Etta James Dies at 73

20 Jan

Legendary soul singer Etta James died at a California hospital, the media reported Friday.

CNN reports,

[James] died from complications from leukemia with her husband, Artis Mills, and her sons by her side, De Leon said.

She was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010, and also suffered from dementia and hepatitis C. James died at a hospital in Riverside, California. She would have turned 74 Wednesday.

” This is a tremendous loss for the family, her friends and fans around the world,” James’ longtime friend and manager Lupe De Leon told CNN.

Read full story here. 

Etta James’ classic”At Last” is a wedding favorite. For the Obama’s first dance as commander-in-chief and first lady, Beyonce sung the tone at the Neighborhood Ball at the Washington Convention Center in 2009. It bought the songstress and viewers (myself included) to tears.

Here’s Etta James singing  her signature song in 2010.

Obama Sings: Sometimes You Have to Just Lighten Up the Mood

20 Jan

No doubt, President Obama has been stressed (just look at his head of grey hairs). The President has much to worry about as we head full force into election season. BUt, sometimes it’s good to see Obama take a second to enjoy himself, laugh…and croon the public. At a fundraiser at the legendary Apollo Theater in New York City last night, Obama sang a few lines of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” and he sung it amazingly well. Sandman didn’t even kick him off stage.

LOOK AT ME NOW *In my Chris Brown Swag*

3 Aug

Look at me now, look at me know. Oh, I’m getting paper!

Uhmmm, actually not! lol.

As of yesterday, I am on ESSENCE.com talking about my experience interning at the nation’s number one African-American women’s consumer magazine. I had a blast this summer. The company and staff reflect everything this 41-year-old publication represents. I feel like my time here has taught me to be more confident and fearless. I have really started to evaluate my womanhood and what it means to be young, and career driven in an industry that is all so much about the hustle. I am more aware of my position of power as a writer and as an African American woman.

I posted the link to my Facebook and Twitter, and sent out a mass email and text message to close friends, family and mentors. The responses were overwhelming, and a much needed confident boost. Everyone was saying how wonderful I looked, and congratulating me for “making it to the big leagues.”

One of my family members texted, “Awesome! Congrats lady! So happy for you!!! What’s next?”

What’s next? That’s something I’m still trying to figure out. I am done with graduate school. I’ve interned at two leading African-American publications. Yet, no job offers pouring into my mailbox. Thing is, I don’t seem to be stressing too much. The connections I’ve made at ESSENCE have been very beneficial. So, I’m keeping the faith.

But don’t get it twisted…I’m not getting PAPER…Yet!

Continuing the Conversation…

19 Jul

Not to over-saturate the discussion, but a good friend of mine emailed me his thoughts on my post “Pushing the Conversation Beyond Planking.”

Very insight. Thought I might share. Thanks B!

 

By: William Daniels

I wanted to comment/respond to your post concerning the “planking” discussions, if you can actually call them discussions (they are quite lackluster, if I may say so myself), and how these very conversations strip us of our right to pertinent knowledge. While we focus our attention on something that most of us do not understand or find completely pointless, we miss out on more substantial matters, such as unemployment, education, and empowerment. The really disappointing part about this is that we have fallen victim to this before. It was not long ago when we were discussing Osama and the war on terrorism while we should have been discussing how every Black child was actually tremendously left behind with the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act. We allow ourselves to be swayed and to have our otherwise clear vision be made unclear. Just as your blog mentions, we should engage in conversations that go beyond the threshold. Venture out into deeper waters. Why would people give a damn about “planking” when not everyone has a job? I was disgusted, as well by the amount of concern and time in the spotlight this foolishness has received. What happened to the fireside chats our people had with one another not too long ago when we actually encouraged each other and told one another to focus on your future and don’t let anything or anyone stop you? We are, now, not our worst enemy, but our only enemy! We put each other down! It may or may not be true that “planking” is reminiscent of a much tougher time. The truth is, though, that this does not matter. It seems as though some of us mention things like, “You know that ‘planking’ stuff is what the slaves did, right,?!” just to appear to be deep, when, in fact, you aren’t as deep as you wish to be! What does matter is that those same people believe that they are doing a service to our community when, in actuality, they’re doing a huge disservice to our community! The implication is that anyone who takes part in or even appears to be too interested in “planking” isn’t behaving.

Pushing the Conversation Beyond “Planking”

14 Jul

This post is not directed at anyone specific, nor is it meant to offend anyone who differs in opinion.

I tend to do a lot of thinking on my train commute to and from work. Today, my mind was focused on all the controversy over a new lying down game called planking. This week, I have read a lot of commentary–all controversial–about how planking is racist and celebrates the enslavement of blacks. It’s all over the black blogosphere. Everyone is suddenly an expert on the epistemology of planking. And suddenly everyone, who is anyone, is saying NO ONE is educated. Don’t get me wrong, I am always in favor of adding historical context to a cultural trend. If there’s one thing I know about black culture, is that everything we do has a historical connection to our African heritage.  I even understand why people provide book passages to back up their claims.

What concerns me though, is that this silly and insignificant trend of people lying face down on their stomachs has garnered so much attention, that everyone, who is anyone, is rushing to Amazon.com, or to their African Studies college course book to educate (quote-unquote) Black people.

Everyday, the first thing I do at work is look up current news and studies on African-Americans. Everyday, I choose two or three news pieces that catch my attention and post them on Facebook. I do this so that my circle of Black peers can know about things that are affecting our community daily, in hopes that the information will strike a conversation and “educate.” Yet, my post go unread, or uncommitted on (this does not bother me, i only mention it to prove my next point). But when someone posts their opinion about planking everyone gets so wound up and engaged.

I think the conversation warrants discussion, but if we want to truly EDUCATE ourselves, we need to start pushing these conversations much further than we do. We have the platform of social-networking sites, so let’s use them to talk about what really matters.

If we want to educate our community, lets talk passionately about public policies that have been in effective for decades, and continue to keep our neighborhoods from flourishing. Let’s talk about why our communities are saturated with food deserts that only provide processed foods for our youth, yet some states are considering launching a campaign to have the government mandate fast-food restaurants accept food stamps. Let’s talk about the new study currently out that says Chicago used ethically murky tactics to sell homes to low-income families, which may have contributed to the housing crash (we all know Chicago has a history of having unethical housing policies that ostracized urban blacks). Better yet, let’s engage in conversations about this country’s educational policies, and how our black children are performing below average than any other group. And how Atlanta is currently undergoing the nation’s largest school scandal for its superintendent’s allegedly tampering with test scores, and intimating teachers to pass their students. And here’s anther topic: Healthcare. Need I say more? Besides the fact that blacks are at disproportionate rates for about all chronic illnesses, which mean healthcare policies should be on all our radars.

Now, I am not going to act like I am the expert on the aforementioned topics. But, I will say that these are the things I think about daily. These are the subject matters that make me want to research and draw historical connections to our enslaved past. These are the issues that I KNOW will affect our youth, therefore WE must be educated ourselves.

Why can’t we get as passionate about topics that are causing direct harm to us now and to our future, just as we get passionate about a trend termed “planking?” I’m not saying don’t post your books or Webster definitions. I’m just saying if we are going to EDUCATE, then we need to push these discussions to larger issues. Issues that remain constant conversations in the White House. Issues that have kept us unhealthy, uneducated and financially unstable. Let’s push the conversation beyond defining the historical context of a “word.” Let’s push the conversation in a direction that will truly education, inform, and enlightening ourselves and our youth.

A New Approach to the Same Old Advice.

13 Jul

I feel like I always start my post off the same way: by apologizing for not posting as often as I should. So, let me just get it out the way. I’m sorry it’s been a long time. No excuses, other than I’ve been slacking.

Now that that’s out the way. Let’s move forward.

Update on me: I am finishing up my last class at Columbia. When I am done in August I will have a Master’s degree in Journalism. I am also interning at a very promiment magazine in New York City.

Between the two-school and internship-I have had the opportunity to hear big name journalists speak about the industry and give their take on what role the “next great generation of journalists” will have. These talks are helpful and informative. For the most part, when we ask questions, we are giving (in my opinion) straight forward answers. No sugar coded BS about the industry. Each speaker is different. They’ve gotten to where they are in their careers differently. Some were hard-core hustlers in the business. Others were lucky to land a gig right away. Some chose grad schools. Other did not. Never the less, all the speakers say one thing in common: this industry is all about networking. Networking. there’s that word again, and again, and yet again.

Since the word never seems to be leaving anytime soon, I decided to start asking the speakers to give tips on how to effectively network an event. Some were vague. Others had mixed advice. Recently, a speaker at my internship put everything in perspective for me. After she carefully outlined what she felt were effective tools on how to network, she said, “I really hoped that helped. Networking is such a hard thing to break down.” I replied, “You have explained it to me better than anyone else ever has.” I was so impressed, I decided to share some of her tips. I hope I do them justice.

1).  Before going to any event first think about why you are attending. Is it because your interested in the subject matter? Or maybe, your favorite writer is speaking that night. Whatever “it” is, come knowing. It will be a good way to introduce yourself to people.

2). Introduction is everything. Know how to introduce yourself. You have only a few seconds to tell people who you are. Have a rehearsed, but natural, pitch ready. It could be that you are a student majoring in x. Or, that you are part of an organization that does x. Also, if you are going as a guest of someone, make sure that person also knows how to introduce you. Tell them before hand what you would like for them to say. The key is to always think about yourself and what makes you relevant at that moment in time.

3). Pay attention. Whatever the event, always listen carefully to presenters. Make a mental note of what things were interesting, or not interesting, to you. When your networking the room, a good way to start an engaging conversation is to ask the person what they liked or didn’t like about the event. Then you can add in your opinion.

4). When all else fails…If you find that you have absolutely nothing to say to people, simple start by asking what brings them to  the party/event. How did they find out about it? Do they know any of the people involved, and if so, how?

 

Niki~Elle

SUBWAY PASSAGE: Submission 1

9 Dec

Submission #1

Today I watched a middle aged Caucasian man intensely devour a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos on the 2 train. He wore a multi-colored plaid button up shirt, forest green corduroy pants and brown penny loafers. He started blankly into a vacant space as he ate his chips. I wondered what was this man thinking about? Does he have a job? If so, did he skip lunch, (which would have prompted him to stop at a candy stand before getting on the train to buy the bag of chips that he found so enjoyably edible). Mostly, I wondered how many pair of corduroy pants does he own and if he is a member of the Corduroy Appreciation Club, a social club which cultivates good fellowship by the advancement of Corduroy awareness, understanding, celebration and commemoration of the fabric, (yes this is a real club!). Basically, the Corduroy Club is a social club for people who like Corduroy fabric–yep this guy should definitely become a member; if not one already.

NIKI~ELLE