Beyoncé in Her Own Words: Her Life, Her Body, Her Heritage

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2018-08-13 23:12Z by Steven

Beyoncé in Her Own Words: Her Life, Her Body, Her Heritage

Vogue
September 2018 (2018-08-06)

Beyoncé Knowles-Carter
Tyler Mitchell, Photography

Pregnancy & Body Acceptance

After the birth of my first child, I believed in the things society said about how my body should look. I put pressure on myself to lose all the baby weight in three months, and scheduled a small tour to assure I would do it. Looking back, that was crazy. I was still breastfeeding when I performed the Revel shows in Atlantic City in 2012. After the twins, I approached things very differently…

Ancestry

I come from a lineage of broken male-female relationships, abuse of power, and mistrust. Only when I saw that clearly was I able to resolve those conflicts in my own relationship. Connecting to the past and knowing our history makes us both bruised and beautiful.

I researched my ancestry recently and learned that I come from a slave owner who fell in love with and married a slave. I had to process that revelation over time. I questioned what it meant and tried to put it into perspective. I now believe it’s why God blessed me with my twins. Male and female energy was able to coexist and grow in my blood for the first time. I pray that I am able to break the generational curses in my family and that my children will have less complicated lives…

Read the entire article here.

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Kamala Harris Is Dreaming Big

Posted in Arts, Biography, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Women on 2018-03-25 02:31Z by Steven

Kamala Harris Is Dreaming Big

Vogue
April 2018

Abby Aguirre


Harris in Los Angeles with beneficiaries of the DREAM Act—which the senator has made a priority to protect.
Photographed by Zoe Ghertner, Vogue, April 2018

IT’S A COLD JANUARY NIGHT in D.C., and I’m at the Hart Senate Office Building, trailing U.S. Senator Kamala Harris into a conference room. Inside, a group of young Latino congressional staffers has gathered to meet the Democratic star from California. When she enters, flanked by aides, and dressed in a navy suit, matching ruffled blouse, black pearls, and stilettos that give her petite five-feet-four frame a few extra inches of height, the staffers immediately rise from their chairs.

Harris has an air of celebrity that, under normal circumstances, a freshman senator wouldn’t have had time to acquire. But this year has been anything but normal. She greets the 20-somethings as though they’re relatives at a family reunion: “Hi, everybody! Hi, guys!” Then she notices that one of the staffers is still seated, and her voice drops a full octave: “Stand up, man!”

The startled staffer springs to his feet. “Kevin,” he says, extending a hand.

“What’s your last name?” demands Harris.

“Figueroa.”

Thank you!” She shakes his hand. “Kamala Harris.” (That’s pronounced “comma-la,” by the way, and you’d better get it right.)…


Harris with her late mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, who emigrated from India to study at Berkeley in the ’60s.
Photo: Courtesy of Kamala Harris

…HARRIS’S POLITICAL CAREER—seven years as district attorney in San Francisco and then another six as attorney general of California—amounts to an extraordinary run of firsts. She was the first woman and the first person of color to be elected to both positions, and she is now America’s first Indian-American senator and California’s first black senator. In 2012, Harris spoke in prime time at the Democratic National Convention. More Americans learned her name the following year, when President Obama apologized for saying Harris was not only “brilliant,” “dedicated,” and “tough,” but that she “also happens to be, by far, the best-looking attorney general in the country.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Danzy Senna Doesn’t Mind If Her New Novel Makes You Uncomfortable

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States on 2017-08-07 02:41Z by Steven

Danzy Senna Doesn’t Mind If Her New Novel Makes You Uncomfortable

Vogue
2017-08-03

Julia Felsenthal, Senior Culture Writer

“I feel my role as a writer is to complicate, to leave more questions, to destabilize whatever seems set in stone,” says novelist Danzy Senna. “There’s been this whole conversation about trigger warnings. My half-joking thing is: I really want to trigger people. I want to read work that’s going to trigger me. I’m very committed to writing things that move people to a more uncomfortable place.”

Uncomfortable—and I mean this in the best way possible—is a pretty good descriptor of Senna’s latest novel, New People. The year is 1996. The place is Brooklyn. Our protagonist is Maria, a Columbia University doctoral student struggling to finish her dissertation on modes of resistance in the hymns and songs recorded by the Peoples Temple, the religious cult led by Jim Jones (and ultimately wiped out in 1978, when its leader ordered nearly 1,000 of those who had followed him to the Guyanese settlement of Jonestown to drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid).

Maria is biracial, adopted at birth by a single black mother, a graduate student who brought her daughter up on a steady diet of Audre Lorde and Roots, and bemoaned that the light skin and straight hair with which Maria was born never darkened or kinked. (The baby was a “one-dropper,” writes Senna, “that peculiarly American creation, white in all outside appearances but black for generations to come.”) Now Maria is engaged to her college boyfriend, Khalil, whose skin is her exact same “shade of beige,” but who was raised by globe-trotting mixed parents in upper-middle-class bourgeois bohemian splendor, brought up to think of himself as a citizen of the world. Khalil is launching a company, Brooklyn Renaissance, a sort of proto-Facebook for “like-minded souls,” and happily planning his life with Maria: their Martha’s Vineyard wedding; the Brooklyn brownstone they’ll eventually buy and fill with artwork by Lorna Simpson, with children named Indigo and Cheo, with a dog named Thurgood…

Read the entire review here.

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On the First Asian-American President

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-12-26 22:16Z by Steven

On the First Asian-American President

Vogue
2016-12-21

Eric Chang

Given the poise with which Barack Obama has taken on his role as president (measured here at minimum by the absence of personal scandal, gaffes, or brushes with death via pretzel), it’s easy to forget how difficult it was to imagine a figure even approximately like him, prior to 2004. The concept of a black president was once a rhetorical construct used to highlight unlikelihood, if not outright impossibility, up there with winged pigs and a frozen inferno. So entrenched was the hegemony of white male leadership in America that in 1998, Toni Morrison wrote the following of then-President Bill Clinton in The New Yorker (to no terrific protest): “Years ago . . . one heard the first murmurs: white skin notwithstanding, this is our first black president. Blacker than any actual black person who could ever be elected in our children’s lifetime.”

Much has been made of this designation. It’s been frequently misattributed to Morrison alone, when by her own account she was reporting a thesis aggregated from several different conversations (those “murmurs,” collected from her community). It’s also been decontextualized to insidious effect, often in attempts to bolster Bill Clinton’s bona fides as a champion of black Americans…

…The visceral recognition I and Asian-Americans like me see in President Obama rests on a similar foundation, and so I frame my argument as an intentional parallel to Morrison’s: Black skin notwithstanding, this is our first Asian-American president…

Read the entire article here.

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How Kathleen Collins’s Daughter Kept Her Late Mother’s Career Alive

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Biography, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2016-12-12 19:10Z by Steven

How Kathleen Collins’s Daughter Kept Her Late Mother’s Career Alive

Vogue
2016-09-05

Nina Lorez Collins


Nina Collins in a Karen Walker dress.
Photographed by Ryan Pfluger, Vogue, September 2016

A struggling filmmaker whose life was cut short by illness, Kathleen Collins has a soaring career since her daughter reopened her archive.

Ten years ago, in the middle of an ugly divorce, the most banal of realizations came upon me: In order to find a path out of the mess I’d made, I needed to wrestle with the history that had shaped me. My mother, the late African-American writer, filmmaker, and activist Kathleen Collins, died of breast cancer in 1988 at age 46, when I was still a teenager, leaving me to care for my younger brother. Our parents had split when we were toddlers, and we had been raised by a single, black artist mother, vibrant yet frequently depressed, and unwavering in her commitment to her work. She had kept her illness a secret until two weeks before she died.

In those first few weeks after we buried her, I filled an old steamer trunk with every scrap of paper I could find among my mother’s things: copies of her many plays, short stories, screenplays, journals, letters; and VHS tapes of her two films, The Cruz Brothers and Miss Malloy and Losing Ground, neither of which had been released theatrically. Along with her work and personal correspondence, there were photographs of her ancestors dating back to 1700s New Jersey farmland, snapshots of her singing with Freedom Riders in Albany, Georgia, in 1962, and a handful of high-quality artistic images of her taken by my father when they were still in love. Over the next two decades, that heavy trunk moved with me everywhere I lived. It was a coffee table in my first studio, spent some time at the foot of my bed in my 20s, and eventually, when I had a house, was relegated to my basement. I often wanted to look inside, and a few times I made tentative forays, but the sight of my mother’s familiar scrawl on the pages made me feel shaky. It was simply, for a very long time, too sad for me to hear her voice again…

…Eighteen years later, on a still midsummer day, I turned to the trunk in earnest. I was upstate, in the home I’d made for myself and my four children in the wake of my divorce. Surrounded by optimistic colors, I lifted the handle in hope of understanding so many things. Reaching inside, I pulled out yellowed reams of paper, some handwritten, others typed. There were short stories I never knew existed, about growing up black bourgeoise in Jersey City; others that fictionalized the intense civil rights work she did with SNCC in her 20s (she worked on voter registration and speechwriting). I found accounts of her difficult relationships with men, from my white father to the playwrights, actors, and writers who followed. I discovered plays and screenplays about the loss of her own mother—my grandmother died when my mother was five months old—and her stern father. After years of being afraid to delve in, I now couldn’t stop reading. The stories were like a portal to her inner life, the themes and characters both strange and familiar, in that way that everything about our parents somehow already exists within us…

Read the entire article here.

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Loving Star Ruth Negga on Biracial Politics: “I Get Very Territorial About My Identity”

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Interviews, Media Archive on 2016-12-11 14:44Z by Steven

Loving Star Ruth Negga on Biracial Politics: “I Get Very Territorial About My Identity”

Vogue
2016-12-07

Gaby Wood

With her mesmerizing performance in Jeff Nichols’s subtly groundbreaking film Loving, the Irish-Ethiopian actress Ruth Negga has become a star for our time.

“I’m a rag of a woman today,” Ruth Negga says in her faint Irish accent. She is pointing to her chipped green nail polish and apologizing for her eyebrows. She cut her hair herself, she says, before asking a professional to tidy it up. Earlier today she went to get her passport renewed. “Maybe . . . you could—blend?” the photographer said, gesturing around his face. She took a look and realized she had been quite slapdash with her bronzer and powder.

By lunchtime, there’s no trace of this—with her huge, doll-like eyes and closely cropped hair, she is as glamorous as a thirties aviator in Paige jeans and an olive bomber jacket—but it’s easy enough to imagine Negga dismissing vanity as a fool’s game. Her gift for self-mockery and her appetite for the craic—an Irish expression for fun or gossip or high jinks—are matched only by her levels of propulsion: Her neat, tiny frame always seems to move forward at great speed.

When director Jeff Nichols was trying to get financing for Loving, in which Negga and Joel Edgerton star as Mildred and Richard Loving—the real-life interracial couple whose quest to be considered legally married in 1958 Virginia became a landmark civil-rights case—he kept hearing the same thing: “Who’s Ruth Negga?” Few people are asking that now, but even so, Negga is not offended. “I’ve been working. Keeping a low profile—until bam!” She laughs. “Nothing slow and steady about me.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Behind the Scenes of Loving, the Most Beautiful Love Story Ever Told

Posted in Articles, Arts, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2016-10-19 14:05Z by Steven

Behind the Scenes of Loving, the Most Beautiful Love Story Ever Told

Vogue
2016-10-17 (November 2016)

Danzy Senna
photographed by Mario Testino


Photographed by Mario Testino, Vogue, November 2016

Meet Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton, the brilliant stars of Loving, Jeff Nichols’s sweeping portrait of an interracial couple fıghting for their right to marry in 1950s Vırginia.

We enter the story in 1958, in rural Virginia. A woman and a man stand in an open field of grass; she is telling him she is pregnant. There is a hint of worry in her luminous dark eyes, but the man assures her that they will get married and build a home together. The opening scene of Loving, Jeff Nichols’s quietly devastating new film, feels less like a beginning and more like a happily-ever-after ending. But because this is 1950s Virginia, and the woman is black and the man is white, the story does not unfold in the way of fairy tales. For Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving—a real-life couple played in the film by Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton—the seemingly straightforward act of getting married becomes a dangerous and transgressive act.

With its lush cinematography, Loving is a visual paean to the 1950s, but it is also a fierce interrogation of the hypocrisies of that era. It traces the arc of the Lovings’ struggle to live as husband and wife at a time not so long ago when it was illegal in sixteen states to marry someone of a different race. As the Lovings are forced to leave their tight-knit, working-class community and live in Washington, D.C., around them swirls language that evokes the present debate on gay marriage. “It’s God’s law,” the sheriff tells the couple after their harrowing middle-of-the-night arrest. “A robin’s a robin, a sparrow is a sparrow.” As Edgerton says, “That’s the double beauty of the film. It’s a racial period piece, but it also echoes very loudly today.”…

Read the entire review here.

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