Read Smoke!

Read Smoke!
My latest book, "Smoke: poems of love, longing and ecstasy" is available for purchase on Amazon in e-book and paperback. Click book for link.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

CHURCH, The Sims Sitcom on Youtube, Comedy!!

I have to give the creator of "Church" serious props. The comedic writing, the voice over, the anime like Simcharacters.... it is all brilliant. Church is a a homemade sitcom just gaining steam on Youtube. It's a satire about the Black church starring "Black Preacher", his wife "First Lady", his daughter, the ever-ready key board player, and a flamboyant choir director. I've posted my faves in the series. But please enjoy, laugh your head off, and link to your pages. And please DO NOT get offended. It's just satire, and well done satire at that.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fabulous and Unequally Yoked

I can still remember pacing back and forth across my white living room carpet. It was a Sunday morning and he'd just sent a friendly "What are you up to?" text.

My response. "Just getting in from a lovely walk." And with that, he was off to address his massive workload, satisfied with having paid me the obligatory minim of attention that day.

"Oh dear!" I exasperated to my best friend, The Chocolate Diva, whom I'd dialed in an emergency. "I should have said church. He would expect me to be at church. He doesn't know."

"Just calm down," The Diva insisted.

"I mean, could this be a deal breaker?"

"Honestly, with some men, but not if it's meant to be and he really likes you for you."

"I have to tell him." I decided then.

I was slowly falling for Miles* and I could tell he'd placed me in his high estimation as well. As busy as he was and although we lived a couple hours apart, he was making an effort to demonstrate his affection and to learn more about me. But what he didn't know was that we were unequally yoked.

He was born and raised in the Christian South, and while I knew he didn't go to Church every Sunday, he was raised in a family that did. More importantly, he'd probably want a wife that was too.

I am Muslim. Have been from birth .My faith is as much a part of me as my skin tone and heritage. I grew up in the progressive North, next to a big city where both mosques and churches thrived. I grew up in a place where no one questioned my arabic name or flinched when I mentioned my faith. What's even more interesting is that while my dad is Muslim, started off in the sixties with the Nation and then converted to the more widely-practiced Sunni Islam, my mother is a Penecostal Christian. Hence, while the world still argues and fights over religious difference, I grew up watching two religions love one another, madly. I was blessed to have two parents who were devout in their own right, and who would expose me to both faiths (which aren't so different) and allow me to ultimatley choose how I'd like to get to know God.

Perhaps because of my odd religious upbringing I always made light of the concept of being equally yoked. Sure, there were some difficult times growing up. When I was ten I remember mom having a spontaneous melt-down over the fact that I'd chosen Islam. She felt it was my way of saying I loved my dad more, but that wasn't the case at all. I just felt as if Islam was a perfect fit. And with time, my family made it over that hurdle. I remember learning that Skittles and Starbursts actually contained gelatin, or pork, and having to give up my favorite candies. And as a teen, I can recall my dad expressing his desire to see me marry a Muslim man, and my disgust at his double standard.

We've worked through that hurdle as well.

I was comftorable in my faith. God was always in my heart. With maturity I grew to be more active in my practice, making the salaat, while never five times a day, at least once. And then at 22, I fasted for my first complete Ramadan, meaning that for thirty days, I abstained from food from sunrise to sunset. The more active a believer I became, the more I saw God as a critical part of my ability to survive and thrive in a crazy world. As a baby Islam was chosen for me, at ten I chose it for myself, and in my early twenties I had my own spiritual awakening.

It was faith that launched my career and my subsequent move to Medium-City, South. I was in the masjid on a Friday afternoon when my phone buzzed. I quickly turned it off and waited until the end of juma, or the Friday prayer service, to respond. It was a news director in Medium-City, South offering me my first on-air job right out of college.

Ironically that move would also test my faith more than anything. In Medium-City, Muslim names weren't that common. Neither were masjids. It was town flanked by mega-churches with congregations over five-thousand. Young people went to church. Young people talked openly about God. Young people said grace before dinner. Jesus Christ was a super star.

It was also a place where Islam was a foreign and scary concept to Blacks and Whites alike. So much so, with each news story and interview my station aired that subtly villifed my faith, I found myself for the first time hiding who I was. I was in a military town where most folks believed America was fighting the Muslims, not the terrorists. They felt that the Koran prescribed hate, which it does not, and that people like me, are social pariahs. I feared for my safety if certain extremists should find out I worshipped Allah. And so I continud to make prayer two-three times a day in the confines of my home, and I continued to hide this critical part of me.

After close to a year I revealed my faith to my inner circle and even my boss ( who I believe is still in shock) but I still would shamefully remain quiet when colleauges, even in the morning meeting, made disparaging remarks about Muslims in reaction to a news story they didn't even fully understand.

When I met Miles, I was in that place; a devout Muslim girl, living in the spotlight, afraid to come out about who she was. He would be the one to change that.

On our first date he bowed his head to say grace and it completely caught me off guard. I let him bless the food and we moved on. As things progressed nicely, I became nervous. This was too good to be true. The man of my dreams had suddenly come along to sweep me off my feet and there was no sign of danger on the horizon. So of course, I started coming up with possibilities of things that could go wrong, and the only thing I could think of was faith. Miles wanted a picture perfect life, and in that world, husband, wife, and baby went to church together every Sunday.

My fears were deepned by a handsome Nigerian man I had once dated. An entrepreneur, he was a great man, but we broke up when I realized he could never marry a woman who was not Nigerian. He was the oldest of four and his mother simply would never accept it. I moved to the South about a month later and he, for the most part, was forgot. Perhaps, my heart wasn't in it after all because when that brief relationship ended, the only thing crushed was my naivete.

It was different with Miles. I really liked him. Miles and I met up a week after my Sunday morning melt-down. It was an awkward date. His plane had just landed in town, and he had just an hour to spare before he was off to meet with a political candidate. It had taken 48 hours of text messaging (during his meetings) to make arrangements at a sushi restaurant conveniently located close to his next appointment. I was having a fat day, a bad hair day, and I couldn't find anything I really wanted to wear. A recipe for disaster. And it was during this date that I decided to drop the bomb. Subtly, during conversation, like "Yea, actually my dad's Muslim".

"Oh, and are you?"

"I am."

I noticed that his eyes lingered on me with vague suprise, and then I watched as he suppressed whatever reaction he was truly having. Instead the conversation carried on to, of all things, church. His mom and my mom were both Penecostal and we reflected on the exuberant services of our childhood.

After that date, I didn't hear from Miles much. It was the ending of our fairy tale courtship as I knew it. I assumed that he was done, completely uninterested in the real me. Perhaps now he saw me in a new light and of course I was devastated. And then a month passed, we ran into each other, and he begged for my forgiveness. He told me he'd made a huge mistake. I was still unlike anyone he'd ever met. And while we tried to assemble the pieces, we really never did get back on track.

I never asked Miles "Why?". Truly, I don't know if he'd ever tell me. I knew that for the perfection seeking over-achiever, I shattered some element of his impression of me as the perfect woman, but I'll never know what. Perhaps it was my faith, and in my absence, he came to realize that he and I could work through that. Perhaps it was something, or someone, else. Miles and I are still friends till this day, though we tread through choppy waters of uncertainty and awkardness. I have accepted that neither he nor I want to completley extricate the other out of our lives, but that at the moment, being apart has been better for me, than being in love could ever have been.

The event allowed me to come to terms with some things that "I know for sure", to borrow Oprah's term. You see, I never once regretted telling Miles who I was, even though my mother said, in retrospect, perhaps I should have waited a few more dates. Being Muslim is who I am and at the end of the day I want a man who can love me in totality. I want a man who can embrace me and my faith, the way mom and dad embraced, and respected one another. I could never abandon God, or the way I practice, for love.

Even as a single Black woman.

CNN (tried it) published another controversial article on the plight of the lonely Black Woman. This one is caled "Does the Black Church Keep Black Women Single?" It profiles a couple of devout Christian Black women who attend church every Sunday, bible study on Wednesday, and even Sunday school... and although they may pray for love, they are conspicuously alone. The article reasons that Black women who will only date Black men who worship on the same level they do are bound to end up sanctified and single. In other words, lots of Black Christian women are dating Jesus Christ.

"Awww man!" she wants to date Jesus Christ this guy laughed, after his
companion asked if I had high standards. "Of course" I had replied.

Does the Black church keep Black women single? Absolutely not. No faith does. But as many of my single and very-Christian friends have learned, 'the one' might not be in Church on Sunday. Most churches are about 75% women anyway, with the bulk of the men in leadership positions (we'll address that another day). Instead he may be the brother who goes to church every once in a while, or the guy who grew up in church, but strayed during adulthood, the spirtual man who needs a little help getting closer to God, or he may even be Muslim. People have different interpretations of what it means to be equally yoked and it's difficult to change someone's 'non-negotiables'. For some, equally yoked means two people of the same religion, maybe even denomination. For others, it is of the same level of religious commitment, and for others, it means two people who are simply God-fearing. Depending on interpretation, a woman certainly either expands or contracts the size of her dating pool.

Regardless, a Black woman would have a difficult time finding her way through the dating maze without the guiding hand of God. I know I would. God gives us dignity, the faith to know he's there, and the patience to wait, and grow personally, until he arrives.

My very Christian friends, and perhaps women who can relate to the CNN story, are learning at thirty what I learned just a couple of weeks before my 24th birthday, with Miles. For a woman to become half of any succesful relationship, she must know who she is as a believer, for sure, and she has to be confident enough to walk as the woman of God she is. There is no compromising faith for romance, but romance often does require accepting and respecting the faith practices of your partner.

I have reflected on my last real date with Miles ad infinitum and I have stored a mental list of all the things I would change, including canceling the hurried date altogether. What I would never change is divulging my faith. For me, I am Muslim, and to love me is to love that part of me. It's funny, but I think I'd feel more comftorable with most men I've dated seeing me naked, than watching me bow down in prayer. My faith is deeply personal and deeply me. In the aftermath, I know that while I could date a Christian or Muslim man of God, just as long as he is of God, the ultimate stipulation is that he respects the way I serve. I would do the same, including going to church on Sunday, and celebrating both holidays on my end. With maturity has also come to the understanding that not everyone will be able to embrace me and my faith. For some, I will be a fabulous Muslim girl and woman of God. For some, I will be a fabulous girl, but a Muslim.

They say the family that prays together stays together. They also say love conquers all. I believe both these to be true. When a relationship is God-ordained, filled with respect, love and admiration, He makes a way for believers to be believers. Perhaps two become one in their faith, or they remain seperate in faith but closer in understanding. It's not always easy, but it is possible.

Flyness and faith,

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Wedding Dress of the Week: Pnina Tornai 3180008

Happy Saturday Divas!
It is with great pleasure that I feature this opulent mermaid sheath by Pnina Tornai. The satin gown is strapless with a flattering rouched bodice, and dropped waiste that extends into tiers of extravagant ruffles. The creation is richly adorned with bows made of swaroski crystal along the decotallage and the top of the skirt. That detail is this dress' wow factor!

Flyness and Funk(y Brides),

Friday, August 13, 2010

Thursday's Thought: On Bridges

On Bridges: This past week I covered a couple that married on top of a bridge. They were childhood sweethearts who reunited, on Facebook, twenty-five years later. For me, their story gives new meaning to the phrase "bridge over troubled water". The bride said in her interview, "I was in love but he didn't know what love was back then." She of course during their time apart married, had children, and later divorced. The groom didn't do any of those things, but he matured, and came to realize the one that got away was in fact the love of his life. He moved across the country to be with her just ten days after they reconnected on Facebook. Indeed love can act as a bridge between; forging a bond that withstands struggle, distance, and most impressively time. On the contrary, we have to consider the consequences of burning a bridge, for what happens when you attempt to cross a burned bridge? You drown.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

'Blondie' Meet 'Bourgie': Race on DC Housewives

Last Thursday,The Real Housewives of DC debuted to an audience of 1.6 million, far ahead of any other show in that time slot. The show's initial success should come as little surprise. The latest edition of the popular reality franchise arrived on the tails of Party-Gate, a national scandal that, ethics aside, was one hell of a PR move. For Housewives fans, the district is a welcome change of scenery and a fresh set of socialites to rival only New York in their authenticity. And then there's the more subtle tease; Bravo's peculiar casting.

When news first broke of a DC edition in the making, many assumed it would be the second mocha cast. They don't call DC "Chocolate City" for nothing. The nation's capital is also the capital of Black elitism. If Atlanta is where Black money goes to luxuriate, then DC is where Black money goes to discriminate.

But instead Bravo only casted one sista, which surely raised some eyebrows. Stacie Scott Turner is a high-end real estate agent, wife, mother, and a credentialed somebody. Stacie can float seamlessly between white and black elite circles, which is pretty much the prerequisite to being Black and bourgeois. She is a Delta, a Jack and Jiller, and just so happens to have graduated from Harvard Business school. And for those of us who identify with First Lady Michelle more so than former First Lady Lisa Raye, Staci Scott is a welcome addition; a departure from the conspicuously flashy Housewives of the south.

Bravo billed their new show as sort of a 'sex meets power' in DC; hyper-fabulous fame-seeking doyennes demonstrating their place among the power elite. But the first episode quickly alluded to other intentions. Rather than 'Sex meets power' , it was clearly 'Black meets White', or better stated, 'preppy meets bourgie' in Washington D.C., the seat of national government and heart of America's current preoccupation with race.

"Welcome to the District" was the perfect blend of vanilla and chocolate, certainly titillating enough to keep viewers wanting more. We meet Lynda Erkiletian and her big Black stud-like boyfriend Ebong. Then we watch witty exchanges between two of the White housewives and their very Dwighterrific Black gay confidantes. A smashing birthday celebration is temporarily interrupted by cast mate Mary Schmidt Amons who gives her tipsy speech about how Black and White hair salons ought to integrated. "Yes we can!" she throws in for good measure. And then there's the highlight of the episode; an evenly mixed fette for four where cast mate Cat Ommanney, a recent transplant from London, has the nerve to dis Tyra Banks and President Obama in Sista Staci's house.

"I damn near choked on my food," Staci says in the interview after wards.

*If this isn't a side-eye glance, I don't know what is.

And that's not including the racially tinged events that lead up to the series debut. When Michaele Salahi and her husband infamously crashed at White House party, it prompted Desiree Roger's resignation from her position as the first Black White House social secretary. Following the security breach, her admirers were quick to become her detractors, hitting the cable-network circuit denigrating her as a self-absorbed outsider, in over her head. As if that wasn't enough, when Salahi appeared on the View just days before the premiere she managed to besmirch yet another public figure of color. She accused Whoopi Goldberg of 'hitting' her during a heated interview about whether or not she was really invited to the White House. No doubt, Salahi was border-line verbally attacked on The View, but definitely not physically. Watch the video. Her accusations are straight erroneous, but just enough to rock the race waters.

It almost looks like Michaele Salahi is doing a Black fist pump here. Almost.

I have to say "Brava" to Bravo for perfect timing. Many Americans are being exposed to the Black professional class for the first time by political characters on the national stage. Barack, Michelle, Desiree, and attorney general Eric Holder are all vast departure from the fictional Blacks inHollywood. My--- a Black woman having tea with the queen... who would have thunk it? Hence it is timely for Bravo to integrate an all-white cast with one Black woman, who happens to be a lot like Michelle. The show, much like America, is progressively mixed on the surface, but upon closer inspection, split with hair line cracks of racial tension.

I liken the fifth edition of the Housewives to the fourth season of Dynasty. Enter Diahann Carroll in a fierce creme suit, fur stole, and loads of expensive luggage. "I do not sleep in nor do I sleep with my clothes. I require a separate room for my wardrobe," she demands in her light minx voice. A striking Carroll was the "New Lady in Town", and while she's widely known as prime time's first Black Bitch, she was really prime time's introduction to Black affluence Of course there was the Jefferson's, but that was a Black sitcom for a mostly Black audience. And let's face it, Wheezy was no Dominique Devereaux. Just four months before The Cosby Show and the subsequent proliferation of positive Black sitcoms, Diahann Carroll's character tested America's readiness to watch the Black elite mingle with the White elite. It was a bold casting call that paid off in ratings... and television legend.

I'd say Bravo is taking the same gamble. With the new set of divas, Bravo is capitalizing on the nation's anxious racial climate. With every tea party rally and party-debate, America's race pathology comes further to a head. DC Housewives will surely explore the boundaries of political correctness in a "post-racial" post-Obama America. There will be the same cat fights and snobbery that compels millions of women to tune into the lives of formerly-obscure rich women every week. But the cherry on top will be the insertion of race, awkward moments that break out as randomly as teenage acne. People will laugh and people will talk, and I think this is the light-hearted "reality" check America could use right now.

Flyness and Funk(y housewives),

Monday, August 9, 2010

Timbuctoo: A Freed Slave Community in NJ

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a freed slave community in New Jersey, thought to have existed some 45 years prior to emancipation. What interests me most is that the community shares the same name of the ancient intellectual metropolis, Timbuktu in Mali. It's a demonstration that significant African ties survived even the blade of slavery. Check out the article in

Spotlight: John B, They Don't Know

Before there was Robin Thick... there was John B! I heard this song on the radio the other day and it took me to a good place. So plug in your work ear phones (do you have those? I do) and enjoy!

Happy Monday!


Friday, August 6, 2010

Becoming Jacqueline Broyer

Next to my impeccable mother, the woman who has had the second most influence on my life is a fictional character. While many girls were groomed to idolize Jackie O, I grew up idolizing Jacqui B. Jacqueline Broyer; the fierce femme fatale played to the hilt by actress Robin Givens in the 1992 movie Boomerang.

I was just a little girl. Skinny legs, a press and curl. My mother always
thought I'd be a star. -Lauryn Hill

I was just a little girl, still at Marie Wildey's dancing school in cornrows and pink tights, when I was first laid eyes on Jacqueline Broyer. This was long before all the ballet performances, pageants and maternal influence transformed me into the prima-donna I (sort of) am today. I was too young to fully comprehend the story-line, yet utterly fascinated every time Jacquelyn appeared on screen. She mesmerized me, regaled in all the gold, glitz, and glamour that epitomized 1992. Here was this intelligent, successful Black woman who was also every bit of a raging siren. It's an archetype that Hollywood has since abandoned but fortunately, no amount of Nicki Minaj's could ever undo the effect of a single Jacqueline Broyer on a girl like me.

In childhood, I would watch the movie Boomerang dozens of times, paying attention to every fine detail of her captivating presence. I studied her power dress. I noticed the bespoke-like tailoring of her suits and how she never appeared unadorned, without an ensemble of bold jewelry. Jacquelyn wore hair extensions and so do I. It became important to wear a lush, flowing hairstyle, reminiscent of Jacqueline when she walks away from Marcus, her mane billowing behind her. I studied the meticulous aspects of her beauty; the fierce grooming of her brows, and the way her nails and lips were oft the same tempting shade of red. And whether it was by chance or subconscious-repetition, over time I did learn to channel her, at times, quite well.

*on-air, bringing a bit of Jacqui B...

More importantly, as a woman I would date my own Marcus Grahams. Handsome and debonair men, like Miles*, whose entrance would be as swift and spellbinding as their departure. I came to understand more about men and their ability to smash hearts like old cigarette butts. And even though I had figured out how to channel Jacqui B's style, I'd soon realize that physical appeal was just a part of it. It was Jacquelyn's whip appeal that made her phenomenal.

In the movie Boomerang, marketing exec Marcus Graham is the poster child of what every Black woman is waiting for. Hence for him, dating is target practice and variety is very much the spice of his life. All is well in his love-em-and-leave-em universe until he meets his match, Jacqueline Broyer, the 'executress' who becomes his boss after a company take over.

"She's smart. She's beautiful. She's bad. She could be Misses Graham. I'm telling you. She's that bad."

Jacqueline is the first woman Marcus encounters who is seemingly immune to his magic. By the movie’s climax, Marcus finds himself in the same vulnerable position to which he's reduced countless women, and like a classic Samson and Delilah tale, the ensuing chase leads Marcus to his (temporary) ruin.

The movie leaves most of Jacqueline's life to the imagination. You know next to nothing about her past, where she lives or even why she's fluent in French. You don't know if she's a divorcee or if maybe she'd spent years of her early twenties getting over her own Marcus Graham or two, much like I and other fly girls have. You don't know from where her extraordinary presence comes, but you are aware that at some point Ms. Broyer must have conquered her own hiccups, hang-ups, maybe even break ups and still she managed to become one hell of a self-fulfilled woman.

When I seduce you, if I decide to seduce you, don't worry... You'll know.

Seductive women like Jacqui B aren't born. They are made. The seductress has an uncanny will to exude control over herself and those around her through appearance and force of personality. As such, she also has the patience and discipline it takes to get there. Behind the glamour, Jacqueline ultimate seductive trait is indeed her wholeness. Even a man with the most well-rehearsed game will fumble when confronted by a Jacqueline Broyer. She is a male fantasy come to life; supremely confident, brilliant and wonderfully sexual. No easy prize, there is a torch lit path to her affections and during the course of the journey; a man just might be made better. My...You'd have to fathom that Jacqui B even spent ample time becoming Jacqui B.

In spite of her fascinating joi de vivre, in the movie Jacqueline Broyer is vilified, much like Robin Givens was at the time. Her fabulously complex character is relegated to being a flat antagonist; merely a device around which Marcus' redemption revolves. Still, while most female viewers identify with a sweet-and-vulnerable Angela, who does ultimately win 'the prize', they'd also love to wield Jacquelyn's seductive power.... But let's remember, Boomerang is a love story told by a man. Director Reggie Hudlin already broke the rules of the playbook by revealing the type of woman that could render a man weak. Hence, the movie ending is a shameless cover-up, written to throw women off.

Too bad.

Adulthood for me has largely been a process of fulfilling my childhood fantasy of becoming Jacqueline Broyer. I've always felt that if I were more like her I'd be immune to the kind of heartbreak that has riddled my life since freshman year undergrad. When Miles *exited stage left, my Jacqui ambitions went into over drive. I lost the ten pounds I picked up in college, I lightened my hair two shades, changed my nail polish color, and indulged in so much retail therapy I had to juggle a bill... or several. And while I may turn a few more heads now (including his), I am no Jacquelyn Broyer. I am still in that crucial process of becoming the woman of my dreams. Reaching that supreme level of confidence in which perhaps I am not immune, but hopefully impenetrable to unrequited love.

I told a male confidant today that I was pulling myself out of the game for an undetermined period of time. He said it was the pain talking.

"Despite how tired you may be of what some of us are offering," he said, "you're not as cynical as you may portray to some in the coming weeks, months or however long. Tired, likely. But still wanting and willing."

Yes, man-friend has a point. But really, I need to take a minute to be wrapped up in myself. Every woman needs different things. The truth is, I take rejection very personally. Rather than rationalize heartbreak with inauspicious timing or the classic 'he's not the one', I'd rather tell myself, I am not fly enough. For me, fabulous is and has always been a form of control.

My idolization of Jacqui B began as fascination with all that glitters, but over the years it has morphed into a desire to rise above romantic vulnerability. You don't know what Jacquelyn did after the scene where Marcus finally chooses Angela over her, but you can't picture her somewhere wasting Kleenex on tears. If we are to get real about Hudlin's machismo romantic comedy, Jacquelyn doesn't end up with Marcus, but she absolutely wins the game. Don't get it twisted, she conquered and reformed a true player, and if she really wanted Marcus, she could have had him.

How wonderful would it be to have power in the boardroom and in the bedroom?

It's a feeling most women will never know, but for me, a worthwhile pursuit. Sure there will still be suitors that come and go, but when it comes to the high stakes romances, I'd prefer the romance on my terms. I'd like to initiate the chase; compel a man to sacrifice, put his heart on the line, endure pleasure and pain, anxiety and ease, break down and ultimately build himself back up-- a better man, all in order to win my heart. And truth be told, I wouldn't mind bringing a skilled, debonair player to his knees all in the pursuit of love. It could after all end in love, or at the very least, give him a taste of his own medicine. As they say.... Karma is a bitch. A fierce bitch.

Flyness and funk,

PS: Jacqueline vs. Angela? Who do you favor?

Thursday, August 5, 2010


On 'Deserted Islands': Recently I broke bread with a very wealthy car-dealership owner with some very pointed views about the 'haves' and the 'have-nots'. He himself was a self-made millionaire. He said, " You will always have rich and poor. Give five rich people and five poor people a million dollars, and leave them on a deserted island. Within a year, the poor people will have given all their money to the rich." That stuck with me. Most of us spend our lives working to build wealth for a group of shareholders, our own worth determined by some arbitrary person. And then, we spend our money, once again, creating wealth for others. How many of us create wealth for ourselves? By saving, investing, or even becoming entrepreneurs? Perhaps if we all focused on ways we do that, we'd lead richer lives, both figuratively and literally.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

She Said What: Omarosa

"I came in on a white horse, and rode out on a stallion!"
-Omarosa Manigault Stallworth on "The Ultimate Merger" after a kinky night in the desert

Vanity Fair's International Best Dressed List

Secretly, now not so secretly, there are two things that will signify I've made it. They are being included in Vanity Fair's International Best Dressed List, and making the cover of Essence Magazine! Needless to stay, I'm still working on it. Vanity Fair just released their coveted 2010 list. Click here to see who made the cut.

Congrats to First Lady Michelle Obama for being featured on the list for the 4th consecutive year and for representing for stylish mocha ladies everywhere!

Flyness and international fashion,


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Soft Feet and Skin with Goats Milk!

Hey Divas,

I have a cheap, easy and effective home remedy for you if you want glowing, touchable skin and soft feet.You can purchase canned goats milk at your local grocer. It will likely be in the same aisle as the condensed milk.

First, for the foot soak.
Combine goats milk, sweet almond oil, and hot water in a basin (or sink as I like to do). You could also use coconut, avocado, jojoba, or olive oil. Try a Whole Foods if you're not sure where to find these. Soak feet for at least fifteen minutes. If you calluses or rough skin, you can rub your feet with a pumice stone or callus remover. However, never use a razor on your calluses because they'll come back with a vengeance.

After your feet are beautiful and soft, keep them moisturized. Curel makes a nice deep-penetrating foot cream.

Now, for the skin scrub.

Pour a generous amount of sea salt in a bowl. Saturate the sea salt with goats milk until the mixture is lightly slushy, not soupy. Does this make sense? The exfoliant should be thick. Then add sweet almond oil. And mix. You don't even need gloves for this. You can scoop the mixture into your hands and rub onto your limbs. I like to use it (in the tub) before showering, or on damp skin. It works best that way. The result is skin that is silky and glowing.

Happy scrubbing,


Monday, June 28, 2010

...And Alicia Keys On (top of) Piano

What has gotten into Alicia?

More than a baby! When Alicia Keys topped of her performance of Prince's Adore at the 2010 BET Awards by climbing on top of the piano, I was thinking...

Love Jones! I got a Love Jones! I got a Love Jones, over you...

She's got that jonez. She is glowing, the way a woman does when she's high on romance. Swiss Beats is... putting it down.

Wait... can this actually be me when I'm pregnant? Except, in my home in front of an audience of one.

Alicia's performance at the awards, for me, was the high light of the show. The second best moment-- Prince's reaction.

And make sure you catch the gentleman seated behind him.

It was a great performance overall. Check out her Prince tribute here.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How To Care For Color Treated Hair

Hey Divas,

I'm on tv. I do my hair, with heat, five days a week-- and I have color treated hair! Could be a recipe for disaster, and though I do have some breakage, it could be worse. I take preventative measures, like keeping my hair well conditioned, moist, and NEVER laying down without a silk scarf.

I found this Jones Mag interview with celebrity hairstylist Ursula Stephens, and she gives some excellent advice for color treated gals.

JONESMAG.COM: What are your top five tips for keeping color-treated hair healthy?

URSULA STEPHENS: First, Increase your conditioning treatments. Your hair need to stay hydrated. On top of a deep conditioner, I usually recommend a leave-in too. Try Motions Nourish Leave-In Conditioner. It’s enriched with natural ingredients like Vitamin E and silk proteins that moisturize strengthen and protect vulnerable hair.
Second, Try to avoid products that contain alcohol.
My third tip would be alternating your chemical processes – don’t relax and color at the same time to avoid breakage.
Fourth, take a break from your flatiron – unless you have a hot date!
And five, try letting you hair air dry – even if it’s only a few times a week, this will help maintain healthy hair.

To read the entire article click here.

Flyness and flat-irons,


Monday, June 21, 2010

Aaron McGruder Lampoons Tyler Perry on the Boondocks

Aaron McGruder uses his satirical genius to put all of Black America on blast, excusing no one. Not even...


Madea cracks me up, especially when she does her Patti Labelle impression, but at the same time, my soul is weeping.

Tyler Perry is an impressive American success story, much like his friend Oprah Winfrey. But unlike Oprah, Perry's media empire is cancer for Black artistic production. Cancer spreads if unchecked right? Tyler Perry has managed to spread his predictable metastatic story line and stereotypes from stage, to movies, to television.

The typical Winston Jerome story starts with a beautiful educated professional Black woman trapped in a troubled marriage with a brown skinned Black dude.

In what I consider to be one of McGruder's finest moments, he does check the mogul. Chin checks him. "Pause", the eighth episode in season 3, is a diatribe against Tyler Perry smothered in classic McGruder humor, such is the inclusion of "Pause, no homo".

In the episode granddad lands a starring role in a stage play by 'Jerome Winston'. Jerome is a cross-dressing, White Jesus professing, sexually ambiguous director that looks, sounds and acts an awful lot like Tyler Perry. The episode is a not-so-subtle commentary on Perry's mega-presence in Black Hollywood. McGruder even goes so far as to point out the irony of Perry's Christian themes juxtaposed with the homo-erotic undertones of his cross-dressing Madea character, and his own sexually ambiguous reputation.

But Jesus wants us to be actors first, heterosexuals second.

And then McGruder takes more subtle jabs at elements of Perry's work that we may overlook while laughing our behinds off. His heavy handed used of negative stereotypes and the narrow perspective on African-American life he presents to the world. These are the artistic shortcomings for which Perry has already come under fire from critics like fellow-film maker, Spike Lee.

I personally can not name one stage play, movie, or sitcom that does not feature one or some combination of the mammy, the crack addicted Jezebel, tragic mullato, and/or coon. My biggest gripe with his work is that Perry has recycled and reused the single Black woman narrative ad nauseum, promoting the idea that if you are a virtuous Black woman you must either marry 'beneath you' or remain woefully single. I mean really, our indulgence in this tragic tale of the single Black female has become a self-fulfilling prophecy that we really need to abandon. But we won't, because Tyler Perry won't let us.

How could you do this to me?
Get out! I'm going to marry this white huzzy! You are too virtuous and strong. You might make me a better man.

You may disagree, but I believe that given the fragile nature of the Black community and the state of our Black children, people invested with the power of image ought to be responsible.


Whether you agree or disagree with McGruder's commentary, this episode is indisputably hilarious.

Spotlight: 'Love Changes', Kashif and Me'Lissa Morgan

And in honor of my prior post, I decided to post a throwback.

Love Changes

My doctor friend is fabulous, juggling everything. Her position as an OB-GYN at a hospital here in Medium City, South. Her MBA classes. Her foundation. Her friends including myself, a little-sister-like companion. And on top of all of that-- her new man.

"You're so good about balance," I told her on our last phone conversation. We were rehashing the events of the ladies-night dinner we attended the evening prior. She was taking a break from studying for an exam.

"I used to be," she admitted. "It's getting harder. Men are needy."

Aren't they? Actually relationships are needy. They deplete time you would be spending on yourself, but some things are worth that time. My doctor friend is in her mid-thirties, and after a series of failed relationships and men she was simply too good for, it seems like she has (finally) found the one. But you know what? Perhaps if she found 'the one' when she was my age-- she wouldn't be so accomplished.

It is the compromise of love. Love changes things.

Sometimes in the absence of love, there is plenty of room for personal growth. When Miles cleared the picture (partially, as I ironically heard from him the other day) I seemed to have a lot more time on my hands. Really I didn't, but the young energy that I was pouring into my love life, hoping to build a future with this handsome man was suddenly.... mine.

And then of course it took quite a bit of energy to get over it.

But once that time passed, I asked myself a question. How can I make me happy?

Have you ever woke up singing? Like, I'm feeling fabulous! No specific reason, just you're high on life? Well, that is my life right now.

In answering this question, I realized there were some things on the grand to-do list that I wanted to accomplish. I wanted to shed a couple pounds. I wanted to jump start my literary career. I wanted to give back to the community and essentially renew my life. And then one day I glanced in a mirror, and realized, I had. Totally.

That heart break sparked the greatest phase of transformation in my life in ten years. (My transformation between middle school and high school was something serious.)

That's the positive aspect of being young and single, especially if you have big dreams for yourself. You date and commiserate and then you spend a lot of time working on you. You become more fabulous with each passing year, and really, with each passing liason, because even if it doesn't work out (hopefully) you learn something new about men, or something new about yourself. Maybe both.

And then when the man of your dreams does come along, like my doctor friend, you are ready. In fact-- maybe that's why he comes along.

Flyness and Funk,


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Is He or Isn't He?

Picture it. An urbane night spot packed with BUPPY's in polo shirts and skinny dresses. Outside, the shapeless crowd is contained by wrought iron. The lights are dim. The night air moist. BUPPY's are moving hip to hip, cheek to cheek in one choppy, highly uncoordinated social dance. Above all there is music. Sweet voices harmonize with deep ones. Glasses clink. Heels tap. White bahia couches hover low glass tables and BUPPY's hover those.

I'm sitting with my legs crossed on the edge of a couch. I have just ordered cranberry juice and vodka. Mr. Right Now is to my right, covertly stroking my shiny leg, sneaking glimpses into my soul. We're surrounded by our mutual friends, none of whom have any idea we are dating and have been dating since the beginning of the year. I prefer it that way.

The attorney and his girlfriend are on the adjacent couch celebrating her birthday. She and I have exchanged air kisses and I've complimented her dress. I first met the attorney and Mr. Right Now together at Negro Night aka First Fridays. I remember I went to the bar to get a second cranberry and vodka, go figure, and he struck up a flirtatious conversation. He called me a few times afterward but nothing ever came of it.

The next time I saw him it was months later, at an event. He reintroduced himself and his girlfriend of three years. I smiled and pretended to have never met him.

This is the new "it" spot and there are Black people, though not many, that I don't recognize. My eyes are busy dissecting the crowd. That's when I spot a striking profile making his way toward the restaurant entrance. He is tall, athletic, with cappuccino skin. He has the cock sure gait of a man who wears Ferragamos and carries a money clip. He is an executive. Off the clock.

Mr. Right Now pulls me back into the conversation. My seabreeze arrives and I take several sips one after the other. I let the cold liquor go to my head content to, for a few quiet moments, hold my glass to my lips and people watch.

Alas, I've mellowed out, caught the groove of the libidinous atmosphere. Mr. Right Now has just discovered that he may be related to another gentleman. They both have kin-folk in some southern town too small to have a dot on a map. I'm getting ready to do the electric slide in honor of the impromptu family reunion when I see him again.

He's entering the terrace with two other men. I take a slow, unhurried sip of my drink that allows me to lower my eyes at the precise moment he enters my sight. I throw my gaze. He catches. After a few seconds, he leads his crew to an empty railing beside me.

Time passes.

Mr. Right Now is on the phone with his aunt confirming that he has indeed found a second cousin, once removed, on his father's side. Somebody call Tyler Perry. Mr. Right Now and his second-cousin-once-removed are exchanging stories about their little town of origin. It gives me a chance to study this stranger, who all the other ladies around me have also noticed, at the same precise moment.

One of our friends knows him. They strike up conversation and a trail of other women follow her lead. It is Prince Charming at the ball being greeted by debutant after debutant. Curtsy and smile then step back and cross your fingers. I hesitate. Instead I return my attention to Mr. Right Now.

Time passes.

I can sense the conversation beside me has fallen flat. Smiles have dropped like curls on this humid night. They have taken position in his court, not sure what to do next, but still too enchanted to leave. His body is elegantly poised on the railing, one leg crossed over another. He's dressed in expensive jeans, brown leather shoes with a sharp toe box, and a stiff blue button down. His skin is bronzed. He is handsome.

I make my way over. I'm wearing a billowy knee-length black dress that alludes to the shape of my body every time the wind blows past me. My dancers walk is enhanced by sexy Michael Kors heels. "Hello!". I shake hands with his two friends first and then I face him. His eyes are translucent, and smiling.

"Hello-- Gabrielle*, but you can call me Gabe*." And he has a quiet storm radio voice, the kind that'll have you dialing up the radio station in your car late at night trying to speak to the host.

"Well hello, Ike*" I said, grinning. "I like the way you say that".

"I can say it again."

"Please do."

We laugh. That's when Gabe's friends begin a game of Negro Geography. They are from Atlanta and I am uninterested. Gabe is in and out of the conversation, filling in the cracks with coy comments. I'm beaming. I glance at his left hand, but it is hidden behind him.

We continue playing Negro Geography. We all have friends in common. Gabe tells me he's from Boston. I frown.

"Oh, why the look?"

"Oh I'm not a big fan of Boston. But I do have lots of friends who migrated there after school and don't plan on leaving."

"Where are you from?"

He's eased into the conversation. I can tell he's intrigued. "New Jersey myself."

The two musketeers launched a barrage of questions but I was distracted. The two musketeers were from Atlanta, but the catch lived in Medium-City. Yes!

I was trying hard not to project my Betty fantasies on him. But it's too late.

In swift and unforeseen sequence of events, his friend drops the H-Bomb on his behalf.

I wasn't the paying the second musketeer any attention until I heard "... when Gabe was at Harvard."

Suddenly couch stuffing and shards of glass are flying through the air and in the midst of the smoke and debris storm, Betty is doing one hell of a victory dance.

kick bolchange, kick bolchange, potaburre, kick!

Black Cupid was in the house. Hey! "Oh, you went to Harvard?"

"Actually Harvard Law."

Do not make any sudden reaction. "Oh, I'm a Yalie!"

"Oh so that's why you don't like Boston. New Haven," he smiled, acknowledging that pretentiousness Black Ivy connection that quickly unites Black folks, especially when far away from the preppy northeast.

"Partially," I smiled.

"Well what brings you down here?"

"My job." And then he went on to tell me about his fabulous job in an exclusive historic section of Medium-City, South.

"Oh I know where that is. Wonderful!"

We had bonded. I wanted him. Betty wanted him. The H-Bomb only sealed our destiny. I admit, I temporarily forgot Mr. Right Now was not only feet away, but that he existed.

Then he stretched his hand out and I caught a glimpse of a silver ring. It was kind of eclectic though. So maybe not. Couldn't be. Please God, tell me this man wasn't feeding me vibes for the past 20 minutes and he's married.

I let another girl cut into the conversation. I guarded post on the railing. The subject moved to dating and like a true journalist I butt in with my question. "So how long have you been married?"

"Two years."

Too bad.

That's the one aspect of post-collegiate dating I'm to which I'm still growing accustomed. Always check the ring. And for real, some wives need not let their fine, Black educated men go out too often, unattached. I'm just saying. Not every woman shares my dignity.

-Flyness and funk(y ring fingers),

Fly Alert: Gianni Bini "Acoya"

Living in the south has certainly made me step my sandal game up. Now that the sun is out, full blast, it's toes out-- all the time! I adore this "Acoya" sandal by Gianni Bini. You can get it for just under $100 at Dillards.

-Flyness and Funk,

Michelle Obama at Game 6

Michelle Obama and family at NBA Finals Game 6 looking fierce! That's how you do the sidelines.... werq!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

She Said What???

"No, I don't want no scrub! But sure could use a doctor."

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I'm a WEAK Black Woman

"I am a weak Black Woman!" I joked in the parking lot. I had just performed my dramatic interpretation of the Tyler Perry tragic heroine; scorned, mad and consequently strong. Actually, I'll be glad when someone breaks the monopoly that Tyler Perry has on Black culture. Spike Lee? John Singleton? Can another director please stand up.

Mr. Right Now laughed at me.

"No really" I said positioning myself to slide into his car. "I'm going to start telling people I'm weak before they assume that I'm strong and therefore a bitch."

Mr. Right Now smiled at my sarcasm before closing the door. We were wrapping an enjoyable evening at a popular new restaurant on the Southside of Medium-City, South. He and I have been innocently dating for several months now and I'm rather enjoying the ambiguity of our romantic aims.

On this night, we fell on the subject of how men date. My ears perked up.

"Basically there are three types of men in your dating pool. There's that cool guy with like a professional job and he's most likely dating multiple girls at once."

I nod, chewing my salmon.

"Then there's like the awkward guy, and he probably doesn't mess with Black women because they never paid him any attention. He's the type of guy you'd find in a place like this," he said referring to our waspy environment, "at the bar trying to pick up girl."

Another nod.

"And then there are gay guys."

I drink my 'diva martini', creating a noticeable pause in our dinner conversation. I am letting the shock settle.

"What?!" he says laughing.

I set my drink down and look him in the eyes. "So there's men who don't want anything serious, geeks and gays."


"So no eligible Black men want to date for real?"


I giggled realizing his analysis probably wasn't that far off at face value. It certainly suited his situation. "I got you." My 'diva martini' tasted so good.

That was the pleasure of Mr. Right Now. I enjoy having him around, but he is pretty much free to leave. Mr. Right Now meets all of my Betty qualifications. He has learned how to court me and over the past few months my feelings for him have grown. But at the end of the day, my socks (and panties) are still on. I believe his greatest asset is his timing. He came around a few weeks after Miles.

"So what about the woman you do consider getting serious about? You know, if there's multiple women in your life, how do you determine where they stand?"

I know that men, just like many women, have levels of endearment.

"You talking about the type of girl I'd make my old lady?"

"Something like that."

And he had a laundry list, including nice teeth and a woman that "wouldn't embarrass him in front of his co-workers".

Then he added this. "And a woman has to let a man be a man."

It wasn't the first time I'd heard a successful Black man way this. Ironically, Miles had made the same observation... on our last date.

I designed a pyramid so tough that a star
that only glows every one hundred years falls
into the center giving divine perfect light
I am bad....*

Now I'm as feminine as they come. I cross my legs when I sit. I cook dinner on Sundays. And I never leave the house without perfume. But even I, in my two years of post-collegiate dating, have had to learn how be a lady-- all over again.

I have learned to let the man signal the waiter for me and lead us in grace. I've learned to give him a chance to talk about him self and to pepper conversations with questions that require his expertise. I've learned to compliment him on the restaurant choice (if it is indeed a good choice). I've realized that every polemical statement does not require a rebuttal and that sometimes it is wiser to speak with my eyes rather than my lips.

I've discovered the old saying is true. You catch more flies with honey.

And unfortunately I did not learn these things from my mother.

My son noah built new/ark and I stood proudly at the helm as we sailed on a soft summer day
I turned myself into myself and was
Men intone my loving name

All praises
All praises
I am the one who would save*

My mother is a wonderfully supportive wife. In fact I believe my parents are very much soul mates, still happy after 25 years. But mommy is an alpha female. She runs a huge medical practice and she pretty much runs the household as well. Growing up, it was dad who chauffeured me to dance class and to the beauty parlor for my Saturday morning press-and-curls. He made sure I'd eaten dinner and helped me with my homework. He took me to school in the morning and picked me up if it was raining. His law office was conveniently a mile away from home. Mommy worked. A lot.

Dad provided and kept us safe by any means necessary, but in many ways my mother was the de facto leader. That situation works for my parents but I have feeling it would not work for most of the accomplished men I date. While they admire my intelligence and independence, they are looking for a queen, not a co-ruler.

I caught a cold and blew
My nose giving oil to the arab world
I am so hip even my errors are correct*

A lot of Black women grew up surrounded by 'strong' matriarchs . Our culture celebrates them. She is the woman who if need be, could do it all on her own. She is provider, chef, lover, accountant, therapist, counsel, handy-(wo)man--- willing to play any role at any given time. Her instinct is not to defer to a man, though she may appreciate and respect the one that is there. She is strong.

My mother was an excellent mother and she raised me in the image of her. She raised me to be God-fearing, independent, and emotionally resilient. She wanted me to treat my body like a temple and to be a lady-- and yet, I feel her lessons were incomplete.

In truth, I am not a weak woman. I am quite strong. Really, there is no way I could not be strong. I live thousands of miles away from my family. I work in an industry where my Ivy-League degree does not protect me from racism. And every time my heart is broken, I have to present a stiff upper lip to the world. For me, and women like me, being vulnerable is really not an option. It's just a selective tool.

The modern woman on the quest for the pervasive 'all' faces a mighty dilemma. In our post-liberation world we have earned the right to eat, drink, and work like any man. We fight wars with men. Many of us even date like men. But we want to have our careers and marry well too. Herein lies the problem. Some men find us too independent, too fast, and too liberated for our own good.

And what about Black women? Let's face it, from slavery onward, many of foremothers were placed in situations where they had to be 'strong'. They didn't have the luxury of succumbing to emotion. They had to keep it together for the family. Us modern women, even if we did grow up as princesses, are descendants of that legacy. And how do we survive dating the rounds of men who will break our hearts, and not develop a thick skin in the process?

And then what about our culture which has made the term 'strong' synonymous with a slew of negative words--- mad, angry, bitter, un-nurturing, loud, quarrelsome, un-supportive, combative, picky, feisty, scorned.... bitch.

I don't know. Clair Huxtable made having it all look so easy.

I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal
I cannot be comprehended except by my permission

In this day and age, a man appreciates a woman who does her own thing and has her own interests. Accordingly a fly woman should want to be appreciated, and respected, for who she is. I sure do. But as I grow up, I am also learning to straddle that murky line between old-fashioned and liberated. Vulnerable and strong.

Perhaps like all things in love, it really comes down to compromise. I've come to realize men don't only need sex. They need attention, loyalty and subtle strokes to the ego too. And while our needs as women have evolved since liberation, for the most part, there's have not.

We moved our discussion from Tyler Perry to locating my car as Mr. Right Now drove around the crowded parking lot. I had a good idea where it was, but I thanked him for finding it. How could I have forgotten? I smiled sweetly and bid him good night.

Tyler Perry, what do you say to that?

Flyness and funk,


*Nicki Giovanni's 'Ego Tripping'. A poem written in honor of the strong Black woman.

Smoking With Cigarettes, A Fine Boondocks Parody

"Then I stole it and had my friend come in and he smokes with cigawettes."

So... I didn't know who 7 year old Latarian Milton was until I watched Sunday's episode of the Boondocks 'Smoking With Cigarettes' (Season 3, Episode 6) . In 2008 Latarian Milton stole his grandmothers car and took it for a joy-ride, damaging four other cars and nearly killing several innocent people. Then a few months later, he struck again, hitting his grandmother in a Wal-Mart during a temper-tantrum he was having over some fried chicken.

Here are the news stories from the two events... and yes they tried it assigning this story to their resident Black male reporter!

"... But did you know you could perhaps have killed somebody?....Yes. But I wanted to do hoodrat stuff with my friends."

In the Boondocks episode 8 year LaMilton Taeshawn picks up Riley in his grandmothers car and they go on a joy ride. The episode takes on a sociopathic turn when LaMilton forces Riley to accompany him on his violent rampages at gun-point. "It's fun to do bad things," he says to the Black reporter. All through out his grandmother apologizes for his violent behavior, blaming it on society and the fact that LaMilton "really likes chicken wings".

I think McGruder's parody is also a biting commentary on raising Black boys , and the propensity for many Black single mothers and grandmothers to spoil their sons. What do you think? Feel free to respond in the comments section.

After watching this cartoon, when I discovered the real news story about Latarian I fell out laughing. But trust-- my soul was weeping at the same time.

Here's the link to the Boondocks episode Smoking With Cigarettes on youtube.

-Flyness and funk(y but whoopins)