Tuesday, July 31, 2012

So Excited About My First Journalism Award!

Jenee Darden poses with her first journalism award. 

What an amazing month. I went on my first trip to New Orleans and partied with sorors at our Boule. I took one day to catch up on some sleep before getting R&R in Napa. In between my travels I visited KQED in San Francisco to receive a New America Media Award for Outstanding Community Reporting-Radio.  Remember that piece on the film Dark Girls that I did for my job's show Mental Health and Wellness Radio? Well my story of being a dark-skinned girl in a "light is right" world, along with coverage of Dark Girls and other amazing interviews helped me garner my first journalism award.

The award means a lot to me because the last few years have been rough. I was dealing with long-term unemployment, got into a bad car accident, had to leave a city I loved because of joblessness, only to return to the Bay Area and help care for my dying grandfather. That's not even all of the hurdles I faced.  Receiving this award felt great.

Belva Davis and I chatting about
my story and black hair. 
Last year, I attended a book signing at Barnes and Noble by veteran journalist Belva Davis. She is the first African American female anchor in the Western United States. She was promoting her memoir Never in My Wildest Dreams.  She and I discussed how journalism has changed and I told her I was having trouble finding a full-time job. I felt bad because I couldn't afford to buy her book at the time.  Fast forward to 2012 and she's presenting an award to me at the New America Media Awards. It's amazing how God works.

And how ironic that exploring an issue that pained me for years in my adolescence, colorism, was a blessing in the end.

I'm just very thankful. Below is the video to my acceptance speech. We were only given one minute. In the short time I acknowledged my mama, my guests in the audience, the people who sign my paycheck and the deceased. I'm just keeping it real.

For all of you who prayed for me, cheered for me, mentored me, made me laugh when I was down and told me not give up when I wanted to---I thank you.

Thank you.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Holy Cow!
I Can't STAND Fifty Shades of Grey's Anastasia Steele


I had to see what the hype was over Fifty Shades of Grey. I've studied erotic lit, but this was my first time reading BDSM fiction. I heard E L James' writing isn't great and the storyline is fluffy. I don't mind fluff. Sometimes I need a break from serious reading. I also heard the novel is far from being good erotica. But no one warned me about one of the most annoying characters I have ever read in my life-- Anastasia Steele.

Anastasia Steele should be named Anastasia Cotton. She is far from being strong. The college senior falls for Christian Grey. He's a hot, rich, powerful, young businessman who has a hard time getting turned on unless it involves him inflicting control or pain. He's into BDSM and Anastasia is in love. She's desperate to have Grey. So desperate, that she’ll submit to BDSM fetishes. Grey is her first lover and her introduction to sex is through bondage and control. Ouch. That wouldn't be a problem to me if she weren't so thirsting for his love.

The girl is pathetic and her self-esteem is low. Everyone says she's beautiful, but Anastasia can't see it.  And she's immature. She's a grown woman saying things like, "Holy cow, what is he going to do now?" or "Holy crap, I made him mad." Anastasia is a 20-ish college student with a passion for classic British literature. Yet, "holy crap" is the best the author can do with Anastasia's dialogue?  She sounds more like a teenager than a college senior. The repetitive use of "holy cow" and "holy crap" was getting on my nerves. Unfortunately Anastasia is the narrator, so it's hard to escape her whining, uncertainties, desperation and pathetic thoughts.  And don't get me started on this "inner goddess," she refers to, which I assume is the "empowering" voice of her conscious. And I use "empowering" loosely.

As for naughty boy Christian Grey,


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