Saturday, December 15, 2018

Monkeying Around: Prada gets in on the Blackface Trend

If we were reminded of anything this year, it is that no brand is exempt from racist or bigoted foolery. Whether it was Dior blatantly appropriating dashikis or Dolce and Gabbana's recent racist tirade against China, looks like even luxury brands want in on the H&M's level of problematic.

This time, it's Prada.

Prada released charms just in time for the holiday part of Prada’s new “Pradamalia” line of small items like keychains and toys featuring cartoon creatures that come in several colors. 

One of the designs and charms for these Pradamalia is a black and brown monkey (that's questionable, see below) that has oversized red lips...and is a reminder of blackface.

Blackface has apparently been trending big this year with everyone from your neighborhood white girl to Megyn Kelly getting in on the action (and being socially dragged for it.)

Before you go on this whole "Black People are so sensitive and playing the race card", check the facts, fam. Credit to Chinyere Ezie, an NYC Lawyer and  for calling out Prada, saying;
"Today after returning to NYC after a very emotional visit to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture including an exhibit on blackface, I walked past Prada’s Soho storefront only to be confronted with the very same racist and denigrating #blackface imagery.

I entered the store with a coworker, only to be assaulted with more and more bewildering examples of their Sambo like imagery.

When I asked a Prada employee whether they knew they had plastered blackface imagery throughout their store, in a moment of surprising candor I was told that *a black employee had previously complained about blackface at Prada, but he didn’t work there anymore.*"
The resemblance between the Otto-Toto Monkeys and Sambo are quite uncanny as captured by Ms. Ezie. Having only just returned from a trip to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and witnessing these images of racism past, anyone can see how those images can be paralleled with Prada's monkey toys and keychains.
Chinyere Ezie
Prada, of course, issued an apology saying the following: 
“They are imaginary creatures not intended to have any reference to the real world and certainly not blackface. Prada Group never had the intention of offending anyone and we abhor all forms of racism and racist imagery. In this interest, we will withdraw all of the characters in question from display and circulation.”
Cue Eyeroll. At this point in the game, people of color are exhausted by sobby apologies and weepy promises to do better. We know the power of our dollars. With our purchases we enliven brands and in that same power withheld, we cause brands to topple.

This is just another example of why diversity in even and especially the highest levels of decision making for these brands is critical. We keep saying it, but apparently, it has to affect the bottom lines of brands to stick.

An observation: First of all, these figurines don't even look like monkeys! Monkeys and apes actually have very thin lips. (Seriously, go Google it.) The only resemblance these items have then is to Sambo.

Sambo is a character from the children's book, The Story of Little Black Sambo, written and illustrated by Scottish author Helen Bannerman, a book published in 1899. The character depiction is of a very dark skinned, exaggeratedly large red lipped, wide-eyed, knotty haired boy. This book was published at the height of blackface popularity, and Sambo story gained popularity for over five decades.

Obviously, Prada is going to have to do more than issue an IOS press release and remove the monkey items (which, if any sold, are now ultra-rare collector's items that people can make more money from.)

Prada, as well as Dolce, Dior, and a slew of others need to address the real problem: the Brands themselves are not in fault, but the people within certainly are. Implicit biases, bigotry, and racism are all taught behaviors. If they are as unacceptable as all of these brands say they truly are, there needs to be a deep soul-searching within individuals involved as well as a massive culture shift collectively.

Until then, we will settle for spending our coins with our own.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Life is too short: A Word on Cardi And Offset

Relationships are tricky and confusing. Add having a new baby, and the complication expounds. Add the complication of being blossoming musicians and it gets even more complicated.

Thus is the swirl of complications surrounding rappers Cardi B and Offset of Migos find themselves. I typically don't shape my mouth (or in this case fingers) to talk about anyone's relationships. And I will not suffice to say the following:

In case you haven’t heard, Cardi has left Offset for many reasons but the main one is the level and frequency of affairs happening. Mind you, they have a 6-month-old child and were married. When Cardi announced the divorce, Offset blamed the internet by saying “Y’all won” as if the internet and not him frequently cheating in their very new marriage was the cause of the divorce.

Since the divorce, many a rapper has come to Offset’s defense, including Lil "Living My Best Life" (the irresponsibility anthem of the year) saying the following on social media:

"Life is too short to be leaving niggaz over cheatin'."

This quote was liked by a slew of other rappers including T.I., another habitual marital infidel, who echoed his agreement with the hashtag #TakeOffsetBack.

I firmly disagree with this stance. Cheating is not something one has no control over. Infidelity is a choice. And to be willing to engage in such a selfish act as cheating, particularly on your new wife who only mere months ago gave birth to your daughter, was a choice. Doing it more than once in very public ways we’re all choices. Bad choices, but still choices nonetheless.

Choices have consequences. A consequence of infidelity is divorce. Offset, while young, is still an adult enough to realize this, same as T.I. and anyone else who may or may not be a celebrity but thinks that cheating is not grounds for leaving a relationship.

I know this because should there even have been the hint of infidelity from Cardi, or Tiny or the woman in this same position, these same men would have been ready to fight, as T.I. himself chose to do against none other than Floyd Mayweather for attempting to dance with his wife, Tiny. These same men on the #TakeOffSet back are the same men who would call these women everything under the sun but a child of God to embarrass and humiliate her in public and probably on social.

What makes it different in this case? Misogyny. The misogyny that says a man can act like an animal with no control over himself and his woman is simply to forgive him and move on. The misogyny that says she is not a person like he is and therefore has no right to be hurt or upset enough to abandon a faulty relationship over the offense.

Did Offset once consider Cardi while engaging in infidelity? Even now, as he unloads and implodes across social media on how much he misses her, did he ever issue an apology, say that he made a mistake, acknowledge that he was even sorry, or even acknowledge that he did severe emotional and mental harm on his own wife and the mother of his new baby? That I have not seen nor heard. 

I think Cardi did the right thing for her own mental and emotional wellbeing. According to these men, life is too short for leaving someone over being unfaithful. But do you know what life is really too short for:

- Life is too short to be cheated on.

- Life is too short to be frequently cheated on.

- Life is too short to be humiliated every time these infidelities make it to Page 6, let alone your family and friends.

- Life is too short to be attempting to raise a family with a man who is not committed to you.

- Life is too short to suffer the mental, emotional, spiritual abuse that comes with this sort of behavior

- Life is too short to be with a man who won’t take personal responsibility for his own actions.

As a divorcé, I am never excited for divorce. It breaks my heart. 

But no one deserves to be treated like this and I pray Offset seeks therapy while Cardi seeks healing.

Reclaimed Readables

Happy Friday beautiful humans!

Let's wrap up another week with Readables featuring 3 looks that prove winter dressing isn't boring, 6 affordable party looks under $150, 20 warm affordable coats, 3 things to know about, CoverGirl's new Line for Women of Color, The Ordinary is re-launching at Sephora in January.

Refinery29: The Ordinary is re-launching at Sephora in January
Byrdie: 3 things to know about CoverGirl's new Line for Women of Color
WhoWhatWear: 6 affordable party looks under $150, 20 warm affordable coats
Coveteur: 3 looks that prove winter dressing isn't boring

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Reclaimed Readables

Today's financially focused Readables feature
how credit card reporting dates affect your credit score, why you should challenge yourself to a zero dollar day, why you should save your gift cards after you spend them, 8 ways to avoid going broke this holiday season, and 4 tips to avoid overspending for good.

The Cut: 8 ways to avoid going broke this holiday season
Refinery29: Challenge yourself to a zero dollar day
My Domaine: 4 tips to avoid overspending for good
Apartment Therapy: How credit card reporting dates affect your credit score, why you should save your gift cards after you spend them

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Gifts perfect for your 30+ (Auntie) Friends

The holiday season is upon us and that means its gift-giving season.

If you're anything like me, you have a pack of friends who are of a particular persuasion; the type that have gone from dancing in clubs in their 20's to currently brunching (because clubs are too loud, both music and people), or better yet, stay in and do a potluck. These are the types whoswear 90's R&B is the best music, watch reruns of A Different World and Family Matters, and are grown in every sense.

If these are true for you, then you, my friends, you are surrounded by Auntie friends. While not yet full-fledged aunties sporting wisdom like an outfit from Black Panther and age gracefully in the same manner as Angela Bassett, Tina Turner, and so many others, they qualify as newbie aunties and thus should be honored as such.

Here are a few gift ideas your Auntie friends will love (for $30 or less):

Aunties love a good candle (but who doesn't really?) Candles are an instant way to relax, mellow out, and change your atmosphere with just a flick of a match. My current favorite is the Volcano candle by Capri Blue. It smells like every Anthropologie and will give your friend's space instant illuminated luxury. A really thoughtful gift for those out of town auntie friends is the Homesick scented candles which take the scents of different cities and make it into a lovely candle experience.

Guided Journals
In humans were not created to live solely in the digital world. Journals and diaries are a great way to unplug, log off, and reconnect with yourself. But if your auntie friend has a hard time knowing where to start or what to write about, a guided journal is a great solution.

One of my current faves is the Plan Pray Slay Planner. Yes, it's a planner, but it also functions as a beautiful journal for gratitude, a collection of affirmations, a monitor for self-care, a collection for your creative ideas and more. I am in love with mine and my fellow auntie friends will as well!

Honorable mention goes to the 150 Days of Gratitude journal and the #ANoteToSelf Meditation journal by Alex Elle. Each page of this simple but essential journal is primed for you to record every moment of gratitude and thankfulness.

A prerequisite of being an auntie is having an Auntie Robe. It is the cozy, comfy thing you toss on as soon as you step out of your shower in the morning or out of your clothes at the end of the day. And there is an Auntie robe for every auntie friend based upon your auntie friend's personality.
Cozy Warm Robe: the NY Threads robe is the coziest long robe perfect for post showers and pre sensible clothes.
Slinky Sexy Robe: the Giova Short Robe is something out of a lingerie ad for less than you would expect. The Aibrou long robe is a close second, reminiscent of hotel or spa robes with its length and piping.
The House Coat: This is the robe you don't bring on the trips but you love because its cute, cozy and substitutes as clothes when your binge-watching Netflix. Although the one by M&M Mymoon might make you reconsider not taking it with you.

A Spa Setting
You may not be able to send all of your auntie friends to the spa but you can create a spa experience for them at home. Grab an essential oil diffuser, like the URPOWER Diffuser, a few essential oils, and maybe a serum like Seventh Generation's Hydrating and Clearing Serums, and voila! You have created a home-like spa experience your auntie friend will appreciate.

For more ideas on cool gifts that won't break (or in some cases even touch) the bank, check out my last gift guide. Happy holidays beauties!