Profile for Tiffanie Drayton

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The Soapbox: On Donald Sterling, America’s Culture Of Racism & Coming Home

The Soapbox: On Donald Sterling, America's Culture Of Racism & Coming "Home"

The media frenzy surrounding the racism of Los Angeles Clippers’ team owner Donald Sterling reminded me why last year, at the age of 23, I decided to leave the country I had been calling “home” for nearly two decades. As a black woman of Caribbean descent, I felt alienated and lost in a sea of endless racial divide and turmoil. Everyday in America I was drowning. My sanity and sense of stability slowly deteriorated, submerged in disillusionment. I did not want to leave, I had to leave. A fiery rage set ablaze feelings of anger, resentment, disappointment that could not be quelled. How could the country that raised me on the notion that all men are created equal, cast me into a reality of segregation and racism? The questions swarmed incessantly like a mosquito’s annoying buzz. The answers never came. Instead, I left. Keep reading »

Girl Talk: On Being My Black Boyfriend’s First Black Girlfriend

Girl Talk: On Being My Black Boyfriend's First Black Girlfriend

The first time I asked my boyfriend if he had ever actually dated a black girl, we had not even met yet. It was during one of our online Skype sessions that the conversation came up.

“I’ve never really lived around too many black people,” he confessed.

“So have you ever dated a black girl?” I asked half-jokingly.

“No,” he responded simply.

Crickets… Keep reading »

The Soapbox: What Online Prostitution Taught Me About Racism

The-Soapbox--What-Online-Prostitution-Taught-Me-About-Racism

Racism is a covert agent in our lives. Some claim that it is invisible to them; completely hidden. It is very infrequent that racism openly reveals itself for long enough to be identified, before disappearing, cloaked in discussions about “culture,” “socio-economics,” “sensitivity,” or “history.” Online prostitution is one venue where structural racism can be seen in plain sight.

That’s why I researched online prostitution in New York City for my college thesis. With the help of websites like Backpage.com and Craigslist.com, I became acquainted with the underground sex industry, where the value of a woman is in plain sight. Her worth is advertised without a hint of political correctness. No excuses are made about class, schooling or occupation. Every woman is simply a scantily-clad commodity who, with the click of a mouse, is deemed wanted or unwanted for purchase. Keep reading »

The Soapbox: The Real Problem With Skin Lightening Cosmetics

The-Soapbox--The-Real-Problem-With-Skin-Lightening-Cosmetics

Whitenicious, a cosmetics line created by California-based, Nigerian-Cameroonian pop star Dencia touts its ability to help customers even out their skin and get rid of discoloration. The product is essentially a skin bleaching cream in a golden jar, sold for $150 a pop– well, at least that is what anyone would gather from Dencia’s “transformation” as seen on the advertisement, from a mocha beauty, to a caramel, Beyonce look-alike, to a washed-out corpse.

So why is this never explicitly stated? More importantly, why is the purpose of Whitenicious — to make a dark skinned person have lighter skin — intentionally concealed? The advertising campaign for Dencia’s product leads consumers to believe that the function of her “cosmetic” is to “nourish your skin and lighten dark knuckles, knees and elbows.” Keep reading »

The Soapbox: On Blackface, White Privilege & Why Distancing Myself From White People Doesn’t Make Me Racist

The Soapbox: On Blackface, White Privilege & Why Distancing Myself From White People Doesn't Make Me Racist

I am a 23-year-old black woman who, for a long time, tried to have discussions with white people about racism in America. I went to a white, liberal college in New York City where I thought such exchanges were welcomed. I actually believed there could be such a thing as a productive conversation on the matter, some type of engagement, a debate. I wrote speeches about the wealth gap between black and white families (a staggering $100,000 difference), the unforgivable incarceration rate of black men, the discriminatory education system. I even made a video about the misrepresentation and misuse of black women by pop culture and the media. Most of my revelations were met with silence and blank stares by my class of mostly white peers. Eventually the professor, typically a white man or woman, would clear his/her throat and ask, “Well, any questions for Tiffanie?” The students would whisper amongst themselves, but oddly, I was never asked to elaborate. It was understood, in their opinion, that I was the overly sensitive, angry black woman. The racist; a race baiter. Keep reading »

True Story: I Was A Macy’s Christmas Elf And It Sucked

True Story: I Was A Macy's Christmas Elf And It Sucked

When I saw an online ad that said, “Seeking Elves For Seasonal Position,” I admit, I was pretty excited. Not only did I fill out the application and provide a full resume, I also attached a cover letter with reasons why I would make the perfect elf:

“With over six years of experience working with children, I have full confidence in my ability to be an asset to your elf team!”

In my defense, even as a freshman in college, I was still a big kid inside. I was envisioning my elf experience to be like a scene out of an iconic Christmas movie. I would hand out candy canes to smiling kiddies, hoist little boys and girls onto Santa’s lap, listen to bubbly recitations of toy-filled Christmas wish lists, and push gleeful children down a slide into a sea of puffy, cotton clouds. As a Christmas elf, I would have the power to make so many childhood wishes come true. I would be part of the spirit of Christmas!

I showed up to the first day of training at Macy’s flagship New York City store. Getting in character, I practically skipped all the way there. When I entered through the huge golden doors of the mega-retailer, I was bombarded by sales people wearing Santa hats trying to sell me luxury bags I couldn’t afford, and the overwhelming scent of perfume.

“Where do I go for training for SantaLand?” I asked a sleepy looking security guard.

“You have to go through the employee entrance around the back,” he explained. Keep reading »

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