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Diner en Blanc Baltimore, We Got In!!!

If you thought you heard a high-pitched squeal anywhere in downtown DC, a little after Noon today, that would be me.

Me and one of my dear friends will be going to Diner en Blanc in Baltimore in just a few short weeks. (Check out the Forbes article that breaks it all down.)

I’m thrilled, I’m amped and I’m excited. I’ve heard about Diner en Blanc which started more than 20 years ago by a Frenchman who basically invited a select group of friends to dress elegantly in all white and set up a picnic in a beautiful public space and enjoy each other’s company. Truth be told, I’ve been starved for an event that requires people to put in some thought and effort. I’ve lamented in this blog how our casual attitude towards our lives, our meals, our going out and our interactions have really just made us a blah society. I can rock with some of the formality and style of the French and Italian and folks in other countries. Joie de vivre. Enjoy life. Enjoy each bite of food and swallow of drink and wear nice clothes and engage and enjoy your company. Put care into the smaller details. Yup, sign me up, if only for one night.

Each year, invitees from the previous year invited other friends, and it grew. It grew so much that the event has been taking place in major cities all over the world. At this point, thousands of people show up to appointed places at appointed times and then are sent by foot, public transportation or chartered buses to the selected spot. The spots have ranged from the Louvre in Paris, to the Usain Bolt Track in Jamaica. DC revelers have even partied at the foot of the Lincoln Monument. The photos are a true sight to behold.

So, when it comes to the inaugural soiree in the Charm City, one naturally assumes, we’ll wind up in the Inner Harbor. But, that may seem like the super obvious choice. So, my guess would have to include outdoor spaces that would make for great photos near iconic buildings or with potential views of the harbor.

If we don’t end up directly in the harbor, my top guesses are City Hall and Orioles Park or any area where ArtScape or the Baltimore Book Festival have taken place where large groups of people are able to gather and streets can be shut down. The Maryland Zoo and Pimlico Race Track are my wild card choices. They aren’t immediately downtown, but there will be enough spaces for buses to load and unload a bunch of folks.

My guesses include:
1. The Maryland Zoo
2. Right in front of City Hall
3. Fells Point
4. American Visionary Art Museum
5. Walter’s Art Museum
6. Oriole’s Park/ M&T Bank Stadium
7. Pimlico Race Track

There’s a lot to do. I’m using all of my strength to avoid purchasing a new outfit and try to find a lovely white number inside of my closet. I’m already against it because I feel it’s more for a power meeting at work. My go-to site is ASOS (every ASOS dress I’ve worn, the compliments pour in) and NY and Company is having a great sale. Those dresses always tend to fit me well and are made of comfy fabrics and are insanely easy to dress up with accessories due to their simplicity and versatility.

As for the shoes, I personally hate white shoes. They make everyone’s feet look like Fred Flintstone. Totally unflattering. White shoes no matter the style, make me think of the usher board and their sensible nursing shoes walking up and down the aisles at church. I do plan to follow the rules. I think gold and silver shoes are allowed, but either way, I’ll figure this out. Moving on.

I was determined about getting to my computer on time to get into the registration period for new folks, better known as Phase 3. Phase one folks are people who have attended previous events and get automatic invites to the next. From what I understand, Phase 2 folks are guests of phase one people who have attended before and Phase 3 are the newbies like me, who have never gone and managed to sign up for the wait list.

I was really excited today about being able to get in, I haven’t been this crazy about logging on exactly at 12 noon since getting tickets to see Prince. I willed Ticketmaster into submission and even went solo to increase my chances. Seeing Prince was a serious thing for me and I’m so thankful I did that. The following year, he passed away. See, good choices?

But anyway, I was amped. When I asked my boyfriend if he’d be interested if I managed to get registered, he politely declined. I let it be. He probably would have been miserable and probably the thought of him pulling together an acceptable head-to-toe white outfit in two weeks was probably the last thing he wanted to do.

My boyfriend was not about us lugging a table, chairs and our own food to a secret location dressed in all white, so this was a mission for one of the local homies who is always down for an adventure. I was able to quickly rebound from his rejection.

This homegirl is the type of homegirl who makes everything fun. Like gut, busting, silly, loud-singing, fun. I could have a bowl of cereal with her, or get lost in some random city with this chick, and shenanigans will ensue. We ALWAYS have a great time whether we are sitting around the house making mini pizzas, watching the Muppets and putting on clay face masks, or checking out an art exhibit. Yup, as soon as I sent the text, “We’re In!!” we’ve been texting and thinking of ideas on how to decorate our table… yes, that’s a thing and there’s even a prize for the best decorated tables.

According to Pinterest, folks go all out. Yes, I’ve stalked Pinterest and read every article. This is probably why my boyfriend wisely passed on attending this with me. While I’ve seen some elaborate setups, we plan to keep it simple, if for no other reason than not wanting to lug around a lot of stuff.

Diner en Blanc vets recommend having a hand truck to lug your goods. I will be investing in that.

So, yes, my boyfriend’s observation is right. He’s the more sensible one of our pair. This is a lot of work. But I’m actually very excited to pull this together and so is my home girl.

Yes, there are articles that poke fun at how much people end up spending to have a picnic in a public park, and even people calling it elitist and super snobbish because of the air of secrecy and the element of exclusivity due to the original invite only premise. There was another honest article from Washington City Paper about how much it really costs to attend one of these things, from buying or renting tables and chairs and linens, buying your own food vs. buying directly from Diner en Blanc to ordering your wine or champagne, because you can’t bring your own. Sniff, sniff. The costs do add up. I did go ahead and buy one bottle of wine through the website after registering, because dang, after all of that, it’s not about to be dry. We will need to toast. That is non-negotiable.

Is it bourgeois? Most certainly. I don’t care. We live in perilous times. I’m desperately seeking Trump-free, non-partisan, fuck-my-student-loan, joy.

It’s a moment to share with thousands of people, on a hopefully lovely night weather wise. Sure, people will be doing it for the ‘gram hard core, it’s a social media wet dream. Serious, google the pics. But, I really am interested in doing something unique this summer and just having a really great time, even if there is a bit of effort that goes into all of this. I’ve been looking for moments to engage in joyful things, and looking at pics from all over the world, I know that this is it.

I want to see other people’s creativity with their tables, what they decided to bring to eat, and then enjoy the entertainment and dance the night away with a breathtaking Baltimore backdrop.

So let’s get it.

Afternoon Tea Is a Sweet Indulgence

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of tea.

I blame my mother. She’s always good for making the perfect cup and she’s passed down that preference to me.

I pride myself on the fact that I can make a great cup of tea for my guests, and I love watching their faces when they take that first sip.

I also love how having a cup of tea with someone opens the door to wonderful conversations in a relaxed environment. Time and time again, I’ve put on a pot of tea, or introduced someone to some of my fancier loose leaf teas and hours later, we’re still sitting there talking and having cup after cup.

To me, having a cup of tea is just like lighting a candle, burning incense ,or playing music. It sets a tone for relaxation and comfort. It’s something you can enjoy alone while you collect your thoughts, or do something creative, or get to work. It’s something you can share with others. My teas are not just an indulgence, it’s an act of self-care and it’s an opportunity I use to love on the people in my life.

Well, when a former co-worker of mine wanted to hang in downtown Annapolis this weekend to catch up, among the very nice places she recommended for us to have brunch, she also offered up Reynold’s Tavern, a very lovely tea house.

Since I had never had formal tea at a tea house and my collection of loose leaf teas is growing faster than I can drink it, I jumped at the chance.

I have to say, we really enjoyed ourselves and had a great conversation about the writing process and the emotional journey it takes to write, secure an editor and go into the publishing process. I haven’t gotten as far as her, (she is a brilliant historical fiction novelist) but I do know what it’s like to start a novel or a book and be parts obsessed with it and also feel completely insecure about the whole thing.

There was an extensive tea menu, we both had teas that were based on Jane Austen characters, and they were sooooo good.

There’s something extra special about drinking from a tea-cup and resting it gently on a saucer or taking the infuser out of the pot and just letting the tea rest.

In between all of these actions, there’s discussion and there’s nibbling from the three-tiered serving set.

The tea was delicious, so much so, we each purchased some to take home. I was in love with my crab and shrimp Quiche and light salad and really enjoyed the small desserts.

As I get older, I appreciate these kind of old school ways of gathering and socializing. This goes right up there with meeting with my book club and sharing ideas and feelings with other brainy people who are passionate about books, and what’s going on in the world.

In a time where it seems the ratchet is revered, it’s nice to dip away to another place in time and visit a place like Reynold’s Tavern in the heart of a historic city, and be ladies and gentlemen of leisure.

RSVP for one. Bad-Ass Scardy Cat will go to the Gala.

I said it and I refuse to take it back. 2016 is not only the self-proclaimed year of the unexpected, it’s also the year of the bad-ass scardy cat. AKA, me.
I spent a previous post talking about what that exactly means. It may also extend into my dating life or how I attack it, without letting it attack me.
One of my biggest problems is not knowing what I want, or thinking I don’t know what I want in a relationship.
The problem is I know.
The problem is I kind of don’t believe I can have it.
So while I’m doing the match.com thing, I’m going to jump out on a limb and take a risk.
Every year, Howard alumni are sent a lovely invitation to the annual Charter Day events held each March. There’s always a super swanky gala, that basically costs $350 per plate. And hell, the amazing Debbie Allen is this year’s chairwoman.
Me and my friends have joked, that we’d attend once we’ve “made it.”
This gala attracts many of Howard’s most prestigious alumni, and supporters. It’s a collection of folks you’d be proud to say you share a legacy with.
But in the same breath, its intimidating. IT’S FUCKING INTIMIDATING. I’ve been out of practice going to things like this post my journalism career, so going to this solo is daunting to say the least.
But I keep staring at the invite. It just keeps calling me.
I’m not a baller, shot-caller by any means, but I’m a self-sufficient person who is about to add some expensive-ass letters behind her name this year (from another well-respected Washington, D.C. University) and is in need of connecting to inspiring people again, if only for one night. At any event at Howard, I am reenergized. So, I know this will be worth it.
And yes, I’m going to Rent the Runway so I can shock and awe. I may even visit the brick and mortar Georgetown location to select my ensemble.
Hmm, I guess, I’ve basically said I’m going. I guess, I made the decision now. Ha!
I was going to use this blog post to kind of give myself all the reasons I should go, and I wanted to also discuss a byproduct that I wouldn’t mind happening.
…. Me snagging the man of my dreams. This is some fanciful, storybook, meet cute, starring Sanna Lathan type shit. And just when I thought I’ve been dragged to the most cynical cellars of my soul, I meet a brown unicorn who reminds me how much I like to do what I think I can’t even if I complain or doubt myself along the way. There’s a tiny ray of hope.

It’s freaking dangerous to go to this gala, thinking I’m going to drop my napkin and a chocolate dreamboat decked out in a tux is going to pick it up and we’ll lock eyes and the rest will be black history and we’ll be planning our nuptuals at historic Rankin Chapel on campus, but IT’S MY FANTASY. DEEP DOWN, in the places I want to deny that exist, THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I WANT. Excuse me now for the rant. I do feel better saying it. More on this later…

I recently participated in an online relationship boot camp of sorts, and this month’s video was about “dating down.” I was practically in tears by the end, because it called out a number of things I’ve already addressed in this blog.
They basically strummed my pain by outlining the following: my need for control, my need to feel emotionally and intellectually superior and how dating down is actually taking the easy road, just to have someone in your life.
After killing me ever so softly (Roberta Flack went to Howard, btw) it made me think.

I had to get back to the basics.
Deep in my heart, I wanted a good, stable, sane Howard man, or a man who went to an HBCU (Historically Black College or University). This man would be able to totally understand why I love my alma mater so much and celebrate this love with me. I wouldn’t have to give him cliffs notes on my experience. Or what led to my decision, or why I felt everything Ta-Nahesi Coates describes in his epic colorful description of Howard in all it’s ebony-coated excellence in “Between the World and Me.” Even if he went to a rival school, it would be fun to take photos rocking alumni sweatshirts and talking crap to each other on gameday. Even if he disagreed with me about politics and pop culture, he’d understand my perspective.

Howard, much like my father, shaped for me an ideal of the kind of man I wanted and believed I deserved. But somehow over the years, I’ve deviated. I’ve acquiesced to dating and entertaining lesser beings to not give truth to the stereotype of the professional black woman too good to give folks a chance. I tried to temper my expectations, but it still didn’t feel right. I’ve dated men who didn’t attend HBCUs, but they were still missing something… or lacked some level of consciousness that never sat right with me, or they didn’t see themselves in the collective “we” in the black diaspora. And I don’t mean that in a dashiki-wearing, anti-white, afro-wearing, ankh-adorned, shea butter-scented way.

But there’s something about Howard that awakens your consciousness and how you walk in it, how you live it, is entirely up to you and shaped also by your own experience, but above all, it’s informed. It’s multifaceted.

So here it is. It’s the season of finding someone whose light reflects my own.

That’s been the biggest thing I’ve been afraid to ask for out loud, but the missing ingredient that I keep summing up and dumbing down as an intangible, when I reply two oactives higher than usual “I don’t know.”
So at this point, where are those kinds of men? Welp, my guess is they are doing all sorts of things. They are friends of friends. They volunteer. They may be in the clubs, but I’m over that. I will not do that.

However, friends, I’m consciously and to some degree defiantly making a $350 investment in myself (+ the cost of my rent the runway dress), my badassery and my future. Sometimes if you go to places you’ve never gone, you’ll have experiences you’ve never had. In the year of badassery, it’s time to not put a price tag on me living up to my potential. Besides, I’m nosey. I want to see how the other half lives… I do wonder if they’ll let a sister register as a student, using her George Washington id, tho… lol.

So that settles it. I’m good enough to be in the room. I AM GOOD ENOUGH TO BE IN THE ROOM.

I deserve to go to the gala because well, I was invited. That should end the argument there.

I’m an alumni. That should also end the argument.

And with a swipe of a credit card, I’ll be in there. And let’s face it, my credit card going through is probably the only thing Howard is thinking about anyway. LOL.

The only person who can say I don’t belong for whatever stupid reason, is me. So I’ll stop. I’ll start looking for a dress. The Golden Globes and Oscar season have me feigning to slay in my lane at  some event. And I’ll go. Bad-ass Scardycats unite!

Who Are the Undatables? And Are They Really Just That?

A bartender asked me out and I said yes.

He said he meets women all the time and exchanges numbers and the women never want to follow-up.
I said, well maybe they change their minds and say to themselves, they can’t date a bartender. You guys are always entertaining people. You have to have a healthy sense of self-esteem and ego to date bartenders period.

He said when he’s off the clock he keeps a very low profile considering he has to be in the mix all week. People always assume he’s a player or wants to be out in the streets turning up.

It made me think of other professions that men have that would give me and most women the side eye.

Most women don’t want to seriously date a male exotic dancer. Most women want to do their personal trainer, but don’t want to date them seriously because well, personal trainers are notorious for hooking up with clients saying that they never hook up with clients but will do it just this once.

To be fair, I don’t think anyone is undateable. We all need love, we want attention and we want to spend time with someone who genuinely wants to spend time with us.

But there were actually a few reasons I was willing to give this bartender a chance.

1. He’s handsome. (Shallow I know)
2. He pays attention to details.
3. He’s patient.
4. He fixes a mean mojito.
5. He’s clearly a hard worker and knows how to serve others.
6. He’s a good conversationalist.
7. He can anticipate and adapt to all kinds of situations and people.
8. There’s some chemistry.

Now let me get to the details and patient thing, because that really set all of this up and let me know he was being for real.

There was one other time he and another bartender were both “pretending” to “fight” over me. It was pretty funny. Every time I go to this spot for a bite to eat and a drink after a long day of work I chat it up with them. And at one point the competition was getting interesting. But I laughed it off and kept it moving.

Prior to that me and this bald, chocolatey morsel had a great convo a very long time ago and he said to me, “You know, I’d really try to talk to you, but I’m with someone.”

It was odd to me that he said this, I paid it no mind. I want to say that this was probably sometime last year.

Fast forward to last night.
He’s serving drinks, small talk is going on and then he just says, “I’d really like to take you out sometime. I’m serious.”

I laugh, because I instantly remember his unsolicited rejection of me several months prior.

“Hey, do you remember you actually told me you’d talk to me, but you couldn’t because you were with someone. What happened?”

“We were engaged and it ended. We even bought a house together.”

“Damn, welcome to the broken engagement club, one up high!” I raised my hand for a high-five. He shook his head, laughed and slapped my hand.

At this point I said why not and fought the urge to think of Miranda and Steve from Sex and the City. I guess I already did…

He asked me about my dating situation, and I had to laugh at that too, because the first thing that came to mind was the date I walked out of about three weeks ago.

But oddly enough, I temporarily forgotten about a sweet, simple date over Italian Ices I had with a recycled guy friend who just tends to be a bit more passive about his interest in me than I’d like.

So it’s open season. I’m a free agent. I owe no one nothing and that’s how I’m going to play this thing.

From that point, he shared weird music with me that he’s into from his phone. I told him this is the kind of music people play in high-end boutiques, where sales people can deduce your tax bracket with one glance and there are three items of clothing hanging on a rack, in the sparsely furnished store, none of which are over a size 6.

He laughed, “Not even a six. We carry negative numbers.”

He’s funny and quick. I like this…

Then he complimented my hair, which always gets points.

“Every time you come here I compliment your hair. I just love it.”

“I know, and I love getting compliments on it. I’ve been natural a little over two years now, and for some reason it still surprises me and makes me feel really good when people compliment me on it.”

And all of a sudden we were talking about how I gradually decided to become natural.

I told him about school. He told me about his plans for a business he’d like to open.

He told me he really liked talking to me.

We talked about common sense not being so common.
He sang a little.
I told him I’ve already figured out our first date. Karaoke.
He told me he cleaned up nicely outside of work.
I told him I had no doubt and giggled because it reminded me of the breakdown in Alicia Keys’ “You don’t know my name.” The part where the waitress tells her crush patron that she looks different outside her work clothes.

So he’s a bartender. He’s charming. Generally those things are warning signs, but I saw some other positive signs too. He’d been interested for some time, saw an opportunity, was direct and respectful and he went for it. Hence I decided off of those factors, this was a situation worth exploring.

“Is it too soon to call you tomorrow?”

“Not at all.”

Going Back Out…

I’ve come to this conclusion. It’s time to hang up the online dating for a while. I’m toying with erasing my online persona from a dating site, but I just don’t think I’ll log on for a while. Who wants to start over?

I’ve made this decision because It’s frankly becoming a rote exercise of empty discussions, false starts and first and only dates. No real followup. And that’s happened on my end too.

So it seems you can’t depend on going out all of the time to meet someone and you can’t completely depend on the internet either. You have to do both.

Online dating was making me impatient and lazy. I was reading one blogger who said, sitting at home in your sweats trying to talk to someone and be sexy and charming and interesting, feels like a lie. You aren’t really trying. You are in your sweats on your couch. You subconsciously aren’t giving your best.

Now that doesn’t mean you should dress up to exchange messages, but it made me think of the benefits of going out. Which I was adamantly against once I started online dating. I was over it. I was tired of it. I wasn’t having fun anymore.

As I thought about things, I noticed that when I met men while I was out and about, I went on multiple dates with them, and some of them, I still get a phone call or a text from now and then.

I do think when a man meets you in person, it’s quite intentional. He made up his mind that he found you attractive and interesting, and decided that if he doesn’t take the chance now, he may never see you again. Urgency aids the process. Scarcity aids the process.

With online dating, Plenty of Fish, in particular, some men do see you right away and they want to speak to you and they do.

Some men add you as a “favorite” like a bookmark to be circled back to later when convenient. They know short of you quitting the site, you’ll always be around. The urgency to get to know you or not let you slip away, no longer exists.

So, while my recent complaint has been that I can’t stand DC nightlife, the posing, the posturing, and pageantry of it all, there is some merit to putting on your freakum dress, high heels and looking and feeling your best and dancing around.

Simply put, men like that.

I’ve had a number of conversations with men about when they first saw me. They saw me laughing, smiling, politely turning someone else down, being cordial to strangers and they said they had to get to know me. They remembered what I was wearing and my confidence in that moment. Or if I seemed deep in thought, which led them to want to know what I was thinking. With online dating, it’s mighty hard to convey any of those things.

My problem was, I was, in fact using online dating as a crutch then getting mad things weren’t working out. I think the men on the online dating sites are officially bored with it too, and if you meet one person and they aren’t what you wanted, you can go back into the fray, immediately and see if someone else fits.

It really feels like the lost and found. People are trying on things, putting it back, someone else is picking it up hoping it works.

So I have resolved to spend a little more time on going out. Doing my old thing of stopping at a bar or restaurant after work for dinner and a drink, looking like I tried and seeing if I can strike up some convos.

Men I’ve met in person, seem to be more inclined to keep in touch and want to know more about you. They’ve already seen what you look like and the immediate attraction is real.

Unlike online dating where a person may be disappointed in the real thing in comparison to the photograph online.

So there is a music festival coming up in North Carolina, that I’m strongly considering attending. One because I love music and the line up is going to be dope, and two because I need to be seen. Will I meet people from other places that will contribute to my chronically long distance attraction? Sure. But oh wells. It’s time to just get out there.

I’ve been staying in the house long enough. I have one friend, who I know will read this and say she’s been saying it for the longest. Yes, you are right. It’s time to go back out. Fine.

A Different Kind Of Party

Hey hey folks,

It’s me again, and I’m back.

I’m still on a high from a great week of doing all of the things I want to do. I kicked off 32 last Wednesday, at a local venue called the Strathmore after I treated myself to a great meal. At the Strathmore Mansion (a mansion next door to the large performance complex), I treated my ears to the lovely vocal stylings of Christie Dashiell. You may remember her as one of the lead singers of The Sing Off Season three stand out vocal group “Afro Blue.”

Watching her sing flanked by her very talented brothers on stand up bass and drums, I was witnessing something. And I knew that sooner or later she’s going to be ridiculously famous and well-respected in the jazz world for years to come.

By Friday, I had a “date” with a guy who I consider to be a friend, who I’m figuring wants more. I don’t mind him being around, but I’m not feeling him like that.

Saturday was the big night. About 12 friends joined me for a five-course Indian feast, made complete with a belly dancer. And I joined her and the crowd hooted and hollered, cheering me and my fabulous self on!

After the marathon meal, we sang and danced at a Karaoke spot where you can rent private karaoke rooms by the hour. We had a blast. All week, folks have asked did I party hard? Well, I wasn’t sloppy drunk, or even drunk at all.

I quickly had a glass of wine and maybe one drink, but was too busy mingling and swapping fun stories with some of the most fantastic people I know, drinking wasn’t the main thing on my mind.

I kept saying, as I mature, “It’s a different kind of party.” I like to have drinks, but I don’t surround my weekend around it. The people in my life made my weekend and my entire week. Folks showed up with gifts and love and smiles and warm hugs and I couldn’t have been happier.

I wasn’t even expecting gifts. I was being real when I said that none of those things mattered. I just wanted people to have a good time. Folks were expected to pay for their own meals, and I provided two hours of karaoke. Whatever drinks or extras they purchased there, they’d have to take care of individually.

Sunday, I enjoyed a great brunch with my cousin went to check out American Hustle which is an awesome movie and enjoyed the sorry football game with another good friend and her family. I was serenaded and presented with red velvet cupcakes.

Monday was my actual birthday and it was super low-key, which I didn’t mind. Before my cousin returned to New York, we had lunch after my 90 minute hot stone appointment. I think I like hour massages better. 90 minutes may be too long, but it was still heavenly anyway. Good times.

I was most excited when a gentleman caller who I am very interested in asked me if I had plans for the evening. It was a simple outing to a local steakhouse, but I enjoyed every minute. We cuddled by the fire at his home after and enjoyed an even hotter kiss. I was golden.

Being 32 is fantastic. I didn’t need to be in a club. I didn’t need a whole lot of alcohol, or not to remember what happened the night before to signal I had an epic night. Because it was just the opposite. And I was happy to remember it all and I will cherish the memories from my week for a very long time.

Oh, and to put the icing on the birthday cake, I was fourth row center witnessing the breath stealing Alvin Ailey Dance Company last night. They never disappoint. I love that their annual engagement at the Kennedy Center always falls on or around my birthday. It makes the time feel even more special as if they are celebrating me!!!

I just told a friend of mine, it’s an excellent feeling to have the people you love the most tell you all at the same time that you mean so much to them and that they love you and that they are glad you are a part of their life. It doesn’t make you conceited. It doesn’t make you a jerk to take those moments in and accept their gifts, and favors or when they reach to take the bill and shoo you away. I’m so glad to have these beautiful people to walk through life with.

And so far it’s been a great life at that. I can’t wait to see what’s ahead.


Gulp. Two for Nas, Please

The original post I was working on today vanished in thin air, so maybe it was God’s way of telling me it wasn’t really that good or important or useful to whomever decides to read my blog today.

So this brings me to what I’m thinking about right now. We are only a few weeks away from Christmas, and then, well 2014.

Yes, 2014! Ain’t that crazy? I mean here we are, staring down the barrel of 2014. We’ve got more hopes and dreams to take with us into the new year and probably even more stuff we want to leave behind in 2013 and let stay there.

The crazy part is the upcoming holidays didn’t make me think about 2014 and the future, but a decision to buy tickets to see rapper Nas collaborate with the National Symphony Orchestra Pops at the Kennedy Center in March, celebrating the 20th anniversary of Hip Hop classic, “Illmatic.”

It’s no secret, faithful 29tolifers know how much I love the Kennedy Center and try to make a trek there at least once, if not twice a year. And usually it’s almost always to check out the Alvin Ailey annual engagement around my birthday in February.

Welp, Nas mashing it up with an orchestra at one of my favorite venues on the planet was too good and too historic and too epic to pass up. While my attendance was a no-brainer, one thing kind of bugged me.

I wanted to bring a date.

I have no problems with attending shows alone, but I’m looking at 2014 and while I’m trying to feel my way in the dark with Wild Card, and have a first date scheduled with a nice guy I’ve been talking to here and there but never met in person… I was trying to see who I could see myself with, there at the show.

Truth be told, I wanted a man to be with me at the show. I love hip hop and I talk about hip hop mostly with men, not women. Me and my boys have spirited discussions and it’s so much fun. Plus, I wanted to be decked out to the nines with an equally decked out, good-smelling male companion to this groundbreaking, genre-shattering experience. I had to listen to the album on spotify to start preparing. My mind is spinning with how an orchestra is going to interpret this music. But Nas has always had an ear for music and musicality, and he gives nods to different kinds of music and instrumentation in his songs if you listen carefully.  So this collaboration may not be as awkward as it appears on the surface. The result is going to be insanely dope and I sincerely hope it ends up on Great Performances on PBS. I really have to give the Kennedy Center props for its programming. They push the boundaries. After all, I got introduced to bounce queen Big Freedia in all her twerking glory, prior to Miley, right there. Me and my cousin still talk about that night. But I’ve enjoyed gospel, spoken word, all sorts of events at the Kennedy Center and the folks there are doing an amazing job. That place is among my dream places to work.

But back to me.

Will anyone, especially Wild Card be around to even accompany me to this event all the way in March??

We all know time flies and March will be here before you know it, but it still feels like a long way off. I peered at the seating chart, trying to decide if I wanted to buy one or two tickets and then I sent a text to wild card. I asked him if he liked Nas, he said yes. (I knew he liked Nas).

Then I told him about the show and my dilemma. Then I asked him if he would be interested in going. He said he was. I half joked that I wasn’t sure if he’d be tired of me by March. He laughed and said he doubted it.

The response did give me a sense of relief that he could see us still hanging out in March, so there was no reason for me not to see it either.

But let us remember, I got burned just last month with the Tweet tickets. So here I am again. Buying tickets to a show, hoping the person I go with will appreciate it and me and it will lead to other great moments. Steadily building into… Something.

I made a joke with friends comparing my latest suitors to the tributes from “The Hunger Games.” Wondering if they would make it until March.

Let’s face it. My latest dating endeavors haven’t lasted beyond a couple of months. Either boredom on my part has set in, or I noticed that it wasn’t going to work, or it wasn’t going anywhere, or the guy wasn’t being consistent enough. No one could really stick. There was no one who I really wanted to stick. It was as if I wasn’t surprised that they exited on their own or were cut loose by me. Le sigh. I’ve started to wonder is it me? Is it the things I’ve been through? Is it me getting older?

And the answer is yes. Yes to all of that. So it’s just a matter of meeting someone who can deal with all of that who I actually like and can deal with all of their baggage and quirks and biases.

So, I took a gulp. Clicked on a second seat and bought two for Nas, please.

This is the closest thing I can find to what may happen. The Roots teamed up with the Dakah Hip-Hop Orchestra (an orchestra devoted to blending hip-hop, blues, world sounds and collaborating with various artists) “The love of my life”

The EssenceFest Recap Part I

This morning, I was slammed with ideas and revelations from this weekend at EssenceFest that I knew I wanted to write about in today’s blog.

First things first, I had a great time. Beyoncé was Beyoncé. I mean she put on a master class on how to perform. There’s a reason why she’s adored. The woman can put on a show. She attacks the performance. She is like an athlete at the Olympics. It’s serious business. You can tell a lot is put into every single detail. Every light, every stitch of clothing. I salute her. She’s a beast. When she said that she was inspired when she saw Michael Jackson live as a child, you can tell that’s her goal. That level is what she’s gunning for. She’s already legendary and she earned it. When you see her perform, you can tell she loves it and you can tell she works HARD. Whether you are a die-hard Bey fan or not, you have to respect her work ethic. Period.

Ok, now to the nitty-gritty.

Wow, not sure where to start.

The performances.

Maxwell left me feeling some kind of way. He closed out Friday night’s show, but I think Jill Scott should have. She KILLED IT. Only Jill Scott can seriously wear fronts on her bottom teeth (fake gold/silver teeth), sing amazingly and people totally ignore that, be in awe of her and STILL say she has the best smile on the planet. With fronts in her teeth. Like Trinidad James… ONLY JILL. That’s real talent folks that’s insane energy. NO ONE ELSE. I love Jill.

Other notable performances over at the Super Lounges. Emile Sande. She’s already massive and huge in the UK and she’s grinding to really make her name known in the U.S. She was absolute perfection. I was so happy that I was already on to her and like her album anyway. It was a treat to see her live and she’s going to be huge here in the states too.

I only got to hear the last two songs in Faith’s set because it was impossible to get in. We had to spend a little time in Bilal’s set, which wasn’t a problem for me because I’m a huge fan of his. My homegirl… well she said he scared her. I bought her a drink for being a good sport.

Faith looked gorgeous and sounded great. She even let her fans get on stage at the end and dance with her and sing along. Faith looked like she was having a ball, but honestly, she was mainstage material. Faith has been in the game forever, she’s got steam from the R&B divas show and she has enough hits to have the mainstage audience sing along with her. So I’m still a little mad off of that.

One of my favorites of the weekend was my girl Tamia. Tamia is stunning in person and her voice was flawless. FLAWLESS. She even shouted out her hubby basketball player Grant Hill and told the crowd they’ve been married for 15 years. GOTTA LOVE THAT! Tamia has hits yall, and no one sings a power ballad with such ease and the crazy high notes like her. People were singing her songs word for word. She was on point. Folks were going nuts off of her classic “Stranger in My house.”

The one group that made me lose my ever-loving mind was New Edition. Keep in mind, by the time they hit the stage I was on my seventh drink, but I lost my voice. I was so happy to see Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Mike, Ralph and Johnny and that they were still dancing and singing so well, I just lost it. It was a moment of nostalgia and if you were a young black girl growing up in the 80s and early 90s, this reunion was a BFD (Big Fucking Deal).

I was really looking forward to my girl Janelle Monae, who said she was under the weather, but still rocked out anyway with a funky orchestra. She’s beautiful and she’s an awesome choice for a Cover Girl spokesperson. She exudes individuality and confidence. She sang two Prince covers, which makes sense since they’ve been working together and he’s given her his very rare seal of approval. I was disappointed she didn’t perform QUEEN, the new jam she has out with Erykah Badu. I feel like even if she didn’t have Erykah, she should have done it anyway. They killed it at the BET awards, and it would have been a song that most people would have been familiar with.

I was growing increasingly annoyed with people around us and on the bathroom line saying that they didn’t like Janelle, and that she was weird and confused them. I quipped back that Janelle had a full orchestra, was fully clothed, danced like no one’s business and never cussed or sang about sex. Meanwhile, if Gucci mane got on the Essence stage and called us bitches, people would keep on dancing… Rant over. There were moments where Janelle went a little bit to the left, but with artists like her, that’s to be expected. That’s one of the many moments I complained about narrow thinking in the black community, ignorance and all out foolery. And I complained a lot. I even tweeted that I was tired of black people by Sunday. And I was. I really was.  To quote from Spike Lee’s brilliant movie, Bamboozled, “I don’t want anything to do with anything black for at least a week.” The classic was ahead of it’s time and basically discusses the decline of black folk and stereotypes in the media and how we are in fact going backwards. The movie came out in 2000, but you would swear it was something that happened right now. Sometimes Spike can be a genius. I own this movie and I actually love discussing it with my friends.

Trey Songz gets the pleasant surprise award. Trey was suffering from a twisted ankle, but you’d never know it. He came out in a suit looking dapper, and finally by his last song, he was shirtless. He made us wait for it though. Sitting through his set, I realized Trey’s had a lot of hits too. The only thing I didn’t dig was him making us sit through the trailer of the new movie he’s in Baggage Claim. Like, I want to see the movie, but really, sir?

Other than that, he held the crowd, he was charming and he has a really great voice. I was impressed by him.

Since she preformed first on Friday, it kind of went to the back of my mind. BRANDY was fantastic. She looked great, she sounded great, she was sexy. She did a really fantastic job. She blended old and new songs very well and she was great.

I thought Keyshia Cole was fantastic, but her one costume change cost her a song,  so she didn’t get a chance to sing, “I remember.” But she had a very strong set, she looked beautiful and she also put effort into having a strong performance with her dancers. Her realness coupled with her vulnerability just makes her so loveable. You want to sing her songs loud and long.

Now, I’ve decided that Beyoncé did her sister Solange a huge solid by probably including in her rider that her sister perform on the mainstage.

Keep in mind I dig Solange and I loved her last two albums. But her brand of music fell flat in such a big arena. I think she would have been better received in the super lounge. But I will give her credit. She stood tall, and she went for it. The only thing that bothered me was, “I decided” was one of her more known songs, but her band totally didn’t have it together for that groove. She mentioned in the beginning that it was their first time playing it, to which I said, there’s a reason why people rehearse. So, once she got to the bridge, where everything fell apart, me and my homie started to head toward the bathroom. She did a good job on T.O.N.Y, another song I adore.

As for old school pimp, players. LL Cool J. had that place on fire. His sex appeal crosses demographics, women younger than 30 and well over 50 were rump shaking and swooning.

Charlie Wilson. What can you say about the man? He had such a high-energy performance, filled with so much soul and passion with an amazing voice, I need Maxwell (who was channeling Marvin Gaye quite a bit) and Trey Songz to really use Uncle Charlie as a blue print to keeping folks grooving as an AARP member.

So there you have it folks. That’s my non-quick review of the shows I was able to take in at the EsssenceFest. I missed out on my girl Chrisette Michele and Mint Condition, but that tends to happen.

My travel companions said Avery Sunshine, Leela James and Blackstreet had very solid performances and were totally worth checking out.

You really can’t do it all.

Stay tuned for my recap on the convention center and the panels and the inspiring session with Iyanla Van Zant and we haven’t even gotten into me running into an old lover, making eye contact several times with actor Craig Robinson (Darryl from the Office; star of movie Peeples and This is the End, Hot Tub Time Machine) and not doing anything about it 😦 and almost literally bumping into actor Morris Chestnut and him ignoring me when I said, “Hi Morris.” We also need to talk about me not confirming or denying eating a lollipop made of weed, and a very telling tarot card reading, confirming a bunch of things about myself that I knew all along…

I may have to break this all up into three parts. This was already pretty long. Sorry folks!!!

Dating Diversity: I’m Not As Tolerant As I Probably Should Be

This is a race post. I’m warning you now. These are my observations and opinions.

So, I came to a very interesting revelation last night.

After going out with a co-worker last night, I realized how fun it is to flirt with men outside of my race as long as all parties are interested in the flirting and don’t have any real expectations.

Maybe Olivia Pope and President Fitz of the hit T.V. show “Scandal” are changing hearts and minds and finally making interracial voyeurs finally come out and be open. Maybe I’m one of them.

I am a black woman. I love black men. I prefer dating black men. I haven’t really ever gone out on dates with men of other races. Either guys I’ve dated may be mixed with black or they may have been Latino. All of my serious relationships have been with men who identify as black.

I often tend to feel that way because usually black men are the majority of men who approach me or try to ask me out. There have been a few occasions where I was in a conversation with a white man and I was completely oblivious to the fact that he may have been flirting or interested, because I honestly assume I’m not their type and I assume that there’s no way they’d be interested.

And even if I sense it, I have a tendency to also unfairly assume that white men see me as some exotic fruit. Remnants of American history and the relationship between white slave masters and black women upset me. A sign goes off in my head that says they see me and think, “good for freaky crazy, fetish sex only.” It makes me nervous and uncomfortable. There are some white women who may be afraid of a group of black men and that they’ll rape them. I get nervous if I’m in a room filled with really drunk, white men. Will they feel like they have the right to rape or disrespect me? I’ve had male friends who would say, “Let’s leave before they all want to start hanging us.” Or “Let’s leave when they start talking about Obama. It can only go downhill from here.” And we’d laugh, but it’s a real thought. It was not that long ago, that things like that happened in this country and on a regular basis.

Inhumanity, wrapped in revelry was a serious American pastime for a long time. Lynchings were celebratory events. People took photos, had smiling children and took pieces of the corpses home as souvenirs. So yeah, I don’t want to lump people in with folks a few generations ago, but the history does not completely elude me. It guides how I feel I am viewed by white men.

We are all more alike than we know. I think we are all curious about each other. They want to know if black women are really freaky, are our butts really that big? What do our private parts look like? And hell, behind closed doors me and my friends have wondered how big are they, are they pink? Like piglet pink? Do they perform oral sex better and like it way more than black men?

I just really believe that for whatever reason, they just aren’t attracted to me. So if someone else points it out, I’ll be like, for real? Wow. Cool, I’m crossing demographics.

Well in addition to chatting up some white guys who were interested, I want to include a caveat in this story.

The white men who make it known they are interested in me tend to be working class, not usually college-educated guys who are exceptional at various specialized, blue-collar trades. They tend to have grown up in diverse areas, they may have a child or two and are conversant in slang. I’ve yet to date, what I call a regular 100 percent white guy. The kind of white guy who shops at Hollister, knows how to make his own beer, was in a fraternity, who did not grow up around black people or tries to imitate hip hop culture. (I already know there is no such thing as my idea of the 100 percent stereotypical white guy, but it’s what I tend to imagine.) Those white guys never seem to approach me and I feel like I’d have more in common or share the same values with them than the ones who go out of their way to quote rap lyrics, or wear gold chains or drive tricked-out impalas. I don’t even mesh with a majority of black men who fit that description.

I’m amused, because these men shatter stereotypes across cultures and remind me, people are indeed people and that black people do not have a monopoly on trifling behavior.

More on trifling behavior in a moment. This story is going to get good.

These two men convinced me and my friend to join them at a Mexican bar and restaurant because one of them wanted to prove that he could do a mean Bachata for “a white guy.”

So fine, we didn’t pass this up.

One guy is very interested in my friend. My friend is Latina. He didn’t have any cash and managed to sweet talk one of the waitresses into giving him $5 so he can hit up the jukebox and find the proper tune. The other friend, who was the “self-proclaimed” wing man, mentioned this restaurant wasn’t his scene, but he was taking the L for his boy. After trying to get my number earlier and it not working out, we simply chatted about stuff and the more he drank, the more sad and frustrated he was.

He basically said, he’s been through a lot and I’m a classy lady. It’s not that he wasn’t interested in me,  or that I wasn’t attractive, but he’s going through a lot and, well I’m a classy lady. He emphasized that I was classy. I rubbed his arm and I told him, “It’s really ok. Really.”

But on the other side of me at the bar was a latino man speaking to me in Spanish. I guess he noticed things weren’t going so hot with the guy I was originally talking to and that he’d go for it. I stumbled through the conversation, apologizing for messing up the language, while others at the bar chimed in to fill in words for me. Everyone was amused. Everyone wanted to help me communicate or tell me which word was missing. They seemed pleased that I knew what I did, and that I actually tried. When I answered one of their questions by saying, “Yo no se, estoy baracha” (I don’t know, I’m drunk) the bar erupted in laughter. Two men asked me to dance about two different times and I obliged.

My earlier male companion egged me on to dance, since I was not interested and he got the hint, and so I danced, twirled and laughed and spoke mangled Spanish.

In Spanish, I thanked my dance partners for their patience with me and for being such good teachers.

They were tickled by this and their appreciation and approval showed prominently in their pants. Men.

I was mildly grossed out, but not really, because I was tipsy, but at the same time, I felt like I was an ambassador for Black women. I was getting my Susan Rice on.

We all aren’t always angry, or mad or loud like most of the black women on t.v. Sometimes we want to branch out and try new things and test our Spanish if someone is willing to listen. We want to laugh and flirt, and have someone lead us off our bar stool, by the hand and be spun awhile. We want to listen to other kinds of music. We want men of all backgrounds to find us genuinely beautiful and attractive and interesting.

I was glad to swap stories with two white guys who I would never normally talk to. Maybe they got to see something different from what they are used to, and to me that’s cool.

So in some convoluted way, I’ve talked about a lot of things here, I want to shout out the men I talked to in English and Spanish last night who helped me have a fun night, but didn’t act all pissy because I didn’t want to hang out with them again. Everyone just appreciated the moment, a dance was a dance. A conversation was a conversation.

But back to trifling behavior. The guys we originally showed up with, well the one I was talking to showed me a ridiculous switch blade he carried in case someone tried to steal his diamond chain (he likes the bling) I was suddenly chillin with Paul Wall. And I nodded and kept cool and said, hey, “I guess you got to do what you got to do sometimes.” He smiled proudly and took a sip of his drink.

I cashed out with the bartender and made sure he knew in English and Spanish that I was only paying for my drinks. Frick and Frack had a couple of beers and a shot of patron each.

At the previous bar, those two offered us a drink, but we said we were good and they said, well at least stay longer and have half a drink (they bought one drink, had the waitress put it in two glasses).

After hearing one of them talk about how he hadn’t paid a gas bill and that he still had one more notice before it was cut off, I had a feeling these guys were shady and I didn’t think either one of them was going to spring for my $8 tab.

So, me and my home girl headed to the bathroom at the Mexican bar, and when we returned, Frick and Frack were gone. They kept making jokes about skipping out on the bill, before they left and it appears that’s what they did. The bartender looked confused, and a bit annoyed as my friend settled her tab, only paying for her drinks and explaining she was only paying for her drinks.

Frick and Frack rode off into the night in their tricked-out Lincoln.

We were hysterical in laughter.

People are people. Gente son gente.

Real Life Sara Bartman Moment Live At the Kennedy Center

I had a fantastic weekend. I spent it with one of my favorite people, a dear cousin and we ran all over this town.

I’m exhausted, but I’m happy, because we truly had a ball.

Saturday night, we went to the Kennedy Center (one of my most favorite places in all of DC) and we saw a show called New Orleans Bingo. This show had a Vaudvillian/variety show vibe with musicians, featuring the amazing and legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band, burlesque dancers, aerialists, and even modern trendy acts that blend all kinds of music and art. There was an odd puppet show, and a talented MC/ring master wearing face paint reminiscent of what folks wear in the Zulu Krewe during Mardi gras (signature black and white make up).

I enjoyed the spectacle and this mish mosh of talented people coming from all walks of life, ages, races (as New Orleans is well-known for), but one portion of the show left me with my mouth open and this was after a burlesque dancer managed to strip down and exit the stage with a large rubber duckie strategically held to cover her breasts.

The performer was called Big Freedia, the queen of Bounce music. Big Freedia appeared to be a transgender person who was originally male. She captured the crowd right away and had amazing energy. I really dug Big Freedia.

Along with Big Freedia was her high energy DJ mixing beats that sent what would typically be a reserved Kennedy Center Crowd into a frenzy. This was also cool.

Big Freedia had a team of dancers. Two male and two female. The males in their style of dress reminded me of Lupe Fiasco or Frank Ocean. Their dance style was hip hop, but clearly totally the style of street dancers you often see on Bourbon Street or the French Quarter. They were fantastic, but I didn’t get to pay attention to them much, because Big Freedia’s female dancers stole the show. I mean, they stole the show.

They wore short shorts, sneakers and fitted tanks showing their midriff. They broke out dancing and twerking and popping their butts in a way that is probably more complicated and executed with such athleticism, you could admire them. And for a moment I did. But as time wore on, and that’s all they could do, sometimes balancing on one foot, or getting down on all fours or breaking into a split and being able to isolate butt cheeks and make them bounce, jump and jiggle, me and my cousin were no longer entertained.

We started to get upset. I started to say, I didn’t know how to feel about it. Here we were in one of D.C.’s most hallowed cultural centers and here are some black women, shaking their asses, over and over with such vigor, with such pride as a predominantly white audience looked on, cheering. Men being completely titillated at the show, in a way that was much different from the white burlesque dancer who added humor and props during her set.

The looks in the men’s eyes were more wild. And then I thought of Sara Bartman, known as the Hottentot Venus. She was carted around Europe as a side-show act because white folks had never seen a black woman with such a large butt and elongated labia. This woman was put on display, naked. And even when she died at the age of 25, they cut out her brains and vagina, but them in jars, made a cast of her body to put it on display.

People say she was the first of what we know now as video vixens. I told my cousin about Sara Bartman, and showed her a youtube video the next day, and we shook our heads.

I wondered how the older black gentlemen, who were a part of Preservation Hall felt about what happened. Were they upset? Did they see it as art from a new generation? Or did they have a strong reaction, knowing their history and the things they have had to suffer, their mothers, their grandmothers? It left a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach.

One of my good friends who lived near New Orleans, as I once did, argued that there was cultural value in twerking and popping and that it is a part of the “underground.” I agreed that as far back as 1999, Juvenile’s hit “Back that Azz Up” featured NOLA neighborhood girls and women, doing the same exact things Big Freedia’s dancers were doing, but they were back in the hood, at a large block party.

Me and my cousin didn’t mind the twerking in the beginning. I found myself cheering, but when we realized that was the only style of dance these young women could offer, we became increasingly dissappointed. And you can tell because when they’d get tired, they’d slow down, pull their shorts out of their butt, step to the left or right, and when they got their wind back up, they proceeded to pop, jiggle, and shake some more.

Now, don’t get it twisted, Big Freedia, was right there with them in all her glory. It was a sight to behold the way she was able to move and shake, but Big Freedia was covered up.

My friend pointed out to me that my anger about the situation may also be the fact that Big Freedia, was not born an African-American woman, yet she is capitalizing and profiting off the sexualization of black women.

The male dancers did get a number of cheers, when they were featured, but they did not capture the attention of the crowd the same way those young women did. I looked around the room, and I found that a lot of my white neighbors were looking at me to see my reaction as well. An older white man sitting next to me was so thrilled, his knee was bouncing so much during the set in excitement, my chair was shaking.

After intermission, his wife was sitting next to me. She must have noticed his excitement too.


My emotions were so mixed.

While I do believe booty poppin and twerking and moving our bodies in a sensual, sexual way have been with us since forever, black women can’t seem to get the albatross of primitive, exotic, sexuality from off our necks.

Some could argue, the white burlesque dancer did what the black girls did and the black girls didn’t strip down to pasties at the end of their set. Some can say we’ve evolved to the point where black and white women can flaunt their sexuality as they please, but as a black woman, it’s not that simple.

The world has not evolved that much.

Just up the street from the Kennedy Center, we have First Lady Michelle Obama, who knows that everyday, she has to watch her step. She has to be perfect. Even with all of her accomplishments and achievements before marrying President Obama, she knows if she wears a certain dress, or carries herself less than perfect, she is holding the image of American black women on her shoulders for the world stage. Her existence has to counter all of the damn video vixens, and basketball wives and Real Housewives of Foolishness, that folks who never have to see or deal with black women may believe as truth.

Even though it shouldn’t matter. Even though I am an individual, and can argue, these young women can do what they please and they don’t represent me, I felt like they do. We represent one another and people do lump us all in the same category. When those girls popped their asses in the Kennedy Center, it made me feel like while the masses of white people seemed to enjoy it and take it for entertainment or culture, if a lot of them may not have black friends or really interact with black people, and I don’t want that to be their lingering image of what young, black women are. So in my mind, Big Freedia and her camp did have some level of responsibility, whether they think so or not.

I don’t care if they do represent the Big Easy, where anything goes and that the wild life and open sexuality go hand-in-hand. The same rules of sexual freedom do not apply to Black women. It is a complicated situation that black feminists have been discussing for a very long time. My favorite group that dissects these types of issues is the Crunk Feminist Collective. I’d love to see what they’d think of this situation and if I’m over thinking it or crazy.

I dug a little deeper and found out that Big Freedia and her folks have become sensations in the artsy/idie communities and have performed in NYC at Moma, and SBSW.

I can’t help but wonder if people are truly accepting them as art and people who do represent their truth– booty popping is real, but are the smiles and accolades truly that of acceptance and appreciation, or are they a freak show in the minds of some of the audience, that hasn’t quite evolved? Do people not see them as people, but as a sub-reality?

Booty popping is a truth. I’ve done it in the clubs and at parties, myself. It is a release. You do feel hot, and sexy while doing it. But is it an art form? There are a lot of youtube videos, one called Twerkology, where a gay, Asian man is instructing others how to do it. You can put twerk on youtube and find a gazillion videos. One parent landed in the news for using physical discipline on his two young daughters for making a twerk video and posting it on youtube. I get his anger and frustration. People can argue about spanking, I’ll leave yall to it. But as Chris Rock once said, this man is simply trying to “keep his daughters off the pole.” He may have been extreme, but he knew all too well, how black women are perceived and he wants better for his children. And while doing some freaky dancing is a huge part of growing up, Lord knows people have rubbed up and shook butts at many a party, his daughters openly going doing this for the World Wide Web was probably much more than that brotha could take. Lessons had to be learned about just how serious and powerful the perception of sexuality is for black girls. Period.

Miley Cyrus was applauded for her attempt at twerking, but she cleverly put on a silly unicorn onesie to desexify it. Even Miley knew, that as a white woman, if she put on booty shorts and made it clap, she would get herself into a whole lot of trouble. Making it seem almost silly, helped her become a talking point on Good Morning America where they were trying to define “twerking.” I nearly spit out my water that morning. If she was in booty shorts, best believe folks would say she was being vulgar.

But black girls popping in booty shorts, eh, they are vulgar anyway. Doesn’t matter. What else is new? They are the ones getting pregnant. Who cares? This is the stereotype. We are not Miley Cyrus. We are not Kim Kardashian. There’s another set of rules.

I really hope Big Freedia and his dancers enjoy their moment, sharing their culture on such grand stages. They straight up made history, I’ll give them that. But I hope that they also for real for real understand the history and complexitites of the image of the Black woman and sexuality and how they are included in that. I hope they understand that they are not only ambassadors of their local culture, but for a larger culture when they go outside of New Orleans and expose their art on these platforms, where there are often not a whole lot of black folks. I hope they understand the weight of the situation.

I don’t expect them to change. And if by any chance they may come across this blogpost, they may totally disagree with me, and that’s fine too. But this is the honest reaction I had to the performance.

In a certain context, I don’t think there is anything wrong with booty poppin, it’s honest, it’s how we’ve expressed ourselves in Africa or in Carnival in the Carribbean since forever. It’s a very real part of how women expressed themselves, using their bodies in response to music. But I do hope, that maybe the twerk girls can incorporate a variety of dance into the program, like their male counterparts, who I thought were great, but I had a tough time concentrating on them. I wonder why…

I leave you with the video about the history of Sara Bartman.

Miley Cyrus “twerking”

Juvenile Back that Azz up.

Big Freedia Explains Bounce Music. (May not want to watch at work, FYI)

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