Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Rebel, Rebel

Here is an essay that I composed for my Black Aesthetics class. There was no prompt, so this is a response to my thoughts, the society I live in and a culmination of my studies in Sociology from the African American/African paradigm. Do respond with your thoughts.

  As a black artist or musician, is there ever an expression of your experience that can be accepted for mere virtue of its quality and aesthetic quality instead of being judged as a "black artist". In an attempt to understand the idea, I considered the idea that race may be central to the lived experience. It depends on if you define yourself and your art by your race or your humanity. Additionally, if art is the expression of the art is central to the self, then is race central to the self?
    As an artist that expresses herself through fashion, I do not count race as central to my influence or even a factor at all as to what I chose to wear. What one chooses to wear is an external manifestation of the inner self. This self, which has largely not been acclimated to the ways of black pop culture first- hand, I consider my manner of dress significantly influenced by my surroundings. As a matter of fact when I come to think of it, no one else I know dresses the way I do, so my identity is so individual to myslef that it is neither defined my race or my surroundings but rather the antithesis of my lived experience. I look within and to other artists/celebrities to derive my way of dressing. So in my case, race is in no way central to my expression but rather a an additional characteristic that others use to differentiate me from my peers at  a superficial level. Some may say that my manner of dress is an attempt to assimilate into mainstream culture, but most Tech students are complacent with sweatshirts and jeans. So not me.

    So is race central to expression as an artist? Can a black writer write about their lived experience without race being an issue? Quite often not. Black identity is often pegged as the antithesis of mainstream "white" culture. Essentially if you are not a mainstream writer adhering to cultural "norms" then you must be the only other alternative, a "black" writer. And that should be ok right? Not! As artists and vessels of expression our work should speak for itself and be free for interpretation that is free from the confines of social prejudices. Art is transcendent and expression of life. If we consider art as a bridge to bring us together, then race is in no way an indication of one's validity or limitation as an artist.

    Some may argue that race is central to identifying the artist, as much as gender is an indicator to understanding the artist and coming closer to understanding where their art is seated in its expression. In that light, race is as important as geographic location or the individual's age. These factors should never be an arbiter of the art or artists' validity or be used to marginalize and limit their ability because of where they are from or because of their lived experience. So can an artist ever transcend the lived experience? Maybe. But our understanding of each other can be molded by lived experience, and never confined to it. We can be molded by our lives, but in essence we cannot be confined by it. It can be used to guide our experience and help to understand but not limit our understanding of artistic expression but rather use it as a facet of understanding.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Ok, so a visit to the Bloomies at home this weekend rendered me speechless, Mummy and I discovered they NO LONGER sell Juicy Couture.

Not ok. And to top it off the sales clerk, whom I've never met before (slightly disturbing) had the audacity to mock our dismay and confusion. "What is this here? Marc Jacobs? What happened?", Mom asked me. The Juicy Couture display had been otherwise replaced by another designer I like. But still, it wasn't Juicy.

I couldn't answer, my mouth was agape with dismay and confusion. "I have no idea Mum. Where else could it be? I need it in my life!" So she proceeded to ask the sales clerk 'Where is your Juicy collection'

"We don't sell Juicy anymore" the salesclerk replied Mother and I took a synchronized 'GASP!'
"B-b-but, what happened?"
"I dunno"
"What do you mean you 'Don't know'?"
"Uuuhh, uuummmeee, I guess you'll have to ask our buyer?" Her voice raised in confusion. Get on that, I thought. Mental to do list number 2,456 of things to do and know. I was violated and someone needs to hear a piece of my mind. The online selection pales in comparison to what I could get in the store. What am I going to do!

Be prepared to get a piece of my mind Juicy Couture/ Bloomingdale's! This is NOT OK!

Your favorite Southern Fashionista