Tuesday, April 29, 2008


So I went to the Estelle Concert last night. It was incredible. There’s nothing like a concert in a small intimate space. You can chill, grab a good cocktail or two and just enjoy the music. Not only can this chick blow, but she's a true performer that embodies what music should be; it emotes from your heart, spirit and soul. She has this kind of sexy around the way girl kind of style that is definitely hot. She was accompanied by John Legend (she's the first artist on his label Homeschool) for the song Come Over. Let me be the first to say that he’s just as fine in person. She reminds me of Lauryn Hill in that she's a vocalist and a rapper mixed with a little Amy Winehouse because of her kind of gritty English style. The album drops today. It's a must have for those who like good music.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

No Homo

I have to give kudos to Morehouse Safe Space, a gay student group at Morehouse, for organizing activities aimed at increasing awareness of homophobia and heterosexism at Morehouse. Dubbed the "No More ‘No Homo’ Initiative," the weeklong campaign also seeks to eradicate one of the most commonly used epithets gay students encounter at the all-male college.

The initiative kicks off April 21 with the showing of "No Hetero," a documentary produced by three film students at neighboring Spelman College. The film uses the experiences of gay and lesbian students at Morehouse and Spelman to look at the broader issue of sexual orientation discrimination among African-Americans. On April 22, members of Morehouse Safe Space are scheduled to appear before the student senate and submit a resolution calling for more awareness of the plight of gay students at Morehouse. A panel discussion on homophobia at historically black colleges and universities is scheduled for April 23, while "National Day of Silence" activities are planned for April 24 and April 25. The week culminates April 26 with the James Baldwin Brunch, a coalition-building luncheon designed to link students with supportive administrators, faculty and activists

Monday, April 21, 2008

Not Boris...

Actor-model Boris Kodjoe assumed the role of Brick in the Broadway revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof during a six-week-long movie-related leave of absence by Terrence Howard. Howard, will be out from April 15 to May 22 and will return on May 23. The limited engagement of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is scheduled to run through June 15. I have yet to see Cat, but I think that I will wait until Terrence Howard returns. Yes, Boris is great to look at, but I don't know if I could bear sitting through almost 3 hours of him on stage. I'm sure his addition to the cast will fill seats.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Just Because...

1. The security in my building has a problem with me. I greet them every morning upon entering the building only to get no reply…then they always give me the side eye… maybe it's the mohawk, the combination of bow tie, tux jacket, jeans and jordans that send them over the edge?

2. So I was out with a friend this week and we ran into the twin brother of someone he knew in the biblical sense. Since he's had the brother… hasn't he in theory, had the identical twin brother too?

3. So I'll be in Atlanta on May 16th… I am really excited.

4. I need a dime… that's top of the line … cute face, slim waist, with a big behind…

5. I teach a class once a week… A couple of my male students invited me for a drink after class, I obliged… after only one drink the conversation moved from their personal goals to how "E-Dubb" pullin all the hoes in the class (my female students) … OMG… I didn't know what to say… so I let the gentlemen know that "E-dubb" has professional integrity… and they should too…

6. My girlfriend from college is getting married… she wanted to know if I was jealous… "Of what," I asked… "That he got me and you didn't," she responded… "But I broke up with you.” I reminded her… did I miss something???

7. My book for the month of May is the Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao… corey is reading it too… great minds… lol… I'm almost done with Gentleman Jigger…

8. I think I have a little crush on my barista at starbucks… though… from the looks of things… the big "passion mark" as my mother terms them, on his neck this morning… he may just be taken…

9. I registered to take a photography class this summer… all I need now is a muse…

10. So I'm sponsoring a scholarship in my hometown… some of the applicants have hand-written their essays… is that ok?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Just Because...

1. I had the pleasure of attending the opening of “Flow" last week, the new exhibit at the Studio Museum of Harlem. The work is amazing - though the highlight of my evening was being mistaken for some artist currently working in Venice.

2. Do you ever look at lesbians and say to yourself, " I bet her strap on is huge," or inversely, "aww… I bet it's really small?"

3. Wasn't Menace II Society a little homoerotic?

4. I was listening to Betty Wright's "Tonight is the Night"… she asks the audience to "think back to their very first time"… and so… I thought about it … lol

5. I may be a little bit behind but has anyone been out to http://stuffeducatedblackpeoplelike.wordpress.com/
I think the fact that moving to Atlanta is number 17 is hilarious.

6. Have you been in a place where masturbation isn't enough?

7. I hate in when the person on the treadmill next to me wants to compete.

8. This chick said I was school boy sexy…???

9. So I'm going to an Estelle concert in a couple of weeks…

10. Big Boi is doing something with the Atlanta Ballet this weekend… should be interesting.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Hottentot or Not?

Anyone who knows anything about me knows that my version of Sunday bliss lies in a perfect cup of extra hot coffee, my favorite oversize hoodie and the Sunday New York Times. This past Sunday was extra blissful, as I slept until noon and indulged my taste buds with banana walnut pancakes. In rummaging through a pile of newspapers on my floor in search of this Sunday's New York Times, I ran across an article I had saved about Andre J – the colorful character that made waves by showing up on the cover of French Vogue. I re-read the article in hopes of debunking my previous thoughts. To some degree I blamed both the current issue of Vogue with Lebron James on the cover and the Kara Walker exhibit I had seen at the Whitney Museum where I viewed an installation that had an uncanny likeness to Saartjie Baartman, one of at least two Khoikhoi women that were exhibited as sideshow attractions in 19th century Europe under the name Hottentot Venus. Hottentot was the then current name for the Khoi people and Venus referred to works depicting the female form. My initial thought (about the Andre J. French Vogue cover) was exploitation – “oddities;” those operating outside established societal norms. Using history as a marker, “oddities” were often put on display for both entertainment and the promotion of superiority by those in positions of power. This type of exploitation is different from what we typically see nowadays, as African-Americans are now commodities for consumption by other African American – ala Flava of Love and “Who's Your Caddy” where the target audience is African-American. The fact that Vogue, especially French Vogue, is marketed towards a non-black audience caused me to question the intent. Was this some sort of return to a minstrel-like mindset (it never really left) – put an “oddity” on display for the enjoyment of some white folks? Rather than simply exclaiming this as exploitation, I wanted to examine what exploitation really means, and if the nature of exploitation has changed over the years. Can a person be exploited if they give their permission? Further, if the perpetrator of the exploitation is not aware that they are exploiting, is it still an offense? Have we become so consumed by the need to obtain “celebrity” that we are willing to compromise ourselves? This is by no means a critique on Andre J, but rather an examination of the process of exploitation.

Born in 1789, Baartman was a slave in Cape Town. It was here that she was “discovered” by British doctor William Dunlop, who persuaded her to travel with him to England. We'll never know what she had in mind as she boarded the ship - on her own free will, but it was clear what Dunlop had in mind; to display her as a “freak,” a “scientific curiosity” and make money from these shows – some of which he promised Baartman. Baartman had an unusually large buttocks and genitals, and in the early 1800's Europeans were arrogantly obsessed with their superiority, and with proving to others, particularly blacks, were inferior and oversexed. Baatman's physical characteristics, not uncommon for Khoisan woman, were “evidence” of this prejudice, and she was treated like a freak exhibited in London. She spent four years in London, and then moved to Paris where she continued her degrading round of shows and exhibitions. We will never know if Baartman was paid for her “services.” At any expense it couldn't have been enough. Once the Parisians got tired of the Baartman show, she was forced to turn to prostitution. She didn't last the ravages of a foreign culture and climate or the further abuse of her body. She died in 1815 at the age of 25.

Insert Andre J.

Andre J. was born in 1979 as Andre Johnson in the Academy Spires housing projects in Newark New Jersey. He was “discovered” in the summer of 2007 by Joe McKenna a celebrated stylist. Prior to being discovered by McKenna, Andre J. had appeared three times on the Jay Leno in cameo segments devoted to “human curiosities.” He found himself in Los Angeles for what he deemed as “sex and fame.” Andre J. doesn't consider his style to be drag nor does he consider himself to be “trans-” anything. He is “just expressing [himself] not hurting anyone and taking [himself] to a place where [he] wants to be, a place where the world is beautiful.” Maybe it's a stretch, but I definitely see similarities between Saartjie Baartman and Andre J. The question then becomes whether this is exploitation or not? Baartman and Andre J. both operated out of there own free will. Baartman accepting the invitation of Dunlop and Andre J. accepting the invitation from McKenna. Eleanor Roosevelt once said that, and I am paraphrasing, “Nobody can oppress you without your permission.” So were they merely willing participates seeking out some sort of means to an end, with the price of exploitation, in their eyes, not being too high for them to take part in it? If this is in fact the case, can we blame them? What about young women that strip to pay their way through college? Is this not on par? Better still, you have two individuals that were/are merely being themselves and existing as they see fit. So, in their existing, considered a discovery by some, it becomes okay the allow others to take interest in what Baartman and Andre J. deem as “regular” and what others view as unique. Let's use break dancing as an example. When kids were breaking in the Bronx during the late 70's and early 80's they were doing it as an artistic expression of themselves. The intent was not for this to become a phenomenon that would eventually reach Japan. They were existing – there was no ulterior motive. I'm not sure if I can say that this is the case with Baartman and Andre J. It seems that in some way they wanted to capitalize on their “uniqueness.” So I then have to question the role of the magazine publisher. Did French Vogue see this as a political statement - a magazine completely open, inviting their reading audience to share in their openness to someone who is different – a black bearded man in a dress? Perhaps the message lies in the fact that both gender and sexuality are lucid, and we need to be a re-examine what these terms mean? Or could simple exploitation be the culprit, and that both parties played an equal part? I support a person's right not to be forced to identify themselves as this, that or the other, yet I can't help but to think of how much more revolutionary his appearance on the cover of French Vogue would be, had that been the case. I think that then, and perhaps, only then would I consider this to be more than an attempt to expand one's career, at perhaps, any cost. What do you think?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Happy Birthday Mom!!!

Today's my mom's birthday. I always get stressed about finding the perfect gift to give her. This year was no different. I spent all day Sunday shopping for her. What was different for me this year, however, was the fact that for the first time, I gave serious consideration to who my mother really is - seeing her beyond a mother, but as a person, a woman with her own unique complexities. I think that we are all guilty of forgetting about the human sides of our parents. We tend to put them in a box of mother, wife, and nurturer and forget that they are so much more than that. When I recall my childhood there are things that now standout to me, which give me a perspective on my mother the person. She would play Terrance Trent Darby and Loose Ends and Annie Lenox - eclectic taste in a small town in South Georgia. She road her bike on the weekends, indulged in long bathes and has always had a standing hair appointment every Friday morning. She's always been spiritual, never religious. Saturdays were always our day. We would go out for lunch and shop or go to the park or visit my grandparents. She never leaves the house without sunglasses (her favorite ones are the Chloe ones I got her a few years ago), a compact and an ensemble that says "I have somewhere to be." She smokes a cigarette a day - always after dinner. These are all telling signs into her personality that I had never really considered. I addition to her being an amazingly caring person, I can move forward with greater appreciation for the unique person she is in her totality. Love you Mommy!

We are here to speak your names because of the way you made for us. Because of the prayers you prayed for us. We are the ones you conjured up, hoping we would have strength enough, and discipline enough, and talent enough, and nerve enough to step into the light when it turned in our direction, and just smile awhile. We are the ones you hoped would make you proud because all of our hard work makes all of yours part of something better, truer, deeper. Something that lights the way ahead like a lamp unto our feet, as steady as the unforgettable beat of our collective heart. -Pearl Cleage