Visuals

Tracee Ellis Ross: 10 Times She Made Us Swoon

It’s #WCW and we’re crushing on Ms. Tracee Ellis Ross (the real question is, who isn’t??). Ross, who currently stars in Black-ish and made us love to tolerate her character Joan on Girlfriends, is someone we admire for always staying true to herself. While we have mused over her before, we want to show some extra love to this Scorpio queen celebrating her birthday on the 29th! Here are countless 10 outfits of hers that we just love.

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Essays

#MeToo: My Story of Resilience

[Trigger Warning: This letter contains graphic descriptions some readers might find personally disturbing. Discretion is advised.]

Dear Dream,

It’s your senior year of college and you are confused. I apologize that I cannot assure you any relief in the coming months or years but I know how you feel. You feel trapped. You feel scared. But most importantly, after a lifetime of defiance, you are actually feeling the pressures of an unjust society and “the real world” in your life. You may not know this but you soon become a statistic albeit not one that may occur to you right now. My dear, you will be sexually harassed.

It won’t be at work, it won’t be at school. It is somewhere you almost always lets your guard down, in favor of relaxation. It will be on the bus, at your bus stop. And it won’t be someone you suspect or can easily avoid, like a leering business man or that guy with the ponytail that makes an effort to sit next to you whenever he sees you. It will be the bus driver. Not just any bus driver, the “nice” one who sits and talks with you about poetry and politics. Like most predatory men, he hid behind a façade of kindness to gain your trust before trying to take advantage. To you, his compliments mean nothing but unbeknownst to you, he takes your uncomfortable polite smile as sexual interest, not as the manners you are accustomed to showing people of older age.

The incident will be Labor Day weekend. You will be wearing a miniskirt, perfectly suited for the hot weather that accompanies the final days of Atlanta summer. He will feign interest and try to make conversation while you wait for your mom to pick you up. He will pretend he is being watched or listened to and push you further away from the crowd. In all the peculiarity, you will follow but not by choice but because he is pushing you. He is bigger and stronger, 6 feet tall by estimate. You are 5 feet 2. You will be perplexed. And once everyone is out of sight and earshot, that is when the ordeal will begin.

The next part is the hardest part to write, little me, because the violation that ensued will never quite feel like it wasn’t violent. When you think of it, you will close your eyes, trying to erase the feelings of his hands on your body. You will pause when you talk about it, trying to recenter yourself and reacquaint yourself with reality. You will need a moment, deep breaths just as I needed when I wrote this and later when I typed it. It will stay with you, like a stain or bruise. You will remind yourself that now is the easy part. It happened but it is over. But not for you, not yet.

He will suddenly position himself behind you. Kiss his toothless mouth to your head and cheek. Then, he will press his penis into your back, a move you will gag over later. His hands, like a viper, will move under your blouse and try to move under your skirt. His hands will squeeze as they reach your breast.

During the first few seconds of the ordeal, you will freeze. Olivia Benson of Law & Order SVU says this is normal. You will feel like you never freeze, especially during critical moments like this. The truth is, though, you did because you are blaming yourself. In your mind, you should have said you have a boyfriend. You should have questioned him more. You shouldn’t have been so polite. You should have screamed. You should scream now.

Instead, you fight. You try to push his hands off of you, you attempt to move away from him. You gear your elbow back to defend yourself. But he is stronger than you. You will blame yourself more and more. Do not worry, it will end almost as soon as it started but not before another one of his disgusting puckers hit your head. You silently continue to blame yourself even after it is all over. Let me assure you, just as Olivia Benson assures the victims, this was not your fault. No matter what you may have done, you did what you could. You did what you felt necessary to survive. And you did. You survived.

In my humble opinion, what saves this entire ordeal is what you did next. Instead of carrying it in shame, you tell. You share the story on Twitter, on your Snapchat, much to the dismay of your then kinda-sorta beau. You call your friends. You text them. You tear the veil of silence so many end up carrying. That is your saving grace. Some semblance of self reinforced your decision making here. I want to thank you for this. Your voice, our voice almost completely shed the burden of blame. It saved me. It saved us.

In the coming months after the attack, you will not call what happened to you ‘harassment’. In your eyes, it was nothing short of assault. It wasn’t an inappropriate stare or a knee touch with a lewd suggestion. It was an intentional, sexually motivated, non-consensual physical attack to your person that left you feeling violated and vulnerable in the worst way. You were preyed upon, you were targeted. Some people might attempt to ‘correct’ you on this but do not let this deter you. This experience didn’t happen to them– it happened to you. You have a right to call it as you see it.

The one criticism we will carry is the choice not to report it. You definitely know he deserved reprimand. But out of a strange sense of racial obligation and with your own guilt and victim blaming bias, you hesitate. You think, who will believe you? You were wearing a mini skirt. You didn’t stop him from moving you away from the crowd. You didn’t scream. Who will believe you? You settle on not reporting it but it leaves an odd taste in your mouth. After all, you can still feel his hands on you. Even now. It is the decision I struggle to grapple with but I recognize that you had a lot to deal with. You didn’t need the added stress of a report, a follow up investigation. An emotionally abusive ex, a cheating boyfriend, launching a media platform plus Dr. Barthlow’s & Dr. Welch’s classes and volunteering. You had a lot on your plate. I understand your choice to not pursue the issue. But it will still keep you up at night. Especially since your brother’s friend admits she only narrowly escaped his claws. You will wonder how many other girls he has and/or will hurt. If he continues to use the ruse of an innocuous bus driver. If you could have saved any other girls from your pain. Understand this: this choice is not an easy one for anyone. It is alright not to report it. It is alright.

I know you are wondering why I am writing this. To tell you the truth, I struggled with this decision. No, you don’t owe your story to anyone for whatever reason. No, you don’t have to justify anything to anyone. That is not what this is. This is… catharsis. This is a release. This is speaking truth to power. This is your hammer swinging against a wall of bullshit patriarchy, out there in the real world and even inside you. This is a declaration, a line in the sand. But even this is secondary to the real reason: this is a message of unknown strength to who you are and who you will be.

Yes, right now, you are hurt. You are vulnerable and scared. Rightfully so. But at the end of the day, you are resilient and powerful beyond your wildest dreams. Know this. There isn’t a man who can stop you from anything. His hands will haunt you but it is over. You are past it. You have survived. You will always survive. Above all else, remember that.

With the utmost love and respect,

Dream M.

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Moodboards

Power Pose | Fleurish Fall Moodboard

As the seasons change, we like to stay prepared to strike the right pose. Dressed in shades of our favorite fall colors, strutting is the name of the game. We’re into silhouettes that make a statement as soon as you walk in the room: capes with tall leather boots, (faux) fur and/or vinyl in fun colors, rich hues, and pantsuits that pack a punch. This fall, it’s all about stepping into your power and being as fearless with style as only you know how. Strike a power pose and go conquer the world.

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From the moment that I realized one could use the internet to watch fashion shows, I have been doing so. And despite the hype and pretension, I still have a desire to attend fashion week in the future. However, my longstanding love for fashion week waned as I learned more about social injustices – and saw them reflected on the runway. Reading accounts by black models of how difficult it is to have their hair properly styled or even being turned away because well-known designers aren’t “casting black models this season” disinterested me. I realized that I had been in love with an entity that never really saw or understood me.

In recent years, there’s been a shift and NYFW has become more inclusive. This September (a.k.a. Fashion Month), I appreciated the diversity in terms of race, body type, gender identity and age on the runways and in presentations. This diversity on the modeling side has restored my hope for fashion week’s future, yet I was reminded that we still need more designers of color. I was dazzled by the designs of my longtime favorite Cushnie et Ochs and rooted for Shayne Oliver’s Helmut Lang debut, but my total count of designers of color came up short.

I am doubly disappointed to be underwhelmed by this season as a whole, but my love for the art persists. All of the above photos are my favorite looks from the season thus far (hover over image for designer credit). When reviewing runway shows, I ask myself: do I like this only because I would wear it? Also, can I separate my respect from the artistry from my desire (or lack thereof) to wear it? Answering no to the former and yes to the latter is ideal. Here, I’ve tried to strike a fine balance between being fair and wanting certain pieces for myself. I just really want a lucite briefcase in my closet ASAP and to see more black and brown designers going forward.

Visuals

The Highs and Lows of Fashion Month

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Essays

The Divine Sisterhood That Saved Me

“Keep Your Head Up, Keep Your Head Up. Whenever this life gets tough, you gotta fight with your homegirls standing your left and your right. True blue and tight like glue.”

Living Single is probably my favorite sitcom ever. If you’re unfamiliar with the iconic sitcom, it’s based around four black women and their two male housemates, living together in their Brooklyn brownstone. Successful, black and living in a non gentrified Brooklyn, the women were inspirational to me. They were black women who had fruitful careers, real conversations with each other and a friendship that could not be broken, no matter the circumstances the world threw at them. They were grown but they were still just figuring it all out with the help of their friends (albeit sometimes unwarranted). Just as their creator, Yvette Lee Bowser, had intended, the foursome’s interpersonal dynamics was real, intense, frank and funny. My sophomore year of college, I almost planned my entire schedule around its showings on TVOne. That’s how much I love Living Single.

But despite my exhaustive efforts, it seemed that I could not recreate those same relationships in real life. In terms of friends, I was mostly alone. I had friends but I found myself profoundly detached from them, no matter how close I believed they should be. I was infamous for falling out with best friends. Truth be told, I didn’t think I needed them when it was all said and done. I rationalized, “I came into this world alone and caskets don’t have bunk beds.” Their presence was never a given so I learned how to be alone. I supposed I wasn’t as invested as I thought but either way, it didn’t really matter to me. It wasn’t until I found myself truly alone that I changed my mind. Continue reading

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Jams

(late) summer of love

June and July flew by and, at this point, we are doing our best to enjoy what is left of this summer. Remember our summer bucket list? There’s still time to accomplish those goals and more; let our summer of love playlist be the soundtrack to your endeavors.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/playlist/late-summer-of-love/idpl.u-55D66M1TxZRvBD

*The Apple Music version has a couple tracks that weren’t available on SoundCloud. Enjoy!

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Fleurish Five

Fleurish Five: Summer Solstice Edition

Shanté

Happy Wednesday! It’s the beginning of the summer solstice, which means we’ve officially entered Cancer season (and we’re one step closer to Leo season, but I digress). The last month or so has been about introspection for me and I foresee this continuing during the summer. I’ve been getting all of these signs that it’s time for growth, so I’m embracing the summer solstice as a time of continued reflection and maturation.

Summer Solstice Ritual

Delving into my spiritual work is very important for me at the moment; I’m working on trusting myself and my intuition. Per my mom’s influence, I’m beginning a total energy clearing decree tonight, which I will repeat for the next seven days. I’m also going to continue my daily self-care rituals: eating foods I enjoy, listening to music, drinking water, and spending time outside (usually with my crystals). The literature and daily insights of other femmes of color is also highly recommended!

WCW/WCE

I believe that society’s collective Gemini hatred is unwarranted. So many of my faves are Geminis and that includes one of my #WCW, Kelela. I’m celebrating her as we exit Gemini season (although have my sister tell it, it extends to the full month of June). Here’s Kelela, looking alt-babe AF in a recent Niijournal feature.

kelela nii journal by campbell addy

credit: Campbell Addy

I’ve got love for my Cancers too; my other #WCW is Cancer queen and Fleurish fave, Solange. She’ll be celebrating her birthday on the 24th. Also, I’m super excited that she will be performing at Afropunk in Atlanta!

giphy

credit: Robin Eisenberg

Cleo | Charlotte Dos Santos

I’ve talked about Charlotte Dos Santos here before and how much I enjoy her music; she decided to bless this solstice by releasing her debut EP. It has a few songs that I’ve already grown to love and more that I will have on repeat this summer.

Dream

It’s the beginning of summer! I am in a finally hot, sticky, sweaty New York City and I wouldn’t have it any other way– Although I will say, not having ubiquitous central air has certainly humbled me. Summer and I have a deep affection for one another and no matter how many bad ones I’ve had, it never seems to sour. For me, the solstice marks a kick off of endless sunsets and great experiences. Vive el verano!

Rooftop Garden of Met

Only open when the weather permits and most likely hella crowded even then, I had the lovely pleasure of going to the rooftop garden of the Metropolitan Museum of Art when my friend visited last month. I expected to think it was cool but it never expected it to make me “feel”. I have always said NYC feels different, it vibrates some special frequency and at the top of the MET, our vibrations met once again. The museum is on the outskirts of Central Park and from the roof, the skyline and the park. It’s definitely a must see, must experience quintessential summer view. Here’s my pictures from when I visited. I promise you it feels amazing up there.

 

“Why Don’t We Fall In Love” | Amerie

I’m pretty sure one of everyone’s favorite summer jams but when you’re from the Northeast, I’m sure this song is more special to you. When I hear it, I can feel the icee man with his helado cart, I can hear the screams of the kids playing the streams of the water from a re-appropriated fire hydrant, the jingle of Mr. Softee and loud streaks of the train. Of all the summer classics, it’s the one that most reminds me of roller skating at Riverbank and watching summer sunsets from the train. Even though Amerie doesn’t quite agree, this is the song that makes me want to bust out my short shorts.

How are you welcoming in the summer solstice? What are your summer must-haves? Let us know on Twitter @fleurish1994!

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Fleurish Five

Fleurish Five: 5.20.17

Shanté

1. That post-grad life.

This time last year, one of us was a college graduate and now both of us are! The day I walked across that stage was the day I felt relieved. My spirit felt lighter and I felt ready to move on. In fact, the day after I finished my finals, my mom did a card reading for me and the first card related to acknowledging that a chapter in my life (in this case undergrad). Through that, I realized that I needed to actively relax after 5 years of school and not move right into something else. Since then, I have been putting in the (light) work to grow on many levels. I’m beginning with decluttering my physical space (think of years of papers and texts I can now discard) and I’ll see where that takes me! As far as enjoying the summer is concerned, I’m digging the path I’m on and finding summer anthems on the way (“Crew” by Goldlink has been on repeat; DAMN. in its entirety is a summer anthem!)

2. “Cold Little Heart”

Now that summer is in, I have so much time to watch new TV series and movies. This past semester, I devoted my time to Six Feet Under. Since completing that, I have caught up on new seasons of other series and watched a few miniseries; I could only make it through the first season of American Crime, which I honestly still need to digest and discuss. One miniseries that I was convinced I needed to see was Big Little Lies. While I thoroughly enjoyed the show, the theme song really captivated me (after it grew on me). Michael Kiwanuka’s “Cold Little Heart” is a tragically beautiful ten minute track with an equally tragic and beautiful video to match (co-starring LaKeith Stanfield). I’m a sucker for long songs and the radio edit is perfect so I can’t lose either way. It’s a good song to practice singing to (or maybe just sing in the shower if that’s more your forté).

3. Deidra and Laney Rob a Train

In my summer haze of picking through Netflix selections, I stumbled upon Deidra and Laney Rob a Train. Besides thinking that it was a kid’s movie, I went into it with little expectations and really enjoyed it. It’s a somewhat satirical crime drama about life in a small town and the desire for more. What I loved was that it situated blackness in a rural area through this family but that their race was not the focus. The family dynamic is interesting (spoiler: the parents are not together anymore but co(s)mically drawn to each other) and the scenarios (robbing trains, pageantry, high school drama) were refreshing through this rural lens. The movie is light-hearted while reinforcing a notion that most kids have no idea the sacrifices that parents make to see them happy.

Dream

It is hot in New York. Hot, hot, hot. New York is crowded and on an average day, a fair amount of heat can lead to what my aunt calls, the ants. Also known as the people who don’t leave the house until they can flood the streets. But that’s what makes New York so much fun. Everyone and everything is out. I’m talking farmer’s markets, brunch spots, roller rinks, all of that. The city just vibrates higher in the heat. So my picks for the week will revolve around my new faves for summer.

4. Mario Badescu Rose Facial Spray

Yes, I admit, I jumped on the bandwagon. If you have an Instagram at all, you probably have seen this pink liquid in a clear bottle with a white label and green font. I am, in short, obsessed. I’m certainly not saying it’s a miracle product but it genuinely has helped my skin. While many contest the efficacy of it, I believe it’s all in the application. I apply after my toner and before my oil and moisturizers and it has left me radiant and hydrated each and every time. It’s perfect for summer, especially in this heat.

5. Heatstroke | Calvin Harris, Young Thug, Ariana Grande and Pharrell // Slide | Calvin Harris, Migos and Frank Ocean

Summer songs are tricky. It has to feel somewhat breezy for daytime but heavy enough for lots of dancing at outdoor night parties. These new songs by Calvin Harris feel like day drinking and brunch parties on green lawns underneath my toes, while wearing a linen sundress with all my friends surrounding parties. They’re kinda classic but new and fun like when I discovered lemon pepper wings for the first time.

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