Category Archives: Commonplace Book

Problematic Pura Vida Bracelets

When I saw this ad on Facebook I was disgusted. It made me sick to my stomach. I don’t care what the heck they’re selling, this person in the ad has and Om symbol in his/her foot. How dare they? How incredibly rude and disrespectful can this company, Pura Vida be? In Hindu culture, the Om is a sacred symbol that is to be held to the highest esteem and is to be absolutely nowhere near the ground and especially NOT the feet, one of the dirtiest parts of one’s body. This image is hurtful and highly offensive, and it is evident to me that the marketing team and creators are culture competent. I did a bit of research on the team and one the creators, two young caucasian guys that are both recent college graduates. I am SO incredibly sick and tired and fed up of white people thinking its “cute” trendy” and “hipster” to exploit, disrespect and appropriate culture from people of color. This isn’t okay and there are a ton of advertisements and rhetoric like this and its absolutely absurd. There’s a difference between appropriation and appreciation. If one TRULY appreciated the culture they would know and understand that nothing about placing an Om on the foot is okay, this isn’t cool at all. I was so upset about this, I decided to give this company a call and after they chose not to pick up the phone, I decided to write a strongly worded email, to the marketing head of this company expressing my disappointment and disgust and asking them to remove this ad from all the platforms. I doubt that they’ll even acknowledge my email but I know I did something to speak out against something that I find disturbing and hurtful.

Tory Lanez: Some Heroes Sing and Rap

 

I was at this concert, front row with floor seats. This night was absolutely amazing. Daystar Peterson, known as Tory Lanez is probably my favorite new artist right now, not because I feel that he is some incredible talent but  because of the way he shares his heart with others through his music in a way that touches those who are forgotten about by society. Whenever I see this photos I remember what a blast i had at this concert, but even more so than that i’m reminded of his heart. This photo was taken from Tory’s Instagram page, every show on the I Told You Tour he is known from walking on the audience and crowd surfing for more than half the show so no matter where you are in the venue you have a chance to touch his hand or see him up close! This eliminates the idea of class throughout the entire show; typically those with most money get to purchased the expensive meet and greet passes or they get front row tickets which allows them to be right in front of the artist. The people in the back of venue barely get to see the artist all all and these are also the least expensive tickets but Tory goes everywhere in the venue, so everyone at some point in the show gets a “front row” seat. Additionally, during this show he had the audience lift one of his fans up that was in a wheelchair at the show; he had the other people he was crowd surfing on move him to meet the guys so they could touch hands, this to me was so incredibly awesome. Based upon our race, social economic standing, physical disability, gender, sexual orientation or age, we tend to be forgotten about and it takes people to stand up and bring the light back our way when the rest of the world has forgotten about us in any of these identities. Tory Lanez was a hero at this show, not only did he make sure this young man wasn’t forgotten or left behind, he made sure he shared the spotlight with him.

Black Men Are Ballerinas Too


When I saw this photo series on my Twitter timeline I was in awe. The regality and beauty in these photos left me speechless for a moment. They’re poised and strong, creating lines with their bodies that look like art. What captured me most about this photo series was that these ballerinas are black men. The very idea of black men practicing ballet, defies that very thing that society tells black men that they are. Society tells black men that their nature is harsh, violent, aggressive, hard edge. this photo series shows black men in a soft, loving, elegant, beautiful nature, everything that I’ve always known black men to be but everything society tells them they are not. Secondly, black men practicing ballet,such as in this  destroys the preconceived notions, thoughts, and ideas perpetuated by hyper masculinity. The idea that men and especially not black men, shouldn’t be practicing traditionally “feminine” activities such as ballet is outrageous to me. Inside the black community and outside of the black community, masculinity is extremely fragile and the intersection of race and masculinity make it even more fragile. This world is and has been harsh and cruel to black men and from the time they’re raised they aren’t even given a chance to explore their innocence and soft nature because they’re groomed to be hard edge from a young age because for them its a serious matter of life and death, they are taught that being soft will get you killed. These photos were from Alvin Ailey’s Dance Theatre Company; Alvin Ailey was a world renown choreographer, dancer and one of the most famous african american male ballerinas to date. I hope these images encourage young black men to pursue the arts, and more particularly activities that typically seen as “feminine” because yes of course, black men are strong, heroic, brave, and determined but black men are also soft, loving, caring, elegant, poised, artistic, regal and sometimes ballerinas; that is more than okay.

Queen Bey

I’ve always  been a little puzzled and confused about the world’s insane obsession with Beyoncé. Not to be misunderstood, Im always proud to see any black woman flourishing and just doing the damn thing, but an obsession? Really? There are people that want to be this woman. She can be 2 hours late to her own concert and people will still wait for her then cry, cheer, and  scream for hours at her show. People will spend 4 months worth of rent to even get a seat close to the stage she’s performing on. Some people treat her like a God and wear t-shirts that say “Beyoncé is my Religion”. So of course you can imagine that when she posted this picture on her Instagram account February 1st nearly broke the internet. This picture was posted, announcing that she is pregnant with twins, being a twin myself I think this is pretty cool. The photo got over 10 million likes on Instagram already, which to be honest, is a tiny fraction of her 94.1 million followers in total! The photo is soft  and aesthetically  pleasing. In typical maternity shoots, the partner is also featured in the photo but this is just the “Queen Bey” herself; Its a classic floral background with a contemporary “hippie” like vibe with the mix match bright colors. The vail adds a tone of regality over the entire photo, playing to her nickname “Queen Bey”. Of course a pregnancy is  a big deal and reason for celebration but I’m convinced that this Beyoncé could do just about anything, take a photo and the world would go bonkers. Her star power is out of this world, but like the 94 million other people, I want to wish her a congratulations on her expected blessings!

Sweet Sexy Savage

 

On January 27th 2017 Kehlani dropped her debut album, Sweet Sexy Savage. This album is phenomenal. In this album is every woman and the cover art illustrates this perfectly, Kehlani is a 21 year old, queer, woman of color and above it the words “Sweet Sexy Savage” appear. Her body covered in tattoos give her an edge that people are often curious about and dont know how to really describe, her openness about being a queer woman that is black, white, spanish and Native American leaves her to be racially and sexually androgynous. I think in every woman there are theses three parts, the sweet, the sexy, and the savage and through the 18 tracks and ambiguous appearance leads people like the media to make assumptions about her personality; in songs like “Thank You” and “Keep On” and “Hold Me By the Heart” she completely shatters these assumptions by pouring her heart out over the lyrics in these songs, in this I see the Sweet. Another portion of the album has songs that highlight her sexual prowess and attraction, the is not only carried out with the utmost confidence but also a feeling of empowerment, this is where I see the Sexy. Lastly, Kehlani’s personal battle with depression, suicidal tendencies and dealing with broken-heartedness is something that I as well as many others can relate to and aspects of this album allows me to revisit this pain and feeling of brokenness through lyrics that are strong, healing,  and delivered with conviction. For example in her song “Personal” she says, “I fuck with me heavy, Im all chosed up, so dont take it personal” or when she says, “if I gotta be a bitch imma be a bad one”,  in this part of the album I see the Savage. This album cover alone celebrates the multidimensionality of every woman. To me, what I get from this album is the following: We as women are not this, we are not that, we are EVERYTHING.

Marvel’s Luke Cage

Marvel’s newest superhero has already been turned into a number one hit show on Netflix, many are tired of all the basic superhero action and crime fighting movies but this was is like absolutely nothing seen before. Luke Cage is a middle-age tall dark-skinned black man that plays an ex-police officer that wrongfully went to jail after being framed. The gag is that he doesn’t wear a cap, he doesn’t wear a special suit, Luke’s superhero outfit is a hoodie; and it gets better….he’s bulletproof. The show is entertaining and the series was great but the social commentary was incredible, the show is about a bulletproof black man that walks around in a hoodie trying to bring good to New York City and he is completely bulletproof. The timing is almost too perfect amidst the myriad of shootings of unarmed black men. The hoodie is more than an article of clothing, it is a symbol. When I see black men in hoodies I can’t help but think of Trayvon. Trayvon Martin was wearing a hoodie when he was gunned down and murdered in cold blood. This show puts a black man on a pedestal where he is literally invincible and completely unstoppable and he adorns the very two things that in reality seems like a target: a black body and a hoodie. I just wish 14 year old Tamir Rice was bulletproof, along with Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Walter Scott, Jamal Brown, Oscar Grant and Philando Castile. I wish Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, and so many more that were murdered, had superhuman strength that made them impenetrable to any bullet, choke-hold, or baton-beating that came their way. It almost seems like to be a black man in America he to be Luke Cage in order to survive, black men have to be superheros, black men have to be bulletproof, otherwise he can’t be sure he won’t be the next trending hashtag or his dead black body won’t be the subject of a video on the 6 o’clock nightly news. Luke Cage is a quick escape from a painful reality that allows young black boys and girls to dream again, even if its just for a moment they can feel like they’re safe and even unstoppable.