Happy Veterans Day! Now About #ConcernedStudent1950

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Is anyone else feeling particularly melancholy on this Veterans Day? I know that Memorial Day — which is in May, not November — is the holiday reserved for honoring fallen servicemen and women with expressions of gratitude for the sacrifices they’ve made for the safety of American citizens around the world. But this November 11 coincides with the arrest of a white man who issued a terroristic threat promising to shoot and kill black students on the campus of the University of Missouri. The threat is a blatant response to the activism against the racially aggressive environment that has plagued that college campus since its inception. In this millennium, students have had to deal with swastikas drawn on the walls with feces and racial epithets hurled every which way.

While the two events are totally unrelated, I can’t help but to feel sadness at our nation’s preoccupation with protecting its citizens from outside forces (see: yesterday’s GOP debate), yet many of us who live here are constantly threatened, attacked or killed by our supposed brothers and sisters who pledge allegiance to the same unionized flag.

It is not 1950 when black and white children were barred from attending the same schools; it is 2015. It is not 1963 where people marched for equal rights; it is 2015. We are regressing and something must be done.

The presence of #ConcernedStudent1950, the group responsible for the successful ouster of the university’s incompetent President Tim Wolfe and his chancellor, is an uncomfortably nostalgic one. They modeled themselves after a campus group who fought for the same respect and protection over half a century ago.

Back in 1962 on a campus not too far away, James H. Meredith, who was a black Air Force Veteran, tried to register for classes at “Ole Miss” several times without success. Tensions were so bad coming from white students who wanted him out, President John F. Kennedy sent federal troops to the campus. In the midst of all the violent riots two people died. With the help of the National Guard, Meredith was able to attend classes and segregation ended on the campus.

While I respect and honor our veterans who bring a sense of safety and peace, I just wish the leaders of our government exacted the same passion with the citizens of this country. What if that level of manpower was used to bring committers of hate crimes to the fullest extent of the law?

I wonder.

Peace Out to Empty Friendships: Why Some Relationships Aren’t Worth the Worry

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This year was admittedly a breakout year for me. Beyond the scope of career accomplishments and scratching idyllic travel destinations off my bucket list (toot! toot!); my greatest achievement thus far was mustering the courage to walk away from relationships that no longer served me.

More specifically, I saw less of a need for friendships that were one-sided, that lacked the mutual curiosity to push each of us forward, those buried in jealousy or bitterness and so-called friends who’d refused to accept my flaws and love me just as I am.

By no means do I believe I am a perfect person, but there is a thin line between stripping away a person’s essence to cater to another’s agenda while never once offering a genuine hand of support.

I clung to people who I had mistakenly categorized as friends. I collected them like chips at the casino and relied heavily on our infrequent interactions to feed my confidence.

Just knowing that I had a solid mix of friends to roundup for selfies at Happy Hour felt right. But when I found myself lost and feeling anxious or depressed, I realized I had nowhere to turn. Not because these so-called friends were incapable of consoling me in my times of need, but because we had never reached the depth of friendship that is necessary to feel safe enough to open up.

They never saw me ugly cry; they never saw me fall apart.

My primary job was playing Miss Perfect, and in that character, I willingly peddled to everyone else’s needs, wants, and invitations. In turn, I compromised my own happiness with this way of thinking. Each and every time, regardless the situation, I started putting other people’s feelings above my own because I felt “stronger” or guiltily, more “privileged.” I felt I could handle overt or inadvertent rejection from those so-called friends because I had forced myself to sympathize with whatever they were going through.

I belittled myself and subsidized my own happiness for the sake of others. This became apparent to me one day when I decided I actually didn’t want to go to a Happy Hour for fun. I fantasized about daytime brunches at my house, taking weekend-long road trips up to the mountains or going to check out a movie — just about anything that didn’t require a short dress and 5-inch stilettos.

It also doesn’t help that I work in an industry that thrives on likes and shares, so having a solid source of sisterhood became essential. I introduced ideas that my uninterested circle of friends said would “take a lot of work.” Even worse, I’ve had people cancel on the day of a meet-up and beg and plead for a makeup date. Eventually, I closed up shop.

I decided I wasn’t going to be strong anymore for friends who had refused to hold up their end of the bar. This was taking too much work and a great toll on my emotional state.

So, I built a wall of invincibility (or so I thought), but behind that wall was a broken and defensive woman who couldn’t allow herself to embrace vulnerability or honesty.

Being vulnerable means circumstantially sacrificing that wall of strength, a wall that is forever in danger of toppling over at the slightest rift.

In all of this, I did have my mom. She is truly a best friend and if she wasn’t 60 years old and opposed to alcoholic beverages, she would no doubt be my ride or die.

Her advice, plainly put, was to stop answering the call. “You don’t owe anyone anything and the same goes for them,” she told me. It was at the very point I started doing things that I wanted to do without co-signs from outsiders.

I still long for those genuine, bugged-out friendships where we can let our guards down and just have fun. I still want to have those intellectual heart-to-hearts where we sit down and mull over politics or all the disparities that have plagued the culture. I still desire that ambitious wanderlust who will encourage me to spit in fear’s face and go after my heart’s desires.

But in the meantime, I’m not going to force it. I know that friendships are not supposed to drain me of my confidence and peace. I’m learning to value the people within my reach and have made a commitment to give all I have to enrich those friendships.

Career Over Baby: Why Gabrielle Union’s Position on Motherhood Should Be Respected

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Gabrielle Union covers the October 2015 issue of Redbook magazine — and though her radiant beauty runneth over, the quotes she offered are receiving the most attention. The “Being Mary Jane” star, 42, opened up for the first time about her struggle with having a child with husband Dwyane Wade, who’s nine years her junior.

“So far it has not happened for us,” Union said. “A lot of my friends deal with this. There’s a certain amount of shame that is placed on women who have perhaps chosen a career over starting a family younger.”

With Union being in the spotlight after starring in films such as “Think Like a Man,” coupled with her marriage to the Miami Heat star player, the pressure for her to win at motherhood comes from all angles — friends and random Internet commenters alike.

Union tried to explain exactly why she is 42 and without children: “The penance for being a career woman is barrenness,” she said. “You feel like you’re wearing a scarlet letter.”

But of course, her honesty was not received without backlash. Commenters offered up a lot of “should’ve, would’ve, could’ve” talk, calling Union’s predicament an act of selfishness — but is it all even warranted?

Union may be a Hollywood actress, but that doesn’t exempt her from the brunt work of kicking the pavement to go out and find her next role; and with scarce opportunities for black women on-screen (see: Matt Damon’s laughable breakdown on diversity), the free time may not be readily available for her to pause to raise a child.

The dimness of her situation is familiar for a quantity of women — especially those who’ve entered the workforce with thousands of student loan debt on their backs. A 2013 Pew Research study seems to explain the competitive nature of some career women. “Young women today are more likely than young men to say women are paid less for doing the same job and men have easier access to top executive jobs.”

And, that’s not all: Full-time working women earn 78 cents to every dollar a man does, according to the White House.

A photo posted by Gabrielle Union (@gabunion) on

Women are sold the dream of having it all from a young age, but having it all isn’t easy and it doesn’t come without a price. These days women are nurturers and breadwinners, and every decision is a gamble — even choosing to put children off until you can guarantee the lights will stay on.

Personally, as a single woman on the cusp of 30, the thought of never having children is both real and terrifying. I don’t feel ready or financially stable enough to bring a child into the world at this time (I’m factoring in four years of college tuition because I don’t want my child to go through what I did) — and there is no rule book on how to speed up the process. Let’s stop the widespread judging and accept the fact that there is no blueprint for having a family.

Vanity Fair Celebrates White Men Because White Men Need More Praise

Vanity-Fair-Late-Night-Hosts-White-MenIf you thought Vanity Fair’s ode to the current lineup of late night hosts was jarring — shocking in its erasure of all things diverse — then congratulations, you’ve just gotten a whiff of how it feels to be a black woman. Welcome to the dark side, an alternate universe where talent is minimized if not ignored, underappreciated, and where black women are made to feel lucky for any chance of advancement.

Feels weird, doesn’t it? Vanity Fair was just doing its due diligence as the stuffy entertainment publication of note, in sharing with the world that most of the choices for late night TV this fall are nearly identical: white, male, and inadvertently white-washed black male, as the Los Angeles Times put it. All of which reminds me why I always go to bed promptly at 11pm (nothing new to see here folks.)

However, when Vanity Fair led with the headline, “Why Late-Night Television Is Better Than Ever,” in the accompanying article, they seem to agree with shutting the door on talented men and women of different races and cultures.

It is hard being a black woman. We’re automatically characterized as the video vixen or the basketball wife, or the angry single mother. Meanwhile, most of us in the real world are breaking those stereotypical holds by furthering our education, starting businesses, and fiercely climbing the corporate ladder.

Just the other night, Matt Damon had the gall to tell a celebrated black director what she knows about diversity during the 4th season premiere of his show “Project Greenlight.” Effie Brown, who is the mastermind behind “Dear White People,” made a futile attempt to bring forth the racial undertones that exists with having a black prostitute as a sole character to represent diversity in a big budget film.

Damon’s argument? “When we’re talking about diversity, you do it in the casting of the film, not in the casting of the show,” he says to undermine her God-given ability as a diverse producer.

This is the problem with society and why Vanity Fair only has mostly white men to celebrate in its magazine. If black women speak up we’re combative, but if we’re quiet we keep our jobs.

We live in a society where we have to pretend that we like Jimmy Kimmel, the same white man who shed actual tears for a lion in Zimbabwe in lieu of the poor Americans who die in the streets daily.

It’s exhausting to continue to try to beat down a locked door. White men tend to become defensive when you bring up their disregard for inclusion and diversity.

My hope is that the Steven Spielbergs and the Martin Scorseses of the world would take a moment to walk in our shoes.

Black culture is dope as fuck.

We continue to see artists like Iggy Azalea and Justin Bieber nibble at it, but I open the door for any white executive to fully embrace our culture. Just let us guide you. Allow us to tell our stories — without getting defensive or feeling anxious about the editing process (cough, Ben Affleck).

NYFW: Banana Republic x Timo Weiland S/S 2016

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So I went to New York Fashion Week and played fashion blogger for a day. I haven’t been on the scene in years, but attending the Timo Weiland x Banana Republic Spring/Summer 2016 presentation (a partnership created in conjunction with CFDA) was a bit nostalgic. I don’t miss traveling from Brooklyn to Manhattan at the crack of dawn in heels just to get to a show. Oh yeah, I also don’t miss struggling to find an outlet or solid wi-fi to get my review submitted before the day’s deadline. Nevertheless, this post isn’t about a past blogger’s fashion week stories from hell.

When I found out Timo Weiland was teaming up with Banana Republic I freaked out. Timo was one of the first designers I ever had the pleasure of viewing during NYFW some years back —and I still remember the vivid patterns and the structured pieces that each made its own unique statement. Banana Republic has been around for years, and still they find new ways to innovate and keep the label fresh without doing too much. Adding TW (the trio of designers are Timo Weiland, Donna Kang, and Alan Eckstein) to the lineup definitely contributes to the fashion giant’s running theme. The colors popped and most of the pieces transition well from day to night. I didn’t get around to the men’s side because #crowd #champagne #hor’dourves, but from what I could view from a distance, the collection is pretty decent for guys as well.