Tag Archives: Culture

Fly Read: Miley, You Are Not About That Life

29 Oct

miley

I had no idea that I would ever write a story about Hannah Montana. This Miley movement has turned the internet on its head; the 20-year-old daughter of Mr. Achy Breaky Heart is making headlines. I have multiple opinions about Miley Cyrus, some in which have changed about her and then viewing her document on MTV, some of my opinions have stayed the same.

Here is a young woman to whom some believe, a: has grown up and is now wilding out hoping to shed her Disney image, b: the new outburst of nude photos/videos and vulgar tongue pictures are strategic career moves and c: that she is making a mockery of the black community by taking “twerking” and running with it- or twerking with it. I believe this new Miley the movement is all of the above but sadly I also believe that every time a white person does something “black” it crosses over to mainstream quicker than a singular twerk.

As a woman of color I’m not saying that twerking is exclusive to black people or even hip-hop, but for once can we get the credit when the credit is due without having to sell-out or “cross-over”? I look at Mike Will Made It who is fairly young, he is 24 and think it may possibly be that the younger generation sees past color lines and just want to create. But when he says things such as, “rappers aren’t always authentic, rappers lie,” to explain his working with Miley as said in an interview on Sway in the Morning, it’s as if he is trying to justify the fraudulent sound that he is creating with Miley.

I assume when someone wants to sound “black” when they aren’t, they are looking for a specific sound that is exclusive to black people. And if you are a lily white girl from middle America who grew up on Disney and whose Godmother is Dolly Parton, it is hard to justify the authenticity of her new sound. Or image. It’s as if she is trying to one up Rihanna or Teyana Taylor by pushing the sexy/raunchy/edgy envelope and it does come across as a young woman who is wilding out or trying to infiltrate into this edgy hip-pop bubble that Rihanna is queen of or ultimately the hip-hop culture.

When I spoke with Michaela Angela Davis, image activist, she explained when white people do something pertaining to a cultural shift, it’s bigger, “it’s just America,” she stated. “You take black music, culture and put it in a white body, it’s huge, it’s always have been,” Davis continued. The questions arise: why? And why do we seemingly allow them to be bigger than us when are the driving force? I say we allow them because we co-sign their actions for the sake of a paycheck. Would Miley still twerk if Juicy J said, “naw sweetie, I’mma get the twerk team or Caramel Kitten to come on stage” or what if Mike Will Made It put Teyanna Taylor on the song 23 since she is known for her tomboy swag? It seems that for the sake of the all mighty dollar we will bypass our own talented artists and put on the white girl or another white artist and then try to justify our actions by saying, Miley is about that life. “She smokes purp, I’ve seen her,” Mike Will Made It continued in his Sway in the Morning interview. Right, because smoking weed is exclusive to black people but hip-hop isn’t.

I spoke with Kristina Thomas, co-executive producer of the web-series, Losing It, who compared Miley’s actions to the act of black face and that black people are helping her. “Mike Will Made It knows how to get money, he is not a fool. He is making money off a white girl who is trying to be made,” Thomas stated. Thomas continued saying that latinas and white girls are replacing black women and that black women are no longer in and black artists/ producers are helping with the replacement of black women in the arts. “There must be a line drawn, how far do you go? How do you just sell yourself?” Thomas asked. Thomas’ thoughts on Miley’s rapping in the song 23? “MJ just threw up in his mouth,” she said. “Where was  Teyana Taylor? Or Ciara?”

Davis had the best answers for Thomas’ questions. Davis said there is something provocative about crossing over into mainstream for black artists. “It’s about being a player in the game, you want your play and your playing space,” Davis stated. She continued by stating that she doesn’t believe it’s about selling out but more of business. “This is not about selling out, it’s about making records and there are levels to fame.” To make hot records, “why wouldn’t an artist get a hot black producer?” Davis questioned.

Tamara Johnson, fashion enthusiast, leans more towards the ideal that Miley is being used and they are using her so cunningly that she thinks being naked on a wrecking ball is her idea. “These producers know what they are doing, they are interested in getting a different type of money,” Johnson stated. I asked Johnson if they are getting their money but cheapening the black culture and Johnson replied, “Absolutely, she is being manufactured. There is nothing organic or authentic about this new Miley.” Johnson went on the compare Miley to a bootleg bottle of salad dressing. “You know you can walk into Wal-Mart and get the store brand of ranch or you can get the Kraft ranch, one has more favor,” Johnson stated.

All the ladies interviewed did not hate on Miley but they actually expressed genuine concern for her well-being. Thomas stated, “I want her to win, we should all want women to win, we just hope that they win in the right way.” I agreed. I love to see a woman utilize their talents in order to gain success. I however cannot get with the lack of appreciation of black expression and black culture. It’s as if black people cannot ineptly create in the level that Miley can. Davis explained this theory to me, “using Pharrell and Mike Will Made It on her album means we are driving the culture. We are gaining positioning; we are gaining power. This isn’t new. The difference is the visibility, we now know who artists are working with, not like where Elvis Presley stole our sound, this is progression.”

I want more progression, yes, we have Rihanna,  Nicki Minaj and King Beyonce but that isn’t enough for me. I want more faces that look like me on the big screen, on television and more brown faces being able to create a movement like Miley. The thing is that no matter how hard Miley tries, black people will always be cooler. She may hang with Juicy J, she may have switched her Sketchers for Jays but she will never have that authentic coolness that blacks have. She can throw on her Jordans and wear the shortest jersey ever with a backwards snapback all she wants, the truth is she will never have swagger like us.

I remember at the top of the year I was covering the back stage beauty trends at New York Fashion Week for Vibe Vixen and as I was talking to the designers, make up artists and hair stylists who were forecasting next year’s trends, they couldn’t stop fawning over my hair and nails. Here are the industry “insiders” looking at my style. I remember leaving one tent and this security guard goes, “you leaving already? You’re taking all the favor.” Sometimes I believe that black people forget that we are the trendsetters, some of us are so focused on assimilating for that Miley money, that we forget that we are authentically cool on a level that cannot be duplicated. If we can just remember how fly and fabulous we naturally are, I believe we can be movement without taking our sound and giving a white face. In this case, Miley, I’mma let you finish but you’re not cooler than me.

Carla Thomas

Writer and Fly Girl

Find me on Twitter: @flycarla

Fly Living: Beauty Rest

7 Mar

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Beauty rest is essential for a fly girl, so why not lay your head on luxury pillows? I was doing my rounds on Etsy and I came across TheLindas Shop filled with mocked designer throw pillows. The pillows have vinyl thermo welding which means the writing is resistant to any washing. TheLindas Shop, $39

Fly Event: Woke Up Black – New York City Premiere February 13

14 Jan

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Like the kids in this powerful film, I wake up Black everyday. Woke Up Black is a documentary that captures the lives of five Chicago-area African American youth for two-years.

The film shows the youth from diverse family backgrounds and at its center, Woke Up Black captures the kids’s ideas, attitudes and opinions that are often overlooked in society at large. After the screening both the director and two of the kids featured in the film will be present for a post-screening conversation with the audience.

Mark your calendars for Woke Up Black New York’s Premiere next month at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem.

Who: Woke Up Black – New York City Premiere

What: An award-winning 2011 documentary by Chicago-based filmmaker and activist Mary F. Morten

When: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM

Where: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture-515 Malcolm X Boulevard

Why: Because this is a great film that should not be missed

Admission: Free, RSVP here.

Fly Event:Celebrate Brooklyn!: Childish Gambino Benefit Concert

25 Jun

Childish Gambino and the Royal Family

If you’re a fan of Frank Ocean and his homies Odd Future, than Childish Gambino should be added to your playlist. He’s a dope young dude who is loaded with talent as he best known for being a writer for 30 Rock, and for his role on the NBC comedy series Community. He writes, acts, produces, raps and does stand-up comedy, he is more than a triple threat.

If the rain holds off tomorrow, Childish Gambino is holding a benefit concert at Celebrate Brooklyn!

Who: Childish Gambino and the Royal Family with Danny Brown & Schoolboy Q Benefit Concert

What: A dope new-comer who is worth checking out before everyone else jumps on the bandwagon

When: Tuesday, June 26th, 2012 7:00pm – 10:00pm

Where: Prospect Park Bandshell- 9th Street & Prospect Park West Brooklyn, NY

Admission: Tickets are $35 in advance, $40 day of show. Rain or shine, doors open 6:00 pm.

Fly Culture: I’m a work of art, I’m Warhol already

27 Feb

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“In the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes.”- Andy Warhol

You can coin a phrase even if it doesn’t pertain to you. Andy’s fame has lasted more than 15 minutes as 25 years after his death, a new exhibit shows off 53 vintage gelatin silver print photographs taken by or featuring the pop artist.

Warhol: Confections & Confessions will feature prints taken between 1974 and 1983 that have never been seen outside of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh — and eight that have never been publicly exhibited.

But don’t think of his pop art being on display, these black-and-white, 8-by-10 photographs are less flashy — a collection largely made up of portraits of unknowns, still life and interior shots.

The pictures will showcase Warhol at ease giving a glimpse of his personal life away from the clubs and celebs.

Warhol: Confections & Confessions, 8×10 B+W Photographs from The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh runs through May 5.

When: Warhol: Confections & Confessions, 8×10 B+W Photographs from The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh opens this Friday, March 2 and runs through May 5.
Where: Affirmation Arts, 523 West 37th Street, New York, NY
Gallery hours: Tuesday-Thursday 1pm-6pm
Friday& Saturday 11am-6pm

Fly Read: The Way We Wore: Black Style Then

8 Feb

the way we wore

This book is really great because it emphasizes how crucial a role African-American fashion has played over the years. The Way We Wore: Black Style Then by Michael McCollom reminds me of skimming thru my parent’s photo albums; pictures of the stylish beginnings of a diverse group of African American tastemakers.

The snapshots come from within Michael McCollom’s own family and circle of friends who may include Oprah Winfrey, Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, Tracy Reese, Kimora Lee, Coco Mitchell and Iman, among others.

It’s a creative history book of black fashion.

Available at Barnes & Noble.

Fly Event: Fort Greene’s Black Writers: A Neighborhood History

30 Jan

City Kid George Nelson

In honor of Black History Month, the Fort Greene Association and Greenlight Bookstore present an evening of local literary history. Celebrated local authors (including Nelson George, author of City Kid and Carl Hancock Rux, author of Asphalt and Talk) discuss their work and what the neighborhoods of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill have meant to their writing.

When: February 15, 7:30 PM

Where: Greenlight Bookstore – 686 Fulton Street Brooklyn, NY 11217

Admission: Free

 

The Weekend Guide

13 Jan

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Brunch:

A fusion of Australian and Asian cuisine called Australasian has come to Brooklyn.  The Sunbrunt Calf offers a diverse menu featuring flavors from the South-East Asian region served Australian style. Think french toast with coconut and pineapple or a garlic tomato rice bowl with sesame soba noodles, crispy tofu, mushrooms, bok choy topped with a sunny side up egg. Try their turmeric beer  battered whitefish with dill over vermicelli noodles or their poached eggs over coconut basil crabcakes with lime hollandaise. Their brunch menu price point?  $20-$24 for a brunch item along with unlimited mimosas, beer, greyhounds and screwdrivers.

The Sunbrunt Calf- 611 Vanderbilt Ave (between Prospect Pl & St Marks Ave) Brooklyn, NY 11238/ Saturday brunch hours: 11AM-4PM/ Sunday brunch hours: 12PM-5PM

Shop:

Not Just Vintage in Bed-Stuy has 25% off Saturdays.  This colorful vintage store  houses afrocentric  vintage threads and jewelry.

1260 Bedford Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11216 / Saturday 1PM-8PM/ Sunday 1PM-6PM

Coup De Coeur– Like it’s name, fall in love instantly with Coup’s sale.  With 30% off of all casual wear and  35% off of cocktail dresses and accessories.

739 Fulton St, (between Elliott Pl & Portland Ave)  Brooklyn, NY 11217/ Saturday 11AM- 7PM/Sunday 12PM-7PM

See:

Art Battles Pop Up Gallery– 300 pieces, 30 artists, 3 countries.

Fly Event: Art Battles Pop Up Gallery NYC

10 Jan

Art Battles NY

Art Battles returns after a tour through France and Spain with the Art Battles Pop Up Gallery NYC. The gallery is open for free to the public for a limited time from Thursday, January 12th through Saturday, January 14th and located at 159 Bleeker St. in the West Village.

When: Thursday, January 12th through Saturday, January 14th/ 6:00PM- 12:00AM
Where: Pop Up Space 159 Bleeker St.
Admission: RVSP via Facebook

Fly Event: Erykah Badu with The Cannabinoids with Theophilus London

2 Dec

Erykah Badu Best Buy Theater

Still looking for plans this weekend? Tickets are still available for Ms. E. Badu’s concert this Sunday at the Best Buy Theater. Theophilus London will be opening the show.

When: Sunday, Dec 4, 2011/ Doors open: 7:00 PM/Showtime: 8:00 PM
Where: Best Buy Theater-1515 Broadway at W. 44th Street