Streaming, Salons, and Lingerie–A Black Business Spotlight

BlackandSexyTv.com

Founded by Numa Perrier and Dennis Dortch, this streaming service lives up to its name. Albeit most of the shows are about sex,  the blackandsexytvplatform though is not raughy or even risque, but depicts the under-discussed questions and conflicts that arise our sex—whether celibate or sexually fluid. All shows have a predominately, if not all, black cast, and focus on black young adulthood.

Shows include: Sexless, Build-a-Boo, Broke and Sexy, RoomieLoverFriends, and Ok Cupid (amongst others)

Membership is $5.99 p/m

swivelSwivel App

Despite the influx of black hair care products and natural hair stylists, finding a salon and stylist as a black woman (or man) remains a challenge. Swivel, founded by Jihan Thompson and Jennifer Lambert, is designed especially for “women of color.” The app allows users to put in their hair type and desired style to find salons that specialize in their texture and style  ambitions.

Each featured salon also had an online portfolio (instagram) and customer reviews.

Nubian Skin, The Naked Collection

Started by founder Ade Hassan, Nubian Skin provides nude lingerie nubian-skin-naked-collections-2017-tonesfor black women. The company has recently launched a new line called the “Naked Collection.” The collection, consisting of intimates from body suits to panty-line less undergarments, feels like skin. I can attest to the soft, high quality fabric used, and the comfort it garners even the most traditionally uncomfortable lingerie.

P.S.: All products are easily washed and maintained at home.

Prices range from $15-$48, with a flat shipping rate of $9.99—which Is pretty good given all products ship from the UK.

This post is not sponsored, but reflects my desire to aid black commerce by spreading the word :-).

Black Power ❤

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Why OWN’s Checked Inn Checks all of Boxes in Positive Black Portrayal

Typically, black portrayal in white media proves a medley of stereotypes. From the welfare mother, to the jezebel, the mammy, the buck, tom, sapphire, and tragic mulatto, the black body remains confined to the caricatured imprisonment of the oppositional gaze.

OWN’s new series Checked Inn strikes a new chord in black representation. The series focuses on black power couple Monique Greenwood, Glenn Pogue, and their daughter Glynn, as they operate Akwaaba–a bed and breakfast named for the Swahili word meaning “welcome.”  Greenwood, a former editor and chief for Essence magazine, left corporate America to pursue her dream of operating a bed and breakfast.  590880cd140000e409a9d027

The business started in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn, with the purchase of a Brooklyn mansion and has now expanded to four additional locations in DC, Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New Orleans. Having stayed at the Brooklyn location numerous times, I can attest to Greenwood’s masterful eye and ability to espouse hospitality and elegance. The product of a black couple married for almost thirty years, their business, like their show, is a personification of black excellence.

Here are a list of positive portrayals from the show:

  1. The portrait of black women donning their natural hair dos: Monique  
    Greenwood the black woman who owns and operates Akwaaba, dons a natural hairdo. This illustrates that assimilation dissolves when you work for yourself. I also appreciate seeking the numerous black women featured on the series, from the staff to the guests, also donning natural hairdos.
  2. Personifying a Black Business that “looks” black: One of the most valid critiques of black business is their dedication to seeming “universal.” Thus, It is heartwarming to see that Greenwood employs an all black staff. Greenwood illustrates the premise of black business, not only to place money in the black community, but to employ black people.     
  3. Positive Portrayal of Black Men: From  kind and gentle Akwaaba owner Glenn Pogue, to Chef Shawn, to the male husbands who come to Akwaaba to reconnect with their wives, Checked Inn features a mass  black male portrayal that counters the negative portrayal seen throughout the media. In a world where black men are portrayed as habitual cheaters, innately violent, vulgar, and insensitive, it is a pleasant surprise to see black men portrayed as they are—royal.

 

4. The Various portraits of black love: Owned by former Essence editor and chief, Monique Greenwood, Akwaaba a bed and breakfast proves a platform for a weddings, couple reconnection, girlfriend getaways, and solo escapes. The series features all of the above, but it is especially resonant in its pleasant portrait of black couples.

Viewers witness a couple who recently lost their teenaged son suddenly, find comfort in their community following their unimaginable loss. This image is powerful because it lacks the presence of a white savior, instead proving that blacks can be their own hero.

I would negligent to not point out that the black savior borders a resurrection of the “mammy’ figure in one episode where Greenwood plays advisor to a non-black couple engaged for eleven years. Given that black businesses post integration will entertain non-black clientele, the choice to feature this on a series seemingly centered on black entrepreneurship, illustrates the issue with black presence on a white media.

Nevertheless, this criticism is a reflection of the transition from real to reel, and not of the empire Greenwood and Pogue have built. In the same breath,  while it is certainly a joy to see the positive images that compose Greenwood’s daily life featured on television, the true praise goes to Greenwood for making this portrait of black excellence a reality long before making it to reality television.

….

Akwaaba– while a beautiful property with mouthwatering breakfast and a charming Jacuzzis– is most resonant as a black business owned by a black family not seeking economic capital, but the sentimental capital in bringing joy to others and creating a space for black people.

Cheers to a second season and many more years of weddings, vacation stays, girl’s weekends, and couple reconnections!

Which Akwaaba will you stay in, in 2018?

Black Power! ❤

Eat This Not That: Unveiling Food Appropriation in the Black Community

Appropiation is perhaps one of the greatest areas of distress for the contemporary African in America. From Iggy Azalea as a hit making rapper, Angelina Jolie as the epitome of luscious lips to Kim Kardashian as the portrait of round derrieres, black people witness their ridiculed attributes celebrated on whites and non-blacks. While appropriation is typically aligned with clothing and body types, appropriation also extends to food.

Eating is a central part to every culture. We eat to celebrate our tragedy, triumphs and new additions. To the African in America, food is not only a source of entertainment and comfort, but a personification of our ability to make something out the nothing allotted to us by white male hegemony.

However the “soul” of our food is now in the hands of our oppressors, in a guised manner. The white or non-black ownership is often concealed as an effort to appear a black-owned. This appearance is a strategic means to suggest authenticity, and exploit black community. The following list unveils NYC food establishments that were perhaps originally black owned and become subject to new ownership or those who only appear to be black owned to veil appropriative measures.

 

Eat this: Melba’s            melbas_v4_460x285
300 W. 114th St., New York, NY 10026

Started by former Sylvia employee Melba Moore, Melba’s is a cozy, classic and tasty Harlem staple. Known for her Eggnog Waffles and Strawberry Butter, Melba’s offers original spins of traditional dishes in a chic ambiance.

Recommended: Fried Catfish and Eggnog Waffles

 

or This:
Billie’s Black now B2 Harlem             billies
271 W 119th St, New York, NY 10026

Within walking distance from Melba’s Billie’s offers a less formal atmosphere with unforgettable dishes. The fried catfish is to die for, and the mac and cheese is a unique twist to the soul food staple. Billie’s also offers jazz on weeknights for additional ambiance. The owner is often on site greeting each table personally, sharing the story of following her Grandmother’s passion and naming the establishment in her honor.

                                                              Recommended: “Crack “ fish

 

amyruths.jpgNot that: Amy Ruth’s
113 W 116th St, New York, NY 10026

Once black owned, Amy Ruth’s is now under white ownership. Since its acquisition the establishment has expanded, raised its prices but deceiving  maintains it’s original menu (with Amy Ruth on the front) and entrees (named after prominent black figures).

 

Not This: Harlem Tavern

Owner: Gareth Fagan, Sheri Wilson

harlemtavern

2153 Frederick Douglass Blvd

New York, NY 10026

Located alongside the subway, its bustling crowd reflects a gentrified Harlem.

 

 

 

Eat This: Streetbirdstreetbird

Owner: Marcus Samuelsson 

2149 Frederick Douglass Blvd

New York, NY 10027

An 80’s feel in contemporary Harlem. Self-seating but full service

                                                                            Recommended: Hot Sauce, Catfish, Waffles

or this

Lolo’s Seafoodlolos

303 W 116th St
New York, NY 10026
b/t Manhattan Ave & 8th Ave
Harlem

A homemade feel with casual dining. Caribbean spice in the heart of Harlem.

 

                                     Recommended: Pom Pom Shrimp and Jerk Chicken

 

Eat this: Red Rooster      

Owner: Marcus Samuelsson

rr.jpg

310 Lenox Ave
New York, NY 10027

Red Rooster offers a larger setting than most of its soul food counterparts and soul food seasoned with the medley of cultures that compose the black diaspora. Red Rooster offers live music, dim lighting and somewhat smaller portions for a hefty price. It is also worth mentioning that Rooster, unlike its soul food counterparts exhibits an abundance of white dinners that compose the majority of the dining experience. This abundance undoutedly  betrays its surrounding gentrified area.

Recommended: Chicken & Waffles and “The Cake of the Day” (varies by the day)

 

Eat This: A Taste of Seafood    

Owner: Sheila Thomas          410_Live_-_a_taste_of_seafood
59 E 125th St, New York, NY 10035

Started by a Mississippi native, A Taste of Seafood culminates a seafood lover’s dining experience. From whiting to red snapper, a taste of seafood has it all. The establishment also offers diversity in preparation, as steaming is an option for both fish and vegetables. Once a neighborhood staple and “hole in the wall,” it’s success garnered a new location with the option to dine in.

Recommended: Fried Shrimp, Whiting, Mac and Cheese, Yams

manna-s-by-nightNot This: Manna’s Soulfood

Owner: Betty Park
54 E 125th St
New York, NY 10035

Black workers, Black cook. Black Patronage. All the signs of a black establishment right? Wrong. This business, named eerily similar to black owned establishment near Central Park West “Manna’s,” is actually owned by Korean immigrant Betty Park. This establishment has since become a chain, the flagship location located adjacent to “A Taste of Seafood.” Manna’s success is probably the best example of how non-blacks capitalize on central aspects of black culture to foster profit, a profit immediately taken out of black community.

May this post steer you into placing your black dollar wisely from New York City to your community.

Black Business Spotlight: Nude Barre

A medley of personal style and professional aspiration, stockings, tights, or hoisery- are a part of my daily life. However, despite its essential status to my lifestyle, the cost is often overwhelming to my meager earnings. This cost, while personal harmful, was also an expense outside black economics– marking its true detriment. This detriment finds its remedy in black-owned hosiery company  Nude Barre.  nude-barre-crystallized-fishnet-tights

Launched by dancer turned businessman Erin Carpenter, NudeBarre enables the darker-skinned woman to enter the “nude” conversation. Donned by celebrities from Wendy Williams to Tyra Banks, Carpenter cures the conflict faced by black women from all walks of life in finding their hosiery hue. Plagued with the decision to don a lighter shade at the exchange for an “ashy” look or the too-dark shade that borderlines blackface  Nude Barre specifically speaks to the brown girl’s experience. The brown woman bears a unique experience to colorism as her central placement on the color spectrum bears an often understated correspondence to colorism. Not bound to the extremes of “light” or “dark” the “brown” woman, in her shade diversity, is often omitted from the categories of color that commonly compartmentalize blackness.   nudebarreshades.png

Nude Barre, has 16 shades that brilliantly capture every shade. In capturing 16 shades, Nude Barre emerges as inclusive to every lifestyle previously abandoned in the exclusivity of a white-dominated society.  Nude Barre hosiery also has a spandex component that makes the tights both comfortable and non-restrictive. The hosiery also comes in a variety of styles for children and adults: opaque, crystallized and fishnet. My picks are the opaque and fishnet. The opaque issues a sheer look that is both sexy and sophisticated. The fishnet stockings are a classy take on the typically risqué fashion. The fishnet stockings, being couture to color, offer a sheer look that appears transparent to the casual onlooker. The sheer look makes the fishnets, in addition to the opaque, perfect for both work and play.

nude-barre-tights

While Nude Barre is certainly a great product, its greatness is largely a product of its creation. Made for black women by a black woman, Nude Barre offers fashion and culture. Nude Barre as a company epitomizes the beauty in blackness by demonstrating not a need for inclusion in history, but a means to write our own.

***I was not paid or asked to write this review. My efforts are sincerely a product of my belief in the product and wish to uphold black femininity.