Friday, December 30, 2011

Living Intentionally

Today is the fifth day of Kwanzaa, and it's principle is Nia, or Purpose. I'm not going to pretend I have wise things to say about our overall purpose(s) in this life, or even my own purpose, because I'm not the type to think we necessarily have reasons for existing. I'm going to talk about purpose in a much smaller way, purpose in the everyday kind of way we often take for granted. As 2011 winds down, it's a good time to reflect on all the things I did without meaning to, accidentally, or absent-mindedly over the course of the past year. My carelessness sometimes meant forgetting about a meeting or commitment I'd made, and sometimes my looseness of lip or hand got me in hot water with a friend. Sometimes I got drunker than I'd meant to, or procrastinated more than I'd meant to, or absent-mindedly starting biting my nails again when I'd been trying to grow them out. I made a lot of mistakes in the relationship that came and went during first half-ish of the year, often because of things I didn't want to do or couldn't figure out a way to do properly or just found myself doing because I thought I was supposed to be doing them. 

And that list could probably go on and on, but the point is a lot of the things I do on a daily basis aren't intentional. I am not always acting purposefully, and I want to work towards rectifying that. And acting purposefully/living intentionally doesn't mean I can't be spontaneous or have fun. It doesn't mean I have to become a workaholic or analyze how every single second of my day is working towards advancing some larger goal. It just means that I should take more time to question whether what I'm doing, how I'm acting, or how I'm living is what/how I want to be, rather than just how I happen to be in the moment due to some circumstance or other. It means working when it's work-time and playing when it's play-time and appreciating the beauty of the things in my life (because it'll be 2012 in 24 hours and a few minutes and in six months everything is changing). It means taking ownership of everything I do and say and think and feel, actively carrying each of these things as a reflection of myself and giving them the significance they deserve. Most of all, I think living intentionally or with purpose just means living actively, rather than letting other things take the wheel. I like being on top in charge. I want to do more to remember that/stay there. 

"I have nothing to wear."

I can understand how this statement might be viewed as a convenient excuse or a cop-out in some situations. Like, if you have your entire wardrobe at your fingertips to choose from at your convenience and are actually overwhelmed by options and really mean, "I can't figure out what to wear." Or if there is no specific dress code for whatever you've been invited/asked to go to and you could legitimately spray some Febreze on something in the laundry hamper and call it a day. Or if you have the time and extra spending money to go shopping and buy something for the occasion. In any of these cases, you legitimately have no room to be making excuses.

But if you're, say, on vacation with a finite amount of clothing, and didn't pack, say, short dresses or miniskirts or high heels because it is December and your friends have never wanted to go clubbing before and you don't own a miniskirt anyway, then when your bestie invites you to her sorority sister's birthday party at this fancy club she doesn't think you can wear jeans to and all you brought home was jeans and the party is in three days, which includes NYE and appropriate getting-over-your-hangover time, I think it's a legitimate rationale behind which to at least think about declining the invitation. 

My friend seemed to disagree, and so I ask you, friends and people of the internet: Do you think not having anything to wear is ever an acceptable reason to not go somewhere/do something?

Style crush

Reblogged from 18° 15' N, 77° 30' W

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Major cosign-age:

We, not just as black women, but as women, and as human beings, should have BEEN DONE with this narrative quite some time ago. But by discussing it, even when we're talking about how stupid/inaccurate/detrimental it is, we're giving it credibility and encouraging the media to keep bringing it up. We need to let this DIE and come up with better, more productive narratives to talk about.

And my shout out to someone who is telling the truth about us will go to The Crunk Feminists, with honorable mentions to playwright Lydia Diamond, who wrote Stick Fly, and Issa Rae and her whole team over at The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.

Uhm, I want HIM!


Ujamaa is the fourth day of Kwanzaa, and it's probably the day I'm the least enthused about every year. Ujamaa means "cooperative economics," and this day was originally dedicated to "building and maintaining our own stores, shops, and other businesses, and to profit from them together." And...I can see how that was a great strategy in 1966, but in modern times, that's just a little too separatist for me to really rally behind. I do like to support small (and often black-owned) businesses, usually just because their products are unique or more holistic than those of large chains, and I love shopping at farmer's markets and craft fairs when I'm in cities that support awesomeness like that, so I guess I could play that up to celebrate Ujamaa. 

But that doesn't make for much of a blog post, so I thought about it some more. I even did a little bit of research on contemporary understandings of the term "cooperative economics," and was delighted with what I found:
"Cooperative economics offers everyone a fair and equal chance to work and enjoy life through relationships and the goods of this world. It is recommended to stop governmental and private corruption, unnecessary plunder, community pollution and resource depletion." (Source)
I can't believe I didn't realize this earlier. Ujamaa has #OCCUPY written all over it. "The 99%" as a concept is about as "cooperative" as you can get, and people from all walks of life coming together to fight for the "little guy," trying to make this country's economic system work for the masses, rather than against us, protesting corporate personhood and other evils of capitalism...this is OUR economic fight. It's about demanding fair wages, fair lending practices, corporate responsibility, fair tax policies, balancing the budget without screwing over the people on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder, and most importantly, EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY. It's about not letting ourselves be stepped on/over on other people's way to the top. And it's a worldwide movement, just like the Diaspora has made us worldwide peoples. 

And people of color ARE involved in the Occupy movement, even if the mainstream media isn't really perpetuating that idea:


Am I too old to want a bedroom that looks like this?

Reblogged from Paper Pensive
...Do people get laid in bedrooms that look like this? One could argue that it's perfect mood lighting. I've always wanted a canopy-like structure and lots of interesting lights; in middle school, I had rope lights, a lava lamp, and glow in the dark stars on my ceiling, but I always wished it all worked together in a more cohesive fashion like this.

Anyway, *want* 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Am I My Brothers' (And Sisters') Keeper?

The principle for the third day of Kwanzaa is Ujima, or "collective work and responsibility". 

The metaphorical jury in my head is still out on whether any random Black person has some larger responsibility to Black peoples everywhere, to "give back" to communities s/he may or may not have been raised by, to represent "the race" in a "positive" light, or (and I struggle with this last bit) even to associate with the larger "community". A year ago, I would have unequivocally said yes to all of those statements, but since then my understandings of personal freedom, choice, and statements about what anyone "should" or "should not" be/do have grown immensely, and I'm no longer comfortable putting restrictions or regulations on anyone's sense of self and personal responsibility. Who am I to say what anyone else should do or be? I claim no authority over others.

So how can I talk about doing things collectively as a principle? How does this principle even sit with me? Well, firstly, doing work for and of Black peoples is important to me. Though I don't know if I HAVE to, I do feel a responsibility for talking about Blackness as a personal and a collective experience, which broadens into a feeling of responsibility for tackling issues pertaining to experiences of Blackness, person-of-color-ness, womanness, non-dominant-sexual-orientation-ness, and other minority experiences in this country. It would make me happy if everyone felt this need to tell their own stories and the stories of those who are often left out. To me, it seems that would be our collective responsibility as human beings, that all our brethren and all their struggles might be recognized as legitimate and significant. I'm not demanding selflessness, and maybe this is just a product of having been raised in a Judeo-Christian society, but I just can't see excessive greed as a productive means of life in modern society. I can't say that people of any certain race have a responsibility to other members of that same race, but I think it's pretty obvious that we as humans are responsible to humanity. Let's work on that.

I might have just stumbled upon a new theme song:


Reblogged from 18° 15' N, 77° 30' W
Reblogged from Fuck Yeah Curls Curls Curls

Talk to me...

Reblogged from 18° 15' N, 77° 30' W
...except maybe a good dance, but these things are erotic in different ways, I guess. A good conversation makes me want to keep you around for a while, whereas a good dance makes me want you right now and then I don't really care if I see you again. A good conversation is enticing.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I absolutely love this piece.

Reblogged from On the Bright Side

This makes me smile :)

Reblogged from Treasured Tresses

In further recognition of Kujichagulia,

I give you the song that is both my ringtone and my life motto:

This little girl.

I WISH I had been as aware of social injustice and product manipulation when I was a kid. I loved playing with my brother's Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, and he would deign to play Ken when I was playing with my Barbies, and we both happily played with androgynous toys like Legos and K'NEX, but to actually ASK FOR products targeted at the other gender was beyond me in my youth. But this child sees through the lies and blasphemy to question gendered socialization, and I want to applaud both her and her parents. 


Continuing goal: to be in harmony with my true self

A woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing. She goes where she will without pretense and arrives at her destination, prepared to be herself and only herself. ~Maya Angelou

This is in the spirit of the second day of Kwanzaa, Kujichagulia, which means "self-determination." Which, when you think about it, is really the entire point of this blog and this period of my life in general. I am on a mission to create and define myself, and then live according to that definition, making revisions and adding things when needed. I have no problem with code-switching contextually--in fact, I think it's a necessary life skill when your life involves interacting with peoples of various backgrounds and social locations--but I am determined to never lose myself in a web of shoulds, shouldn'ts, supposed tos, woulds, or what's "proper" again. Being myself and living according to my own standards seems like the most proper thing imaginable. I'm not hiding from who I am anymore; rather, I'm actively exploring and excavating to get to know myself better and better, to know the limits of who I am and what I believe. This means I am free to change my opinion things as I learn and change and grow, and free to engage in practices I once would have frowned upon, or to frown upon things I once would have engaged in. I'm free to do whatever the fuck I want, as long as it resonates within me and I don't get caught breaking too many laws. I feel freer than I've felt in many years, and I'm pretty sure this journey I've embarked on will be life-long.

This is my favorite day of Kwanzaa. :) 


Monday, December 26, 2011

Today is the first day of Kwanzaa

and while I don't officially celebrate Kwanzaa, I respect it as an entity, and feel the need to defend it from haters like my bestie K. Hence, this post. 

A little background: Kwanzaa is a week-long holiday created by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a major figure in the Black Power Movement of the 60s and 70s, to "give Blacks an alternative to the existing holiday and give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society." There are seven principles, each with a day devoted to it and represented by a red, green, or black candle that goes into a specific place in the kinara, a special candleholder. You're supposed to spend each day reflecting and talking about the principle with your family and friends, and each night feasting and exchanging gifts (which may or may not be supposed to be handmade as a rebellion against American consumer culture.) And that's a little much even for a self-righteous Black woman like myself, because I have no problems with Santa (who was Black in my house anyway, but that's another story for another time), and I hit up the after-Christmas sales LIKE A BOSS today, but I like the spirit of the celebration nonetheless. I like that it's something created by and for our peoples as a way of celebrating whatever it is that connects all of us Diasporic individuals.
Growing up, my family usually lit the candles, and my dad usually mailed me a Kwanzaa card, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say we legitimately celebrated Kwanzaa. As I’ve gotten older and have to start thinking about which traditions from my childhood to keep and which to let go of, I’ve decided that I want to start taking Kwanzaa more seriously. I don’t know if I’ll go so far as to make and exchange gifts for each of the days, but I want to get a kinara, light the candles on each day, and spend some time at the very least seriously reflecting on each of the principles, hopefully engaging in discussion with friends and family about them.
I don’t understand people who criticize it for being “made up;” how is it any more made up than the secular version of Christmas or Easter or any other (even non-religious) holiday? All holidays are social constructions, and I like the principles and values this particular holiday tries to construct us around. Maybe people who dress in “traditional African clothing” or go around speaking languages that originated in Africa or cooking foods from various African countries for this week ONLY every year might be “faking it” or “making it up,” but I think that just by being a socially conscious person of African descent in this world, I am living my culture every single day–on these particular days, I’m just reflecting on specific principles that may add strength and depth to my own understanding of that very culture. And I see no problems with that.

That being said, today's principle is Umoja, which means "unity" in Swahili. It is a day for reuniting with friends and family, and more broadly, for thinking about ties that bind. I spent this whole semester taking "Diversity in Black America," and after 12 weeks I say "Black peoples" and "Black cultures" and "Black identities," yet I don't believe it's possible to walk away from this concept of "out of many, one." Sure we may come from as many different backgrounds as you can possibly imagine and go through quite a range of experiences and have diverse interests and have been raised in cultures that are nothing like one another's and have different languages, vocabularies, styles, and tastes...but there is something that keeps "the Black head nod" and the either gravitation towards or strict avoidance of the other Black person in the room when you're few and far between in some social setting. Maybe that something is nothing more than the legacy of racism in this country, which has molded us all within a racialized understanding of the world, and maybe it's something more, but whatever it is, it is, and that is fine as long as we can still come together in our difference.
Unity is not casting out members of our communities for being different. It's accepting those who are Black and Women, who are Black and LGBTQQIA, who are Black and nerdy/awkward, and even who are Black and Republican. It's recognizing the "Black card" and terms like "oreo" and "sell-out" as ridiculous entities that no one has the authority to project onto anyone else. I think the truest form of solidarity to which we can strive as Black peoples, or even as human beings on this great green earth, is just to accept each other for that which we are without trying to quantify the authenticity or validity of anyone's sense of self. Recognizing that I am what I am, you are what you are, and we are what we are...that is being united.

Half of this is in French,

and I'm not really feeling the chorus, but I'm still quite intrigued. The English parts are kind of catchy, her hair is BALLER, she's rocking those fascinators LIKE A BOSS, and the sociologist in me wants to analyze the shit out of the last scene. It's a total reversal of the way the media generally represents relationships between people of this particular combination of races and genders. 

Also, this is Inna Modja's second time being mentioned on le blog. (First time is here.) This means she's officially cool.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

All I want for Christmas is a fro this gorgeous:

But my mommy got me lots of hair accessories and a new detangling comb! So I'll def be working what I've got!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Watching Christmas classics on DVD like a BOSS.

And I wanted to pause to tell everyone that my favorite Christmas movie characters, the ones nearest and dearest to my heart, aren't any of the heroes. Not Rudolph or Frosty or any of the 90374593749347 Santas. Not even a more obscure hero like Jack Frost. Nope. Most special to me will always be the Misfit Toys. 

I don't care that this movie is older than my mother; I feel like they'd just GET me. We're ALL misfits, it's true, but I feel like it's a very small percentage of us that embrace that misfit identity. And maybe the rest of the world doesn't try to cast us away to deserted ice-covered islands anymore, true, but...I still feel like we should stick together. I <3 being different. And I <3 the Charlie in the Box, the spotted elephant, the sinking boat, the swimming bird, the train with square wheels, and all the other misfit toys. I just so happen to think they're quite charming. 

What's the matter with misfits? That's where we fit in!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Whenever a woman says, “I hate girls; they’re catty bitches,” a patriarchy fairy gets its wings.

Reblogged from freedom fighter 

Once upon a time, I used to say variations of this. That time was basically 8th grade after an incredibly stupid fight with my best friend that left us not speaking for a few years, but the sentiment carried on for a good while longer, and for almost all of high school I thought it was "easier" to "get closer" or "be open" or "be myself" with my guy friends than it was with my girlfriends. One of my biggest shocks upon coming to college was developing such instant close friendships with so many girls. It was a big change for me. But not as big a change as the fact that once upon a time, I used to say variations of this. Once upon a time, I was an ignorant bitch who paid no mind to the social and political implications of the words that came out of her mouth, and who bought into racial and gender-based stereotypes without allowing herself to see the complexity and heterogeneity that is any subset of humanity you could possibly choose. Once upon a time, I was an ignorant bitch who went around saying things like this. Don't let that be you. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Someday Professor Maya will look just like this:

Bianca, Natural Hair Style Icon over at bglh

You can't ban love, but it's most beautiful when the whole world can see.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta and her fiancee, Citlalic Snell, participate in the Navy's time-honored tradition, the Homecoming Kiss.
I think the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell is the best gift I got all year, even if it will never apply to me directly. This makes me so happy.

So I've been hoarding my new music finds.

Sorry, my loves. Remedying that now. In order of my discovery, may I present:

Georgia Anne Muldrow:

Nayanna Holley:

Timothy Bloom:

and Andy Allo, whom I have no excuse for sleeping on:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It has come to my attention

That I really have no idea how to construct a professional wardrobe. I have a few pieces I've rarely worn that I bought before my Chicago internship but wound up not needing because we were basically a no-collar workplace minus a few days when we were superprofessional and I wore my interview suit, but I have no clue how to start putting together a collection of things to pick and choose from to wear to work each day. And the time to start doing that is now, because the applications are out and the interviews are coming in. I had a phone screening today for a position at Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., and they want me to come down to DC in a few weeks for a formal interview. (Keep your fingers crossed for me!) The real world is fast approaching, y'all, and my closet is woefully underprepared.

Do I start with suits or with blouses and pants/skirts? Are open-toed pumps appropriate for the office? Does it vary from office to office? Last time, my office culture rendered all the clothes I had bought basically useless most of the time, so maybe I should wait until I know exactly where I'm working and what their office climate is like. But I feel like I'll be able to shop more effectively if I start early! Are there staple pieces that are a definite must that I can begin with? I WANT TO HIT UP THE AFTER CHRISTMAS SALES, Y'ALL. lol

But seriously. Any advice on building a professional wardrobe would be much appreciated.

Decorating Alone, Or How Father Time Stole Christmas

I've been fighting them on this for a few years now, but ever since I left for college, my family has slowly but surely been boycotting Christmas. Well, "boycotting" may be a strong the very least, they're rather disinterested. My mom dragged the dusty boxes of decorations up from the basement, but has left them sitting in the living room for weeks, bothering only to put a wreath on the front door. Her excuse is that I love putting decorations up, so they were "waiting for me." (Feel free to roll your eyes.) When I told my siblings I wanted to put the decorations up, their response was, "Why?!" My brother and sister also adamantly refuse to get a tree this year. They say there's no point. They didn't want one last year either, but I wore my mom down. As it's mere minutes from being December 21st, however, I think this year will be the first year of my life we don't journey to the Christmas tree farm to pick out and cut down our tree. The tradition is dead. My brother asked me what I wanted for Christmas via text, and my dad and I have lost all forms of surprise. I want to sneak out to Walmart tomorrow to get the ingredients to make Christmas cookies surprise the family when they come home from school on Friday, but somehow I just don't think they'd appreciate the time I took to mold each little piece. It seems there's no point in even hooking up the DVD player to watch Rudolph, Frosty, and The Year Without a Santa Claus; I'll watch them on my computer.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that my entire household is void of Christmas spirit, and no one cares but me. I went away to school and my family became Grinches! It's the middle of the night, and I'm sitting in my living room surrounded by garland that I wanted to wrap around the banisters, but I can't find the staple gun, and I'm a little PMSy, so I'm just wallowing in how useless it seems to decorate if I'm only decorating for myself. 

What happened to my family? Once upon a time we started decorating the very first weekend of December. Christmas music was always playing throughout the house, and the tree was the featured object in the living room. It was always so big that we couldn't put the angel on the top because the top bent over against the ceiling already, and decorating it was an EVENT that the whole family had to be present for. We made what seemed like more cookies than we could possibly eat (though that never proved to be an issue). We left cookies and milk out for Santa, and reindeer treats for Rudolph, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen. Our lights outside were never particularly fancy, but they were bright, and made me feel warm and fuzzy inside when I came home at night. We all sat down to watch our Christmas movies together on VHS--the old Claymation Rudolph and The Year Without a Santa Claus movies, the animated Frosty, Charlie Brown Christmas, classics like The Preacher's Wife. Once upon a time, we were jolly.

And then we grew up and apart. My little sister is graduating from high school this year. My brother is a year younger than her. They're working on Christmas eve, for goodness sake! I can't speak for certain, but to the best of my understanding, after I left for college, there were individual rooms on individual floors of the house for every member of my family (we have a split-level house), and my family basically stopped regularly interacting throughout the day. We're not close anymore. No one has come out and directly said this, but it seems to me like everyone feels like the whole Christmas thing is too family-y for us to engage in. Like we outgrew it or something. WHO OUTGROWS CHRISTMAS?! It's the most wonderful time of the year! 

I will admit that it gets harder to think of things to ask for for Christmas as I get older. Well, even when I was a kid, I was never the kind to have a Christmas list that went on for miles and miles. I never really asked for big things; I'd much prefer a collection of little things. I was the oldest, and I feel like I always knew Christmas was a struggle for my mom [and my ex-stepfather of whom I don't like to speak], so tried to not be much of a burden. My dad has always half-criticized and half-condemned me for never asking for anything, and not much has changed. Now, generally speaking, when I want/need something, I just buy it. But I do generally keep a wishlist, or more accurately, a list of things I haven't gotten around to purchasing for myself yet, that can be picked and chosen from for gift-giving occasions. I understand that maybe not everyone does this, but it can't be too hard to wrack your brain and go 'Oh, I could use...' or 'What would make my living space/wardrobe/morning routine/study habits/any-other-aspect-of-my-life better?' 

And I love GIVING presents so much! I love scouring the internet for hours on end while I should be reading / doing my damn thesis, clicking the next button thoooouuuusands of times until I find THE PERFECT PRESENT when I'm surprising someone, or the best-rated-and-coolest-featured-in-a-particular-price-range of a specific thing I was asked for. I love wrapping it and that feeling of anticipation you get before the exchange. I love the shininess and the colors and the warmth in the midst of the cold that the season brings. I love getting to be a kid and an adult at the same time. I. love. Christmas. And I don't care what my family thinks; I WILL BE JOLLY! 

...But what's the point of coming home for the holidays if you're the only person celebrating? What's Christmas without traditions, without joy, without spirit? No one ever wishes anyone an apathetic Christmas...


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I know it's the holidays, but

don't forget to do right by yourself this holiday season.

Reblogged from Learning My Whole Life (the newest blog I follow!)

Fish and Grits

I love fish. I love grits. I have for as long as I can remember. And for as long as I can remember, I have been conceptually aware of the fact that Black Southern people tend to eat these two beloved foods of mine together as a meal of sorts, but I had never actually witnessed or experienced it. Mayyyyyybe once when I was a kid and too young to appreciate the diversity of food experiences I had in Georgia, but that's besides the point. To the best of my knowledge and understanding, yesterday morning I had fish, grits, and homemade biscuits for breakfast for the first time.

And I think fish and grits and homemade biscuits is a good place from which to start examining my relationship with my extended family. I know that they exist. I know things about them. I have encountered them in bits and pieces over the years without any strongly averse reactions. But generally, I have a tendency to be...ambivalent about my family most of the time, though that can shift to downright negative whenever my mom/brother/sister is getting on my nerves. But the truth of the matter is I just don't really KNOW my family. I have always lived with my mom and my younger [half-] brother and sister, but sometimes I still struggle to feel...intimate with them. And my extended family? I don't really feel like I have personal connections with them at all most of the time. 

Okay. Slight interruption for some backstory: my close family (i.e. mom, brother, sister, Nana, my mom's younger sister, and cousin) took a whirlwind roadtrip to Georgia this weekend because my mom's oldest sister was in the hospital having non-invasive but still pretty damn serious surgery. Despite being the oldest of the three girls my grandmother had and living in Savannah and not really seeing us but once every other year or so, she's somehow the sibling of my mother's to whom I feel the closest, and so I changed all of my plans about when I was coming home for break and what work I was doing when and the additional hours I wanted to make at work to get some extra holiday cash and came home early to make this gargantuan trek with my family. It was a 54-hour trip, in total, and we spent at least 37 hours of it on the road, but I think all of the adults involved would say it was worth it.

I'm just trying to figure out whether I count myself among that crowd. I'm really glad we got to be there to get my aunt back home and settled in after her operation. I'm sure that she knew she was loved, which is a wonderful feeling at any time. It was good to see my other uncle and aunt, who I hadn't seen in a good 7 years, and they fed us well. I got to see my (not-really-) great-grandmother, who had a stroke earlier this year but is doing incredibly well for 91, and I know that she was incredibly pleased to see us. Then we visited a paternal cousin of my mom's who evidently hadn't seen me since I was a toddler and didn't know my brother and sister at all, and then we trekked to the BACKWOODS to see my grandmother's sister, her family, and my actual great-grandmother, whom I hadn't seen since I was 9. After praising Jesus three times in the first five minutes of our visit and openly complaining about his son who recently married his fourth wife, an "ugly, look like she got rolled around in the mud cracker"--I kid you not--my great-uncle asked about school and he and my great aunt both separately said how proud they were of me, and maybe this is rude to say, but it all just felt like such a facade. 

I don't know my extended family. We are strangers to one another, strangers who were raised with enough common decency to be polite to one another when we meet, but strangers nonetheless. I was unnaturally quiet around my extended family this weekend, because I just have no idea who they expect me to be. But it has come to my attention that I never quite give "myself" the chance to be who they expect. I kind of give them no one instead, and that just isn't quite fair to anyone.  

Friday, December 16, 2011

On Sunday, I had the pleasure of seeing StickFly,

the brand-new Broadway show being produced by Alicia Keys, starring Dule Hill, Mekhi Phifer, Tracie Thomas, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Rosie Benton, and Condola Rashad (yes, Rashad, as in Phylicia Rashad, better known as Mrs. Claire Huxtable). The African-American Studies program and Professor Imani Perry took my Diversity in Black America class and some other undergraduate and graduate AAS concentrators to see it, and all I can say is WHOA. This show is PHENOMENAL. Even though it was two of the stars' Broadway debuts, most of the acting was absolutely impeccable. It felt so natural. It reminded me of how much I miss things that aren't full of song and dance. I saw so much of myself in this show that it felt like home.
I liked this show in the same way I like Awkward Black Girl. Well, let me say that I loved the main female character the same way I wish J was a tangible person in my life rather than just a character I idolize on the even-smaller-than-small screen. She felt so incredibly real. [Basic premise: girl from a lower-middle-class background goes to a prestigious college, gets engaged to a bougie dude who grew up in Martha's Vineyard, goes home with him to meet the in-laws, awkwardness and hilarity ensue.] So many people in my class were hating on this character when we discussed in class on Tuesday, and I was like, personally offended for her. It was like they didn't see her feelings and reactions and awkwardness and confusion as valid or legitimate, like there were all these unwritten rules she was just supposed to somehow inherently know. Didn't she learn anything at Hah-vahd or what? Anyway, everything that she didn't understand, the way she expressed herself, the problems that mattered to her, and the ways she tried to get them dealt with all made so much sense to me. 
She was one of those people caught in an awkward class limbo that I'm going to find myself in soon. Raised in "a house full of books and never enough money," she gets into the best school in the country and meets, mingles with, and befriends upper-middle and upper class people. She gains this incredible education and access to this new crowd of people, but that degree doesn't just come in a deluxe package with all the cultural capital needed to succeed in this new world that same degree propels her into. I'm going to have that same struggle in the blink of an eye, and I just so wanted them to meet somewhere in the middle.
But she's FAR FAR FARRRRRR from the only character with a stack of issues, and the way it all comes together is just wonderful. The relationships are incredibly well put-together, and everyone plays off of one another so well. There's even Scrabble involved. I recommend this show so highly--and some tickets are as low as $35, so go go go! (And check out a one-minute clip here!)


Reblogged from As far as i'm concerned...
Reblogged from Fuck Yeah Curls Curls Curls
Reblogged from 18° 15' N, 77° 30' W

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Declaration for Self-Affirmation:

I am me.
In all the world, there is no one else exactly like me.
There are persons who have some parts like me, but no one adds up exactly like me. Therefore, everything that comes out of me is authentically mine because I alone chose it.
I own everything about me-my body, including everything it does; my mind, including all its thoughts and ideas; my eyes, including the images of all they behold; my feelings, whatever they may be – anger, joy, frustration, love, disappointment, excitement; my mouth, and all the words that come out of it, polite, sweet or rough, correct or incorrect; my voice, loud or soft; and all my actions, whether they be to others or to myself.
I own my fantasies, my dreams, my hopes, my fears.
I own all my triumphs and successes, all my failures and mistakes.
Because I own all of me, I can become intimately acquainted with me. By so doing I can love me and be friendly with me in all my parts. I can then make it possible for all of me to work in my best interests.
I know there are aspects about myself that puzzle me, and other aspects that I do not know. But as long as I am friendly and loving to myself, I can courageously and hopefully look for the solutions to the puzzles and for ways to find out more about me.
However I look and sound, whatever I say and do, and whatever I think and feel at a given moment in time is me. This is authentic and represents where I am at that moment in time.
When I review later how I looked and sounded, what i said and did, and how I thought and felt, some parts may turn out to be unfitting. I can discard that which is unfitting and keep that which proved fitting, and invent something new for that which I discarded.
I can see, hear, feel, think, say and do. I have the tools to survive, to be close to others, to be productive, and to make sense and order out of the world of people and things outside of me.
I own me, and therefore I can engineer me.
I am me and I am okay.
~Virginia Satir

Source: But I Love Me More (the newest blog I follow)

If this dress were a tank over some jeans,

I would be coveting this look to the extreme.

Reblogged from As far as i'm concerned...


found on freedom fighter.
I'm pretty sure y'all can figure out what it says. 

And I'm 100% down.

The women are participating in a feminist march in Santiago, Chile.

I'm ignoring the top left circle in this diagram for a little while

and I'm not even gonna front; it's really nice. 

Reblogged from freedom fighter.
Now don't worry. I'm not saying I've sworn off love forever and will never look again. I'm not saying I'm done with relationships or [once I enter the real world in a concerningly short period of time] dating either. I'm just saying that right now I've found a happy balance with the rest of my life by putting more time into focusing on the bottom circle, and ignoring the top left without neglecting the top right. I'm learning a lot about myself and redefining what I think is or isn't okay, which hey, is what this whole development in college thing is all about. I want to spend time making sure that the people who matter to me won't disappear from my life after graduation this time around. I'm also having fun exploring my sexuality and my nature as a sexual being. And school is generally going well and I feel way less stressed than I'd previously have expected this year would feel. So...I've changed a lot over the course of this semester. But don't be alarmed or concerned. Don't think I'm secretly depressed and just passively letting things happen to me. I'm actually doing hella good.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Style crush

Reblogged from Currently Obsessed with...

Twist-Out Perfection

Reblogged from Currently Obsessed with...

Why be your own worst enemy

when you can be your own biggest fan?

Reblogged from Indie. Radiant.

I will call you out on that shit:

Reblogged from Indie. Radiant.

What goes around comes around:

Reblogged from it'sme...SHANA »

Look Ma, I got my hair cut!

Soooo...confession time. I accidentally kinda sorta hadn't gotten a trim in about 2 years. Hair fail, I know. 

But like, I felt like any salon I went to, unless it was specifically a natural hair salon, was going to be all, 'we have to straighten your hair to cut it,' and y'all know I don't play that. So I just didn't cut my hair. And I wasn't really worried about it.

But then last Friday, the Princeton Association of Black Women had a "Black is Beautiful" hair event at--get this--THE BLACK OWNED AND OPERATED HAIR SALON THAT IS LEGITIMATELY A TWO MINUTE WALK OFF CAMPUS AND HAS SOMEHOW EXISTED THERE FOR THE PAST FIVE YEARS WITHOUT ME KNOWING ABOUT IT. THE FUCK?! I wasn't sure they would be natural-friendly, but the event was free and promised goodies, so I RSVP'ed. 

And I'm glad I did, because we each wound up getting free consultations by the hair professionals at the salon. Mine was from Mr. Godfrey Fitzgerald (these are bougie black people) himself, and he basically told me that I had a great head of hair and that he was impressed with my overall regimen, but that I was in dire need of a trim. He was surprised my hair was as healthy as it is given how long it had been. 

And then they told us they were doing a 2-for-1 special in the month of December, so if we came in with a friend at the same time, we could get both of our heads done for the price of one. You know I was so quick to hop on that train that (after confirming that I could get my hair cut without having to put heat on it), I made my appointment with a girl I met THAT night at the event, haha.

So our appointment was for THE GODDAMN CRACK OF DAWN 9 o clock this morning, and after re-asserting the fact that I was not going to have heat put on my head (in my I will walk right up out this bougie-ass salon voice), I got my hair shampooed (small cringe), conditioned, combed out with three different combs (including one that was approaching fine-toothed. I was impressed.), and then the scissors appeared. She combed small sections of my hair at a time with the almost-fine-toothed comb, following the teeth with her fingers, and when she got to the straggly ends, snip snip went the scissors. It had been so long since I'd had a trim that I was dying a little inside with every snip, but I tried to be strong. I knew it was for the best. [I told her that and she said a little more could stand to be cut, but she didn't want to make it too short. *GULP*]

Anyway, she gets through combing and snipping the whole thing, then goes, okay, let me fluff this up as big as possible so we can start shaping. And she basically combs all my curls out into a huge legitimate afro, and then begins snipping to form a perfect circle. And I mean PERFECT, y'all. Check this ish out:

The name's Thunda...Afro Thunda.


The nerd in me wants to find the circumference of this ish.
Then I wet it and it curled right back up, no worries:
And thennnn, since I had an interview today, I concocted a little professional style. I did a side-part reminiscent of my straight-haired days, then loosely rolled the sides back and bobby-pinned the shit out of the back so it kind of all laid flat and then poked out again below my ears:

Tell me that ain't professional, I dare you.
(Interview went well-ish, even though it's for a job I'm 98% sure I don't want. I advanced to the next round and now they want me to do shit. Ugh.)

Anyway, that's the story of my haircut! Princeton ladies, I officially highly recommend Godfrey Fitzgerald's salon on Witherspoon Street. My only complaint is that I have noticed a little bit of flakiness near my roots this evening, but any interaction with shampoo tends to dry my hair out like nobody's business, so I'ma DC in the morning and I think everything will be good.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My biggest fear:

There's this guy I know and really can't stand who likes to ask people very shortly after meeting them what their biggest fear is. When he asked me this, I said failure, because that's how I've answered that question for as long as I can remember. 

But (as I actually knock on wood) I think I'm reaching the point in my life where failure doesn't really seem like a threat anymore. I don't say that to sound cocky or like I'm entitled to some kind of fabulous life. You never know what the future holds. But no matter what deviations from the "plan" I'll take, whether I wind up being a professor or something else becomes my end goal, I already look at my life and what I've accomplished and see success. And no amount of future change can erase that. I can change my goals, and maybe even change them due to unforseen circumstances, but I simply don't believe that I can, at this point, fuck up so badly that I'll deem myself to have failed overall. 

So what am I scared of? I came across this quote by Sylvia Plath on my friend's blog, and it really resonated with me.

" What horrifies me most is the idea of being useless: well-educated, brilliantly promising, and fading out into an indifferent middle age."
 I think what scares me most now is irrelevance. The whole point of becoming a professor and living an academic life is to matter to someone somewhere, to do something important that might help or at least inspire people. I'm scared no one will give a shit. 
"Whenever a conscious Black woman raises her voice on issues central to her existence, somebody is going to call her strident, because they don’t want to hear about it, nor us. I refuse to be silenced and I refuse to be trivialized, even if I do not say what I have to say perfectly." -- Audre Lorde

Is this real life?

Princeton University will never cease to amaze me with the way it connects me to other people. Meeting famous people is always great. Meeting people with academic interests that are similar to yours is fantastic. But when you get to meet someone you admire and respect on both intellectual and artist levels, and substantively meet him, rather than just shake his hand or get something signed...that's amazing. And when you get to have a half-hour conversation with him where you talk about things you've both experienced and you realize you're both just normal people (except one of you has watched and wowwed at Youtube videos of the other), that's incredible.

That's what Princeton gave me today. Which is why I'm not even mad about being locked out of my room until tomorrow morning because I refuse to pay $30 for Public Safety to come open my door. It's why the seemingly endless monsoon outside isn't even getting me down. There is a smile in my heart if not always on my face for the rest of the evening (don't want to look like a smiling idiot sitting at work in the library) because I got to have that incredible experience with the one and only Joshua Bennett this evening. 

Y'all probably remember me gushing about how amazingly talented he is a few months ago. (If not, click here.) A friend of mine posted his 10 Things I want to Say to a Black Woman video sometime last year, and I said "Mmmmmm!" more times than I could remember ever saying in response to anyone's words ever before. 

So when my friend M told me he was a first year graduate student here in our English department, I pretty much died. And by "died," I mean started concocting a plan to meet him without seeming like a stalker. And the very next day, I heard his voice while I was walking down the street, and looked up to see him walking along across Prospect Street. And once I saw him walking through the student center. And so, when he walked into my Mellon Mays Holiday Mixer this evening, an uncontrollable smile broke out on my face. And when we got paired together to learn more about each other and introduce each other to the group, I wanted to squeal. 

I tried to play innocent. We did introductions, I talked about my research, we got food, but by the time we sat down to keep talking, I just couldn't take it anymore. I had to tell him. "Okay, I have to be honest--I know who you are. I've watched your YouTube videos and I think your poetry is amazing and when I heard that you were a grad student here I just had to meet you. I hope you don't think I'm crazy..." And do you know what he told me? Joshua Bennett told ME that I made his day. That he sleeps on a futon, and so for me to say that I'm a fan is humbling. And I was just honored to meet the man. 

It's strange having someone you've admired from afar/the internet materialize as a real person with real jokes that you can laugh at and have him laugh back. That you could be in the same place at the same time having different experiences with shared stories and compare notes. He's looking for more of a connection to Black students on campus, and thinks my thesis is particularly interesting with respect to Princeton, and there's a decent chance we might just get to be friends over the course of my last few months here. He was also just mad chill and it was fun to be around him even after I was over the shock of my good fortune in getting the chance to talk to him (hopefully without coming off like a stalker). How can awesome people be so normal? My mind is blown.

POWERFUL image I stumbled across:

An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Everyone has the right to own his/her own body.

Damn, sometimes I sound like a feminist. 

Not gonna deny it:

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Harold Whitman

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Who would I have grown up to be...

...if my childhood looked like this?

Reblogged from it'sme...SHANA

Tim Okamura is the dopest.

I've posted his work before, but I just stumbled across this over at Afro.Art.Chick:


Style Crushes

Reblogged from 18° 15' N, 77° 30' W

^ Necklace, shawl, the way the colors play off of one another

Reblogged from 18° 15' N, 77° 30' W
^ Beautiful twist-out, earrings, combo of pretty plain shirt and jazzy scarf

Reblogged from Currently Obsessed with...
^ Not particularly my style, but still the hotness.

Reblogged from

 ^ So simple, but soooo cute!!