Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Chester French 'Black Girl' Video Doesn't Push the Envelope

Still shot of "Black Girls" by Chester French

Blogging about this video four days after it went viral equates to 10 years in internet time, but I just had to comment.

When I saw people chatting about Chester French's "Black Girls" video on Facebook, my first thought was, "Who's this Chester French dude?" Clearly, I've gained points on my "old school" card because I had no idea they were a music duo. Honestly, I never heard of them until that day. I was hesitant to watch the video because sistas didn't get a lot of media love this past week.  There was that racist, barbaric cake- cutting party in Sweden. Kevin Hart's Twitter scandal rocked the web. The ruckus was over a cartoon post of a stereotypical and offensive cartoon about black women on his Twitter page. He said he neither approved the post, nor created the cartoon and was taking legal action against the person who tweeted the link.  Then he blamed the intern, and later the Evil Twitter Fairy who poses as celebs and posts nasty things to get them in trouble. In all fairness, I saw the cartoon on the web months before it hit Hart's page so I don't think he created it. We all should be shocked if he did approve such a cartoon because in 2010, he tweeted a "joke" referring to dark-skinned black women as "broke ass dark hoes."  But, I digress.

Back to Chester French.  I like the "Black Girl" song but the video doesn't reflect it at all. We don't see the black woman's face until 27 seconds into the video. Chester French are not in the video. Instead, a white woman lip syncs to their vocals.  She has an aggressive lust in her eye for the black model. Ironically, the first line in the song is "This ain't no fetish/ain't objectifying no one." But the white woman's sex-hungry look came off as her fetishizing the black woman. While the black woman looks more playful and innocent. 

I continued to watch and was totally surprised by the girl-on-girl action. There was so much going on in the video that I couldn't focus on the lyrics. I don't have a problem with lesbianism. Since white guys wrote the song, why aren't their white boys in the video singing to black girls?  Is a white man professing his attraction and admiration of black women to a black woman more taboo than hot, interracial, feminine lesbian sex? Especially hot, interracial, feminine lesbian sex meant to entertain men?  Think about it. Is the mainstream's gaze more comfortable with two women getting it on, then a white man respectfully expressing his love for black women?  I know we're seeing more bw/wm couples on television (i.e. Parenthood, Desperate Housewives, etc.). Still, there's something more intimate when a man is singing his heart out.  By so much of the focus being on the sexy models, the black girl is no longer the subject. The attention is taken away from the black woman in the video and the reasons why Chester French admire her.

There were a few cool things about the video. I loved the creators' use of contrast: blonde, long hair, very fair white woman with a dark, short-haired black woman with African features.  The video is shot in black and white. Both models have a unique beauty.  I appreciated that they chose a black model with such features that aren't recognized in mainstream. Artistically, it was well done. Chester French get a few points for the video, but I still don't like it for the song.

After watching the soft porn video and waiting for my laptop to finish smoking a cigarette, I decided to give the song another try. This time I skipped the video. I downloaded the song for free from Chester French's website and read the lyrics. The song took on a completely different meaning.
They're so frustrated I don't keep it in the race
/ Like they've never seen this before/ 
Like it's 1954/ 
But the whole world's turning brown and who cares

 It's a positive song, with a catchy hook that gives love to sistas. I fell out laughing at "the girl don't need a tan" part. 

I've got a thing for black girls
 La, la la la la, la la, la la la la la

Chester French may have a thing for black girls, judging by the song. If you judge their sista-loving hearts based on the video, it only seems like they have a thing for black girls doing white girls on camera. Or they have a thing for giving racist-homophobes heart attacks.  If Chester French really wanted to push the envelope in their video, they would have cast an interracial couple.  No raunchy, sexy stuff—just a white dude happily singing to the black girl he loves. Or at least Chester French could've shown their faces in the video.  Masking girl-on-girl action as shocking was playing it safe. But I still like the song.   La, la la la la, la la, la la la la la

Monday, April 16, 2012

Danielle Belton of BlackSnob.com on Mental Health, African Americans and Living with Bipolar Disorder

Danielle Belton
Photo from BP Magazine
One of the many things I do at my day job and love is hosting a podcast about mental health. And one of my favorite interviews is with journalist and blogger Danielle Belton of BlackSnob.com. Last summer she wrote an article for BP magazine about coming to terms with her bipolar diagnosis. Danielle was my second guest. I had a lot of fun with that interview. I know the words "fun" and "bipolar" don't seem to fit together, but mental health affects many people. Yet it's so stigmatized. And one of the goals of my show and the org I work for, is to show people that you can have quality of life with a mental health challenge.  So yes, we had a fun interview but it was very enlightening as well. Click here to listen.  Learn something and enjoy!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Cocoa Fly Gets Some Natural Hair Love on Essence.com

 If you told me 15 years ago, when I was daydreaming in my carnation pink bedroom, that my face would land on Essence.com for a natural hair section--I would have called you crazy. Then I would've tuned you out, hit "play" on my walkman and listened to a TLC tape.  Why? Well, I wouldn't buy that the adult-me stopped straightening my hair. I wasn't into Afros back then. Plus, I wouldn't believe that people in the future were reading magazines and newspapers on computers.

The photo was from the Beautiful Textures-sponsored event I covered a few weeks ago in San Francisco. The room was filled with black women who put down the hot comb, got off of the creamy crack and rocked gorgeous hairstyles. Photographer Ashleigh Reddy walked around asking to take people's photos. She approached me. I said sure. Afterward she told me it was for Essence.com

The other day I stepped back and thought about why I was excited to see this photo. One of my childhood dreams was to see my name in Essence, mainly as a writer and editor. Then-editor Susan L. Taylor was (and still is) someone I looked up to.  In my teens, I didn't always love what I saw in the mirror. To reach a place in my life today where I not only love the skin I'm in, but my God-given hair texture is an indescribable joy.  And the fact that my kinks and curls got my picture on Essence.com at this time of my life is no coincidence. God is trying to tell me something.

I heard through my family's grapevine that a relative who saw this picture asked another relative, "So, she likes wearing her like this?" Ha! Years ago I would've felt self-concisous by such a comment but today I find it ridiculous. Obviously I like sporting this style because I've been natural 1 1/2 years. LOL.  My hair is convenient, spa friendly, manageable, affordable (I've saved so much money), liberating and fun. If my relative ever asks me if I like my hair, I'll tell her I don't like it. I'll tell her I love it.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Win Beautiful Textures Products!

Photo courtesy of The Garner Circle
 I had a great time at the recent Beautiful Textures event in San Franciso. And I hear natural divas across the pond also had a good time when the Beautiful Textures crew traveled to Paris and London.  For my Cocoa Fly readers in the U.S. you can try some of these products that I took home.

It's simple to win.  Look at my previous post about Beautiful Textures here.  Stylist Felicia Leatherwood delivered priceless hair tips. I've taken her advice and have noticed a difference in a matter of weeks! One style I love to sport are two-strand twists. She dropped a major tip about two-strand twists that I was clueless about. All of this time I was damaging my hair because I was doing something wrong with my twists.

What was the advice Felicia Leatherwood shared about two-strand twists? Find the answer in my previous post. The first two readers to email the CORRECT answer to me win!!! Just send your answers to cocoaflyblog@gmail.com.  Good luck! 

Thanks to Beautiful Textures for the giveaway. Learn more about their products:


****Contest Over! Congrats to winners Sonia H. and Pamela H. ! ****


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