Blog Archives

lovers rock: the crunk feminist summer mixtape series

I refuse to cede this summer to cruelty. I have rubbed the roof of my mouth raw with pomegranate hard candies. I have learned how to take rapid-fire selfies at flattering angles. Underwhelmed by artisanal popsicles, politics and my own work ethic, I have brooded. At my best I have ridden the 2 train through the Bronx singing the “The Facts of Life” theme song with a little girl who sidled next to me at Penn Station and rested her head on my shoulder as I reread The Bluest Eye. And then I found my way back home to Harlem. …Read more »

this is how we do it: the crunk feminist summer mixtape series

Josephine Baker famously fled the U.S. for the reprieve from racism post World War I France provided. She called France her home for the rest of her life but continued to perform stateside. She also protested. She addressed the masses at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and juxtaposed the measure of dignity she enjoyed abroad with the degradation she was subject to as a black woman in the United States. Segregation enraged her. “And when I get mad,” she explained, “you know that I open my big mouth. And then look out, ‘cause when Josephine opens …Read more »

soul glow: the crunk feminist summer mixtape series

Summers ago, the sage Cee Lo implored us to “drop the top and let the sunshine in.” But we don’t all ride around and get it: some of bus, bike and stride. I pound the pavement in part because I was terrorized by a jheri-curled narcoleptic on my mid-aught subway commutes. Each morn this ostensible, if old school, business man reliably nodded off and his juicy locks threatened to soil my work clothes so I took to walking from my Brooklyn apartment to my Union Square gig, rain or shine. It was good exercise and activator-free. Tomorrow’s solstice signals summer’s …Read more »

the light of us: a mother’s day mix

call it our craziness even, call it anything. it is the life thing in us that will not let us die. Poet Lucille Clifton’s language for lineage was cherished. “roots,” a poem from her  1974 collection An Ordinary Woman named it light and I choose to liken it to mothering. it is the light in us it is the light of us it is the light, call it whatever you have to, call it anything I call it mom. I call it a practice of unconditional love that this weekend calls us to celebrate. To all who mother, thank you. Such living …Read more »

always arriving: a black scholar’s mixtape

But we knew. And our knowing was like a sister’s embrace. Sonia Sanchez, “A Letter to Dr. Martin Luther King,” homegirls and handgrenades (1984) I first sat at the feet of Sonia Sanchez at Spelman College where I was assiduously loved and educated. Sanchez was invited by the Women’s Resource and Research Center to help train us up as scholar-activists in the Toni Cade Bambara way. She sipped water green with liquid chlorophyll while she spoke with us. It became my habit soon after. Last winter when she was welcomed by the good folk in Yale’s Department of African American …Read more »

thank you: a women’s history month mix

“You are magnificent.” So read the final line of an email I received from the CFC’s Moya Bailey the first Friday of 2012. The subject line was, “Love for you in the new year!” It recalled the summer we became friends and its consequence on her journey. She offered thanks and called me by a name I still shrink from. We met ten Junes earlier in Harlem. We both were attending Kevin Powell’s HipHop Speaks! event at Riverside Church. She wrote I said hello. I remember that being the first of many summer days we sat together. Wee hours talking …Read more »

we: a thanksgiving mix

Thursday we feast. We who have it good enough to put a turkey on the table and lament the tryptophan-induced ‘itis with loved ones over card tables. And that we won’t include me. I won’t be home for the holidays but here in Harlem and I haven’t done turkey for more than a decade. I’ve done vegan field roasts, the palate-spoiler that is Tofurky (rebuke it family), the delightful but not vegan Quorn Turk’y Roast, tofu cutlets, Sophie’s Kitchen extraordinary vegan calamari, the list of faux meats goes on and on. But my outsider status is a privilege–I could partake …Read more »

so far to go: a mix on finding your way

Listen, this isn’t what I expected: adult-onset acne, speech and eating disorders. I would have been struck dumb had you asked me to forecast these grown-up times in my ponytailed private school days. I daydreamed a lot but my imagined life was clipped: a timid choose your own adventure whose stalled plot was as foreseeable as it is now disappointing. And in running from that neuroses-made valley I am daily acquainted with pain, fired in it and conscripted to lay poultices on the skin of my kiln mates. Girl on fire is a punchline in the ‘buked wail of Alicia …Read more »

take a load off family: black women, hair and the olympic stage

I am no athlete. I have not won an individual sports competition since maybe the second grade. I recall Usaining all comers in the 40-yard dash but, as Kasi Lemmons learned us, “memory is a selection of images, some elusive, others indelibly imprinted on the brain” and I might have photoshopped that one. My middle school basketball team dominated the Seattle Catholic Youth Organization league but that was due to the AAU players on my team: Megan, petite with Chris Paul’s smarts and speed; and June, a Russell Westbrook-esque scorer. With high school came the freshman basketball team, aka junior …Read more »

a praise song for mamas: a mother’s day mix

I am invested in sepia mamas. My mother lines my eyelids and floats my dreams. She sits on the right hand of the throne she abdicated to all I might become. “Mama gonna work it out,” Martin versioned at his best. Her frame, I shouldn’t calcify. And I’ll leave her flesh be. I know they all can’t be spirit walkers, miracle workers, love lighters but my life tells me so. And just surviving the ‘buking and scorning is worth sainthood. Much more is our mothers’ legacy though, my life, but one humble example. As these years have gone by, I …Read more »

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