Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Becoming Myself: A Journey to True Freedom

Happy Kwanzaa, friends! Today we honor the second principle of the Nguzo Saba(seven principles) - kujichagulia.

It's pronounced koo-jee-cha-goo-lee-uh. I know it's a mouthful, but it's meaning is probably the most important of all the Kwanzaa principles: Self-determination. Last year, I practiced kujichagulia in relation to my mother while we were snowbound in the D (where it's oh so cold).

This year, I have my sights set on a different goal: To take my career to the next level in 2012. In his book on the holiday he invented, Dr. Maulana Karenga* states that kujichagulia,

"Demands that we as an African people define, defend and develop ourselves instead of allowing or encouraging others to do this. ... And it is a call to recover and speak our own special truth to the world and raise images above the earth that reflect our capacity for human greatness and progress."

*Is it just me, or is Karenga like a black-power version of L. Ron Hubbard?

Um, did someone say speak our own special truth??? I'm on it!

I must define, defend, and develop myself as a professional artist instead of allowing people like "agents," "managers," and "club bookers" to do so. I must raise myself up above the earth--be the Rafiki to the Simba within, if you will--and step into my own greatness.

Frantz Fanon, one of the earliest freedom writers/fighters, said that a person must ask him/her/hirself three basic questions:
Who am I?
Am I really who I say I am?
Am I all that I ought to be?

Basically, Fanon posed the same question that Nicki Minaj asks us today: Whatchu know 'bout me????

Except this time, it's "Whatchu know 'bout YOU???

In answering these questions, we determine our selves, and as such, put our identity and individuality into practice. I'm gonna give this a try....

Who am I? A writer, comedian, and blacktress. Like Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians,What I am is what I am...right?

Am I really who I say I am? I write a blog, write for a magazine, and have grand plans to write for film and television. I regularly do stand-up and aim to provide comedic fun via bloggery. But largely, my day is devoted to writing about art and then reading the hate mail that I get after publishing the aforementioned writing.

Am I all that I ought to be? See above, re: grand plans (not yet put into practice).

I feel like Beyonce in 2006: I must not know 'bout me, I must not know 'bout me.
I've clearly got a lot of self to determine in the year to come.

How are you doing today, people? In what ways are you asserting your intelligence and acknowledging your experience, strength, and hope?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Habari Gani*!

*That's Swahili for "What's the news?" It's the "traditional" greeting on each day of Kwanzaa--which is Swahili for "After-Christmas sales."

Today is UMOJA which means unity. On this, the first day of Kwanzaa, we seek to promote unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

Umoja has been a part of AfAm culture for as long as I can remember. Take, for instance, the popular Queen Latifah song U.M.O.J.A., Bob Marley's "One Love," or the ultimate togetherness party anthem, Sister Sledge's "We are Family." If it's still not resonating after that list of songs, I suggest you work on fostering umoja in your life, starting today. Here are a few suggestions:
  • If you're Caucasian, invite a bunch of friends out for a walk on a weekend afternoon. I learned a few weeks ago that Caucasians love a crisp, sunny day. (Seriously, I was the only person of color on Columbus Avenue from 81st - 97th street.)
  • Become a fan of the brand-nubian Facebook fan page Blacktress Comedy. By clicking "Like," you're actually umoja-ing with other like-minded folks and supporting my truths!
  • Next time you're in a group of folks that you don't really know, mention the Kardashians (any of them) and wait for the resounding chorus of groans as people enumerate the reasons why that family is a sign of the apocalypse.
  • Rent the film Teen Witch and invite some gals and gays over for a viewing party. By the time the number "I Like Boys" starts to play, you'll all be new bffs!
  • When you're hanging out with someone who you really want to be besties with, just agree with everything they say. You guys will be so umoja-ed, it'll be like you're siamese.
Hope this helps you bring a little Kwanzaa into your day! I'll be back with more tips tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I'm Dreaming of a John Waters Christmas

Wow, people are really upping the bitchiness quotient this year. I’ve already received three pieces of hate mail about the latest issue of my magazine and it hasn’t even hit newsstands yet!

From: Claire
Sent: Friday, December 16, 2011 1:19 PM
Subject: [redacted] Magazine

Dear [Sojourner],

I have been taking art classes and I subscribed to your magazine. I just wanted to let you know that I will not be renewing my subscription because most of the paintings in your magazine are so dark and dreary. They are depressing to look at as a whole. After more than a year of hope and anticipation for each issue, I am consistently very dissapointed in each issue. There is also not enough instruction or help in learning to paint in watercolor. Just wanted to let you know why I am not renewing.


From: A mean person [mailto:Mykidsdon’tcallme@yahoo.com]
Sent: Sun 12/18/2011 7:35 PM
Subject: magazine

what in the world is going on with your magazine -- who hired that editor???? was it some kind of experiment...let's give the job to someone who doesn't know a single thing about the subject?? everybody now seems to be aware of this, for a while i thought it was just me. she has to be destroying the credibility of the publication. i, for one, will not be renewing. thank you.

Who's everyone? Has she been reading my blog? I don't think it's a coincidence that this comes right on the heels of my pic appearing in the editor's note--now that they know a young blacktress is runnin' thangs, they can send their hate with reckless abandon???

Man, the passive aggression is out of this world. It’s a real buzz-kill, especially since I’d planned to discuss the “John Waters Christmas” show I saw on Monday night.

Yes, you read that right—a John Waters Christmas.

For more than an hour, the brilliant and twisted J-Dubs discussed all of his favorite Christmas things—and the gifts he hoped to receive. He opened with how much he loved Justin Bieber, and suggested he serve as the bait for a special Christmas episode of “To Catch a Predator.”

“Oh, that hair! It's like a siren song. Just put him on park benches across the country and keep loadin’ up the vans!”

He also coined a great new phrase to describe one of many “gay Christmas miracles”: BLOUSE.

As in, “Ugh, that guy is being such a blouse—you know, a feminine top.”

I also love that he railed against hairless women (in one of his many rants about porn videos). "We fought for the right to show bush and now there's none to be seen! Their down-theres look like my mustache."

I wish I could wrap him and put him under my tree.

How's your Hannukah going?

Monday, December 19, 2011

'Tis the Season to be Bratty

Speaking of colonialism (see the previous post)....

A recent article in The Daily Mail profiles a British teen who is not fucking around when it comes to Christmas.

Mekeeda Austin's mother found the following letter in her 13-year-old daughter's backpack:

I think what really takes it over the edge--you know, after the threat to kill, cook, and serve up Santa's reindeer--is her smiley-face and 'xoxo' signature. This chick is cray.

I'm not exactly sure how this made the local news, though. Did the mom call someone? Did the girl post it on her FB page? How did it get from her backpack to The Daily Mail?

I mean, if they're going to run a human-interest story, they should really focus on the news-worthy part--her hot-mess mom, Tracey:

[H]er mother Tracey, 40, is not punishing her for the letter and has vowed to meet her daughter's demands saying: 'You don't want to get on the wrong side of Mekeeda.

'When I first found the letter I thought it was funny, now I think I better get her what she wants, the last thing I want is for her to kill Santa. 'I know it sounds like she is spoilt but I like to get my daughter what she wants also you don't want to get on the wrong side of her.'"

Is she telling us her daughter is a sociopath and her life is being threatened on a regular basis? I mean, considering this is the opening pic in the article, I wouldn't be surprised.


Tracy is described as a "stay-at-home mother," which I can't imagine being particularly lucrative (there's no mention of another parent/head of household). Although she admits that Mekeeda "will probably lose the Blackberry," she's still going to get it for her.
Why doesn't she get her some spinning gold rims while she's at it? I think her money would be better spent on a year of therapy (for both of them), don't you?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Conversations I've Had This Week

Location: Office. Massa shows us pictures from his recent trip to a painting workshop that took place in a rich woman's mansion. As he goes through the slideshow, he stops on a student's canvas--he's painting a portrait of a black man.

Me: Who’s that black person?
Massa: What? Who? That’s Stevie—he works there.
[I give a look—you know, the sassy-over-the-glasses look. Massa looks up from his photos and notices.]
Massa: Oh, stop it—he’s like one of the family! He’s worked there since he was five!
Me: Five year olds don’t work!!!


Location: Duane Reade drugstore. I’m picking up a present for the “Yankee Swap” during today’s holiday lunch (more on that later). I walk up to the cashier with this item:

The woman in the line next to me--a short, older black woman purchasing a few packs of Kools--starts chatting:

Random: Aw, that’s so cute. I want that.
[I have no idea what to say, so I just laugh lightly, assuming it was a joke.]
Random: Is that a present?
Me: It’s for a coworker.
Random: That is so sweet. I want that. [She reads the box] Baby Bella. She so cute. I want her to sleep with me. I’d kick my husband out the bed, and it’d be me and Baby Bella.

Why are people so cray?

Okay, back to this Yankee swap thing. I'm really annoyed by it. All I know about Yankee swap is what I saw on that episode of The Office, when people's awesome presents kept getting traded and everyone was mad. I'm not clear on why I would spend money on something that someone might not even want. What kind of sense does that make? This seems to be a classic case of WPS--Wealthy People Shit. I don't really like to go around claiming WPS--not like my coworkers are rolling in dough. But only someone without an understanding of the economic climate and an employee's need to fund dreams would suggest I "spend $20 on a little something. the stupider the better, cause then everyone can try to get rid of it."
Why would I want to act like an absentee Dad?

I think Scribe put it best--and makes the Gchat Quote of the Day--when she writes:

Yankee swap is white elephant and should only be played among friends. It's straight colonialism. You're like, "Ooh you got a cool gift; let me take it because I can.
I played that on the plantation and this Jewish girl took my book on black art. Everyone said, 'She's Jewish, she had to get rid of the ornaments she got.' Um, I'm a heathen--what am I gonna do with ornaments? And she sat there in her Obama shirt, so happy with her book on black art.

So Baby Bella it is. She was $6.99 and can easily be re-gifted to a kindergartener.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Judge My Face! Pretty please!

So, as you know, I lack sufficient funds to further my dreams. One of the main issues I'm running up against is the feedback that my headshot isn't very good. I can't really afford to get new ones, so in the interim I've gone back through the archives to find other doable shots. Here are a few of the ones that are decent contenders. PLEEEAAASSSSEEEEE tell me which one you like best and why. Put yourself in the mind of a casting director and think, "Would I want to bring this girl into my office based on the pic alone?"

As always, you guys keep me right-sized and willing to live. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!


Option 1
Are my eyes looking a bit too bright? They've been retouched.

Option 2
I look like I'm trying to woo a sailor on leave.

Option 3
I'm looking a bit too busty here--I mean, nothing wrong with the bust, but I think I may disappoint in person.
Am I making pothead eyes?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sharing the Love

On Saturday, December 10, my expulsion from my mother's uterus--and my singular relationship with my "Coyote Average" co-host Katie East--was honored in the form of a poem. This poem was written by Hardcore Boris a gifted performer who I think, after hearing this opus, I can now refer to as "a dear friend." Never before has someone seen into the core of me and captured the magic of my relationship with a Caucraysian. I must share this with you now, gentle readers:

We're here to celebrate two people's birthdays tonight
One is black and the other is white
the black one's in a relationship and feelin fine
The white one is single, drinkin all the time
The white one's always hangin out back at her crib
The black one's always sayin "'I'm getting too old for this shit.'"
They're both workin in the same profession
Gaining life experience, learning valuable lessons
all the white one really needs is a caring lover
The white one's played by Mel Gibson, the black one by Danny Glover
Two human beings, you could call it a dream team
Gunnin it, runnin this well-oiled machine

You know that feeling when someone just gets you?

Monday, December 12, 2011

An Older, Bloggier Blacktress

I’m typing this post while waiting for the Time Warner Cable employee to come back from putting me on hold. That’s how long we’ve been doing this. I mean, I’m cool with it. It’s gotten so ridiculous that when he asked if he could put me on hold, I told him to “grab a sammie, drop the kids off at the pool, whatever. We’re really just hanging out at this point.”

So, I think my birthday can be best summed up by this ecard from my mom:

You and me both, girl.

I must say, I'm glad the birthday is over--Although I did have a tender evening with Jewboo, complete with cupcakes and compromise. We’re thinking Brooklyn for a year or so and then back to Harlem once it’s all renovated and fit for a new couple to make a life. See, I figure once the lines are clearly drawn—and mounted in the form of walls—the lines between mom and I will be equally clear and strong.
I don’t know if that made sense, but I think you feel me.

Ugh, I haven’t posted in so long, I don’t even know where to begin. There’s been so much to discuss. I guess I’ll stick to highlights:

  • My boss keeps referring to everything as “gay-cute” and it’s getting weird. He’s constantly brainstorming new ideas and starts with, “you know what would be really gay-cute? If we had, like, a ‘best of’ section.’ What?

  • He’s also taken to calling me “Black Barbie” whenever I wear a ponytail. Of course, in glasses and a ponytail, I think I look like the nerdy girl before the makeover in every 80s movie. Massa then explained, “No! Do you know what the most coveted Barbie is? Black Barbie, no bangs. She’s, like, $5,000.” Apparently, I am a high-end lady.

Of course, I’ll take any excuse to post the “Black Barbie” music video:

  • I don’t know if you guys know this already, but I have a wife. Her name is Meara and she is wonderful. She recently scored free tickets to previews of Lysistrata Jones on Broadway and invited a blacktress. We’d heard negative reviews of the show, but that didn’t stop our excitement of being in the fourth row of the orchestra. Once it got underway, we realized that everyone we know who has opinions is wrong. The show was really, really funny. Like, actual funny and not comedy-of-manners type of funny.

It was a bit too cartoony and self-referential at times, but the actors had great comedic timing in addition to all their NYU BFA training.
Oh yeah, and everyone was really, really attractive. There was a lot of sexuality. Basically, by the end, the show made me wanna do 500 crunches and make out with a girl.
Favorite line: “Oh my god / it’s a sexual jihad.”
Of course, it was made better by the fact that it was sung by a rotund black woman (a show can have no gravitas without one).

There was even a relationship between a strong black woman and a nerdy Jewish boy!!!
Guys, the blacktress’ story is on Broadway.
The show was irreverent (best critic word ever) and ridiculous. I do think, though, that it can be hard for theatah enthusiasts to see something so sassy, sexy, and silly going for $100 a seat (and perhaps if I’d paid for it, I’d be singing a different tune). But it’s also just nice to see something original and sharp that has memorable songs and great performances. Plus, there was a hot Asian and tons of interracial love.

And here's a new soon-to-be series-- Gchat Quote of the Day!

Litsa: My mother has suggested an officiant who is a gay Jew who also was a cross-dresser when I was a child.
Should I be offended?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Home is where the Heart Jewboo Is

Hey friends!

How's your day going? I'm actually on a up-swing, largely because of baked goods. Wednesday is my birthday, which always gets me in a mood (What do I have to show for myself????). A need for a quick lunch led me to Hale & Hearty Soups at about 2pm, when I was ravenous. A need to stop feeling crappy led me to exit Hale & Hearty and hit the Crumbs right next door.

As I walked back to my office with an Oreo cupcake, I tried to rationalize my lunch decision. When I reached my desk, however, there was already a package from Crumbs waiting for me!!!! My coworker had gotten me an early birthday gift! Clearly, I was meant to eat a cupcake today. I feel like the world is on my side.

In other news: There have been intense happenings with Jewboo. Of course, since the blog has ceased to be a safe space for my emotions and dramatizations, I've had to confide in my main gay via gchat. But obvi I can't keep anything to myself for too long, so I must share the transcript.

me: From Jewboo at 9:53am:
Hey dear, now that my job situation is taken care of, maybe we can now start discussing seriously moving in together? How does that strike you? Just wanted to float that out there.
JJSiii: I assume this is a good thing?
me: Yes! While visiting his parents, we even took a quick gander at RINGS.
We were visiting the parents and we went to the mall
and he went into video game store and i went into one of those shops--like, Kay Jewelers or something--cause that's my idea of true romance.
and then he met me there and we looked for, like, 15 minutes together
JJSiii: oh my gosh, oh my gosh.
Shit is serious. I'm, like, planning your wedding in my head.
By planning it, I mean that I'm thinking about how much I want to be at it.
you know i need one of my main gays to give me away
This is such a caps-lock occasion.
I'm basically fanning my non-existent Cindy Lou Va-Who-Who, because this news makes me WET WITH EXCITEMENT.

So, as you can see, there's a lot happening. Of course, there is no proposal on the horizon BUT we are talking about cohabitation, which is more than enough ch-ch-change for one decade. Of course, the big issue is Harlem vs. Brooklyn, and you know where I stand.

Really, guys, my aversion to Brooklyn isn't my fault--it's in my blood. Before I was born, my mom and dad lived in Brooklyn and when my mom was pregnant she planned to have me at Harlem Hospital, cause it was way better than the BK hospitals at the time. Can you imagine a woman with her water broken hopping in a cab, saying, "Get me to Harlem, stat!"
Clearly, this was before the days when cab drivers profiled.
As luck would have it, I was born a few weeks early, just when my mom was having a follow-up appointment with her doctor. When she hopped off the exam table her water broke and I came out a few hours later. I knew we couldn't wait until returning to BK.

The main issue is that I am living in a ridiculously large place in the heart of Manhattan. I'm beyond lucky and I don't think it's smart to abandon prime real estate I'd never be able to afford otherwise in a city that everyone wants to be in.
Jewboo's reasoning is that the Harlem house comes with substantial mama drama, and he doesn't want to be subjected to it--or, even worse, in the middle of the two of us.
And I get that. Most people who come over for a meal start talking about moving in; Jewboo isn't just going with what's easiest or trying to take advantage, which I respect. Plus, I'm done with being under my mom's thumb, too, and there is a lot of pride I have to swallow in order to be where I am. But....
Mama didn't raise no fool. You don't cast off a brownstone for a shoebox when you're increasing your household size. Me + Jewboo + 2 cats + all of our creative endeavors which would make great use of extra rooms as offices and rehearsal spaces = sucking it up and taking advantage of a sweet deal. Perhaps it's because Jewboo has never really seen himself as a "have not" and knows nothing of NYC besides expensive shoeboxes, so he's not really hung up on it. I think our standards directly relate to our expectations, and I will be the first to admit that I am spoiled when it comes to accommodations. Besides, the idea of moving every 2 years as you inevitably outgrow the space (after all, our Emmy collection will take up most of the shelves) isn't appealing.

Plus, I must say I'd love it if those two cats had a special closet for their litter box--you gotta confine that smell, people. I'm not trying to come home to the smell of "Not-so-Fresh Step." Of course, this is a totally luxury "problem," but if it's possible, why would you live any other way?

Then again, as we start a new phase of our relationship, it would be nice to start fresh, in a newtral space. And I'd love to be able to decorate and start from scratch and build a place together--and not have my mother popping over whenever she felt like it, ragging on how badly I maintain a house, like a demeaning Steve Urkel.

I don't know. I love the boy and definitely want him to be my forever friend, but I also don't believe in oppressing myself if I don't have to or denying myself a luxury simply because there are a few strings attached. I mean, there are always strings attached to stuff. It seems like it's more beneficial to work on establishing boundaries with mom than it is to abandon the Harlem house--wouldn't you say it's throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

Your comments/suggestions would be much appreciated. Perhaps you can help me frame it in a way that a Jewboo can understand.

Friday, December 2, 2011

My Soon-to-be New Favorite Show!

Part of pursuing my blackting dreams involves submitting my headshot and resume for various roles that are being cast. I'm registered with one site that sends me alerts based on my background/look. Unfortunately, it seems that they don't think very highly of me. I just got sent the following breakdown that was "Fit for ME!"

Project Type: Documentary Series


Do you have a primal animal behavior?
New series looking for people who act as if they are animals. Do you have awkward pets* that you have relationships with (non sexual)? Do you live on a raw meat diet, on road kill or squirrels? Have you transformed your life to be more like an animal? Do you have an owner?

Some of the stories we've looked into:

Tim's pets are his best friends. Throughout the years, he's grown to envy their simple lives, and as a way to develop a deeper connection with them, he's begun sharing their dinner on the floor. He feels that the line between master and pet is arbitrary,^ and that we can all learn a lot from our humble companions.

Tim is an ex-addict who was kicked out of his parent's house as a teenager. For years, he lived in various backyard doghouses for shelter, moving to find a new one whenever the homeowners became suspicious. Now that he's gotten clean, his sister has allowed him to move in with her but he still insists on living in a doghouse in her backyard. He feels safe in the small space with the creatures that never rejected him.

Tina saw dead wolves on the side of the road growing up.* As it traumatized her, it has been the one animal that she feels most connected to. Ergo, Julie has adopted extreme wolf traits in her life such as leaving at dusk to scale the mountains of Moab to howl in the wind. Julie doesn't eat what others serve for dinner, she likes her raw steak sinking her teeth and devouring just as wolves do. Julie also sleeps in her wolf bed** outside the home.

Tillie enjoys having pet leeches, but more importantly she loves the feeling she gets when she puts them on her skin, allowing them to feed. Sarah and her partner Michael take turns feeding the leeches two times every day. Loving her leeches, Sarah wouldn't want to have any other pet.

We are interested in trying to understand any unique animal or primal behavior!

What about this made them think of me? I don't even have the world "animal" listed on my resume. The whole, "do you have an owner?" question has so much racist innuendo, I may have to discuss with the website. Of course, my confusion was quickly eclipsed by the fact that this is a new show in production that I can't wait to watch on the regular. Guys, this is like Animal Hoarders + Fatal Attractions + Intervention + My Strange Addiction wrapped in a flour tortilla!!! Set your DVRs for EVERY DAY FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.

*I love the idea of an "awkward pet"--I picture a ferret that just stares at one corner of a room all day.
^Arbitrary?! You know this man is CauCRAYsian.
*Wait, like, were these regular occurrences, or was it just this one time at band camp?
**What is a "wolf bed"--if there's one thing that isn't animal-like, it's having furniture of any kind.