Something about how I have been called “white” because I am a writer. Something about how I have been called “white” because of what I write about, because I write about race in weird ways and because I will also not write about race at all. There is a photo of me attached to my stories. This does not matter. Black people do not write about their lives. Other people write about black people, about blackness. Right? That is what they say. Because we view blackness as the only thing in the lived experiences of people who are black. And because really, black people do not write much of anything at all. Right? That is what they say. The singular expression of experience is rare, especially on a large stage. To write about love and beauty and joy is to not write “black.” It is to write “white.” Because love and beauty and joy are not black, not publicly, not for them. It is for me, but what value is there in my opinion? It does not fit what they know and so it must not be worth anything. And we only accept the black experience if it is sad or shameful or destructive because that is how we view blackness. Anything else must be a lie. This is what it means to be black. This is who you are. They assign these things; you must accept them.
Start with the understanding that no one or no thing can take this away from you. Don’t feel like you have to drink. Don’t feel like you have to do much of anything except for what you came there to do: dance, laugh, let the music take over. The first two are surprisingly easy. You think that you need people around you to move and yet your body is moving, swayed by the bodies around you and by the ability to be both there and anonymous. You laugh because it feels so easy. But for the music to take you over, that requires something else: the letting go.
Nearly three years ago, my mother drove me to the emergency room because I was having “something” while we drove to my aunt’s house in the far West suburbs. I was first flustered by running thoughts. I didn’t say anything, but the car felt unbearable. I unbuckled my seat belt, something that stood out to my mother. “You never do that,” she said, remembering how I feel about car accidents in particular, driving in general. And then I don’t remember much after that. I know I had one of the worst asthma attacks of my life. The next day, out of the hospital, I got my first manicure. This sounds stupid; I realize this. But the woman working at the shop said I held so much tension in my hands, that I was riddled with stiff limbs. My mother said, “Relax,” and I turned to her, horrified, and said, “What are you saying?” The letting go is the most difficult.
I finally made it to Smart Bar last night after a long evening stranded in the middle of a part of Chicago I didn’t know existed. That’s the thing about this city, about any great city, I think: it will always always always surprise you. Even when you are scared and cold and angry (all of these things I felt last night), knowing that there are pockets unlike the ones you walk by day after day can be affirming. It is a tangible form of learning, of knowledge. There is always something else to know. When your home is done surprising you, it is time to leave. A restless spirit is okay, at least for right now.
More friends are moving out of the city. I wrote about this a few weeks ago, coming to a point of acceptance. We are all different people with different desires and needs. They need to go. I need to figure out myself. A change of space will not change that. A change in perspective will. If that can only be achieved with a new city, I feel like I have failed myself. I feel like I am instead running from the truth, from the core insecurities and truths I recognize, but do not want to address. A city does not cause me pain. I cause myself pain. I run from these emotions. I am hidden. And I don’t want that anymore. Today a friend said that I was “judgmental,” but what I really feel is that I see bits and pieces of my worst self in others, and I call out what I can not face.
I worked to pull out my ID and in front of me, groups of teens tried to get inside with fake IDs. I couldn’t help but smile. I too understand that feeling of needing to be there, to know what is happening down below, upstairs, inside … anywhere but outside in the reality of the chilly night air. Yes, I’ve said that we are all different people with different desires, but some things feel more universal than others. That curiosity, the peaking over the fence … that feels true. They want to know. I want to know.
I meant to create this post a couple of months ago, but time got away from me. Perhaps that was a good thing as it allowed a couple of new and brilliant sites to pop in. This is a list of the tumblrs I currently love. It’s a mix of culture sites, style resources, personal blogs, music blogs, and everything else. Hope you find something you enjoy!
A fantastically curated selection of the underground in house, techno, and UK garage. This has become a great resource for sounds I rarely hear on the mainstream music sites. The creator(s?) are clearly in it for the love of the music and a deep desire to share, meaning only the best stuff gets through.
It feels pretty rare now to still find new music blogs that actually write about music and yet The Soul Electronic has eagerly not abandoned this style. Each song or musician (electronic based, natch) is carefully chosen so posts are more sporadic. But it’s worth the wait.
If you understand the title of Melanie Yap’s tumblr then you’ll understand what kind of music is featured on it. Her love of disco, funk, classic r&b, and quiet storm is reflected in her perfect video, song, and picture choices. It’s not nostalgia when it’s the music you grew up with and still love.
Besides having a great love for some of my current favorite sounds, StayGlued creates some of the best mixes out there. They gave me a proper introduction to post-dubstep (before that I was just listening to a handful of artists, but mostly focusing on house and techno) and for that, I will be forever grateful.
I am the sort of woman that follows and greatly appreciates a James Blake fan blog because I will be 16 forever.
Joanne McNeil is one of my favorite people ever and this new Tumblr project is super exciting. Joanne has a way of understanding and breaking down the intersection of art and technology unlike any other. Internet of Dreams is a compendium of the ways in which we use and adapt the internet. If that sounds broad, that’s the problem. There’s so much good stuff happening here I don’t know where to begin!
Rarely a day goes by without me mentioning something about Chicago, whether good or bad. This page is a good collection of vintage photos and other ephemera of the city … a reminder of how far we’ve come.
Alternative Girls of Color (NSFW)
I wish I had this site when I was 17. The next couple of years would have made a lot more sense. Or at least, would have felt a little better.
So this site is supposed to be aimed at teenage girls and yet I read it because we never stop growing. We never stop needing to love ourselves, stay confident and proud, acknowledge our hardships and move past them.
You know how much I love The Paris Review, how I’m always quoting from it (and perhaps how I’d like to write for it). Anyway, one thing I appreciate about their tumblr is that unlike other media and print outlets, they don’t just endlessly spam their content. And even if they are sharing their content, they do it in a way that is conducive to and in understanding of how Tumblr “works.”
Created by some of my favorite people in the game (including my friend Ernest Wilkins), Peak Blackness is a tumblr-documentation of moments of #PeakBlackness. They are still on the hunt for the ultimate moment of #PeakBlackness and in my head, it somehow involves Michelle Obama.
A fan site for people like me who are nothing short of obsessed with Scandal.
I named Trill Wave Feminism my favorite thing on the internet in 2012 for the Bygone Bureau and they have yet to be dethroned for 2013. A perfect mix of imagery, GIFs, videos, quotes, and other media, Trill Wave Feminism is the feminism I grew up with and the feminism I understand.
Largely written by black people (I assume), this blog is difficult, yet important. I’ve always advocated for blacks (especially young blacks) finding a means to express their thoughts, even if they are not what we want to hear. For the post part though, I really appreciate and understand a lot of what is written, especially from when I was younger.
I’ve been following Zana Bayne’s career for years now. Her Garbage Dress blog was one of my daily browsing stops and her style continues to reign as an ultimate source of inspiration. For this tumblr, she uses looks from Game of Thrones to reference contemporary designer collections. Basically it’s perfect.
A menswear boutique in Chicago. But also, I love Gallery Aesthete’s tumblr because of their love of black and white and their attention to detail. It’s not just about fashion and the pieces of clothing and accessories featured on the page are captured in a way as to showcase the artistry used to make them.
A great collection of featured images and videos from their site, plus a few original posts incorporating their own content with cultural people in the news.
Created by the amazing Alesia, Brown Beauty Things is a resource for ideas, tutorials, and tips concerning make-up and beauty for brown women. I first wrote about it when the page premiered and months later, it still charms.
Perfect and girly.
This is another brilliant project and one of the reasons why Tumblr is sp great as a tool for visual, artistic, and collaborative projects. Who Wore it Better aims to present associations and common practices in contemporary art. It’s also genius. No big deal.
Andre D. Wagner’s stunning photographs of city life and portraiture of friends and himself stun me time and time again.
I’ve featured Sarah’s photographs numerous times on my blog for their depth, beauty, and youthful romanticism. I only wish my life was as interesting as the ones she captures around her.
Chantelle Nash’s photographs are frequently featured on my blog because of her pointed subject matter. In many ways, they feel like a loving response to ideas of black femininity, strength, and fierceness. Her eye is an important one.
I think about all of the music writers online and how they all seem to be a part of this impenetrable click and then I think about Jamieson who seems to love and write about music in a really accessible, organic, and fun way. This is why he’s one of my favorite music writers. His “A Shot of Jamieson” podcast is also choice!
Crystal is truly another one of my favorite young music writers and her writing is born out of a true love of music. Sometimes I feel like music writers like to listen to a lot of different types of music just so they can write about it. You know? That thing of acquiring music rather than appreciating it. Crystal is NOT like that (IMO) and thank goodness. Such a breath of fresh air!
Jamie is one of my favorite people, with perfect taste in fashion and pop culture. I love a good slice-of-life tumblr reflecting one’s interests and Jamie’s is one of my favorites.
Rebecca’s quick thoughts, reblogs, photographs, and personality makes her tumblr so compelling. I frequently find myself favoriting most everything she posts.
Blanca Mendez is utterly brilliant. A Chicago-based writer, her taste in music, pop culture references, and love of Selena Gomez made me an instant fan.
Perfect snapshots of personal tastes and beliefs. This is a blog I consider the perfect example of how Tumblr is “best” done.
Basically she says everything I wish I said and posts everything I wish I posted. Perfect quick thoughts, pop culture references, and a love of Diana Ross instantly captured my attention. Can’t. Stop. Loving.
Yolanda! I want you and the world to know that your Tumblr is fantastic. First, because you adapted the name of one of the most important animated characters of all time. Second, because of the mix of personal reflection and pop culture imagery, news and commentary.
Dicks for Girls (NSFW)
Pretty self-explanatory, but ultimately important? Basically, I am here for beautiful men and beautiful beards.
Some of my favorites. Adorable. Duh.
Actually, this is the most perfect tumblr to ever tumble. Everyone else should just call it quits.