“I want more Black women to feel beautiful just the way they are”: With inspiration from Mozambique, Ana Paula Xongani’s clothing line focuses on Black beauty

I love this! Uplifting and inspiring.
😀

Black Women of Brazil

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Note from BW of Brazil: If you’ve been following news out of Black Brazil for any amount of time you must’ve noticed that there is a sort of ‘fever’ catching on among Afro-Brazilians. Particularly among entrepreneurs, this fever that continues to spread is leading more and more Afro-Brazilians to stop waiting on a market that seems intent on ignoring their existence, culture and particular tastes, doing for self and tapping into a segment of consumer that is starving to represent with African and Afro-Brazilian styles that proudly show off ancestral origins. Designer Ana Paula Xongani is one of the women leading the charge and judging from the piece below, it’s only a matter time before her business blows up! Much success to you Ana Paula, keep it movin’!!

“I’ve never straightened my hair”, says afro fashion designer

Get to know the story of Ana Paula Xongani, whose clothing brand…

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#BlackGirlsRock & Baseball!!!

I might offend some with this, but when have I ever let that stop me from doing or saying something, especially when it’s something positive? Answer: NEVER! With that, I add my voice to the shout that is echoing louder and louder with each passing day… BLACK GIRLS ROCK!!!”
Gawddamn right and FAWK YEAH we do!!! I bought T-shirts reflecting this sentiment for myself, my sisters, and my niece…daily affirmations are a good thing. Also, Saturday, 4th April, marked the birth anniversary of Dr. Maya Angelou. I’m certain she was beaming down on everyone last night!
Of course, there has been the expected backlash from the insecure and self-absorbed who whinge and moan about not being in the limelight for the equivalent of 15 minutes. White women and the legions of men who adore them – and they span the colour-charts, mind you – are up in arms over this celebration of self-affirmation, self-worth, and reclamation of self-esteem based on our own rules, not those which have been thrust upon us by those who are “blinded by the white.” I equate those juvenile responses and behaviour to that of a greedy child who, upon attending another’s birthday party, screeches loudly about the gifts that the celebrant is receiving. Rather than be happy for the other’s day in the sun, they feel the need to bring the desired attention back to themselves – they are the ‘Eric Cartmans’ of the world, to put it bluntly!
I am putting my own colourism aside for the moment and celebrating all of us, from the light-bright ‘Café-au-lait’ to the deep Mahogany and Ebony hues. I, myself, am ‘Cinnamon’ in the winter, darkening to ‘Nutmeg’ in the Summer…I’m spicy! I would say that I’m a ‘Bronzed Bombshell’ all year-round, and my happy hubby would attest to this!   😀
To my golden-skinned mother and niece, and to my ‘chocolate-drop’ sisters, and to all of us around the world…repeat after me…
BLACK GIRLS ROCK!!!!!
Finally, today is the official Opening Day of baseball – I’m ecstatic! First pitch for my Seattle Mariners is at 1:10 p.m. PDT (21:10 GMT) at Safeco Field in Seattle, WA. It is a pretty stadium, no doubt…but I still have fond memories of the Kingdome, which fell on 26 March, 2000. I still have a chunk of concrete from it!

Photo credit: Seattle Post-Intelligencer

With that, I’ll close with the classic song / video celebrating baseball, and some great Seattle Mariners advertisements…enjoy!

Seattle Mariners: “Kyle Seager – Hawt Corner

Seattle Mariners: “Fernando Rodney – Where Does His Arrow Go?”

John Fogerty : “Centerfield

Smoke & Mirrors: Subliminal Messages

Marketing and advertising. ‘Comedic’ and ‘dramatic’ television shows and movies. The visual media: print and video. Online pop-up ads. Television bombardment. It’s such a chaotic, frenetic atmosphere. Racist and misogynist. I have worked for radio stations and an advertising/marketing agency. I was a model for a time and have done a couple of television commercials, and my face has been used for a video game: I am in Half-Life 2 – no lie. I am familiar with the industry and all of its tricks, so I look at advertisements with a jaundiced, cynical eye. I’ve been noticing the way ads ‘target’ their specific audience lately, and find it amusing that these tricks work – just look at the popularity of the ads played during the Super Bowl! People will actually tune in just for the commercials – not the game itself. It’s crazy.

First, let’s talk about ads. Women, in general, should be offended by many ads – they reduce us to nothing more than body parts displayed in slow motion, like a slab of meat under glass at a butcher’s counter. An ad for whipped-cream-flavored vodka shows one woman squirting Reddi-Whip topping into the gaping mouth of another, while golden glitter falls all about and another woman, dressed in gold, whips her long, black hair around (also in slo-mo). So here we have the sexualized imagery of girl-on-girl action, which is a notorious male fantasy. A commercial for Axe brand shampoo puts it more bluntly: you see a miniaturized thatch of hair and a décolletage clad in a low-cut top in an elevator. The voice-over says, “Girls notice your hair first.” The implication, of course, is the notion that only big tits are desirable and women should always display their tits at all times, because this is the first thing that guys notice about a woman. But then, there are the makeup commercials urging women to ‘plump their lips’ and ‘enhance their eyelashes’ and ‘take them to extreme lengths’ – if tits are all there is, why bother with the face, right? Or the legs, for that matter…oh, right – guys want to feel smooth, soft skin when they get within grabbing distance of your melons, so the removal of hair (and don’t forget to keep those armpits smooth and even-toned!) is crucial! LMAO.

Fast food commercials, specifically those stupid ones made by Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr., make me want to puke with their hateful, racist misogyny. They show some ‘hot’, plastic centerfold-type biting into a greasy, slimy burger (in slo-mo, of course – I guess it’s supposedly sensual), which I guess is supposed to entice guys to their fast-food outlets in droves, to find all those ‘hot’ chicks there eating that disgusting junk. Listen, guys, chicks that look like that don’t eat shitty food like that. I should know – I look quite fine, and I don’t shove foul, recycled, ground-up meat byproducts into my face! Also, the reason the chicks look so ‘hot’ is also smoke and mirrors – but we’ll get to that in a bit.

There are also advertisements for those ‘trade’ schools: Carrington College, Portland Culinary Institute, Everest College, and Heald College, to name a few. The ads, again, target specific groups – generally non-white individuals, and mainly female. One ad, in particular, annoys the crap out of me because it is so overtly and flagrantly racist that I’m amazed that it was allowed to air. Then again, I shouldn’t be surprised, due to the racist shit that is on the television and in the movie theatres as of late – I’ll get to that shortly.

This specific ad shows a young, black male facing the camera. He is wearing a t-shirt and a baseball cap – the cap is cocked to the side – and he is outside on a city street at night. The camera is tilted at a crazy angle and the guy is talking in a direct, no-nonsense tone and basically telling his ‘audience’ to get their lazy arse up off of the damn couch and make that important phone call that will change your life. After all, you “need the skillz to pay the billz!” You can literally almost SEE that caption listed when the guy recites that tired line – but it’s in another commercial, not this one. I’ll let you look at the ad and you can judge for yourself – but as far as I’m concerned, here are a couple of things that are just plain WRONG with that ad:

  1. Out on the street at night. Seriously? Oh, so I guess the message there is that black people only hang out together in the street, and they only do it in the middle of the night – and that they all only live in the city! No such thing as black folk in suburbia, right?
  2. The cocked baseball cap. Is that supposed to give him some sort of street cred? Is that supposed to make him appear ‘thug’ or ‘hood’ enough? The only way to get a message to black people is with a ‘thug gangsta’ out on the street at night. Got it.
  3. Talking with an attitude. Sorry, but we are quite capable of speaking calmly and rationally, and we can give excellent advice without copping a ‘tude like this guy is portraying in the ads.

Now, here’s the ad:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbYGDpexy98

Other ads, which are geared towards white people (because only they are capable of being paralegals or medical assistants, apparently), always show some neatly-groomed, young, Aryan ideal of a female speaking professionally into a camera, which is always in a modern, well-furnished office. It’s really annoying, but it shows someone’s version of the ‘real world’, apparently…whites-only, with a few token non-white people scattered here and there – and virtually NO black women. Nauseating.

The black people who are allowed to be seen are the ones who are willing to sell out by becoming the worst possible stereotypes of what white people think black people are. The new ‘blaxploitation’ can be seen in horrible shows like Loiter Squad, The Eric Andre Show, Boondocks, and Black Dynamite, to name a few. Tyler Perry alone has set the image of black people back, with his horrible television shows and reprehensible Madea movies – that man hates people who share his skin color with a passion, almost as much as Michael Jackson did! That brings me to the other group of black people who are allowed visibility: the white wanna-bes. These are generally black people who are extremely white-looking in appearance due to their parentage and/or genetic alignment, so they are favored by the colour-struck white worshippers and considered ‘better-than’ by all. They wish to erase any trace of ‘blackness’ from themselves and their offspring, and utilize every aspect of modern technology to do so. It’s quite successful – modern-day eugenics is quite active, but it’s not occurring the way most people think it is. Political distractions are quite convenient…that’s all I have to say in that direction.

Now, on to movies. There are so few good movies made that I don’t worry much about spending money on them – I prefer a good book. Recently, though, the recent spate of ads for movies has been so gawdawfully stupid: some movie about a bike messenger – yeah, white people love stupid shit like that. Some new movie with Will Ferrell and Zach Galafinakis (sp?) – yeah, we need another movie with Will Ferrell screaming “Nnnnnnnnoooooooooo!!!!” in slo-mo while he falls down or punches someone or runs nude with a bunch of bimbos. Some horrible piece of shit about an over-exuberant group of neighborhood watch people, starring Ben Stiller’s ginormous ears. Seriously? After the murder of Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman, an over-exuberant, racist neighborhood watch person? Who thought that this would be a good idea? Probably the same person who thinks that this is a great, funny idea:

Again, women (mainly white) are reduced to brainless body parts – their sole purpose in movies is to run around in tight t-shirts and shorts, and dramatically remove articles of clothing in random situations – but, since they benefit from this exposure by being considered ‘sexy’, they won’t complain. Being objectified is empowerment, according to many! The things available to starlets that make them appear ‘hot’, however, are all part of the illusion. Surgery. Tape. Padding. Makeup and artists. Lighting. Hairdressers. Photographers. Angles. Filters. Custom-fit clothing. Personal trainers and dieticians. It’s a lot of work to make someone look grand for approximately 30 minutes! If those females that you-all drool over in the commercials had the average life, you wouldn’t look at them twice. Case in point:

White crime is glorified; non-white crime is sinister and dangerous. Breaking Bad has a white guy cooking and dealing meth. Weeds had a suburban (white, of course) housewife growing and selling pot. Sons of Anarchy has a white, racist biker gang cooking and selling meth, running guns, beating and selling women, and murdering non-white bikers and civilians – all of this is glorified in the media and eaten up by brain-dead consumers without question. It’s insanity.

Aberrant behavior by white people is normalized. The psychotic mothers in Toddlers & Tiaras are allowed to abuse and exploit their children. People (again, white) who hoard garbage are on display daily – the new sideshows of the modern age. Television programming isn’t what it’s labeled to be. BET is not by, for, or about REAL black people – it’s used to push clichéd, negative stereotypes of us. TLC isn’t The Learning Channel anymore – it’s the sideshow channel. The History Channel has nothing to do with history anymore; MTV isn’t music television, VH1 is no longer video hits, and the Family Channel has questionable ‘family’ programming! The 24-hour ‘news’ stations are nothing but mindless ‘info-tainment’ networks now: there is no news reported, just plastic talking heads regurgitating whatever propaganda they’re being paid to spout nonstop. The Outdoor Network has been taken over by rednecks, as has Animal Planet. I never bothered with Lifetime or Oxygen, so could care less about whatever dreck is slopping around on those channels. Discovery is still kinda-sorta about the ‘discovery’ of things, but not as much as it used to be.

I wonder about the motives behind the subliminal messages that are prevalent in ads, movies, and television. Then I shut off the T.V., jump on the bike, and go hang out with nature – it helps me put things back in perspective. As long as I’m not buying into the bullshit and joining the brain-dead ‘sheeple’, I know that I’m doing just fine. I can think for myself – and I do so!

Happy Friday – enjoy these two songs.

Rick Springfield: “Tiger By the Tail”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4G42EiIkjko

Sugar Ray: “Danzig Needs a Hug”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snVATAw44iI

What Is Empowerment?

During my recent stay in Alaska, I was reading about a fairly new ‘movement’ in the U.S.A. I’m not certain if it is exclusive to this part of the world, but it was a recent topic on a blog I lurk on from time to time. It seems to be a topic that some people have issues with, because the comments section virtually exploded the minute the post was published! I was fascinated with the topic and the reactions to it, so I’ve been doing a little bit of research on this subject: Black Women’s Empowerment, or BWE.

What is BWE? From what I gather, it is a 21st-Century era, ‘neo-women’s liberation movement’ started by and for Black women/Women of Color (WoC) in an effort to move forward in this country and defy the skewed statistics thrown around about the ‘black community’. One way to accomplish this is by placing first focus on personal growth and achievements: health, education, political activity, and community involvement.

The health targets include: Learning about proper diet and exercise, not just settling for cramming greasy, fatty ‘comfort’ or ‘soul’ food down our throats. Learning how to cook with fresh, healthy ingredients. Keeping up with regular physical, dental, and eye checkups. Doing regular breast exams at home. Exploring ‘alternative’ medicines and practices, such as yoga, Tai Chi, chiropractic visits, and even acupuncture and meditation.

Education is crucial, because knowledge is power. However, the U.S.A. has a miserable education system which is nothing more than a propaganda machine geared towards making people into malleable, unquestioning soldiers. If you ask any typical American what they learned in high school history, for example, you will most likely receive this pat answer: “Well, the Pilgrims came over from Europe to escape religious persecution, and like, they almost died but Indians saved them, and then, like, the Indians went away and left the lands to the Pilgrims, and then there was a Revolutionary War so we could, like, gain our independence from the British Empire and we got free, and then there was, like, a Civil War but nobody knows why because, like, it wasn’t about slavery, and slavery wasn’t really bad because, like, Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves so, like, everybody was happy.” There was far, FAR more than that to the history of this country – and others, but I digress! The BWE encourages WoC to further their education beyond high school and above the vocational/technical training that we’re supposed to settle for; instead, we’re encouraged to reach for 4-year college (and higher) degrees – then bring those degrees and that education back to our communities and use them to benefit the next generation. Nothing wrong with that, right? But wait, there’s more…

Political activity: This is self-explanatory. The political structure is one of the constructs utilized to exert power over people and their living situations, and white men and been at the top of that particular chain for some time, with white women sharing the benefits of that imbalanced system. Other groups have melded together to gain their own political sway: gays, Latinos, Native Americans, Jews, etc. – dark-skinned WoC need to become more involved in politics and create our own group separate from men, because male politics have always had a separate agenda from women’s politics – simple as that. We need to get together and raise our voices and be heard. We have just as much of a right to be treated like human beings as every other human being does; until these divisive social constructs are dismantled and studied, it will take a lot of action on our part to start eliminating things that are harmful to us. That action has to start in the communities we live in, wherever they may be.

Community involvement should be easy, but uniting people from diverse backgrounds is nearly always a bumpy road! Yes, WoC come from diverse backgrounds, just like anybody and everybody else – you’re an idiot if you think that we all look, act, or think alike! At any rate, communities should generally focus on things that we all want: affordable housing in a nice neighborhood, free from crime so our children can play safely. Since the police don’t give a shit about crime in our communities, and church officials claim to take action, but do nothing but weep and moan at memorial services, we need to take action on our own against crime. Nobody else is going to do it for us, so we have to be determined and vigilant about what to do. It won’t be easy.

It would be wonderful to shop at a nice farmer’s market where fresh fruits and vegetables can be obtained. Get rid of the strip malls filled with ‘convenience stores’ and fast-food chains and focus on commercial and residential land-purchase opportunities; growing our own food to sell locally, building a sustainable plan and following through. We need to own our own businesses, yes – but we need to support those businesses as well! If people would rather go to Wal-Mart and Target for things, and not support your local mom-and-pop down the road, well…who can you blame for buying shoddy products made in China? You can let your money talk, you know! I, for one, have ‘gone natural’ with my hair by growing dreadlocks, and it feels good – no more buying fake hair from some Korean with a shitty attitude! I buy my own natural, hair-product-making ingredients from New Seasons, but I would gladly buy them from a sister if there were any close by! I’m digressing, though…

Yes, things like this require money and time – but I’d rather try to come up with solutions to problems, not bitch and moan incessantly about what’s wrong! Talking is fine, but sooner or later action needs to be taken, and that’s one of the main issues I see…people would rather talk about things but leave the hard work of problem-solving to others. At any rate, this BWE ‘movement’ seems to suggest the things I’ve mentioned above, and seems to be something that a lot of people would want to get behind, but there is one relatively small aspect of it which has been blown completely out of proportion, much like the burning of bras seem to be what people remember about the women’s liberation movement. This is the thing that has me furrowing my brow in confusion at some times, and laughing my ass off at others, over the comments I’ve seen in cyberspace about it.

See, part of the human condition is the desire (dare I say need?) for companionship. We are all social creatures, even those of us who aren’t afraid of our own company, so being in a relationship with another person can be a rewarding, fulfilling experience. Due to this country’s shameful history, however, relationships with our fellow humanoids can be quite strained – especially the relationship between the pale-skinned people of the ‘caucasian persuasion’ and the dark-skinned people brought here to be their slaves, and who were treated worse than animals for quite some time. Divisions created during the worst event in this country’s history exist prevalently to this day, no matter how many people try to claim otherwise. Slavery’s legacy of hatred and despair cannot be denied. At any rate, part of that legacy, which is a direct descendant of segregation and laws banning ‘miscegnation’ (inter-racial relationships, or IRRs) has many WoC refusing to date or marry any man who doesn’t share her skin tone. Part of the BWE advice seems to be, ‘expand your horizons, ladies – waiting for that perfect man is silly! Go out and find him if you want; if his skin is a different color and/or he’s from a different culture, then who cares – if he treats you right and is good for you, then he’s the one!’ Again, this is a TINY, INFINITESIMAL part of BWE, but from the comments I’ve seen, you’d think it was the only thing that BWE is about. Part of this perception seems to do with the small percentage of BWE advocates who go out of their way to trash brothas, and I don’t agree with that sort of behavior at all. I also can’t stand brothas who trash sistas with vile words and horrid stereotypes – it’s as if they buy into the worst racist bullshite that white people spew about us! Those men have their own ‘movement’, labeled as Black Men Venting, or BMV – they are the other side of the self-hating coin. They bitch and moan about the worst aspects of sistas and verbally attack them any chance they get. These same brothas have a hypocritical stance, much like anyone who makes excuses to justify questionable behavior, because they appear to have no problem dating white women with the negative aspects that they claim are exclusive to sistas – but, that will be a topic for another day. Meanwhile, the angry BWE members bitch and moan about the BMV. Both groups have completely turned their backs on each other and insist that they are worthless and a waste of time, yet they seem to spend a huge amount of time and energy bitching about and at each other – it’s insane!

At any rate, it seems that what many people don’t like about the angry BWE boils down to two things: for one, they advocate WoC not hold out for their ‘king’ to get over his vanilla fantasy, because it won’t happen. A brotha who isn’t with a sista basically doesn’t want to be with one. Period. The world isn’t over because of that! Besides, why worry about who is with who? Worry about your OWN self – that’s the only life you have control over! Secondly, and this might be the most important thing; the BWE ‘movement’ does what brothas have been doing for years, but in reverse: airing their ‘dirty laundry’, so to speak! For years now, brothas have been turning their eyes away from sistas and using the pettiest, most pathetic excuses do to so – so finally, a lot of women have become fed up with it and are giving the gander what he’s given the goose! It’s been brewing for some time, from what I can see. Personally, I find it childish and tiresome: people who are bitter and bent out of shape about things, and can’t learn, grown, and move forward from bad experiences in their lives, really aren’t good relationship material for ANYONE!

Do you know what is really empowering? Being yourself! If you happen to find someone out there who loves you for you, just the way you are, then that’s a bonus to treasure every day of your life…it’s grand!

On a side note, I’d say that this young lady is very much empowered and could care less about what a few ignorant, miserable, hate-filled people say about her hair – she’s a gold medal Olympian, and nobody can take that away from her! Way to go, Gabby! You ROCK…

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/olympics-2012/london-olympics-2012-gymnastics-champion-gabby-douglas-overcomes-adversity-home-snag-gold-medals-article-1.1128493

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