I was recently contacted through my website by a pregnant black woman who inquired about hiring me to perform standup at her baby shower. She and her husband were diehard comedy fans, and thought it would be fun to have a comic perform for their guests.
“How did you find me?” I asked. “I Googled ‘Fat Black Female Comics’ and you were one of the women that popped up!” she answered. “Everyone knows that fat black women are the funniest comics alive!”
After I hung up the phone, I sat there for a moment trying to figure out if I should be offended or not. While I understand that she was trying to be complimentary, I’m not sure if I am flattered by someone thinking that I am automatically funny just because I am plus-sized and black. Then I thought about the $1,500 she offered to pay me to stand in the middle of her living room and crack jokes for 30 minutes, and I instantly felt better. Throughout my career, I’ve been paid much less to do far worse. There was plenty of time for me to be offended later, but for now it was time to get paid!
Comedy is hard work, no matter what you look like. The perception that fat black women have an edge up, purely because of the size of their bodies, diminishes the amount of hard work, discipline and creativity that it takes for us to create this art form known as comedy. Furthermore, I think it’s crazy that someone would assume that all fat black women are funny.
On the other hand, I get it. Keep reading »
As some of you may have noticed, I’m really rather fat. I mention it only because it’s relevant — it has a significant impact on my life; people treat me differently because I am fat.
Or, in some cases, refuse to treat me. Which is what happened recently to Ida Davidson, who was turned away from her new primary care physician. The stated reason? Ida Davidson weighs too much for the doctor’s office to accommodate her. Keep reading »
To say that I am a fan of the British sci-fi show “Doctor Who” would be and understatement. Not only do I have “DW” viewing parties at my apartment, I own a sonic screwdriver, I’ve eaten fish fingers and custard (a “DW” inside joke), I waited for hours to get a glimpse of the show’s stars when they shot an episode in New York, and I even traveled to London to go to the “Doctor Who Experience.” Despite some missteps (cough, “Daleks in Manhattan,” cough), “Doctor” Who won my heart(s) long ago, and I keep coming back for more adventures in that blue box.
But then I saw the promo art for season seven in which the titular character of the show, the Doctor, looks darkly determined while carrying his unconscious companion Amy in his arms. (“DW” has always referred to the people who travel with the Doctor as “companions.”) If my life were a preview for a romantic comedy, this would have been the moment you heard the sound effect of a record scratching to a stop. What the what?! Is “DW” really going there? Portraying Amy as merely a victim for the Doctor to save?
It gave me pause, and it made me think about the way the show has portrayed (or betrayed) its female characters in the past. Keep reading »
This weekend, a Missouri Congressman and Senate candidate, Todd Akin, infuriated people everywhere when he claimed that victims of “legitimate rape” do not become pregnant. He was explaining his belief that abortion should be outlawed even in cases of rape. Apparently, Akin believes that the female body has ways to “shut that whole thing down,” if the woman involved didn’t really want to have sex. Nevermind that according to a 1996 study by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, approximately 32,101 pregnancies occur due to rape every year in this country.
The response to Akin’s disgusting remarks has been fast. After the initial wave of outrage, the Congressman released a statement saying that he “misspoke” but continuing to defend his extreme views on abortion. Akin clarified, “I recognize that abortion, and particularly in the case of rape, is a very emotionally charged issue. But I believe deeply in the protection of all life and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action.” Keep reading »
When the big news was announced last week that Zoe Saldana would be playing singer Nina Simone in a biopic, black cyberspace (yes, there is a “black Twitter” and a “black Facebook”) let out a collective “Oh, hell to the naw”!
For some it was because they did not believe that Zoe had enough acting talent to pull it off. Nina Simone was an extremely complex woman in real life, and the actress assigned to do this would be embarking upon the role of a lifetime. For others, the statements ranged from “Can Zoe even sing?” to “Wait, I thought she said she was a Latina?” to “Zoe is too skinny to play Nina Simone anyway!”
As the debate continued, it became clear to me that the issues surrounding the casting of Zoe ran much deeper than her acting ability. It was “skin deep.” Once again we were seeing an example of how Hollywood just doesn’t understand black women. To mainstream America, Black is “one color fits all.” But to African-American women, the color of our skin is much more than a random hue. In many ways, it uniquely shapes who we are and how we are treated in the world. For us, body image and self-esteem does not only involve loving your womanly body for the shape of it, but also embracing your complexion, hair texture and other features in a culture that constantly reminds you that thin white women are the standard of beauty. Keep reading »
Chadvelyn, LosOcho and OchoSado: those were the three hybrid names that I came up with for my favorite reality TV couple, Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson and Evelyn Lozada. But after only six weeks of marriage, the beautiful sounds of wedded bliss and the hoopla surrounding their much anticipated reality show have been silenced by the head-butt that was heard around the world.
By now, everyone knows about the drama surrounding Chadvelyn. The Internet has been all aflutter with updates. She-said this, he-said that and we-said “WTF?” He loses his job, she files for divorce, and we all sit back to make judgments and assumptions about everything. Keep reading »
It took me all of 10 seconds to fall madly in love with “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” the “Toddlers and Tiaras” spin-off about Alana Thompson, the 6-year-old pageant hopeful known for her one-liners and love of Go-Go-Juice, and her self-described redneck family. While I was already enamored with Alana after seeing her on “Toddlers and Tiaras” last year — for being, essentially, the opposite of everything the pageant world wants their living dolls to be — but “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” sold me on the entire Thompson family. What Alana, June, Sugar Bear, Pumpkin, Chubbs, and Chickadee lack in traditional etiquette and higher education, they make up for in love, acceptance, and family values. Keep reading »
In light of this weekend’s tragic shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, we thought our readers would be interested to learn more about this religion. We reached out to the Sikh Feminist Research Institute for some thoughts on Sikhism.
Often I am asked of when I first became aware of being a feminist. This question takes me back to the deepest recesses of my memories of early childhood, since it was my mother who was my first feminist role model. She would frequently give me feminist pep talks: “You want to be a pilot? Yes, of course you can become a pilot!” or “Your favourite color is blue? Sure, blue is a great color.” Often defiant of male authority, a natural and equal partner in running the household, she was both bread-winner and the CEO of our home.
As I grew older I would often wonder about the origins of my mother’s feminist ideas. Not having had the opportunity of a formal education due to the poverty following forced migration at the time of Partition, it was apparent she had no access to the feminist theorists I would come to prize in later life. Instead her ideas emerged from the Sikh historical narratives she was raised on and the strong women in her own life. The re-telling of the lives of Sikh women would provide fodder for bed-time stories, both awe-inspiring but also re-assuring of a universe that made sense where women and men are equals. Keep reading »
This piece was originally published on xoJane.com.
When I was a senior in high school [above left], I attended this college prep program held in the sanctuary of a Baptist church across the street from my grandmother’s $1 Soul Food restaurant in south central Los Angeles. High-achieving nerds from all over the city would meet up every Thursday to talk personal essays, financial aid and application fees well past 11 o’clock.
One night the guy I was crushing on gave me a ride home in his mom’s new-but-used white BMW. I think we were debating the merits of the Common app versus the UC app and listening to Tupac at a medium volume when those angry telltale lights began to flash behind us. Jay looked at me and laughed. Those couldn’t be for us.
Of course they were. Keep reading »
The death of Irish novelist Maeve Binchy earlier this week has inspired a lot of articles, most of them warm tributes to her kind heart, quick wit, and writing ability.
British novelist Amanda Craig took a different tack.
In a piece published today by The Telegraph, she wonders whether Binchy might have been a better writer if she had been a mother. The subtitle is even more blunt, asking: “Does a female novelist need to have experienced motherhood to truly understand human emotions?” Keep reading »