Warsan Shire, 24, has just become London’s first ever Young Poet Laureate. The Kenyan-born Somali poet writes about both English and African culture, exploring war, sex, culture, love, and everything in between with a great depth and sensitivity. She expresses her worldview with an honest vulnerability that most would shy away from. Her first book of poems, Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth, was published in 2011. She has a BA in creative writing and even teaches workshops on using poetry to heal trauma – and she’s not even halfway through her 20s yet. Warsan was chosen from six young finalists, and she will now undertake a residency at the Houses of Parliament and spend the next year creating work that reflects on London. Carol Ann Duffy, London’s current poet laureate, announced Warsan as the winner as part of National Poetry Day. Her willingness to be candid and speak her truth in her work is something we could all stand to learn from. ”It is our vision for east London to be a thriving cultural district,” said chief executive Dennis Hone, “and Warsan as the first Young Poet Laureate for London will play a key part in that transformation.” Congratulations! [BBC; Well & Often; Warsan Shire]
I have been a symbol of sex my entire life. As a black woman from a poor, single-parent household, I know the script that is written for me far too well. Black women are always more appealing as strippers or “hoes.” Before I even hit puberty, this script was shoved in my face and I was forced to memorize it.
When I was 11, I lived in a predominantly underprivileged, black neighborhood in Houston, Texas. Everyone knew each other. My mom worked nights at the local hospital, so often I was home alone with my brother, sister and an older cousin. My mom thought the high fences that surrounded our complex kept us safe from what was on the outside. Little did she know, what was on the inside tormented me daily. Keep reading »
“I always get asked, ‘Where do you get your confidence?’ I think people are well meaning, but it’s pretty insulting. Because what it means to me is, ‘You, Mindy Kaling, have all the trappings of a very marginalized person. You’re not skinny, you’re not white, you’re a woman. Why on earth would you feel like you’re worth anything?’”
–Mindy Kaling brilliantly deconstructs the media’s obsession with her confidence in the latest issue of Parade magazine. “There are little Indian girls out there who look up to me,” she adds, “and I never want to belittle the honor of being an inspiration to them. But while I’m talking about why I’m so different, white male show runners get to talk about their art.” PREACH. [Marie Claire]
If you live in New York City, or if you’ve ever paid a visit to the fair metro during a Jewish holiday, there’s a good chance you’ve witnessed this fairly common practice: an Orthodox Jewish man, or perhaps two or three, dressed in traditional garb, stands on a street corner, asking select passersby if they’re Jewish. More often than not, they are — New York, for whatever reason, attracts a high concentration of Jews all over the spectrum, from the unobserving reform to the extremely religious Hasidic.
Having lived, worked, and otherwise existed in Manhattan and Brooklyn for the past few years means I have been called on my heritage by these guys (“mitzvah campaigners,” to be proper) many, many times. I’m never surprised, because although I’m only half Jewish, my dad’s Russian genes are hella dominant — I have thick, dark hair, dark almond-shaped eyes, fair but not freckled skin, and a prominent nose. Y’all have seen me. These features, in conjunction, add up to what any Orthodox Jew on the corner of Bedford Avenue would call a safe bet to shake the lulav during Sukkot. (Sorry guys, I’m in a rush.) But I’ve seen them also make some pretty damn good calls on Jews that, well, don’t look as obviously Ashkenazi as I do. Keep reading »
Another Fashion Week, another heap of headlines reaming out the industry for the lack of diversity on the runway — it’s not to suggest that the conversation is overplayed, but rather that the long-standing issue remains an issue, season after season. Most designers, as a general rule, in a notoriously judgmental climate, cast black and Asian models in “token” slots — as novelties, as gimmicks, as a statement. Prada, for example, went a decade without placing a single black model on a catwalk, and 19 years without a black woman in an editorial campaign.
German designer Philipp Plein, who showed in Milan this week, is no stranger to headline-grabbing statements: he sent male models down the runway with assault rifles earlier this year, and has collaborated with such erstwhile figures as Terry Richardson and Lindsay Lohan. For his Spring 2014 collection, Plein cast exclusively black models, including popular faces like Alek Wek and Liya Kebede. Of the influence behind his decision, Plein reasoned, Keep reading »
I dislike Mitt Romney and his politics as much as the next liberal. But I draw the line at inane knee-jerk reactions to the name of his new adopted grandchild.
See, Ben Romney and his wife Andelynne Romney (above) adopted a newborn baby boy. The 23rd grandchild in the Romney family (not 22nd, as tweeted) is a little Black baby named Kieran James Romney. Some folks on Twitter are upset that in Gaelic, the name Kieran means “black,” “little dark one,” or “dark skinned.” They seem to be suggesting Ben Romney, a doctor, and his wife chose intentionally to stigmatize the child by effectively naming him “Black Romney.” Keep reading »
Who could blame you if on Sunday night, after Miss America was crowned, you wanted to quit America for a little bit — or at least Twitter? Nina Davuluri, an aspiring med student, performed a Bollywood dance, charmed the judges’ hearts, and took home the coveted, glitzy Miss America crown. She also poked the bear that is racist morons on the Internet. The Syracuse, New York-born Davuluri was called everything from an “Arab” to a member of “Al-Quaeda” to “Miss 7-11″ … despite being from the good ol’ U.S. of A suburbs.
Well, this story gets even more depressing. Miss America Nina Davuluri might be too brown for some racist twats to consider her “American.” But, some people have noted, Davulauri might be too dark-skinned to be considered pageant-worthy in India, a country that has been known to privilege fair-skinned women who lighten their complexion with dangerous skin-bleaching creams. Keep reading »
Jonathan Ferrell, 24, a former college football player at Florida A&M University, who is black, was shot to death by police on Saturday after he suffered a major car accident and sought help from a neighbor.
Ferrell crashed his car in suburban Charlotte, North Carolina, around 2:30am Saturday morning. Investigators think he may have had to climb out of his rear window in order to get out of his car; Raw Story reported Ferrell may have had a possible head injury from the accident. He then walked to the nearest house on Reedy Creek Road looking for help and banged on the door repeatedly. The woman who answered the door thought he might be her husband coming home from work; she did not recognize Ferrell and closed the door. According to CNN, she hit her panic alarm and called 911 to report a “breaking and entering.” The Charlotte Observer reported that the Police Chief Rodney Monroe does not believe any threats were made by Ferrell at the door. Keep reading »
Julie Chen got plastic surgery to look less Asian after blatant racial pressures from her agent and co-workers jeopardized her success. I read this story this morning and was brought to tears because it is so effing depressing and obviously, Julie Chen isn’t the first or last Asian woman to experience this crap! Read more at College Candy…
An eight-year-old boy in Dallas, Texas, was shot in the face on Tuesday in yet another horrific act of gun violence. Donald Maiden, Jr. was allegedly playing tag around an apartment complex when he was shot by 46-year-old Brian Cloninger. Police “have not been able to determine a motive,” Raw Story reported. Cloninger, who was seen waving a gun at people before the shooting, is being held on a $2.2 million bond after being charged with injury to a child. Meanwhile, Donald Maiden had just celebrated his 8th birthday on Sunday and now he’s hospitalized in critical but stable condition. Our thoughts are with his family. [Dallas News] [Raw Story] [Image of handgun via Shutterstock]