presenting: the absurdity of tina knowles.

now, y’all know i love clothes. i live for sparkly, brightly colored shit that some may shy away from. but one day about two years ago i had the misfortune of discovering that tina knowles (mother of beyonce, solange, & play mama to kelendria) had unleashed on the unsuspecting & undeserving masses released, in addition to dereon, a line of clothing via the home shopping network’s website and live broadcasts.  be still, my heart! more profound fashion fuckery? i tuned into HSN to learn just what awaited me.  i wasn’t ready. not at all. & i know you aren’t, either.  let’s take a stroll down the hallowed halls of miss tina’s fashions. shall we?

first up:  the caged beast leather hobo handbag.  this thing is what nightmares are made of, i’m sure.

it originally sold for $250. WHAT? note that the bag not only has interchangeable inserts, but that they are all in an ambiguous “animal print”, sort of furry fabric! hence the name caged beast, i presume. cleva! i am still amazed that when i perused the hsn website around this time last year, there was an alarming note proclaiming that only three bags remained.  i have yet to see one of these bags in person — i pray that i never do. (& i do NOT believe for one second that the woman doing this video believes anything she’s saying. dig the clowning that begins at about 1:47.)

next: from the ‘heritage’ section of misstina.com, a bit of background (my notes in italics):

The visionary behind the Miss Tina Collection blessed with her mother’s talent and creative ability, Tina Knowles rose to fame as the gifted designer and world renowned stylist for her daughters, Beyoncé and Solange Knowles and Kelly Rowland and the Grammy award winning group, Destiny’s Child.  (oh, so she’s the one to blame for the piss-poor clothes in such fabrics as bright orange camoflage & “what is that, velvet?” worn by destiny’s child? don’t act like y’all don’t remember that shit from the soul train awards!)  This accomplished interior designer, celebrated author and talented chef, serves as the creative force for the collection. (what the fuck has cooking got to do w/ this? and she’s a celebrated author? for realzies? i can’t.)

Tina’s unique vision; a combination of high style, attention detail sprinkled with a taste of couture, enables her to create a distinctive blend fo signature and luxe for the Miss Tina Collection. (the comma splices and extreme misuse of a semicolon have made reading this so much more absurd for me. ugh. let me guess: miss tina herself wrote the shit, & nobody dared correct her on mechanics.)

further, the names miss tina gives to her creations are not indicative of any level of fashion knowledge. sorry to say. there’s no way she couldn’t have finessed “Quilted Entice Handbag with Pyramid Studs” into something else?  the same goes for the “Miss Tina Tall Boot with Studs“, “Miss Tina Logo-Print Studded Tapestry Peep-Toe Boots“, and “Cotton Shirt with Cuff“, which implies that the creole (don’t act like she doesn’t mention that shit at random) creative juices just were not flowing after a certain point. 

the fabric, y’all. the fucking fabric! the charmeuse, the not-even-modal jersey, the stretch denim (some of that shit is more than 3 percent lycra, which is nonsensical), & the crazy looking materials employed to make shoes all make me wonder what in the tangerine fuck is even going on here. i had the misfortune of coming across a miss tina dress in a local store. it was a mess. the cut was terrible (it even looked wack on the hanger), the fabric felt like the cheapest of cheap polyesters, & i think that for some reason the arms were inordinately huge. it was a hot pink tragedy w/ ruching (miss tina loves her some ruching!).  i felt bad for whomever paid full price for the damn thing a year ago. cuz it was most certainly hanging on the super duper last ditch effort clearance rack for $12. 

miss tina gives makeovers.

in conclusion, i’ll just say this: if you don’t understand what my big gripe is with tina knowles’ proliferation of bamma style, then simply do a google image search for ‘miss tina fashions’ & see what you come up with. i promise, you won’t be disappointed.  or, maybe you will? depends on what you’re expecting.

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a colored girl’s love letter.

(i was gonna write a letter to tyler perry, but i’ve decided against it.  for now, anyway.)

so i’ve been thinking about tyler perry being at the helm of this major motion picture adaptation of for colored girls. and i’ve been reading the choreopoem itself over and over again.  and something i’ve come to realize as a result of this development is that when there’s an adaptation of an original work, lots of things get changed and moved around. i think the “pass” he gets is that he’s going to adapt the choreopoem. which means to me that we’re likely to get the storylines of the women, but with some serious redux. since TP’s subject matter almost exclusively involves heavily dysfunctional black women & men, we’re gonna get the essence of crystal and beau willie brown. we’re going to get the concept of the latent rapist bravado piece, but maybe never the idea that it is never the victim’s fault.
it would pain me incessantly to see this choreopoem turned into an episode of jerry springer with a dash of church music thrown in at the end.  it seems that lots of women i know feel the same way — it would be so tragic to see something we love so deeply turned into yet another reason to hear oleta adams’ “many rivers to cross” or mariah carey’s “fly like a bird” in the context of something that really reduces the black woman’s experience to its lowest common denominator.

so i’ve been thinking about that, too. what is this film adaptation going to look like? is it going to follow the same basic archetype as his other films/ plays (emotionally damaged black woman/ women finding redemption after much pain and strife… with a heavy dose of jesus h. christ for upliftment)? according to the ‘dream cast’ article from broadway.com (linked above), the narratives of the ladies will be incorporated into perry’s own script that leads them to ‘the colored girls center’. i, personally, see lots of his tried-and-true storytelling methods. i feel like that’s a really bad idea, given that most of the impact that for colored girls has (in my experience) comes from the very fact that it is a CHOREOPOEM. not a scripted play with a set and huge cast. not a scripted film with a plot. because linear storytelling, though it can be impactful, is not in tune with how most of us reach our epiphanized selves. at the end of the piece, is there not the mantra of “i found god in myself/ and i loved her/ i loved her fiercely”?  what about that? knowing that most of tyler perry’s viewership identifies as christian, are we going to discuss the divine feminine in this movie? i doubt it. so, i’m pissed.  i think it’s apparent from this piece written by stacia on postbourgie that the concern of colored girls fans is very real, and definitely not imagined or overblown.

an idea i’ve wanted to do ever since playing “lady in green” back in my freshman year of college is to do a series of colored girls readings.  it could be really simple. dinner, cocktails, the reading, then a discussion with notes and feedback forms and stuff.

i will do this. in philly, in nyc, in dc . . . where ever.

interested? email me. sechitatgmaildotcom with colored girls dinner party in the subject header.

thanks.

peace.

help a sista out.

this post is not about me, but some women who need my/ your help: donna, angeline, and tatjiana.

the best words about donna’s situation come directly from her (link here), but also joan’s post is excellent and sums up most of my feelings.  as far as i know, nobody’s heard from her. i’ve been praying and holding her in my heart, above all. i ask you all to do the same, or more if possible.

also: a child in the DC area is missing.  i’ve seen posts on speak up and raven’s eye.

in NYC, a sista named angeline’s daughter has been taken from her. info here. do what you can; show up, show out, SPEAK up, and SPEAK out.

silence does not protect anyone.

on: somali pirates, lies, and defending what’s yours.

some words from johann hari via the independent, and a two-part interview with somali musician k’naan:

also, big shouts to the homie nezua for his post on the matter.  his words reflect my thoughts and feelings regarding this issue. 

of course, the moment some brown/ black folks decide to defend what’s theirs, it’s a problem. imperialism hasn’t ended just because all maps have been drawn.  this is an injustice, to say the least. the somali people have every right to defend themselves.

triggered. like a motherfucker.

my identity as a queer woman is hard-won.  through years of vascillation, denial, secrecy, and srategic planning dedicated to hiding myself from myself i am now working at being authentically myself. and a big part of that is being forthright with any potential lovers about my sexuality.  there is no introduction that goes, “i’m sparkle, and i’m bisexual”.  but there’s also no soap opera (or jenny jones) moment when i spring it on futureboo or presentboo in a space that she or he might find uncomfortable.  because that’s not how you treat folks.  my honesty has most likely cost me a relationship or three.  and i’m okay with that.  nobody wants to be in a relationship where they feel stifled instead of feeling edified.  so, it is with that knowledge i walk.  it’s not an easy walk: there are folks who don’t recognize my sexuality as legitimate compared to their own, there are folks who presume that i’m unaware of what i want in life (or in my bed), and there are also folks who believe that my queerness makes me impossible of being monogamous.

it is this completely erroneous belief/ assumption that makes me impossibly pissed off.  and it is this idea that made me want to write this blog post, because of a song called “think my girl (ay, ay)” by omarion.  this song gives what might be considered an inside view of a relationship between the narrator (whom i presume to be a hetero-identified person whose sex assignment at birth was male, who identifies as male/ man) and his girlfriend, whose behavior implies that she may be cheating on him with a female associate of hers.  this woman does not answer her phone when she’s with this friend, referred to as “the girl that doesn’t have a man” in the lyrics to the first verse. (you can listen for yourselves here, dear readers; i refuse to transcribe this shit.)  the hook of this song goes on to express that though the girlfriend is very physically affectionate with the narrator her behavior changes when around this friend of hers, has a better eye for attractive women than her paramour, and also presumes that the narrator is welcome in the bedroom with the girlfriend and whomever she’s cheating on him with.  the second verse includes some information about the narrator’s girlfriend and her friend having matching tattoos, and some “secret conversations” between the two women.

what bothers and upsets me is the fact that this song is a bunch of stereotypes and assumptions wrapped into one neat little sonic package.  this song is a symptom of the problem — it’s giving me hives when goddess knows i am allergic to bullshit.  this song neatly lists (for me, anyway) what seem to be the predominant, erroneous, widely held beliefs about bisexual women.

i have to acknowledge that  heterosexual privilege allows this song to exist.  heterosexual privilege allows the demonization of anyone who does not exemplify compulsory heterosexuality.

the narrator’s girlfriend is acting suspiciously (in his opinion, or per his explanation as narrator).  since there’s another woman involved in this (as either a friend or lover, possibly both), it’s implied that the girlfriend’s behavior can be attributed specifically to a sexual relationship with this other woman. so, this makes her hot-in-the-ass and unfaithful.  this also demonizes the presumed other woman; she’s got some kind of a stranglehold on the girlfriend’s mind, via sex. there’s no suggestion that the girlfriend is keeping company with this woman who “doesn’t have a man” because she’s sick. or because she’s got kids she needs help with. or an ailing relative. or something that is not about sex.  (could it be that only women sing/ write songs that discuss concern for other women? see: eve’s “love is blind”, destiny’s child’s “girl”, or the jazzyfatnastees’ “how sad”. i don’t think that this is the case, but i’m just asking.) let’s examine this: not answering the phone within an hour (verse 1), a friend with no man who’s often around (probably cuz she hasn’t got a man to keep her company), a knack for identifying a beautiful woman before her man does, and limited PDA when said manless friend is around — she’s just got to be cheating with this manless friend!  am i the only one who thinks this is rather base?  furthermore, bisexuality does not exclude any human being (male or female, cisgender or transgender) from monogamy! emotional immaturity may exclude one from being faithful to their partner.  (polyamory is not a condition of being bisexual, either. but let’s not talk about that right now.)

the idea that the narrator should try having an openly bisexual girlfriend implies that she’s open to having a threesome, which is also not a fact of bisexuality.  there are some bisexual folks who are not in any way interested in group sex.  this is also incredibly troublesome, as it feeds into the idea that the hetero man’s job is to conquer vaginae far and wide, that the sexuality is not valid if he’s not (a) involved or (b) giving approval to the sexual relationship.  hello: i’m autonomy, and i believe that i only need the person who utilizes me in order to be valid or legitimate. your dick hasn’t got anything to do with it, narrator (or anyone else).  that’s hetero privilege for you: you can do what you want, cuz there’s nothing “wrong” with the kind of sex you’re into.

bottom line, this song is offensive for a number of reasons.  ultimately, it turns a woman’s body into product, into object, into a commodity to be fetishized.  it takes away her humanity and reduces her autonomy to a jezebel’s supposed nature.  and no,  a pop song should not have the final say on how we as a larger society view sexuality. but, art often imitates life.  somebody, somewhere may think of this song and either identify with it on some level or forming opinions based on it.

of course, there are ideas that aren’t addressed in the lyrics of  “think my girl (ay, ay)”.  there’s nothing quite like the limited attitudes of some folks in the GLBTQ community to make a woman like myself feel even more boxed in.  there’s the idea that we are nasty, the flat-out lie that we are incapable of loving one person at a time, and most of all there’s the simple misconception that we are who we are because we’re hot in the ass.  not all of us are.  there are polyamorous heterosexual and homosexual people.  there are people who sabotage relationships by cheating, but that has nothing to do with their sexuality.  that’s an issue of emotional maturity, in my opinion.

a letter long overdue.

this is the first of what could be many blog posts in dialogue with goddess jaz at goddesses rising.  we have taken it upon ourselves to examine our feelings and thoughts on intimate partner violence, triggered by the rihanna/ chris brown incident.  this series will not just discuss them, but IPV against women across the board.  to facilitate a flow of words, jaz and i have opted to follow the letter writing format utilized by the women who write the kitchen table blog.  i intended to post my letter shortly after jaz’s initial post, but the words just would not come. alas, here i am now with more to say than i ever thought.
jaz:

first, thank you for agreeing to do this with me! it’s an honor and a privilege.  let’s see if we can’t make a dent.  

i’ve been rolling my thoughts around, trying to best articulate my disturbances around this whole thing and attempting to string those thoughts together to create a coherent point.  my mind keeps coming back to one simple point: this is bigger than these kids or twitter, bigger than any blogs or newspaper articles.  unnecessary violence, particularly in close relationships (romantic as well as familial) is a problem that belongs to each of us.  so, it is with that thought in the forefront of my mind that i’m processing the entire mess and the conversations/ actions that have resulted from it.  these conversations and actions concern me much more than the current state that either rihanna or chris brown is in right now.
my concerns reflect yours, definitely. and my initial desire was to see to it that we discussed the impact of various kinds of media (especially gossip blogs, twitter, facebook status updates, and the text message fowards) on public opinion.  but i’m now in a new space.
because i’ve seen a photograph of rihanna’s face after the incident.  i’m in angry mode. again. the gossip blogs have, from the beginning, been on my nerves in varying degrees.  but now one of these blogs is the source of the very photo i did NOT wanna see. it was easier to imagine the horror than to see it with my own eyes. not that it didn’t seem real before, but that it made the whole situation that much more real to me: rihanna’s privacy was not protected or respected.  not by persons in her camp or at the hospital where she was examined, not by people who know her or her alleged attacker, not by the LAPD employee who leaked her photo to the internet, and most certainly not by the media.  
this whole incident has a crazy tone to it, a media circus for lack of better words.  it went from speculation to insane made up justifications for the attack itself.  crazy rumors about STDs, jealous fits, and failed breakup attempts abounded. all the while, my concern was the repercussions in the world at large. children discussing these things amongst themselves (and sometimes with adults) might have concerns or questions similar to the grown folks who seemed to be all over the internet talking about it: how long had this been going on? was it likely to happen again? would they get back together? why would they get back together? in my opinion, it matters less what we know about chris and rihanna.  it matters much, much more what we know about the women who are counted in the statistics we hear about so often and the women whose stories we catch on the news. i believe that the seriousness of the situation itself was diminished greatly by the fact that this involves two “celebrities” instead of everyday citizens.  because they have wikipedia articles, we’re not supposed to know when we’ve encroached too much on their lives? yes, it is important to discuss intimate partner violence. yes, it is important to fans of an artist to know how well their favorite artist is doing. but what we don’t need to know — especially because neither chris brown’s people nor rihanna’s people haven’t said anything — is what kind of relationship they have. we don’t need to know any of that unless either of them decides that it is necessary (as part of their healing, and only then) to speak on the situation or the nature of their relationship. no. 
what we need to know is that violence is the norm for too many of us.  what we need to know is that children who grow up in abusive environs grow into teens and adults who don’t know how to deal with conflict in a non-violent way.  what we need to know is that intimate partner violence does not lie specifically in the hands of the men, of the women, of the heterosexual or the underprivileged.  there was a sentiment of, “they shoulda never gave you niggas money,” a la dave chappelle as rick james. but i give thanks that these two young folks have their privilege.  why? because we now have contemporary faces for this problem. there is now a more immediate reason to discuss these issues with our children, with our peers.  this is the opportunity we as concerned community members must utilize to have dicussions.  
i’ve struggled with what i wanted to say here, because i want it to be impactful and clear. but something i’ve realized over the past few days of writing is that murky situations very rarely yield clear responses. it takes time, it takes dissection, and sometimes it takes walking away from the issue and reviewing it with new perspective.
it is my prayer that these two young folks have some new perspective — and that if they have not yet gained it during their separation that they develop it — so that they  can begin to heal themselves.

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