Panel from the Conversation Club
Just a note to my readers (all eight of you), this weekend I am heading to the Philadelphia Independent Film Festival
, which is actually happening right now until this coming Sunday. Also this weekend is the Urban Suburban Film Festival,
which I did not know was happening until after I got my festival pass for PIFF. But if you are in the Philly-area, definitely check out both film festivals if you can. Of course, I will have a full PIFF rundown later on next week. In the meantime, and in between time, check out this exclusive broadcast from the Conversation Club, a Black professional mixer/panel discussion, which was held on Wednesday, June 20th 2011. The featured topic for this panel discussion was: Black Philadelphia and The Republican Party
. Yeah, you read right. The event, which was held at Elena's Soul Lounge, 4912 Baltimore Avenue in Southwest Philly, was co-organized by Audra Butts and Carl Dash, two local Black Republicans. Go 'head, you can clutch the pearls.
But before you strangle yourself to death, do know that both Dash and Butts are actually smart, well-reasoned and pretty cool (i.e. not crazy) folks. Certainly not the whitewashed sell-outs, which many of us have come to associate with a black person wearing the label "republican." In fact, both Dash and Butts wanted to use this event as a way to
challenge our thinking about the impact our reliance on one party (The Democrats) has had on our community - especially in major cities like Philadelphia, where the democrats run unopposed in most elections. As a self-proclaimed Independent, as well as a person who puts the interest of Black folks first, I am certainly down with challenging the status quo, no matter what side of the aisle they may reside. However, this was not the only purpose of this particular discussion. As many of you may know from reading the local papers, the local GOP has been seriously flailing lately to the point that many local wards do not have committee people to fill the slots. With the future of the GOP in jeopardy,
a new faction within the GOP called the Loyal Opposition has been trying to wrestle control away from the current leadership in hopes of steering the party into a more inclusive direction. While many of the Black members of the GOP welcome this new direction, some folks suspect that the same racist elements, which keeps black folks away from the party, also reside among some within the Loyal Opposition. Likewise, some Black republicans have disagree strongly with the alleged "outreach" tactics used by the Loyal Opposition, including a (well sourced) allegation of Loyal Opposition party members going into poor Black neighborhoods and bribing drunks, drug addicts and any other miscreants they could find on the street, with free hamburgers in exchange for registering Republican. These allegations came to light in a separate discussion, which played itself out a couple of days prior to the discussion on Facebook. So in addition to challenging Black folks loyalty to the Democrats, Butts and Dash also wanted to clear the air with members of the Loyal Opposition
about these alleged tactics as well as their overall agenda for and with the community. This was certainly a spirited and fascinating discussion. Panelist included: John Featherman, the 2012 Republican challenger in the First Congressional District; Sgt. Robert Allen Mansfields, Republican candidate for the Second Congressional District; Randy Robinson, Black Republican and political consultant; Judith Robinson, realtor and Black Republican; and Denise Clay, a writer for the Philadelphia Public Record and Independent. I know this is quite an introduction to this broadcast but I just wanted to
make sure that I was as thorough as possible. Also, if you think I'm wordy, this broadcast is exactly 2 hours and 17 minutes long. So crank up the A/C, grab the popcorn and kick your feet up because you are going to be here for a while. Listen after the jump:
So those who caught the series premier of Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta two nights ago, are probably already over "it." The "it" being the catty girl fights and straight-up ratchetness (or as I like to call it ratch-tastic), which seems to be star among most of these reality TV shows. Most folks would agree that we are ready for Hollywood to give us something fresh and new, preferably a television show with a damn script and real actors. But since 97.2 percent of all television programming today consist mainly of women act a damn fool, your options are pretty much limited.
Although you could read a book or play with your kids, or something...
...No you're not going to do that.
Well fear not as there are some great alternatives to reality TV available, which don't involve your bad-ass kids or having to sound out big words. Matter of fact, many of these options are only a new tab away. Thanks to digital technology, there are dozens...no scratch that...hundreds of great series, available for free (if you don't count the cost of paying for internet) right here on the web.
We all know about Awkward Black Girls? Well would you be surprised that there are more shows like ABG? Well, not exactly like ABG but have the same high quality of writing and production?
Many of these shows you can find just by browsing YouTube with a couple of key phrases ("web series" is a good start). However to get you started, I have a short list (in no particular order) of some of my favorite web-based shows.
More after the jump:
Me posing with my new Tee and Ruth Paloma Rivera-Perez and April Pugh, owners of Philadelphia Printworks
April Pugh sitting outside of Rockers Closet
Summer has officially started. I can tell this because of all the invites to various events I have been getting lately. Anyway, here is something from last Saturday I forgot to write about: In addition to getting my Zumba world record attempt on, later in the day, I dropped by Philadelphia Printworks' official POP URELEASE event to celebrate the release of their The Voir Dire Collection.According to the Facebook Event page: Voir Dire: /ˈvwɑr ˌdiər/) ... an oath to tell the truth, to say what is true.
Okay? Sounds intriguing but what does that mean? That, in short, means that the Voir Dire collection can not be considered those mass marketed T-shirts with the funny and sometimes ironic sayings such as Haters Gonna Hate
or Similes are Like Metaphors
on it. To the contrary, these shirts includes such themes as Police Brutality, Monsanto,Corporate Greed, Child soldiers, Gay marriage as well as pays homage to political international figures like Frida Kahlo, Donyale Luna and Viktor Frankl. The kind of topics that will likely start conversations - and possibly get you kicked out of a few places. By the way: isn't it funny how you can go just about anywhere with a T-shirt that says Female Body Inspector
but a shirt expressing your opposition to genetically modified foods is a no-no? Anyhow, Philadelphia Printworks
is a screen printing company based in North Philadelphia (9th and Dauphin to be exact), whose mission is to promote community awareness on local, national and international issues concerning art, justice, culture, society and politics. In addition to using apparel to inspire change, co-owners April Pugh and Ruth Paloma Rivera-Perez (pictured above) take a more substantive approach by donating part of the proceeds from the shirts to local and global relief organizations like Amnesty International and Help Child Soldiers
. Now that is real social capitalism you can believe in. The official line was unveiled at Rockers Closet, which is located at
at 818 s.4th st (4th & Queen) in the Bella Vista section of the city (also know as South Philly). I got there kind of early, and also had to jet pretty early (had to go home eventually and walk the dog), so I didn't get the full Voire Dire experience. But I did manage to pick up a cool Jose Marti t-shirt (pictured above) for around $15. And a cupcake. They had cupcakes too. Pugh said that she had been up all hours of the night baking cupcakes for the event as some sort of contest, where the lucky person to find a gummy bear inside one of the tasty pastries, would win a free t-shirt. I didn't win but I was pleased with the free cupcake - and my T-shirt, of course.
Oh, never heard of Rockers before? Cool I get to school you to something new and hip. Rockers Closet
, which was founded by musician and fashion designer Rebecca B., is a DIY thrift boutique, which features not only the worn and refurbished apparel and shoes you see at regular thrift stores but also acts as a studio for budding fashion artists - or those, who just like to get creative with the cloth. So if you are a hipster, a blipster (black+hipster) or just seeking out something a little funky for your wardrobe then definitely check out Rockers. In addition to the t-shirt you see above, I actually found a great little handmade leather purse there. I can't wait to find something to rock it with (no pun intended). Perhaps I'll wear the purse with the t-shirt?
Oh, and Rockers is also one of a few exclusive vendors, which will sell The Voir Dire Collection. But if you are not in the Philadelphia-area, you can always stop by the website
and order from there. Tell them that Charing sent you. You probably won't get a discount on anything but who doesn't like name-dropping? Editor's Note: If it is highlighted in blue, it is clickable. So don't go asking me: Why didn't you include the links to their websites?
photo courtesy of Buzzfeed
June must be national "All-My- Favorite-People-are-Disappointing-the-Hell-Out of-Me" month.
First Erykah Badu and that crazy video; then Nas declaring Gwyneth Paltrow an unofficial Black person and giving her a pass on the whole N-word (also known as Nigger) situation; and now Oprah. What did the former Queen of Daytime Talk do now?
Besides hosting 50 Cent on her network to squash some bullshit beef he made up, she basically allowed him to sit there and insult her to her face without saying anything. 50 Cent, or Fiddy as Oprah calls him, appeared on "Oprah's Next Chapter," which aired Sunday, June 10 on OWN. During part 1 or the 2-part interview (the second part is supposed to air this weekend), Oprah asked "Fiddy" the infamous reason behind his female schnauzer's name:
Oprah: "I hear you have a dog name Oprah. I consider it a compliment whether you meant one or not?"
What the Motherfuck, Fucking Fuck, Oprah?
Nevertheless, the rapper turned actor turned habitual agitator responded back by saying that at the time, he had such negative feelings for Oprah, so he decided to project those intense feelings onto the dog. Negro Please.
You must see the entire exchange below:
This has to be the most awkward, excruciatingly interview I've seen on television in a while. Not only can't 50 look Oprah in the eyes but Oprah seems to have turned into a star-struck stan right before our eyes. In fact, I have never seen her suck-up to someone so badly before. This is the same woman that once belittled Jame Frey, author of the factious memoir A Million Little Pieces,
for deceiving her, thus hurting the reputation of her book club, and now, in the presence of the one person, who did mean to do her reputation some harm, she has been reduced to a giggling schoolgirl. Seriously what the hell is going on in this clip? More importantly, what the hell is going on with Oprah?
I'll tell you what's going on: Oprah's desperate attempt to save her network at any cost is making her mental. Mentally unstable to the point that she is willing to subject herself to the most vile denigration in order to not only appeal to a younger audiences but also woo higher ratings for her fledgling network - even if it means destroying her self-respect. You can almost see the disdain on her face and hear the pain in her voice as she laughs uneasily and smiles uncomfortably at him. But there is not amount of gritting of teeth that will hide her overall displeasure, hence why she kept pressing him on the question of "Why did you name your dog after me?"But here's the thing
Oprah: he's not going to tell you. You know why? Well, because it is obvious: he did it because he didn't like nor did/does he respect you. And there is nothing he could say to reasonably justify doing so without sounding like an ass or hurting your feelings even more. Seriously, naming his dog after you is not a compliment. It's a round-a-bout way of calling you a bitch. But you know that. Right?
I mean he didn't apologize nor did he even suggest that he would rename the pup to something less offensive - like Scruffy. Instead he basically said oh but I like the dog now
and then gave a shout out to the twitter account he set up for the dog called Oprah Winfree, @OprahdaDog
. The account has over 12,000 followers. For a female dog. Named Oprah. How quaint. The thing is, I expect these types of shenanigans from 50 cent. After all, this is the knucklehead, who recorded Young Buck, his former protege with G-Unit, crying and begging for money. And then posted it to the Internet for all to laugh and mock. He is also the bonehead pig that once released, also to the Internet, a video of the mother of Rick Ross's child engaged in amateur porn with some record executive, while 50 Cent offered commentary.
Clearly this dude has serious issues and thrives - or self-medicates - off of all the attention his antics provides for him. But Oprah, you should know better. Scratch that, Oprah, I expect better from you. You once stood up against
the music genre’s use of the word “n***er” as well as seemingly misogynistic lyrics like calling women b*tches and h0es. And within one moment in one interview, you managed to be reduced down to the very thing you once claimed to be against. A female dog. I love you Oprah but please, do better.
Next time you see "Fiddy" take a page out of Queen Latifah's book and punch him "dead in his eye."
Paul Mooney: Need I saw more?
Hat tip to John
So now we've all seen the Flaming Lips featuring Erykah Badu music video for the remake of Roberta Flack's The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face (if you haven't, google it). And many of you probably have been following much of the fallout over the music. Many bloggers have written about it extensively including your truly. I penned a piece for MN basically asking what was she trying to say - if say anything? Just a snippet of my thoughts:"That’s the thing about art. You really do see what you want to see. In the case of Badu’s video, some will see it as perverse while others, probably most of her fans, will probably see a more profound statement. Two days after seeing the video, I’m still on the fence about whether or not I like it or hate it. Although, I really think I am leaning towards not caring. Even if she was taking a page from the Tree of Life and doing some sort of existentialist view about creation, I just found the whole concept dull and teetering on the line of pretentiousness. For me, there was no implication of a greater cause or any attempts to challenge views or society. And after the three minutes or so were over, I wasn’t left wanting for more. In short, it just wasn’t that deep. Plus, the face shot at the end was just plain ‘ol nasty."Again you can read the piece in it's entirety at Madame Noire. Of course, the drama didn't stop there. Three (or four days) after the video had been circulated, discussed and
analyzed to death throughout the web, the Flaming Lips released a statement basically saying, oops our bad. Actually this is what the statement really says: " OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM - WAYNE COYNE / FLAMING LIPS "The video link that was erroneously posted on Pitchfork by the Flaming Lips of the Music Video 'The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face', which features Erykah Badu, is unedited and unapproved.. Sorry!! We, the Flaming Lips, accept full responsibility for prematurely having Pitchfork post it. It has outraged and upset a segment of fans and we apologize if we offended any viewers!!! This is a Flaming Lips video which features Erykah Badu and her sister Nayrok and is not meant to be considered an Erykah Badu or Nayrok statement, creation, or approved version.”Okay. Y'all came kind of late with this statement. But if that wasn't enough, later in the day, on Badu's Facebook fan page,
she realized her own statement, basically saying - well I don't know for sure but I'll let you all read it for yourselves after the jump:
Last Saturday, I joined nearly (or possible over) 300 women from the great city of Philadelphia for the second attempt to break the Guinness Book of World Record for the Largest Zumba Class. The attempt, which was held at the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum along the Parkway, was part of the week-long events honoring the official Odunde Festival
, the largest and longest running African American street festival on the East Coast. The actual Odunde Festival was held the next day. Sorry guys, no pictures from that as prior commitments made it impossible for me to go. I know, bummer. But for those who know me, know that I am serious about Zumba,
which is a dance fitness program created by dancer and choreographer Alberto "Beto" Perez in Colombia during the 1990s. I go about three times a week. Not only is it great cardio but it is a lot of fun too. The latter is especially important for me considering how much I hate working out. Also my Zumba instructor Jena Renee Rogers was leading the attempt, so I would not miss this for the world. Currently the Guinness World Record title is held by a group in Australia, where about 1400 folks helped to get them in the book. So I doubt that we made it. However that didn't stop our flow.
Also, there may have been some journalists out there, probably from print media, but I didn't see any news trucks, which is unfortunate considering that the national conversation right now revolves so much around Black women and their weight. It would have been good to see so many of us - many of whom came from Zumba programs across the city - actually working out. However, I guess that image does not jive with the narrative of Black women being fat and lazy.Anyway, enough of me talking: check out some of the pictures from the event
after the jump.
Last weekend I got to tour the new Barnes Foundation Museum. Yes that Barnes, which was the subject of the award winning documentary called The Art of the Steal. If you haven't seen the documentary, run to Netflix and watch it immediately. Intrigue, city corruption and betrayal all wrapped into the most unlikely of topics, the creation of a new museum.
But if you don't have Netflix or feel that it is too much work to stop reading this post for about an hour and a half, while you go watch a movie (the nerve right?), well here is the backstory: the Barnes Foundation was an art and horticultural institution, which used to be located in Lower Merion, Pennsylvania, a rich suburb of Philadelphia. It was founded in 1922 by Albert C. Barnes, a chemist who made a fortune from co-developing Argyol, a medicine used to treat or cure gonorrhea of the eye. Besides being a rich man, Barnes managed to amass a huge collection of artwork - about 2,500 modernist and post-impressionist pieces - worth over $25 billion dollars.
According to the documentary Barnes, who had a disdain for the power structure of Philadelphia, made provisions in his will that his collection of famous artwork should never step foot in the city. Likewise, he established the Barnes Foundation, which put restrictions on access, reproduction and touring of its works. To ensure that the power elite would never interfere with the management of the Foundation - including not moving the dazzling holdings into Philadelphia - Barnes entrusted Lincoln University, a HBCU located about 25 miles outside of Philadelphia, with the majority voting power on the board. However, towards the end of the century, the Foundation struggled financially and even after having some pieces on tour to earn enough money for much needed renovations to the facility.
Eventually the board was insolvent and a new board was created. Working with some pretty wealthy Philadelphia interest, the new board raised the capital to move the museum to Philadelphia. Of course, this caused years of controversy and legal challenges with Barnes will being at the center. However the new board would prevail and the Barnes would be moved to its new home along the Parkway.
The whole situation (at least according to the film's version of events) certainly seems shady, if not a big slap in the face to Albert Barnes' legacy. I thought about it while the museum was still being built whether or not I would venture inside. Yet there I was, sitting in the parking lot off of the Parkway, with my ticket in tow to see the exhibits. So what changed my mind?
Tired of watching horror films where the Black guy/gal bites it first? Ever wondered to yourself: What would Frederick Douglass do in a zombie flick? No, you haven't? Well me neither but finally we get the answer to the question we never thought to ask. May I present to you Frederick Douglass Zombi
e Slayer, a parody of the Abraham Lincoln Zombie Slayer movie trailer. This short animation clip was created by Ola Betiku, with production by Ditto Dudes. You can follow them on twitter: @Dittodudes @OlaBetiku
Blogging While Brown 2012: Women of Blogging Panel Discussion
This past weekend, I had the pleasure to attend the Blogging While Brown conference, which was held right here in Philly. Yay, me for not having to travel far or having to find a dog walker to take care of Coltrane. It’s the little things.
Anyway, if you are a writer, or a blogger, than you needed to be at this event. Seriously, this is the best conference I have ever attended. No shade all the other conferences I have gone to but there is something fantastic about finally getting an opportunity to meet other like-minded people. I mean, seriously, how many writing conventions, especially writing conferences for Black folks, are there really?
Besides all the great information, Blogging While Brown
proved to be an excellent opportunity to network, which is saying a lot considering my general disdain for networking. Yeah I know it is important, especially if you are trying to make moves in your respective field. However, I could never truly engage myself in the process of schmoozing and business card exchanging. And I finally figured out why.
You see, there isn’t much value, for me at least, at many of the networking events; I have attended in the past. It might be cool, if you are trying to connect with people in Fortune 500 companies or jockeying for a corporate position but for folks in more creative, less button down professions, such as being a journalist or a blogger – or a journalist/blogger - chances are you end up collecting business cards, which will amount to nothing more than clutter in the bottom of your purse.
I have been at networking events where I have told a person, usually some dude in a striped button-down shirt and bow tie, that I am a writer and the response I get back is something like, “Oh, you’re a writer? Well that’s interesting. I once wrote a poem once in elementary school about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was a good poem and I got an ‘A.’ I thought about writing professionally but there is no money. Anyway, where have I seen your work?”
As if he hadn’t seen my writing, it doesn’t exist.
But I smile politely through gritted teeth knowing damn well his poor conceived tribute to the I Have A Dream speech he performed in front of the 2nd grade class is nowhere close to the time and effort I have put into my craft. I used to take it personally but I too noticed the same reception from the bow ties when I tell them that my full time gig is in the non-profit field. Then it is, “Oh that’s interesting. I once volunteered in a soup kitchen on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.”
And that’s why I stopped going to these events.
Anyway, there is nothing like being surrounded by your own elk. I know I said this already but I just have to say it again. Folks, who are smart, worldly, talkative and have an opinion on just about every topic under the sun. There were relationship bloggers and fashion and beauty bloggers, political bloggers and bloggers like me, who lack a clear niche and whose personal space on the web mimics the chaotic mess that exist in their minds. Being at the conference I feel like that little girl in the film Rabbit Proof Fence
, who had been maliciously separated from her family and decided walked through hundreds of miles of harsh Australian back to be reunited with her clan - except I just caught the subway downtown Philadelphia. But I did drive for the evening workshop and man, that traffic was brutal.