Actor-ology: Kerry Washington
By: Shala Thomas
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
I did a small survey on twitter in which I asked the blerd universe who their favorite actor and actress are for the purpose of short actor profiles for this blog. I wanted to take some of the most loved actors to spotlight their careers and offer up what my favorite movie/roles from their filmology (most likely from the often neglected independent film world). A number of people responded (I'm always up to hearing your opinions!) and one of the names that kept coming up was the beautiful and talented Kerry Washington (cue women fervently trying to find where to get the latest Olivia Pope coat... or dress... or power suit):
A New Yorker born and bred (hailing from the Boogie Down Bronx), Kerry Washington has been acting she she was a teenager, starting off in television before breaking into films. Washington is a graduate of George Washington University and holds a double degree in anthropology and sociology, which probably fuels her political and social activism in organizations such as the Creative Coalition.
I have to admit to having a girl crush on KW; her style and poise is something to be admired. In terms of her acting, I have only seen her grow and grow and get better and better through the years. Recently, America seems to have caught her, and she’s having her moment. Here’s to all the great things to come for her and to the obviously fab child she's about to bring into the world! I offer to you a retrospective on some of her defining moments in TV and films:
She is most recognizable from...
...fixing every problem in DC while looking flawless on ABC’s bat-crazy show Scandal. The show has it all - primetime soapiness, political backstabbing, sexy love triangles, tortured assassins, murdering presidents. And thanks to the myriad of fans (especially us blerds!) in the twitterverse (#AskScandal), Scandal has become ABC’s breakout hit. In the middle of it all stands Kerry Washington, delivering every gladiator monologue with perfect diction, speed, and emphasis.
You may remember her from...
…playing Ray Charles’ wife, Della Bea Robinson and Idi Amin’s wife Kay in the critically-acclaimed and Oscar-winning films Ray (2004) and The Last King of Scotland (2006), the temptress to Chris Rock’s family man in the Rock-directed romantic-comedy I Think I Love My Wife (2007), and of course as Broomhilda, the heroine in Quentin Tarantino’s slavery-western film Django Unchained (2012).
And you probably forgot she was in...
…the last two Fantastic Four comic book movies (2005 & 2007) as the sweet, blind girlfriend of The Thing, Alicia Masters, Save the Last Dance (2001) as a teenage mother who introduces Julia Stiles to hip hop dance, and Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005) as the badass, cliff-scaling, computer whiz confidante of Angelina Jolie.
She's at her best in small independent films...
…as one of the last to act opposite the late Brittany Murphy as her roommate and implied girlfriend in the Independent Spirit Award-nominated dramatic film (and one of my personal favorites) The Dead Girl (2007) and as a woman embroiled with the violence of the Black Panthers in the drama Night Catches Us (2010).
In my opinion, she exceeded my expectations...
...hosting the latest episode of SNL where she was an active participant in poking fun at the lack of diversity that plagues the show, showcasing her acting range with multiple voices and impersonations, and exercising the comic chops we all know she had.
If you haven't had a chance to see KW in action, watch her SNL hosting debut below:
Talkback (What some of my fellow blerds had to say about why they love Kerry Washington)...
Traci (@_ R _ Traci _ Hunter_ ): I have been captivated by KW since Save the Last Dance. She is such an inspiration. I always am enamored when I see her on the screen. I can’t take my eyes off of her. No matter what role she is playing.
I love that KW is such a risk taker. To me she seems to have been one of Hollywood’s most underrated actresses. I appreciate that she has taken on the challenges of roles of a prostitute/drug addict like in The Dead Girl, and a transgender male in Life is Hot in Cracktown, or the former Black Panther in Night Catches US. She totally takes roles that are outside of the box and proves that she is a force to be reckoned with! Don’t blink on KW. You might miss something amazing! I think that she has so much star power and she is showing others how it can and should be done in the business. KW proves that she has more than enough staying power and is breaking down racial/gender barriers in the business. As a black woman this gives me great hope and inspiration to really go after my dreams and passions. I now feel that it is possible even though I’m getting a later start than most. I feel a connection with KW when I see her on the screen. The characters that she portrays totally touch my heart.
I am totally obsessed with ABC’s Scandal. Like many others all over the world, I can’t get enough of Olivia Pope. She is strong, smart, charming, beautiful and takes no mess. However she is not without flaws. I don’t think they could have picked a better person to play this role. I think the show would have been as successful as it is without her! I’m so glad that KW gives us all something to aspire too! Thank you so much for being more than amazing!
--> Previous Actor-ology: Idris Elba
Who are your favorite actor and actress? If anyone wants to give their opinion, tweet (@shalathomas) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) me for inclusion in a feature spotlight. Next up will be an actor so tell me your choice!
Being black and blonde: My thoughts and experience
By: Courtney Brandy-McCreary
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
African-American women have been going blonde for decades. Etta James, Beyonce, Mary J. Blidge, NeNe Leakes, Doroetha Towels are just a few of the sista's that have taken the blonde look and transformed it into their trademark. It's sassy, it definitely turns heads and not to mention it's fun. But not everyone is a fan. In particular black people. Who can get a little too deep and resentful when it comes to a black woman deciding to dye her hair blonde. What is the big deal? I'm glad you asked...
Black women have been going blonde since the late 1950's. When Lady Clairol created the "Miss Clairol" home coloring kit in 1956, it made it easy and very accessible to go blonde. Black actresses, singers and models such as, Dorothea Towels, Dinah Washington and Etta James formed a trend with their bright platinum hues. If they weren't dyeing it, they were wearing blonde wigs. It was all simply for a different look.
Why are some black people against blonde hair? Now I can understand people having reservations about blond hair on African Americans, especially when it comes to the health of your hair. It's bleaching your hair and yes it is very damaging. Maybe some don't care for African American blondes. Maybe they think it looks tacky. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. And that is okay.But it's the assumption that when a black woman dyes her hair a lighter color, specifically blonde, that she has some type of "self hatred" towards herself and her people. That in her mind she's planning and wanting to look European.
I myself, have always experimented with hair dye probably since about 11th grade. The majority of the time my shade of choice was blonde or either in the "blonde" family. I had highlights put in or my entire head was dyed professionally. I enjoyed it and for a while it was my trademark. I've heard tons of positive and negative opinions. I have received inquisitive stares from different races as if they are trying to figure out what race I was. I've gotten mistaken for being Caucasian a few times from distance. It never bothered me. I knew who I was. I am proud, black and blonde. It was my "Ode to Etta" look.
I speak for my fellow sista's that some of us like the blonde look because it compliments our complexion or to spice up our look. Sometimes it's just for FASHION. It's rather liberating might I add. I've read and seen many articles and photos with African American women sporting the blonde look. As I scroll down to the comment section, low and behold the bashing begins...
"She's trying to be something she is not....she's trying to be white."
"She's insecure or trying to hide something."
Black men stating they want a "real'"black woman; as if being a blonde black woman discredits her blackness.....her authenticity. These views and opinions come from straight ignorance.
In the infamous words of singer India Arie "I am not my hair."
What about the blacks who are naturally blonde? The Albinos, Aboriginals, Melanesians or the many from the South Pacific? Which sadly, many blacks do not know about this part of our culture.We are a multi-faceted people. A beautiful people! I could go deeper into this topic...........
I know there are situations where there is self-esteem issues, identity crisis, or going lighter to be more accepted, or trying to keep up with mainstream media etc but that is a whole other blog post.
Deciding to change your hair color blonde does not require a deep soul searching moment...it's simply a change. It does not mean she's lacking confidence or she's not sure of herself.Hair color does not define who we are black as women. It's an accessory. It accentuates our beauty.Being naturally blonde or dying it blonde doesn't make you more or less black.Why should we be limited to one shade? Just like the various complexions of our skin..can't that apply to hair color as well? Even blonde?
Want to go blonde? Find the right shade that suits your complexion. Find the right hair stylist. Be confident. Be fearless of opinions. What are your thoughts on black women going blonde?
I would like to dedicate this blog post to my late Aunt Polly who rocked the blonde for years to match her vivacious personality. Love you and miss you!
Level Up! Fighting Breast Cancer Through Whole Food Nutrition
By: Marilyn Oduenyi
Sunday, October 13, 2013
If life were a video game, we'd all be playing handicapped and getting owned (hard) in the fight against Breast Cancer. In an age where pharmaceuticals, surgery, and chemotherapy reign supreme in this costly battle , many of us are unaware of (or have forgotten) the virtual arsenal of cancer fighting weapons that nature provides for us – food! Not just any food will do, however. Whole food nutrition is the safest, cheapest, and most effective way to prevent and heal from the ravages of breast cancer.
The Standard American Diet (often referred to as SAD) is notoriously high in carbohydrates/sugar, high fat, high (animal) protein, toxic, and nutritionally bankrupt and some studies show that there is a direct causal relationship between this diet and the continuing surge in rates of breast and other cancers. It has also been linked to the recent increase in incidences of breast cancer in young women age 40 and under.
With all of this information in mind, it becomes all the more apparent that now is the time to "Level Up" and protect ourselves and our families from the devastating effects of breast cancer by cleaning up our SAD lifestyle and incorporating healthy, nutritionally intact, and, preferably, raw foods into our diet.
The following is a fairly comprehensive (though not exhaustive) list of foods with well documented medicinal and cancer fighting properties that, when eaten whole, can effectively help prevent breast cancer.
Note: Be sure to buy 100 % organic produce as often as possible.
Asparagus - A super source of the antioxidant glutathione, to lower cancer risk.
Avocado - One of the richest sources of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant shown to block thirty different carcinogens and to block proliferation of the AIDS virus in test tube experiments.
Broccoli - A unique package of versatile disease-fighters; abundant in antioxidants, including quercetin, glutathione, beta carotene, indoles, vitamin C, lutein, glucarate, sulforaphane, extremely high in cancer fighting activity, particularly against lung, colon and breast cancers. Like other cruciferous vegetables, it speeds up removal of estrogen from the body, helping suppress breast cancer. Note: cooking and processing destroys some of the antioxidants and anti-estrogenic agents, such as indoles and glutathione. It is most protective when eaten raw or lightly cooked.
Brussels sprouts - Cruciferous family member that possesses some of the same powers as broccoli and cabbage. Has definite anti-cancer and estrogenic properties and is packed with various antioxidants and indoles.
Cabbage (including bok choy) - Revered in ancient Rome as a cancer cure. Contains numerous anti-cancer and antioxidant compounds. Speeds up estrogen metabolism, is thought to help block breast cancer and suppress growth of polyps, a prelude to colon cancer. Some of these important compounds are destroyed by cooking. Raw cabbage, as in cole slaw, appears to have stronger overall health value.
Cauliflower - Cruciferous family member that contains many of the same cancer-fighting, hormone-regulating compounds as its cousins, broccoli and cabbage. It is specifically thought to help ward off breast and colon cancers. Eat raw, or lightly cooked.
Collard Greens - Full of anti-cancer, antioxidant compounds, including lutein, vitamin C and beta carotene. In animals, blocks the spread of breast cancer. Like other green leafy vegetables, associated with low rates of all cancers.
Flax seeds and oil - Prevents colon and breast cancer through its rich source of lignins, a documented anti-cancer agent. Improves moods, diminishes allergies and produces healthier skin.
Fish and Fish Oil - Some fish are high in omega-3 oil and antioxidants, such as selenium and Coenzyme Q-10. It exhibits anti-cancer activity especially in blocking development of colon cancer and spread of breast cancer. Fish highest in omega-3 fatty acids include sardines, mackerel, herring, salmon and tuna.
Garlic - Used to treat an array of ills since the dawn of civilization. Contains multiple anti-cancer compounds and antioxidants and tops the National Cancer Institute's list as a potential cancer-preventive food; lessens chances of stomach cancer in particular. Eat garlic both raw and cooked for all-around insurance.
Kale - Rich source of various anti-cancer chemicals. Has more beta carotene than spinach and twice as much lutein, the most of any vegetable tested. Kale is also a member of the cruciferous family, endowing it with anti-cancer indoles that help regulate estrogen and fight off colon cancer.
Kiwi Fruit - Commonly prescribed in Chinese traditional medicine to treat stomach and breast cancer. High in vitamin C.
Mushroom (Asian, including shiitake) - A longevity tonic, heart medicine and cancer remedy in Asia. Current tests show mushrooms, such as maitake, help prevent and/or treat cancer. A shiitake compound, lentinan, is a broad-spectrum antiviral agent that is used to treat leukemia in China and breast cancer in Japan.
Onion (including chives, shallots, scallions, leeks) - Reputed in ancient Mesopotamia to cure virtually everything. An exceptionally strong antioxidant. Full of numerous anti-cancer agents. Blocks cancer dramatcally in animals. The onion is the richest dietary source of quercetin, a potent antioxidant (in shallots, yellow and red onions only-not white onions).
Orange - Natural cancer-inhibitor, includes carotenoids, terpenes and flavonoids. Also rich in antioxidant vitamin C and beta-carotene. Specifically tied to lower rates of pancreatic cancer. Because of its high vitamin C, oranges may help ward off asthma attacks, bronchitis, breast cancer, stomach cancer, and atherosclerosis.
Spinach - Tops the list, along with other green leafy vegetables, as a food most eaten by people who don't get cancer. It is a super source of antioxidants and cancer antagonists, containing about four times more beta-carotene and three times more lutein than broccoli, for example. Some of its antioxidants are destroyed by cooking. Eat raw or lightly cooked.
Strawberry - Anti-viral, anti-cancer activity. It is often eaten by people less likely to develop all types of cancer. Only eat organically grown. Strawberries have the highest amount of pesticide contaminates.
"Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food." (Hippocrates)
The information provided above is intended for educational purposes only. It is not meant to either directly or indirectly give medical advice or prescribe treatment. Unless specifically referenced, the information has not been scientifically validated or approved by any government or regulatory agency. Please consult with your physician or other licensed health care professional for medical diagnosis, prescription, and treatment.
Back Down Memory Lane: Books by Authors of Color I Read in High School
By: Renae M.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
I read many books in high school that were amazing and considered classics: A Catcher in the Rye, The Illiad, The Odyssey, Great Expectations, The Great Gatsby, Beloved, The Merchant of Venice, Things Fall Apart ,Out of Africa ,The Virgin Suicides, and more...
However, I also was blessed to read books by authors of color that many may not have been introduced to in high school or college. Take a chance to read them or encourage your children to read them during their school breaks.
David Guterson - Snow Falling Cedars
Malcolm X & Alex Haley - The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Zora Neale Hurston - Their Eyes Were Watching God
Jamaica Kincaid - Lucy
Barbara Kingsolver - The Bean Trees, Pigs in Heaven
Maxine Hong Kingston - The Warrior Woman
Chang-Rae Lee - Native Speaker
Anne Moody - Coming of Age in Mississippi
Toni Morrison - Sula
Gloria Naylor - Bailey's Cafe, Linden Hill, Mama Day
Jonathan Spence - The Question of Hu
Amy Tan - The Joy Luck Club
Richard Wright - Black Boy, Uncle Tom's Children
Just Let Go
By: Renae M.
Monday, October 7, 2013
I walked away from a career as an attorney.
I was presented with the opportunity to move out of the state in which I was licensed and I didn't hesitate; I just packed up and moved.
This decision did not seem outrageous to me because I had been praying to move since before I started law school.
I had no particular state in mind.
I had no plan.
I just prayed for the opportunity to move.
When the chance came, I recognized it and didn't think twice.
Now, a year and nine months into my new adventure, my life is different than I would have imagined.
I have been through trials and struggles. Yet, I have been afforded with the free time that I have not had in a long time to actually clear my mind.
I have been able to delve into and resurrect my childhood interests again.
I have been able to focus on me and the things that I love.
I have been able to just be still and relax and enjoy life.
All these things, were not possible during my old life that I left behind and I am thankful.
I have no doubts that I made the right decision. I have been more at peace and happier in the last year and nine months than I have been in a long time.
I say all of this for a reason:
Follow your gut, your heart, your intuition, whatever you choose to call it.
Do what you love and pursue it without doubt.
I tweeted my thoughts on this topic briefly on the morning of Oct. 6th not thinking about it too much.
Later that day, during the Black Girl Nerds Podcast with Rosetta Thurman, on which I was a co-host, it all was further reinforced.
Life works in ways that we can not always readily see as being for our benefit.
We may not always see the light at the end of the tunnel and often we doubt our own decisions and dreams.
All I know is that when I just let go, it all came together.
BOOBIES! Now That I Have Your Attention. . .
By: Marilyn Oduenyi
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
and many people consider this month a time to reflect on the impact that this disease has had in their lives and in the lives of those they love. Also, let's face it - we all love boobies! They're awesome! They provide nourishment and comfort to us as babies and, even in adulthood, they continue to provide comfort for a certain segment of the population (wink, wink - hint, hint). They also tend to look incredible in t-shirts and push up bras. They're practically magic! So...what was I saying?
Oh yeah, so during this time in which we empathize with those who suffer with or have lost a loved one to the struggle, we should all resolve to do whatever we can to help put an end to this vicious cancer once and for all. On that note, I will be committing at least one weekly article during the month of October to the issue of breast cancer and how whole food nutrition, supplementation, and other lifestyle changes can be used to prevent and treat this disease.
Before I begin, however, it is important to dispel a widely held notion; a common assertion by many people (and their doctors) is that they are "genetically predisposed" to certain types of cancer due to their family history. This may be true in some cases, but in most you will find that what is actually passed down from one generation to the next is not cancer prone DNA, but cancer promoting lifestyle and dietary habits. Since most people tend to maintain the same or similar eating habits and lifestyles as their parents and close relatives, it's practically unavoidable that they would also tend to (eventually) suffer from the same or similar diseases, including breast cancer.
It's important to understand the causal relationship between environment, lifestyle, diet, and cancer and to use this understanding as a springboard for discussion, and change. I will aim to do this in this month’s articles by discussing;
- The preventative benefits of whole food nutrition
- The preventative benefits of vitamin and mineral supplementation
- Nutritional steps to healing after breast cancer
- Popular alternative cancer treatments
and, hopefully, even more related topics.
For your viewing (and learning) pleasure, below is a brief trailer of the popular documentary Food Matters, an engrossing look at how food and modern medicine affect our health.
The Black Introvert?
By: Courtney Brandy-McCreary
Thursday, September 12, 2013
As a child I was overall quiet. No...nothing dramatic or tragic happened in my life to be that way. That's just who I was and for the most part who I am today. There was always teasing and my introverted "ness" was always brought to my attention.
I could still hear it now..... comments from teachers,classmates, and others saying things like "Courtney's too quiet" or asking me "Why are you so quiet?" (Did there really have to be a reason). I had (still do) a sarcastic flare inside me wanting to rebuttal "Why do you talk so much?" But I didn't. Even as child I wondered why was being less talkative perceived in such a negative light. There was always this pressure to talk just for the sake of talking.
Society as a whole, introverts just seem to have a bad rap. My theory with being a black girl it was difficult for the masses to accept that I was quiet. Black AND quiet. At times you could sense the frustration in peoples voices when they asked why I was that way. Even up to my adulthood in society it appears to be rather unusual and odd for a black girl to be an introvert. It's like an oxymoron. But we do exist and are very misunderstood in society.
The term "Introvert" seems to be associated with being arrogant, anti-social, mean ,nervous, disconnected, weak, boring, unintelligent etc. But in all actuality it's very much the total opposite. We just take a different approach to life. I tend to be more of an observer if you will. An internal thinker. And yes we do talk! Not so much small talk, but tend to engage in more meaningful conversations. Selective in who we open up to. Some people jump into things head on...conversations, social situations etc and that's okay. But then others simply like to get a feel for things....AND that's okay too.
Based depiction of black women in the media we are stereotyped to be loud, full of attitude with a larger than life personality and always entertaining whoever we come in breathing contact with. But all of us are not the Monique, Tasha Smith types.This brings about a challenge in working and social situations. Because people don't expect that from the black girl. (In reference to people I mean all races...yes even the fellow brotha and sista don't understand why one sista is....well quiet).
Growing up hearing the teasing..... I was brainwashed into thinking I was supposed to be a certain way or there was always this sense of guilt. And it can really bring you down because I was simply being myself.
The older I get the more I realize it's okay to be ME. Regardless of it's unpopularity you have to be comfortable with your personality even when others aren't. It is not always an easy task because I'm still learning. But people who love you or want to get to know you....will take you as you are.
Are you an IWB? (Introverted While Black) Do you consider yourself an introvert? Were you always one? Do you have introverted tendencies?
Nerdy sista and the mainstream sista: Can we connect? From the black nerd's prospective
By: Courtney Brandy-McCreary
Friday, September 6, 2013
Let me start out by saying I'm not writing this post because I am uncomfortable with my individuality but to see if there is any one that has had this feeling and or experience.
You ever been in a store, waiting in line to be cashed out and there are a few sista's in line with you, your phone goes off and Led Zeppelin's is on your ringtone? You get the scuffs, the look of confusion or maybe disgust? Why on earth would this black chick have rock music as a ringtone? This girl is lost! She thinks she's white. All this coming from another sista?
Sadly, I have experienced all the above............
Maybe some of you haven't had the pleasure of dealing with this but for those that have, I'm sure you can relate. I hate to separate my sista's into compartments. But in reality there is a separation. There are various facets of us but I'm gonna talk about these two particular types of sista's.
You have the mainstream, the more socially accepted black girl. She likes "black girl" things...just listens to R&B and hip hop, likes shopping, usually is not socially awkward, tends to be a little more popular.(I'm not trying to be stereotypical or say a nerd can't like hip hop or a mainstream black girl can't be a Wolverine fan but rather paint a clear picture for you.)We are of the same race but can be culturally different.
Then you have the nerdy sista....jams to rock and new age music, likes attending comic con conventions. We have so many dimensions to us, but are all of "us" accepting of our differences and interests?
Some of us (nerds) never had any shame in our game when it came to our hobbies and "unusual" interests for a black person. Some of us were always.... a nerd. Yes, I admit from my own personal experience it did make slightly difficult to connect with my own people. My interest in Art, superheros and my taste in music.
Deep down there is such a longing to connect with one another but yet some sista's just aren't open to expanding their horizons and cultivating relationships with a sista slightly different from her. Even something as simple as conversing about music or plans for the weekend can be a down right challenge if one is not willing to learn each other. The key is to be open minded.
Don't worry about your image or what someone may think of you talking to one who is ......let's say.... unusual. Some of the best friendships are made when two are completely different. This goes for my nerdy sista's too!
Get it out of your mind that she seems too odd or strange for your liking.... give her a chance. C'mon! Conversations can be so dynamic coming from two different perspective's. You may never know what you may have in common too.
Here's another random thought:
It's cool to be a Nerd. A Black Nerd. Sporting a cartoon or batman shirt is the thing. Ten to fifteen years ago a black girl...or guy for that matter who'd rather rock it out to Queen rather than to Lil' Wayne (nothing against him), would have their "Black Card" revoked. Some would feel the need to hide their interests in video games, comics or keep their obsession with cartoons on the down low. The style of being a nerd is more accepted than the actual lifestyle.
Back in the day the term nerd was reflected upon the negative. But now thanks to mainstream rappers like Kanye West rocking the jersey sweaters, wearing the big glasses the black nerd is definitely cool. Steve Urkel would have been The Man in this generation. Okay...Enough ranting.
I'm not saying to convert and change who you are but let's stop tearing each other down because we are different. You miss out on meeting great people by limiting who you choose to socialize with solely based on personality, interests or style. Don't make fun of her because she's different. Embrace her.
Granted we all naturally gravitate towards people we have things in common with. But in reality, we all have struggles and dreams. Our differences should not deter us from relating one another.
It's something to ponder.....................