Sunday, May 29, 2016

Why Is the Media Calling Prince a Drug Addict?

No doubt about it, Prince was mysterious. Unique is not even the word to describe his out-of-the-box persona. Prince was a brotha like not other. Still, during his lifetime, he rarely made the tabloids. Rarely. The most drama I can recall being covered about Prince was when he changed his name to a symbol and was referred to as "The Artist" or "The artist formerly known as Prince."

Since his death, so much dirt is coming out about him. I don't know if the dirt is true or not, but I have chosen to ignore it. I have never seen Prince in the tabloids this much. Ever. He is rumored to have had an addiction to prescription pills. I've seen headlines refer to him as a "drug addict."

Since when are celebrities addicted to prescription pills now called "drug addicts"? I don't recall the media every calling Farrah Fawcett or Ryan O'Neal drug addicts? What about Charlie Sheen? Usually they're labeled as being "plagued with addiction" or "fighting addiction." We know the image that comes to mind when we think of a drug addict. Prince was a musical genius and deserves better. He also deserves a better tribute than that mess Billboard threw together with Madonna. I've been listening to Madonna for years, but she she should've sat in the audience that night.

After days of watching my timeline flood with rumors about Prince not having a will, family issues with the money, grown ass people popping up saying Prince is their daddy, confusion over which memorial service was official--I decided not to click on that stuff anymore. It's too much. Prince left us way too soon and I would rather pay my respects by celebrating all of the good music, funny stories and infamous side-eyes he gave people who displeased His Royal Purpleness. Below are a few photos from the Cat Club in San Francisco. They hosted a tribute night to Prince. I put on my only purple dress, a pair of fishnets and turned out "Let's Go Crazy" on the dance floor.

Dance to Prince. Make love to Prince's music. Wear purple. Be yourself. Own your art. Enjoy your life. That's how we should honor Prince's journey into the Afterworld.

An altar for people to write notes about Prince

A picture someone left at the Prince memorial altar. 

My purple dress and fishnets were only for Prince. 

My friend and fellow journalist Millie celebrated Prince's
life with me. We danced ALL night and enjoyed cheap drinks. 

I went to the record store the other day. Yes I went to an actual
record store. Prince's music was there. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

It's Not About Mental Illness, but Mental Health

I love the month of May because it's Mental Health Awareness Month and International Masturbation Month. I hope you are honoring both by taking care of your mental health and treating yourself to some kind of fun and safe sexual pleasure. It doesn't get any safer with masturbation. But I'll write about self-pleasuring a little later.

The video below is from an acceptance speech I gave after being acknowledged for a mental health podcast I hosted. The discussion on mental health is usually dark and heavy, I tried to bring uplifting content to that show. That show is the reason why I shared my diagnosis of depression. I didn't feel right interviewing people about their mental health and not sharing my own challenges. Thankfully, over time I learned how to manage my health condition. My good days are far more than my bad days. But when I start feeling the blues, I know I need to go to therapy, get out of the house, exercise, change my diet, change my thinking, etc.

I share this so those of you with mental health challenges are not ashamed. I hope we focus more on caring for our mental health, instead of looking at these challenges as just an illness. We all should be managing our mental health daily. Stress, anxiety, grieving a loved one--that can turn into something more serious if you don't have the proper care and support.

Take care of your mind folks!


Friday, May 20, 2016

Why Hate on Ayesha Curry For Living the Good Life?

The cover of Ayesha's Curry new book
Ayesha Curry has been receiving a lot of unfair, sexist comments and misogynoir in reaction to her new book, upcoming TV show and restaurant. She responded to one idiot on Instagram who attacked her for being domestic and benefiting from her husband's fame. This idiot said she should be encouraging young women to go to college and build their success without a man.

I'm surprised she responded to this foolishness. But I've seen other people attack her for this on social media. I wonder if these same people attack the wives of famous men like Jerry Seinfeld, Donald Trump. John Legend and countless others whose husbands fame helped give them even more visibility. Probably not.

I made a video responding to the jealous, bitter, crabs who think Black women shouldn't be happy. Some people have a problem when we're living the good life. I hope Ayesha takes those crabs out of the barrel and roasts their pathetic behinds in garlic and butter on high heat. Click on the video to watch and PLEASE SHARE IT.

Watch my Facebook video! 

Monday, May 16, 2016

When Love and Hugs Are the Cure, But You Don’t Know How to Ask For Them

Photo from
One of my favorite interviews is with psychologist Michael Cornwall. He also writes for the mental health blog Mad in America. He inspired me with his recent post “The Elusive Emotional Wounds of Omission That Our Culture Inflicts On Us-and the Healing Balm of Love That Can Heal Them.” It’s about how love and care can treat people in emotional and mental health crisis. Yet our culture’s idea of competition and equating strength with individualism causes us to suffer.

Cornwall wrote, “Fear, shame, guilt, despair and anger take up so much of the emotional space in the collective and solitary rooms we live in. Those painful emotions are the emotional currency of a culture that long ago lost its way from the ideals of altruism and justice. “

He later shared how he helped psychiatric patients who were mute open up, by expressing love and compassion for their suffering.

Sometimes the therapy we need is love and affection. After dealing with a number of deaths, betrayal from people once close to me and praying I wouldn’t have a stroke when I walked into my abusive work environment—-counseling wasn’t enough. My therapist is great and she gave me the right tools and support. But I got to a point where I needed someone to hold me. If you grew up in a loving household as a kid, adults were always giving you hugs or consoling you when you fall. Where do you go when you’re a single, grown ass woman with bills and responsibilities? Where do you go when the people who would console you are part of the reason why you need love and affection? Or the people you usually turn to are going through their own problems? I was embarrassed to ask for a healing embrace. When friends greeted me with a hug, I took as much in as I could.

During a peer counseling training at my job, we split up into groups to practice tactics we learned in role plays. My group was in the office’s small, windowless kitchen. It’s funny how God works because two people did a role play scenario that was almost exactly what I was going through. One person needed counseling because she was taking care of her dying grandfather and a family member was being a jerk while she was suffering through the loss. It was like watching myself. I felt the kitchen shrinking. My body temperature rose from struggling not to cry. It triggered the hell out of me. The people who made up the scenario had no idea what I was going through. That’s why I think it was a divine intervention. I jetted out of the kitchen to my office and cried. Who gave me the hug that I was dying for was my younger co-worker. It was a sobbing, snotty, ugly cry with a lot of venting. But my co-worker kept encouraging me to let it out.

My co-workers healing touch and compassion was the emotional remedy I needed. We rock and hold our babies, but we still need to do that for each other in adulthood. Even embracing a pet helps. There are so many people walking around like everything is fine, like everything is under control and they are filled with so much pain. I usually post on my Facebook page to check in with people, even the ones you think have it easy. Most of us are dealing with some kind of challenge in life. But, whether life is storming with problems or bright, we should be getting love on the regular.

I think some of us don’t ask for affection because we fear being seen as pathetic or needy. In the hook to Rihanna’s “Love Song” featuring Future, he says:

I don’t wanna give you the wrong impression 

I need love and affection 

And I hope I’m not sounding too desperate 

I need love and affection 

I was bumping this song in my car after leaving a Prince party, and I questioned why Future thought saying he needs love and affection makes him come off as desperate. Babies die from not being held and loved. And I believe a lot of adults do too. We turn to booze, the pipe, sex, food, violence, etc. to make us feel good. Needing and wanting love and affection is nothing to be ashamed of.

The lesson I learned from my breakdown was to reach out. I know there are people I could’ve called and said, “Hey, I need a hug.” But my pride stopped me. If one of my friends called me and said they needed a hug, I would be right there. I wouldn’t judge them. So I shouldn’t judge myself. I’m human. Lesson learned. Thankfully my life is much better and the storm has passed.

Still my heart goes out to the people who have no one. We have to reach out to each other.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

What bell hooks gets Wrong/Right about Beyonce’s Lemonade and What Fans Don't Get About bell hooks

bell hooks
Photo from wikicommons

I had no idea what to expect when clicked on bell hooks critique of Beyonce’s Lemonade on my Facebook newsfeed. Especially since she went overboard and called Beyonce a terrorist a couple of years ago. I love Lemonade. Beyonce had me drunk in my Black woman feelings and Black girl magic. Still I read hooks’ review “Moving Beyond Pain” and I actually agree with some of her critique. Not all, but some. hooks comments are in bold- italic.

Obviously Lemonade positively exploits images of black female bodies—placing them at the center, making them the norm. In this visual narrative, there are diverse representations (black female bodies come in all sizes, shapes, and textures with all manner of big hair).
My first thought—can you positively exploit something? I had to look up the definition of exploit to put it in hook’s context because it seemed like an oxymoron. But if exploit also means to advance or further through promotion, then I can see how she argues Bey is using Black female bodies to get her message out about Black women.

What makes this commodification different in Lemonade is intent; its purpose is to seduce, celebrate, and delight—to challenge the ongoing present day devaluation and dehumanization of the black female body. Throughout Lemonade the black female body is utterly-aestheticized—its beauty a powerful in your face confrontation. This is no new offering. Images like these were first seen in Julie Dash’s groundbreaking film Daughters of the Dust shot by the brilliant cinematographer Arthur Jafa. Many of the black and white still images of women and nature are reminiscent of the transformative and innovative contemporary photography of Carrie Mae Weems. She has continually offered decolonized radical revisioning of the black female body.
Yes, Lemonade challenges the dehumanization of the Black woman’s body. And I definitely agree that some of the cinematography is not innovative. There are scenes of Lemonade that made me immediately think of Daughters of the Dust and Beloved. Is that a bad thing? No. Maybe it’s Bey’s way of saluting these works. What’s even more important is that Beyonce has us talking about these artists. It was just announced since Lemonade that Julia Dash’s film will be re-released. I hope younger people can learn about the artists that influenced Lemonade.

However, this radical repositioning of black female images does not truly overshadow or change conventional sexist constructions of black female identity.
The problem I have with this argument and similar in her post is I don’t expect Lemonade to solve or change patriarchy, gender inequality, etc. I don’t expect it to change constructions of black female identity. Beyonce is an artist. Her work can influence us to change. But to knock her for not changing social and sexist construction of black female identity is a bit much.

Even though Beyoncé and her creative collaborators daringly offer multidimensional images of black female life, much of the album stays within a conventional stereotypical framework, where the black woman is always a victim.
I agree with bell hooks 100% here. I get tired of Black women’s stories constantly being about us in pain. While I agree that being a Black woman in this world is not easy, there’s more to our story than the struggle. There is victory, love, innovation, intelligence, joy, travel, family, good relationships, education, spirituality. But much of Lemonade is about the struggle. That’s why I say this is not about THE Black woman’s experience but PART of the experience.

Contrary to misguided notions of gender equality, women do not and will not seize power and create self-love and self-esteem through violent acts. Female violence is no more liberatory than male violence. And when violence is made to look sexy and eroticized, as in the Lemonade sexy-dress street scene, it does not serve to undercut the prevailing cultural sentiment that it is acceptable to use violence to reinforce domination, especially in relations between men and women. Violence does not create positive change.

Slow down bell. “Hold Up” is my song and my video. Beyonce wasn't encouraging violence through bashing up cars. She was angry and wanted to express her anger. Which for Black women, sometimes we hold back as not to be seen as the “angry Black woman.” All of these visuals Beyonce show is telling us we have a lot of shit to be angry about. We should be angry about the dehumanization of our bodies, unjust police killings, slavery, racism and sexism. As Malcolm X said, we’re the most disrespected person in America. And she’s bashing shit because she’s being disrespected by not just white men, but her Black man too. Yes Bey, swing the hell out of that bat. As for her emerging from water in the sexy gold dress, people are saying it represents the goddess Oshun. In the Yoruba religion, Oshun represents love, beauty, femininity and sensuality. But she doesn’t take well to being offended. Hence why Beyonce was all gorgeous, sexy and pissed off. I don’t see that scene as being a sexualization, but some kind of acknowledgement of a BLACK goddess. Often when we talk of goddesses they are Greek or Roman. There are African goddesses.

Even though Beyoncé and her creative collaborators make use of the powerful voice and words of Malcolm X to emphasize the lack of respect for black womanhood, simply showcasing beautiful black bodies does not create a just culture of optimal well being where black females can become fully self-actualized and be truly respected.

Again I don’t get why bell hooks is expecting Beyonce to change the world entirely.

Monday, May 2, 2016

My 5 Success Strategies

Jenee Darden giving a presentation 

I was a guest on on the Blog Talk Radio Show Game On with host Jerry Jacob. We talked about my own five strategies that have led to my professional success. It's a short interview, that I hope inspires you. Listen below.

Check Out Pop Culture Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Game On With Jerry Jacob on BlogTalkRadio with Game On on BlogTalkRadio


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