Essence: Part One

As I stood in line at a Dunkin Donuts inside of Penn Station, squinting my eyes and struggling to read the menu and make a decision on an iced coffee drink, I noticed it. The April 2014 issue of Essence Magazine, that I Instagramed four days ago with Nia Long on the cover. I darted out of line, figuring that I didn’t need the coffee drink anyway and I’d treat myself to the mag instead. While waiting at the register of the news stand, I remembered that just 24 hours ago I was at Essence. No, not to interview for some writing position, but at a casting call to model. An associate of mine had Facebook messaged me Essence’s quest to find beautiful women with locs. After a myriad of emails that had bounced back, my message with my photograph had finally went through. I figured it wouldn’t be any harm in submitting myself, after all I had always gotten great compliments on my hair. Weeks went by and the submission was forgotten.

“Hi Glennisha ,We have received your photos and would like to know the following info. We will be reviewing this information shortly and if you are selected our shoot is…,” a representative from Essence’s photo department had written to me in email last week.

When I received the email I was ecstatic. I honestly didn’t think that out of all of the submissions, I would be contacted. I didn’t even send them a professional photo. I sent them a simple picture of me, but one that happened to be my favorite. I was bare faced sitting in Union Square Park with a pink flower, that an ex-lover had placed in between my ear. It was a sunny day and I had just gotten off work…After receiving the email, replying and being told to show up for a casting call, I immediately called my mother, sharing the exciting news. My diet was currently terrible. I had been consuming any and everything. So I figured I’d try to my best to eat healthy and exercise. The least I could do was attempt to rid my belly of the “pop” within the next week, if it was at all possible.
The morning of the casting call, I had risen at 5am to re-twist and style my hair because I was entirely too exhausted to do so the night before. And I never succeed at staying up all night doing anything. Rising early to conquer things just works much better for me. I decorated my eyes with simple earth tone colors and eyeliner and painted my lips with my favorite “stay all day” liquid lipstick by Stila. I wasn’t really sure what to wear. I wanted to be stylish, but remain myself. And quiet as it’s kept, I’ve never given a fuck about fashion. I ended up opting for my favorite pair of faux black leather pants, my favorite tan and black striped shirt that revealed my shoulders and my favorite blue jean vest. Mixed and matched, I’m sure Instagram has seen all three a handful of times. Initially, I was going to wear my black and gold Jeffrey Campbell sneaker heels, but then I remembered my walk to Fulton Street. So I ended up wearing a pair of cheetah print deflex comfort flats, that I had purchased to rock on my way to my birthday party last year, in case I’d be taking the train. I’m currently laughing typing this because it just goes to show how much fashion and beauty sense I have. I mean, I fucking showed up to a casting call in flats and without foundation on my face…

The Elongated and Awkward ‘Hey’

“When “hey” s are no longer warm and sweet, but yet elongated and awkward, it’s time to let that shit go.”- Me

Urged by my homie to put feelings aside and ask for a much needed favor, I decided to give her a call. After six rings, the conversation went like this.

“Hey, how are you?”

“Heyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy” (insert awkward pause)

Being the straight to the point person that I am, I wasted no time “getting right to it” as one of my favorite writing professors used  as a fiction writing mantra.

“I need a huge favor. I’m about to apply for what would be my “dream” job. Can you hook up my resume?”

“Yea, sure.”

After a conversation about how she’s not in my field, but she’ll do it, we swiftly got off of the phone. The conversation was strictly business because she stuck to the script and made sure to not leave any room to discuss emotions. Afterward, I laid in bed continuing to watch one of our favorite movies, reminiscing about the inside jokes we had using quotes from the main characters. I thought about how much I hate having to explain my movie quote outbursts in related conversations because that’s something that we shared. Only we could make each other mad and then tease each other quoting, Larenz Tate, Janet Jackson, Tupac Shakur and Nia Long. Moments later, we’d burst into laughter and smile, thinking about how silly it was to remain angry.

And here I am thinking about how silly I am to even think that one day we’d connect again.

The Problem With Lorde’s “Royals” and Hip Hop Embracing It

While doing laundry today, I heard Lorde’s  “Royals” remix featuring Rick Ross on New York’s Power 105. I’d never expect much from Ross or Power 105, but it’s baffling as to why any station that’s supposed to be Hip Hop would support a track that’s a direct snide critique of Hip Hop, black and urban culture, coming from a 16-year-old New Zealand girl who is clearly not about that life.

“But every song’s like gold teeth, grey goose, trippin’ in the bathroom.Blood stains, ball gowns, trashin’ the hotel room.We don’t care, we’re driving Cadillacs in our dreams. But everybody’s like Cristal*, Maybach, diamonds on your timepiece. Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash,” she sings.

When the singer and songwriter born as Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O’Connor referred to Cadillacs, Cristal, Grey Goose and gold grills, she wasn’t referring to Prince Charles and his friends. She was directly referring to black Hip Hop artists and an era that has clearly passed. I don’t think I’ve heard a rapper big up Cristal since Biggie (he was murdered in 1997) and the last reference to Grey Goose that I can remember was T.I.’s 2004 track “Get Loose” featuring Nelly. 

Some have claimed that Lorde wasn’t singing about Hip Hop and that “Royals” is about consumerism in general, but I disagree. Daughter of a poet, the high schooler is smart. During an interview with the Huffington Post, she revealed that she initially began writing short fiction and she understands the importance of being concise. “I like short fiction because you have to tell a story in a condensed format. You can’t screw around with what you’re saying. Everything has to count. Everything has to matter. And that’s what I like about songwriting: You don’t have time for filler. Potency is important in that setting,” she told Huff Post. With that being said, Lorde specifically chose to vastly critique and stereotype Hip Hop in her song. To further validate that Hip Hop was the culprit, Lorde also stated in an interview that she was referring to what’s portrayed in “Hip Hop and Top 40”.

There’s nothing wrong with any culture being examined and critiqued, but it’s problematic when the messenger isn’t hardly qualified. Hence Lorde making the highlight of her single about stereotypes that were flourishing a decade and a half ago. By the way, Lauryn Hill released “Neurotic Society (Compulsory Mix),” earlier this year, which touches on consumerism and she was demonized for it. The success of “Royals” is just another example of white artists being praised for being “socially conscious”, while scolding black artists and using our culture as a vehicle to do so. It’s what I like to call the Macklemore Syndrome or better yet, simply whitewashing.

Hip Hop needs to do better. It’s so quick to give a pass to others who approve of our lifestyle or people who seem to be down ( Kreayshawn, Miley Cyrus, Riff Raff and more) , meanwhile being blind to appropriation, thievery, racism and stereotyping. It would take another blog post to break it down, but this is also an example of what Kanye has recently been talking about. Yet he’s been written off as a crazy egotistical black man. Mainstream and others love sucking the life out of our culture, capitalizing off of it, repackaging it and re-selling it to us, while eliminating and cutting out the source.

Holidays Are Always Hard

Holidays are always hard. It’s still difficult to grasp my Granny no longer being here. And I’m grateful, but holidays in New York just always seem weird. As I watch HER dice up bell peppers and onions, I drift off into a memory of my Granny preparing her famous dressing. The smell easily transports me back to her kitchen. The painted white cabinets and her green refrigerator and stove, before she decided to upgrade. The worn out green and gray step stool my Granny used to grab her Thanksgiving ingredients out of her high cabinets or “the cupboard” as she would say. As I continued to watch HER prepare for this year’s intimate Thanksgiving dinner, I tried to snap out of the memory of my Granny. I didn’t want HER and her family to see tears begin to flow.

Prior to feeling nostalgic and vividly seeing images of my grandmother in front of me, I began thinking about how peculiar Holidays in New York were. I  thought about how much I missed my family and celebrating Thanksgiving with them, but that I was happy that I hadn’t traveled back home to Detroit. I was happy to be celebrating Thanksgiving with the girl who stole my heart, for a second year in a row. And also happy to be able to avoid an eerie  Thanksgiving dinner with my own family.

My Granny passed in September 2010. That year’s Thanksgiving was the first my family had without her and to be honest, I can’t really fully describe the feeling. That year, my girlfriend at the time had came to visit me from Baltimore and we missed Thanksgiving dinner because we spent the day fucking in a hotel room. And as much as I was excited about having multiple orgasms, I was even more excited about avoiding a Thanksgiving dinner without my grandmother at the table. I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t even seem real. Fast forwarding to now… As weird as holidays in New York are, they’re unique and special. I appreciate and cherish them because they’re new memories. Not new memories that can erase old ones, but memories that are golden. Never the less, these intricate new holidays are still hard.