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I LOVE Bruno Mars, his energy is contagious and I think he's an amazing performer. Bruno is from Honolulu and his name is actually Peter Gene Hernandez. He is Multiracial, his father is half Puerto Rican and half Ashkenazi Jewish and his mother is Filipino and Spanish. At the age of two, he was nicknamed "Bruno" by his father, because of his resemblance to professional wrestler Bruno Sammartino.

I was Hulu-ing SNL last night and was so excited to see him as the musical guest because my daughter and I have been singing 24k Magic constantly the last couple weeks.

The sound of 24k Magic reminds me of 90s break dancing and definitely has a big dose of retro in it. If you listen to it once, you can basically sing along almost every word the second time around! Billboard puts it far better than I ever could:

“24K Magic,” which corrals Grandmaster Flash, Zapp & Roger, Rick James and the whole of G-funk into three minutes and 46 seconds, while adding some modern ornaments (“Got to blame it on Jesus / Hashtag blessed!”) for good measure. Mars, who grew up impersonating Elvis Presley and started his career as a songwriter for other artists, has become a superstar thanks to a knack for channeling different pop eras through his warm, expressive persona. Yet only recently have his gestures to the past become so explicit that a new single can produce memories of several classics upon first listen.

His SNL performance did not disappoint! Why you mad? Fix yo face! is without a doubt my favorite lyric:) Here is his live performance and then the official music video for the song is below that. 


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Be prepared to be in tears just watching the trailer for Loving. The movie tells the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple, who are sentenced to prison in Virginia in 1958 for getting married. This was the couple at the center of the 1967 Supreme Court ruling that overturned laws against interracial marriage.

The film debuted in Cannes a couple months ago and won't be in theaters until early November. Actors Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga play the Lovings and both have some really poignet lines that are shared in the trailer. 

The Lovings' lawyer asks Richard: 

“Is there anything you’d like me to say to the Supreme Court justices of the United States?” and Richard replies: “Yeah. Tell the judge I love my wife.”

I also love the when Mildred says:

“I know we have some enemies. But we have some friends too.”

While researching the actors I discovered that Ruth Negga is biracial herself, she was born to an Ethiopian father and an Irish mother. So I would have to imagine this was an especially powerful experience for her. She said in an interview with The Guardian

“Partly my feelings of difference were down to having parents of different races. I had quite a scattered childhood. I was Irish in London, because I had my secondary school education there. I never really fitted anywhere. I didn’t feel it was a negative thing and I was never made to feel different – I just knew I was.”

In the same interview she sites Mildred Loving as a one of her heroes, 

“Mildred shied away from the spotlight completely, but she changed the course of American legal history. All she wanted to do was marry the man she loved. It took nine years. Can you imagine taking on the might of the American legal system? They were poor and fairly uneducated, but they just wanted to be with one another.” 

Even though I know it to be true, it is amazing to me that this is such recent history in our country. This is definitely a movie I will be going to and I will be bringing my 12 year old daughter as well so she can understand the difficult path many multiracial individuals and interracial couples have had. I hope that everyone who has any connection to the multiracial community goes out and supports this movie. The movie will be rated PG-13. 




#Perfect Never- Why Ronda Rousey’s changing up the winner take all motto

#Perfect Never- Ronda Rousey via Swirl Nation Blog

Ronda Rousey was the hottest thing our generation had seen bringing a new face, attitude, spirit, and mold to the world of UFC fighting. In 2015 with guest spot in late night shows, movie cameos, magazine covers, and a 12-0 record, she was undefeated and unmatched. She may have not been everyone’s cup of tea but she brought a competitive edge and unique fierce athleticism to an underserved sport in mainstream media. It was only after her infamous knockout to Holly Holms that set social media ablaze and Rousey was into a corner which she had never been accustomed to in her career…defeat.

Now after her “career defining loss,” there is buzz that she could be returning to the Octagon at the end of 2016 or as early as 2017 possibly facing Amanda Nunes. This amazing new ad that was just dropped Monday definitely teases the prospect of her comeback and is giving the world a possibly humbled Rousey. For an athlete who prided herself on peak performance and commitment to her craft it’s impressive to see her literally taking all the make-up off and taking claim over her flaws. You may not have liked the Rousey of yesteryears but this campaign #PerfectNever gives an ideal that all women and athletes alike can adopt into their own lifestyle. 





I am totally in love with the new Nike spot 'Da Da Ding' by ad agency Wieden+Kennedy India. W+K has long been Nike's ad agency, but this is the first spot out of the India office. The commercial was directed in a music video style by Francois Rousselet. The beat and the music is amazing, at first I thought it was a Neptunes/Missy collabo but it is actually the rapper Gizzle and producer Gener8ion

The Creative Director on the commercial, Mohamed Rizwan, said in a statement: 

"Sport in India has a massive image problem, particularly for women. What we set out to do is give it a complete makeover by making it cool, accessible and fun. To that end, we commissioned some of the best image makers and musicians, and got together a crew of women that best represent sport in India right now."

The tone is energetic and uplifting. I love sports and I love to watch badass women breaking stereotypes. It is important for young girls to see strong women from their country, from their cities, destroying barriers and building confidence through sports. 

Actress Deepika Padukone, who played national-level badminton before taking the plunge into acting confirms this message by sharing, 

“Everything I am today and everything I have achieved comes from my years of playing sport. My goals, my commitment, my focus, my dedication, my discipline, my sacrifices, my hard work. All of it, I’ve learnt it all through sport. Sport has also taught me how to handle failure and success. It has taught me how to fight. It has made me unstoppable!”

One part of the video I felt was particularly impactful was when they zeroed in on one of the female athlete's tanned face with the lyric: 

"I ain't worried about getting a tan because I'm still just as beautiful man." 

In many cultures of course lighter skin has been established as what is more beautiful and therefore girls playing outside all day in the sun has been frowned upon. I love that this issue was addressed. 


Here is the group of women featured in the ad: 

The featured athletes L to R: Joshna Chinappa, Shweta Hakke, Rani Rampal, Gabriella Demetriades, Ishita Malaviya, Jaie Bhadane, Deepika Padukone, Naina Mansukhani, Swetha Subbiah, Jyoti Ann Burrett and Tanvie Hans. 

The featured athletes L to R: Joshna Chinappa, Shweta Hakke, Rani Rampal, Gabriella Demetriades, Ishita Malaviya, Jaie Bhadane, Deepika Padukone, Naina Mansukhani, Swetha Subbiah, Jyoti Ann Burrett and Tanvie Hans. 

And if you are like me and can't get enough of that beat here is the song on Soundcloud! 




WHITE WASH THIS - HAPA HOUR via Swirl Nation Blog
WHITE WASH THIS - HAPA HOUR via Swirl Nation Blog

I am so sick of all the whitewashing that is being allowed to continue in the entertainment industry. Enough is enough! Between the upcoming movies “Ghost in the Shell” and “Dr. Strange” using white women to portray Asian characters, I could scream. And I have. I am not alone in my frustration. All I can say is shame on Scarlett Johansson and Tilda Swinton, they should have known better and have said no, no I will not yellow-face a character.

My amazing friend Rebecca Lerman had an idea. With Diane Phelan as our director, she brought Rebecca’s concept to life and I am so proud to have been part of this project!

Together with some amazing diva Asian actresses, we are voicing our unhappiness. We are no longer keeping quiet, afraid of repercussions in the entertainment industry. We are daring you to “White Wash This”.

Please like, share, tweet, and tell Hollywood to #WhiteWashThis

Shot and Directed by Diane Phelan
Concept and Editing by Rebecca Lee Lerman
Choreography Karen Ng
Costume Consultant Jonelle Margallo
Costume Consultant JP Moraga
Assistant to Director Viet Vo
Assistant to Director Kevin Schuering

Alison Lea Bender
Alex Chester
Kathleen Choe
Lynn Craig
Natsuko Hirano
Yuko Kudo
Loresa Lanceta
Rebecca Lee Lerman
Jonelle Margallo
Karen Ng
Lora Nicolas
Kiyo Takami
Jessica Wu

Viet Vo


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So I want you take a look at the long, varied, and mixed responses to Tori Kelly’s beautiful tribute to Prince at the BET Awards that occurred this past Sunday.  Maybe you were a tweeter, a commentator, or a person who was scratching your head wondering who Tori Kelly is and why is she doing the tribute. This is understandable since she is an artist still on the rise in the industry and only has had a handful of hit singles you may have heard on the radio. However, this isn’t a debate on how relevant she is as a musician or what accolades she’s acquired to sing in a Prince tribute.

The ongoing problem I have had with people’s responses to Tori Kelly is that they immediately label her White because she appears to be White with blonde hair, or claim to give her a pass because she has a soulful voice. She’s been lumped with artist like Robin Thicke (White) and Justin Timberlake (White) who additionally have vocal range, deep, beautiful voices and are given a societal passes to perform traditionally black artist hits or tributes. What’s the problem with this you may ask? Tori Kelly is multiracial and does not fall into the same cultural category as either of these artists.

Now I’m not going to make any statement or argument on whether being White, Black, Asian, etc. should you prevent you from performing any tribute or any specific network cause I don’t think race should ever be a factor. I love music, and if you can sing then please do so, my ears appreciate it. My issue is that the running commentary on Tori Kelly, which had her become a trending hashtag for the night, was centered on debates regarding her cultural heritage and how that did or did not deem her worthy of this tribute. I even read some commentary focused on her multi-ethnic heritage and how that counted, but not really.

This discussion has been a running one for a long time with multiracial people and where we belong. Tori Kelly is a prominent musical artist with what some could deem the “whole package,” and her voice is what allows her to sing on multiple musical networks-not her race. She is Jamaican, Puerto Rican, Irish, and German, yet visually some audiences see white skin, blonde hair and write her off as another Britney. If she cannot perform an authentic Prince tribute on diverse networks like BET because she’s not fully black, does that mean we are chaining her to sing on the MTV wagon wheel forever? Kelly admits to speaking Spanish, but not well so guess we can’t put her on Univision either? And technically she’s not white- so she couldn’t grace the CMT stage either, right?

I’ll not list her numerous accomplishments she’s garnered ranging from music award nominations with MTV, People’s Choice, Teen Choice, and being Grammy nominated for 2016 Best New Artist. Tori Kelly does not need your pass or permission to sing on any network or any performance and shouldn’t be picked apart because of what she represents culturally. Appreciate her voice and revel like many of us do in her talent, but don’t write her off because she appears white or say that it’s okay she sings on BET because she has “some black in her.” Multiracial people don’t need your validation or permission to represent our authentic selves and this is important to keep in mind next time you want to give someone a pass for anything you deem specific to only one culture.

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I am tired. I hope you are too. I am tried of no action being taken by our senate on gun reform. The time is now people! How many more lives must be lost? My friend Timothy Ware nails it on the head in this jaw dropping, inspiring video. 

Timothy Ware (Book, Music & Lyrics) is currently on Broadway in the Tony Winning Musical KINKY BOOTS as the standby for Lola. He is a native of Montgomery, AL where he received a BA in Theater Arts from Alabama State University, under the direction of TV/Film actress, Dr.Tommie "Tonea" Stewart (In the Heat of the Night). He later studied at UCLA in the MFA Acting Program under Broadway's playwright/director Tony Winner, Mel Shapiro (Two Gentlemen of Verona). Some of his credits as a director includes, Ain't Misbehavin' & Jelly's Last Jam (Kuntu Rep./Pittsburg, PA); Dutchman & SHOUT! (Lelia Barlow Theatre/Montgomery, AL). Associate Choreographer for Godspell, Beehive, Guys & Dolls (Alabama Shakespeare Festival) and Ain't Misbehavin (South Bay Musical Theatre/ San Jose, CA). He worked as a dance instructor and choreographer in Los Angeles, CA at the Amazing Grace Conservatory with founder and TV/Film Star, Wendy Raquel-Robinson (The Steve Harvey Show & The Game). 





An online definition describes representation as: 

The action of speaking or acting on behalf of someone or the state of being represented. The description or portrayal of someone or something in a particular way or as being of a certain nature.

Ok cool. Big whoop. Well, let’s examine the first part of that definition, “the action of speaking or acting on behalf of someone”. Doesn’t seem too bad, right? Why are people always harping about this? Imagine, for a second that you have an overbearing mom who must speak for you at all times. Someone asks you if you’d like another slice of cake and your mother chimes in, “No, she doesn’t really like cake. And she’s watching her figure. You know how girls are about their bodies.”. WAIT, WHAT?! NOOOO!!! That’s not how you feel, AT ALL! 

Now on to the second part of the definition, “the description or portrayal of someone or something in a particular way or as being of a certain nature.”. This time let’s use an example that pertains a little more to race. Someone offers you a taco with guacamole, you politely decline because you are allergic and they respond, “What? You can't be allergic to guacamole, you’re Mexican!” Or, you’re at a party and someone looks to you and asks you to demonstrate the latest dance craze, but when you tell them you don’t know it and you’re not a very good dancer they say, “But, you’re Black.”. 

These my friends are what we call stereotypes. And they are why representation matters! Stereotypes are perpetuated through media. 

We often get information and form our opinions based on things that we see on television, in movies, and in other media. When we see the same sort of things represented over and over, we start to believe that to be the only way things can be. It’s not to say that people do not exist who do indeed fit the stereotype. Yes, a lot of Mexican people DO like guacamole, and a lot of Black people CAN dance. However, the truth is, real people are so much more diverse than a couple of stereotypes and portrayls seen on the screen. A person is not any less of something, simply because they can’t check off all of the stereotype boxes on your survey. 

Today I saw a video featuring actors Kerry Washington and Aziz Ansari. In the video they were discussing diversity in Hollywood and how minorities (people of color, women, LGBT, etc) are often pigeon-holed into certain ideals. Aziz summed it up when he said “ end up with other people’s perceptions of what certain people are like. “. 

Kerry Washington, who is a great actress and has held the lead role on one of television's most successful series, for several seasons, has found herself on the losing end as well. She was recast in two different pilot series because she was not “hood” (a.k.a. Black) enough. Of course, not everyone sees the point or even believes that this is a valid example of racism and misrepresentation. If you look at the comments the video received on Variety’s Facebook page, you will see that people felt Kerry was crying wolf and being a spoiled actor. 

But is she just reading too much into it? Maybe. But chances are, no. I personally have experienced this, and know a lot of other actors who have as well. I’ve been told I wasn’t “Black” enough for a role, asked if I could be more “urban” and also told that I couldn’t play a Latina, because no one would believe it. :: insert infinite side eye:: 

It’s a common phenomenon. People basically being told they are not Black enough, Asian enough, Latino enough, gay enough. Even when they in fact, are literally members of those groups. 

This is why proper representation matters. Because, we are told that Americans won’t believe that people are actually, WHAT THEY ARE! 

Check out the video below and the article in Variety








Alicia Keys is done covering up.

“Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing,” she said. 

In a world of contouring, filters and extreme plastic surgery Alicia has decided to go in the opposite direction. I applaud her for uncovering in an industry where often times looks seem to be equally weighted to talent, especially for female artists.

Is it just a marketing move for her new album? I hope not, but I have to say it makes her stand apart from the army of pop star clones and that is refreshing. It makes me want to share her music with my 12 year old daughter and show her that someone with exceptional talent such as Keys is 1,000,000x more compelling and aspirational than many others in this Kardashian obsessed world.

Alicia explained that this movement was ignited by "a totally raw and honest photoshoot for her new album" with photographer Paola Kudacki.

Keys, arrived on-set from the gym with no makeup on and a sweatshirt — a look she called  a “quick run-to-the-shoot-so-I-can-get-ready look” — ended up staying in that exact look for the shoot. 

“I swear it is the strongest, most empowered, most free, and most honestly beautiful that I have ever felt,” she said of the experience in an essay she wrote on the website Lenny.

Personally I also feel empowered the more stripped down I am. Outside laying on the beach, sun on my skin, hair textured from a mixture of sand and salt water- that is when I feel most beautiful. But I also appreciate the art of makeup, using it as another means to express your creativity. I think it's a healthy balance of knowing that covering up isn't necessary. A woman should feel equally strong and powerful no matter what she chooses to adorn her exterior with. 

What are your thoughts on the #NoMakeup movement? 


You can see Alicia’s new video below:






If you have to ask, the answer is no.

Recently LA’s Brentwood School made the news for a video that leaked. It featured of a bunch of high school kids who were partying on a yacht while singing along to A$AP Ferg’s “Dump Dump”. The kids appear to be mostly white and are singing along to the lyrics which include the N word (with an 'a' at the end).

The video clip got out on social media and former baseball player Barry Bonds, whose daughter attends the school, posted it on his Twitter page.

There are a lot of people who don’t think the kids did anything wrong, since they are “just singing along to a song” [insert eye roll]. Let me just stop those people right now.

Yes A$AP Ferg can say the N word. Yes Beyonce can say the N word. Yes Kendrick Lamar can say the N word.

They are artists. African American artists. They convey THEIR experience, THEIR story, through THEIR art. The N word, no matter how ugly and disturbing, is part of African American history. Current day some individuals choose to embrace taking ownership of the word and use it to express themselves. But unless you are African American that right is not available to you. 

Permission is not granted.

This is a conversation I have had with my own daughter (who is half black) more than a few times.  The most recent example was after we watched the movie on Jesse Owens' life, Race. The word was used throughout the film, so it prompted another conversation about what it meant and how it is used current day. After I heard about what happened with the Brentwood students we had the talk again.

We have also talked about why even though I sing Beyonce's new song "Sorry" at the top of my lungs at least once a day, she will hear a distinct pause during certain parts of the song because I, as a white woman, do not have permission to sing that particular lyric. Will she sing along to that someday? Maybe, her blackness gives her that choice. She hears male friends of ours use it in casual conversation, she hears it in songs, she is not shielded from it. Because shielding does not educate, conversation does. 



As I was researching this story, I came across Mark Dice’s YouTube page with a video that shared his thoughts. I hesitate to even share this video because as I listened I had a similar feeling to when I watch anything Trump related, I wanted to crawl through the screen and punch him in the face. So watch this with that warning in mind:)

The comments are awful. This guy saying the N word is awful. I don’t agree with anything he is saying. But I also know many Brentwood parents probably share his sentiments that it is "no big deal". But I will respectfully let them know that they are WRONG. 



The kids on this yacht are well educated, at least in the traditional classroom sense. They should know better. Their parents, their school and their community need to hold them accountable. I am POSITIVE if this same group of kids were enthusiastically singing along to a song with homophobic lyrics or anti-Semitic lyrics the community as a whole would be outraged.

These kids are beyond privileged and they have access to everything the world has to offer. An education worth 40k a year is a beautiful thing to be able to give your child however, the learning needs to extend beyond the classroom if these students are going to become adults with integrity. Excusing this behavior, or laughing it off, is not going to do them any favors in the future. 

I hope these kids, their parents and their school learn 3 lessons from all of this negative attention: 

  1. Kids need to be engaging in conversations about race in school and at home from a young age. Diversity and cultural understanding needs to always be top of mind. Schools and parents often avoid these conversations for fear they can sometimes be uncomfortable but they are vital and need to be addressed early and often.
  2. Expose these kids to the real world. Not the privileged world of 5 star hotels in glamorous locales, but the real world.  Give them the opportunity to see life through others' eyes. If you have never been marginalized because of race (or gender) it can be hard to understand that experience. The only way to do that is to surround yourself with people who have had that experience and to hear their perspectives. 
  3. Teach these kids RESPECT. Respect for everyone. Children model behavior. Behavior they see at home and behavior they see on screens. It is up to the parents to "check" these kids. That means being an upstanding human being yourself and if you witness people making comments or disrespecting another individual you must speak up and model that behavior for your child. 

Oh and as a bonus suggestion... 15 year olds alone on a yacht with alcohol is not a great idea. 




In my last post, I briefly mentioned Shadeism.

Shadeism, or Colorism, is different than racism, as it often occurs within an ethnic group, or race.  It is when a group values a certain shade of skin, typically a lighter shade, over another.  Shadeism is prejudice based on social conclusions attached to skin color.  It is not dependent on ancestry, so we cannot call it racism.  Shadeism is solely based on color.  Warning, this post only scratches the surface of this subject and I am not an expert.  Hopefully, this post will get you interested in researching the topic further, or at the least, start a conversation.

Shadeism exists all over the world.  It even existed amongst Europeans at one time.  Tanned skin signaled you worked outside, in the fields and were of a lower class.  Fairer skin, along with soft hands, signaled you were of the aristocracy, or higher class.  When the Europeans colonized the world, they brought the notion, sometimes inadvertently, that lighter is better.

Sometimes, this notion already existed in cultures, before the introduction of Europeans to a society.  Although certainly exacerbated after being colonized by the British, Indians already had a caste system and Shadeism was sometimes a byproduct of it.  In Japan, both men and women used rice powder to lighten their skin and hide imperfections.  In both cultures, lighter skin implied wealth and membership to a higher, non-working class.

The introduction of slavery to the Americas brought race, and racism, into the mix.  Because slavery in America was based on race, a superiority of the white race because of ancestry and a right to own slaves because of this so-called superiority, Shadeism took on a whole new meaning in the black community.  Many of the white masters raped their slaves and this produced many bi-racial children.  The lighter slaves were given favor and allowed to work in the house, while the darker slaves worked in the fields.  The mixing was so prevalent that some of the “slaves” were unrecognizable as being black, and this challenged the “right” to own slaves based on color or superiority.  It also frightened white Northerners who could be accused of being black, and without sufficient evidence to prove otherwise, could be shipped to the south and work on a plantation.  This, along with other reasons, helped the Abolitionist movement to end slavery.

A “white” slave:

Shadeism after reconstruction fractured the black community.  Newly freed slaves developed their own societies.  Because the dominant white society placed extra value on blacks mixed with white ancestry, light-skinned blacks began to intermarry and create special societies and social clubs.  Entrance into these social clubs involved ridiculous tests: brown paper bags, combs, flashlights, amongst other things.  These clubs were purely meant to exclude, not include. Having lighter skin made it easier to get an education, own land, and start a business. 


2 clips from Spike Lee’s School Daze:

The beautiful and fair Aishwarya Rai

The beautiful and fair Aishwarya Rai

This strive for “whiteness” still occurs in present day.  Bleaching creams in India, Asia, and Africa are big-business.  Preference is still placed on lighter-skinned Bollywood actors.  In Asia, fair-skinned Asians are valued; and although the diversity of black people used in ads is getting better, the preference for light-skinned, long-haired black girls still persists in rap videos.

The good news is more and more people are rejecting these ideals of beauty and Shadeism.  The peachy color named “skin” in a box of crayons sold in India has been challenged.  Lupita Nyong’o has been named one of the world’s most beautiful people.  We’ve crowned an Indian woman Miss America.  Idris Elba is universally one of the sexiest men alive.  White people are tanning…



Lupita Nyong’o, People’s Most Beautiful Woman in 2014:

SHADEISM via Swirl Nation Blog

So, if this notion of lighter is better still persists in your culture, please know and embrace ALL shades, from the fairest to the darkest and everything in between, are beautiful, especially if it is yours.

Shadeism Part 1:

Shadeism Part 2:






This week’s Multiracial Man Crush Monday is Tim Howard.

In my opinion, Tim Howard is the sexiest man to ever step foot on a soccer field. I know a lot of people love Ronaldo, but for me, no one beats the ridiculously hot, biracial goalie for the U.S. National Team. He also just signed with the Colorado Rapids which means I may need to move back to the Mile High City ASAP! 

Howard has a black father and a white mother of Hungarian descent, he grew up in New Jersey. There are 5 things that make him #MMCM worthy.

  1. He’s an incredible athlete and the best goalie the U.S. has ever had

  2. He is covered in tattoos and has an amazing beard

  3. He is very open about his struggle with Tourette's Syndrome and OCD

  4. He’s a Pisces (March 6, 1979)

  5. He’s 6’3”

Have I convinced you to become a soccer fan? These photos should do the trick...


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To go from this...

To go from this...

So… Drake is not obscure.  He is not new.  He isn’t part of an unknown genre.  He is unapologetically mainstream.  And he is my guilty, very, very, guilty, pleasure.

I typically listen to Drake when I work out, need to get sh*t done, or when my kids are not in the car and I want to sing songs about sex with horrible curse words.

Ay dios mio… guilty pleasure…

To this...

To this...

I’ve burned probably 100,000 calories to his music.  I can pump out like 5 extensive Excel spreadsheets in an hour to his music.  And I love bad bitches when I’m on vacation with my girlfriends (and obviously, they are not my f-ing problem).

Oy ve… guilty pleasure…

What can I say?  Drake.

To collaborating with one of the hottest women in the world...

To collaborating with one of the hottest women in the world...

He makes me blush and feel like a bad ass at the same time.  When I listen to Drake, I can imagine being in a strip club, popping bands, and throwing “hunneds”, and telling the strippers they deserve it.  When I listen to Drake, I am ok with being the furthest thing from perfect.  I mean, I’m drinkin’ (on the weekends), but I’m not smokin’, f*ckin’, plottin’, schemin’, or getting’ money (well, I’m “gettin’ money”, but not Drake money). 

By now, everyone should know that Drake started his entertainment career on Degrassi.  His mom is Jewish.  His dad is Black.  He’s been “mitzvah’d”.  He did not grow up underprivileged, lead a life of crime, or battle drug addiction.  Not to generalize most rappers, but many have the aforementioned background.  Drake grew up middle-class in Toronto.  As in Canada.  That country located just north of us.  Americans make fun of their idiosyncrasies. 

Everything about Drake suggests he should be the most uncool person in the world; however, he openly raps about his background.  He raps about starting from the bottom, playing soccer, making chump change as an actor, then buying his mom a house and flying private.  He also raps about puppy love and past girlfriends.  Which to most men, is very “soft”, but it built up his female fan base.  And to appeal to the male base, he raps about loyalty to his boys and cockily proclaims he is a legend.

The man knows how to laugh at himself.  I love this.  He doesn’t take himself seriously.  His horrible dancing in “Hotline Bling”, made him an internet sensation and he went along with it.  I will never know if he was serious with the video and his dance moves, but I do know the video looks better when he is holding a light saber.  From SNL skits to T-Mobile commercials, this man is not only milking it, but he is having fun.

All of that aside, when you listen to his lyrics, they are all clever.  His lines are up there with “Girls pee pee when they see me” (Notorious B.I.G.).  I mean, how do you come up with words like “Somewhere between psychotic and iconic, somewhere between I want it and I got it”; or “Every girl I meet thinks I’m f*ing groupie hoes; The honesty of my music has left me too exposed”.  And he is always exposed.  When he writes about past relationships, did he do it after drinking a bottle of wine?  Whatever, it makes him more relatable and his success almost attainable.

So yes, I couldn’t have picked a more commercially successful person at the moment.  Drake is probably passé and I honestly don’t know how much longer his reign as the King of Hip Hop will last, but I do know I can watch him dance with a light saber like, 50 times a day…

He is living the American (uhh… Canadian) dream…

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I think feathered headdresses are beautiful.  I’ve rocked bantu knots.  My father has given me traditional clothing from India and Korea. I adore the old ladies who elegantly wear turbans and kimonos at the pool.

There has been a lot of chatter about cultural appropriation on the Internet lately.  From Valentino’s spring 2015 and fall 2016 shows to Miley’s twerking, there has been a lot of talk about one culture adopting aspects of another culture.  When does the cultural appropriation drift into cultural misappropriation? 

Many people decry cultural misappropriation as being petty, or too sensitive.  “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”, right?  No. Not always.

When someone appropriates the traditional dress of another culture in a negative way, or to make fun of that culture, it is misappropriation.

When a prominent figure uses elements of another culture and will ultimately experience monetary gain from doing so and doesn’t acknowledge, give credit, or pay homage to said culture, it is misappropriation.

When a person uses elements of a culture that are sacred, or totally ignorant of why and how that element is used within the culture, it is misappropriation.

Many bring up the double standard of a white person “embracing” a part of another culture into their aesthetic and being revered as edgy or progressive; but when the person from that culture sports the same thing, they can be seen as ghetto or fresh-off-the-boat.  White people aren’t the only people guilty of misappropriation.  I’ve worn chopsticks in my hair.  I’ve worn a maang tikka and it wasn’t on my wedding day.  It can happen to you.

We live in a multicultural world.  We are exposed to more ideas, customs, and people from around the world.  How can we blend cultural aspects into our own without being offensive?  I believe you can, through respect.  And if a culture is like don’t do fill-in-blank, don’t do fill-in-blank.  Why hurt a whole group of people?

If you are using a culture as inspiration to create something you are eventually going to sell, consider doing what Osklen designer, Oskar Metsavaht, did.  He asked permission from a Brazillian and Peruvian rainforest tribe to adapt traditional fabrics and tattoos into his work.  He then donated a portion of his profit to the tribe.  The money helped the tribe build a school.


If you are still unclear about cultural appropriation, watch this video from “It’s Akilah, Obviously!”






Misty Copeland is amazing. 


Her talent and her body talent is other worldly.


I came across an article on Upworthy that showed Misty re-created into the muse of iconic Degas paintings. It is beautiful for so many reasons. But of course the deeper meaning behind this project is highlighting the change within ballet to be more inclusive.

Copeland as "Swaying Dancer (Dancer in Green)."

Copeland as "Swaying Dancer (Dancer in Green)."

Misty Copeland has broken so many barriers becoming the first black woman to become a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre. Hopefully this becomes the catalyst for a wider representation of dancers of all races, ethnicities and body types.


While I was very aware of Copeland, I did not know much about her background. She is the child of two biracial parents, and was raised in southern California. She had a very unstable home life and did not even start dancing until she was in her teens which is unheard of for a ballerina. One year after she started dancing she won a national competition which proves she was born to dance and has a pure, god-given talent. She overcame all of the drama and negative experiences in her childhood to pursue her dream, which is extremely inspirational.


I think the emotion she evokes in her performances, and even in these photos is because of the experiences she’s had. There are now thousands of little girls who can dream of being a ballerina and look up to a woman who looks like them and that’s powerful.


Copeland as Degas'   "  Dancer  ."

Copeland as Degas' "Dancer."

Copeland re-creating Degas' "The Star  ."

Copeland re-creating Degas' "The Star."





"Formation." Watched with horror and turned it off less than half way through.

"My daddy Alabama, momma Louisiana. Mix that Negro with that Creole, make a Texas bamma."

Grrrr...Ugh. My poor family was soon subjected to my rant about Queen B diminishing the Creole legacy, gyrating in the hallway set in a fine Louisiana mansion. I am Creole--family from Gretna and Algiers. My great-grandmother Josephine, her sister Marguerite, grandmother Jeanne, mother Florence. We have more Pierres and Maurices in our family than I can recall. Grandma spoke French, played piano, had a master's degree in English. She was elegant.

BEYONCE FORMATION via Swirl Nation Blog

Seeing Bey do her work on a set that represented what is regal and dignified about my history smacked of coonery. I was not happy to see Blue Ivy's mother in a ruffle-neck, long-sleeved, cleavage-bouncing leotard on the dimly lit, ornate set. "She's debasing our history," I said in a call to my mentor, a 70-year-old cultural critic for the New York Post  and author of eight books. He hadn't seen the video but quickly put it into perspective. "She is in the business of being watched. And vulgarity gets people's attention." Our conversation was so enlightening, I recorded it. My thoughts and feelings validated by one of the black community's most respected elders.


An hour later Jen texted me to write about "Formation" for this blog. Timing is everything.


I watched the video all the way through, spent two hours reading and watching reactions from various points of view. Everything I read/saw was in complete praise of Beyonce's artistic expression and unabashed acceptance of her blackness. And I mostly agree with the positive commentary. Partially because I refuse to be a Beyonce-hater. That woman has worked more than any of us can imagine and she has earned the right to do and say whatever the hell she wants. But I was still a bit stuck--on the leotard. She does it/wears it better than anyone ever has. But I hope she never does it again. It's not original anymore. Not for her. She and her hubby bail protesters out of jail and donated $1.5 million to the #BlackLivesMatter movement (I have mixed feelings about this movement but that's another blog). Bey herself built a $7 million homeless shelter in Houston. Enough with twerking in leotards--it doesn't suit her anymore. She's too deep for that.


Here's the issue:  My line of thinking goes directly against what "Formation" represents. My conservative militant stance takes an "L."'s Melissa Perry-Harris oozed, "In just under five minutes she somehow managed to use her black girl magic to read our minds and tackle all those complicated questions of race and justice in one Beyonce video to rule them all." I'm clearly on the wrong side of this argument.


BEYONCE FORMATION via Swirl Nation Blog

Why do I even care? It's just Bey's way of entertaining and expressing HER art. Beyonce's overall message for the black community is so powerfully positive that I know I need to let it go. Especially since in my younger days I spent three years on the sidelines of Texas Stadium in white hot pants and go-go boots. Who am I to talk? 


But there's something special about Beyonce. She's so beautiful and so talented and so smart and I don't want to see her humping air in a leotard anymore. I don't want to see her humping at all. Ever again. 





I went to college in Boulder, Colorado. I thought I wanted to be a psychologist- until I took Psych 101 my first semester! I hated it, so for the next 3 semesters I took a random assortment of required courses and a lot of Women’s Studies courses. Eventually my dad called me up to ask how exactly I was planning to make money as a feminist. I didn’t have a good answer for that one, but luckily he had a suggestion that would change the course of my life. He suggested I should use my creativity and take some advertising and media classes. So I did it and I fell in love!


Turns out it was pretty easy to combine my feminist views into my work studying and analyzing ads.  Way too easy in fact because there are so many ads with a distinctly male point of view. I wrote a paper in my first advertising class about this very subject and my professor ended up asking to have it bound so she could use it as an example for other classes. The details of the paper are a little blurry almost 2 decades later, but I do remember one particular ad which featured a woman in tight jeans (I don’t remember the brand) and possibly no shirt spread out over a dinner table with her legs open and of course a seductive look on her face. The headline read:

“It’s ok if he looks at the menu as long as he eats at home.”

She was literally laying there like a piece of meat. Couldn’t have been more literal unless some man was standing over her with a knife and fork. It was awful, and my 19 year old self knew it was unacceptable. I didn’t know at that time that 97% of all creative directors in advertising were men. I also had no way of knowing that one day I would be part of the 3% fighting in my own way to create work I was proud of.

This leads me to coming across this video in my Twitter feed today:

It instantly brought me back to my days in Boulder. It also made me sad that in almost 20 years not much has changed. 97% of Creative Directors in advertising are still men. I don't know what the percentage was in 1998 when I had this first epiphany, it could have been 99%, but either way not a lot of progress has been made.

Women make 80% of all household purchases which means our buying power is clear. But inside the ad agencies of the world you are not being represented by your peers, you are being represented by white men. I mention white men specifically because while there is a serious lack of women in advertising in creative leadership positions, there is an even bigger lack of racial diversity in both genders. 2% of creative leadership is black, and that figure combines men and women. I couldn’t even find figures for other races or for multiracial individuals. 

All of this boils down to the fact that the way society is reflected on your TV screens, in your magazines, and on your computers is created overwhelmingly by white men who have never lived your experience. This pisses me off on so many levels. The problem goes beyond the over sexualization or objectification of women, it also extends into how women of different races are portrayed.  


I have been in advertising for 15 years now. I worked my way up from Junior Art Director when I was 21 and I am now the Executive Creative Director at a great agency in Los Angeles. I love what I do, but there have been moments when I didn’t. The first moment that comes to mind is when I was still a Junior Art Director and was handed a CoverGirl project. The singer Brandy was one of their CoverGirls at the time and one of my clients requested that I lighten her skin in the main image we were proposing to use for displays in a national chain. At first I thought it was my client’s attempt at an awful joke, but then I realized he was serious. I refused to do it. I brought it all the way up my chain of male superiors. I’m sure they thought I was over-reacting, but I wasn’t and thankfully I won that battle. 

Soon after I would spend 7 years working on beer brands. When you think of marketing and beer you think of boobs right?! Yup, it was an experience. There were of course the projects with models "Frankensteined" beyond recognition. But there were also more subtle examples. I remember working on the Blue Moon brand. Blue Moon is famous for their painted point of sale which gave them a unique look in the marketplace. A female artist created all of the original Blue Moon paintings, but in the commercials it would always be a male hand creating the masterpieces. Did they think men wouldn't buy the beer if a woman was involved in the creation of the graphics? Seems strange doesn't it? It makes me sad. 

There were also moments when the diversity was so lacking at my agency that I was put in charge of multicultural accounts. Me. Blonde haired, blue eyed, me. My qualifications were “Jen dates black guys, put her on the account.” So they did. Crazy right?! True story.

Bottom line is, advertising is a tough industry. Mad Men isn't too far off from the current day agency atmosphere. Long hours, demanding clients, boys club like atmosphere means most female creatives take their talents elsewhere once they start having a family. I get it. I’m a single mom and a Creative Director and it is hard. It is exhausting. But I also think it is important to have a feminist voices in this industry.


Seeing this video was a good reminder for me to keep top of mind every day in my profession. I now work in Experiential Marketing, so my job is less about casting calls and photoshoots and more about creating physical experiences, but there are still ways I can empower, educate, and lead my clients.

I also think it is very important for every woman and parent to really pay attention to how women are portrayed in the media. According to the @Not_Objects Twitter page 62% of women believe that any brand has the potential to empower women through advertising. My question is why isn't that number 100%? We as women need to start fighting for each other. In that same vain, we need to fight for ALL women. Women of all races, sizes, and backgrounds. 

There are groups I rely on to inspire me and keep me up to date on what is happening, those resources include Miss Representation and AJ+. I also follow the 3% Conference, which is an advertising industry event started by Kat Gordon. The aim of the conference is to close the gap and slowly but surely they are making progress.

I would encourage everyone, as consumers, to educate yourselves and be really present when you consume media. We are so bombarded all day long I think a lot of people have gone a bit numb, but if you really pay attention I think what you see will anger you. The filters below are something the group at #WomenNotObjects have shared to enable everyone to assess ads for themselves. 

Personally, as the mother of a tween daughter I am doing everything I can to promote healthy body image and I think these filters could be a good conversation starter. I also take these questions and more into my work everyday and applaud the women behind the #WomenNotObjects campaign in bringing awareness to this issue.