Black dolls and black girls

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As described by its founder, Dr. Yaba Blay, Pretty.Period. is “A visual tribute to brown skin. A visional testimony of Black beauty. A vision board for healing.” It’s a place for brown women to come and, not just be appreciated, but celebrated. Where we are not “pretty for a black girl” or ‘pretty for a dark-skinned girl.” We’re pretty. Period.

I saw the above post last week on the organization’s Facebook page, and it absolutely broke my heart. We’ve all seen the doll test videos on YouTube; we know¬†how early, and profoundly and profoundly early,¬†little¬†brown girls are affected by¬†the¬†lies the world would have them believe about themselves. We know that the way to combat this is to tell them and show them and then keep telling and showing them how beautiful they are‚ÄĒthat women all over the world go to extreme lengths to achieve their brand of beauty. That they¬†are lovable and deserve to be loved.

Black girls need to play with and care for dolls that reflect who they are. Period.

Growing up, my mother insisted that all my dolls be black. I had black Kimberly dolls, a black Cabbage Patch Kid, a black Baby-Alive-type doll that scared the crap out of me, but¬†my Mom still¬†made me play with, anyway. She¬†even had two black Raggedy Ann dolls¬†made for me¬†because “if you want a raggedy doll, she’s gonna be black.” Which…well,¬†you just read that, so you know. Her intention was clear, though.

I know the "Waggedy" looks white, but she is just light-skinned.

Don’t side-eye Little Raggedy. She’s just light-skinned.

My friend Dana¬†is¬†the most creative person I know. A graphic designer/photographer/should-have-her-own-show chef/(former) beauty and food blogger and now–knitter, her ability to just pick up new skills and be great at¬†them has always blown my mind. Her current blog is about all the things she knits. She makes sweaters and baby blankets and clothes for her dog; she’s knit¬†me awesome hats and cowl scarfs. But the other day I happened upon something on her Instagram feed that melted my heart. She’d knitted a little brown doll for our friend Yuvay’s daughter, Maddie. She even made a sweater for Maddie to match the sweater the doll had on. How sweet is this? Check out her post here.

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Making a brown doll for a brown girl gave me so much joy! — DWJ

And it looks like little Maddie loved it as well! I think it’s my favorite of all the things she’s made in the 20 years I’ve known her; it’s definitely the most important. And having just seen the Pretty.Period. post, I had to share it. I have the dopest friends. Am I too old for a doll like Maddie’s, D? You don’t have to make me the matching sweater…

#BlackGirlMagic
#BlackDollMagic

Source: 1 | 2

 

22KILL

Did you know that approximately 22 veterans die from suicide every day? In response to this epidemic, an organization called 22KILL aims to raise awareness for and aid in prevention of veteran suicide. Additionally, they help to re-integrate veterans into society by providing jobs and opportunities for them to give back to their communities. I learned about 22KILL through the Facebook page of a friend who is a Marine. He posted a video of he and his unit pledging to do 22 push-ups for 22 days to help raise awareness for veteran suicide. I think it’s shameful that the men and women who fight to protect our way of life, so often don’t have access to the medical and mental health treatment they so desperately need upon returning home. I wanted to do my part, however small, to help combat that.

So, here are my 22 pushups. Don’t laugh at my pushups. I had to do it twice because I wasn’t recording the first time. And I am puffy. So,¬†I was tired.

Watch and learn more about 22KILL, here:

Please share and get involved however you can! And to all veterans: Thank you for your service. I support you and am grateful for all you have done and continue to do.

Ripped from the headlines

Or, you know, my text convos…

I just finished listening to game tape from¬†a set I did back on May 6 in Cincinnati. The audience was awesome and towards the end of the show, I asked them if they’d gone out¬†the night before for Cinco de Mayo. A bunch of them had, but no one seemed to know what the day actually signifies. So I told them what my friend Damon told me it was…

I cannot take credit for all the ignorance that comes out of my mouth; sometimes, I’m just the conduit. But this fool said, “Sing, sing, celebrate,” y’all. I hate¬†him for this. And you should, too.

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I’m back

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Today, I went to L’Oreal USA Headquarters so my girlfriend,¬†Cataanda, could give me the first real haircut I’ve had since most of them fell out about a year and a half ago. I wore braids for most of that time, in order¬†to allow¬†it grow without the stress of daily styling. And today, I reaped the fruits of my (lack of) labor; I L-O-V-E the cut!

Cataanda is¬†an equally amazing hairstylist, make-up artist and human being, with whom I’ve worked for about seven or eight years. She beat my face for Last Comic Standing, all my¬†headshots and she did my hair and makeup for the last season of Exhale.¬†I linked to her website because it’s the right thing to do, but I really don’t want to share her with y’all. Matter of fact, if I ever need an appointment and I find out one of y’all booked her, we’re fighting we fightin’. She’s the only person I trust with¬†my hair, now. When she wasn’t available one week last summer, I made an appointment with the stylist I went to all through high school…¬†Not only did he get scissor-happy, but he cut a chunk out of the right side of my hair–the hair I was trying so desperately to grow back. And then he and his co-worker¬†tried to convince me that it looked good–as if my giant eyeballs couldn’t see the mirror a foot in front of me. I swear it was like that episode of “Martin” where Gina forgets to put the neutralizer in Myra’s hair, and they try to convince her she looks beautiful bald.

"You gave Myra a perm with no neutralizer???"

“You gave Myra a perm with no neutralizer???”

But, I digress.

Me and Cataanda

Me and Cataanda

Cataanda is ALL the superlatives. And she totally gave me a 5th Avenue haircut at the homegirl rate. I feel like I’m back! It may not be feminist or India Arie-ist or whatever, but I always feel good about me when my hair is pretty.

And I feel good about me today.

Memories

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I’m back in the DC Metro area (McLean, VA to be exact) to do a corporate event tomorrow afternoon. And as I was headed towards my hotel, I realized I was driving right past the old Best Western Westpark Hotel building, which used to house Wiseacres Comedy Club. I don’t know how long it’s been empty; I haven’t been out this way in at least 6-7 years. But when I first started out in comedy, I was there every single Wednesday nite. Man. The open mics in that dark, dingy room are where I met some of my very favorite people. I learned how to write and workshop a joke there, learned how to be a good citizen of the comedy community. I was grateful for my 5 minutes on stage in that room, even when I went up 20th. And I never wanted to go home after those shows. Dinner and drinks after the mic? Absolutely. Work tomorrow? Who cares? That little dungeon will hold a place in my heart forever.

So much debauchery

So much debauchery went down in here

Rob, Randy, Ryan, Jett, Diesel, Herbie, Dawan, Tim, Chris, Jimmy… I miss those days.

Those were great days.

Beginnings

Dr. Kia!!!

Dr. Kia!!!

Today is a huge day for two of my most favoritest friends!!! One graduated with her PhD in Clinical Psychology from American University, while the other is giving birth to her first baby. Weeeeeeeee!!! I’m grateful to have been able to watch the live stream of one event, happy to wait for the “after” photos of the other. If there’s any question about which event I tuned in to see, just know that even BFFs need boundaries. Anyway, I’m super proud of both my girls! I can’t even fathom the amount of work and dedication required to complete a PhD. I am vaguely familiar with the background work required for the latter…

Love you both so, so much. You’re gonna be amazing at your new jobs!