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Chris Brown took a lot of heat during his performance at the 54th Grammys. It has been three years since Brown has been to the annual awards show as a result of his domestic abuse event with his then girlfriend, singer Rihanna. Domestic abuse sadly happens all of the time to all types of people, but because both of these young performers are in the public eye, everyone saw their problems and criticized them both. There’s a love/hate split for Chris Brown in the music community. He still has tons of female fans who have forgiven him for what he did to Rihanna. They’ve forgiven him so much that they went on twitter complaining how Rihanna was stupid and would love for Chris Brown to beat them. Yes you heard that right. It speaks volumes to the self-esteem of some of the young ladies who admire the young singer. But it also shows that they don’t view Rihanna as a victim.

twitter.com

There are also tons of people, male and female, who think Chris Brown is the scum of the earth and should never make a single song again. Yet the same bloggers and twitter folks who complained about the Grammy’s allowance of Brown’s performance, didn’t even scratch the surface of other celebrity men who have been accused of hitting their female significant other. I know in that audience, there are probably countless men who have done the same as Brown, yet haven’t been nearly as criticized as him. Can anyone say Charlie Sheen? The man has been arrested for domestic abuse issues, yet he continued to get praise in the media and no one touched on the subject. Chris Brown being a young black male, who unfortunately   fits that ‘angry black man’ stereotype and has been subjective to more criticism than a lot of white men in that same industry. Not saying we should overlook the fact of what Chris Brown did, but I feel you need to do the same to everyone.

Where do I fall? I used to love Chris Brown and thought he had the potential to be the next big thing, and he still does. After finding out what he did to Rihanna, I was definitely disappointed. However on the same token, I do not know him personally, so why take it personally? If Rihanna has forgiven him, then that’s all that truly matters. So since then I have made the conscious decision to stop supporting Chris Brown.

The Chris Brown conversation is one I usually stay away from. Let’s be honest, most musicians or artists we like can be contradictory to our beliefs. We have to remember no artist is perfect. In all honesty, instead of worrying about Chris Brown we should be concerned with these young ladies who are glamorizing domestic abuse.

Where do you guys fall on the Chris Brown Debate? Do you think Chris Brown should be forgiven? Or do you think he should be blacklisted? Or could you care less?

– See more at: http://madamenoire.com/137153/everybody-hates-chris-the-on-going-debate-over-chris-brown/2/#sthash.CGQQHG1T.dpuf

If you hadn’t heard, PETA was trying to bring a lawsuit against SeaWorld, claiming that their treatment of the whales was similar to being held and treated as slaves. Yup, you read that right. Slaves. But why are we not surprised? This is not the first time PETA has done something outrageous and dare I say, random, to make their point.

Their defense was that the 13th amendment also covers animal rights. The same 13th Amendment that allowed for the ending of slavery in our country and for African Americans to be seen as people and not property.

Wyatt Cenac (remember him from Medicine for Melancholy?) mocked the lawsuit on last Wednesday night’s episode of The Daily Show in an interview with PETA’s Senior Vice President of Communications, Lisa Lange. You can tell throughout the interview, Lange was taking it seriously, even after Cenac bought up these questions:

“I mean, it’s not like you’re just exploiting the history of the enslavement of black people in this country for publicity, right?”

There was a pause by Lange, and she never really answered the question.

But civil rights activist, Elaine Brown, did, and she wasn’t having any of that. “It’s a cruel and racist joke. If there is animal cruelty than it needs to be checked, but animal cruelty does not rise to slavery.”

PETA filed the lawsuit on behalf of the five orcas at SeaWorld in the fall through the U.S. district in San Diego. They felt that the whales “were forcibly taken from their families and natural habitats, are held captive at SeaWorld San Diego and SeaWorld Orlando, denied everything that is natural to them, subjected to artificial insemination or sperm collection to breed performers for Defendants’ shows, and forced to perform, all for Defendants’ profit. As such, Plaintiffs are held in slavery and involuntary servitude.”

The lawsuit was thrown out on Feb. 8 by U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey Miller. As shown in the video, the PETA spokesperson still believes this was a landmark case and hopes this could be bring more cases to court. Delusional or passionate?  You can decide.

Animals are amazing creatures and should never be abused, but was this taking it too far? To compare trained killer whales in SeaWorld to slavery? Of course it was. To some, in fact, many animals are in better shape at zoos or parks, rather than out in the wild because they’re most likely to be killed by hunters and poachers. At least SeaWorld can give them a safe home and allow a great learning tool for children.

At the end of the day, can these organizations stop comparing everything to slavery? It diminishes and tries to make a mockery of what actually happened in history with foolish incidents like this. Not cool, not thought provoking. Just disrespectful.

– See more at: http://madamenoire.com/138424/peta-compares-the-treatment-of-killer-whales-at-seaworld-to-slavery/#sthash.uYB4pjTm.dpuf

Chris Rock bought up a very interesting point this past weekend at the 84th Annual Academy Awards. Why aren’t actors of color given the same range that many white actors get in terms of animation work? We can ask the same question about movies in general, but looking at just animation alone, white voice actors tends to play a vast array of characters no matter what the race is (The Princess and the Frog anyone?).

Here is what Rock said before he presented the award for Best Animated Movie:

 “I love animation because in the world of animation, you can be anything you wanna be. If you’re a fat woman, you can play a skinny princess. If you’re a short, wimpy guy, you can play a tall gladiator. If you’re a white man, you can play an Arabian prince. And if you’re a black man, you can play a donkey or a zebra. You can’t play white? My God!”

Rock’s reference was to him voicing a zebra in the animated movie, Madagascar and Eddie Murphy’s role as Donkey in the Shrek series of course.

Thinking back to all the animated movies I watched as a kid after hearing what he said, I decided to do some research and started looking up the voice actors from some of my favorites. For example, the two lead actors who provided their voice talents to one of my most beloved animated films as a kid, Aladdin, were a white man and a white woman.  Aladdin and Jasmine are supposed to be of Middle Eastern background, so why couldn’t the studio get Middle Eastern actors to voice these characters? Ironically, the woman who sings as Princess Jasmine’s is a woman of color, Lea Salonga-Chien. And even though Jason Weaver (from Smart Guy) was given the chance to sing as young Simba in The Lion King, Jonathan Taylor Thomas (remember him from Home Improvement?) was the voice for the cub a majority of the time (and Matthew Broderick was the adult Simba). Dang…who do you have to kill to get into A Bug’s Life or in the Toy Story franchise!?

I never fully realized how many characters of color were voiced by white actors. For instance, the few black voice over actors (and there really are few) either play the token black character in the film, a sidekick animal (Eddie was also the small dragon Mushu in Mulan) or some other inanimate object. The Princess and the Frog and The Lion King were one of the few times I knew that black actors had the a variety of roles (even if one was a monkey and the James Earl Jones’s Mufasa was killed off early). White voice over actors are given a range of characters to voice of all different backgrounds. With that in mind, you would think that would be an easy lane for someone of color to pick up a j-o-b, but it almost seems like black voice over actors and voice over actors of all backgrounds and color may not actually be needed…

Do you feel what Chris Rock was saying?

– See more at: http://madamenoire.com/141393/chris-rocks-oscar-speech-uncovers-lack-of-roles-for-actors-of-color-in-animation-too/#sthash.qVLHMOII.dpuf

A recent campaign on Facebook called, Who Needs Feminism? has sparked some controversy all over the web. Originally started by 16 women who attend Duke University, they created this campaign to combat the negative images that resonate with people when they hear the world feminism:

“Identify yourself as a feminist today and many people will immediately assume you are man-hating, bra-burning, whiny liberal. Perhaps a certain charming radio talk show host will label you as a “Feminazi” or “S**t.” Even among more moderate crowds, feminism is still seen as too radical, too uncomfortable, or simply unnecessary. Feminism is both misunderstood and denigrated regularly on a broad societal scale.”

Inspired by a Women in the Public Sphere course at Duke University, these 16 young women have decided to fight back and teach people what they believe it truly means to be a feminist.  The idea that many people believe we don’t need feminism anymore is frightening. Women are still degraded and objectified in the media, women are still not given equal pay even though many exceed most men in education, women are still being told what they can and can’t do with their own bodies. Simply put, we’re still getting the short end of the stick.

What I really like about this campaign is that it allows women and men who are usually not the face of feminism to have a voice. Middle class white woman have always been the main vehicle for feminism, which has somewhat excluded women of color, queer identified people, and transgender people.  I also like that men are entering into the conversation, because feminism isn’t about the equality of just women, but men too.

Even now, when you ask people what they think a feminist is, they will most likely think of some radical white woman who doesn’t shave and hates all men. When in actuality, people like me, a 21-year old black female in college, identifies as a feminist/womanist.

As great as feminism is, why do women of color have to create another movement to gain recognition? Why is it that in 2012, we still have to question this? As a young black feminist, I sometimes find myself outside of the conversation. I attend the meetings of my college’s feminism group and the lack of faces that look like mine is staggering. Many women of color either feel feminism isn’t for them and/or feel that the issues that pertain to them don’t get addressed, so they wonder why they need to get involved.

It’s nice to see college students take the initiative to tackle an important issue, I just hope in the future that more young black women will feel confident enough to call themselves feminists.

Do you believe we still need feminism? Does feminism play a part in your life?

– See more at: http://madamenoire.com/164563/who-needs-feminism-black-women-and-men-have-a-face-and-voice-in-viral-campaign/#sthash.8u4Txwak.dpuf

Let’s be honest, black women have been brushed aside in the comedy world forever. We just don’t seem to get the same respect as our male counterparts. However, it’s nice to see that there are ladies out there, on television, in web-series’, or doing stand-up comedy where they can prove that black women are indeed funny.

While everyone’s waiting for the next Chappelle’s Show to come around (by Dave or anyone else that could be his replacement), wouldn’t it be great if it was by a woman?

Here’s my list of funny black women doing their thing right now, low and high on everyone’s radar:

– See more at: http://madamenoire.com/139202/funny-ladies-8-black-comediennes-working-in-the-business/#sthash.HQ1tlh4r.dpuf

I was having an interesting conversation with some friends on whether women truly put their close male friends in the “friend zone.” For anyone who doesn’t know what the “friend zone” is, according to the always hilarious Urban Dictionary, it’s the following:

“What you attain after you fail to impress a woman you’re attracted to. Usually initiated by the woman saying, “You’re such a good friend”. Usually associated with long days of suffering and watching your love interest hop from one bad relationship to another. Verb tense is “Friend-ed”.”

Ironically, most of the other definitions on Urban Dictionary paint this similar picture:  that men are the sole victims to being looked at as just friends by the women they care for, but who don’t happen to feel the same way back. Or what I would call victims of unrequited love.

The way some people perceive the “friend zone” bothers me because it’s usually only implied to men. Most movies and TV shows present men who feel they are victimized in some way because they didn’t get to that next level with their romantic interest and because she didn’t share his feelings.  Just because you buy a woman dinner, or take her out on a date, or spend time with her doesn’t mean she’s automatically required to either sleep with you or become your significant other and immediately feel the way you do.

I’m not saying that there aren’t people out there who take advantage of men’s kindness, because that would be a lie. We can all probably find a time where we’ve accidentally or purposefully played with someone’s emotions, but to think that it’s only women who do this to men? That’s my problem with the perception of it all.

I’ve been friend zoned plenty of times. I’m either too cute or too sweet to the guys I’ve found myself interest in, and I’m always someone’s “kid sister” or “one of the guys.” Guys have given me some indication that they were interested in me, but then after they get what they wanted,  be it physical, emotional–whatever–they have pulled the “You’re great and all, but we just don’t have that spark. We should just be friends.” There have been guys who I’ve liked, but their only interest in me was to be friends and they never tried to lead me on and “play” like me in a romantic sense. As much as it might happen to men, it definitely is something that women go through just as much, and it might even be worse. Whether the man in the picture gets what he wants from you (be it companionship, someone to vent to, etc) but says he “doesn’t look at you that way” or not, being thrown in the friend zone isn’t something exclusive to one sex, despite popular opinion that paints women as heartless maneaters.

What am I supposed to do if someone doesn’t like me? Make them like me? Uh, no thanks. And it’s funny, because if a woman does it she’s a crazy psycho, but if a man does it, he’s a hopeless romantic. Thank you romantic comedies such as, 500 Days of Summer and Just Friends, for proving this point.

Rejection isn’t easy for anyone, but at the end of the day if someone genuinely doesn’t like you and was honest about it, what can you do? If people had more open and honest surroundings, it would create for stronger relationships and friendships. So while Urban Dictionary and others might like to play like women always rarely know what they want, use men and then play them because they’re “too nice” and would be better used as friends, men get down the same way…

– See more at: http://madamenoire.com/125745/confessions-of-a-woman-put-in-the-friend-zone-its-not-just-for-men-anymore/#sthash.RIZE8hov.dpuf

It’s nice to see a young black women my age doing something productive with their time, especially creating a community that supports positivity amongst black women. In the media it seems like black women in particularity are always tearing each other down, so it’s nice to see there are people who fighting against the stereotype. Blogging platforms like Tumblr have created great spaces for black women to come together and celebrate everything that has to do with being black and woman. For Brown Girls is a great example of this cross section. Showing off the beauty that is brown skin girls who don’t always feel validate, especially in a European beauty standard dominated society. Colorism is a problem that is still rampant in our community, as well as other people of color’s communities.

Karyn Washington a 20 year old junior majoring in Public Relations at Morgan State University is the founder of For Brown Girls. She is a Western High School graduate, born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. At Morgan State she is involved with the Public Relations Club and outside of school is a member of Parts of Peace, a student run charity organization.

Karyn currently interns for Zoë Damacela Apparel as a social media intern while running and maintaining her own blog as well. She is the founder of For Brown Girls a project created to uplift and encourage females with darker skin complexions to feel confident. The ultimate message is to promote self-love along with self-acceptance. Karyn believes that when you become truly comfortable with yourself, you are then able to uplift others and embrace your purpose in life.

I was able to interview to Karyn. Check out her story:

When did you start up For Brown Girls?

The blog was created in June of 2011 by my cousin and I. Later on, we decided to go in separate directions and I carried on with the blog, started the site and continued to build the brand on my own.

Why did you start up FBG?

When the blog was initially created, my cousin and I were dealing with self-esteem issues relating to our complexion and we would vent to each other.  Through talking it out and building each other up, we felt better but also didn’t like the fact that we were even having these feelings to begin with. We also realized that other girls may be going through the same thing and wanted to use Tumblr as a means to vent, encourage others and overcome. Since then, I have gained a greater passion for the cause and helping others. I have dedicated my time, money and efforts to building and developing the brand. I very much enjoy running the blog because I feel like I am making a small difference. I want to encourage and inspire girls to overcome this complex about their skin color. I want to help all girls with a darker skin complexion feel confident and comfortable in their skin. To hear that even one person was blessed by my efforts ,that they were inspired or that something on the blog made them smile, makes it all worth it.

Who are some of your favorite celebrity ‘brown girls’?

“Brown Girls” whom I admire and who inspire me would have to be Oprah, India Arie, KeKe Palmer, Andrea Lewis, Bre Scullark, Aeshia Devore Branch, founder of TeenDiariesOnline.com, Maya Angelou, Kerry Washington, Gabrielle Union, Michelle Obama, Iyanla Vanzant and Amber Riley.

Has your site ever gotten any hate mail?

I wouldn’t say the site has received any “hate mail” per say, but a question I have gotten quite a few times is why it’s only for girls with darker complexions, excluding lighter skin as if FBG is some sort of clique. At times, it is frustrating only because I feel that my efforts can be taken in the wrong context. My purpose is to build others up, not to bring anyone down. My answer to them is just that- and that “for” also means “in support of.” Anyone, no matter age, shade or gender is welcome to view and share on the blog. I’m sure most are aware of colorism and I know it can affect those who are light in complexion too, but I can only relate from my experience, and that has been being a girl with a darker skin complexion. Also, there are instances of people thinking I don’t want to claim being a black girl by calling myself brown. In calling myself and others “brown girls” I am only referring to our complexion. I’ve also received submissions from girls on the blog sharing their experiences and have found some extremely heartbreaking. This further motivates me to help them change their perception of themselves and claim their beauty. What is also very encouraging are the positive comments I’ve received from young ladies, and a few times guys, thanking me for creating the blog and sharing how it is helping them. I’ve gotten positive feedback on the site and blog from men and women all ages and shades.

Do you think colorisim in the black community will eventually come to an end?

I am really not sure but am extremely hopeful. The only way to stop this cycle of self-hatred is for people to really believe that all shades are equally beautiful. The media and the home are the two biggest influencers, in my opinion, on young girls self -esteem.

Who do you considered a ‘FBG’? Some people classified brown or darker hue people/women differently, are there qualifications to being showcased on your website?

My site is for girls whose shade of brown is on the darker side of the color spectrum. For those who have been made to feel less beautiful because of the color of their skin. There has been a bit of confusion because there are light shades of brown as well but I really loved the name ‘For Brown Girls’ because even if a girl is darker skinned she is still a shade of brown. It’s like “ok she’s dark,what?” It’s funny because some people call me “brown skinned” and some people call me “dark skinned.” I used to prefer being called brown skinned over the latter, but now I can truly say I love my complexion and I don’t mind either one. I also didn’t want to use the name ‘For Dark Girls’ for fear of people getting my project confused with the documentary by Bill Duke and D. Channsin Berry of the same name. Some still do. I got the privilege of seeing the documentary when it came to Baltimore. It was excellent! I recommend that everyone go see it when it comes to their city!

Is your site just for black girls, or other racial groups such as Afro Latinas, South Asians, Middle Eastern women, etc?

For the most part, the content is geared toward black girls, because I am one, and that is how I am relating my experiences. But, I realize the effect colorism has on brown girls of other ethnicities and cultures. I make sure to post articles and pictures relating to other ethnicities that are affected by colorism as well. While I don’t specifically address them all the time, the message is universally the same: To love and accept yourself, because you are beautifully and wonderfully made. They too have possibly had thoughts of wishing have a lighter complexion to fit society’s idea of beauty.  I hope to help young girls and women overcome their insecurities. I’ve interviewed one young lady of Indian descent and interacted through the blog with a few others as well. Running the blog gives me the opportunity to learn every day so I do welcome others to share their thoughts and experiences with colorism. The purpose of this blog is to not to discriminate but to uplift and encourage, empower girls to be confident, and embrace the skin they are in. On the blog I seek to recognize beauty in darker skin, discuss experiences and share with one another (whether it be hair/makeup tips, links , articles, poetry, pictures etc.) Unity is key, especially among women. We all need to support and uplift one another.

Explain what your ‘brown skinned girl spotlight is about’?

I really appreciate those who follow the blog and support FBG. It warms my heart see to young ladies excited about the project and to hear that it makes them feel special. I created this spotlight because the blog is for them and I wanted to feature them on it! I ask the girls to fill out a short questionnaire so I and others can get to know them.  In the feature, the girls also share their favorite quote, what they love about themselves and what inspires them. They send that along with their picture to the FBG email. I then format it all in a post and feature the ladies throughout the week on the blog. I also wanted to do something a little different than other blogs which also focus on darker skinned beauty. Instead of just pictures, I want to make sure my blog has substance.

Where do you think this will go in the near future?

I would like for ‘FBG’ to be a catalyst for change encouraging self-love and instilling pride in one’s skin complexion. The movement’s goal will be for new generations of darker skinned girls to not even have one thought of wishing to be lighter, to never doubt their beauty. My hope is for this “issue” to eventually be nonexistent but it does start with us. I’m also hoping I can do my part and make a change to where , darker skinned girls know they are beautiful no matter what anyone says. I want to mentor, do meet-ups and organize events to reach out to girls. I am also working on coming out with a t-shirt line to further enforce these ideas, promoting self-love. The first T-shirt design of my collection is out right now, the “I Love My Shade” Tee. It’s to encourage anyone no matter what complexion they are to love their shade! It’s available for purchase on the site and blog.

Karyn hopes to start fundraising and getting donations for her organization in the near future so she can finance her meet ups and speaking engagements.

Check out For Brown Girls’ pages:

Tumblrhttp://forbrowngirls.tumblr.com/
Main Site: http://forbrowngirls.com/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/forbrowngirls

– See more at: http://madamenoire.com/148361/black-women-making-a-difference-via-blogging-for-brown-girls-karyn-washington/4/#sthash.SYF2mn00.dpuf