Showing posts with label Black Beauty. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Black Beauty. Show all posts

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).

March 19, 2014

There's Something About Lupita

Why is it controversial to see a dark-skinned black actress achieve stardom? 



Lupita Nyong’o… the Mexican-born, Kenyan-raised, Yale educated actress and filmmaker took Hollywood and popular culture by storm, after her breakout role as Patsey in the film adaptation of the memoir and slave narrative, 12 Years A Slave. Making the red carpet rounds at various press junkets, social events, and awards shows, Lupita’s gracious demeanor and impeccable sense of style has taken people’s breath away. The media seems hooked and denizens of social media drool whenever images of her swathed in colorful couture, looking radiant, hit the internet.
Lupita is poised to become a bona fide Hollywood A-lister, and her growing popularity symbolizes the type of universality not often afforded to women and girls —especially working actresses — who exist in skin like hers and whose brand of black isn't 'exotic other'
And while most people, particularly black women, are finally glad to see the likes of Lupita Nyong’o take center stage to much fanfare, others in the black community expressed a myriad of dissenting opinions ranging from confusion and indifference, to flat-out unimpressed and insulting.

March 13, 2013

Viola Davis as Barbara Jordan: Trailblazer, Leader, More Than a "Common Asexual Mammy"

This post was originally published on Coffee Rhetoric March 28, 2012 and has been updated with current information and re-posted in commemoration of Women's History Month ... 


I am passionate about a number of social issues, paticularly those pertaining to the well-being of Black women. And while I may project my voice and stand in solidarity with others, about certain things, I am leery and strategic about whose and what rhetoric I co-sign.  I’m solitary in my work  and don’t belong to or align myself with any new movements because, from my' vantage points, they often implode and it stops being about the issue(s).

That aside, I've found the language and writings of a certain subset of Black women to be very problematic. They attribute their work to Black Women Empowerment (BWE) and consider themselves the voices of reason for the elevation of Black womanhood. There are undoubtedly some women who have managed to successfully carve out a niche and use Black feminist and BWE platforms to inform and provide legitimate, insightful, and thought provoking content about the importance of recognizing race within feminism and feminist theory. They’ve been tireless about advocating for Black women and young girls, in a society where we're often invisible, ridiculed, and further marginalized. 



February 26, 2012

Coffee Rhetoric Redux-- If You're Black, Get Back!



In the wake of the latest foolery courtesy of a St. Louis-based promotional company, involving an ill-conceived marketing idea, themed: "Battle of the Complexions" pitting dark, brown, and lighter complected Black women against one another, I'm re-posting an essay I did in August, 2011 about Shadeism or what's also known as Colorism; which is still very much an issue in the Black-- (and other minority)-- communities, despite denials to the contrary. 
In perhaps, an equally as foolish attempt at insulting the collective public's intelligence, the promotional company responsible for the event released a convoluted apology (below), chalking up the idea as a tribute to Black History Month... 
MACK TV WOULD LIKE TO CLEAR UP THE MISUNDERSTANDING OF OUR CONCEPT FOR THIS PARTY...ITS NOT TO DEGRADE WOMEN OR DIVIDE SKIN COLORS. ITS SIMPLY TO SEE WHICH COMPLEXION OF THE AFRICAN AMERICAN RACE REPRESENTS THE MOST (lightskinned, caramel-brown, or darkskinned) AS A WHOLE , MALE & FEMALE! I CAN SEE THE MISUNDERSTANDING WITH OUR PROMO.....WE COULD HAVE USED A BETTER CHOICE OF WORDS....WE DID NOT MEAN TO OFFEND THE OFFENDED
ITS BLACK HISTORY MONTH , SO WE MADE A PARTY THEME DEDICATED TO OUR AFRICAN AMERICAN CROWD. THE YOUNGER GENERATION IS LOVING THIS PARTY BECAUSE HERE'S THE FIRST TIME EVER YOU CAN COME OUT & BE PROUD THAT YOU ARE BLACK!! REGARDLESS OF YOUR SKIN TONE SORRY FOR THE CONFUSION & MISLEADING INFO.
ITS BLACK HISTORY MONTH , SO LETS BE PROUD OF THE SKIN WE'RE IN!! REPRESENT YOUR COMPLEXION! ...



If You're Black, Get Back!  
Originally posted August 8th, 2011

No rap lyric has incited Black women to chorus the way the beginning of Lil Wayne’s verse in Every Girl in the World, in which he expresses his desire for “a long-haired, thick Redbone, who opens up her legs to filet mignon” has.

Hair and skin-color continue to haunt my sistren. Deeply rooted issues of Colorism are extensively blogged and written about by mostly Black female bloggers and writers, who take rappers to task for preferring racially ambiguous looking, seemingly non-Black women to frolic with on and off the sets of their videos.
Recently controversial novelist, Kola Boof sounded off at Wale via Twitter, in a long, sometimes expletive-filled tirade about his video Pretty Girls not featuring enough Black women… that eventually culminated in a feud of sorts. Kola berated Wale (whose parents are Nigerian)- accusing him of prompting young Black women in Nigeria to want to bleach their skin in order to compete: “Wale is doing more than just dig light women. He [sic] selling AFRICAN CHILDREN on skin bleaching … making them feel BLACK is ugly…”

Additionally, Actor/Singer Tyrese also felt the backlash of frustrated darker-skinned women, confused as to why his video was seemingly devoid of obviously Black women. “So I’m getting tweets … why aren’t any “Black Women” in your video.  I had a 2 days audition.[Sic]  I welcomed ALL women and went with the BEST.” he tweeted exasperatedly.

When framed within the context of entertainers and their sex lives, Colorism is undeniable. I acknowledge that it thrives within this realm and influences the aesthetic of many Black men, however, I’m a bit flummoxed as to why Black women continue to look to entertainers and athletes to validate their worth and personal brand of beauty. I understand wanting to see more honest and diverse examples of Black beauty in music videos; But when do we stop holding rappers responsible for how we essentially should view ourselves? When do we stop allowing Lil Wayne’s preference for a “long-haired, thick Redbone” to bother us and realize that when Black men (many of whom are also darker-complexioned) punctuate their preferences with disdain for dark women, it’s their deep-seated issues… and has nothing to do with us? When some Black men reach the pinnacle of financial success, they get to dictate who keeps their mattress warm and comfy… and for some, darker skin just doesn’t suffice.  As frustrating as their self-loathing is, that’s just the way it is. Quite frankly, when I look in the mirror, I’m not wondering whether heavily tattooed rappers with platinum dental work and several children by several different women, think I’m too dark to be considered attractive. Black men who look down on women for having darker complexions… have soul searching to do. Black women who agonize over and doubt themselves on account of a troubled individual’s superficiality… have soul searching to do.

This is definitely not an attempt to trivialize the impact of Colorism… My hope is that Black women with darker complexions move away from seeking acceptance in empty, cold places and hold themselves in high regard, despite the odds stacked against them.
Prolific film director Bill Duke eloquently explores the issue in this 9-minute trailer for his documentary,  
Dark Girls





Original post

              Recommended Reading:  

February 25, 2012

Secret History of the Black Pin-up: Dan Burley

I'm no connoisseur of vintage adult publications, but do consider the elements that went into creating them during their time, quite interesting; specifically the role Black artists, photographers, models, and distributors (if any) played in the world of vintage adult periodicals and magazine publishing, as we don't often see information charting the history and are hard pressed to find rare materials from their era, which seems to have been wiped from the annals of publishing history in some cases, and costs an arm and a leg if you do track something down on eBay or sites of the like. 

Enter the late Dan Burley; who was a Black-American polymath-- musician, poetry writer, actor, editor, and noted journalist-- who created, edited and wrote for several prominent African-American publications including: Ebony, Jet (an idea he sold to the Johnson family), New York Age, the wildly popular Harlem Handbook of Jive, and Amsterdam News. Burley, who also collaborated creatively with several famous jazz greats, wrote the forward for Elijah Muhammad's book, Message to the Black Man in America and was commissioned to edit Muhammad Speaks (now known as the Muslim Journal) for print in the Pittsburgh Courier (which was owned by Black American entrepreneur and Republican, S.B. Fuller)-- despite not being an American Muslim or member of the Nation of Islam.
Dan Burley's political connections, friendships, and work in the fields of music, journalism, and publishing is an extensive and impressive one indeed, but it is his foray into the world of adult magazines that intrigues me the most; and my interest in and fascination with the history of Black pin-up heavy periodicals and vintage ads featuring Black models is no secret as evidenced here, here, and most notably here; so it was with great interest, while visiting one of my favorite sites and resources for this type of information, that I read about Dan Burley serving on the editorial staff for Playboy-esque periodical, Duke Magazine; which filled a niche for upwardly mobile Black male readers and only produced about six issues featuring comely Black women, a Duchess of the Month centerfold, work from noted writers, as well as comics drawn by freelance artist, Bill Ward.  

According to Vintage Sleaze, Bill Ward (purveyor of Good Girl Art and creator of risqué female characters), did a series of drawings for Duke Magazine featuring Black versions of his ample-breasted female gag-comic sirens, under a pen name.The publication also presented reprinted works by Langston Hughes, Ray Bradbury and one of my favorite Black expatriate novelists, Chester Himes -- who penned the controversial book The End of a Primitive

Much like my initial search for vintage photography featuring Black female pin-up models, a Google search of Duke Magazine didn't garner too much information beyond the sparse footnotes I found on a couple of websites and of course Vintage Sleaze, which notes,
If you search Dan Burley, you'll find him identified as a sports writer. A Journalist. A Jazz Musician. A Poet. And yet he only lived 54 years. His Wiki Biography (which also omits his smut magazine) is HERE.
Researching the rare history of Black pin up models has definitely led me to uncover some compelling other information regarding publishing and the history of vintage adult periodicals featuring the Black female aesthetic, I'd never heard of. As a writer who's interested in the Black female image in media and pop-culture, it's always great to uncover any lost or rarely discussed aspect of Black History. Stay tuned... 


**Additional Reading: 


January 14, 2012

Pearl Noire (The Black Pearl)

Well... since I have an affinity for Black pinup model history, Josephine B., and Black burlesque, here's some Saturday sultriness; Contemporary burlesque performer, Pearl Noir the Black Pearl...






December 21, 2011

Blogging Elsewhere: Dutch Magazine Labels Rihanna "De Ultimate NiggaBitch"

Ever since Barack Obama was voted into office as President of The United States, liberal types have been dropping constant memos stating: Obama’s presidency is proof positive that we’re living in a post-racial society!  In fact, they’ve been virtually imploring  people of color to stop griping about racism and to get a sense of humor about the piss-poor comedic stylings showcasing their hipster racism.
Barack’s presidency is considered the ultimate triumph over White supremacy.  Once the First (Black) Family settled into the White House, Black citizens suddenly felt comfortable enough to enjoy a slice of delicious, refreshing watermelon and that piece of chicken at the company BBQ without reproach or side-eyes from their co-workers.  People of the African Diaspora the world over (especially Afro-Europeans) rejoiced and seemed compelled to action as they re-evaluated their place among European society. Despite protests to the contrary, America is still grappling with racist agitators and questionable images portrayed in the media, even as we’re right on the cusp of 2012.  And while offenders in this country are often taken to task for fanning the flames of ignorance, Europe and European media outlets continue to have a complacent, laissez faire attitude or seem to harbor a lack of education when it comes to global race relations… particularly how it functions here in the United States. For instance, Vogue Italia came under fire this past summer for referring to hoop earrings commonly worn by women of color as “slave earrings” and made sure to amend their gaffe since the backlash.
This latest and flagrant act of ignorance came courtesy of a Dutch magazine called Jackie. Applying the wit of a hipster telling a racially insensitive joke, a writer for Jackie advised its readers on how to dress like super Popstar, Rihanna, without looking like “De Niggabitch”  …   …  Yes you read correctly. Someone from a legitimate fashion publication actually wrote an article touting the attributes that make a true “niggabitch”and titled it as such. See, a post-racial society prompts media types to use precarious language and reinforce stereotypes when referencing Black women…
“She has street cred, she has a ghetto ass and she has a golden throat. Rihanna, the good girl gone bad, is the ultimate niggabitch and displays that gladly, and for her that means: what’s on can come off. If that means she’ll be on stage half naked, then so be it. But Dutch winters aren’t like Jamaican ones, so pick a clothing style in which your daughter can resist minus ten. No to the big sunglasses and the pornheels, and yes to the tiger print, pink shizzle and everything that glitters. Now let’s hope she won’t beat anybody up at daycare.”  The journalist wrote… adding insult to injury by getting the Bajan singer’s country of origin wrong.
Jackie Editor in Chief Eva Hoeke issued a half-hearted and seemingly forced apology via the magazine’s Facebook page…
Dear readers,
First: thanks for all your responses. We are of course very fed up over this and especially very shocked. However I’m glad that we’re engaging in a dialogue on this page — not everybody does that. Thanks for this. Other than that I can be brief about this: this should have never happened. Period. While the author meant no harm — the title of the article was intended as a joke — it was a bad joke, to say the least...

October 20, 2011

Secret History of the Black Pin Up: From Tease to Sleaze

I recently wrote two blog posts regarding the lack of information on Black pin up or adult models from the 1950's here and here.

In response, a collector, historian and independent publisher named Jim Linderman contacted me and divulged that he'd written and self-published a book (laden with images) outlining the lives and experiences of Black pin up and porn models. 

He had amassed an impressive collection of vintage adult periodicals and pictures showing Black women in various stages of undress and poses. and included some rare finds in his paperback Secret History of the Black Pin Up, which is 118 pages and includes some brief, but  interesting, history with the visuals. 
"There is a whole generation of young women who idolize Bettie Page and such, but they have no idea how UN-glamorous it was for her and the others. I wanted to show some of that, as well as make some points about racism of course." Linderman said in an email exchange

September 26, 2011

Black Glah-MOUR Update!

Some days ago, I wrote about how much I love vintage ads featuring Black spokes-models helping endorse different beauty products. I also disclosed my fascination with the pin up era and lamented about the limited number of periodicals featuring Black glamour models save for a website called Vintage Sleaze, which archives an impressive collection of Black pin up periodicals and helpful resources for those wanting to learn even more... and I do, as anyone who reads this blog, knows that I like writing about the history of the female aesthetic and beauty regimens, specifically women of the African diaspora. 

I think Black sexuality is a relevant part of Black history, regardless of how people may (or may not) feel about it that element of our beings. Most of us are aware of the tragic life and times of Sara Baartman and continuously  try to understand the Jezebel vs Mammy stereotypes that is perpetually attached to our image. So in addition to having a genuine fascination with that moment in time and space, I naturally wonder how the relatively unexplored history of Black pin ups plays into those stereotypes and who the purveyors were... 
Enter writer, publisher, and collector Jim Linderman (who also runs the site, Vintage Sleaze)... 

I recently received an email from Jim (who happened upon my blog post), informing me that he has amassed a collection of rare photos featuring Black pin up models and featured them in a self-published, paperback book titled: Secret History of the Black Pin Up. Jim Linderman got the idea for the book after seeing a question on an internet message board asking; Why aren't there any Black pin up girls? This prompted Jim to find the answer to that question and much, much more about the history of Black glamour/adult modeling during 1940's to the present. 

Based on the previews I've read and the bits of information I've been able to scrape together via Google, It's an intriguing history. 

The softcover version of the book sells for $22.99 and additional  information on Jim Linderman can be found here as well as on his blog

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September 25, 2011

TypeF Negative

A series of online videos apparently produced and endorsed by Tyra Banks for her new fashion and beauty channel, TypeF have struck a flat chord with the natural hair community. JoAnn Robertson, who describes herself as a licensed hairdresser, is featured in a chain of How-To videos where she dispenses natural hair care advice such as "How to put your afro to the side" and "How to put an Afro down." While demonstrating how to "loosen a tightly-coiled afro without straightening," JoAnn both half-heartedly and carelessly rakes a paddle brush through her dry, disheveled afro and waves a blow dryer throughout the base of her hair sans a heat protectant... before modeling her attempt in a cheesy, overly saccharine smile and pose...


Needless to say, the natural hair community was *not* pleased. 
"Remove your afro hair videos- RESHOOT the videos with quality content-- REPOST the new vids and ensure that the #naturalhair community is as healthy as it can be!" demanded one commenter.
"Tyra you disgust me you BITCH!!!! Make us Black women look so bad >_< " insisted another. 
Of course Twitter, Facebook guru fan pages, and blogs were incited to chorus as well... keeping a close eye on the channel, posting any new developments... including an acknowledgement from TypeF, duly noting the outrage in a statement:
Dear YouTube viewers,  
Thank you for voicing your concern about one of the hairstyle playlists found on this channel.  We have disabled the set of videos in question and will have our editorial team review each one based on your feedback. If you have further concerns, please don't hesitate to contact us directly. 
typeF YouTube Team 
The playlist is still up by the way...

 As a woman who has worn her hair sans chemicals for more than ten years, I was initially flummoxed by JoAnn's process. I watched it, and then I re-watched it. I read the shock, dismay, and outrage from the natural hair community and weighed-in on one forum. I went to TypeF's website and perused its YouTube channel in search of other videos showing JoAnn mussing up her natural hair and while acting comically pleased with her work... posing and stretching her mouth in what seemed like a mocking smile. A brief Google search of JoAnn Robertson's name quickly turned up proof of her legitimacy as a neatly coiffed stylist and professional. I quickly went from bewilderment to amusement, and guffawed my way through more of her brief, flinch-worthy natural hair tutorials, as I quickly came to the realization that JoAnn was busting chops. Let me explain... 

With the rise of natural hair gurus making their mark on YouTube and the blogopshere, some of these natural hair divas have become newly minted entrepreneurs and happy collectors of free swag from well-known to up-and-coming cosmetics companies peddling natural hair care wares and looking for free advertisement. Natural hair maintenance has become big business... cosmetics companies and  the media has definitely taken notice. A frosh crop of new-found naturals undoubtedly see how lucrative sharing their natural hair care regimens can be and have gotten in on the action. 

There're definitely a few natural hair care forums and YouTube videos I genuinely enjoy watching, for fresh new ideas and to know other perspectives on natural hair care in other countries. However, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out how insufferable some natural hair wearers can be in their approach. The lingo, the dictatorial and condescending attitudes toward other naturals about what they should or shouldn't be doing in their personal hair care routines, the time consuming routines, the product junkie-ism, the obsession with hair typing, the daily length checks, and the hair envy... It's overwhelming and exasperating. Whenever someone looking to go chemical-free asks me for advice, I simply tell them how I began my journey back in 1999, suggest that they learn the basic do's and don't's of  natural hair manipulation, realize what's best for their hair type, and to defer to YouTube for ideas, making sure to take the valuable suggestions; while not considering them to be the sole words of wisdom, as everyone's needs are different.


Regardless of what TypeF's and JoAnn's motives are behind this particular playlist... It comes across as parody to me and it was inevitable considering the hubbub from naturals about which natural hair techniques are acceptable. Not to mention the outrage and attention seem to have encouraged TypeF on in their antagonism towards the natural hair community, as recent videos have been uploaded... including several featuring a different woman named Tanya. As frustrating as it might be for some to watch JoAnn Robertson seemingly mock natural hair maintenance, I wouldn't take it as a personal affront. I'm finding the videos hilarious and quite possibly a brilliant marketing scheme by TypeF... It appears they also seem to know whom to broach for free advertising... (Wink)




September 15, 2011

Black Glah-MOUR

http://vintageblackglamour.tumblr.com/
This is the sort of post I'd usually reserve for my tumblr page, but I absolutely love this vintage ad for Noxema and wanted to provide a little commentary on my fascination with vintage glamour photos featuring women of the African diaspora. 
I've always been curious about any possible vintage ads featuring Black pin-ups, products for afro-textured hair, and various other beauty products. My searches have usually turned up less unfulfilled whenever I Googled information featuring Black women as pin-ups. Recently and much to my surprise, I stumbled across information about a pre-Black Tail, pre-King Magazine periodical called Tan N' Terrific (undoubtedly considered to be exploitative smut back in the day) - via the site Vintage Sleaze, which features a treasure trove of vintage photos showcasing Black women in various stages of photography. Despite the seemingly... sordid nature (and I write "sordid" sans judgment or scorn)- of Tan N' Terrific, I'm even more intrigued and interested in learning about the history of periodicals that predate Black Tail and King, and whether they were Black owned publications. I've a feeling Tan N' Terrific wasn't and the person behind the periodical saw an opportunity to capitalize on this particular brand of adult material, as I'm sure there was a niche that hadn't been filled yet, due to the sign of those times.  
Google Images
I'm quite impressed with the work of prolific Black photographer, Howard Morehead, however; who died in 2003. Morehead was one of the few legitimate Black photographers who did consistent and steady work in the entertainment industry, shooting iconic jazz figures such as Ray Charles. Just as importantly, Morehead set out to capture the beauty of Black women during the 1950's, in a less explicit fashion than Tan N' Terrific, despite proclamations that Negro women weren't attractive enough to be captured on photo or featured as models in reputable publications. Howard Morehead did extensive photography for both Jet and Ebony magazines and was instrumental in promoting the Miss Bronze California pageant, in which Marilyn McCoo of Solid Gold fame (don't act like you didn't watch it) placed first, in 1962 . Unlike Tan N' Terrific, Morehead presented the beauty of the Black female form in a more artistic way, while still managing to maintain the allure of the Black female form. This work was collected in the rare 1964 book of photography, Gentlemen Prefer Bronze, which Jet Magazine described as "a photographic tribute to Negro beauty... featuring a wide range of camera moods, from portraits to figure studies..."  
Howard Morehead's work can also be seen at the California African American Museum
I'm overly excited but per usual, any issue having to do with women of the African diaspora as they relate to our image (good, bad, and ugly), current and past marketing campaigns, beauty regimens, or the arts, is near, dear, and important to me. 
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