Sunday, September 21, 2008

Roots...




Last night, I went to see a musical called Fela! off-broadway at the 37 arts theater. Whittled down to its simplest essence, the play is about Fela Kuti, a beloved African musician who used his music to rally his people against governmental oppression. While it actually goes much further than that, I'll leave it to you to research and discover, as it is actually an amazing story and a truly electric piece of theater. The piece moved me more than anything I've ever seen onstage, but not for reasons of dramatic power or great acting, although it had both in spades. Fela! was important to me because I finally got it. I am more than someone who has just descended from slaves, I am descended from strong, smart, resilient Africans whose continent was raped and pillaged by greedy newcomers.

As I was talking with my boyfriend on the way back, I finally realized how media messages and corporate America have conspired to make Blacks feel inferior when in reality most of what we see as "American" culture comes from African-Americans and Africa itself, from dance to art to music and everything in-between. As I walked back from this amazing show and had my mind blown from a connection to Africa I'd never really felt before, I felt extremely lucky to live the life I lead, to have the luxury to see a piece of incendiary theater like Fela!, and to have the education and intellectual curiosity to learn more about my roots. It saddens me that most Black people in America aren't able to have this experience, that if the "talented tenth" theory is true and I am indeed a member of that tenth, I have no real way to get the message out to those who need it the most.



On Nas' Untitled CD, one of my favorite songs is N*****: The Slave and the Master, because he breaks down a lot of the crap that is slung at us by society, capping it all with the line: We were scholars long before colleges. Even though I've been an advocate and strong believer in multiculturalism for a while now, one of the hardest lessons to learn during my college years is that not everyone shares that need to learn and grow from that kind of interaction. The Asian, Latino, White, and Black kids that I hung out with all seemed more interested in their own cultures than discovering others. Perhaps they had already had the lesson that I'm in the process of learning: you've got to get to know yourself before you can know anyone else.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Rob Smith Presents...The Mocha Lounge Video Blog




The Mocha Lounge Video Blog will make its debut exclusively on Afterelton.com on Monday, September 15th. Hosted by "I Want to Work for Diddy" star and writer/blogger Rob Smith, the Mocha Lounge Video Blog will cover politics, pop culture, music, and the media through the lens of LGBT people of color. The show will also be highly interactive, allowing viewers to submit their comments on the "Question of the Week", as well as any other topics that they would like to see. The MLVB will run biweekly exclusively on Afterelton.com, a subsidiary of the LOGO Gay&Lesbian television network.

The Mocha Lounge

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Iraq Thing



Over the weekend, I got a chance to catch Stop Loss, a drama about Iraq war veterans being called back to duty right before separation. It's a terrific flick, anchored with strong and realistic performances form Ryan Philippe (!) and Abbie Cornish, and what I enjoyed the most was that it was refreshingly non-partisan. I'm not the type of person to scream "Too Soon!" at the top of my lungs when people decide to make movies about 9/11 or the Iraq War, but it is beyond irritating when filmmakers try to teach a lesson rather than tell a story. The interesting thing about Stop Loss was that the most partisan Democrat or Republican you could find could each take something from it, and it occurred to me that it works because the story is uniquely American. I was also the victim of the stop-loss policy, but thankfully I was only extended 90 days and allowed to return to the states from Iraq to exit the military.

These movies always seem to have a strange effect on me. I wouldn't say that I enjoy them, but I'm always left in a weird state after I watch them. I don't enjoy the war sequences that are choreographed like action movies, but I do realize their necessity. I was there. I made it through the storm, and the only thing I can think of when I watch these movies is why I made it when others didn't. Why do others suffer post-traumatic stress disorder when I don't? Why was my most severe injury a fractured toe when so many others have lost limbs? Why am I still here? Perhaps that will end up being one of the great unanswered questions of my life. I want a lot out of life. I'm driven to succeed because I was given a second chance, and when the big guy gives you another chance you don't waste it. I promise not to waste it.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Mocha Lounge Video Blog (Test Pilot)

Hey everybody! I know I've been talking a lot about my video blog that's going up at AfterElton. Well, I finally met and brainstormed with my co-host Aundra and we put together a little test pilot for my editor to look over and critique. However, I'm gonna give you guys a first look! Mind you, we'll eventually film on better video, have more structure (this was an off the cuff thing to test chemistry and camera presence), and an intro, but this is a good idea of the feeling that we want to come from the Mocha Lounge Video Blog. Enjoy!

Pt. 1

video


Pt. 2

video

Thursday, September 4, 2008

America's Next Top Model?

Hello all, here are some pictures from my red carpet/runway debut last night. I'm recapping the whole situation for afterelton.com, so I'll be sure to update with a link to that once it gets published. Tyra better watch her back...






A larger gallery can be found here

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

No Shade....




So last Friday night, my friend Aundra and I went to the "No Shade" party at the Mocca Lounge in SoHo. The party was hosted by Maurice Ruinea, Dwight Allen O'Neal, and Adam Benjamin Irby, all minor black gay celebs here in NYC in their own right, and I thought it would be a great way to try to become more social here in New York. I'm a notorious homebody, but if I'm going to be successful in all of these new endeavors, I really need to be putting my face out there a bit more, so that's what I was going for. Also, I had gone to the Mocca Lounge once before for Adam's birthday party and had a blast. I had also met him before at Fire Island Black Out and randomly on the 3 train before either one of us knew who the other one was.

As for the crowd, I guess it could've been better (more on that here), but I personally enjoy a smaller, cute crowd instead of having to elbow my way through crowds of people so I can get my drink on. It was also my first time in VIP anything, so I was enjoying drinking my champagne and looking down over the crowd and such. I also got to meet the soon-to-be-superstar Isis, who makes Top Model history tonight as the show's first transgender contestant. She was humble and lovely, and I regret not getting a pic with her, because she's about to BLOW UP (you know, the way that most reality show stars do when they're on a show that gets promotion and ratings...*cough* *cough*).


When it was all said and done, me and Aundra headed out, only to be accosted by an actor who wanted #1 - To talk to Aundra, who is admittedly a good-looking guy , #2 - To promote is website or blog or myspace or something or other, and #3 - To debate politics in the rain at 3AM on a Saturday morning. Seeing as how I had to get up in 4 hours to go to the shore with my boyfriend, I wasn't having it, and Aundra and I politely excused ourselves to the horrors of the NYC subway system at 3AM.

So that's it, my first night in VIP and it went OK. I'm going to try my hardest not to make my life (and this blog) into lifestyles of a Z-List NYC celeb, but there is a bunch of cool stuff happening right now, and I wanted to keep all 10 of you filled in!

Next up.... I'm walking in a FASHION SHOW! More on that soon...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008