Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sisters are doing it for themselves!

Quick post, short and sweet for my lazy Sunday afternoon.

So, even though I aspire to the blog heights of Racialicious and the field negro and all the other beautiful brown blogs out there, I also have to face reality.  I ain't even close.  Yet!

However, today I looked at my blog and I actually had a comment!  My very first comment!  A beautiful sista named Lisa, with her own blog,, stopped by to say hello and to encourage me.  She is not someone I know, just another soul out there who took the time to reach out and in doing so, lifted my spirits!

Which reminded me that we ARE visible ladies!  We are visible to each other!  And we are vital to one another for encouragement and support.  Remember, sometimes the most important thing we can do for each other is just that simple gesture that says, "I see you."  Well, I see you ladies, and I see you seeing me!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Me and Mariah....

So when I was in college my friend and I had an ongoing debate about Mariah Carey. She loved her. Me, not so much. I would always say "She is fine, but she ain't no Whitney."

Fast forward to the present and now we all know that our Whitney is well, lost and Mariah is well, still holding it down. And she is Mrs. Nick Canon, not the ex Mrs. Bobby Brown.

Which brings me to my point. There has been a lot of flack recently regarding Mariah, Nick and Eminem. Eminem called her names in a song “Bagpipes from Baghdad” and Nick Canon fired back by saying, in essence, "Don't call my Black Queen a whore, you white racist punk." For more see the link below:

So of course, the battle on the blogosphere was, in part, about Mariah's ethnicity. Is she really a Black Queen? Or is she not? It is horribly confusing and not being a mixed race person myself, I don't claim to understand all the dynamics at play. But I will say this, self identifying as mixed race or as a person of color is not the same as self identifying as Black. Mariah has never said "I am a Black woman who is also a mixed race woman." or "I am a mixed race Black woman." Mariah has said, "Ethnically, I'm a person of mixed race. My father's mother was African-American. His father was from Venezuela. My mother is Irish. I see myself as a person of color who happens to be mixed with a lot of things." That is distinct from saying "Ethnically, I am Black person of mixed race....I see myself as a Black person who happens to be mixed with a lot of things."

It took me a long time to come to grips with the fact that Mariah didn't refer to herself as Black. When "Vision of Love" first hit the scene, I was at a young enough age that I was still deeply conflicted about my own looks and self image and still collecting sheroes that would help me construct my own self view. So when "Vision of Love" dropped, and MC hit the scene, I was instantly enamored. The fact that White people, more specifically, my White peers, found her beautiful and sexy and talented was like manna from heaven. I now realize that I thought that some of that would rub off on me.

So when Mariah was very specific about the fact that she was NOT Black, or rather didn't identity as Black, I was crushed. See, I have noticed that White people, at least White people in my generation, are very open in certain ways when it comes to race. Previous generations adhered to the one-drop rule a little more closely. My generation is very quick to accept someone as non-Black, however, they still look at Black people as less than. So while Mariah's choice was hers and hers alone, the ramification was that White people still got to indulge in her beauty and her music, while still being free to look at Black people as somehow less than. As though the other parts of her ethnicity made it okay to like this Black chick, or rather it was okay to like her because "Hey, she isn't really Black". Let me totally honest about what I mean, they (the White kids I went to school with) still got to look at me like I was less than they were because I was Black. And it is not fair to her, but I felt like Mariah somehow personally let me down.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

I am not mad at Zoe Saldana

So, a few disclaimers.

First of all, I am not really a Trekkie.  Although, I do consider myself a fan of the shows and movies.  My mother is a huge Trekkie, and while you would think that Uhura was her favorite, actually Bones was one of her most all time favorite character on the show.  And indeed her love extended to TNG, DS9 and the Voyager series.  One of my earliest memories is watching the first Star Trek movie and my earliest nightmares involve that armadillo thing with the worms that Khan drops in the people's ears in Wrath of Khan.  Gross!

That said, I loved the new Star Trek movie.  Loved it! I left the theater with huge smile on my face.  It reminded me of how movies used to make me feel when I was a kid.  Movies like Return of the Jedi, or ET.  Now I am not putting J.J. Abrams' Star Trek in the pantheon of the best movies of all time.  Whether or not it stands the test of time remains to be seen, but I must say that I haven't felt like that upon leaving a theater in a long time.  Good old fashioned fun, beloved characters, a few laughs, a lot of breath holding, draw dropping effects, and dare I say something akin to hope.  

Now I know that I am more nostalgic and sentimental than most.  In fact, it is why I am an artistic in the first place.  Many of my lawyer/doctor friends don't always have the same appreciation for being touched and inspired that I have.  In fact, I crave and demand being moved when I go to the theater, the movies and hell, even the mall!  At least make me think!  And even though my more right brained friends and family claim to only want to go to the movies for mindless fun, I really think that deep down inside they don't want mindless fun, they want to escape and for a little while, indulge the very things that they claim they want to escape from.  I think that most people don't have the time actually experience the full range of emotions that is healthy and necessary.  Today's professional is actually trained to keep their emotional at home and out of their work.  I wonder if the reason why we need movies that in fact, allow us that rare reprieve in being able to experience a full range of emotions, is because we can't really live without not only being able to access our emotions, but we desperately need to know that we can, in fact, survive them.  Movies, movies that I call "good", from Star Wars to The Color Purple, teach us that for two and half hours being numb to what we feel is not only limiting but that we can feel loss, sadness, anger, hatred, jealousy, happiness, elation and that we will not only survive but we will be better for it.

So, I was hoping for a snappy and wonderful tie in to Zoe Saldana, but it ain't happening right now.  Zoe Saldana has come a long, long way.  Her growth as an actress has unfolded before our eyes and even though she is one of the same 6 or 7 Black actresses that work all the time, over and over, Zoe Saldana did something very rare.  She didn't embarrass Black actresses.  In fact, she did way more than that, she held her own among a cast of some good actors.

Now I know that many people take issue with the fact that she has allegedly said that she doesn't consider herself Black, she considers herself Latina.  I don't know if she said that.  I do know that many, many people from the Caribbean and Africa don't consider themselves Black.  Many, not all, maybe not most, but many people who have dark skin and African ancestry come to America as Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Ghanaian or Nigerians.  Many of them don't feel a kinship with Black Americans, and if they do, perhaps they are ashamed at a lot of what they see around them.  Let's be real, Black Americans have many pockets through out the country where crime and poverty and sub standard education have created a seemingly hopeless sub-culture where children and adults behave in ways that seem unthinkable.  Even the most compassionate among us have to ask the question, "When do Black people start making different choices?"  The truth is, what we see in those pockets, is the culmination of centuries of disenfranchisement.  Just as Black people who are successful have a saying that they stand on the shoulders of those who have come before them, so too do Black people who lack the opportunity for success, stand perhaps not on the shoulders of those who came before them, but they are weighted down by the same poverty and racism that the generation before them couldn't escape.  

So, I give Zoe Saldana a pass for claiming a heritage that she sees as perhaps more acceptable, and bright and shiny, and is rightfully hers.  She is Dominican and Puerto Rican.  She is Latina.  Being a Black actress in Hollywood can at times fill you with an inexplicable sense of frustration and hopelessness.  If in her mind, it helps her to attach herself to a group of women who are more tolerated and accepted than the Black girls, then why the hell not let her hold on to whatever she needs to make it through the day.  "Well, if she thinks that she is Latina, then she should only do Latina parts and let a Black girl play Black girls!" is what a close friend said.  And my friend has a great point.  But, whatever Zoe Saldana may think of herself, Eva Mendes she ain't and she knows it.  

Now, I don't know what Zoe Saldana did to be a better actress.  Part of it is just that she does it so often that she is simply getting better at the job.  She is working with some of the best directors in the business, and some good actors.  A good actor will always make a lesser actor better.  So that might be a piece of the puzzle.  Whatever it is, I gotta give credit where credit is due.  Zoe Saldana did her thing.  And whether she knows it or not, the world saw a Black girl stand shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of boys and do her thing right along with them.  And she stood on the shoulders of the great Nichelle Nichols to get there.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Why Michelle?

Okay, really quickly.  Obviously the pic of Michelle Obama is not me.  But yes, she is a shero.  Yes, she is fly.   Yes, she represents a transformation on so many levels.  I thought that she would be the perfect face for this blog!

Why Visible Woman

So, I am creating this blog the way that I am taking on creating my life.  Originally, I thought about all sorts of race/culture specific names like The Invisible Woman, Mammies and Mulatresses, Why Don't Y'all like Black Women? (that last one is a joke, but I thought about it).  And, most of the ones that I wanted were taken.  

I settled on something like Mammy and Mulatress but it never really clicked.  Then I got inspired one day to actually start blogging (today actually) and then it hit me. This blog is about creation.  Indeed, life is about creation, and when things get really bad, life is about being responsible for creating your life in the face of whatever circumstances present themselves at the moment.  Which is why The Visible Woman jumped out at me.  Because why name my blog something that only reinforces what is already so? And, it was available.  

This blog is about the creation of things as I think they should be, want them to be, need them to be.  All the while, giving myself permission to discuss and even, from time to time, allow myself to lament things as they are.  But the title is my reminder to always be in the act of creation.  Always keep a context for the circumstances so that I remember that the power is over here, with me.  Responsibility is power.  To be responsible simply requires declaring oneself responsible.  Pretty simply right.  Easy, even.  

That said, I will from time to time, talk about race in America.  And more often than not, I will talk about things from the perspective of Black Women Artists.  And all the things that affect us.  Weaves, perms, press and curls, kinky curls, skin color, make up, scripts, other artists, the lack of artistry, White men, white people, White women, Asians, Asian hair, Oprah, sisterhood, the lack of sisterhood, love, men, Black men, etc.

And selfishly, I hope that the act of writing and venting and creating help me to be a better person.  Someone who doesn't want to tear her hair out when she sees the injustices of the world all around.  Or someone who doesn't have to take to her bed for a week simply when she doesn't get what she wants.  Here's to creation!