Too Old for the VMAs

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Everyone reaches that age when watching the VMAs makes your eyes hurt because you’re rolling them too much. Miley Cyrus was the host for the VMAs and she did what was expected. She wore crazy outfits, talked about drugs, and whipped her long ponytail. Oh Miley!

The craziness continued throughout the show. During the opening of the VMAs, Taylor Swift appeared on stage with Nicki Minaj smashing the beef that filled all of our Twitter feeds. Rebel Wilson made a joke about the hating the stripper police. Nicki Minaj called out Miley Cyrus and then Miley Cryus got mad and whipped her ponytail again.

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Sunday night, there was a lot happening on stage at the VMAs. After the second Miley skit, I realized that I have reached that age where I am too old for the VMAs. Right now, my eyes are resting underneath an eye-mask after last night. When I was younger, a music performance and an edgy joke could distract me from the serious issues happening.

I get it. The VMAs are supposed to be fun. There needs to be something exciting happening so that people have something to talk about. Ratings fuel these award shows. If the award show is crazy, then it’s more likely to be remembered years from now. There’s probably an article floating somewhere that’s ranking the craziness of Miley Cyrus’s outfits.

However, the cast of Empire was right when saying that music can spread social messages. Don’t get me wrong, the beefs are fun to watch and write about, but at the end of the day, in the words of Kanye West, this stuff is for the kids. Miley’s fashion is sparkly and edgy. The seflies are fun to like, but when lives are being lost and discriminated against, every opportunity is one for social change and justice.

The Politics of a Black Woman’s Body

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Serena Williams is amazing. She’s gorgeous, talented, and dedicated. Even though Serena is a powerhouse of talent, people try to undermine her. First, a news anchor tried to shame her body. Now, she’s talking about the ridiculous pay disparity between her and Maria Sharapova. Despite having dominated the court on multiple occasions, Serena still has fewer endorsements than Sharapova.

During an interview with the New York Times, Serena Williams delivered the perfect response for one reason why Maria Sharapova had more endorsements. Serena stated what the media has been avoiding to explicitly say. Even in 2015, some companies prefer the image of blonde hair and blue eyes when marketing toward their audience.

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Serena’s not worried. She’s making millions and is at the top of her career. However with Serena, we are reminded about what happens to our bodies when they are viewed as a threat. People will try to criticize, isolate, and terrorize you until you’re destroyed. What if Serena wasn’t as emotionally and mentally strong and succumbed to what the haters were saying about her body? She could’ve tried changing her body and possibly ruined her career.

As Black women, our bodies are continuously policed. We have to be aggressive, or the angry black woman, or the seductive Jezebel. If we don’t fit those categories, then the media doesn’t know what to do with our bodies or us. After so many centuries, it seems like the song about Black women is remaining the same.

However, nowadays we have control of which magazines and blogs that we want to consume. The best part about being young, black, beautiful, and talented in 2015 is that we no longer have to rely on the general media for representing Black women and other women of color. We are creating our own forms of representation.

Traveling While Black

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The day will come when you will want to travel. You’re going to spread your wings, buy that plane ticket, and tell your friends you’re not going to make it to this week’s wine night. As long as you have the money, time, or an amazing credit card limit, you’re free to go anywhere. However, there’s a thought that crosses some Black women’s minds when trying to decide which destination will be the perfect getaway: I’m a Black girl.

There are the initial concerns. Will the country I’m visiting have my hair products? Will people try to pick at my hair like I’m in the zoo? Will people gawk at me like I’m an exotic animal? The hair worries are easy to fix. Put your hair in some beautiful box braids or bulk buy your hair products and be on your merry way.

I wish that the solutions for the gawking and the microaggressions would be that easy. While traveling, you have to make sure that you don’t pack away your tough skin. There’s a chance that the same racism you can experience in America will also appear while abroad.  Recently, a group of black women in California were kicked off a train for laughing to loud.

giphyYou won’t be able to predict the racism that you might face. I have a Black friend who moved to Japan and started a new life and loves it there. I have another friend whose mom went to Paris and hated it because she couldn’t stand the racism. She told me that because of her mother’s short hair, someone tried directing her to a men’s bathroom. I know—ridiculous.

Personally, the only side-eye moment I had while traveling was when I was in Dublin. While walking home with a friend, a guy started singing the lyrics of “Anaconda” as I walked by. I gave him a deadly stare and continued walking. A random, catcalling guy wasn’t going to ruin my time abroad. I had worked hard for this opportunity to visit Europe.

Traveling while Black means you have to never forget you’ve worked hard to go abroad. You can’t let someone ruin your vacation mindset. If someone tries to ruin your vacation because of the color of your skin, don’t stand for any form of discrimination. Share your story on Twitter, Facebook, or any platform that you have access to. 

Donald Trump Strikes Again

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Recently in the news, Donald Trump told a well-known reporter, Jorge Ramos to “go back to Univision.” For those who are unfamiliar with Univision, it is a television network, which is aimed at Hispanics Americans. When Ramos tried to stand up and ask his question, Trump told him to sit down. Ramos refused to sit down and remain silent. Trump then had him removed from the room. Later on, Ramos was able to return and ask his questions about immigration and Trump’s plans for deportation.

Trump has an extensive history of side-eye worthy comments about race. If I were to list all of his comments, we would be here all day. Seeing Trump’s foolishness in the news is no longer surprising. Breaking news: Trump is ranting, and water is wet. People believe that he’s going to drop out. However, he’s still going strong. There are people out there who believe in what Trump is saying. He’s a legitimate presidential nominee.

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Past the jokes and his flurry red face, Trump is frightening. It’s scary that a person who obviously discriminates against people of color in America is allowed to have so many soapboxes to spew his antics. Meanwhile those who are actively trying to voice the concerns of minorities are silenced. Trump is an example the privilege that a certain skin color can get you in America. You can scream, shout, and say a number of racist comments, and still get airtime to say more.

It’s 2015 and the world is changing. The rise of social media has made snatching wigs or toupées much easier. We have to continue uniting and using our voices. Tolerating people like Trump and waiting for the brewing storm to disappear is a thing of the past. For centuries, people of color have been a powerful force in America, and it’s time for people to recognize.

How To Do CROCHET BRAIDS w/ MARLEY HAIR

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Everyone has their own way of doing crochet braids and there are so many styles that you can create. No matter what your budget is, there’s a technique for you. With crochet braids, you don’t have to spend a ridiculous amount of money in order to achieve a natural looking faux head of hair.Crochet braiding is not a hair style that’s as new as one might think.Black Women with natural hair and relaxers have been getting crochet braids for years with human hair or with tracks of hair that look like there are individual braids attached. Women used to get crochet braids if they didn’t want to sit too long and get individual braids in their hair. It was fast and convenient.

You apply the hair by literally crocheting hair, with a latch hook tool, in between your own corn rowed hair. Some women use the braiding technique as an alternative to the traditional sew-in hair weave.

Janelle Monae Crusade Against Police Brutality

Janelle Monae

#BlackLivesMatters is more than a hashtag but a movement against police brutality, specifically for African Americans. No one shows the dynamics of the movement better than musician and activist Janelle Monae.

Continue reading “Janelle Monae Crusade Against Police Brutality”

Is Trenton Ferguson? Lessons Trenton, NJ congregations can learn from Ferguson

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Is Trenton Ferguson? Part 2

Dr. Leah Gunning Francis visited Trenton to focus on what congregations and houses of worship in Trenton, NJ can do to address the recent police shooting of 14-year-old Radazz Hearns, who was shot seven-times on Friday, August 7th by a NJ State Trooper and a Mercer County Sheriff’s Officer.

What lessons can congregations in Trenton, NJ learn from congregations in Ferguson, MO, who responded and acted to the Michael Brown shooting just over a year ago in 2014?

Rev. Dr. Leah Gunning Francis
Rev. Dr. Leah Gunning Francis

Continue reading “Is Trenton Ferguson? Lessons Trenton, NJ congregations can learn from Ferguson”