My grandfather, a Caribbean islander of mixed background who presents as white in some situations, Latin American in others and black in others, has seen (and heard) a lot in his 90 years.
He has little patience for naiveté so at a young age, I knew how to saw sheetrock, I knew about sex, and unfortunately, I knew about the construct of race. “Your white friends won’t be treated like you,” he’d say as he poked at my shoulder forcefully. “Hear me now or feel it later!” He taught me about privilege and I took copious mental notes. But he never mentioned the ways it would get physical.
Street harassment is a topic of discussion on social media, but I’ve been discussing it with girls and women in my life for years. It can be verbal or physical. These unwanted public acts perpetrated by strangers result in acute feelings of persecution, intimidation, and sometimes end in physical violence.
Recent viral media campaigns would have us think street harassment is perpetrated only by men, largely of color and that women of all stripes should band together against it in a monolithic manner, but one of the most prevalent types of street harassment I experience comes from pale-skinned women on the island of Manhattan. I just don’t talk about it.
KEEP QUIET OR SPEAK UP
Speaking truth to power is a task that becomes difficult as I mature. Whether in public or private spaces, I choose when and where to “tell it like it is” and to whom. Many of these choices involve complicated social circles, professional circles, integrated families and of course, the social media sphere. So why today? Simply put: I think it’s time for people to hear it. My grandpa is getting on in years, and today just seems like a good day to speak plainly. He’ll be proud of me as will some of my friends (including my white girlfriends).
WTF IS A MICROAGGRESSION?
A micro-aggression is new phrase describing what my grandfather simply calls acts of racism. Buzzwords and term-coinage help bring existing issues to the forefront. I believe the term microaggression has succeeded in bringing to light the daily acts of racism perpetrated by a group of young people called “millenials” (another buzzword used to describe people who were supposed to be “over” racist acts by now). These racist acts include things like white people using this word, talking down to their “Asian sidekicks“, or treating black men like “magical negroes” as Spike Lee describes here.
WHITE WOMEN HARASS ME OFTEN
The weekly acts of racism that I’ve endured for years, but haven’t spoken about involve white women who grab at me or body check me in Manhattan (and now the overwhelmingly white parts of Williamsburg). In the first instance, they feel entitled to my body. My grandfather would say it’s because they see me as property, so they don’t feel bad about reaching out and grabbing at parts of my body that they find “entertaining”. Very often – my hair.
The second instance is when they feel entitled to my space. I don’t delight in walking through predominantly white parts of my city, because too often, I contend with white women’s street harassment. They walk up with or without a male friend. Sometimes they walk up with a girlfriend. As they approach they make sure to walk straight toward me, even when I’m taking up as little space on the sidewalk as a lone-walker can. I’ve been body-checked into to the gutter throughout my college career. It got old.
I started walking on the sidewalk like other normal people, only to find these women bump headlong into me, hard enough to leave a bruise, then turn and shriek–
“OH MY GOD. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU.”
– if I don’t step into the gutter.
This is a weekly occurrence that I’m very “game-on” about at this point. Though The New York Times and Thrillist have provided tips on “Walking in New York”, they both left out “Don’t Push Negroes Into The Gutter To Get By.” This happens so often that the only respite I get is when I am in a black area – where neighborhood folks say “excuse me” to be polite, even when they don’t have to.
Every area has it’s pros and cons. I’m still trying to find a balance that works best for me. I’m not sure Manhattan is it, but I delight in my memories of living on the island despite the street harassment I endured there. Have you ever experienced something like this? How do you deal with it?
Can seeing faces that resemble yours in art function as a form of self care? Can committing to take a group of girls to the museum be a form of self care for you (and them)? ChevonMedia and Soulful Sips set out to answer these questions and were delighted by the art, and the girls earnest reactions to each Kehinde Wiley piece. At the end of the video, tell me if you catch the moment where one little girl seems to realize that she, like the women in a painting, will need to team up with other black women for protection in this world. Watch her eyes.
Reflecting on his life inspired by art, music, fashion and travel, Charnier Corey created Leisure Life NYC to provide creative business professionals aspirational living with an edge. I dropped by for the Ruse x Leisure Life NYC mural unveiling and t-shirt release jammy jam. The back yard was so cozy.
An inside, the store offers meticulously curated selection of vintage clothing and accessories, mixed with their in house brand. The physical space is a reflection of the products they sell; the room pulsating with a classic, intellectual feel. The vintage pieces and main label pieces have stories. The space has stories. Charnier has stories. Visit the shop to hear some.
Leisure Life NYC Address: 559 Myrtle Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11205 | Phone: (347) 725-3167
Kidpost is a new online service for busy parents. Kidpost collects your kid-related social media posts, bundles them up into a daily email digest, and sends it off to your family and friends. Have an aunt who refuses to use Facebook or a cousin who doesn’t “do” Instagram? No problem. The Kidpost digest arrives as an email, making it easy for your loved ones to keep up with everything you post about your kids – without having to be a part of any one social media site.
Find out more about Kidpost here and get an additional discount by emailing me for 30% coupon before you sign up!
When my friend Fee suggested I attend an award ceremony in her place, I received a note from Valeisha Butterfield-Jones, the co-founder and chair of the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN), a nonprofit dedicated to protecting and enhancing the image of women in entertainment, while providing mentoring to women and entrepreneurs. Nonprofit work and women’s empowerment? That’s right up my alley.
I thanked Fee and Valeisha for transferring the ticket, chose an outfit and made my way to the WEEN awards. There, I bumped into Chuck Creekmur, who I know through a mutual friend. We hugged and discussed the scene as Sabrina Thompson kicked off the event.
Chronicled below are key takeways from some of the ladies. But specifically, the compelling words of MC Lyte rang in my ears long after I left the WEEN Awards. I’d never had the pleasure of being in the same room with this woman, but I’d heard great things about her from my friend DPA. Let me tell you the woman is a walking magnet for positivity. You can feel it in her presence.
Seated with poise, Lyte watched as the legendary Cheryl “Salt” James introduced her to the crowd. So long was Lyte’s list of accomplishments, the crowd laughed when Salt admitted she might not make it through four pages worth.
Lyte, stepped up to the podium in bejeweled stilettos. Smiling at the crowd, she explained the importance of knowing your worth and pursuing all of your gifts no matter what avenue it leads you down. “I am a trained speaker, a DJ, a host, an emcee and more.” she said. “It is so important to have multiple revenue streams. That is what I teach young women.
Before I ever got voiceover work yet, I knew I could do it — so I didn’t wait for someone to come to me. I went out and took voiceover classes. I prepared for my success so when the job came to me – I stepped right up and knew how to do it.” She encouraged the crowd to maximize their moneymaking skills.
“I like to say I’m like water. When there’s a blockage, water always finds a way over, up and through.” The crowd looked on, clearly inspired. “It is so important that we have organizations who stay around and they only stay around through your support. Thank you.”
Fresh off of a flight, a smiling Lil’ Mama took the stage to introduce one of her mentors as an award recipient. She commented at length on the pride she felt at having financial planner Lynne Richardson and MC Lyte as mentors and managers. One thing stood out — Lil’ Mama’s attire! Clad in destroyed denim, a winter hat and a glittery denim jacket, she stood out in the cocktail-attired crowd. “I knew Lynn would ask me why I’m not dressed!” She said. “But I came dressed as myself. I have a flight to shoot a scene in L.A. right after this. I just couldn’t miss the chance to introduce Lynn.” Lil’ Mama’s spirit shone brightly in that moment. It’s clear the mentorship she gets from Lyte and Richardson is impactful. She was a delight.
Straight-talk is Lynn Richardson’s calling card. She thanked Lil’ Mama for the introduction and told the crowd, “Lil Mama really does have to fly out on a plane to shoot a scene. She’s doing so much and I’m proud of her. She did come dressed as herself!” Lynne went on to salute Valeisha’s hard work in founding WEEN and then described her commitment to no-nonsense financial education. “I tell women if the bag costs more than you can keep inside it — don’t buy the bag!” The crowd laughed along with Richardson, who clearly has the interests of women at heart and makes that central to her finance tips. She left quite an impression.
Known as a trainer to the stars, Jeanette Jenkins surprised the crowd by telling a story about the day she fired one of her early clients. She stepped up to receive her award and said, “When I got into business, the first thing I taught myself was the financial side of things. In fact, as a consultant I was advising a man on finance and he told me he didn’t know why I was doing it. He said I’d never really make it as a financial planner. I returned his check and made that his last session.” Jeanette told the crowded room there will always be people like that. If they can’t respect you, remove them from your space. They do not deserve to be around you. The crowd roared in agreement. So did I.
Check out more photos below.
Sevyn Streeter accepts her award.
Valeisha Butterfield-Jones and her co-host told the crowd more about WEEN’s goals.
Ginger root, honey and lemon teas are some of the most popular remedies for the common cold that I see on my social networks. People share various ways to make the drink. The prime ingredients are ginger root (grated), lemon or lime (squeezed) and honey. After boiling the ginger and lemon juice in a small pot of water, strain it into a cup, stir in honey and sip your way to relief.
The last friend I gave this concoction to clutched his chest and said “I feel it working!” The ginger will be the first thing to hit you. It will make you feel very warm. The lemon breaks up mucous, helps you flush out toxins and supports a balanced pH. But what about the honey?
Like many of you, I am not happy when toxins are hidden in foods that most of us deem healthy. It is frustrating trying to keep up with what’s in what! However, I’m your buddy on this journey. It seems the medicinal properties of honey are more acutely felt if the honey is raw. Raw honey has not been processed with heat. It is thought to have increased potency. Raw honey is marked by a thicker, more opaque consistency than the golden, (almost runny) honey we typically see on store shelves. I now use raw honey for wellness recipes. I get the full impact.
The Surdna Foundation works to foster just and sustainable communities in the United States. The 2015 Artists Engaging in Social Change program will accept online applications between Monday, September 15, 2014 and Wednesday, November 12, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. (EST). Please note that applications will only be accepted via the online process.
Through this RFP, Surdna will support compelling projects that artists develop in response to their communities’ specific challenges, and will also fund the projects of artists whose long-term, deeply-rooted work has increased social engagement without necessarily being explicitly defined as “activist.”
Successful applicants will receive grants ranging from $25,000 to $150,000 over one or two year periods, with a maximum total award of $150,000. The Request for Proposals is on the Surdna Foundation website: http://www.surdna.org/rfp
- Projects must be artist-led.
- Projects must demonstrate a deep commitment to a community, demonstrated by the process through which the work is developed and the theme or themes it focuses on.
- These funds are designated for one-time project support and cannot support organizations’ ongoing programs, operations, capital or endowments, although up to 15 percent administrative overhead is allowed.
- These funds cannot support curricular work.
- Applicants can be at any stage of their careers, but must have a track record of developed work that demonstrates their capacity to complete the proposed project and to manage the level of funds requested.
- Eligible disciplines include traditional or folkloric arts, visual arts, literary arts, dance, theater, film/ video, music, performance-based arts, and interdisciplinary/ hybrid arts.
- For architecture or design-related projects, please refer to our Community Engaged Design guidelines, here.
- Proposal must make a clear case for the arc of change envisioned by the project, based on the applicants’ own criteria for defining and measuring impact.
- Individual artists and groups of artists and organizations without 501(c)(3) status must apply through a fiscal sponsor, which they will list on their application as the applying organization.
- Applying organizations (including fiscal sponsors) and the project for which funds are requested must be based in the United States.
Eligible disciplines include:
- Traditional or folkloric arts.
- Visual arts.
- Literary arts.
- Film/ video.
- Performance-based arts.
- Interdisciplinary/ hybrid arts.