Becky vs. Precious, Lee Daniels’ Made Us Do It!

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Last week (11/04/2015) on Empire, Gabourey Sidibe was the last of the hit TV show’s main cast members to have a “love” scene. Viewers went wild with fat shaming memes and terrible comments. While fat shaming is a terrible monster that rears it’s ugly head against any and everyone (especially women in Hollywood), I am not so sure that fat shaming is the totality of what’s happening here.

First Lee Daniels served us Gabourey as Precious

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Her image was an overweight, fried chicken eating, illiterate girl who was hated by her mother because her father raped her which resulted in pregnancy. Precious’ relationship with sex was prominent in the movie. It was revealed during an award winning emotional breakdown by Mo’Nique (playing the role of Precious’ mother) that not only did her father rape her but that he would reach over and play with her private parts while having sex with the mother. This image is visceral to say the least. Lee Daniels’ could be wrong to assume that America can get over such a traumatic image so easily.

On Wednesday, Lee Daniels’ served us Becky

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Since the topic most present here is fat shaming I will describe Lee Daniels’ choice to give Becky a love scene this way with that context. Daniels’ served us a “fat women need love too. Watch her throw her leg up. You didn’t think she could do that” scene. I am not so sure that it was a love scene at all. I am all for women of any size doing anything they want. What’s annoying is that Lee Daniels’ continues to serve us Gabourey’s weight as a prop then when social media erupts with comments and memes Gabourey is the one that suffers.

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06 O Teatro Da Vida Filme Movie Film Preciosa Uma História De Esperança Precious Lee Daniels 2009 Gabourey Sidibe Barret Helms

 

 

 

 

The fat shaming started with Lee Daniels’. It is challenging for an actor to play a role as jarring as Precious then transition into other characters where she is much more than a fat black girl who is good enough to have sex with but not good enough to love. It is quite possible that seeing Gabourey in the love scene on Empire triggered trauma for the viewer where the response was to bash it, get rid of it, or laugh at it. I cannot assume that everyone who saw Precious also saw the episode of Empire. The images of Precious and the storyline of the movie are public enough and well known enough (especially after the Oscars) for a large group of Empire viewers to have been susceptible to it’s striking images of Gabourey as a charity case.

I challenge Lee Daniels’ to consider being more careful. Give Becky a build up. Let her be kinky. Let her kiss. Let her engage in flirty behavior then transition us into her having sex. I feel like there’s a way he can acknowledge the trauma he caused with Precious while not letting it hold Becky back from getting the love/sex she wants. Gabourey as an actor deserves a little more tenderness. Not because she is anything other than brilliant and beautiful, but because the role of Precious is attached to her like Gollum! il_570xN.334901183

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ps. Thank you for reading! None of these images are mine but are googlable. Follow the blog! Till we blog again…

What is “Living the Dream?”

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During my morning peruse of Facebook posts I came across a very inspiring post from a fellow poet about landing the VP of Marketing position at a major American bank. Immediately, I was super happy for her! To see a woman, a black woman, rising in corporate America is always something I celebrate. I was going on a “liking spree” of all of the comments that congratulated her. One comment in particular made me pause. It read “congratulations on living your dream.”

I thought, “hmm, is this her dream? Like THE dream?” It is a mark of success for sure. It is a great accomplishment that deserves many praise, congratulations, and continued acknowledgement. But was it her dream or perceived as a dream come true from the person commenting? Whether it was her dream or not doesn’t affect how amazing it is. Even though I am mentioning this post and I’m overjoyed about her success, this blog post is NOT about the beautiful successful black woman. It is more about the idea of “living the dream” and what that may mean to people.

Perception

Living the dream begins with knowing what the dream is. In reference to actual dreams, there are many times you wake up and can’t remember what you dreamed. There are many times where your dreams are half scenes of abstract symbols. Life goals as dreams can be the same. Who are you? What are your dreams? Who makes the call on whether or not you are living your dream?

Living the dream vs. Dreaming the dream

An artist on Myspace (super long time ago) said to me “at some point everyone must wake up.” Dreaming the dream is pretty, it’s whimsical, it’s being lost in possibilities. Living the dream is work, it’s building, it’s starting, it’s risky, its focused, and it can be scary. Living the dream starts with actually living it. Living day one of it. Laying the first brick. Taking the first step. Living it and arriving at the ultimate goal of the dream are two different things. No matter what obstacles come your way if you are taking intentional steps inside of your dream, you are still living the dream. It’s the difference between walking under a cloud and into the fog. The difference between walking beside the river and swimming it. Which one are you doing?

Can unemployment be living the dream?

In part of said post the author mentioned  “…I hope y’all didn’t think I was going to stay unemployed?” I thought, “when was she unemployed?” She has been so fierce and confident in her posts that unemployment never even crossed my mind. In my initial response I wrote “a woman with a boss mentality is never unemployed!” Pay attention to where you are. Being unemployed means you’re not committed to building someone else’s dream. Working for someone else is not America’s wealth building model. However, there’s a layer of fear placed on people of a certain class and/or race/ethnicity to believe that the “American Dream” will always be just a dream to them. If you have the will to live your dream you will recognize unemployment from a traditional job as an opportunity to kick start your dream. If you have the will to live your dream you will find a way regardless of what traditional employment or conservative America says.

Marks of success

Immediate wealth was never a part of my dream. In fact, the idea of immediate wealth has held me back from my dream more times than not. Money is not the ONLY mark of success available. Assets, board membership, network growth, product growth, production, and brand establishment are all marks of success. Power is probably one of the largest unidentified marks of success. Many wealthy people have filed bankruptcy. Not because they are broke per se, but to maintain the power over their assets. Media prophesies to consumers that wealth is ONLY money in the bank. That’s not true. Wealth is credit, assets, and memberships.  Being able to afford something is all about how resourceful you are.

I am inspired

In August, I was laid off with over a month’s pay, insurance, and approval of unemployment (which is not automatic for everyone).  I have support for my townhouse. I have a support circle for my sanity. I have a vision for my next move. I am living the dream! My dream!

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  • Founder and ED of Women Writers Rock which includes programming, housing, and products for self-identified women and their children.
  • No 9-5 to suffocate my goals under.
  • I am present with my children.
  • I am learning to operate a TV Studio.
  • I am networking with filmmakers and volunteering on their projects while working on my own.
  • I am applying for fellowships in Media and Arts.
  • I am writing plans for business acquisitions and rental properties.

What have I been sobbing about? Being unemployed? I’ve employed myself to build my dreams! I just needed to tweak my perception to see the path. This is one of the few days where a Facebook post and comment were awesome additions to my day!

Thank you for reading!

Living while Black ep #1: Django is not just a superhero iconic slave character

 

warning: this post has not been edited and is in it’s most organic form.

LIVING WHILE BLACK & A COMPUTER SCIENTIST

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The incident:

During my normal morning routine of Facebook posting the first thought that comes to mind and simultaneously checking my email for evidence that I have indeed taken over the world, I get a message from a new friend. The email subject line reads “See you at: Django Girls Workshop.”  In the message the friend expressed that she would be attending this workshop with a woman that she mentors. I click the link to get to the meetup page.

My reaction:
My initial reaction is “WHAT THE HELL?! A Django Girls Workshop run by all white women?!” She probably thought I was really stupid (will explain later). I expressed to my friend that it felt weird to see a workshop hosted by all white women and named after a pop culture slave superhero icon. She did not respond.

My action step:
I googled the name “Django” and found that it is the name of famous guitar player, it means “I awake,” and from the Urban Dictionary it is also used interchangeable with the word “dude.” After reading through the workshop description again I realized that this event was a computer programming/web development workshop for young girls. I was still puzzled about the name so I sent a message to the organizers.

I hope this message finds you well. Someone sent me an invite to your Django Girls event. Initially, my thought was “WHAT THE HELL?! A group named Django Girls organized by a white woman (picture showing in organizer corner) is really weird.” Ultimately, it’s not a matter of it being organized by white people as it is a matter of why the name “Django.” The name means “I awake,” is a nickname for a man or slang for “dude.” In pop culture it will be immediately associated with “Django Unchained.” The cause is awesome. I am hoping that the organizers can understand how it could be viewed and have explained somewhere why the name was chosen. Could you direct me to that space?

Response to my action from other party:
Two organizers responded (hereinafter referred to as O1 and O2).  Maybe O1 was prepared because her response was immediate and cold. She stated that Django was a famous guitarist and sent me two links to the Django programming language site The links included the page that explains the name and the Django Girls project. O2 gave a “+1” (a techie hi-five of sorts) to what O1 sent and added that when the movie came out she recalled thinking of the naming conflict. While O1 placed concentration on correcting my message including “Django Girls Group” vs. “Django Girls Workshop,” O2 at least acknowledged that the naming conflict did exist. I asked that the organizers at least list the two links they’d sent to me in the event description. O1 agreed. I asked a few friends “if you saw a workshop titled “Django Girls Workshop” what would be your immediate thought.” We all had the same initial thought.

Questions
Which group of young girls is this workshop targeting? Girls who know Django as a guitarist? Girls who know Django as a programming language? Girls who know Django as more than the pop culture slave icon?

This workshop is being held at Martin Luther King Library. Did anyone think it mattered that a young black girl may be interested in the workshop and not know that Django was a programming language?

Would I be blackballed by the world of DC women programmers because I reacted with my race before my degree (in Computer Science)?

What level of ignorance was I? Ignorant of the programming language? Ignorant of the white culture of great guitarist that I am supposed to know more about than my blackness?

What level of ignorant did the organizers of this event think I was? Ignorant enough to challenge them? Ignorant enough to challenge the idea of at least acknowledging in the description that someone may be as ignorant as I was in that moment?

Does any other culture ever have to think of black people and what they think when perpetuating a thing?

Am I being too overly racially sensitive?

Were these women thinking that I was/am being too overly sensitive and they had no responsibility in thinking of the name of the workshop and black girls? Does the fact that Django Girls already exists as a project make it OK for organizers to believe that this means they don’t need to add links for explanation in their description?

Final thoughts.
After reading through the Django programming language site I felt a little stupid about not knowing it was a programming language. I do not regret asking the organizers to consider that a young girl may see the name and be deterred. The world of computer programming lacks diversity on all levels. If the workshop is truly for young girls it should be considered that a programming language from 2003 that is not being taught in the majority of schools in the DC area may NOT be automatically recognized for what it is above pop culture’s way of dominating Millennial attention spans. I get that O1 could have thought that she owed me or anyone else any further explanation or understanding. For her, it’s a programming language named after a guitarist. She doesn’t have to associate it with anything other than what she knows it for because it’s name is just it’s name. Unfortunately, this is where being black sucks sometimes. I love being black. I do not love the lack of awareness people have surrounding living while black and how this affects everything you experience.

It could be that black life is inaccessible for people like O1. Welp, *shrug*

This post may contain incorrect grammar, typing or spelling errors. Leave me a comment and I’ll correct it OR GET OVER IT!  

7 Reasons I Only Cry in the Car

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#1: The car is controllable when tears aren’t.

#2: With the doors closed and the windows rolled up tightly, it’s cozy enough to be considered a hug.

#3: I am empowered by the gas pedal. With a little extra push I can get over any hump.

#4: I can turn the radio up really loudly and make my sighs dance.

#5: There’s a clock, with numbers to tell me it’s time to let go.

#6: Whether it’s a bug landing on my windshield, a horn blowing road raging neighboring driver, or a deer peeking at the edge of the woods, I am not alone.

#7: Everyone must get out of the car at some point.

WANTED: Gender Pronoun Craze

If only adapting to using various gender pronouns were as easy as teaching someone how to “Dougie” or following instructions to “Whip and Nae Nae.”  Maybe then people would GET IT! Maybe, you would constantly hear a contagious clingy beat in your head all day. Maybe you would attempt to do it correctly every time you think about it. You would practice in private moments just so you would be able to do it correctly when the time comes (beat drops). The time would come (beat would drop) unexpectedly on your way to work, on your Pandora station, and on the radio in someone else’s car. The words “teach me how to pronoun, teach me how to pronoun” would be ringing in your ear in quiet moments.

You would champion “watch me respect, now watch me pronoun, watch me respect respect, watch me pronoun!” with ease. Even though you actually have no clue how to use gender pronouns (or do the Dougie, Whip or Nae Nae) appropriately, you would try! There would be instructional videos and for a few minutes out of your day you would defy your brain’s natural patriarchal programming. You would swing your tongue off beat in order to refer to someone correctly. You would actually throw your perspective out of whack repeatedly until the use of a variety of gender pronouns become as second natural as the ongoing memory, usage, and beat of the “norm.”

It is true that somebody somewhere has not heard of the Dougie or the Whip or the Nae Nae (I have no clue where, but somewhere). It is also true that a large percentage of those who have heard the Dougie or the Nae Nae have no clue who Dougie is or why the Nae Nae exists but will still attempt to do the dances. Why? Because America loves simple, contagious, pop culture phenomena. In terms of seriousness,  I don’t view the use of gender pronouns as fad or as silly as the next big pop culture thing.  However, I wonder if the need for widening the levels of thought without thought could happen as easy as a new dance craze.  One of the key aspects of a dance craze is tolerance. People are more tolerant of someone attempting the Dougie and it being a complete disaster than someone miscalling them a particular pronoun.  As the evolution of what to call who continues, capitalists will find a way to make it big business by creating education courses, staff development videos, and seminars. Gender education is needed. I believe that it could be an “each one teach one” organic spread of new thought patterns. This new thought pattern requires those requiring pronouns unidentifiable by a simple glance will have to do just as much work as those who are unable to identify them. This is hard work. The work is worth it.

I believe that with a little tolerance, the world could be taught to do a new dance.

 

10 Steps to Getting Out of Your Feelings

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The phrase “in your feelings” is often used to describe the overwhelming feeling that something is bothering you and you can’t let it go. Some things are easy to brush off while others require some type of action that will help you move on with your life. There’s nothing wrong with being “in your feelings.” You are human and allowed to feel whatever whenever you like. However, being “in your feelings” is like swimming in quick sand. While the sinking feeling may feel like something you can swim through, you are surely sinking to a place of suffocation.

Here are 10 steps to getting OUT of your feelings: 

Step 1 – Ask yourself “Why am I in my feelings.”

Step 2 – Evaluate if being in your feelings is productive.

Step 3 – Evaluate how productive you want/should be.

Step 4 – If being “in your feelings” is affecting where you want/should be take a moment to recognize that.

Step 5– Sit in your feelings for no more than 7 minutes.

Step– 6 do 10 jumping jacks in your feelings while repeating “I am in my feelings.”

Step 7– Get water and repeat one last time “whew, I am in my feelings!”

Step 8– Evaluate how productive the jumping jacks were.

Step 9– If you’re life has not been made better in the hour that it took you to do steps 1 – 9 repeat “let it go [add your name] 10 times.

Step 10– Continue the rest of your day and if the urge to get back in your feelings happens do jumping jacks or simple repeat to yourself “let it go [add name].

If these steps don’t work there is no hope for you and you should just sit in your feelings then repeat “let it go [add name]” all day till you get over it.

SUPPORT WOMEN ARTIST NOW (SWAN) Day 2015

Seven City Art Society and The Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association collaborate to bring you the 2015 SWAN DAY CELEBRATION

Have you ever heard of SWAN DAY?
Support Women Arts Now (SWAN) Day is a national celebration of women in arts.

SWAN DAY CELEBRATION 2015
hosted by Shelly Bell
March 26, 2015
7pm, $15 to support women artists

Get your tickets now: http://www.nvfaa.org/events/swan-day-shelly-bell
You can also pay at the door

The Athenaeum
201 Prince St.
Alexandria, VA 22314

MEET THE ARTISTS:

 

Live Painting by Lola Leopard:

The ability to see my talent develop in front of a crowd has been a humbling experience. To show my appreciation, I challenge myself by pushing my creative ability with consistent variety. The courage to step outside of my comfort zone with new designs; while remaining true to my personal style, has strengthened my craft and given me the confidence to become a professional live painter. I am learning to come alive on stage; unveiling uniquely evocative artwork that illustrates who I am as an artist. What began as just a creative release, is developing into a movement of the masses. I have dedicated my talents to empowering African American women, raising awareness against the silent cycle of abuse, and creating a safespace for women personally looking for a release through artistry.

 

Liturgical Dance by Mia Jackson:

Mia doubles as Swim Instructor by day and writer/dancer by night. Joining the church at a young age Mia began to explore the the ways that music could motivate and provide a positive experience for listeners. Mia enjoys the art of conveying the message of her song with beautiful fluid body movements.

Poetry by Tori Lane Kovarik, Poet Laureate of Alexandria

Tori Lane Kovarik (also known as T.Lane) is an Alexandria-based poet, speaker, artist, and educator.  Tori is currently serving at the Poet Laureate of Alexandria City in northern Virginia.Tori’s work is known to have a fairly dark sensibility, routinely addressing issues of spiritual crisis, sexual trauma, depression, and self-injury.  In writing about these tough issues, Tori aims to shed light on things often clothed in silence, grappling with them in a way of seeking healing and hope.This theme of giving voice expands beyond Tori’s writing and visual art and into her work in the community and the church.  She works with victims of sexual trauma, connecting them to resources and support systems, and speaks publicly about her own experience with sexual trauma and the struggle to find healing.  Tori also provides training and resources to churches so they are better equipped to support trauma victims in their midst.

 

Poetry over Music by SB Cooper:

To merely refer to North Carolina native and Alexandria, VA resident Shelly Bell aka “SB Cooper” as a curious and talented consumer of life’s most positive energies would only tell half of the story. She is an award-winning performance poet, event host at DC’s hub for poetry and great food – Busboys and Poets, and author of All Women are Stupid Sometimes – a contemporary tale of what women endure for love. Her poems have been published for academia in Critical Articulations of Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation which examines the relationship between race, gender and sexual orientation. Shelly has published articles on music, arts, and culture as a contributor for Brightest Young Things, Brooklyn Bodega, and editor of Straight Razor Hip-Hop. She is the founder of Women Writers Rock – an advocacy group for women readers and writers in the DC metro area and beyond. Excelling as a truly dynamic force in local, national and now international media, her work as performance poet has led to an arts partnership with the Northern VA Fine Arts Association, a performance with the world renowned Washington Metro Philharmonic Association, and serving as a former Arts Commissioner for the City of Alexandria,VA.

Looking forward to celebrating with you! For questions about the event email sevencityart@gmail.com

CHOP #3: B.o.B. ft JaqueBeatz & T.I.

Dope Female Critics

We are THE DOPE FEMALE CRITICS (THE DFC) an all female Hip-Hop review group chopping up new music. The def fresh crew bringing truth on this edition of the CHOP is S.B. Cooper, B. Sharise Moore, Bri, KB, Princess Best, and Chels.

Graduation Camp
Bobby Ray aka B.o.B. rev’d up at the end of 2014, starting his own label “No Genre” named after his 2010 mixtape, dropping his 8th mixtape, “No Genre 2,” signing an artist (Tora Woloshin), and dropping 2 singles all between October and December. He’s kicking off 2015 with a new joint spitting college extracurricular activity over a beat you can bob your head to.

B. Sharise: I have severely mixed feelings about this track. I liked the production and oddly enough found the hook to be extremely catchy (though vulgar as hell.) I don’t know, party tracks will be party tracks…

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