I Am Not Leaving You
I saw a pic of Mo’Nique following her in studio interview with HOT 97 and did a double take. Over the last three years, the Academy Award winning actress has lost an impressive 82 lbs through diet and exercise. Having shed 103lbs of my own using the same conventional methods, I understood the smile on Mo’Nique’s face, recognized the pride in her stance and the relief in her eyes. She was saving her own life.
I Instagram’d the picture and within minutes hundreds of you shared in my joy for her, reposting, tweeting and liking the flick. The general consensus was the comedienne had done good.
Then there were the few of you whom felt differently. The complaints ranged from, ‘she looked better fat’, ‘and now her head is too big ‘to’ now she won’t be funny anymore.’ But I think the most telling criticism – the most popular one – was ‘what happened to representing for the big girls?’
I bring this up for a reason…
Last night, episode 7 of The Gossip Game began with a scene between K Foxx and myself at ooVoo. I’d seen her interview with the beautiful Brittany Sky, the lead from Kendrick’s ‘Poetic Justice’ video and posed a question that unfortunately didn’t make it into the episode: Don’t you feel that ‘colorism’ in any form (light over dark or dark over light) is wrong?
It was that question that began the exchange that was aired. K Foxx felt passionately that the mass mistreatment of darker African-Americans (particularly women) warranted some recompense and was puzzled why I didn’t feel the same. She was sure I’d experienced some of the same color-biased disrespect that she’s encountered over the years.
But I haven’t. On my best days my skin is a glowy pecan, on the average day I’m more the color of a Popeye’s chicken breast. My skin sits between two shades of most foundations (this told to me repeatedly by accomplished make-up artists). I choose the darker so that even when I sweat, I won’t look ashy. I don’t consider myself dark skin or light skin. I’m fully aware that the color-bias does exist both ways, and it angers me but I’ve never experienced it first hand. I’ve always simply fallen in the middle. I’m brown. I’m never included in the discussion. And I’ve never really been told that I’m ‘dark skin’…Until K Foxx.
By this afternoon hundreds of viewers had made a point to tweet/Instagram/FB message me. The comments ranged from, ‘how could you be ashamed of your dark skin?’ to ‘girl you are not lightskin’ to my personal favorite, ‘You’re darkskin, if this were slavery you’d be in the field with the rest of us.’
Finally, I put it all together. Let’s go back to Mo’Nique.
The boisterous funny gal built a career off of being larger than life. She had entire routines based on the idea that ‘skinny bitches are evil’ and boldly declared that P.H.A.T. should be embraced because it meant ‘Pretty Hot And Tempting’. But this was 82lbs ago.
At my highest weight, I’d traveled to New York from LA and was out with my friend Jai, who had just lost over 70lbs of his own. I remember struggling to keep up as we roamed the village, I can still recall the contempt I felt when he ordered a grilled chicken breast and salad for lunch while I indulged in a burger and fries. Jai scared me. He represented what I couldn’t see for myself.
I understood the hate against Mo’Nique, a great deal of which came from those who appeared to be struggling with their own weight. Where her loss should’ve inspired, for some it shown a light on how far they themselves had to go to get there. They felt abandoned. Even though Mo’Nique had done what was (rightfully) best for her, she’d carried the torch proudly for so long that her fellow P.H.A.T. Girls felt she’d left them, alone and unrepresented.
As I sat still and made myself look through the profiles of many of you that took the time to let me know your thoughts on my complexion, the pattern I noticed was unmistakable. Very few of you were of a lighter skin tone. A great majority of those who contacted me boasted things like #TeamDarkSkin and ‘Chocolate Queen’ in your bios. And now I understand.
I appreciate the love I’ve received over the last two months from those happy for my inclusion on the show and proud that I’ve kept my focus and composure. I understand how my network and others have actively mishandled our image so I came into this show resolved that I would be true to who I am and represent my culture.
I am a Black woman. It’s one of my favorite things about myself. And no one or nothing could ever make me anything but proud of that.
Many of you felt that by me saying I wasn’t dark skin, I was somehow rejecting you. You thought I was leaving a team that I actually never even played for.
I refuse to help divide us. Light skin, dark skin or in between, we’re still being hunted every single day by poverty, educational bias, poor health habits, law enforcement and so many other things that I will be damned if I continue a discussion started by slave owners so they could place a dollar amount on our heads. Miss me with all of it. If you need me to identify with a particular skin tone in order to relate to me, then you were never going to relate to me anyway. We’re all Black. I understand the pain of color-bias and will gladly champion discussions on how to stop it. What I won’t do is allow anyone to push me into a corner and saddle me with his or her own hypersensitivity. This is not a game I’m going to play and I encourage you to stop playing it as well. What we give power to, will control us.
I am not #TeamDarkSkin, just as I am not #TeamLightSkin. I’m not even #TeamBrown. I’m #TEAMBLACK. And know that I am not now – nor am I ever – leaving you.
WHAT’S GOSSIP?: ABOUT EPISODE THREE…
Ms. Drama is an asshole. It really is that simple.
Only an asshole would listen to four different people tell them virtually the same thing, and take away that it’s every one else.
I wish Candice nothing but the best. But Ms Drama? Nah. Life’s too short. Let’s move on to next week.
WHAT’S GOSSIP: I’M TIRED OF BLACK WOMEN FIGHTING ON TV…
I’m tired of watching Black women fight on TV.
We’re two episodes into The Gossip Game and last night we witnessed our second fight. Sigh.
When I accepted Mona Scott-Young’s invitation to sit down for a casting meeting, I was more than skeptical. This was three weeks into Love & Hip Hop ATL and all that kept running through my mind was ‘she’s not gonna do me like she does these other women.’ And as soon as I sat down – in front of Vh1 execs, show creator Tone Boots and his team and the network casting department – I told her as much.
Mona heard me out and then informed me that she never set out to abuse Black women. And that she didn’t prompt Stevie J to keep both a mistress and a wife. All she does is give a look inside their lives.
I gave her a chance.
Within the first two weeks of filming the first ‘argument’ happened. I wasn’t there (we had an event for Ne-Yo that night). I didn’t know Viv – at that point I’d only met her once at a cast lunch. But I’d known Ms. Drama for a few years and although we’d never spent an extended period of time alone, I’d never known her to get into it with anyone. I was surprised. And immediately I blamed Mona. Here we go. So now we’re going to be out here looking crazy.
I listened to Drama’s side of the story and became a little apprehensive of Viv. And completely distrustful of Mona (we’ll talk later about how this played out).
Full disclosure: I’ve been in New York for 4 years and I’ve been blessed to make some great friends but I’ve also picked up a handful of…detractors. That’s normal. We’re adults playing in a high-stakes/high-stress industry. But what I realized is 70% of these detractors were women of color. And 50% of those began as friends and or associates.
We all know the drill: you’re cool with another woman at first and then something happens, or nothing happens and one person feels a way and somehow (often over something minute) there’s now a ‘thing’ between you. But instead of addressing it and moving on, (usually) one woman has to try to turn everybody else against you – because she’s not secure enough to be alone with her feelings. And before you know it an entire clique has formed – bonded over the dislike of one woman.
So I was dealing with this, while watching the saga between Ms. Drama verses Viv unfold. At the time I didn’t see the connection but it was coming.
The second fight happened at Bottles & Strikes. By then I had heard everyone’s accounts of the first incident and realized there was so much Ms. Drama left out. But I let it rock. I was getting to know Viv and was happy to see her at the party. The fight between them happened in another room but afterwards I was able to speak to Viv (who was very emotional) and she – along with several witnesses – all maintained that Ms. Drama was the agitator.
As they escorted the camera crew out, Mike Kyser – someone I’ve respected professionally for years – came over and said ‘what kind of show are you making?’ It was embarrassing. I’m trying to do something I could be proud of, and this wasn’t it.
I asked to talk Drama. Scratch that, I asked to talk to Candace. As someone who appreciated her as a woman and a collegue, I needed to let her know that she was playing a role in the what was happening. That was important because unless she owned her part, it wouldn’t stop. I expected a very different conversation than the one I got. That was the first time I ever walked out of a scene. I was upset, frustrated, annoyed and a little hurt that she didn’t understand what I was trying to say. Let’s keep it funky: We’re about to be on national television and here she was acting a fool.
Ms. Drama saw that as an attack. You’ll see in the coming weeks how that played out.
It wasn’t until days later that I saw the similarities.
Sometimes, we as Black women don’t treat one another very well. Societal factors have made us defensive and (often times) insecure about who we are and afraid of who we are not. We’ve been told that we’re all in competition over men, jobs, friends, adoration, etc. And because we are such an insular culture – Black woman are known for watching/dating/buying/talking/living in our Blackness – we turn a great deal of frustration back on one another. We’re so hyper-sensitive to criticism (because we’re SO over criticized) that in the moment we often can’t discern between someone attacking us and someone trying to help us. It’s hard to see kinship in someone you’re determined to make your enemy. So (often times) we fight.
I couldn’t get mad at Mona for the fights that happened between Drama and Viv. Not when I was dealing with the very same things (via toxic email threads, vicious sub-tweets, subversive moves against me etc) in my own life. Mona didn’t make those two women fight. In that moment, instead of risking being hurt or hearing something they didn’t want to, they chose to antagonize one another. This choice is made every single day. And I couldn’t expect Mona to create a television show about us and ask her not to show all of it, including the parts we’re not proud of.
So we can continue to complain about how we’re portrayed on television. Or we can candidly address how we treat each other in real life.
See you next week for episode three.
WHAT’S GOSSIP?: AM I REALLY DOING REALITY TV?
In the middle of the night, late in December of 2011, I called my good friend LowKey to tell him one thing: In 2012 I’m getting a television show. I’d made this same call to my father and my best friend Angel. All three – knowing me well – simply said, ‘ok,’ hung up and went back to sleep. I went to work.
In the fall of 2011, along with different configurations of my JumpOff TV cast mates, I shot several test pilots with BET. I’d met with FUSE and taken meetings with another network. And although none of those opportunities panned out, each one taught me a little more about myself, being on camera, the talent process and (most importantly) what I wanted for this next phase in my career. I knew it was my time.
By the time I got the call from Mona Scott-Young to meet with her I was ready to tell my story. Only I had no idea just what that would mean for me. Two months would pass between that meeting – which included Co-Creator Tone Boots, his District Media team and several Vh1 Execs – and our first official day of shooting.
I’d just come back from Made In America where I was doing a backstage diary for VIBE Vixen. Those two days in Philly had given me an unforgettable vantage point about the difference between those that dream and those that make their dreams come true: Vision.
Now here’s a quick back-story on the Power Vs. Hot story. It all came about at Nas’ official album release concert for Life Is Good. I was in VIP at Tammany Hall when I spotted Ebro, Hot 97’s Program Director. Ebro and I had seen each other around, but there was no real familiarity. So I did what I’d do in any similar situation, I introduced myself and asked him wtf was all this beef about. What followed was a great 45 minute conversation – in the middle of the party – where he candidly spoke about his thoughts on the rivalry, the industry and where he saw things going for certain artists. At the end of it, I asked him if I could write about it. He told me sure. The next morning I emailed Datwon Thomas & Mikey Yi over at VIBE and pitched them the story. This was before there was a show. This was before I knew Mona. There was nothing for cameras. I was doing my job as a writer trying to tell a story.
Don’t get it twisted this is a business. I’d known Datwon for a while. I’ve worked hard at cultivating a relationship based on respect and honesty. He keeps it real and tells me if it’s great and if it’s not. So there was a good deal of read tape to cut through in getting this story done. And in the meantime I began working on my deal for what would become The Gossip Game. It just so happened that – unbeknownst to us – Angela Yee and K. Foxx were also being vetted for the show.
I believe that if you are clear about what you want and are willing to work with The Universe to collaborate on your life and the lessons you’re willing to let it teach you, you will be rewarded.
And I was.
Over the next 8 weeks, anyone who is willing to watch will be given glimpses into my life and the lives of my cast mates. But these glimpses – while all based in reality – are being told by a collection of television professionals. So in the spirit of keeping it 100 (my truest self) here is where I will share with you a little more in depth look at what you’re watching.
The day I had lunch with K. Foxx and Angela Yee was my very first scene with either one of them. Inside I was nervous. I couldn’t get out of my head. I kept thinking of all the things the editors could do with this scene. I didn’t trust Mona yet (I’ll tell you about that later). Finally, as I looked across at K, something clicked. There was something in how she just sat there, taking it all in, that made me realize we were all nervous. We’re used to telling the story. And now we’d become the story.
Knowing it wasn’t just me made me relax. This was another day at work. So, I did what I do well: I interviewed my subjects.
howflysociety asked: i just want you to know that you are my crush & i'm going to marry you when i make it. lol
Oh. Well I appreciate the heads up. And I wish you the best on your journey. :)
- Posted 2 months ago
- 3 notes
Take a listen to my friend George 2.0’s project, My 2 Sense; this soundtrack EP is coupled with two motion portraits - “Check The Quote” and “Deuteronomy”. The audio project is written and produced by George himself!
VIEW: “Check The Quote” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1qOBASH4wU&feature=youtu.be) | “Deuteronomy” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6J0gZ12SBI&feature=youtu.be) [both directed by Jon Genius]
PURCHASE: iTunes (https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/my-2-sense/id600054311)
#DREAMmix VOLUME ONE
Everything great begins with a desire for something more…
The #DREAMmix Vol. One is a mixtape like no other. This compilation tape is comprised of some of the best and brightest from the world of entertainment, hand picked not just for their accomplishments, but also for their journeys. Executive Producer JasFly enlisted the help from Artists/Producers COMMON, Kendrick Lamar, Ne-Yo, Swizz Beatz, Adrienne Bailon, DJ Khaled, Joe Budden and Pusha T as well as Writers/Blogger & Executives Elliott Wilson, Mona Scott-Young, Kim Osorio, Ariel Cherie and LowKey.
Each guest thought long and hard about the song that best inspires them, at different points in their life…and you’d be surprised by their choices. From Walter Hawkins to DMX, The #DREAMmix variation will surprise you, but you just might also relate.
Media powered by VIBE.com, The #DREAMmix Vol. One is the first of its kind, designed to use the power of music and sincere words to inspire its listeners.
DEAR 20’s: Twenty-Two To LA
You’re scared. Actually more like terrified. It’s the last week of February, icy grey snow blankets the ground and it’s time to either shit or get off the pot. All of your belongings (or what you haven’t sold or given away) are finally out of the apartment you can no longer afford and you’ve taken up temporary residence in Ma’s living room. You say you’re leaving.
It was just the previous October that you sat outside the Clark Avenue Starbucks and listened as your boyfriend declared your misery had become palpable. Jas, you’re stuck. Chicago isn’t for you. You want more than your blue-collar hometown can offer and quietly, you’ve been thinking about LA. The feast or famine life of production is wearing. Besides you know deep down if you really want to give Film & Television Producing a shot, Los Angeles is where you need to be. But on that unusually warm morning last fall this all seemed like a daydream – something you talk about but never actually planned to do.
Then autumn turned to winter and the bottom fell out. All of the production jobs dried up, seems you couldn’t buy a temp gig and you got your first real taste of just how hard adulthood can get. Funny how that happened, right? You don’t realize it now Jas, but that was The Universe stripping away all of your excuses. And it’s led you here, to the living room.
Dad has just left – angrily – as you sit surrounded by your entire life reduced to three bags, in tears. Everyone supports your move except him. And his support is what you think you need the most. Your father wants you to stay, find a ‘real job’, ‘grow up’ and handle your business like everyone else. He says you’re being unrealistic, stupid even and stormed out after calling you ‘trash.’
I know. We’re Daddy’s girl. Who is this man? And why all the sudden does he hate us? It’s devastating when someone you’ve relied on your entire life is suddenly no longer on your side. It makes you doubt…well, everything. Like you’re doing right now. Maybe this is a dumb idea. You barely know the cousins in Compton you’ve arranged to stay with, you only have a few thin leads for work and including the insurance bond Ma helped you cash out, you’re moving across the country with less than $1000 to your name. He doesn’t get it. But do you? Your gut says this will work. And that Jas is the point. And then the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk to blossom*.
Almost a decade later, I sit here thinking about you on that morning in February and what I want to tell you is this: You’re doing the right thing. You can’t see it now but one day you’ll look back on this moment and realize by disapproving, Daddy has unknowingly given you the greatest gift he possibly could. The most important decisions in our lives are ours to make alone. This is your life, your approval matters more than anyone else. What you’re feeling – that overwhelming need for change – is real. It matters none that you’re the only one that can see it, because that really is enough.
The unshakable feeling in your gut is the voice that comes from the purest place and it trumps everyone: your friends, your partner, even your father. Learn to look for it, learn to expect it and understand that when that voice says move, you move. When it says stay, you hold. Trust it because when no one around you sees the vision, that voice is all the assurance you’ll need.
Trust me, Dad doesn’t hate you. He’s scared. His baby is moving 2000 miles away and there is nothing he can do about it. He knows he can’t stop you and believe it or not, this makes him just as proud as it does fearful. But sometimes the people that love us hurt us when they can’t think of anything else to do. Remember that love and forgiveness are one and the same. It’ll be ok. By summer he’ll be out to visit and you’ll get to know him not as your father, but as Joe. Though that’s a story for another time.
I wish I could tell you LA is going to be easy. It won’t be. I wish I could tell you, you’ll soon find your groove but honestly, that will be many years to come. Oh and that boyfriend who supported your move, even rode with you to the train and shed real tears as he watched you pull away? We’ll talk another time about how that all played out. But often what we think is the end of the world is really the start of a better one. Take my word for it, everything works out in the end.
On that cold morning in February 2003 you don’t know any of this yet, but you will.
Now get back to packing. You’ve got a train to catch.
Fabolous joins Ne-Yo on stage at Joe’s Pub
By Paulo Coelho