20 April 2015

Ben Affleck Asked Henry Louis Gates to Hide Slave Owner Ancestry


Philosopher George Santayana once said, “Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.” Likewise those who choose to feign ignorance or turn a blind eye to the atrocities of our country’s past, will not expunge these injustices from the record book.

This past weekend, it was revealed that an episode of PBS’ Finding Your Roots starring Ben Affleck was edited because the actor did not want to reveal that one of his ancestors owned slaves. Instead, the episode, which aired October 14, 2014, focused on Affleck’s 3rd Great Grandfather who was an occult enthusiast as well as his mother’s advocacy during the Civil Rights movement.

According to messages leaked from the massive Sony email hack, Affleck asked Harvard Professor and Finding Your Roots host Henry Louis Gates to edit his family’s slave opening past out of the episode. The email reveals that Henry Louis Gates Jr., wrote to Sony USA chief Michael Lynton asking for advice:

Continue reading at Blavity.com 

18 April 2015

Director Elizabeth Giamatti Talks ‘A Woman Like Me,’ Accepting the Unacceptable and Her Good Friend Alex

Pictured: Alex Sichel directing “A Woman Like Me.” Photo courtesy of “A Woman Like Me.”

The Buddhist Meditation on Death says, “The point is we are all going to die, but that is the very thing we cannot accept.” Is it even possible to accept what is unacceptable to so many of us? Would you spend the precious time you do have left in despair over your circumstances, or would you try to find a way to be at peace with what is coming?

Oftentimes, we turn away from films with a terminal illness at their center. Too devastating for some and far too personal for others, we as moviegoers gravitate toward more lighthearted or even action-packed films. There have, of course, been anomalies like Jonathan Levine’s 50/50 (2011), or more recently, Josh Boone’s The Fault in Our Stars (2014). Generally, however, we go to the cinema to escape our own troubles. It is rare that we are drawn to films like Alex Sichel and Elizabeth Giamatti‘s A Woman Like Me.

Continue reading at GALO Magazine.


17 April 2015

Filmmaker Caryn Waechter Talks ‘The Sisterhood of Night,’ Social Media, Friendship and What It Means To Be A 21st Century Teen Girl

The Sisterhood of Night” director Caryn Waechter with actress Georgie Henley. Photo Credit: Olivia Bee.

Our teen years are filled with some of the most memorable points in our lives: blossoming friendships, first loves and kisses, and the discovery of who we are. Everything is heightened, from our emotions to our self-awareness, as we leave the innocent childhood days behind us. However, with the advent of social media, millennial teens experience the world differently than any adolescents of the past. Web sites and apps like Facebook and Instagram may have connected us globally, but they’ve also put our existence on display for observation, admiration and critique. Often, it can seem that our lives are simply popularity contests. The fear of missing out is one of the most overwhelming feelings that have come out of today’s technological climate. For teen girls especially, living up to or falling short of particular standards of beauty and likeability can prove to be both exuberant and devastating.

Caryn Waechter’s female-driven The Sisterhood of Night explores many of these very themes. Her feature debut follows the uproar that erupts in Kingston, New York after a teenage girl claims she has been abused by a secret group who call themselves “The Sisterhood.” This is not your typical teen girl film with a romance at its center. Instead, it’s a movie that celebrates girlhood, friendship and what the nuances of being a teen in today’s world are.

Continue reading at GALO Magazine.




FEAR


I'm scared. Terrified actually of quite a lot of things. It used to be flying. The summer I graduated from high school, which coincidentally was the same summer my mother was first diagnosed with cancer; I developed a crippling fear of flying. This came out of nowhere. I'd been flying at least twice a year from before I could even walk.  And yet there I was, frantically praying to God and gripping my armrest as my stomach turned over and over during take-off and decent; even worse during turbulence. And suddenly just as quickly as that fear had gripped me, leaving me sweaty and exhausted at airport gates, it dissipated.  It evaporated and I soon discovered that there are far worse things than flying.

My mother was a bit overly cautious, which if I'm honest with myself is probably where I get my apprehension. Our safety was her highest priority (as it should be for any mother). However it often seemed ridiculous, like when she would sit in the car observing the street before getting out to enter the house. Once, during my teen years she forbade me from going into a certain neighborhood (there was a boy involved obviously.) I didn't much think of these things at the time other than to shake my head, or sigh in exasperation. And yet despite of everything, all of my rejections and eye rolls, my Mama's cautious nature has weaseled itself into my DNA. I thought about it the other evening as I walked home alone in the dark, keys in hand, eyes darting back and forth, iPod muted. Nonetheless, fear of the "boogieman" isn't what keeps me awake at night. Instead, its fear of judgement, fear of what other people think of me. I fear so deeply that I've made a wrong turn, that my thoughts and my decisions are poor choices or worse still, invalid.

Let me clarify. I'd like to think that I'm a very secure individual (def waaaayyy more than I was just a few years ago.) But then again, there is no manual to adulthood. Our world looks very different than it did even ten years ago. I suppose I'm always looking for someone else to validate my choices, to say that's a good move, or that's a smart plan. Instead, all I hear are the insecurities spinning around in my head. Admittedly, sometimes I give into those voices, telling me I have no clue what I'm doing (which I don 't), making me believe that I'll always be in this same spot because I lack the tools for growth. Those feelings that tell me that I am insignificant are what keep me awake at night. Some days it screams louder than others as I pace back in forth in my dark apartment in the middle of the night. Other times, its like a soft whisper in the wind as I move through my day.

Fear can cripple you if you give in to it. However, if you continue to press forward despite your trepidation, magic just may be within your reach. 

xoxoxox Chocolate Girl in the City xoxoxoxoxo


10 April 2015

Sister, You've Been On My Mind ( National Sibling Day)


In Cali last month lookin like all the cocoa
 
My memory is fairly tragic so I don't actually remember this happening, but I do recall my mother telling the story over and over again. Apparently I was around five or six which would have made my sister three or four at the time. A neighbor boy, let's call him BJ got one of those motorized cars and was driving it up and down the sidewalk. Sister and I were outside as well, being typical 90's kids, when BJ pulled up to me and asked if I wanted a ride.  Always overly cautious and apprehensive, I squirmed and puzzled over taking the ride. Before I could tell BJ my final decision, (probably that I wasn't going to go because “nigga are you a safe driver?!”) sister rushed past me and hopped into the car bellowing "I'LL GO!" And off they were, because that’s how sister was and still is, utterly unapologetic and fearless. 

We were pretty tight as kiddies (from what I can vaguely recall.) However, as a teen I became a complete turd. I found myself trying to separate myself from my sister. First weaseling away from our joint birthday parties, and then isolating myself in my room and becoming an insufferable miss-know-it-all. (May I just add that though I am no longer insurable, I still know it all.) Basically I was a complete BITCH and I can only assume it was due to hormones and the fact that my sister has always been cooler and more badass then me.  I was trying to acquire my own identity outside of the one we had together. (Maybe if you spoke to her she would say otherwise but this is my platform so... I win.)

Summer 2013,  just our regular ish

Luckily high school went as swiftly as it came and hormones seem to balance themselves out.  Partially because I was no longer a raging troll and probably because its now just her and me; sister and I have become two peas in a pod. We are two very different peas, but there is no one on this earth with whom I’m more in sync. (Sorry other homies, lover and friends.) Furthermore as of late a peculiar thing has happened. Sister has taken on the role of big sister. (Yes I'm the BIG SISTER!! even though I'm shorter and more child-like, I am FIRST BORN.)

My entry (and hers as well) into adulthood has been tumultuous to say the least. I've buried both of my parents, dealt with money and legally documents that I will probably never understand.  I’ve sold a house, started and quit three jobs, cried a lot, saw a therapist, smiled a ton and have generally felt overwhelmed and confused on a daily basis. Since I held the status of elder sister, (or Head Bitch in Charge as I would rather it be termed) and I generally tolerate people more than Sister, many of these things fell on my lap. There was no roadmap or warning and I've spent the majority of the last couple of years figuring ish out and piecing it together. It’s really too much for anyone to deal with especially a “baby-adult”. Needless to say, in the last year I've thrown in the towel and sister has picked up all of my slack.

A page from my scrapbook

I can't count the number of times I've called her in tears, or in a general state of panic and confusion. She has been my voice of reason, my confidant, my adult girlfriend, my editor and most of all my champion. Her words of encouragement have helped me punch my insecurities in the face and to do what is best for ME. Her advice hasn't always been rosey, (sister is the type who will tell you where to go and then provide you a roadmap of how to get there) but she has always told me the truth with my best interests at heart.

So on this National Sibling Day I want to say thank you to my little big sister. You are the true witch and I am a mere squib.


"When we were young we were brave but we didn't know it..."

#LiveForYou

xoxoxoxo Chocolate Girl in the City xoxoxox

PS. Sister, sorry for humiliating you with this post.

02 April 2015

When You Give A Girl A Cookie... (My Favorite Harlem Eats)

Levain Bakery
Like the cracked concrete stairs leading to the front entrance of my childhood home, Harlem has always been familiar to me. It has always given me that same feeling I used to get as I drove down Lake Shore Drive. Chicago raised me and Harlem accepted me. The familiarity that I felt here before I even signed my lease on my very first big girl apartment is something that I will always cherish. And as much as it has changed since I first moved in; with new people and businesses, that feeling has never left me.

Here are some of my favorite local businesses (well restaurants) in Harlem (keep in mind that I’m a foodie and I’m sensitive about my meals):


Manhattanville Coffee

As a graduate student at Columbia University I grew weary fighting for a seat in Starbeezy’s on any given day. Luckily Manhattanville came to save my life. A family friendly atmosphere with posh leather couches, delectable treats it has truly become the neighborhood coffee shop. Though I have long since finished my thesis you can still find me in line at Manhattanville eagerly awaiting my almond chai latte and chocolate scone.


The Edge Café

Brunch is one of my favorite things. No seriously! I don’t play games about Brunch.  I was used to venturing down to Fredrick Douglass Boulevard where you nearly trip over brunch options until a couple of months ago, when The Edge opened up steps away from my apartment.  Entrees with a Caribbean twist, The Edge has everything from waffles, to jerk chicken, plantains and festival.


67 Orange Street

Pour Up! DRANK! I’m actually not a big drinker. If you can’t tell yet, I much prefer to eat my calories. However, 67 Orange has me questioning all of that. With drinks with names like “Emancipation” and “Mo’ Better” this bar/lounge reminds me of what  a 21st century Harlem Renaissance may have looked like. It doesn’t hurt that the staff looks like they’ve all just stepped off some fashion runway.

67 Orange Street
 
Bad Horse Pizza

I’m from Chicago so I’m extremely particular about my pizza. Normally NYC pizza just doesn’t do it for me. Bad Horse is one of the only places that stand out amongst what native New Yorkers try to pass off as pizza. Luckily, they only deliver to my area Mon- Wed, so when I want the pizza during the end of the week I have to work for it.


Melba’s

There are several places to grab Soul Food uptown and many of them are the bee’s knees. And yet only Melba’s is serving up eggnog waffles and chicken. This tiny restaurant is ALWAYS packed. So whether you are arriving for brunch or dinner I suggest you get there before the rush. Melba’s doesn’t take reservations but trust me it’s worth the wait.


Levain Bakery (Harlem)

If you give a girl a cookie, you’ll probably have to buy her another one because the first one was just too damn good. I have a serious sweet tooth and I take my desserts seriously. Let me tell you about the cookies at Levain Bakery. Listen Linda, THEY ARE EVEYTHING! Omg. Sometimes on my more greedy days I purchase a chocolate walnut cookie after brunch and eat it hours later in my underpants while watching Netflix. Sigh…life’s small pleasures.


Cedric Bistro

I know you are sick and tired of hearing about Brunch so this is the last one I promise. Cedric’s is a true gem. A bit off of Harlem’s "restaurant row", Cedric’s boasts a wall of floor to ceiling windows and delicious cuisine. As someone who is constantly torn between savory and sweet selections at brunch, Cedric’s allows me my pancakes and my eggs too. If you are a late riser on the weekends, I definitely recommend making a reservation. Once you are seated, get cozy and stay for a while.

Cedric Bistro


Harlem Tavern

Hungry? Want a drink? Want to watch the game or listen to some jazz? Harlem Tavern has got you covered. I’ve probably been to the Tavern about 100 times since moving uptown. It’s my fall back place, my “first date” spot and everything in between. The Tavern is always packed but there is never a long wait which immediately sets it apart from its competitors. In the summer you can sit outside and people watch or cozy up at the bar during the winter. Either way Harlem Tavern has never let me down.


There are a ton of other incredible businesses in Harlem (not just restaurants). There are even businesses like Good Monster who pride themselves on helping business owners by providing digital marketing services that engage consumers. Harlem is a fantastic neighborhood so if you’ve never stopped by come visit! We’re all friendly and whatnot.



xoxox Chocolate Girl in the City xoxoxoxo

31 March 2015

Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer: On Family & Cancer

That last summer with her wasn’t anything like that.

There were no lazy days spent playing outside or curled up with Daddy reading the latest Harry Potter book. Instead, there were hospital rooms, heartache and the stifling stench of the cancer that filled the 13th floor of Northwestern Memorial Hospital.  In the middle of July, about a week after my 18th birthday, my Mama told my sister and me that she had cancer. As I sobbed uncontrollably, she soothed me and held me like she always did. She calmed my fears and promised me that everything would be ok. Two years later, nine days before I returned to college for my junior year, my Mama died. Five years have passed since that dreaded summer, so many of those memories have become hazy in my mind.

Continue Reading at Blavity.com 

26 March 2015

Apparently Some People Think TV Is “Too Black”


I’m an avid reader of Deadline. As a cinephile and TV lover it’s a fantastic resource to the goings-on in Hollywood. It’s how I learned that Bradley Cooper wants to direct and star in a remake of A Star is Born alongside BeyoncĂ©. Unfortunately, information wasn’t the only thing to hit my inbox yesterday. Deadline’s TV editor Nellie Andreeva penned a piece entitled, “Pilots 2015: The Year of Ethnic Castings- About Time or Too Much of Good Thing?I immediately found the title troubling. Right now there approximately six shows on networks with Black leads. ScandalEmpire, How to Get Away with Murder, Blackish, Being Mary Jane and Tyler Perry’s lineup on OWN. Seriously, that is all. We have watched nearly all-white television for well-over a decade and when we finally get television that looks more like America in general, Ms. Andreeva is offended? I won’t even get into her use of “ethnic” here because… ugh.

Continue reading at Blavity.com