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Financial Commentary for Bitch

Article: “Dollars, But No Sense”
Publication: Bitch Magazine
Date: Summer 2008

“Pass the tissues! Why you should have a good cry at work!”

Pulling the April 2008 issue of Marie Claire out of my mailbox, I felt my eyes roll skyward. Since when does crying at work stand in for legitimate career advice?

Unfortunately, warped ideas about women, careers, and money have plagued most of the major glossies, resulting in them eschewing factual information for superficial advice, safely swaddled in discussions of relationships and feelings—you know, safe topics that girls like.

And yet, the demand for female-oriented financial advice has never been higher. Suze Orman’s latest tome on women and money, Women & Money, was given away for free on Oprah’s website; 2.2. million copies have been purchased or downloaded in the year since the book was released. Women-focused business magazines like Pink and Bee have emerged to tap into the women entrepreneurial market, often serving up advice on personal finance alongside tips on taking your company to the next level. Blogs like Savvy Sugar talk career and personal bankbook-building, as well as delivering information on global trends in business and economics. And targeted magazines like Essence and Heart and Soul have been promoting financial advice within their pages for years. Magazines geared specifically toward black women have long known that financial advice is a selling point, often advertising on the front cover each issue’s piece on money. The April 2008 issue of Essence announces that you too can “Be a Rich Black Woman;” the previous month’s issue deployed the cover’s left side to entice its audience to “Make More Money.”

Mainstream women’s glossies just don’t seem to have caught on. While men’s magazines (not the porn kind) often offer solid financial advice, women’s magazines are still more interested in telling you how to spend your money rather than how to grow it. The male/ female coverage divide is best exemplified in two articles, one from Marie Claire and one from Maxim.

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TV Commentary for Vibe

Article: “The Cruelest Mirror” Publication: Vibe Magazine Date: April 2010 If the squawking housewives, ex-crack addicts and love triangles all make us cringe, why do we the people still tune in to Black reality TV? We love to hate The Real Housewives of Atlanta. So says the stats: 2.7 million viewers during the season two

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Love It/Shove It For Bitch Magazine

Article: Oprah’s Body is Now Public Conversation – But What Are We Really Talking About?
Publication: Bitch Magazine
Date: Spring 2009

“I can’t believe I let this happen again!”

The headline screamed at me from across the bookstore. On the cover of her eponymous magazine, a sweats-clad 2009 Oprah Winfrey looked with dismay at a recreation of her trim 2005 body. The second line announced: “Oprah on her battle with weight – a must read for anyone who has ever fallen off the wagon.”

Inside, Oprah details her recent diagnosis of hypothyroidism, writing:

It seemed as if the struggle I’d had with weight my entire adult life was now officially over. I felt completely defeated. I thought, “I give up. I give up. Fat wins.” All these years I’d had only myself to blame for lack of willpower. Now I had an official, documented excuse. The thyroid diagnosis felt like some kind of prison sentence. I was so frustrated that I started eating whatever I wanted—and that’s never good.

The article garnered more than 350 comments on the O Website, with words like “evil,” “fat,” “carbs,” and “addiction” recurring frequently. The celebrity industrial complex seized on the story, with outlets like People treating the news with the same reverence as a congressional hearing, and blogs like PopWatch and Perez Hilton snarking their way to higher page views. And The fat-o-sphere added its voice as Kate Harding of Shapely Prose and Mo Pie of Big Fat Deal tried to nudge Oprah toward some semblance of body acceptance.

And yet, in the media cacophony of opinions and unsolicited advice, there was one topic that on which everyone seemed silent: the role that race—and perhaps more specifically, stereotypes about race and weight—play in the interpretation of Oprah’s battle with her body.

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“Where Did Our Angst Go? Teen Espirit Revisted

Written for Spin Magazine, August 2011

In the wake of Nevermind’s historic spew and cry, the world embraced the dark side, and then it didn’t. Will it ever again?

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” started as a joke, was misinterpreted as a revolutionary message, became recast as the ultimate alienated teen anthem, bloomed into a successful crossover hit, and ultimately caused no end of grief for the band that created it. In a sense, Nevermind’s most famous single is a Greek tragedy played out over 16 bars.

Fittingly, Nirvana’s ascent to pop stardom and enshrinement in rock history occurred at a specific moment, when America’s disaffected youth inherited a terrible economy, a trashed environment, and shattered fantasies of nuclear families. Appearing against this backdrop, Nevermind was an album crammed full of angst, inner struggle, and contempt for the society that had pushed America to the brink of collapse. As song after song from the album entered heavy rotation on the radio and MTV, Nirvana reached millions of people who saw themselves as outcasts, and who began to sense some sort of redemption in the bass line of “Come as You Are.”

Unfortunately, while Nevermind has endured as a musical achievement, the widespread disquiet that allowed the album to penetrate society so deeply appears to be over. Agitated, introspective, ambiguous lyrics flickered prominently in the pop mainstream, but were totally eclipsed by the end of the 1990s, when the relentlessly peppy sounds of boy bands and teen queens began to rule the charts. The idea of pondering the wider world in a pop song fell away as the Internet’s seductive pool encouraged young narcissists to drown in their own reflections. Bland smiles replaced wry smirks.

So what made skepticism, political awareness, and soul-searching so uncool? And what happened to the lost generation that related so intensely to Nirvana? In order to figure out why teenage angst “paid off well,” as Kurt Cobain put it post-Nevermind, but then virtually disappeared from pop culture for 20 years, we need to start further back.

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Moving Right Along…

Racialicious is keeping me busy, with installing ad networks and website stuff. Plus, my managing editor is down a computer and working overtime, so most of my energy has been spent trying to cover as much as we can on an extra limited time frame. ONA is also rolling right along – hopefully, you’ll see

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New Stuff!

Haven’t been keeping up with what I am writing (bad Toya!) but some things I’ve done recently: At the Guardian: Oprah – an American icon However, Oprah doesn’t quite get her due when she does, occasionally, veer into controversial territory. In the post-September 11 fervour, she bucked the national trend toward war and retribution, instead

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New Year, New Work – Blogging, New Focus, The Root, NPR, The Guardian

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So, it looks like this will be my new blog for personal updates, since I no longer feel like maintaining Racialicious and a whole other blog about my life.

The new year is off to a great start – tomorrow, I will talk a bit about my theme for this year: reinvention.

Already, new things are popping. Been working on the shiny new redesign of Racialicious, a new header for here, a new business model, and a new crop of special correspondents. But since 2010 went by in a blaze of work, I am also committing to having more fun this year, and taking more time to nourish myself. Changing out of my Eeyore pajamas more than once a week. Actually doing my nails and hair. Reading for pleasure. Slowly savoring a cup of tea. You know, things that go out of the window when you look at a pile of deadlines and a small window of time.

But no more! 2011 is going to be different.

In the meantime, here’s what I’ve been writing that isn’t on Racialicious.

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