For Colored Girls: My Night with Ntozake Shange

Confession: I’ve never seen For Colored Girls… well, at least not live, and not 'til last night when the National Black Leadership Commission for Aids (NBLCA) put on an performance at Harlem Hospital. (I was there to moderate a panel on HIV post-performance.) I read For Colored Girls when I was a teenager because it was on a bookshelf at my parents’ house and the title said it was for colored girls, so…  Most of it went over my head. I hadn’t lived enough. I used to, for kicks, watch clips of the 1982 PBS movie version on You Tube, particularly the scene with (a divine) Alfre Woodard as Lady

in Red, talking about how some man ran off with “alla my stuff” because I’m obsessed – in a fan way, not a stalker way— with Woodard.

 [video width="500" height="350" id="5v5sneqjdh8" type="youtube"]


And of course I saw Tyler Perry’s “For Colored Girls.” Um… I’ve instituted a personal moratorium on discussing Perry because every time I write about him, the commentary is the written equivalent of Groundhog’s Day in that it’s the same complaint over and over and over. I’m tired of repeating myself and it feels like he’s never going to address the (very valid) concerns (many people have) anyway. So again, so…

So last night was my first time seeing “For Colored Girls...”, on the 40th anniversary of the play, and with Ntozake Shange sitting right there in the audience, riveted by the performances, like she didn’t write the play and hasn’t seen it 1000 times.  It was that good. So, so good. Apparently, I've lived enough now. And that's kinda good and kinda bad too.

The actresses take the stage.

And apparently, I don’t know all my Black actresses like I should because there was amazing talent on that stage and I’m all “Who is this woman? I must see everything she’s ever done!!” And then there were the women whose faces I’d know anywhere, but had to look up  names.

Like her…

Remember Phyllis Stickney from "Women of Brewster Place"?


And her too…

On the right, Barbara Montgomery  aka "Sister" aka "Casietta Hetebrink" from Amen.


Oh, and this lovely, marvelous actress whose face I recognize, whose voice I KNOW from somewhere, but can't remember where for anything. Can anybody ID her?


Harpo, who is this amazing woman?!


Additional evening highlights:

*I met Ntozake Shange. It’s actually my second time. “The Magazine” had its 40th anniversary luncheon in 2010 at the  Mandarin Oriental in Midtown and for like the first and last time ever, I wore a hat. (I was still in my “odd” phase.) Shange walks over to me after the celebration to tell me she likes my hat. And I just stood there looking at her dumbfounded because she’s MF NTOZAKE SHANGE and I’m a writer and an at-the-time aspiring author and she’s talking to me. I finally pulled myself together, said, "thank you", then she introduced herself as MF NTOZAKE SHANGE and then we talked about the state of Black literature and feminism…. she asked me where I bought the hat, I told her, and she added that it was lovely and said it was nice to meet me, then went on about her life as I stood there thinking, “OMG, it’s MF NTOZAKE SHANGE!!!!!!”

I was much more collected last night, only because I knew she was going to be there in advance and had time to collect myself. When I met her on the red carpet, I told her how For Colored Girls… inspired me to be a writer and thanked her for sharing herself. I imagine every Black woman she’s ever encountered has said some version of this, but she thanked me like it was her first time hearing it and I felt warm inside.

Ntozake + Me, who is starting to look like her mother.


*On the ride home, my driver had the radio off. So we’re headed toward the FDR in dead silence.

Me: Sir, what would you be listening to if I wasn’t in the car?

Him: Uh… news radio.

Me: So.... would you mind if we listened Meek Mill?

Driver: No, no I would not.

He intuitively turned it up when we got to “Young N**** Move That Dope”, which is currently my favorite song.


*In the Green Room, there’s a last minute rehearsal of the finale. A stage manager comes in, asks a room full of 50 Black women to hush—no easy feat—and when we finally do, a mature Black woman just breaks into song wailing, “I saw God in myself… I saw God in myself…” And then the other 50 Black women joined in.

50 Black women.

Singing “I saw God in myself…”.

In unison.

I wanted to burst into spontaneous tears of joy. (I think this is a sign I need to go to church more.)


*Oh, and I had brownies and wine for dinner. And  I feel entirely good about this.


The End.


Macy's American Icons— Fit, Flare & Floral!

Macy's flagship department store at Herald Square NYC If you follow me on social media (Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter), you know that all those Belle dresses caught the eye of the good folks at Macy's and  last month, I began a partnership with them for their "American Icons" campaign. What does that mean exactly? It means I spend all my free time perusing shopping the many, many floors of Macy's Herald Square, the flagship store! It's like Christmas in July, or er, June. It also means I've been charged with infusing Macy's Americana-style with a lil' bit of Brooklyn.. and Belle!

Check out my favorite finds from Macy's... so far! There's more to come!


Pink floral fit & flare by Nine West


photo copy 3

photo copy 4


Floral explosion by Tahari

And of course, there are accessories! (Anyone who knows me, knows I'm a shoe-bracelet junkie)

Nine West booties!

geometric silver cuff


Betsey Johnson rhinestone cuff


Recap: OITNB Episode 3- Oh, Suzanne!

images-3 Piper’s back at Litchfield, and she has a new swagger. Word has spread about her unexpected fight with Pennsatucky and everyone’s surprised that Pipes had it in her to fight— and actually win. Piper relishes her new reputation, but Brook, the newbie ,is the only person who’s remotely afraid of her.

Speaking of Brook… I didn’t know it was possible for a character to be more annoying that Piper, but then Brook- no “e”—  Soso arrived as a new inmate at Litchfield. She’s the worst of Piper O.D., even more privileged and more clueless. In comparison, Piper, at least now, is tolerable. Brook also shows us how much Piper has grown during her stay at Litchfield, especially when Piper gives  the “it’s gonna be okay” speech on Brook’s first night in prison.

Red overhears Vee singing in the shower, and it’s a voice she would know from anywhere. Her reaction to seeing Vee is about like Taystee’s in that she’s none to happy to be reunited with her frenemy. Red knows Vee from back in the day when Vee served a previous bid. And Red’s preparing for the worst.

The Black girls—Taystee, Poussey, Janae, Black Cindy and Suzanne aka “Crazy Eyes”—  square off in a game of prison Taboo.   Suzanne wants to play, but  instead, has been assigned to watch the clock. She feels left out— again. It’s been a reoccurring theme in her life.

Kiddie Suzzane

In a flashback, we see (again, her mother was shown in the visiting room during Season One) that Suzanne was adopted by an affluent white family, one that seems naïve about the needs—social and perhaps, special— of the Black child they’re raising in an all white community. One of these people is not like the others, but Suzanne’s Mom seems determined to pretend otherwise.  “You know which kids suffer in this world, Melanie?"  she asks a Mom who doesn’t want 10 year old Suzanne at her 6 year old (white) daughter’s slumber party. "The ones who are told they’re different,” Mom is impassioned and liberal and means well, but pretending Suzanne isn’t Black and that she doesn’t need a different (but equal) type of attention than other children doesn’t benefit her.

Suzanne’s not crazy, despite her nickname, but she wasn’t properly socialized, and maybe not told “no” by her parents enough (I’m thinking of the swimsuit with angel wings. On the fence as to whether that’s evidence the parents don’t set boundaries or them just choosing their battles with the kid.).  And maybe she just needed a Black mama. Suzanne freaks out in the hospital room when her dad takes her new sister away and her parents are entirely clueless as to how to calm down their own child. The Black nurse on duty automatically relates to Suzanne and chills her out. The same thing happens when Suzanne meets “Vee” for the first time. She’s being all, you know, Suzanne and “Vee” hits her with “don’t interrupt” in a firm Black mama voice. Suzanne  automatically pipes down again. Is it the Blackness or people who know what to do with kids, or er, child-like adults? Both? (I’m leaning toward both with an emphasis on Blackness.)

Pennsatucky was the unofficial leader and the one with the biggest bark in her group of girls, former meth addicts. While she recovered from/ was punished for her fight with Piper, LeAnn and the other girls realized there was less conflict and drama when Pennsatucky  wasn’t around, so they aren’t happy to have her back. There’s that, and then there’s Pennsatucky’s new teeth. All the girls have messed up grills, the physical markers of the women’s shared drug habit. But now Pennsatucky doesn’t have it anymore. Lookswise, she can fit in with any other white groups at the prison. Her improvement makes her friends self-conscious and too, jealous.

Vee and Taystee finally have their showdown. Taystee’s pissed she had nowhere to turn when she got out. She was likely locked up in connection to her work for Vee and Vee being her Mom and all, was supposed to take care of her. Vee apologizes, but Taystee isn’t getting it over it— yet.

Since she’s not up for taking on her daughter role to Vee in prison,  Vee sets her sights on Suzanne. She immediately senses Suzanne’s lacking sense of belonging and she is clichéd putty in Vee’s hands.

It’s nearly impossible for anything good to come out of Daya’s ongoing relationship with the CO and the resulting pregnancy. It’s just too muddled and that’s sad because they genuinely care for, if not love, each other. “I want to be better than my Mom,” Daya tells John. “I want this baby to have everything.” It could happen someday, but anytime soon?  No. We’ve seen what happens to women who give birth in prison. If they’re lucky, they get to coo over the baby on visiting day. That’s the best-case scenario, and Daya and John can’t even have that because John can’t publicly claim he’s the father.

Morello’s dream has finally turned into a nightmare. Everyone but her knew that fiancé Christopher wasn’t waiting around for her until she got out, but no one wanted to be the one to tell her. Or maybe because she’s such an incredibly sweet girl, they were hoping for the best along with her. But Morello’s sister, Franny, has confirmed the worst— Christopher’s getting married. Morello loses it, like we’ve never seen her before “You don’t go Jessica Simpson when you got Rihanna,” she bellows to Franny.  Great, great acting by Yael Stone.

Other thoughts:

*As a kid, Suzanne has a big personality and given the way she quotes Shakespeare and her dramatic flair for counting the clock, I wouldn’t be surprised if her parents channeled all her extra energy toward the theatre. In some ways, her story reminds me of Audra McDonald’s recent Tony Award speech where she thanked her parents for recognizing they had an energetic child, and instead of putting her on meds, they introduced her to the arts. Audra got some flack for that from a Mom who medicates her ADHD kid. And McDonald  responded that she wasn’t criticizing medication, just saying what worked for her. Suzanne’s parents seem to have the tried the Audra McDonald approach on a kid who needed more than that.

*Piper thought the administration knew how she got her now-healed battle scars from her fight with Pennsatucky, but they don’t. And Piper's not telling. It seems Suzanne had an episode after the Christmas pageant, stumbled out into the yard and went off on Piper whose blond hair and white skin reminded Suzanne of her mother. Being beat up by Suzanne is the only reason Piper's not facing additional time in prison for the fight. “You saved me,” Piper tells Suzanne when she tries to apologize. “I am so grateful to you.”

*Larry can’t escape Piper even when he tries. He gets a call from a journalist, the same one that’s on to Fig, and the guy only wants to know how to get in contact with Piper. He takes his father’s advice and tries to get laid and his date, who says she likes guys with no ambition, and the first thing she asks him about is… Piper. He can't win.


What did you think of Episode 3? 

OITNB Episode 2 Recap: Taystee Girl

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Most OITNB viewers endure Piper to get to the characters they really want to see, and that’s actually by design. Show runner Jenji Kohan gave an interview to the Huffington Post in  December that detailed why viewers are subjected to Piper: "If you go to a network and say, “I wanna do prison stories about black women and Latino women and old women,” you’re not gonna make a sale.  But, if you’ve got this blonde girl going to prison, you can get in there, and then you can tell all the stories.  I just thought it was a terrific gateway drug into all the things I wanted to get into."

So we’ll endure her to get to everyone else in Litchfield, especially “Tasha  Jefferson” aka “Taystee”, who emerged as one of the break out stars of OITNB, (in addition to “Sophia Burset” aka Laverne Cox, who was so popular she landed the cover of Time Magazine.)

Episode 2 begins with a backstory viewers have been waiting for. In Season One, we learned Tastyee didn’t have any family she could rely on when she was released from prison and wound up sleeping on the floor in an over-crowded apartment. But now we get the details. She grew up in a group “home”, desperate for a conventional “forever family” that never came despite being a smart girl with a big personality and a serious case of the cutes.

She’s around 10, when she encounters “Vee”, a neighborhood dealer who immediately makes me leery. It’s one thing to sell drugs, it’s another thing to seduce kids with crappy home lives into working corners for you by presenting yourself as a mother-figure, especially when the consequence of coming up short on the count is sleeping outside. Taystee, still just a pre-teen, has lived enough life already to suss out Vee as “a connect”, and despite her desire for a family, Tasha isn’t desperate enough— yet— to take Vee up on her offer to “learn the trade”.

Years later, Taystee is out of viable options. There are problems in her group home and Vee, who has always paid attention to her, is her last resort. She wowed her with her science skills when she was 10-ish, and years later it’s her quick math skills that win Vee over, and set Taystee on the road to prison.

The upside here is that Taystee gets the family she always wanted. In exchange for participating in Vee’s heroin operation, she gets a Mom (types of motherhood are a theme throughout the episode) who bakes bread from scratch, listens to—and humors— her crazy ideas and an older brother, RJ who lovingly teases her. When the family prepares for dinner in the kitchen table, it almost feels Cosby-esque— minus the heroin baggies they have to clear first.

Back at Litchfield— finally— it’s “Career Day” and we get an update on what the people we really care about are up to.

Taystee is the only one taking “Career Day” seriously. She picks the outfit that won the year before and she actually studies for the interview with a Phillip Morris recruiter. Her interview skills are impressive, perhaps better than most of the people on the outside with a legit job. Like most—but not all— of the women at Litchfield, she’s smart. With the right chances, a support system and a little luck—like say the cushy life Piper was born into and takes for granted— many of them could have gone far in life. (But, as Vee once told her, “you’re from the hood. You don’t get a career. You get a job. And this one [selling heroine] is the best one around.”) Still, Taystee is a stand out among the ladies of Litchfield. And best friend Poussey couldn’t be prouder.

Poor pregnant Daya hasn’t pooped in five days and swears she’s “dying”. Gloira and Daya’s Mom, Aleida—moreso Aleida than Gloria— battle it out to see who can make Daya poop faster. When she finally poops, Daya declares it a tie. They’re both winners.

Red’s not adjusting well to her loss of power in the prison. She’s let herself go – her hair isn’t fire red anymore or standing up— since she was ousted from both the kitchen and her position as the matriarch of her prison family. To make matters worse, her real family hasn’t added money to her commissary, so she’s forced to return to the cafeteria and face the Latinas who have taken over the kitchen— or starve.  Since she’s been kicked out of her group, the Grey Mafia offers her a spot in theirs. She declines. “My life is sad and small and a burden to those I love,” she tells her son on visiting day. Because old ladies don’t take no for an answer even from other old ladies, they ignore her rejection and push up anyway.

Little Boo (the dog) is no more after an incident between the dog and Big Boo got “weird.” The implication is that Big boo had the dog perform oral sex on her. Desperate times call for desperate measures… I guess. O_o

Morello is still holding on to the idea of marrying her fiance’, Christopher, when she gets out of prison. “Fig” aka the lady who runs the prison brought in some sort of resume specialist to help the women clean up their resumes and when he asks her what she wants to do for work when she gets out, she responds, “I just want to get married to Christopher and have his babies and make the house look nice.” Um, okay.

Pennsatucky isn’t dead, as we learned in OITNB’s season opener, but it’s here we get a glimpse of the damage Piper’s done. It’s been over a month since their big fight and Pennsatucky’s face has healed, but… When asked about the fight, Pennsatucky downplays how brutally Piper beat on her: “I suppose she got a few licks in”, she offers, but her teeth tell another story. If thought they were bad before….

New teeth or nah?

Healy’s still trying to make headway with his wife when Pennsatucky shows up and reminds him that she remembers everything about her fight with Piper, specifically that Healy saw it revving up and did nothing. She might be a “hillbilly meth addict” (and completely delusional), but she isn’t stupid. She also reminds Healy that she is still the poster child for the Right to Life movement and her version of the story holds more weight than he thinks it does. Healy buys her silence by agreeing to fix her teeth.

Natalie Figueroa aka Fig’ is the executive assistant to the Warden and her husband is running for office. Hubs heightened popularity has brought more scrutiny to the prison that his wife runs. There are funds missing  (because she embezzled them) and an overbearing reporter is determined to get the story. Fig shows off her rehabilitation activities at the prison (aka “Career Day”), then flirts her way out of the questions reporter’s questions before brushing him off.

Outside of the Litchfield, we learn Piper’s best friend Polly had the baby, and her husband Pete promptly bailed to go find himself on a “vision quest in the Tundra.” Polly, is a stressed new mom who gives zero f****s, evident when she greets Larry, who’s pitching in to help, at the door with a boob hanging out.  For what it’s worth, she offers Larry her sympathies about his break up with Piper, but she’s loyal to her bestie: “She’s my friend and I will always take her side over yours,” she tells him. “And I will always be friends with her, and who knows how long I will know you.”

Piper’s ex-fiance’ Larry and his father wind up at gay bathhouse—Dad found it on Groupon—to discuss Piper. Larry isn’t ready to move on yet, which his father (and the entire viewing audience) doesn’t get. That said, I do understand why no one would be interested in him. He’s an ass, just like Piper. They’re actually pretty well-suited for each other. His one redeeming quality thus far is his paternal skills.

Other thoughts:

*Gloria has been locked up long enough that she doesn’t know what “Molly” is. Luschek, the CO who fixes the electricity, explains, “it’s the pure powder form of MDMA. It’s supposed to be a clean ecstasy, but it made me grind my teeth.” Here’s a CO admitting to taking illegal drugs. “How come you ain’t in jail?” Gloria asks Luschek. Technically, he is, which he points out. What she meant is how come he breaks the law, but isn’t punished for it like all the women in Litchfield. Gloria asked a great question.

*The only real lick we saw Pennsatucky get on Piper was when she cut Piper’s hand with the shank. But when an inmate sees Pennsatucky she says, “I heard you beat the holy mess out of each other.” Um, was there a part of the fight we missed? Or is the prison grapevine like a game of telephone where the story gets distorted the more it’s told?

*Taystee is none too happy when Vee shows up in the prison doorway after Taystee wins the interview competition, one that garners her $10 to her commissary, not the job offer she was expecting when she’s released.  The last we saw of Vee and Taystee, Vee was promising to protect her forever. Seems Taystee hasn’t forgotten she had nowhere stable to turn when she was released.


What did you think of Episode 2?

The Pre-Birthday Post: What Success Actually Looks Like


A few weeks ago, I wrote about finding my “fire” again—not as easy as one my think. It involves being honest about somethings that make me uncomfortable and turning down some opportunities that would make me financially comfortable, but compromise my integrity (further). That post ended on hopeful note, something like, “with effort, we all get to be who we want to be…”

A woman who read that noted, “that’s just not true.” She followed up to say that assessment was easy for me to make because I’ve been successful at everything. If she was standing in front of me, I would have laughed. Hard. Actually, that’s just not true. I responded to let her know the only reason anyone’s success looks consistent is because the losses usually happen behind the scenes. For every professional win that’s public, there are always more “Ls” in private. For every clichéd cool, calm, collected appearance in the spotlight, there’s madness behind the literal and figurative curtain.

People have been labeling me “successful” lately. (I know. Me and my First World problems, right?) I’m flattered. But that’s not how I view myself. You see accomplishments.  I still see the things that I wanted that I didn’t get. I see looming deadlines, the never-ending demands, negotiations, and decisions, and the 50-million things that I haven’t done that I’m supposed to be doing, including dropping Don’t Waste Your Pretty, which I’ve pushed back releasing . (Another blog post for another day.) I live through the disappointments and the insanity for a hard won, well, win here and there. Success, whatever that is because I haven’t figured out my definitive definition of it yet, doesn’t look like whatever I abstractly imagined it would be, what it will be. Success is rosy. My life is chaotic.

For instance….


I fly into NYC on a red-eye, which means I land at 7AM. Plane sleep doesn’t really count as real sleep, so I’m only half -awake when the plane lands. Before I got on the plane, I cancelled the car to pick me up from the airport because I’ve been gone for the better part of two weeks and CBW wants to see me immediately, so he'll pick me up. Perfect… sort of.  For the first time in his entire life, he shows up somewhere on time. But he’s at JFK. I’m at LaGuardia.

I head to the unusually long cab line for this time of the day and I'm freezing. I spent the last two weeks in leather jacket or no jacket weather, and now I’m in wool coat weather wearing leather. Great.

I finally get a cab. Something about the way the driver is, well, driving, makes me feel nauseous on an empty stomach. Greater. The up-side here is that CBW beats me to my apartment and, God bless his sweet soul, has laid out sleep clothes and pulled the covers back on my bed. He knows the routine for when I get back after a long work trip. I greet him “hello” and “good night” at 8:30 AM. He puts me to bed and leaves for the office.

By 1PM, I feel human again. I fart around the house, willfully attempting to do nothing, because for the last two weeks I’ve been required to be doing something all day everyday— and tonight I’m required to do something else. At 5:00, I get dressed for an awards ceremony that I was supposed to get ready for at 4:00. Of all the people receiving awards, I’m pretty sure I live the closest to the venue. It’s at the Brooklyn Museum and I could run there in 10 15 minutes if I really wanted to. And still, I am the last person receiving an award to arrive, damn near 30 minutes late.

The ceremony goes well. I rely on the reserve of energy I’m been storing all day like a bear in hibernation so I can have a burst when I accept my award. My speech goes well too. I talk about Spike Lee and Nola Darling and why I moved to Brooklyn. I talk about how I worked really hard for years trying to be known and seen and professionally, and how everything  actually took off  almost immediately when I stopped trying to be noticed, and started filling a void. Basically, I became useful. The audience laughs and claps at the appropriate times. I win.

After the awards, I’m exhausted. But a really good friend who is from Brooklyn but lives out of town showed up at the awards to support me. She wants to do dinner, and she won’t care if I yawn through it. She just wants to hang out with me. I have great friends and I neglect them more than I do CBW because I'm always alternately working or hibernating.  It's a sore spot between me and, like, everyone. I feel bad about that and I don't want to that girl.. again. So all three of us go to dinner and I kill two figurative birds with one stone.

I stay out too long because time flies when you’re having fun, and I will suffer for it. It’s 11PM when I get home and I still have to pack. The following morning, I have a 6:30 AM flight to host another event in the South. I’m in bed at 1:30, up by 4:30. At the airport by 5:30.

I arrive in the South around noon in tights and Jordans. (You did not think I traveled in dresses, did you?!) The volunteer from the airport picks me up and says she’s taking me to the hospitality suite at the hotel where I can hang out until showtime.

Hospitality suites have food, and chairs, and occasionally liquor. They’re comfy. But they don’t have what I really want. No, need.

I swear I’m not trying to be difficult. But I’ve been on the road since 5 AM. I took two different planes to travel a thousand miles to show up for an appearance on this so-called “celebrity* panel” at this very lovely event where I will take loads of pictures that will be all over social media. I will also sit on this Southern stage in front of hundreds of people looking at me and I will need to be “on”. That means consistently smiling, witty, attentive and funny. To do all that, that means I need to be at my best. And that means I need another  shower.

“Um… does the hospitality suite have a shower?” I ask the driver.

She says she’ll check. The answer is “no.”

I don’t get it. I mean the convention center is attached to a hotel. Get a room, let me borrow someone’s room who is working this event and is staying here. I mean, my manager specifically asked that there be a place that I can shower, so it’s not like this is an out-of-the-blue request. And I just flew in for an event. Am I being unreasonable?

I decide I’m not and insist, firmly but politely, that she find me a shower. The events team puts a few people on this task, including a “helper” who has been assigned to work with me.

The helper, a very sweet woman, tries to live up to her job description. She quickly has a solution. She goes to the front desk, gets bars of soap and towels of varying sizes and brings them to me in the hospitality suite where I am the only person waiting. She says I can “wash up” in the bathroom.

Um. No. I can’t. I mean, I can, but I won’t. But I appreciate that she tried it. I insist, again, on a shower. Back to the drawing board.

Twenty minutes later, there’s a new plan. And a shower. An adjacent building has a women’s bathroom. The hotel attendant takes us to it. There are a row of 10 toilet stalls, and at the end of said row, there is a handicap bathroom with… a shower. It’s the equivalent of showering in Penn Station, but like clean. I can smell the bleach. And there is flowing warm water from above. Whatever. I’ll take it.

I’m unpacking my suitcase and not yet in the shower, when a security guard, a Black woman, enters the bathroom. “Uh, ma’am,” she begins. Nothing good ever follows that opener.

She says the hotel attendant should not have brought us here. This building is not a part of the hotel, and Black woman talking to Black women, she keeps it 100: “ I will lose my job if my supervisor finds out you're in here,” she adds. “I’m sorry, but you can’t use this bathroom.”

As much as I want a shower, I don't want one bad enough to put another Black woman's job at risk. Fuckkkkkk. I accept defeat and that I will have to go on stage for my big, fancy panel unfresh. If this is “celebrity” life I want to go back to being "regular."

Part 2: Soon come.


*I don't and won't refer to myself as a "celebrity." If I didn't earn the title from writing, I won't accept it from having cameras following me around. That's not a talent; it's an experience.

She Matters: Confronting the KKK... Sorta

KKK Montreal I’d gone to Montreal for a conference and, because I fell in love with the city, decided to stay a few more days to explore it. I was with my travel companion, a woman who’s working on a start-up site about art, and she asked me to tag along with her to check out Montreal’s contemporary art scene.

At our second stop, a very nice attendant made small talk and asked about our art-hopping plans. Maybe I looked as bored as I was because the attendant asked if I was enjoying the trek. “I like the pretty colors, but ... ,” I said. I’m not that shallow, I swear. I just have a preference for art that is bold and in my face.

“What’s next?” the attendant asked. My companion told her we were headed to “Come and See” by British artists Jake and Dinos Chapman at DHC/ART.

She looked alarmed. “I haven’t seen it, but ‘depressing’ was how a friend described it. Wanna see?” She punched a few strokes on her computer keyboard and invited us to take a look at her screen.

There were various images of Ronald McDonald being crucified. It was one scene in an extraordinarily detailed display of miniatures that looked like something out of the zombie scenes inWorld War Z. I clicked the “about” link that explained the exhibit. The leading themes of the brothers’ work: “morality, religion, sex, death and philosophy.” Apparently they have a thing for critiquing the “-isms”: capitalism, consumerism, imperialism, extremism, racism, etc. Cool. This sounded more my speed.

At the exhibit, a very nice man greeted us cheerfully at the entrance. He pointed down a hall, indicating that we should begin there. At the top of a short set of stairs was a summary of what I read on the website. I skimmed through it quickly, but my partner in crime must have read faster because she moved on first. I don’t know if I heard her gasp first or caught her flinching in my peripheral vision.

“What?” I asked, genuinely concerned since, like me, she’s not prone to dramatic reactions.

“Oh, hell no,” I said. I stepped back to the very edge of the stairs. I should be more careful about what I ask for.


Read more: here 

Ask Demetria: Um... Your Ex is Not Your Friend

friends-with-your-ex Dear Demetria:

My ex and I remained friends after our breakup. He has a girlfriend now, but he’s constantly telling me he wants to be with me and the only reason he’s with her is because we’re not together. I think he told me he’s thinking about marrying her to get a reaction from me. How do I get him to see I’m fine with being friends? —S.M.

You’re not friends with your ex. A friend doesn’t “constantly” tell you that he wants to be in a relationship with you even when you’re both single, and especially not when he’s in a relationship. Friends also don’t ignore your boundaries. You’ve said “no” several times, and he continues to push up on you despite you trying to shut him down. That’s ignoring what you want and pushing his own agenda. Your ex is your ex. And he’s very shady.

But this uncomfortable situation isn’t all on him. You’re participating in this by continuing to engage him, and you need to take accountability for that. You know that he is in a relationship, you know that he is being continually disrespectful to his girlfriend—and to you—and yet you continue to speak to him. You’re saying no, but every time you’ve answered the phone or responded to a text after he’s pushed up on you, your actions are saying, “well, maybe.” He keeps approaching you about wanting to be with you because he’s going by what you do, not what you say.

Surely there are many things that you like about your ex, which is why you have continued to communicate with him under the guise of friendship. It sounds like he may still have feelings for you, and he moved on to another relationship before they were fully resolved. Let’s “keep it 100”: One of the reasons you continue to speak to him, despite your protests, is that the attention and the interest are flattering to your ego.

Who doesn’t like to hear from someone they cared for that they miss you, made a mistake and want a second chance with you? And you probably like the idea that he’s saying in so many words that he’s not all that satisfied with the woman who came after you, and he perceives you as better than she.

You’re not interested, otherwise you wouldn’t keep telling him no. But you like that he is, or you wouldn’t keep talking to him. You don’t want him, but you want him to want you. That’s all ego, and you shouldn’t let it get the best of you or continue to fuel this drama, because, really, that’s what this is.


Read more: here

Lupita Nyong’o & What It Means to Be Black

Lupita Nyong'o When I posted a picture on my Instagram of newly minted Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o giving her acceptance speech at Sunday night’s awards ceremony, I didn’t know or even suspect that there was any question about whether she was black. The photo was of a beaming Nyong’o holding up her award in triumph. Her speech—especially the part where she said, “No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid”—moved me.

I, like many, had been rooting for her to win an Oscar as soon as the credits rolled on 12 Years a Slave. To me, Nyong’o’s win—and she said as much in her speech—was a win for black girls, black women and women of all colors everywhere.

I like the actress so much, I started referring to her as “Our Lady Lupita.” And I said so in thatInstagram caption, which read, “Black Girl Magic! Get you some. Congrats to Our Lady @lupitanyongo on her Oscar win!” Innocent enough, right?

Promptly, a follower responded, “Actually, she’s Mexican.” It was said as if Nyong’o couldn’t be black and Mexican at the same time. For anyone who is confused by this, I point you toward two documentaries, The Forgotten Roots and African Blood, which show that the Diaspora extends to Mexico, too.

But back to Nyong’o. Her father was a Kenyan professor who was teaching in Mexico when she was born. She also returned to the country when she was a teenager. Calling her Mexican isn’t technically inaccurate. But it’s not the whole story. She’s also Kenyan because both her parents are and because she was raised in Kenya.

And she’s black because—and I can’t believe I have to explain this—look at her. The deep-brown complexion, the wonderfully kinky hair and the full lips all fit the phenotype of the people colloquially called “black.” For me, that makes Nyong’o unquestionably a black woman, even if she hasn’t always felt that way.

“Having come to the United States was the first time that I really had to consider myself as being black and to learn what my race meant,” Nyong’o told Vogue. “Because race is such an important part of understanding American society.”

Not everyone defines “black” the same way. For some, it’s a race that extends across nationalities—i.e., the African Diaspora. For others it’s a way to describe the unique experience of African Americans. The people who fall into the “Lupita’s not black” camp are usually thinking of culture.

Then there are those who place nationality above everything else, which make them consider her Mexican-ness or Kenya-ness only. Nyong’o claims both, saying on the red carpet, “I am Mexican and Kenyan at the same time. I have seen that they are fighting over my nationality, but I insist I am Mexican Kenyan, and I am fascinated by tacos with roasted meat.”

But perhaps there’s something else at the root of this drive to define what Nyong’o really is. It seems that whenever a black woman is recognized for her beauty in America, there’s often a clamor to make her “other” or “exotic,” as if being “just” black isn’t good enough. There always has to be something more that explains why she’s considered a “great beauty.”


Read more: here 


“It’s not stalking when you’re in love.”— “Baggage” contestant

This actually happened on "Baggage", but not on the episode I'm writing about today.  

I swore I wasn’t going to do recaps of “Baggage”. I swore. But you know what I do for a living, and I can’t not write about this episode. So I’ve taken to DVR-ing “Baggage”. That’s how serious is.

I promise to only write about the really good ones, like this one.

Okay. Really nice Black guy—tall, four degrees-- has to pick between three non-Black women. No problem, and as the show is taped in LA, no surprise.

His options are:

*a ditzy blond who shares popsicles with her dog (small) and demonstrated this on national TV. The look on the guy’s face was priceless. You know the look every Black person gives before they say “aww, hell no!” It was that. She was also a sugar mama to two younger men (medium). The guy called that “a fetish”.

He eliminated her after that one. And he was smart to do it. She looked to be under 30 and had been married 4x (big). She was on the show looking for Husband No. 5.

So now he’s left with:

*an uber cute and petite chick who looked to be Phillipino and likes to bite during sex (small), likes to eat her peeled skin (medium) and once moved to another state to stalk her ex. Explanation: “It’s not stalking when you’re in love.” Oh, and she lives with her best friend who is her ex-boyfriend and Chipotle is the food that puts her “in the mood”.

*a brolic white chick who aims to hit skunks when she drives because she likes the smell (small). She spends $1000—yes, one thousand—a month on lottery tickets (medium). And she chews and spits tobacco. She revealed she had some in her mouth while taping and showed the audience. Last but not least, pasta is her aphrodisiac and she likes to be spanked.


The producers have to be making this up.

So QT Black guy goes with the biter-stalker. But will she take him when she learns his baggage?

He reveals he  had sex with his therapist. Explanation: he has insomnia, sought professional help and she was hot, soo...

She did not accept his baggage.


Guys, who would you have chosen?  If you were a guy (or are a lady who dates ladies), who would you have picked?



Everyone Is Asking the Wrong Questions About the Ray Rice Video

Ray Rice and his fiancee, Janay Palmer

“PSA of the day ... If you spit in a man’s face, you deserve to get knocked out. Man, woman or child. Period!”

This was a friend’s Facebook status on the day the news broke that Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and his fiancee, Janay Palmer, had both been charged with simple assault after they were involved in a domestic dispute while visiting an Atlantic City casino over Valentine’s Day weekend. Rumor had it that Palmer had spit on Rice, and Rice had reacted. To what degree he reacted was anyone’s guess, at that time. Rice’s lawyer initially—and in hindsight, bafflingly—described the event as a “very minor physical altercation,” as if there were some way for a couple to lay hands on each other that wasn’t bad.

Good ole TMZ came through with footage of the aftermath to that dispute. “Very minor”? Hardly. Grainy video showed Rice dragging his unconscious fiancee from the elevator and discarding her facedown on a carpeted hallway. He seems not to want to be bothered, and even more so when he is approached by hotel security. As the woman comes to, he drags her around some more, seemingly annoyed. The first thing I wondered is, what happened to her?

Police supposedly are in possession of a video that shows Rice allegedly delivering the blow that knocked his fiancee out cold.

I’ve been following this story for days to find out what happened to Palmer and how she’s doing. No one seems to care much about her, despite us all being under the impression that her man—and father of her child—played Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out on her and then dragged her across a dirty elevator floor and into a hallway as if she were trash. I mean, the man is a professional athlete. He cared so little that he couldn’t even pick her up. The only update came from a Ravens spokesman, who said the couple “returned home together after being detained.”

Really? Is that the best place for a woman who allegedly just got knocked out by her man? A woman doesn’t just bounce back from that like nothing happened. Who is going to nurse her back to health and make sure she’s OK? Him?!

In the aftermath, all the talk in the news was about whether Rice will get to keep his job with the Ravens and how much it will cost the team to let him go. Oh, and there were some who were minimizing the issue. The Baltimore Ravens’ general manager called the allegations “concerning” and said it “doesn’t look good.” You think?

On social media, there were plenty of statements like those from my Facebook friend justifying why it’s OK for a man to hit a woman or wondering what he said to get spit on, which in turn made him punch. Everyone was talking about this couple as though they were avatars, and someone else was in control of them and they were not responsible for their own actions.

It doesn’t matter what he said. She shouldn’t have spit on him. And while it’s profoundly disrespectful, it’s not an excuse to knock your fiancee out cold and drag her across a floor. What is this an excuse for, though? For this couple to part ways.


Read more: here 

Baggage: The Greatest TV Show I Never Heard Of... Until Now

A "Baggage" contestant's big reveal. I told you this was great.  


Why didn't anyone tell me about “Baggage” on GSN?!*

This is great TV!!!!!!!!

I vaguely remember a first season episode of “Girls” mentioning it, but I wasn’t that into that show, so I didn’t bother to look up this show. Or maybe I didn’t think it was real. That’s my bad. I’ve been missing out.

If you’ve been living in TV’s Dark Ages like me, here’s how it goes: Man/woman has a choice of three people to chose to go on a date with. Each of the people has baggage—literally, they show up on stage with roller luggage.

The figurative baggage comes in three sizes—small, medium and large. On a recent episode, a woman’s small baggage was that she never voted, medium was that she doesn’t shave her legs or use deodorant, and big was that she stood up her ex at the altar.

She was up against a woman who smokes $150 of weed PER WEEK (small)—which when I posted about this on FB, I was told it wasn’t actually a lot if you smoke good weed— and screams and kicks in her sleep (medium). Then there was the woman who ate baby food (small).

Of the selection, baby food was the first to go, but only after she admitted that she’s dated more women than men.

The non-shaving, non-voting lady was selected by the man looking for love. Admittedly she, a Black girl, was cute as all get out. And the guy was a looker. But you know it takes more than that. And he came with his own baggage.

After the man/woman makes his choice, he has to reveal his big baggage. On this episode, the guy’s baggage was that he believed a woman’s role in a relationship was to be “barefoot and pregnant.” Yes, in 2014, a man actually said that. His reasoning was that gender roles need to be strictly defined in a relationship because when the sexes start fulfilling non-traditional roles, things get all hazy.

Non-shaving, non-voter turned him down.

The episode after that was a guy, a former NFL player, whose small baggage was that he wore dentures. He was hit in practice when he wasn’t a wearing a mouth guard. Fair enough. But then he volunteered to pop out his dentures on national TV. The whole upper-left side was missing. (I couldn’t get the image out of my head for the rest of the show.) Another guy collected Happy Meal toys, but it his was his way of bonding with his 6 year old son. The last guy couldn’t dance. He demonstrated. It was worse than “Elaine” from Seinfeld. The non-dancing guy’s medium baggage was he thought humans descended from aliens. He got the boot.

They have to be making up some of these storylines. I hope they are.

On Thursday’s night episode, a former “Rock of Love” contestant was faced with three options a guy who wanted his girl to make cartoon noises during sex, another guy collected animal teeth and bones. Explanation: his grandfather’s Native American), and the last guy—Black— wears mascara. Explanation: he’s an aspiring model. He uses it to darken up his mustache and beard on photo shoots. He also had on a lime green 90s shirt and matching shoes. This was the small baggage.

The medium baggage was a guy who has phone sex with his ex (lime green guy), a guy who lives in the woods three months out of the year, and a guy who is a recovering drug addict (2.5 years sober.) His guilty pleasure was watching porn bloopers.

Lime green was eliminated after revealing his medium baggage. His  parting words were, “I gotta go. I got a phone call to make.” Ha! His big baggage was that he owned a sex toy company. Now I wonder what kind of “modeling” he did. Hmmm

The big baggage: Porn bloopers worked as a gigilo for awhile. The other guy cheated on his girlfriend with two different women in one night.

Porn bloopers got chose. Her baggage? She’s a Las Vegas stripper. He accepted her baggage.

Oh, and perhaps the best part of all of this: Jerry Springer is the host. You probably had to be a college student at the height of Springer-mania in the late 90s to know why this is so great.

Ya'll are cruel for keeping this from me.

What’s your baggage? Small, medium and large. Give it up.


*If you’re wondering why a woman under 50 is watching the Game Show Network, it’s relaxing, hilarious and keeps the mind sharp. I’m also addicted to Steve Harvey’s Family Feud and vintage episodes of “20 Thousand Dollar Pyramid” too.

"We had sex 360 days out of the year. It was more times than that."—Wife.

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 1.23.12 PM

So here's the great -and odd and occasionally troubling- thing about being a dating and relationship coach: people you know and don't know love to pull you aside in unexpected settings and tell you their business. They think you've heard it all before so nothing should shock you OR they know you’ve heard a lot and they want to shock you.

I consider most of what they say in these conversations off-limits to write about because even if it's free advice and I'm not using names, I'm being solicited in the capacity of a coach. I draw a line at discussing private client business.

Anyway, the story I'm telling today isn't from a client, but from a cousin and his wife, so I guess it's cousins plural.

When I was a kid, I lived in Houston for a few years. A family-- who actually turned out to be blood-- sort of adopted me and my folks in their city. There was a daughter and three younger brothers. The two youngest sibs were around my age and I spent the most time with them. The two older sibs-- 8-10 years our senior--made sure we didn't kill ourselves. The daughter was my baby sitter.

So I go to Houston, which I haven't been to since I was 16-- as part of OraQuick + Essence's healthy relationships tour. I'm only in town for a day and ask my family to stop by my hotel to say "hi." We don't have much time together, so after we catch up and take a few pics, the eldest boy, my "Cousin-brother", offers to take me to the airport since he and his wife live out that way anyway. Perfect.

I'm thinking this will be a "normal" ride where people who have known me forever tease me about all the dumb ish I did as a kid. But nooooo! Cuzzo and his wife have other plans for this 45-minute trek.

It starts when we pull out of the parking lot and he says, "so who this n----a you fixxinta marry, D?" And then everything goes hilariously left from there.

Cousin-brother and his wife are in their 40s and have two children together. They've been together 22 years and married for 14. They are joyously happy in their relationship-- my assessment, not their boasting-- and they want to offer me some marriage advice. Great.

After the curveball, the conversation starts easy enough. Cousin-brother says you never stop dating your wife. They're married, but they make a point to act like boyfriend and girlfriend.

Okay. I've heard that before. I can get with that.

He says that's how couples keep the romance going. That, and having sex every day.

"I'm sorry, what?" I ask. I couldn’t have heard that right. Daily?!

He repeats himself like he doesn't think I heard him.

I flip around in the front seat-- his wife insisted I sit there-- to look at Wife. She nods and co-signs, sorta. "Well, not every day. Last year, I counted and we missed 5 days."


Me to Wife: "you had sex. 360 times. In ONE YEAR?"

"No, no, no," she clarifies. We had sex 360 days out of the year. It was more times than that."

She's looking at me like this is the most normal thing in the world. He's driving along like this conversation isn't a joke. I wait for someone to laugh. I'm clearly being "Punked."

But nope. They're forreal, forreal. This is their normal.

Cousin-brother fills the silence since I am at a loss for words. "Every night, some mornings. But at night she likes to dress up."

He says that every night, Wife fully does her hair and make-up and slips into lingerie. I turn back around for her to verify this. She nods.

"If we had time we could swing by the house and give you a bag full," he says. "We have drawers and drawers of it."

I'm not thinking about it being odd to wear another woman's undergarments even if they're clean. I look at his wife. I look at me. She's maybe a 4. I am a 10, tops.* There's no way.

She knows what I'm thinking. "I’ve lost 97 pounds. We have some in every size."


It took her a year and a half to take the weight off. You know how some folk lose weight and start to look bobble-heady. She looks like she's always been skinny.

I wonder if it's from all the sex. I can deal with the treadmill to work out, but I'd enjoy the sex more. Maybe there's something to this sex everyday theory...

She reads my mind. "We work out all the time."


Cousin-brother pipes in. "All we do is work, work out, and have sex."


Wife says she knows this all sounds a little off. They're very open about their sex life-- they gave details I'm skipping over-- and their friends all have my "really?" reaction.

Cousin- Brother: “And I'm like "really? Ya'll don't have sex every day? It's good! Why not?"

When referring to them as a couple, their friends call them “The Humps”, which I find friggin hilarious.

I inform him that 15 percent of married couples have not had sex in six months, according to a story I read in the NY Times. And surveys say that the average married couple has sex once a week. Under 30 marrieds have it about twice a week.

He swerves. If she was wearing pearls she would clutch them. I laugh.

They know they're funny and believe their only "slightly" unusual. They think it would be fun to have a reality TV show of the "Family Hustle" and "Chrissy + Mr. Jones" variety.

"Do you think people would be interested in us?" Wife asks as we pull up to the airport.

Oh, she has no clue. They are made for TV.

I suggest they start a blog about their lives to gauge interest. I swear to her it will be an immediate hit.

Check it out: here


RHOA's Kandi & Mama Joyce Visit The View.... Nothing Gets Resolved


I finally watched The View segment from yesterday featuring Kandi, Mama Joyce, and Todd—note the order there. I tuned in because I find this whole conflict fascinating. Usually this story plays out with a guy whose mom thinks her son is her man. Never seen it play out -- at this level-- this way and for so long.

The segment accomplished absolutely nothing for the conflict —we need Iyanla to fix this one—  but I'm sure it brought in good ratings.

Two parts that stood out to me:

*Aunt Whoopi told Mama, “let [Kandi] make the mistake if she’s going to make the mistake… you can’t do this for her.” Mama didn’t have a chance to respond to that or it was edited it out. I would have checked the idea that my man is a" mistake". But Kandi, as expected, didn't speak up for herself or her relationship. Again.

*Mama Joyce has a man. Who knew?


Mama's latest round of complaints is Todd is lazy because as a freelance producer, he took two months off in between jobs and used his savings to support himself. She's also back to talking about her concern for Kandi's daughter because when Todd appeared on WWHL, he didn't mention Kandi's daughter when he was talking about people affected by the family drama. Host Andy asked Todd what he thought about the accusations that Mama made about him and Kandi's best friend, Carmon. Todd talked about how it affects Carmon’s son and didn’t mention Kandi’s daughter. I’m unclear on why Mama thought he should have brought up Kandi’s kiddo in this response.

If Todd was living on Kandi's money during his break, I would get why Mama was concerned, but not at the level that she is. But he had SAVINGS and that is an indication of a responsible adult who prepares for a rainy day, and makes enough money to stash some away. Mama Joyce—and many from her generation— doesn't get that one of the reasons you become a freelancer is so you can do things like not work sometimes, enjoy some life, and still be able to support yourself. Working as a producer, you move from show- to- show and HUSTLE for work. Sometimes there are gaps. This is the nature of his business.  Todd said on The View that he recently started his own production company and landed a show. That’s not a lazy man. And even if he was lazy, like Aunt Whoopi said, that's for Kandi to deal with. Not her Mom.

Let’s cut the crap.  This isn't about Todd's work ethic, just like it's not about the accusations of him cheating, just like it's not about him not having Kandi-level money, just like it’s not about concern for Kandi's child. Mama's issue is she feels threatened and insecure by Kandi having another priority in her life, one that, when/if Kandi and Todd marry, is supposed to trump Mama’s reign in Kandi’s life. Mama wanting to be forever and always number one is how we got to the mess she's been pulling.

From what's been shown on the show-- very important to note-- this all started when Kandi wouldn't let her mother move in the guest house. If it were Kandi and  daughter only, Mom would be in there chilling. Todd's also a priority in Kandi's life and among other things, Kandi considered how Mama moving in would affect Todd, so she said, “no.”  Mama is used to hearing “yes”.

Kandi has let this go on for far, far too long. She doesn't seem to get that her silence isn't respecting her mother, it's disrespecting herself and her happiness. It will be tough to unravel this issue that both women have without the help of a therapist.

What makes this situation even harder is the mom is playing up a very real issue in front of the media, and let’s be clear, for attention. I'd like to think that Mama  wouldn't have tried to fight a woman 30+ years her junior in a bridal shop or left that crazy message on Carmon’s voicemail if cameras weren't around. As someone who's subjected their life to reality TV cameras, the lines between what's real and what's done for TV can make people quite difficult to read and navigate. And maybe that's why Kandi's not stepping up like so many want her to.

I adore Kandi, but the way this is playing out in front of the camera-- important to note—it seems she's enabling her mother and participating in her own downfall with the continued silence and by not drawing a line with her Mom. Todd's already told Kandi that he isn't sticking around if this drama continues. And he said it again on The View that everyone has a breaking point. Both of Todd's statements should have been a wake-up call. *Rings Belle like Dap Dunlap*

Last thought about Kandi and her mama: what you won't do while I'm holding the purse strings is disrespect me and mines continually, and in public. Her mama got some huevos like I've never seen.

Based on what you’ve seen on TV, how would you handle this situation if you were Kandi?





Ask Demetria: Last Minute V-Day Ideas for Your Man

FEB-141 “This is my first Valentine’s Day with my new boyfriend. I’ve waited until the last minute to get my guy a gift and I don’t want to ask him now what he wants. I am clueless about what to get him. Flowers? A massage? Cologne? A sex coupon book? What do I get him? Help!” —S.A.

You’re a procrastinator, like me. I bought my Christmas tree on Christmas Eve, finally got it decorated by 5 p.m. Christmas Day and it sat in a corner—lit—until February. We mean well, but you know how it goes.

Fortunately for us, we’re in luck when it comes to V-Day. In general, men don’t really expect much on this “holiday.” I put that in quotes because many guys think of it as a commercial holiday for which they’re expected to splurge just to meet expectations. They do it because they don’t want to disappoint the woman they care about. And for stand-out guys who make romantic gestures and spoil their women throughout the year—and not just on one particular day—V-Day can feel like an unfair obligation.

As my fiance put it, “Valentine’s Day is like wedding day. It’s all about the woman.” He and his friends, like most men I spoke to about this subject, are really only hoping for a good time spent with their lady and good sex, a reward of sorts for the stress above and beyond what they go through to make the day extra-special for the woman they care about.

If you’re thinking about sending him flowers, buying him something that smells nice or a day of professional pampering, skip that. That’s not what he is expecting. What he’s really looking forward to is spending time with you doing something romantic and then hopefully, more time in the bedroom (or wherever you prefer it) with you.

Instead of a gift, make V-Day special for your great guy another way. After his V-Day plans for you have wrapped, tell him you have a romantic surprise for him—a massage performed by you. This is when you put on your ‘90s slow jams, light a few scented candles, show off your sexy lingerie and break out the water-based massage “oil” since it won’t stain sheets or your outfit.

Your idea for sex coupons will go over well, too. Don’t buy the standard ones you see in sex shops—make the effort to create them yourself so you can add some basics and more importantly, tailor the selection to those fantasies he might have talked about that you two haven’t gotten around to fulfilling yet. Make sure one of them has an expiration for that night.

If you insist on getting him a gift—again, skip the things that we women would normally find romantic—choose something you know he would enjoy. If he collects something in particular, purchase something for him that adds to the collection. You can also rarely go wrong with electronics or an expensive bottle of his favorite drink. A woman on one of my social media pages wrote in to say she’d purchased a bottle of liquor and used a sexy pair of panties to tie a card with a sexy message to the bottle.

Most women would think, “too simple.”

Men responded in droves to say, “Win!”

Read more: here

BSH: The Horror in the Hamptons

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 6.40.45 AMSince Dec. 5 when the premier party of “Blood Sweat & Heels” took place, I’ve been on a never-ending press tour to promote the show.  I’ve adhered to the company line about “BSH” being different than “other”—insert shade here— reality shows. In so many multi-syllabic words, my castmates and I have set out in the press to distinguish ourselves in the reality landscape. But the obvious truth, as viewers witnessed, is that some of the cast’s behavior is completely lacking in common sense, couth and any conception of class. Saying, “Oh, we’re so different” just makes for better spin on press junkets.

Admittedly, BSH makes for great television.  (I’m biased.) I’d like to think I would watch, even if I was not on the show. But what happened in tonight’s episode in the Hamptons it is not what I signed on for.

The Hamptons incident was shameful. There was so much more promise for what could have been shown from that excursion. Brie’s parents home is located in an historical African-American enclave of Sag Harbor. Too often, when we see images of Black success, it’s of entertainers and athletes. The inhabitants of Sag Harbor are Black folk with wealth earned through education and entrepreneurship. That should have been acknowledged.

The Hamptons could have been a great girlfriends getaway, a trip of over-worked women escaping the bustle of the city to relax. But instead it descended into the “fuckery and foolishness” that I predicted (on camera) it would be on the drive out.

Months later, I’m still confused as to exactly why Mica came to the Hamptons—sans boyfriend--  to party with women she only met in the process of taping a TV show. What was so important in the Hamptons?

I'm also unclear— still— on what happened in that scene. When asked a basic question about Mica being late—which if you haven’t picked up on by now, is a Bravo staple for creating conflict; it’s happened once prior on BSH and on a recent episode of “Real Housewives of Atlanta”—  Mica goes from zero to 60  for absolutely no reason.

In Sag Harbor, I didn’t want to deal with her drunk behavior— the same behavior showcased on every episode thus far—  again. She was clearly looking for a fight. I wasn't up for it, especially since it’s not like reality stars get Emmys for great meltdowns or blowups. Acting out on camera may be her brand, but it isn’t mine. So I bounced to go powder my nose.

Mica says that made her feel dismissed by us. I felt set-up for another “L” by her.

Mica had an epic meltdown. After listening to her go on and on in the backyard of Brie’s home, loudly, for 20 minutes, Geneva said her piece; I also had enough and told Mica to leave.

Geneva and I went inside the house to get away from Mica. We were not bothering her. She already responded to us. We believed Mica was in the front yard getting into the cab Brie called for her earlier.

Then suddenly Mica’s at Brie’s parents' back door, trying to rip it off the rail.   There was no justifiable reason for that. And more important, I mean, really, REALLY, who does that anyway… at somebody’s mama house?!?!

Her father’s passing, which she declined to talk about when Geneva asked and did not share with the cast until after her meltdown, is unfortunate. But it is also  reprehensible to use it as an excuse for her obnoxious behavior.

I realized Mica was desperate, angry, unstable and unpredictable in that scene. I also realize there was no security on set. No one thought we’d need it on a show about professional women pursuing their dreams.

Mica’s fight with the door was a fight or flight moment for me. I might not have run off if I’d seen CBW there, pulling the door closed with one hand, shaking Milk Duds with the other, and telling Mica that she wasn’t getting in the house. I didn’t though, so I ran.

I didn’t want to be anywhere near her—still don’t.

Ask Demetria: How to Ask Your Man to Get an HIV Test



“I am ready to have sex with a guy I am dating, and I want to do the right thing and get tested [for HIV] first. I don’t know how to bring it up though. I tried to discuss getting tested with a man I dated before him. He was taking me to an appointment and there was a testing center nearby. I suggested on a whim that we get tested and he freaked out. He said he didn’t need to be tested and it was like I was telling him that I didn’t trust him. How can I avoid this happening again?” —Y.F.

I am proud of you for putting your health first. It’s because of women like you who have made getting tested and having safe sex a priority in their relationships that new HIV infections among black women declined 21 percent from 2008 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is amazing news.

Now, about that ex of yours. I’ve spent the last few months touring the country for “Life. As We Know It,” a frank discussion series on dating, relationships and safe sex. I’ve heard from many women who fear that asking their partner to get tested will elicit the same reaction that your ex gave. But I’ve heard from more women who have asked their mate something like, “Hey, I think we should get tested for HIV,” and his response was, more or less, “OK.”

The guy who flipped out sounds like a statistical anomaly. He implied that he had never been tested for HIV, and actually the majority of black people have been. In fact, also according to the CDC, blacks are “more likely than other races and ethnicities to report that they have been tested for HIV at least once—65 percent versus 46 percent for Hispanics/Latinos and 41 percent for whites.”

There are a couple of reasons he could have had that reaction with you. One, he’s not comfortable with the idea of getting tested. Maybe he’s engaged in risky behaviors, and he could be afraid of what the test results would show. Despite what he said about not needing to get tested, if he’s been sexually active, he does. Two, saying you don’t trust him was a weak way of dodging the issue at hand. He sounds quite sketchy. I hope that you did not have sex with him, or if you did, that you have been tested since then.

One thing I’d like to suggest going forward. Getting tested obviously can be a touchy topic for some people. I know you were trying to take advantage of the moment, but the idea of getting tested may go over better if you talk about it in a more comfortable environment instead of springing it on your partner in a public place. That could be a third reason he reacted that way.

Next time there’s a conversation about sex with the new guy—because there’s always a conversation—casually suggest that the two of you “get tested together.” Together is the key word.


Read more: here 

Ask Demetria: The V-Day Survival Guide for Single Ladies

Valentines Day #2 “Valentine’s Day is around the corner. What would you suggest two young, single girls do so they aren’t home pining over a tub of ice cream?”—K.W.

Valentine’s Day has got to be the worst holiday on earth. And I say that as a woman who hasn’t spent one alone in about six years. There’s so much pressure for single women not to be alone and for women in relationships to have a fairy-tale night and for men to make an absolutely perfect grand gesture that “proves” their love on one very specific, and very arbitrary, day. Most of us just end up anxious, then disappointed because real life doesn’t live up to Hollywood fantasy or budgets.

My advice to you is to think of Feb. 14 as just another day, which I know is next to impossible, with the roses and bears and chocolates and all-pink or -red everything and couples dominating practically every place you look.

I tried to psych myself out one year. I went to the gym after work, which was practically empty, and had the treadmill all to myself, which was great. A few trainers were flirting—and I flirted right back. I figured, if they were on call on that night of all nights, they were probably single. And let’s be real: My ego liked the boost.

I was doing all right until I took the subway home and saw all the women with roses and candy, and all booed up with who I hope was their man and not one borrowed from someone else. And I finally lost it when I was walking the block to my house and some street harasser called out, “You too pretty not to have a man.” I think he meant it as a compliment, but I just felt bad for being alone when everyone else seemed to be paired off. I went home and cried loud enough that my neighbor, also single, came across the hall to check on me. She told me I was being ridiculous, which logically I knew to be true, but still.

Don’t be me.

And you won’t be. You have your girl, and Valentine’s Day is still far enough off that you can devise a plan to avoid a pitiful fate. Try these tips instead:

1. Spoil Yourself

You don’t have a special someone to spoil you? That’s cool. You can always treat yourself to a day at the spa, a trip to the nail or hair salon or a fancy pair of shoes.

2. Date Your Bestie

One of my favorite scenes from Sex and the City is when the women declare that they may not have found husbands, but at least they found one another. You and your girlfriend can dote on each other for a day by sending each other flowers, taking each other to dinner or exchanging cards or gifts.

3. Play Hooky

Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday, which makes it perfect timing for a three-day weekend. There’s still time to book a last-minute Caribbean getaway, and you can get great discounts this time of year.

Read more: here

The Root: Black Beauty Standards Can Be Just as Unhealthy as White Ones

Former dancer + current realty TV star Blac Chyna Last week, there were plenty of reactions to an XO Jane story in which a self-described “skinny white girl” in a yoga class assumed that a "heavyset" black woman, who never said a word to her, coveted her lithe form. Whatever.

That misguided essay launched hundreds of responses, including one of my own, which pointed out that no, white lady, black women in general aren't sitting around pining for "skinny white girl” bodies. Many reaction stories emphasized that we black women have our own beauty ideals—ones that emphasize curves in all the "right" places and/or a little more "meat on the bones," as the elders might say. I wondered, though, even as I emphasized the difference between the two ideals, if black women hadn't bought into a perspective that, while unique from the mainstream standard, was equally as problematic as absolute thinness.

To emphasize my defense of black women who are just minding their business and aren't thinking about random white women, I posted a picture of video model-turned-fitness advocate Tiara Harris. Harris has a figure that is held up as "ideal" for black women—narrow waist, ample bosom, thick thighs and prominent rear—and many women commented how they would love to look just like her.

“Is that sister in the photo a trainer?” the very first commenter asked. “She is the”

She is. I picked the picture for a reason. But as much as that very curvaceous shape is admired, is it any more realistic for most black women than say, Sarah Jessica Parker—the current cover model for the February issue of InStyle—is for white women? The truth is, it isn't. And that is one of the reasons that some black women go to extreme lengths, risking their health and their lives, to meet an unrealistic body ideal. It’s the other side of the same coin that plagues some white women.

Over the last few months, there have been several viral stories about black women who have sought illegal butt injections with disastrous results. As an unintentional kickoff to Black History Month, The Root ran a story about Natasha Stewart, who was convicted of culpable negligence manslaughter for her role in helping a woman get silicone butt injections that resulted in her death.

Weeks before that, social media was abuzz over a new documentary, Buttloads of Pain, which featured the disturbing images and stories of women who had used illegal butt injections. One woman described how her backside had ”turned purple” and “peeled like an onion” after she received the shots. Images from the documentary show women with eroding buttocks that sag from their bodies.


Read more: here 

Are We Being Too Hard on Pam Oliver + Her Hair?

Let me say first that I respect Pam Oliver. She's opened doors from women in sports and on TV and in journalism and that deserves to be acknowledged. But Ma'am... Fox’s veteran sports journalist  has been dragged across social media ever since she reported from the sidelines during the NFC Championship Game between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers, looking like this:


Almost instantly, Instagram memes appeared, comparing Oliver to Chewbacca from Star Wars. (I won’t post the picture out of respect.) The state of her hair was also a trending topic on Twitter and a topic of conversation during the Super Bowl where she, to give credit where it is due, looked much better, but still received lots of criticism. I actually thought she looked presentable.



Oliver addressed all the hubbub in an interview with  She called the commotion over her hair “comical” and also admitted that after 20-plus years in the TV business, she still does her own hair and make-up.

"You're out there, trying a to catch players, get some last-minute stuff, get your reports turned around quickly, and I may or may not have time to put on lip gloss or powder my face," Oliver told "I know TV is a visual medium, but there are times when you kind of hope that people are listening to what you're saying as opposed to judging you if a strand of hair is not in place or if you have only got one eye lined or something.

"That's naive of me. I get it,” she added. “But there are times I get so tunnel-visioned and focused on what I'm doing to the point of maybe letting that other stuff fall by the wayside. It's not intentional. You want to look your best on TV."

I get it. Sorta. Hair and make-up get expensive. I'm a newbie in TV land and there are a lot of unexpected expenses that no one tells you about. Spending money on hair and make-up when there are so many other concerns – like lawyers to protect whatever you are trying to build—can seem like a frivolous expenditure or an unnecessary burden.

I’m fortunate in that I've known how to do my hair-- natural, permed, sew-in, glue-in, cut, bleach, dye, whatever-- from when I was a teenager. (My mother is from Detroit, if that's any explanation.) This has saved me a TON of money. I also willfully learned how to do my own face in decent enough shape to be seen on TV by reading Kevin Aucoin + Sam Fine make up books + watching YouTube videos. I frequent the MAC counter to get tips and I pay attention when I am fortunate enough to have MUAs beat me when someone else is paying. For big Moments, I splurge to bring in the best I can afford to do me right so I look presentable. I consider this a worthy sacrifice and investment for what I'm trying to do and where I'm trying to go.

TV is a visual medium and pulling a professional look together is part of the job, even as a sports journalist.  And when your hair looks unkempt to the point that it distracts viewers from your professional work, addressing your image is about more than just vanity. It’s a necessity.

Oliver is not a newbie. She’s 20 years in the game and it is clear that while she is an expert at journalism, she is not an expert at make-up or hair. She needs a consistent glam team of beauty professionals to do what they do best so Oliver can focus on what she does best—report. A professional team— even one that cannot be brought onto the field— would help her create looks that are more flattering and that would hold up better in bad weather or other conditions. And if the network won't provide a team... Hold up, who is Oliver’s agent? That's a basic ask.


Pam Oliver at her best.

Oliver is a naturally pretty woman. She doesn't require magic to look presentable. And that's all she needs to be. Nobody's asking for her to be Essence cover worthy on the sidelines. But at the point a Google search of your name brings up multiple pics of Chewbacca, it's time to admit you need help and make the financial sacrifice and investment to bring the experts aboard, even if it comes out of your own pocket.

This is all I'm saying.



From the Inside Looking Out (aka The Belated Birthday Post) Part 3 (of 4)

images My producer works an insane schedule. My trip to L.A. was last minute- two weeks out—in the Hollywood sense of the world, so she had to squeeze me in. She invited me to a monthly networking house party in Venice Beach, a gathering of womenfolk in upper echelon Hollywood. They get together to build and hash out how to make things happen in their male dominated industry.

I walk up to the house and think “this is it?”

I’ve made a hobby out of house porn, and Venice Beach is a star. I make a point to drive through the neighborhoods and marvel at the properties each time I visit LA.  I’ve never been to this side of Venice though. I was expecting spectacular and massive. This is… not that.

Or so I thought. I open the front door and step into Wonderland. There’s an expensive manicured yard with tea lights twinkling everywhere. The “house” has no door. You just walk right up and into the living room. This is why “they” tell you not to judge books by their covers.

To call the dwelling a “house” is to be remiss. It’s more like those honeymoon bungalows you see in luxe vacation pics of resorts in Tahiti, except this place is surrounded by grass, not water. Most of the house is open-air. The Master bedroom doesn’t have doors, just curtains and it opens to the dining room which is covered by a patio, but has no walls. There’s a massive fire pit in the back yard and everyone who’s not in the kitchen is crowded around it.

I hang out here making small talk with very nice strangers until my producer arrives.

I’m uneasy. Not because I’m the only Black girl or don’t know anyone. I’ve been in these situations plenty of times. Pay a compliment, ask a question and you make a new friend. I’m… off because of a conversation I had with my manager earlier in the day. My worry about the hold up with the scripted contract has gone from a dull roar to loud scream inside my head like the one my upstairs neighbor makes when she argues with her husband. Something is wrong. And now, it’s not just me thinking it. My manager thinks something is up too. She wants to make some calls.

My producer arrives shortly and is introducing me around the room. I’m meeting people with jobs I never thought about, but should. The lady who owns the house offers her job description as, “I do research.” I’ve done research for a living. The hourly wage was good, but nothing that would amass the wealth for a house like this. She works on period films and she’s the one that gathers all the nuanced details so that when historians watch films they don’t complain about how the director got it all wrong. It turns out she was a researcher. She recently opened her own research firm.

I meet another guy, an energetic spirit, and former New Yorker who when hearing I’m from New York asks me, “do you know Russell?” He means Simmons. I can’t figure out why the *** he thinks I would know Russell Simmons. Is it because of the circle of people in this room are that well connected and I must be to if I’m here? Or he just wanted to name drop? (I don’t know Russell, but I’ve met him a few times because I worked for his magazine for awhile and have been to a few private parties at his homes because my wife worked for his foundation for years.) This guy was a graph artist who met Russell—just Russell— in the early Def Jam days. Russell liked his art, so he hired him to do all the album covers. Think of an iconic album cover from the early 90s. This guy designed it. He now makes films. I look at the glitter on his pinky ring and think I  should have paid more attention in art class.

As I'm introduced around the room, I notice that people are really really impressed that I’m an author/journalist/blogger. “Writer” in LA means scripts. Who actually writes for magazines and pens books? This girl does. I’m not "a writer" on the West Coast. Here I'm seen as a content creator aka "Talent." (I have to do a separate post on the distinction. It’s… weird, it loosely, everyone begins to talk to you like you've never read a book and treat you like a demi-god, and it's why so many celebrities get screwy about their place in the world.)

We talk… and  talk… and talk. Hollywood networking involves way more bullshitting that New York. In NY, we want to know what you do, we quickly evaluate how that resource can be utilized (short or long term) and we engage or curb conversation based on that evaluation. Unless a collaboration can be done immediately, we exchange business cards and move on. Only the ex-New Yorker has whipped out a business card thus far.

My producer and I are now talking to an Asian lady and a white lady, which are only significant because of what happens next. My producer has big hair. Mine is braided up. The Asian lady, a friend of my producer, says to her randomly, “I like your hair better when you wear it normal.” She means straight.

I nearly choke on my wine. The white lady looks appalled.

“Yeah, this is normal. I’m Black,” my producer says, then she deftly begins to talk about her latest work project.

We move on from them and start talking to another woman. If it seems like this is dragging on, it’s because it is. This is beyond not wanting to make others "uncomfortable" by being the only Black girls who sit and talk to each other. We’ve been here for over an hour, and the only one-on-one conversation we’ve had was in greeting each other.

Something’s up.  My head hurts. I attribute it to the wine—red—that I’ve been nursing all night. I sit at the outdoor dining room table, bored, and munching on olives, which are my favorite thing in life. After twenty minutes, I’m about to call it a night and excuse myself, but then my producer takes the seat across from me as the room begins to clear out.

“So how’s it going?” she asks.

I read people for a living.

“What’s wrong?” I ask directly. I’m out of small talk.

She sighs heavy, stalling. “I heard you talked to [your manager] today.”

I nod. "I did."

“You’re concerned about the project?”

I nod. “I am.”


Shit. I don’t know if I said it out loud or not.

“The network has decided to pass on our project.”

I freeze and stare at her. The worst has happened and my mind goes empty. I had the feeling. I’d tried to hope my way out of it. No, really, I lied to myself.

I start calculating all the time—not even the money— I’ve wasted. All the sacrifices, all the pissed off friends I haven’t called back. All the times I’ve skipped parties and events to sit on the phone with lawyers or talk to the ducks at the park for my sanity or stared at the ceiling listening to Alice Smith wail, “where are you going with your life? What kind of chances will you take?” All the nights of insomnia. All the plans I had for my show and the nuances I wanted to make for the world about coming of age living while Black and female. All the ego I invested in having a story deemed worthy to be re-told on TV.

I flew to close to the sun and I’ve been kicked back to earth.  I blew it. I fucking blew it.

“They said they just decided to change direction. You didn’t do anything wrong,” my producer says, reading my mind.

She’s been through this before. It’s business, not personal. But it’s not her life story—her— that just got unceremoniously rejected after a year of negotiations.

“Okay,” I say, if only because I’m not trying to be any more socially awkward than I am.

And if I don’t get out of my head I’m going to lose it right here in this fancy wine and cheese and olives party. And not like angry lose it like I did the time I yelled “fuck you” in a blind-rage loop at Mr. Ex on the steps of the Brooklyn museum*. I’m not even mad (yet). This is pure hurt. Deep down, past the white meat to the bone.

I had bronchitis once, and until the meds ran their course, every time I coughed, sharp pain would spread through my entire chest all the way out to my shoulders. I would double over, squeeze my eyes closed and count until it passed. I’d deep breathe myself back into stability, and panting through tears, I’d remind myself “you’re going to get better, D. It takes time. You just have to get through it now.”  And then I'd pant some more til all the pain was gone. That’s what this feels like and that's what I want to do. But I can’t do that here.

I don’t know what that “okay” sounded like or what the look on face is revealing, but my producer asks me if I’m all right.

“Yeah,” I say in my breezy Diana Ross on stage talking to The People voice. “I’m… fine.”  I'm fooling no one.

She looks at me with pity. “We will find another network,” she promises. “It’s a great book. We’ll get it on TV, D. It will happen.”

“Ok,” I say nonchalantly, reaching for my clutch.

"Do you still want to pursue getting a show?" she asks.

I don't mean to, but I shoot her a side-eye. I can't even process this shit right now.

“I gotta go. I'll call you.” It's so very LA of me, but it’s T- 10 before I spazz.

She nods. “Can I hug you first?”

I nod because to decline would be rude. It's not her fault my dream died.

We both stand and she gives me the mama hug she knows I need, even if she has no children and has less than ten years on me.  Her hair smells like Black girl nuts and berries.

I stifle a sob as I pull back and dash out the house, offering a hurried goodbye to her and to the hostess. I start crying before I get out the yard. By the time the door to Wonderland closes behind me, I’m in a full on wail in the middle of the sidewalk. I walk down the poorly lit street to my truck with tears and snot dripping down my face. I don't feel like wiping it, so I don't.

I get behind the steering wheel of the truck and try to pull myself together for the 40-minute drive back to my hotel in Hollywood. I lean over the steering wheel with my arms wrapped around myself trying to hold me together. I'm talking to myself, saying it's going to be okay. It's going to be okay.


I sit up, breathe in and out deeply like I tell my coaching clients to do. And sit still with my eyes closed. A feeling of failure comes over me again. I cry soft tears, and then I cry so hard my body jerks and then I bend over and sob. I feel like Carver from The Wire after he dropped Randy off at the group home. He tried so hard to do the right thing, and in the end all the effort didn’t matter. Life isn't fair, but I want it to be anyway.

I completely boil over  and fight the steering wheel.

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When I’ve finally exhausted myself,  I sit in the car biting the skin around the cut I’ve made to my right hand between my ring and pinky fingers to apply pressure and stop the bleeding. With my left hand, I fumble with the phone and call CBW.

He gives me the same speech the producer gave. It’s gonna be okay, blah, blah, blah. My manager calls on the other line. The producer called her to tell her she gave me the bad news. I think the producer  added that I freaked out because my manager sounds worried.

I insist I’m fine even though I'm not. There's nothing she, or anyone can do about it anyway.  My manager is giving me the "success is a marathon, not a sprint speech” again, and is promising me this isn’t the end. She assures me I'll make the money back and then some. She's got some life on me, she offers, and she's made bad decisions that are just like setting money on fire, and she's always made it back.

It's not about the money. It's about the dream.

I start the engine, say “okay” where socially appropriate so she’s not any more worried.

I drive back to the hotel thinking of where to get a drink or a drug, maybe both.


Part 4: Maybe Monday?