It was just last year that Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, and a few others were boycotting the Oscars due to few nominations to African Americans. Social Media enthusiast even coined a hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. Hollywood A-listers including George Clooney, Reese Witherspoon, and Don Cheadle also proclaimed a need for greater representation in the film industry. Movies such as "Creed", "Concussion", and "Straight Out of Compton" were slighted from the Oscars with literally one nomination apiece.
According to USA Today, "In the Academy Awards' 88-year history, only 14 black actors have won acting Oscars — the first was Hattie McDaniel for Gone With the Wind in 1940, and the last was Lupita Nyong'o (who was born in Mexico) for 12 Years a Slave in 2014. The winners' pool is even shallower for other minorities. "
There is no doubt that African American's are vibrant, talented people of many different facets. For years, many have debated that the roles we tend to play in movies downplay who we are as a people: slaves, cooks or other typecast roles. After all, those tend to be the one's Hollywood glamorizes the most; the ones that win awards. The 2016 Oscar boycott must've shed some light on the major issue of diversity and inclusion in the film industry because 2017's Oscar nomination list looks quite colorful.
In celebration of 2017 being a great year for the African American film industry and it being Black History Month, I present to you: 28 Must See African American movies! Whether you are in need of a laugh, a sappy love story or some reassurance of how magical black people are, you are sure to get your fix with one of these. Grab some popcorn and enjoy a new movie each night of February!
At the request of readers, I included a few more of my favorites!
Dear Newly Engaged Folks of 2017,
There are so many things I want to tell you about this period of your life, dun dun dun, the engagement phase! Congratulations first and foremost. Many will say marriage is not an accomplishment, but I think it is still something to be celebrated as it is a dawn of a new day, the premiere of a new movie, a page of a new chapter. It's exciting and exceptional all in the same! You should be so happy, anxious, curious, stressed, joyous, grateful and so many more emotions that come with merging your life with your person. He or she is yours and you get to have "the sun and Jake" as Olivia Pope from Scandal alluded too. P.S. let me just tell you, you will encounter a little bit of scandal/ drama here and there. Don't believe the married folks that say they've never heard of such! They are sitting on Pandora's box!
Anywho, I do have some suggestions to you about the growth you are about to experience! I have some tips and tools from some of my married girlfriends that are sure to help you make the wisest decisions. But, I want to start by telling you to choose yourself in this process. I think that's what my fiance has always loved most about me. It's not in a selfish way, but I wanted to be as prepared as well as I could to merge my life with him! Don't get me wrong, we've talked marriage since we met seven years ago and talked from dusk until dawn on Christmas Eve, but I have always told him about my goals and aspirations and I've put my money where my mouth is every time! He gets it! He, actually, promotes it! When I say I can't, he says, "Oh but you will!" It inspires him too! When I got engaged, my sweet sorority sister said to me, "I'm just so happy that you did so much for yourself before this period. You guys have done long distance. You've stood your ground on some stuff. You've learned the do's and don'ts. You've changed careers a few times. You've lived!" P.S. I'd like to relay this advice to my single gals too! Before you seek a ring, chase your dreams like Martin Luther King!
My favorite part in Scandal was when Olivia said, "I'm choosing me. I'm choosing Olivia. And right now, Olivia is dancing. Now, you can dance with me or you can get off my dance floor. I'm fine dancing alone."
Now, you'll get your fair share of marriage advice from old ladies, divorced folks, me and my man against the world type folks, the Stepford housewife type folks, the real housewives franchise type folks and so much more. Trust me, I know, I'm still engaged too, just almost done planning and closer to jumping the broom. Beware, at the end of the day, it's God, him or her and you!
Engagement is not the end of anything. My fiance and I still refer to each other as boyfriend and girlfriend sometimes and we laugh and laugh about how beautiful our evolution is and how beautiful our lives as one will be. It's literally amazing! It's a Godsend. Now, is the time for you to grow even more and learn how to help and accept the manifestation of who you are morphing into each day and who your partner is morphing into!
Becoming the best you does not mean that you are not showing submission or interested in becoming one with your partner. Don't let anyone tell you that either! It will bring you closer and it will further foster some teachings and learnings between the two of you. From my experience, my fiancé and I are ridiculously competitive. We will have a full-fledged argument over who's losing a board game. I once asked him if I could borrow some money in the board game, Life. He said no and I promise, I was ten year old girl again. Ask our friends or my cousin, Toni, they'll tell you that's when we bring out the best and worst of each other. I get a little live like Channel 5 and he does do too. Thereof, when he see's me striving to be the best me that I know how, hes pushing for the same thing and vice verse! I LOVE HIM EVEN MORE WHEN HE'S HARD PRESSED TO BE THE BEST!
Lastly, this is a series of all the advice I want to give you! While you get ready to face marriage counseling (I highly advise), advice from many directions, countless self-help books to choose from, wedding planners left and right, noisy bridal shows, overwhelming time crunches, body-image wars, tv shows that tell you who to be on your special day and so much more, I want to remind you to focus on you! Quiet the noise. Take it one step at a time. Grow with your new engagement glow! Life is good and getting better each day!
Mrs.Sweet To Be:
Jasmine Katrina Hockett
Alex and I when we were 19 and 20 up until now!
They say love lives in strange places. Well, I’d say friendship does too. The relationship that President Barack Obama has with his VP Joe Biden is one that makes us all smile, laugh, and cry. It’s that same relationship that Forrest Gump had with Bubba in one of America’s favorite movies. It’s the kind of relationship that festers in fellowship and genuine greatness through trials and triumph. We all enjoy watching it because it transcends all: race, demographics, and antagonism. It’s real. It’s what we want in our own friendships.
Here are two men who I’m sure to share a lot of the same sentiments, but also differ in so many ways. They’ve nearly got a 20-year age difference. If you know anything about generational differences, this could open up room for a whole different blog. One of the main conflicts that happen in the corporate world are derivatives of this same factor. It’s the dinosaurs vs. the spring chickens. Companies host seminars and workshops to combat it. However, 55-year-old, President Barack Obama, and 74-year-old Joe Biden seem to merge the gap. I can imagine that they’ve shared parenting advice once or twice and political rhetoric pointers here and there. I can imagine after disappointments that Obama faced, Biden was there to say, “Been there done that.” I’m not quoting. I’m just gloating on the genius of a friendship that encountered an age gap and survived. It worked!
Moreover, the two come from two different educational backgrounds. Ivy League vs. Non-Ivy League. Yes, your president, Barack Obama did graduate from Columbia University and Harvard University. Meanwhile, Ol’ Joe was the friend that traveled the opposite road attending the University of Delaware and Syracuse University. In 1987, he told the New York Times: “In his statement today, Mr. Biden, who attended the Syracuse College of Law and graduated 76th in a class of 85, acknowledged: ‘I did not graduate in the top half of my class at law school and my recollection of this was inaccurate.’”
From my experience having a few Ivy-league-graduate friends and myself being that of Ole’Joe, we have an interesting exchange of dialogue and debate that I appreciate! However, we genuinely enjoy a night out on the town with endless laughs and memories our ancestors would croak over about. One of my Ivy-League friends even left Law school at Harvard to go to Colombia because he said it was too stuffy. Perhaps the proposed exchange of the “serious student” and “class clown” helped elicit the many photos of the Obama and Joe laughing and the countless memes that kept us all entertained. P.S. I was the class clown and serious student.
Lastly, ethnicity. It’s clear to see that Barack Obama and Joe Biden may be different races, but they transcended that too! Furthermore, they transcended race relations even though they experienced them in two different skin tones and even different time periods. They showed the world that its okay to talk with your brother from another mother. They showed the world that if we work together, we can win! No matter the background, no matter the economic stature, no matter the other many details that we can come up with, let’s identify our common goal and work it out. Do the right thing.
In the words of Brody Jenner, this is what “Bromance” looks like! All politics aside, you’ve got to respect this relationship!
It was 2008 when I cast my first presidential vote. In 2011, I ventured off to D.C to intern for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and Congressman Steve Cohen of Memphis, TN. I didn't know a host about politics, but I was ready and willing to learn in all capacities of the arena. I was enrolled at George Washington University in a political science management program with students that look like poster kids for a picture perfect America- DIVERSE. We taught each other through healthy debate. We grew up together. Some of us became best friends!
I can tell you that my experience would've looked and felt quite different under another administration. I am thankful for the Obama Administration. In 2013, I attended President Obama's second inauguration and the official ball. The room was filled with love, happiness, and stardom! And HOPE! Of course HOPE!
For my generation, this administration has opened doors and shaped our dreams. Our aspirations. Our lives. Oh, and our marriage goals! Today, on the blog, I bring you my best friend's letter to her boss, President Obama. Yes, she worked for him in real life! Moreover, she worked as a compliance manager for the DCCC. She, too, was an intern on the United States Capitol Hill. She, too, was an intern for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. Meet, my best friend, Vania Kinard in a poetic letter that was published on Medium.
Cue the victorious music or Buzz Lightyear's theme song because we're going to need it. You see, this is only the beginning.
Dear President Obama: Thank you for the honor of servingBy Vania Marie Kinard
I had the great fortune to work on your 2012 re-election campaign in the Compliance Department. I began my journey in politics when I moved from my hometown of Highland Park, IL to Washington, D.C. in 2008 to attend college. After graduating with a degree in Politics from Catholic University of America, I immediately joined the campaign. It has been a great honor to be one of the youngest staffers to serve under your leadership. I am thankful for the opportunity to join the OFA family and I am incredibly grateful for all my fellow colleagues who have inspired me along the way.
My career in politics has always been driven by my family’s history. On my mother’s side, my great grandparents moved their family from Mississippi to the south side of Chicago during the early days of the Great Migration. My great grandparents were born in the 1910's and they lived as poor sharecroppers. They barely spoke about their education because they were never afforded the opportunity to continue school past the second grade. Growing up, they would tell me stories of life as a poor family in the Mississippi Delta. At a young age, they were limited to tending the farm and working in the fields picking cotton. Although they lacked education, they desired change and had the will to move forward!
My father’s family history in the military also influenced my career in politics. I grew up with a great grandfather who served in the United States Army in World War II. My grandpa, followed by my father and older brother all served in the United States Navy. My younger brother, Wesley, is currently carrying the family tradition serving in the Navy stationed in Japan on the USS Ronald Reagan. All my life I have looked to my family as an example of how to dream, believe and achieve. They showed me how to be disciplined, courageous, genuine, respectful, and gracious. As a family, we have lived and traveled all over the world, making our home in Guam, California, and Illinois. I am proud of my family’s legacy and I am continuously motivated by their strength to persevere.
The day I was chosen to join the Obama for America family was one of the greatest moments of my life. I was proud to carry the spirit of my own family into this new life chapter of working on the campaign. It has always been my dream to carry the family torch, serving my country. The past eight years have been life changing in all the best ways for me. I went from a college student interning on Capitol Hill with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation to becoming a Compliance Manager for the Democratic Party before I was 25. In September 2015, I was invited to greet Pope Francis and welcomed him to the United States on the first day arriving in the country. Since then, I have traveled to 45 states in the US and several countries, including Israel. I’ve taken the lessons that I learned on the campaign and transformed my life into the visions of my ancestors.
I am truly honored and humbled to have contributed to the campaign. I cherish your vision and leadership. I am beyond appreciative of all the advice you have shared with us on this incredible journey. You have changed my life. I am forever grateful for your words of wisdom. As a woman of color, I can not help but appreciate the impact of First Lady Michelle Obama on my life. Her passion, beauty, grace, and presence transcends time. As I’ve traveled around the world, I’ve witnessed the praise and admiration for the first family. I’ve seen the past eight years transform the lives of so many people around the world, including my own.
It has been the highest honor to be among the new generation of inventors, creatives, and future leaders that follow your legacy. Thank you for taking the dreams of my ancestors and making them a reality. I’m excited to start a new chapter, expand my territories, and be a positive shining light for years to come.
May God Bless you and the United States of America!
Vania Marie Kinard
It's the beginning of 2017 and a revolution of energy has sparked within each of us. We are ready to be our new selves tonight! We feel like Tina Turner after she left Ike or Beyonce when she belted out "I'm a Survivor." Some of us feel like Angela Bassett after she burned up a car in the movie, Waiting to Exhale! Without a doubt, we are ready!
If you are reading this blog, you are already embarking on a journey to a better you. The energy you have will naturally die down, so you've got to build your foundation now. It's now or never people.
Let's face it, working out gets boring. A random craving for a soul gratifying meal will come. There will be a day when you don't feel like going to work. A time will come when you've climaxed and started rolling down the hill like Charlie Brown and friends. That is okay. My sister once told me to find my center. A personal trainer I had before told me to work most on my core. Friends, your core can be a lot of things by way of your body, mind or soul. I strongly suggest being neutral to all these components. Hence, solidifying your core. When you get ready to roll down that hill, don't worry because you can get back up! Charlie Brown always did anyway! Ha!
I suggest to you to water your garden. Live yourself some flowers, Laugh at yourself. Smile at yourself. Talk to yourself. Read aloud to yourself. Build your core.
Last year, two of my friends bought me books that are helping me continually grow: (1) Daily Gratitudes: A Journal to Record The Good Things In My Life (2) Jesus Calling.
I never realized how much I had to be thankful for until I started writing it down. When I first cracked open this book, I just stared at it and wrote very shallowly what I was thankful for as if I deserved the world. Wrong. It forced me to dig deep and really see and understand the who, what, why and how of being thankful. It strengthened my core! Book #2 gave me a better sense of God's presence. Its devotionals are written as if Jesus himself is talking to you! The author, Sarah Young says, "I have written from the perspective of Jesus Speaking, to help readers feel more personally connected with Him." So the first person singular ("I," "Me," "My," "Mine) always refers to Christ; "you" refers to you, the reader." If you are anything like me, sometimes deciphering biblical language can be a challenge. I, actually, still utilize my teen study bible!
If your New Year's energy has compelled you to run to the bookstore, I encourage you to add these two to your lists! Perhaps, even buy them for your friends. We could all use some core practice. Even, those with a six-pack have to continue to work! Having this strength will enable you to slide down the hill and get back up again.
P.S. If you have trouble finding what you are thankful for, here's a list to get you started!
Thank you for reading! Happy New Year! 2017 is yours!
The things I write about are the love of my life and the life of my love!