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Black Folks Can Be So Embarrassing At Times

My, how I love my people and all of the idiosyncrasies of our Blackness. I do. But that doesn’t mean that every once in a while, something or someone will crop up and make me want to issue a press release on behalf of Black America in general. Any time I see Flavor Flav or Herman Cain respectively—Lord help me, never let them show up anywhere together—I get nervous about the impending and inevitable shenanigans about to befall our people. Celebrity coonin’ aside, there are other things that Black folks do that make me want to hang my head in shame.

We dry hump TV game show hosts. Bob Barker must be somewhere heaving a huge sigh of relief that this girl didn’t come charging down the aisle at him when her number was called to come on down. Black folks have been known to cut up on game shows—the potion of competition and the possibility of free money makes us giddy—but there seems to be a special place reserved on The Price Is Right for our tomfoolery. And although I can certainly appreciate this particular contestant’s jubilance, all the big money spins in a hour-long show can’t justify wrapping her legs around Drew Carey like she’s an extra in Dirty Dancing. Yeesh. Calm down.

We browbeat each other for overpriced sneakers. If I don’t ever hear the word “Jordans” and the number “11” in conjunction again, it’ll be too soon, particularly as it relates to top news stories that involve watching grown men mollywhop women, children, and the maimed and disabled to score a pair of sneakers that cost all of 25 cents to make in some faraway sweat shop. Every single time the news covered a story about some simple-minded crime involving those doggone sneakers, I held my breath waiting for the name of the assailant. And every single time, it was something like Derquan Jackson or Otis Jenkins and I knew, without a doubt, that another one of us had drunk the Kool-Aid and paid dearly for it.

We refer to all Asian people as "Chinese." My apologies to the entire Asian community for the continuous oversights of some of my brethren and sistren, who seem to think that the whole big continent is comprised only of China. I once heard a frustrated woman in a beauty supply store declare that she could. not. stand. Chinese people, which would’ve probably stung more if the owners of the establishment weren’t Korean.

We don’t code switch enough. Not every Black person speaks Ebonics, but those of us who are fluent in that tongue should know when to turn it on and when to shut it down. I want to pull the lever that opens up the floor and swallows me up when I hear a brother or sister all loud and proud in a corporate setting talking about some “ain’t got no’s” or “I be doing’s.” I’m as improper as they come—English major and all—but my mama taught me early to talk one way around us and another around them.

We beat our kids mercilessly in public. Let it be known that I believe in corporal punishment. My daughter has sprouted up about an inch and a half taller than me now but that chick knows if and when the situation ever calls for it, I’ll climb a step ladder and Macho Man Randy Savage her tail to get her behavior in check. However, however, that type of punishment is reserved for home. Outside, she gets The Look, maybe a scold, but never the full-out hand combat some of our parents are laying on their children in public.

We're mesmerized by white folks. They ooh and ahh over their hair. They hang on their words. They’re hot on their heels. They throw around terms like “ghetto” in mixed company and crack jokes at our people’s expense. They make me want to tap them on the shoulder and remind them that they are in fact Black, despite their best efforts to be the opposite. They don’t have enough sense to be humiliated by their own shucking and jiving, so I am on their behalf.

We mispronounce all kinds of words. Where oh where do reporters come up with some of the folks they find to interview? Last night on TV, a woman in a headscarf with about three good teeth and maybe four or five bad ones covered up her exposed collar bone after the journalist asked her about the cold snap we’re experiencing here on the east coast. As she was bundling up for effect, the local celebrity shook her head, looked straight into the camera, leaned into the mic and announced that she hoped she didn’t catch ammonia. Now, I’m not a snob, but dammit. Get it together.

Get it off your chest: what do some Black folks do to embarrass you?

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VIBE Vixen- Karissa Maggio

Best Of VIBE Vixen's Boss Talk Podcast: Saweetie, Amara La Negra And More On Making Boss Moves

VIBE Vixen's Boss Talk podcast amplifies the voices of women and she/her-identifying individuals in their respective industries as they discuss their journeys toward becoming the bosses we know today. From their demeanor and confidence and persevering through life’s pitfalls to make a name for themselves in their own way, being a boss is much more than 'just running sh*t.'

We rounded up some of our favorite pieces of advice from our first few episodes! Our bosses so far have ranged from rappers (Saweetie and Kash Doll), to authors (Karyn Parsons) to activists (Peppermint). Each of the bosses invited on the show have had some incredible journeys, and we thank them for giving us insight into how they've become the bosses they are today.

Whether they're thanking their mothers for inspiring them to be their best (like Amara La Negra), or chalking up some boss moves to being their authentic selves (Bevy Smith), this retrospective episode focuses on the awesome words these bosses have shared with us thus far.

Listen below to our "Best Of..." episode as well as all of the episodes of Boss Talk Podcast. Be on the lookout for new episodes coming soon.

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Photo by Chance Yeh/Getty Images for A+E

Andrea Kelly Says She's Been Attacked For Calling Out R. Kelly's Behavior

Andrea Kelly has found it hard to march for women as they continue to support her polarizing ex-husband, R. Kelly.

The former choreographer shared her sentiments on an upcoming episode of Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta shared on Entertainment Tonight. Speaking with close friend Debra Antney, Kelly tearfully expressed her frustrations with her ex-husband and praised Antey for sticking by her side.

The former couple was previously in a child support battle for their children Joann, 21, Jay, 19, and Robert, 17. During the time of filming, Kelly owed $161,000 in back child support to his ex. In May, it was reportedly paid off by a mysterious donor.

"When I think about the ways that I have been abused by Robert, from being hogtied, having both of my shoulders dislocated, to being slapped, pushed, having things thrown as me, the sexual abuse, the mental abuse, words can't even describe," she said.

In addition to the child support case, Kelly was charged with 11 felony counts of sexual assault. He's pleaded not guilty despite reported evidence of videotapes that reportedly show the entertainer engaging in sexual acts with minors. Andrea tells Antey how difficult the process has been for her since speaking out about Kelly's behavior in the Lifetime docu-series, Surviving R. Kelly. 

"Here I am, putting myself in a position because I want to help women, and they are attacking me," she said. "There's some things that I don't even speak anymore, that I feel like, once you give it to God, you better leave with God, because if I don't leave it with God, I'm definitely going to be somewhere with my hands on the glass, visiting my children every other Sunday."

Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on WEtv.

Watch the clip here.

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Courtesy of Baby Tress

Baby Tress' Edge Styler Ensures Women Of Color Will Always Shake The Beauty Table

"Do you have edge control in here?"

It's an inquiry my niece asked me over the weekend as we got ready for our cousin's graduation. Atlanta's heat is friendly but mixed with nimbus clouds, frizz (and thunderstorms) are on the horizon. Given the circumstances, a high bun seems to be the best choice for me and my niece, a slick-back style with extra attention to our baby hairs. It's typical for either one of us to grab a toothbrush to slick and swoop our edges with pomade or gel, but with The Baby Tress Edge Styler, the process is easier and equally as stylish.

Created by boutique communications agency Mama Tress, the styler is everything baby hair dreams are made of. It's also a testament to the rise of the "style" in popular hair culture. With a dual comb and brush top, its pointed tip elevates a consumer to baby hair connoisseur.

But the styler isn't something created to appropriate black culture or piggyback on what boosts the most likes on social media. The handy styler was created by Mama Tress CEO Hannah Choi and her team consisting of other women of color like public relations coordinator Mariamu "Mimi" Sillah. The New York native tells VIBE Vixen the styler was made as a gift for an event they hosted but its intentions to propel black hair were always present.

"We try to make it clear that this is for women of color. Because we all understand the history of baby hair, we all have connections, we all have stories, we all do it differently, some people swoop it; if you see some of my coworkers they do the swirls," she said. "This is a product that we want everyone to see and think, 'I don't need to be using a toothbrush. I deserve more than a toothbrush.' This is a tool made thoughtfully with women of color in mind and we are women of color who came up with the idea because we know what we need."

Coming in six different colors, the styler's bristles are stronger than a typical toothbrush and give anyone's edges a look all their own. Over the years, styled baby hairs have gotten the white-washed celeb treatment. From the runways of New York Fashion Week to fans of black culture like Kim Kardashian, its recent love affair among popular culture crosses out its rich roots.

Many have attributed the actual rise of baby hairs to the '70s with pioneers like LaToya Jackson and Sylvia Robinson of CEO Sugar Hill Records sporting their luxurious edges with Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas being the all-time queen. Recent entertainers like Ella Mai and FKA twigs have made them fun and creative. There are also the many Latinx and black around the way queens who have kept the culture alive.

 

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“Our tool is more than a beauty product, it’s a conversation starter," Choi, who is of Korean descent, previously told fashion site Beauty Independent. "There are nuances of someone’s world that you won’t see if you’re not part of that community. And we felt that the conversation around why this market is so underserved should be brought to light and talked about. We are seeing such a big change now in fashion and beauty in terms of representation, and we want to be able to have that conversation without it being heavy. We want it to be approachable. Our brand is very approachable.”

When it comes to moving in the black hair space, Sillah feels empowered at Mama Tress. It also makes it easy to develop black hair tools like the styler. "I feel like my voice is listened to because I am a consumer of all these things. It's empowering to be in a position to have more control," she said. "If we're being honest, a lot of the black hair spaces are not owned by people who look like us. To be in a position where I can say "No, don't create this product, we don't wear things like this,' or 'Actually you should name it this because this resonates with this community,' I'm an advocate for my community. That's part of the reason why Baby Tress was created because it's about a larger conversation, about things not being thoughtfully made for us."

Baby Tress' next steps are to make the styler accessible to consumers and create even more products dedicated to black women.

“We need to be in retail spaces because this is a product you need to see up close and touch it and play with it,” said Shannon Kennard, account executive at Mama Tress tells Glossy. “Everyone who tries it falls in love with it.”

Sillah is more than ready for women of color to elevate their beauty regimen, one creation at a time. The future of Baby Tress includes an array of more products designed with women of color in mind.

"Anything that has to do with baby hair, we can bring to Baby Tress and make it beautifully designed and effective," she said.  "That's what this is about. It's about that step up. Again, we should not be using a toothbrush anymore."

Learn more about Baby Tress here.

 

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