Coffee Rhetoric: fundamental
Showing posts with label fundamental. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fundamental. Show all posts

August 22, 2011

Uncivilized Afros and Slave Earrings

Twitter... My timeline makes me cry with laughter, furrow my brow in consideration, and mutter "hell no" whenever anyone re-tweets a link to something questionable or highly inappropriate. The latest marketing and media missteps caused me to exclaim just that when this past week, several re-tweets exposed skincare brand Nivea running afoul of folks with their Look Like You Give a Damn campaign geared towards men. The featured ad that ran in the September issue of Esquire Magazine presented a clean-cut Black man gripping a scraggly, brown rubber mask, with an unkempt beard and Afro with the tagline: RE-CIVILIZE YOURSELF. The general consensus was that the ad was racially insensitive, particularly since people of the African diaspora have historically been judged as being uncivilized and not entirely human. Twitter's Black community took Nivea to task, prompting the company to issue an apology, in which they admitted: "After realizing that this ad is misleading, it was immediately withdrawn." The company further reinforced Nivea as a company that promotes diversity and tolerance. "This ad was inappropriate and offensive. It was never our intention to offend anyone, and for this we are deeply sorry. This ad will never be used again." They promised.
While Nivea quickly retreated back to the drawing board for a more presentable, less contentious marketing campaign, Vogue Italia incited the Twitter masses to chorus again with their online editorial titled: "Slave Earrings."   
"If the name brings to the mind the decorative traditions of the women of colour who were brought to the southern United States during the slave trade, the latest interpretation is pure freedom." They advise. 
Apparently the Trans-Atlantic slave trade featured a ship packed with sexy, flirty, and fashion forward folk sporting killer hoop earrings. While some people want to push "post-racial" propaganda as a way to trivialize and not have to deal with racism and bigotry while whining that we're becoming a society that's riddled with excessive political-correctness, it seems that racially insensitive quips are on the rise. Political pundits want to glorify the good ol' days and regale the masses with tales of how wonderful slavery and racial oppression supposedly was and marketing heads seem to not have at least one or two people on their staff with some semblance of common sense, before putting ads out. People can't help but react when their communities are still... in 2011... being marginalized and exploited and then told to stfu, stop over-reacting and just deal with it. 
Vogue Italia could have taken a different approach in explaining the decorative customs of women from the African Diaspora and how tribal jewelry has influenced today's versions of hoop earrings... and NOT title the feature Slave Earrings. I can't help but have an impending  feeling of dread now, when I consider which pair of large, funky hoops to wear. I think we co-exist in an age where people are (or should be anyway) highly-evolved enough to have gotten a clue about respecting people's differences and understanding the fundamentals of what's acceptable versus what isn't, regardless of how far-removed they may be from how the rest of society lives or how politically correct they think we're becoming. It's not about stifling speech, forcing folks to like something about somebody, or thinking how much a group of people are overreacting... but about reaching a place where we actually consider someone's feelings when we tackle certain aspects of their culture and truly understand what place we're coming from before we engage in discourse about their lifestyle or history. 
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July 25, 2011

Hands Off! -- In Which I Rant About Natural Hair... Again.


Today, CNN.com featured an interesting article about Black women who wear their hair in its natural state and their displeasure with having it touched by stranger-hands. Of course, as with anything in the media featuring Black women voicing their opinion or personal stories about anything having to do with their being, it incited people to chorus. "Can I touch it?" recounted an incident as told by Tamara Winfrey Harris, who runs the blog What Tami Said, in which a woman standing nearby reached out to touch her natural hair as she and her husband made their way to their table at a restaurant, much to Tami's chagrin: “I turned around and she said, 'Oh, your hair is neat.' It just floored me because who does that, just reaches out and touches strangers?"  
The article also referenced blog posts which delve into the issue of Black women with natural hair who disdain having their hair petted by curious people who they have no type of rapport or relationship with, which can be read here and here. The article prompted people to trivialize the subjects' personal experiences by claiming how keen us Black folk are on playing the race card, before going tit for tat about how they as white people suffer the same indignities and suggesting that we should feel flattered about being petted like a goat at a petting zoo by strangers: "Someone wants to touch your hair. So what? I have blond hair, and I've stood in line at a convenience store and have had my hair touched by blacks."  And it empowered them to fan the flames of their bigotry:  "No matter what you say or do, black people are going to get offended and remind you of their enslaved history, as if NOOOO other race was ever enslaved.  Get over it... black pubic-like hair is not the only type of hair that summons curiosity."
Subsequent blog posts followed- (Many written by the Black blogging community) - either further explaining why it's not cool to violate someone's personal space and sensibilities or also wondering; What's the big deal? Accusing the Black natural hair community of being "pretentious" and "uppity."
See, here's the thing… whether people think the article featured a segment of women who're overreacting, the fact of the matter is it's simply not cool to violate someone's personal space and touch any parts of their person uninvited. I've had experiences where I've been asked by curious people, if they could touch my hair so they  can "see how it feels" or have had people reach out to grab or touch... growing annoyed when I denied them access or ducked out of the way. There were moments when I was caught off-guard and have had folks actually grab and disturb my neatly piled puff or pinned bun. For me, the issue of having my hair touched is political and a matter of intimacy as well as vanity. Are people that presumptuous and arrogant that they think it's okay to violate someone's personal space, particularly when someone has expressed their discomfort with it? And of course a few hissers from the be-weaved/relaxed peanut gallery turned it into an anti-natural hair manifesto, knowing damned well if someone ran their hands through their neatly laid tracks or freshly relaxed hair, they'd throw a fit of epic proportions, despite proclamations to the contrary. Why am I pretentious because I don't want some stranger mussing up my 'fro? I can't imagine walking up to some pregnant woman and rubbing her belly or squeezing her breast implants... nor can I fathom ever approaching an attractive man in fitted jeans and softly reaching out to caress his bulge because I think it "looks cool" nestled behind the taut denim fabric. Expressing genuine interest in someone's hair because you're curious about it... asking them reasonable questions and reaching out to touch or tousle it, are two very different things. And the latter is simply ill-mannered. 
Regardless of the reasons why Black women with natural hair don't want their hair touched and whether people agree with them, people should respect the wishes of others and pipe down. No one has the right to demand that someone "just deal" with having their hair touched and their boundaries crossed. How I express myself as a woman who happens to be Black and the way I extend or present my personal aesthetic is my business and no one (in this day and age especially) has authority over or is allowed to commandeer that right. That's my word. 

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More of my natural hair diatribes... 

June 24, 2011

In Which Coffey Has Much To Do!

I have a lot on my mind and have a few pressing topics I've been dying to weigh-in on however I'm grappling with sinus (again) and throat issues and can't really think clearly enough to run my mouth via my computer, effectively. I've also been besieged by unsettling images of having to sleep next to whoever my partner will be, while they listen to me snore horribly due to these said chronic sinus issues... but I digress...
I've also got quite a bit on my plate and have attended or will be attending a few events in the coming days. It is a great time to be in Hartford this summer, so Kanye-shrug at anything contrary you may have heard, because people have no clue what they're talking about. Trust me on this. 
This past Friday, I had the privilege of being able to attend this year's Juneteenth Celebration Gala thrown by The Amistad Center for Arts and Culture at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. This required me to find and buy a dress I didn't entirely hate and wear it (without having to double up on Spanx) and condense my belongings in a clutch (a difficult feat, as I only shoulder carry-on luggage sized purses).
The well-heeled were in great form as they got crunk in their formal regalia to the DJ's set list of Luke Campbell, Jay-Z, Beyonce and contemporary pop-folks of the like. I must say, it was amusing watching political power-players and Black society types thrusting their hips, pumping their fists, and chest pumping in their formal wear as Uncle Luke challenged everyone to "Shake Them Daisy Dukes!" Compelling and fun stuff. I was particularly fond of the Lemon-Basil Martini as one of the featured drinks and could use another right now.
This Friday, as in later on today, I'm hoping to be able to attend The Gil Scott-Heron REVIEW in Reflection at The Hollander Building downtown, presented by arts and culture initiative, Center Without Walls and Hartford-based theater company HartBeat Ensemble! There is an awesome lineup of spoken-word poets and jazzologists scheduled to perform and despite my weepy sinuses, swollen throat, and the wet weather I plan on being in attendance from 7pm to 10pm. 
And since they're determined to keep it crunk - (Yes, I like that word... And?) - since bringing their originally penned play Flipside to the Hartford masses, HartBeat Ensemble will also be presenting a stellar poetry showcase July 8th also at The Hollander Building at 410 Asylum Street, downtown Hartford. More on this event coming soon, but keep the date open, because ten of Connecticut's dopest poets and spoken-word performers will be bringing creative REALNESS to the space. There will also be a pre-performance shindig with BBQ (vegetarian fare as well) and booze. Pre-party festivities are from 6:30 -7:30pm and the showcase is from 8 -10:30pm. 
So if one of your mealy-mouthed colleagues complain that there's nothing to do in Hartford and to avoid mushing him/her in the face with an open palm, patiently tell them that this summer, things are going down (basement) in the HartBeat and recount these events to them. 

June 18, 2011

Reading Is Fundamental

I have MASSIVE amounts of reading to catch up with! I feel as if I haven't read for pleasure in forever due to being busy. I'm looking to resolve this today! But... but... Where to begin? 



September 20, 2010

Socialite Diaries: In Which Black Hartfordites Have Preferences






In-between frequenting my favorite haunts, interacting with people, people watching, collecting numbers on cocktail napkins and listening to a crass Bostonian explain the merits of buying a fancy, sparkling truck that's "big enough to fuck in," and then asking me "So you wanna fuck me?" in the same span of space and time, I often take advantage of quiet moments and mull over the activities and things that make me happy and excited. I mentally brush off the b.s. complaints that there isn't anything to do in Hartford, CT as visions of good times I've had, both solo and while in good company, dance around in my head.  

While not a sprawling metropolis like New York City, Hartford is a pleasant place full of surprises despite rumblings to the contrary, with enough offerings to sate someone open enough to enjoy themselves and not continuously compare the small New England city to New York... an argument as fruitless as comparing apples to grapes. Nay sayers who constantly cry and moan about how there isn't anything to would find that if they just DID IT and kill the pessimistic and negative attitudes, there would be more of it TO DO. The beauty of being a native of this city is that at the end of the day, Hartford residents could care less where other folks are from, so for those transplants who wax nostalgic about how much better their city is to ours... the argument is an empty effort, as we'll kindly suggest you make haste and move back there. Hartford is nicknamed The Hartbeat for a reason...The people who live, play, and raise their families here and want to see it continue to thrive and grow, are passionate about its offerings and make sure to nourish its growth as a cool place to be, by making positive contributions and participating. 
Moooving on, as an open-minded Black woman who enjoys the arts and most things wine related as well as the finer things in life I can't afford, I often wonder what other ones of mi gente who reside in Hartford are up to as I nurse my wine and look on earnestly at my surroundings. Are they sipping wine and listening to music like me? Are they laughing off a loud Boston traveler looking to rock the Casbah in his truck? or are they side-eying questionable outfits and behaviors ... laughing raucously over a snifter of Hennessy? 
A local woman and fellow writer who goes by the name Ruby Phoenix has taken the time and effort to get at the root of what some of the Things Black People Do In Hartford involves, via her aptly named blog of the same title. Fortunately for us, it's not a strategically documented log comprised of shootings, drug activity, petty thefts, and car jackings; besides, the Hartford Courant has already taken on the role of clocking that information, ensuring that those outside the perimeter stay far away... as they point and throw major shade our way from their suburban enclaves. No ma'am... Ruby Phoenix features a series of events and  urban hang spots where wonderfully smelling Black people like us aren't packing heat; Opting to take in some performance art, poetry, dancing, or simple chilling with cocktails while ogling an attractive assortment of patrons ... dressed in the trendiest, sexiest, or most bohemian chic fits. 
Jessie, Al, Angela and Barack would definitely approve her message. Get into it ... 

March 14, 2010

Push. Kick.

 To be able to reach the heights of purity you have to suffer through deprivation and humiliations. And what could have been a descent into hell becomes liberation.
-Catherine Breillat

<- ("Inner Peace" by Monica Stewart )
Being wanton, needy, and susceptible to dubious dating advice from so-called "experts" does not equate to being comfortable in one's skin and with one's sexuality. It's the minutest of details that illustrate that feeling of true liberation from the trials and tribulations of man/woman relationships, sex, and dating in general. A certain level of genuine aloofness... where you take sour lemons and make yourself a stiff (generous with the vodka) Lemon Drop martini, and rejoice.  Suddenly, the dead cow being sold to you gets a one-way ticket to the abattoir, providing you with delicious steaks to grill (medium rare), masticate slowly, swallow and then shit out in the bog pan later... relief and then flush, thank you very much.
 ("Contemplation" by Lee Ransaw) ->
The wishy-washy personality, inconsistent explanations about his state-of-affairs, knack for wasting your time, seeming comfort in being mediocre, inability to stick to a plan and see it to fruition, and bizarre extracurricular activities... none of it matters. Suddenly, not feeling obligated to return phone calls and texts in response to foolishness feels nothing short of... well... good, for what's good for the goose is definitely (without question) good for the gander. Closure is not seeking ... closure. Giving as much as you're receiving... in the form of not giving a shit... it's second nature now. Being on hiatus... succumbing to the frenzy of intimacy when *you* see fit to do so at your discretion, and being OK with it... never lamenting over what you aren't experiencing at that moment in space and time, because you're preoccupied with more pressing issues ... True freedom. Truth! Some might cry "CYNICISM!" ... but I chalk it up to being there, having done that, learning how to give the side-eye and moving on, and not projecting... because bitterness only increases one's self-imposed prison sentence. 
It's all about not caring, and meaning it. Learn it. Live it. A supple skin to wear for sure. *sips Lemon Drop martini*




March 10, 2010

Fat and Greasy

Bastion of all things lewd, crude, sexist, and sophomoric, Howard Stern- (with the approval of his trusty dick wart, Robin Quivers)- has managed to make his ramblings relevant again by attacking up-and-coming actor and recent Oscar nominee Gabourey Sidibe for her appearance. Gabourey, who was up for an academy award for her debut performance in the film 'Precious' -(adapted from the book 'Push'  by author and performance poet, Sapphire)- is witty, college educated, articulate, comfortable in her skin, and did a hell of a job interpreting the title character in her very first film role. I read the book twice and saw the film an equal number of times. The film and book offer a bitter, gut wrenching pill to swallow and is glaring with the delivery. It could not have been an easy role for an actor just getting her feet wet in the industry, to perform, and so Gabourey was lauded for the strength of her debut by Oprah Winfrey, with a heartfelt tribute... but none of that matters... 
According to Howard Stern- (whose own physical appearance is a few notches under average at best, which makes his career in radio that much more fitting)- and Robin Quivers, Oprah is a "filthy liar," for Gabourey will never work in the industry again due to how she looks...  overweight, darker complected, and apparently offending to Howard's personal aesthetic and views on what he considers to be attractive and worthy. I won't bother linking to the offending diatribe available on YouTube, but I will relay some of the more notable quotes:
"There's the most enormous, fat Black chick I've ever seen. Everyone's pretending she's a part of show business,  and she's never going to be in another movie," he opined.  
"She should have gotten the Best Actress award because she's never going to have another shot. What movie is she gonna be in?" Stern continued to quip. 
He and Robin- (who has struggled with her own weight via questionable diet methods)- also said Gabby would die in about three years and should basically just shrink away into the abyss because she didn't resemble any of the other Oscar nominees. They suggested that she may have a shot starring in a sequel to 'The Blind Side,' though. There you have it. It's just that simple, despite the fact that Gabourey actually has several projects lined up beyond her role in 'Precious.'
Some Black people, in fact, refused to support 'Precious' while it was in theaters, simply because they were turned off by the fact that Gabourey didn't fit some hegemonic beauty standard. I can't even begin to count the reasons relayed to me, why people weren't interested in it... not even knowing the movie's premise. Someone complained to me, "Why do they have that big, fat, DARK-skinned girl in the movie??? She's a bad representative for Black people! I'm not going to see that mess!" Needless to say, I blinked at her incredulously. I've also read the hateful jokes on Black entertainment blogs... hyucking over Sidibe's complexion and weight.
Once again, a Black woman's body and overall look has been codified and reduced to a thing of repulsion... othered... her personality and creative gifts gently placed down her throat for her to swallow and perhaps spit back up, so that she'll pare down her substantial size to a body that's more palatable. Much of the unofficial jury seem to agree that Howard's biting remarks has some merit, because Gabourey just looks so... so, unhealthy. Suddenly folks are speculating and ticking off a list of issues she could potentially, but may not even suffer from! I am in awe that merely looking at a person automatically determines their vitals. Since it's that easy, to hell with Sidibe's doctor, because anybody not skinny automatically has health problems and live sedentary lives steeped in deep-fried Twinkies, while every skinny person is automatically healthy and fit sans any issues to speak of. It's official... everyone's an expert... medical licenses for all!  *insert side-eye here.* 
Dictating who's healthy and who isn't... who's beautiful enough to be on film and who's not, undermines what is essentially wrong with how this cult of personalty rate and judge people ... and it's also indicative of how often we don't mind our own business. Essentially, we all have room for self-improvement... Howard Stern especially.
In the grand scheme of things, who cares if Gabourey does have health problems? Those are between she and her doctor. So what if in addition to being overweight, she has the unmitigated gall to be darker-skinned than most people are comfortable with seeing on their American screens? The contempt that people like Howard Stern display when body-snarking and in determining whether Sidibe's race and figure will guarantee her continued fame and success, is indicative of their own self-loathing. Gabourey's health is no more at risk than actors' who smoke, binge and purge, get excessive amounts of plastic surgery, or snort coke.
I'm still enraptured by her spirit, the outstanding performance she gave in 'Precious,' and how infectious her personality is during interviews. Sidibe seems to be above the nonsense, as she  stated that suddenly one day, she woke up and determined for herself, that she was beautiful.

That is all.









February 17, 2010

Be My Benefactor or Bust

Coffee Rhetoric is looking for advertisers. If you're, culturally aware, natural hair product, arts, film, wine, coffee, glam (and interests of the like) affiliated and you think you'd like to LEGITIMATELY advertise on my blog or acquire my writing services as a guest writer/witty observer/reviewer of wonderful things/blogger/columnist-- please email me at coffey0072@yahoo.com. If you're a local business, person, thing (local meaning if you're from Connecticut... Greater Hartford area especially), that'd be even more awesome.
SERIOUS and pertinent inquiries only. Don't be shy. I'm serious if YOU are. I've got manners. I'll only talk ish in writing, as opaquely as I can muster and behind your back. ;-)
**Blog sponsor appeal updated to add that I'm not just looking for any and every type of sponsor. My blog matters a LOT to me, because it's a reflection of my thoughts. An extension of me, so the hope is to garner attention from a sponsor, whose endorsement I believe in.  It's not about selling out or cashing in. It's about moving forward and branching out, so I can do this thing bigger and even better. Back to the regularly scheduled program. That is all. :-)