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 »
Despite endless work by anti-sexual violence activists trying to change the narrative, the myth persists that rapists —at least so-called “date rapists” — are men who got a little out of control with lust one night and accidentally went too far. It doesn’t help that this is the story that we usually hear on those very rare occasions when rapists tell their side of the story, usually to escape social consequences or even jail.
But recently a self-identified rapist went on Reddit and, for whatever reason, told a story that social research shows is much closer to the truth: Rapists rape because they like to rape. They aren’t confused about consent, nor are they overcome by lust. The pleasure is from the act of overpowering a woman and making her submit against her will. Keep reading »
In the days, weeks and months following a national tragedy, myths settle into our national consciousness. Myths are not falsehoods, per se. Rather, myths are the stories that we repeat to explain a complex and unnerving topic and make sense of the confusion — to label something “good” and “evil,” to finger the “bad guy” and the “hero.” A story coming out of the Aurora, Colorado, shooting — which I have heard again and again these past few days — is of the three boyfriends who saved the lives of their girlfriends by throwing themselves in the line of fire during the “Dark Knight Rises” shooting.
Matt McQuinn, 27, Jonathan Blunk (above), 26, and Alex Teves, 24, were all killed by gunman James Holmes while trying to protect their dates. According to The New York Post — admittedly not the most reliable news source — McQuinn “dived” in front of his girlfriend. Blunk “threw his date … to the floor, pushing her under the seat.” And Teves “used his body” to shield his girlfriend. Teves’ grandmother Rae Iacovelli said her grandson “got down on the floor and covered [his girlfriend] up.” Blunk’s date told “The Today Show” herself that “he took a bullet for me” and his ex-wife even weighed in to say Blunk “wanted to die a hero.” Keep reading »
It is usually not my style to meddle in other people’s relationships, but I’ve got to join the chorus of those advising — in internet comment sections, duh — Patricia Lagarreta not to marry Jamie Rohrs. Legarreta, Rohrs, and their two kids were among those at the midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colorado last week (don’t even get me started on bringing kids to a late-night showing of an ultra-violent movie); when James Holmes entered the theater, set off tear gas bombs and began shooting people in the crowd, Rohrs and Legarreta became separated. They were later reunited at the hospital, where Rohrs dropped to one knee and asked Legarreta to marry him. Normally I would be like, “Aww, after facing death, they decided to make the most of life!” but no. See, after Rohrs was separated from Legarreta, her four-year-old daughter, and their four-month-old son, he managed to get out the theater. And then he went to his car. And then he drove off. Legarreta and her kids, meanwhile, barely escaped harm thanks to the heroic actions of a total stranger, Jarell Brooks, 19, who shielded her and took a bullet in the leg in the process. Legarretta’s leg was hit with schrapnel but she and the children were otherwise unharmed. No thanks to Rohrs, mind you. Keep reading »
Some thoughts for Taylor Cotter (the 22-year-old girl who wrote about wishing she could be poorer on the Huffington Post):
Right now things kinda suck. I know. You wrote an oblivious-sounding piece about how you kind of wished you were getting the chance to be poor and scrappy in your 20s, like artistic people are supposed to be. Like the girls on “Girls,” which sometimes seems very realistic because Lena Dunham is the only young woman with any body fat on TV. And then the piece went up on HuffPo and then Gawker picked it up and now everyone is making fun of you.
My friend sent it to me. She was like “OMG this girl wishes she was poor!” and I was already worried about you.
I mean, maybe you’re totally OK and don’t even care. Maybe you’re laughing. But if you’re anything like me, I’m guessing you’re not. I’m guessing you’re more like, “Oh shit shit shit. No wait! I didn’t mean it that way! Wait, guys! I’m not that bad! I swear. I said that in a funny way. I was trying to make this point, and I was trying to illustrate it, and the piece is more about how we’re taught that being poor is cool when you’re an artist than about how I actually really wish I was poor. The piece is really more about the images we’re given of artists. And how it can be awkward not to fit the image, even if that means being more stable than the image. You know? Seriously! I’m not a bad person!” Keep reading »