One of the reasons we love Tiffany Haddish so much is that she keeps it all the way real. Like, really real. So we wouldn't expect anything less when she went on the Ellen DeGeneres show the other day and got to meet the Queen of TV Ms. Oprah Winfrey herself! Let's just say that the ugly cry was in full affect, and it's nice to see that dreams really do come true! Congratulations Tiff!
One thing we can say about the film Black Panther (now the #1 movie in the WORLD) is that it's bridging a long over-due gap between Africans and African Americans. To see the movie is to be proud of where we come from and that's just facts. As an African American woman who grew up with an affinity for the continent, and is raising two little girls with my hubby from Cote D'Ivoire, it's a world that has always held interest for me. So when I stumbled across an article in this month's Glamour magazine where Black Panther star Danai Gurira talks about what it means to be "Zimerican" (she was born in Grinnel, Iowa to Zimbabwean parents and moved to Zimbabwe when she was around 6 or 7 years old), I was all ears. Here are a few things that stuck out from her essay that old fans (Walking Dead is still her day gig) and new fans, will enjoy!
Danai says that she didn't find out that her real name was Danai, which means "to be in love" or "to love one another" in her parent's native Shona language, until she was five years old. Before then, she'd only been called by her nickname Dede. Of this discovery she says,
"A typical little girl with cool cred to uphold, I wasn't too into this other name. It sounded weird the way my mom pronounced it, her African cadences freely flowing, her tongue pulled to the back roof of her mouth as she said the first syllable like a d, but not really, her mouth wide as she pronounced the a and I at the end of this strange new designation."
So like most kids who want to fit in, Danai wasn't having having any of it and kept Dede as her name of choice. It wasn't until she and her family moved to Zimbabwe a year later that Dede now became the weird name. On top of that, as Danai grew into adolescence and began reading about the likes of Toni Morrison, Alex Haley, James Baldwin, MLK and Malcolm X, a consciousness started to build and along with it came a new desire...
"I started to connect the dots around why I was rejecting my people's cultureal markers and the dominating effects of Eurocentric culture. All of a sudden I needed to lay claim to what folks had fought and died for me to have- the freedom to speak my own language, my own name."
From then on, Dede would insist on being called Danai, and a confidence in her authentic self was born. She says that embracing her real name has been a major influence on her life and career from the stories she tells (like her Tony-nominated Broadway hit play Eclipsed), the characters she plays (like her star turn as a general in an African King's army in Black Panther), and her activism (Danai co-founded the nonprofit Almasi Arts, a Zimbabwean American dramatic arts collaborative).
"The irony that American greats helped bring me to this initial awakening doesn't go unnoticed by me. It's what makes me what I am- Zimerican, I call it. Both Zimbabwean and America resonate in me in equally significant parts and can't be extricated from each other. Right now both countries sit at defining moments: America faces political division and a crises of leadership, and Zimbabwe is finding its footing in a transition of power after decades under one man's rule. I've never felt the weight of my biculturalism more intensely. All I know to do is remember who I am and be ready to participate, as my full self: Danai Jekesai Gurira- a Zimerican."
You may have seen beautiful, Brooklyn-born actress Keesha Sharp lighting up your television screen on shows like 'Are We There Yet,' 'American Crime Story,' and currently 'Lethal Weapon,' since early 2000. But you may not know that when she's not doing her acting thang, she's spending time with her Boo thang doing this!
Young, Ivorian artist Latitia Ky is someone to watch. Using hair (yes hair!) she's creating beautiful, thought-provoking images to spread body positivity and draw attention to the subtle and not-so-subtle ways that we body shame young girls. Here's a story, in her own words, taken from her IG that may have you thinking differently about some of the ways that you may be body shaming a young girl without even knowing it.
I never struggled with my body, I always liked it. What I never liked were the comments. In relation to my body I have big boobs, which is not the problem even if I'm not always happy with them. People might think, I should be and even if I am very Ok. with that the most time, it's not always funny. When i was younger (about 14), many people, especially women called me a whore, for just having them. I often got told that I am too slutty and my shirts are too sexy. The thing is, i never wore anything the others don't, just normal shirts, it just looked different on me. People won't belive how many adult (in my case women) assault young teenager girls. When you are 14 and haven't even thought about sex, being a "whore" really confuses. In the other case for the men you're also just boobs, nothing else. It's the only thing they can see.
I don't dress nondescript, I don't want to. I can't see why I should dress very careful just because anybody feels attacked by my body. I wear what I like, and I do what I like, not to impress any men, not to be "sexy" for society. I do it just for me because I want to.
Commenters could definitely relate...
--"I feel this story personally because I know what it feels like even though I am only 14"
--"It's nice to know that people experience and have experienced the same things as me at such a young age... People think I'm "asking" for attention when all I want is the opposite. I've been going through this since I was 11, and it's been getting worse recently. I'm slowly learning to love myself and accept myself for the way I am."
--"I've had similar experiences my whole life and its nice to hear I'm not alone. I've been told such things even from family members and its shocking and it hurts. My whole life I've heard stuff about my body because I'm curvier and honestly this whole series us amazing. It's such a blessing to hear that other people understand and have been there too."
--"You’re amazing!! This art brings me joy and I even share with my 9 year old daughter!!"
Latitia also writes that she was shamed in her teens for being too skinny.
"Does she eat?" "I feel like she's going to break," "she looks like she is sick" "she's awful."
"When I was 18, a lot of things changed for me. I have met, discovered people and experienced events that helped me to love myself as I am, and this growing self-confidence in my physicality has affected my entire life. I started to dream, to have projects and to believe that i was able to achieve them despite my limitations.
Read more of this extremely intelligent young woman's posts on her instagram page and share them with a teen who might need to hear what she has to say!
Were you body shamed as a teen for being too skinny or too developed?
Ain't nothing like an adoring dad, and when that dad is none other than sexy ass Idris Elba, well, we all gotta stand up and cheer- Go Daddy! Idris's oldest daughter Isan, who has been a staple with dad on the red carpet since she was a little-itty-bitty-thang, recently turned 16 and dad posted her the sweetest instagram note EVER, and reminded us why they are one of the cutest daddy-daughter pairs we've seen in ages! Click the link for more photos of the two. You're welcome:-)