Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fly Lady of the Day
Regina Kelly

If you haven't seen "American Violet" yet go see it. The movie is opening in more theaters across the country tomorrow, May 1. It will debut on Bay Area screens tomorrow also. I know people are hyped about "Wolverine" but make it a 2-movie weekend and support this film. Click here to find show times near you. If they're not near you, call your theaters.

I recently interviewed Regina Kelly, the woman whose struggle inspired the film. The photo above is of Kelly and her four daughters. This sista has a lot of courage and heart. And she's still fighting the fight. Read my interview with her at

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Scared of Swine Flu?

I just got back from San Diego where a school closed due to a student contracting swine flu. That poor child. This virus has been all over the news. Anyone that's a worry wart must be going crazy right now. Recession, war, health care and now swine flu. Just the name of it sounds disgusting and scary. I love journalism but with all of the stuff going on in the world even I feel like I need break from CNN sometimes.
A few of my friends think the media are going overboard with the coverage. I kind of agree. However, people need to be informed. I'd rather know what's going on now then hear from the CDC or WHO if things out of hand. Too bad we don't see this level of urgency from government officials when addressing the spread of HIV/AIDS. People are so mum about it, you would think HIV/AIDS is not an epidemic. But that's another discussion.

Isn't that a great picture above? I saw it on The Guardian. It's a shot of a couple kissing in Mexico City through their hospital masks. Everyone is wearing masks down there.

I have a huge deadline coming up this Friday so my posts will be short and sweet this week. Wish me luck on this article I have due Friday. It's a big one. So big that I must wait until Saturday to see Wolverine.

In the meantime, wash your hands for 20 seconds frequently, stay informed and pray. Hopefully the doctors can get this virus under control.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

We'll Miss You Dorothy
Bea Arthur 1922-2009

I was so sad to hear that "Maude" and "Golden Girls" star Bea Arthur, 86, died Saturday of cancer. I was too young to watch "Maude", but "The Golden Girls" is one of my favorite shows. I've seen every episode and watch the reruns almost daily on the Hallmark Channel and We TV. The show always lifts my spirits when I'm in a funk. I identify most with Arthur's character Dorothy Zbornak. She's funny, smart, caring and tells-it-like-it-is. It's interesting that Estelle Getty, who played Dorothy's mother Sophia Petrillo, died a year prior.

Arthur was no doubt funny, but her roles as Dorothy and Maude should also be remembered for more than just big laughs. Those characters brought real women's issues to light. Maude was a strong, intelligent woman married to an alcoholic. The sit-com pushed the envelope back in the 1970s with episodes on touch topics like birth control, cosmetic surgery and abortion. Many viewers were angry about one episode where Maude gets pregnant at 47 and chooses to have an abortion. In the 80s and early 90s the "The Golden Girls" flipped the script on what it means to be a senior citizen. Dorothy, Sophia, Blanche and Rose proved life is not over once it's time to start collecting Social Security. Ladies, if we take care of ourselves today we can still have fun, travel, work, date, dream and even have sex in our golden years.

Thanks for making us smile Bea.

Or as Sophia would say, "You're the best pussycat."

Info on Maude from the Museum of Broadcast Communications.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Watch Babs Tonight on CBS

I told you Cocoa Fly covers everything from hip hop to the one, the only, the divine super divalicious......Barbara Streisand. Normally I don't blog on Saturdays but I want to remind people that CBS is airing one of Bab's concerts from 2007. Streisand: Live In Concert airs tonight at 8pm. Sorry to folks on the East Coast for posting this late. But you can see clips from the concert here . Maybe CBS will put the concert On Demand. I will be watching this before hitting the party scene tonight.

I love Barbara Streisand. She sings with a level of emotion that I don't see in a lot of artists. She's one of the few singers, outside of gospel, who makes me cry when I hear them sing. My mom always tells me she loves Babs for her music and because she wouldn't get a nose job when Hollywood execs pressured her to go under the knife. I respect a woman comfortable in her own skin. And can you believe Babs celebrated her 67th birthday yesterday? You lookin' good girl.

I must get back to my sunny Saturday. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Fly Ladies of the Day
The X-Men's Storm and Ellen DeGeneres

Only on Cocoa Fly will you see a blog post about Storm and Ellen DeGeneres. Before I get to them, how was your Earth Day? Growing up I heard that only white people are into the environment. That's not true. Check out the African American Environmentalists Association. However more of us should get involved. I think we as black people deal with so much in life already (poverty, racism, family,etc.) that the environment isn't a priority for some of us. But environmental justice in an issue in our communities. Many of us in poor areas live by dumps, factories, etc. These pollutants reach our air, water, land and affect our health. After Hurricane Katrina we should definitely be more concerned about the environment.
Going Green seems expensive but there are ways to Go Green on a budget. I recycle bottles and paper. Sometimes I reuse fliers as scratch paper when printing from home. I cut up old t-shirts and use them as cleaning rags. That reduces my use of paper towels. I save trees and money. I buy eco-friendly cleaners when they're on sale. Actually I've noticed the prices have come down. My favorite Green investment is my $19 Brita filter pitcher. I save a lot of money and help Earth by refilling the pitcher instead of buying water bottles. I take reusable water bottles and travel mugs with me on the go. When it comes to the electric bill, black folks have always been energy and money efficient. I can hear my grandma now, "Cut them lights off in the room if you not go be in there. "

Since we're honoring Mother Earth, one of the Fly Ladies of the Day is my favorite Head Sista in Charge of the comic world, Storm . She's not only Fly because she can fly, but Storm's mutant power is controlling the weather. Wouldn't you just love to zap somebody with a lightening bolt when they make you mad? Or part the clouds when you need a sunny day? Storm is African and the descendant of magical African priestesses born with blue eyes and white hair. Her mother was an African princess. Storm is fierce and is one of the highest leaders of the X-Men. She's poetic, strong and vulnerable at the same time. My sista's weakness is claustrophobia. Eric Jerome Dickey did a beautiful job writing her story for a special Marvel series . I think it's cool that she's almost like Mother Nature since the earliest evidence of human civilization can be traced back to an African woman. I know Iman is seasoned in age but I always thought she should have played Storm in the X-Men movies. You know I will be in the theater on May 1 to see Wolverine. Hugh Jackman is a cutie and I love the X-Men. Can't wait!!

The other Fly Lady of the Day is Ellen. The Ellen DeGeneres Show is one of my favorite talk shows. She is hilarious, but Ellen also talks about important issues. During her Earth Day show she suggested various ways to conserve water, including calling for bartenders to stop watering down drinks. LOL, I'm with her on that. I also applaud Ellen for making a big comeback when her first sitcom was canceled in 1998 after coming out. You never know when God has a better plan for you. On a more serious note I'm also giving Ellen props because she interviewed Sirdeaner Walker on her Wednesday show. She's the mother of 11-year-old Carl Walker-Hoover. He killed himself early this month because bullies called him "gay" and "a snitch." I don't know what's going on because the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported another 11-year-old boy Jaheem Herrera committed suicide last week after kids called him "gay" and " a snitch." Ellen said schools need to teach their kids compassion. I think that's a great idea. Let me add that parents need to teach their children compassion also. And black people, the homophobia and "Stop Snitching"movement needs to STOP. Listen to your children, get involved with your kids' schools and don't be afraid to get them counseling. Telling some kids to"toughen up" is not always enough.

According to Ellen's website you can donate money to Carl Walker's Fund here:

Carl J. Walker Trust Fund
c/o Hampden Bank
19 Harrison Avenue
Springfield, MA 01103

In closing of my Storm and Ellen blog post: be a hero or SHEro to your community and kids by showing them how to care for the planet and each other.

And you when you go to Happy Hour tonight, talk to your bartender about water conservation.

Monday, April 20, 2009

American Violet

I'm going to cut straight to my rating for this film. GO SEE "AMERICAN VIOLET"! Without a doubt "American Violet," starring Alfre Woodard and newcomer Nicole Beharie, gets my box office approval. This is an indie film so don't hit up Ray Ray at the swap meet for your bootleg copy. Go support this movie at the theaters. I saw a screening of "American Violet" two weeks ago at Magic Johnson Theater in South LA and people loved it. There was a lot of call and response to the screen. You know how we are at movies, especially when they're good. :)
"American Violet" is inspired by the true story of Regina Kelly, a 24-year-old, single mother of four who was wrongfully arrested in a drug raid. The story takes place in a small Texas town during the 2000 Bush vs. Gore presidential election. Nicole Beharie plays the character based on Kelly, Dee Roberts. Alfre Woodard is Dee's mother Alma Roberts. The DA offers Dee a deal, plead guilty and be released from jail immediately or face up to 25 years in prison. Dee boldly defends her innocence and with the help of the ACLU sues the DA for racists motives behind his drug arrests.
Nicole Beharie is amazing is in the role. This sista is so talented. She's a recent graduate of Julliard and her skills come through on the screen. Hey Hollywood execs, I want to see her in more quality movies. Alfre Woodard was superb as always. I love Alfre Woodard. I'd watch her perform lines from the Yellow Pages. The chemistry between Beharie and Woodard shined on the screen. Woodard's character Alma doesn't want Dee to fight the DA and risk her freedom. Alma is warm and sassy. The mother/daughter relationship between her and Dee has a bit of tension because of Dee's decision, but at the same time is loving.
I can't forget the brothas in the film. Charles S. Dutton plays Dee's minister. Xzibit does a great job as Dee's drunk, abusive babydaddy Darrell Hughes. This was not the cool, friendly "Pimp My Ride" Xzibit. And seeing Anthony Mackie (played Tupac in Notorious) was a nice surprise. He was in a few key scenes but his performance was great. Anybody who can convincingly portray Tupac in one film, then morph into a young, mentally ill, southern man in another movie is a real, true talent. I also like the movie because there's some action and a lot of passion. You will not be looking at your cellphone clock to check the time. The writing and actors keep you engaged the whole two hours.

Another interesting note, the film is directed by Tim Disney, great nephew of Walt Disney. But this is not a Mickey Mouse production.

Normally I don' t like to see movies about the trials and tribulations of the hood because Hollywood focuses on that part of the black experience too much. I'm from the hood, I love my hood, but there's more to black people than living in the hood. This movie is different. It shows a young, black woman taking a stand. It steps out of the stereotype of poor, young, single, black mothers proving, that she too can be a leader in her community. The film also detours from the hood movies that centers around the gangster. "American Violet" highlights the family and the SHEro.

American Violet will make you mad, hopeful and inspired. I interviewed Regina Kelly, the real woman who took on the DA. She's an amazing woman. Once it is published I will post a link for you to read.

"American Violet" debuted this past weekend in some theaters but will will show in othrer theaters May 1st. Click here to find the release date near you. Spread the word about this movie so it can reach more theaters.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cocoa Bits: Tax Day, Tea Bags and Texas
Teasing Drives Boy to Suicide

Tea Time
Happy Belated Tax Day! Yeah right. I hope you got your taxes in. If not, you better call Uncle Sam and work something out.
After you mailed out your taxes did you hit the streets for some good 'ol tea time protests? I didn't. Some conservatives are going overboard with their objection to the Obama Admin's approach to spending. The picture to the right is the most extreme I've seen. Obama is the new Hitler? Really? I didn't know Obama killed masses of people. As I've said a million times before, the GOP platform differs from the Dems. Little government, little spending vs. bigger government, more spending. So it is no surprise that conservatives are not happy with the Obama Administration's approach to our jacked up economy. And I don't have a problem with them disagreeing with government's approach. The government is spending a lot of money and people are worried about their futures. What I do have a problem with is hateful means of protest like the one above. Then there's the Texas governor talking about seceding from the Union. LOL. I feel like because the conservatives haven't gotten their way after losing the election, SOME of them are throwing a fit. Come on Gov. Perry. You don't like the changes taking place so you're going to give up and break away from the country? What happened to working together? Governor you can't take the wealth, military and resources of the most powerful nation in the world with you when you split ya know?

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and I agree on on the future of the GOP. If the GOP keeps going on this path of ultra conservatism when it comes to change the party is going to split. You have a lot of independents who support small government, tax cuts, pro-life, pro-guns positions. And you have those moderate conservatives who joined the GOP during the Regan era and are nostalgic for the party that drew them when Ronny was in charge. The GOP is shutting them out. I know some people write off Meghan McCain as an airhead. I don't agree with her all of the time, but I think she's calling for a change in the GOP that some moderate conservatives want.

But back to the tea party. Where were these activists when Pres. Bush invaded Iraq on the mythical WMD? I agree with Republican Lenny McCalister's blog post at Global Grind that big government started 8 years ago--during the Bush Administration. So why are these people blaming Pres. Obama for stuff that the GOP and Pres. Bush kicked off 8 years ago? I'll sip to that.

11-Year-old Boy Kills Himself Over Being Called "Gay"
I saw this story Tuesday on ABC I wasn't going to write about it because it broke my heart. Eleven-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover from Springfield, Mass hanged himself because he couldn't handle the bullying from kids at his school, New Leadership Charter School. The school, ironically, was co-founded by the Urban League in Springfield. The kids called him "gay," "fag", threatened to beat him up, and teased him about his clothes. Some people said he was flamboyant.
Carl's mom complained but according to her the school didn't do SQUAT. And Carl wouldn't identify some of the kids who teased him because he didn't want them to call him a "snitch." Honey, don't get me started on that "snitch" foolishness.

Yeah he didn't identify the culprits but I can't imagine those teachers didn't know who was messing with that boy. I used to be a TA in K-12 schools and I knew the trouble makers. So did my colleagues. Carl got good grades in school, played football, did community service, helped with planning his Black History Month program and wanted to be president when he grew up. Sounds like a good kid. And judging by his photo he was such a cute boy.
I'm tired of hearing about these cruel kids and their blind parents. Teach your children tolerance and respect. I grew up in the Bay and my mom talked to me about homosexuality when I was a girl. We would go to San Francisco and it's common to see two men or two women holding hands. And you'll find some men wearing makeup and women with a butch swagger. My mom simply told me some men fall in love with other men. Some women fall in love with other women. They're gay. It's nothing wrong with it. That's just how some people are. And then she told me about her gay friends and not to stare at gay people I saw on the streets. The End. She wasn't nervous when explaining this to me. Moms told me like it was part of life. She didn't think explaining this to me would turn me gay.

The kids who called little Carl "gay" and "fag" heard it from somewhere. I wouldn't be surprised if they heard it at home. You don't have to accept homosexuality but people should respect those who are different from them. And when your kids come home crying about being teased don't just tell them to suck it up. Listen to them. And we as black people need to stop the homophobia. There are gay people in the world. Yes and some of them are black. GASP. So what. There have been gay people around probably since the beginning of time. I have a book on erotic art from ancient civilizations. There are statues and paintings in the book that depict homosexuality. Maybe if more black people were tolerant of homosexuality we wouldn't have such a severe down-low problem because brothas would come out the close. Then we could put a handle on the AIDS virus that's taking out black women and black gay men. Carl may have been gay or not. Who knows? Regardless, somewhere those kids learned to be bullies and they weren't stopped. Maybe if the school and parents had stepped up, Carl's mom wouldn't have found her 6th-grade son hanging from the ceiling by an extension cord.

Photo Credit:
1.Tony Romao, Huffington Post
2.Bruce Lettier, Huffington Post

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Fly Read: My Organic Soul

I hope everyone had a great Easter holiday. Growing up, my family didn't get together for Easter. My mom and I went to church sometimes and I got an Easter basket, but we never went all out with the dinner and egg hunts. As I grew older Easter became a reflective holiday for me. I reflect on Christ's sacrifice for love and how what didn't kill Him made Him stronger. So strong that he rose from the dead. And I can't help but tie that in to my own personal life. For those not Christian, think about Spring. A season of new life and colors. The snow is melting and the cold is gone. It's time for growth and new energy. Again, I think about the challenges in my life. What do I need to rise over? Where do I need to grow?
Easter is also about gratitude. I'm thankful that the things in my past life that seemed to kill my spirit then, only made me stronger, wiser and more powerful today. I'm thankful for what God has done for me in my life.

Usually when I reflect on life I turn to my journal. I've been writing in a journal since I was about 7 years old. My mother made me a journal from a little brown binder she bought from Walgreens. She typed my name on a small sheet of paper and taped it to the cover. That journal is the best material gift she gave me because she planted the seed of my writing passion. I did a piece on NPR's Intern Edition about my journal. Music marketing executive Jacqueline Rhinehart also keeps a journal. She's worked with major talents like Erykah Badu, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Didddy, Notorious B.I.G, etc. I wrote about her last month. Rhinehart has kept a journal since she was 11. She's encouraging people of all ages to write their thoughts in My Organic Soul: A Journal to Help You Discover Yourself through Words of Wisdom from Visionaries Past and Present From Plato to Creflo, Emerson to MLK, Jesus to Jay-Z.

What's really cool about this journal is that it features quotes from scholars, prophets, hip hop artists, singers, etc. I heard Rhinehart speak at the California African American Museum a few weeks ago. She said her mother encouraged her to talk with herself when she needed to make a decision. Listen to that inner voice. Journaling is like having a conversation WITH yourself. I found it interesting that Rhinehart said she's suspicious of people who don't talk with themselves
or analyze their actions. My mom always told me that some people can't be alone with their thoughts. I think that's one of the reasons why some people are so angry, hurt, hateful, jealous. They can't process and look at their thoughts, go inside themselves. When I have feelings good, bad, or feelings that I ashamed of I write them down in my journal and it's so liberating. It clears my head. I was in a meditation class and the instructor told us to feel your feelings so they can pass. If you're sad, don't repress it. Just feel it and then it will pass. The key is to feel your feelings, acknowledge them. But don't your feelings control you.

If you have children or work with children, encourage them to keep a journal. So many American kids hate to write and can't write. But if you encourage them to write early on, it may help them in school. Also, it gives them a space to learn how to address their emotions. As a kid, if I was mad at my mom or going through something that I couldn't express verbally, I'd write them down in my journal. Then I would "accidentally" leave my journal open so she'd read it. I knew she'd read it because she's noisy. She asked me questions about what she read. That helped us communicate better.

Rhinehart is 50 and as you can see by the photo about, she looks GREAT. She's fit and has a warm personality. She does not like 50 at all. So I asked her what was her beauty secret. She told me this really cool quote that didn't record. In essence she said, take of yourself while you're young, have a good attitude and don't sweat the small stuff while you're young, because years down the line how you live your life will eventually show on your body and in your face. So when I walked to my car to listen to my great interview and heard static from the jacked up NEW tape I used, I hit the roof... for a few seconds. Then I realized I couldn't do anything about it. The tape was fine the first minute of the interview but the rest of it was corrupt. I went home and vented in my journal.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

News of the World and
British Singer Omar

Hey Cocoa Fly readers. Sorry I've been M.I.A. Life happens and I needed to get things together but I'm back.
I don't know about you but sometimes when I turn on the news, it feels like everything in the world is happening at once. Mass killings in Binghamton, NY, the murder of 3 Pittsburgh cops after we just lose 4 cops in the O, kidnappings, weak economy and health care system, etc. I can't watch every local news cast around the country so I'm sure there's madness going on in your neck of the woods. I'm tired of hearing all this craziness. What's wrong with people? I watch the news everyday because I'm a journalist and I like to be informed. But sometimes I understand why people need a break from the news.

Another big story, the 6.3 earthquake that shook central Italy. My heart and prayers go out to the people in central Italy. The death toll has surpassed 200 and there are people still missing. I was a little girl in Oakland when a 7.1 earthquake hit the Bay Area. My mom was working in San Francisco. The Bay Bridge collapsed around the time she would commute home to Oakland. I didn't know if she was on the bridge or trapped somewhere. We didn't hear from her for hours after the quake. I was scared to death. My mom came home after midnight the following day. I can only imagine what the Italians are going through.

When the news of the world hits me or when life isn't feeling like crystal stairs, I turn to music. One of my favorite artists is the British soul- singer Omar. I was introduced to his music a few years ago but the brotha has been in the game since the late 80s, early 90s. He's not a mainstream artist but he has collaborated with Stevie Wonder, Common, Erykah Badu and Angie Stone. Omar performed in the Bay tonight and LA last night. I didn't make his shows this time around. I saw him perform in 2007 in Santa Monica. The brotha rocked the house. His music is a combo of funk, hip hop, R&B, neo soul and Caribbean. My girls rolled with me to his show and we danced all night. They had never heard of him. What's cool about Omar is that his songs are about love, life and peace. He ain't on that cookie-cutter "oooh yeah girl" stuff that some of these new artists do in every song. His music has depth and it makes you feel good. Which probably is why he hasn't reached mainstream status. My favorite songs are "Theres' Nothing Like This and " "Winner." He and Angie Stone have a sweet duet called “All for Me” on his last album “Sing (If You Want It).” You can find his music in the few record stores that are left. Or order on Amazon. I know Omar gets mad love from neo-soul fans but his sound appeals to many. Listen to his interview with NPR or watch the old school video below to see what I'm talking about. With all the craziness going on, I hope it makes you feel a little better.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Have Sex, Save the Planet

I know you're looking at the picture to the left and thinking "what in the world?"

I was looking for something to watch on TV the other night. Ya'll know the economy is hurting a sista so I went On Demand to the FREE MOVIES section. Can't go wrong with Sundance flicks, right? I scrolled through the titles stopping at Green Porno. I had to watch. Actress Isabella Rossellini stars in this series of one-minute films where she explains and acts out animals mating. In the first season of Green Porno, Rossellini portrayed insects--snail, spider, worm, mantis, ets. The movie shorts are funny, interesting, creative and a bit erotic. What makes it really interesting is that Rossellini plays the male creature and her acting is good. Green Porno premiered on last year and the second season just began a few days ago. In the second season she explores how underwater animals get their freak on. You can watch both seasons on I know it sounds crazy but you really do a learn a lot from this series, which is what Rosellini told the Washington Post was her goal.

"My hope is that people laugh watching my film and then say, 'Hmm, I didn't know that about a fly or an earthworm," she said.

I learned that snails have both a penis and vagina. Female bees do all of the work and male bees chill around the hive until they find a female to impregnate. And did you know a whale's erection can grow as long as 6 ft?

Rosselinni may be in acting in Green Porno, but there are some people who are actually doing green pornography. A few years ago the San Francisco Chronicle ran a story on a couple in Norway, Leona Johansson and Tommy Hol Ellingsen. They started a sex site called F--k for Forest or FFF. The videos and photos are of people from around the globe doing it (some in trees). This is not just about getting turned on. The images come with information on environmental issues such as loss of vegetation in rain forests. Viewers donate money and get access to eco-friendly porn. The money goes to orgs helping to protect the planet. The website says what they're doing is "sexual activism." Here's the kicker, the Norwegian government gave the couple money to launch the site because Tommy and Leona said they were starting an "alternative environmental organization." Here's another kicker, at the time of the article, Tommy and Leona's site raised over $100,000 but they've have had a hard time giving the money away. Environmental agencies aren't feeling they're freaky nature.

After literally learning about the birds and the bees, it was time to get schooled about my own species. I stumbled onto the Discovery Channel and watched a documentary called "The Science of Sex Appeal." You can watch clips from the documentary on The scientists broke down what happens in our brain when we are attracted to someone and in love. And I learned women are more appealing to men when ovulating. They also did experiments with various faces and people had to choose which faces were more attractive based on how feminine and masculine they looked. The producers interviewed couples of different races about what attracted them to their mates. I wanted to see people of other races in the actual experiments. Especially in the study where scientists concluded men are naturally attracted to a certain hip to waist ratio on a woman's body. From what I saw, the men they polled were white. They should've included Black and Latino male subjects. I know many of my Black and brown brothas like their love handles a little wider than "the norm."

There's nothing like discussing snail sex and getting freaky in the evergreens. What a way to start the week. Happy Monday!

Photo Credits:
2.SF Chronicle
3. Discovery Store

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Back Up Off the First Lady

Say what you want to say about the Obamas they know how to work it! I was extra proud to be an American this week during the G-20 summit in London. The world showed the President and Mrs. Obama love. They are such a handsome couple and they represented our country well. Our FLOTUS looked great. I loved her hair, the clothes and her arms were banging as usual. The world is beginning to like America again, and I'm glad global leaders came together to map out how to fix this global finance mess.

While many of us enjoyed the spotlight on the Obamas, especially Michelle, there were those getting drunk off the Haterade. And one of their targets was our First Lady. The haters were looking to criticize her for something, anything. Then their opportunity came when she touched Queen Elizabeth II's back in a friendly gesture. Ooooh, she breached protocol. Actually, she didn't. Buckingham Palace released a statement today.

"It was a mutual and spontaneous display of affection and appreciation between the Queen and Michelle Obama," the Royal Press Office said in a statement Thursday. "The London Summit reception at Buckingham Palace was an informal occasion," the statement also said.

You can read the rest on CNN.

Okay so she didn't offend the Queen. That didn't stop Mrs. Obama's critics from ordering another round of Haterade. What about the hair and her clothes? Some said her hairstyle was too high and poofy. I thought it looked just fine. Over at the Huffington Post, Bonnie Fuller ripped the First Lady, saying that Mrs. Obama's choices turned her from a fashion icon into a "fashion disaster." She described her forehead as a "landing strip" because she found it "huge. Fuller also advised her to break out books on Jackie O and hire a stylist. Ya'll know I shook my head and rolled my eyes after reading this article.

Lady O rocked the U.K. Calling her a "fashion disaster" is extreme especially since it seems most people gave her rave reviews. I will admit that I was not feeling the blue sweater she wore to London's Royal Opera House. Yet the sista is no where near a fashion disaster. And I appreciate that her outfits aren't over the top flashy during these harsh economic times. As for the comments on her forehead, are we in grade school on the playground? And finally, Michelle Obama is NOT Jackie O. I'm tired of folks saying, "Jackie Kennedy wouldn't do this. Jackie Kennedy wouldn't wear that," when Mrs. Obama does something people don't like. Michelle Obama is making her own legacy and Jackie Kennedy is not the current First Lady. Last time I checked my calendar it read 2009, not 1962.

But comments like Fuller's aren't what I take serious issue with. People have talked about Lady O's looks, called her "angry," "militant" and "unpatriotic." She was even called "trash" and "bitch" by pundits. I was so frustrated when I heard the "trash" and "bitch" reference. It makes me angry because there are racist undertones to some of these comments. Would they call her these things if she weren't black? I've never seen a First Lady so criticized, attacked and disrespected. I didn't always agree with the way Pres. G.W. Bush ran the country but I never thought to call Laura Bush vulgar names or Hillary Clinton, Barbara Bush, Nancy Regan, etc. SOME people can't handle seeing an intelligent black woman who is poised and living a luxurious lifestyle. They probably think she should be cleaning the White House like in the "good ol' days" instead of residing in it. I wonder if they'd be more comfortable if she was out of shape, ignorant and ended all her sentences with "you know what I'm sayin.'"

Keep holding your head high Mrs. Obama. Hold it up high all the way to Buckingham Palace, Air Force One and your 132-room mansion.

And to all the ladies out there who are doing the right thing, but are getting hated on by classmates, teachers, family members, co-workers, "friends," enemies, ex-boyfriends, strangers, you name it--remember this:

" But my description cannot fit your tongue, for I have a certain way of being in this world, and I shall not, I shall not be moved."
---from the Maya Angelous poem "Our Grandmothers"

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Fly Ladies of the Day
Fashion Designers Gisella and Janet Asante

Fashion lovers around the world are eager to see what First Lady Michelle Obama will be wearing while in London for the G20 Summit. But I want to recognize two sistas across the pond who began rocking the fashion world 18 years ago.

Gisella Asante and her daughter Janet are the creative minds behind Gisella Boutique. Many of the designs are influenced by a clever mix of bold African styles and colors, accented with European chicness. In 2005 I visited their shop in south east London and I was in heaven. Beautiful fabrics, stunning bridal gowns, sexy dresses and hip jewelry--loved it!

Gisella Asante's story is an inspiration for the millions of people who recently got the dreaded pink slip from their jobs. In 1988 Asante was laid off from her job. Instead of looking at her situation as a closed door, she saw a huge opening for opportunity. According to the black British paper, The Voice, Asante used her buyout money and savings to pay her way through fashion school. Three years later Gisella Boutique was born. Her daughter Janet joined the business after finishing college. She also designs and co-manages the business.

Gisella Boutique is not only working the runways, but television also. The mother-daughter team are the official costume designers for the MTV base show "The Brothers," airing overseas. "The Brothers" is a TV adaptation of the hugely, popular play. This drama/comedy looks real juicy. See for yourself here. Somebody needs to put the episodes on You Tube so the U.S. sistas can watch.

As you can see, sistas are making moves all over the world. Congratulations to the Gisella Boutique for their amazing work and bringing diversity to the fashion runways. Hopefully Lady O will swing by the boutique during her trip and pick up a few outfits.

Photo Credit:
1.Gisella Boutique
2. The Voice
2. Gisella Boutique


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