In my capacity as Story Director for The MY HERO Project, I interviewed Yasmine Sherif, winner of MY HERO’s 2020 Global Educator Award. Sherif is a humanitarian lawyer for the UN, the leader of Education Cannot Wait (ECW), and the author of “The Case for Humanity: An Extraordinary Session.” Read the article here.
It wasn’t the first time I felt like I wasn’t in my own body. I sat across from the therapist, unsure if she was real or just a mirage I’d made up in my own head, a pixelated image to entertain me like the characters on TV who felt more real than flesh-and-blood companions. I wanted to reach across the room and poke her, but I knew that was against the rules. What finally did seem real was her diagnosis that I have depersonalization disorder.
Read the rest at The Offing here.
For my job as story director at The MY HERO Project, I got to interview 75-year-old videographer Sandi Bachom. Sandi lives in New York City, in the area of the US most hit by COVID-19. Her video for NowThis about losing three friends to the virus has garnered over 9 million views in less than a month.
Read my story about Sandi and watch her video here.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Margot Lee Shetterly for The MY HERO Project.
Storytelling wasn’t something that I ever thought of as a source of power, per se, but it’s tremendously powerful.
Katherine Johnson, who recently passed away at age 101, has become a household name thanks to writer and researcher Margot Lee Shetterly. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson were African American mathematicians, at that time called “human computers,” who worked for NASA during the space race. Though their contributions were significant, their efforts were largely unrecognized before the publication of Shetterly’s groundbreaking 2016 biography, “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race.”
Read the rest here.
I’m proud to share my first byline for the New York Daily News! While I’m really proud of the piece and where it landed, my joy is lacking some of its oomph. I recently realized it’s because I can’t share this win with my grandma, who passed away last October. I’ll have to imagine her tears of joy instead of calling her up to hear them.
“Morgan Freeman recently found himself on the #MeToo list, accused of sexual misconduct. As expected, responses generally landed in two categories: horrified belief and staunch disbelief. While puns abound when we decry public figures for bad behavior, the most popular in reference to Freeman speaks to the danger of binary thinking when it comes to toxic masculinity; if Freeman can play God, can he be a devil?”
Read the full article here.
I’m going to tell you a little story.
When I first went natural, back in 2005, I used Biolage conditioning balm as my leave-in conditioner. At the time and for many years after, it felt just right.
But recently, I noticed that while the conditioner did a good job of maintaining my curl pattern, the curls were sort of stiff, and my style lacked volume. Like Goldilocks, I realized that my “bed” wasn’t quite right after all.
On a recent flight, I wanted to pack a smaller conditioner and didn’t have much time to look, so I chose Mizani Thermasmooth. I love Mizani for my wash days, and at first it seemed like a much better choice than Biolage for a leave-in. My curls were bouncier and looser.
But, I soon realized that my hair got really dry. I noticed it especially when I did my nightly twists. I use Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie about once a week with the twists, but the smoothie had stopped being enough moisture. Mizani was also not the right daily choice for this “bed” of hair.
So, I tried CurlyChic “Your Mane Moisturizer” in place of Mizani for my everyday styling. The third bed was perfect. My curls are defined and moisturized while still maintaining that airy bounce.
I’m excited to try their other products too, like “Moisture in a Minute” and “Coconut for Curls.” In fact, I could have used that moisture in a minute today when I decided to hop in the shower after styling my hair. (What was I thinking?) And the coconut… My hairdresser recently commented on my hair’s proper moisture but said my scalp was dry. I bet this will do the trick.
I get stuck in my ways, and stuck in routines. But with the booming industry of natural hair care, it’s nice to be able to adjust that perfect fit.
I’ve been part of the Mixed Remixed Festival since I was a featured writer in 2014. I was also a chair at the 2012 Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference (CMRS). I’ve participated in three events for the Multiracial Americans of Southern California (MASC) and have promoted them through blogs. Suffice it to say, I have my hands in three of the biggest mixed race / multiracial organizations. And you know what? I love them all.
Each of these organizations brings something unique, valuable, and necessary for the mixed race community. I can’t speak as someone in a multiracial relationship, or as one who has mixed race kids, because neither is true for me. However, even when there’s an event that I don’t think fits my personal experience, I recognize its importance for others.
This year at the Mixed Remixed Festival, I saw parents and children of all different ages and hues, which has been true for all of its past four years. While the festival is for everyone, I think there is no denying that it plays a special role for those of us who are mixed race ourselves. Each year, people break down crying, including the founder, Heidi Durrow, who works tirelessly year round to see this event come to fruition.
We cry because we finally have a space where our very existence is the norm. Instead of being a zebra in an otherwise black or white space, we’re in a room filled with zebras, and with those who brought us into this world. In fact, for the past two years, the recipient of the Storyteller’s Prize has been a black male in an interracial relationship who works to bridge the color divide. The festival also makes us feel validated as artists, chosen to share our personal experiences through film, music, and the written word. In this space, our voices matter, and everyone in the audience nods their head in understanding — something we don’t get on the mean streets.
In order for the festival to run, it needs sponsors. This year, no one was allowed to film, and no one did. Sure, people took little videos on their phones and were encouraged to do so, but anything else would violate the contract between the board and the sponsors. And the festival needs those sponsors in order to exist. Does this take the limelight away from others? Maybe. But it doesn’t take away one’s ability to be present at the festival itself.
I would hate to see those who attend Mixed Remixed, CMRS, and MASC to do anything other than support each other fully and without reservation. Mixed Remixed supports the arts, CMRS supports scholarship, and MASC supports families. Within these foci, there are of course necessary and important overlaps. And we’re strong because we’ve become strong together.
The Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference valued my scholarship on the “tragic mulatta genre” by accepting my master’s thesis about this topic for a panel. I felt recognized, understood, and in a community of peers. The same has been true for the MASC events I’ve attended, and the same is true when I walk through the doors for Mixed Remixed. I don’t know what the future holds for any of these organizations, but they each hold a special place in my heart, and I wouldn’t be who I am professionally or personally if it weren’t for the tireless efforts of those involved.
I stand by Heidi Durrow 1,000%, just as I stand by Laura Kina, et al. of CMRS and Delia Douglas and Sonia Smith-Kang of MASC. It’s because of these organizations that I’ve moved to Los Angeles, made amazing friendships, written a book and countless articles, and have been steadily working on a memoir to discuss my life with my black father. Parents: we see you. We know you’re there. And we’re grateful for these communities that have popped up over the past few years that see us, too.
For those who remember my blog post about my friend Brandy, we’ve met now! I wrote about it for Ravishly:
In sixth grade, my best friend Brandy had the haphazard look of someone whose parents paid as little attention to their children as possible. I, in a similar fashion, had a bushy afro that didn’t know where it belonged.
Our school, which had just begun bussing, reflected the tense racial reality that would soon infiltrate our friendship. Lockers were removed after a series of bomb threats. Eighth-grade boys harassed me daily for being “white.” But inside our bubble, Brandy and I felt safe.
Read the rest here!
I’ve been meaning to post this for what seems like forever! On March 10, I got an article published in the New York Times, called “My Grandmother’s Story Is Ending as Mine Begins.”
My grandmother knew she’d succumb to dementia long before she began to lose her memory, as her two older sisters had shared the same fate before they died. She fought against time to write her life story, but she will never see her dream realized.
Read the rest here.
While you’re here, I recently got another article published, this time in Ravishly, called “‘This Is Us’ Mirrors Watching My Absent Black Father Die of Cancer.”
I have a penchant for multigenerational family dramas. Brothers and Sisters, Parenthood, Six Feet Under — they all make me feel connected to my own family, which is more like Full House than The Brady Bunch. Aunts, uncles, cousins, and a strong matriarch make up the fabric of my day-to-day life. So when This Is Us debuted, I was all in. What I didn’t expect is that it would touch my heartstrings in a way I hadn’t prepared for.
Read the rest here.
Life is heartbreaking, but also beautiful.
That’s all for now, folks!
I’ve been very remiss with sharing my new bylines here! So without further ado, here are my most recent articles. I’ll also probably be starting a newsletter soon.
Doctors Told Me I Was ‘Too Highly Educated’ to Be Sick, published in SheKnows:
Beginning in 2006, I slept 12 hours most nights and often took a two-hour nap in the afternoon. I wasn’t lazy — I was exhausted. I talked slowly, moved slowly and had difficulty driving because my brain couldn’t keep up…
If 19th Century Novels had Clickbait Titles, published on Buzzfeed:
Ever wonder what classic authors’ titles would have been if they had to rely on clicks?
The Historical Need for Black Colleges, published in JSTOR Daily:
Historically black Talladega College was widely criticized for its decision to have its marching band participate in President-elect Trump’s inauguration parade. Much of the uproar has to do with black colleges’ roots in combating unequal education, a feat that many argue will deteriorate under Trump’s presidency…
More Hidden Figures of NASA History, published in JSTOR Daily:
By now, just about everyone has heard of the 2016 film Hidden Figures, starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe, who portray of a group of black female “computers” at NASA’s Langley Research Center. The film, which has already garnered a number of awards, cast these once unsung pioneers into the public eye…
Rory Gilmore Will Not Get Rich From Her Memoir, And Neither Will You, published in The Financial Diet:
As I binge-watched Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, every so often, I checked my email to see if my article about the original series had been accepted for publication. This constant tug at my attention felt surreal, as the protagonist Rory was going through the same anxiety throughout much of the revival…
Does the Multiracial Community Like The Loving Movie?, published in Multiracial Media:
I didn’t want to cry. I had seen the trailer for Loving, and honestly, I was afraid it was going to be a subpar movie. Partly because I thought the trailer sentimental in a Hallmark-y sort of way, and partly because I wasn’t sure Hollywood could do an interracial story justice…
That’s about it for now! You can see more of my articles by clicking on the “Portfolio” tab at the top of this page.
Love to all,