recently promoted to the FIRST black principal dancer with the american ballet theatre, it’s only fitting that misty copeland is our crush of the week! a child prodigy who didn’t start ballet class until she was a preteen, misty shattered expectations and stereotypes every step of her career. she’s a proud product of the ymca’s afterschool programs and even experienced homelessness as a child (check out her autobiography). i’m so excited for what this means not just for misty, but the example she sets for all the little black girls who have the opportunity to see their reflection in a previously all-white world.
my law school classmate and social impact strategist, danielle lovell jones, tapped my brain during a recent interview for her podcast, the social impact show. danielle consults with individuals and businesses seeking to engage in philanthropy and during the interview we covered everything between my nonprofit work, writing, love of fashion and riley curry fandom. i’m grateful for her sensitive, yet conversational interview style — she pulled some thangs out of me!
with people around the world uniting for the black lives matter movement, this summer is the perfect time to celebrate one of the greatest musicians and revolutionaries of the 20th century. what happened, miss simone? was released on netflix friday and is an intimate view into the nina simone’s life. using previously unreleased footage, letters and interviews with close family and friends, the singer-songwriter’s words and life are just as relevant now as they were the day dr. martin luther king jr. was murdered.
shirt, nomad yard collectiv | shorts, target | shoes, nine west | handbag, vintage (last seen here) | necklace, market vendor | lipstick, kat von d (l.u.v) | watch, kate spade | link bracelet, david yurman
it’s soooooo hot on the east coast! i won’t complain — i’m a florida girl, so warm temperatures are my jam. i fell in love with this bright top at nomad yard this weekend. if you haven’t stopped by the recently voted best vintage store of 2015, do yourself a favor and make your way to 411 new york avenue ne stat. aside from the beautiful one-of-a kind pieces, the store is curated like a museum with clothing, accessories, art and interior decor to boot.
hope your weekend was turnt.
at first, i laughed at rachel dolezal. i’ve witnessed blackness get colonized so many times until i immediately found her blackface antics more pathetic than anything. however, after she sat down for an interview with melissa harris perry and refused to answer any question directly, i’d had enough — my giggles and indifference turned to anger.
what disturbs me about dolezal’s actions is not only the performative aspect of her self-proclaimed black identity or the hate crimes that some say she falsely claimed to be the recipient of, but the fact that she conveniently left one privileged position for another. when presenting as a white woman she leveraged the resources attributed to her whiteness, and as a lightskinned black women, she could leverage the resources attributed to having light skin. whether it was the race or gender hierarchy, dolezal always found herself on top.
for dark-skinned people of color, passing is not an option. race marginalizes us the easiest, acting as the visible embodiment of past and present oppression. beyond skin color is the complicated history around our hair — black women’s beauty has been tied to the tightness of our curls since slavery. dolezal never had an authentic experience with this very painful narrative, yet told melissa harris perry that her hair journey has been “interesting,” claiming:
it also felt like an affirmation of black is beautiful, you know? because for so many centuries, you know, there’s been … the relaxers and the long weaves and the skin bleaching and all that fallout of psychological disorientation and certainly trauma came.”
as if adorning her hair like a black woman’s is a tribute to blackness, she even claimed to have become a hairstylist to help black children feel beautiful. guess what rachel, we don’t need you to pretend to be black to make women who were born black feel better about their blackness. that’s called cultural appropriation, and it actually has the opposite effect. in fact, dolezal’s egotistical analysis around her hair, adopting her younger siblings and activism have all given the white savior complex a new meaning.
whether led by curiosity, adoration or bad intentions, rachel dolezal made a conscious decision to maneuver through spaces focused on black empowerment as a lightskinned black woman. the privilege to choose not only one’s race, but color is power that most racial minorities will never experience. in the face of constant white terror and efforts to democratize standards of beauty, her blackface performance is not only exploitative, it’s despicable.