly amused yet perplexed’ to my feelings about the coffee chain.

While I recognize that Shultz shamelessly and openly expresses progressive ideas about equality, appreciate his willingness to 'go there' with shareholders and consideration for employees, understand the sentiment behind ‘Race Together,’ and get that employees’ personal stories, anti-racism and anti-police violence protests are what prompted this effort, Starbucks would be doing the national discourse on race and inequality an even bigger solid if they examined whether they, themselves, pass muster when it comes to diversity and race among their corporate staff, as opposed to launching a public, jingle-filled campaign their busy baristas are expected to broach in-between making frappuccinos and soy lattes. Particularly since Starbucks serves as something of an emblem for gentrification and high real estate prices.  

February 24, 2015

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

I
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.