Archive for June, 2011
One of my favorite sitcoms of all time is "A Different World," the "Cosby Show" spin-off series that followed the lives of students at Hillman College, a fictional historically black college located in Virginia. Though the series had a slow first season, "A Different World" ultimately managed to captivate audiences and was critically praised for displaying an accurate depiction of life on the campus of an HBCU.
"A Different World" masterfully captured a piece of the black aesthetic, which had been mostly avoided on network television, by following characters such as Dwayne Wayne, Whitley Gilbert, Freddie Brooks and Kimberly Reese. I was so hooked on that show that I had made up my mind that I would attend an HBCU. Apparently, I wasn’t alone in that regard because by the end of the series, enrollment at HBCUs increased considerably. Many believed that the sitcom had something to do with that.
It’s unfortunate to say that a groundbreaking show like "A Different World" probably won’t make its way to television again. In today’s bottom-line market, shows featuring African-Americans are considered risky business, which only makes it harder for black-themed TV shows to get produced and financed. But it wasn’t always this way.
In 1968, Diahann Carroll became the first African-American woman to have the lead in the hit TV show, "Julia." The success of the series not only helped to normalize black life on the small screen, but it also helped to usher in a slue of other black sitcoms, many with black writers and directors, including "Sanford and Son," "Good Times," "What’s Happening," and of course, "The Jeffersons." By the 1980s, the tradition of black sitcoms continued-if not excelled-with shows such as "Amen," "Webster," "Diff’rent Strokes," "A Different World," and the ever popular "The Cosby Show."
By the 1990s, black sitcoms reached new heights with such programs as "In Living Color," "Family Matters," "Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper," "The Jamie Foxx Show," "Martin," "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," "Sister, Sister," "Living Single," "Moesha," "The Steve Harvey Show," "The Parkers," and "Girlfriends." It appeared that not only had black talent been standardized in front of the screens, but was finally being appreciated from behind the lens too.
But at the end of the 90′s, black sitcoms began to appear less and less as the major networks moved on to pursue more mainstream demographics. The WB, which had become the new staple channel for black sitcoms, dropped at least 4 of their black comedies and it slowly transitioned away from the genre all together. By the mid-2000′s, UPN, the only other station catering to a black audience, slowly began to fade out its black line up. Eventually, both channels merged and followed in the direction of their major competitors.
While it would be easy to just chalk up the disappearance of the black sitcom to the whims of the networks, many of these black-themed television shows began to lose credibility within the black community itself. Whereas shows like "A Different World" created a mini-renascence of love for the HBCU – and in particular black life – new black TV sitcoms have offered us little to no celebration of black life and culture.
In fact, today’s shows seem to be largely focused on the homogenous representation of the black experience. Not only is there no diversity of characters, but we also rarely see the characters relating to or making any reference to the black experience at all. In short, white characters could just as easily be casted in these sitcom roles as blacks are.
What made "A Different World" so special was that Debbie Allen, the show’s director, largely drew on her own experiences of being a student at Howard University to create the essence of the show. As a result of Allen’s connection to the subject matter, she was able to beautifully capture the diversity of the black community – not only did the characters not all look the same, but they hailed from different social-economic backgrounds and had different political beliefs. Most Importantly, "A Different World" made college a viable option for many minority students, proving that positive images of African Americans excelling in the classroom and in life was something worth tuning in for.
I used to LOVE ‘A Different World,’ and I actually thought that people would be like that in school. I compared to the rich snobby black girl to Whitley (the majority of the black girls), there were no Cree Summers’ and way too many Ron’s. I guess it really did make going to college feel accessible and attainable.
Now that I’m in a different life stage, I would imagine that more mature shows like ‘Living Single’ would shape my worldview. I would presume that ‘The Game’ is supposed to capture my young adult experience, as a male celebrity athlete. Oh you mean there are no shows that show educated (or no athlete/famous) black people? Oh they cancelled ‘Girlfriends’ and ‘Half & Half’? Sigh….
via The Daily What
When was the last time that you did something this cool with your snacks. Oreos, now I kinda feel less annoyed by this term…
Tags: thought catologue, VIPs
via Thought Catalog
Do you want to act like a V.I.P.? Well, you can do it while still being a nobody! Here are some tips!
Dress like a power lesbian even if you’re a man. Think Balenciaga bag paired with some chic trousers and a blazer. Your shoes should say “fuck off”, your nails should say “fuck me” and your feet should say “J/K, I’m running late to a meeting!”
Drive a nice car and occasionally deal with a hit and run. Rebecca Gayheart and Brandy have both accidentally killed people with their cars, okay? It’s chic! If you live in New York, you should always be hailing a cab and acting like you’re running late. Stomp your feet and point to an invisible watch to get the point across.
Go to lunch by yourself but talk on a cell phone the entire time. The solo lunch is the new lunch meeting. Carry a briefcase of papers and yell into the phone so everyone at the restaurant can hear you say, “Listen, I have the papers right here! My ass is on the line with this, John. If this deal falls apart, we are soooo fucked! You’re like medium fucked and I’m totally fucked!” Eat your salad (carbs are a Never when it comes to a V.I.P.) and yell at your waiter for more lemon wedges. Leave in a total huff and make sure people are watching you.
Wear sunglasses 24/7 and behave like you’re put out by everything. “Ugh, this weather sucks. This is not what I ordered!” Complain to everyone about how busy you are. “I don’t even have time to sit here and tell you how busy I am. My schedule is that hectic!” When people ask you what you’re actually doing, act horrified by the question and storm out.
Carry a pill pouch around at all times. Important people are always medicated. Take two Vicodin for a hangover and an Ambien before bed. Swallow them in public very dramatically like you’re shooting heroin or something.
Pretend that there is paparazzi following you when it’s really just a random person riding their bike. “THERE’S JUST NO PRIVACY ANYMORE!”
Act as if you’re above the drama and don’t have time for it. “My life is too busy for toxic people/situations. I work, okay?” Again, people will ask what it is you do for living so you must ask totally insulted and run away crying.
Spend 80% of your time in hotels. Haunt the lobby, the restaurant and pool. When an employee asks you if you need help, respond, “I’m meeting my friend. She’s just running late!”
The key to being a V.I.P. is behaving like a delusional diva and acting as if your time is more precious than anyone else’s. That should do it!
Tags: editorials, fashion, numero, tribal
Tags: blackness, identity, race, who i am
Barack Obama has broken racial barriers. But his stint at Columbia was not one of them.
Obama’s status as a son of an African immigrant puts him in a category and debate that largely remains behind Ivy League walls: black students from immigrant families are overrepresented in Ivy League schools.
"Immigrant blacks," who come from families who have emigrated from the West Indies or Africa (mostly Ghana or Nigeria), make up 41 percent of the black population of Ivy League schools, according to a 2007 study by Princeton and University of Pennsylvania researchers. In contrast, black immigrants only make up 13 percent of the black population of 18-19 year olds in the United States.
The overrepresentation of immigrant blacks on Ivy League campuses is forcing students to redefine their own "blackness" and black culture, while raising questions about affirmative action and access to the best universities in America.
At Harvard, which has 16 different black student associations, from the Nigerian Students Association to the Black Men’s Forum, in the undergraduate college alone, it takes some time to get used to the fact that there is more than one kind of "black."
"I think for all of us at first, the idea that there would be black people who weren’t like the people we knew at home was just an adjustment," said Damon King, a 2004 Harvard graduate born in Guyana and raised in New Jersey.
The affirmative action debate, which swelled to cacophonous levels in 1978 when the Supreme Court ruled that affirmative action policies in universities were constitutional, has evolved as the demographics of the country have changed. With more students of Asian and Latino descent coming in since affirmative action was first instituted, the diversity element of the policy has become more and more emphasized.
"Am I exempted from the cultural show if I scored a 2400 [on the SATs?]" asked Brandon Terry, Harvard class of 2004 and a self-classified "Black American." "Are we using race as a mark of culture? If our interest is cultural diversity, it makes sense that we’re admitting Africans over black Americans," he said.
When Terry first arrived on campus, he felt uneasy. He would sit by himself in the dining hall, feeling the stares of others. One time, while walking through Harvard Yard, the woman in front of him picked up her pace and soon broke out into full-out running.
He soon found his niche as the Black Men’s Forum president, but encountered other problems, this time within the black community on campus. "I had a really difficult time fitting in at first," he said. "I felt sort of prepared to not fit in with the white kids, but I wasn’t prepared to not fit in with the black kids." Personal identity converged with issues of collective identity- the native black American experience was different than the Nigerian-, Ghanaian-, or Jamaican-American experience, and this manifested itself in various ways.
"You realized there were these great divergences, socially, politically," said Terry. "Sometimes they were small things like music, but sometimes they would be full blown prejudices."
Timothy Turner, a Harvard senior from Tennessee (who would be classified as a "native black" in the study) and 2008-9 president of Harvard’s Black Student Association, wondered whether or not the immigrant mentality and work ethic contributed to the larger proportion of immigrant blacks at his school.
He had decided to apply to Harvard when a diversity recruiter from the school called him. Before that, he hadn’t even considered the school.
"You just don’t think that you fit the mold to get into Harvard. It just didn’t seem real," he said. Turner mentored minority students in Boston, and said it struck him how some of the brightest high school students still felt like Harvard was out of reach.
"Some of the intelligent students don’t feel like Harvard is attainable, " he said. "At the same time, the way the Harvard is perceived, you understand why that would be the case… the legacy of classism, elitism, racism. You understand how that’s passed on to the children. That history is something a lot of immigrants aren’t aware of. They think this is the land of opportunity and take any chance they can get."
Discussions about the different groups of black students on campus would come up frequently. While black students of all backgrounds could compare notes about racist treatment or expectations, the intensity of impact would vary. In addition, cultural backgrounds would differ so much that it would seem that racism or the color of their skin were one of the only things black immigrants and black natives had in common.
Terms like "pan-Africanism," and "the Diaspora" figured into the lexicon of these ethnicity-within-a-race discussions. "We had lots of conversations about this in college," said Onyi Offor, Harvard class of 2005 and a Nigerian immigrant. She is currently a third-year Yale medical student. Her parents, a doctor and an information technology professional, pushed her to excel academically, and excel she did. Yet Offor still found herself subject to questionable treatment.
When she told her high school guidance counselor that she was going to apply to Harvard, "she didn’t bat an eye and pulled out catalogues of different colleges."
Offor believes that her experience is still fundamentally different than that of blacks born here, however. "I’ve heard people talk about how if you don’t grow up in this country, you don’t feel the racism, you don’t grow up with that burden on your back," she said.
Perhaps it was just an issue of time, she said. She did not experience enough racism for it to have a serious psychological impact, or any that would prevent her from striving academically and professionally.
Whatever divisions exist within the black population on campus, the media and society continue to superficially treat African-Americans as the same. "I can’t claim that my descendants were slaves, because they weren’t," said Chiduzie Madubata, Harvard class of 2006. "My experience in the States was actually really driven by Nigerian culture, in keeping with Nigerian food, developments in Nigeria."
Yet at the same time, "in the grand scheme of things, both groups are classified as black, on the street, and when we enter into a certain building," Madubata said. "That’s how our society treats us, in that sense, we are common."
With Obama’s presidency, a whole generation of black youth- from America or abroad- has a larger-than-life role model to which to aspire. But perhaps just as importantly, there is hope that new, constructive dialogues and better understandings of the nuances of race will occur.
"As a generation, we got kind of blindsided by the rapid change of the composition of the black community," said Terry. "We weren’t willing to do the sociological, philosophical work to figure out what this was about."
I think that this article does a good job of capturing how I feel about being an African-American, which was drastically altered when I attended Harvard. I definitely had to re-think what ‘black’ meant, and coming from a predominantly African-American (descent) community, being outnumbered was a major culture shock. It’s even affected how I view race and culture to this day. I’m happy I was able to get a new perspective, but damn was my world rocked.
Tags: dj earworm, mashups, music
Tags: addiction, food, thought cataogue
via Thought Catalog
1. Wheat Thins – “Are you there, God? It’s me, Wheat Thins! Do you remember me? You sent me to this Earth to cause both joy and utter pain to snackers? Well, people are starting to get really upset because they’re eating entire boxes of me and experiencing rapid weight gain. This isn’t my fault, God! You are my creator, the one who made me criminally delicious so I’m blaming it all on you. I used to bring so much happiness to people. Whenever I would smell the familiar scent of weed wafting through the cupboards, I knew that my owner was going to eat me that night and perhaps even cradle my box in bed. Those were the good days. Today, people have turned on me. They see me in the grocery store and run screaming. I overhear all this talk of gluten too. Do I have that? People say it’s the devil and if I have it, then I must be evil. Please help me! I’m a delicious thin cracker that’s possibly made of gluten and making everyone fat! At least I’ll always have hummus.”
2. Nutella – Ugh, Nutella. If loving you is wrong, I don’t want to be right. Last year, when I was staying in Barcelona for two weeks, I was pleased to discover that every store carried Nutella. Even though I hadn’t had it in over a year, I wanted to taste something familiar so I decided to buy it. At first, I was a good girl and only ate Nutella in the context of a sandwich. Put a dollop here, a dollop there between two slices of bread, add a banana, and voilà, we have a sensible and delicious snack. After a few days, however, I was out of bread but still had some Nutella left. I knew that eating it out of the jar could possibly take me down a very dark path—one that I might’ve not been ready for spiritually, emotionally, and sexually—but I was desperate for the wondrous hazelnut spread. I needed its destination to be my gullet and was willing to do whatever it took to make that happen. So I ate it out of the jar. I put spoonful after spoonful in my mouth and loved every sinful moment of it. I realized that those sandwiches were all just for show, to convince people that I was normal and eating Nutella in a socially acceptable way. Well, no more hiding! I was going to eat Nutella out of the jar in front of people with only 49% shame. If someone asked me for a Nutella sandwich, I would give them a knowing nod and slip them the jar. I spoke their language and could read between the lines. Edit: After eating Nutella straight out of the jar for two whole weeks, I started to experience stomach pains and feelings of fatassness. I have since quit cold turkey and have not looked back.
3. Girl Scout Cookies – God bless those Girl Scouts! When March rolls around each year, those girls essentially become my drug dealer. I meet them in parking lots driving a soccer mom SUV with tinted windows and ask for 25 boxes of Samoas and10 boxes of Thin Mints. My apartment quickly becomes a crack den with numerous boxes strewn across my floor. Sometimes I’ll even kidnap a girl scout who has a never ending supply so she can feed me when I start to experience withdrawals. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if girl scout cookies were laced with something. How else do you explain people’s extreme willingness to consume 10,000 calories in one sitting? That shit ain’t no joke. Despite what the boxes want you to believe, the cookies are not made with teamwork, leadership and love. They’re made with lard and a hint of black tar heroin (OMG, SECRET INGREDIENT!).
4. Chipotle – Chipotle is not for sissies. Those burritos do not fuck around. First of all, they weigh as much as Ally McBeal. Secondly, they’re 1200 calories, if not more. But you know what? They’re worth it. They’re the best fake Mexican food I’ve ever had. Like Girl Scout cookies, I’m convinced they’re also laced with something. Chipotle is owned by McDonald’s, which means you can’t trust them for anything. Who knows what they’re putting in the sour cream? Probably vanilla ice cream with whipped cream.
5. Pringles – I can’t/won’t go down the Pringles road ever again. Their slogan is “Once you pop, you can’t stop”, which is true but I managed to break away from its suffocating grip. I just couldn’t live with myself if Pringles was the reason I got fat. I can deal with getting fat from bread pudding, flourless chocolate cake and organic ice cream, but not Pringles. Just no.our favorite sites
Wheat thins are my weakness, I don’t eat them anymore because I can’t stop…Samoas too…
via The Daily What
via Yanko Design
She wants to name her daughter Disney…DISNEY!!!
And a short clip that summarizes her entire outlook on life
Tags: body, fear, gays
In light of today’s event
The Real Reason Gay Men Don’t Get Fat
New York gay about town and Barneys creative director Simon Doonan just sold a manuscript for a diet book called Gay Men Don’t Get Fat. While this is true, the real reason why gay men don’t get fat might not be the most marketable message. I’m a little upset at myself that I didn’t think of this idea first. Doonan’s book seems to be a take on the best-selling book French Women Don’t Get Fat, which makes an argument that if you follow the culturally ingrained diet and lifestyle of a French woman, you too can be skinny, fabulous, and look good in Chanel. The advice from French woman (and millionaire CEO) Mireille Guiliano is cute, fun, and witty.
Doonan’s advice will probably be equally cute, fun, and witty. The book is supposedly, “a stylishly slimming discourse that proves gay men really ARE French women: prone to disdain, favoring cheeky underwear, convinced of their own artistic brilliance, and (of course) calorie-obsessed.” Clever, but where does that obsession come from? The advice as to why gay men don’t get fat isn’t as palatable.
There is only one thing that keeps gay men in shape: fear. Yes, every gay—at least those of the stereotypical abdominal-obsessed physique that populates Fire Island and Palm Springs—is brought about because gay men are afraid that they will be alone for the rest of their lives. If a gay man is not “serving body” while competing to find a trick or boyfriend in one of the more muscle-bound climates of gay culture, he will be sorely shut out. That is why gay men don’t get fat, because if they don’t have pecs, guns, and glutes, they’re going home alone.
Gay men, unlike their straight counterparts, don’t have the luxury to stay in “fighting shape” just long enough to find a partner before letting their bodies fall to shit afterwords. No, gay men have to get buff, get married, and stay buff. Why? Because of three-ways, obviously. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: There are countless committed gay couples out there who like to either play on the side or invite guest stars into their beds. And you’re not going to get any A-list guest stars if you’re giving D-list torso with a four-star gut. Yes, gay men go to the gym to stay competitive, but since the man-eating marathon doesn’t end after marriage, they just keep on competing and competing until death do they part.
The funny thing about the gay competition is that, because men (especially of the gay variety) are so visually stimulated, the only piece on the chess board that matters is having that traditional lean body. If straight men are lacking in some area, they usually make up for it by becoming rich or powerful, things that some women (see: Real Housewives of Orange County) find just as attractive as a washboard stomach dusted with natural body hair. But for gay men, only body will do. If a gay guy is a little short, his solution is to go to the gym. Got a shitty job? Go to the gym. Busted in the face? No biggie! Head to the gym and no one will look above your neck. Totally shy and doesn’t socialize well? Gym, baby, gym! A good body is the only currency in this game.
What also makes this unique for gay men is one of the other strange quirks of homosexuality. Gay men are attracted to, essentially, themselves. No straight man wants to look like a woman (and certainly not the reverse) but gay men find what they are physically attracted to and often remake their bodies in the image of their ideal mate. Since society tells us to want muscle-bound athletes, that’s what gays want, and that’s what they make themselves look like in the pursuit of their ideal. If you want to bed muscles you have to have muscles, if you want to land a twink, you better be a twink (or at least some other type that is easily cast in any gay porn movie).
Still, gay men come in all shapes and sizes (embrace the rainbow, people) but still gay culture and iconography is largely dominated by the same juiced-out body type (and awful tribal tattoos) that you’d find on Jersey Shore. While there are plenty of average-physiqued homosexuals (who barely merit mentioning) there has been a reaction to all this body fascism over the past so many years. Yes, the “bear” movement, spearheaded by gay men who are hairier and chubbier than average, is forever gaining steam. Mostly it’s because these guys gave up on the regular competition and decided to host a competition of their own. Theirs, instead of relying on protein shakes and bicep curls, relies on barbecue ribs and beer guts. These men only socialize (and sexualize) with other men that are as big and burly as they are. While they might be reversing the normal aesthetic ideals of gay culture and American culture at large, they still discriminate just as much based on physicality as their circuit party-loving brethren.
Doonan is trying to capitalize on those skinny gay men of legend, but what governs them and governs the bear is really the same thing: fear. Many gay men spend their adolescence as outcasts or misfits, and when they finally get to a place where they can join the gay culture at large, they react to their years of social solitude by conforming with the sort of fervor usually reserved for packs of teenage girls. That means looking the part, which, of course, means joining the gym and becoming a regular. It has nothing to do with being healthy or looking good, it has to do with that deep-seated fear that one day you will wake up and it will be just like high school all over again, with people hating you or picking on you for being different. Never again!
That middle-of-the-night terror is not an easy thing to teach, and it’s not really the kind of advice that you can slap a sassy cover photo on and get millions of people to pay $22 for. Most gay men get it for free, and now, with this book, you too can be a pariah for years, then enter a conformist culture of casual sex and glistening bodies, followed by a lifetime of hookups with your significant other and the waxed dolphins you pick up on Grindr. That’s the secret of how gay men don’t get fat.
For me, well, I’d much rather be French.