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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Summer Discoveries

This summer I spent some time at Point Pleasant Beach along the coast of the New Jersey shore. I also spent a few days in Boston, Mass., to attend the National Association of Black Journalists Annual Conference. During my time away from my day job and Arts of Cultures I found a few cultural topics hiding out in the not so obvious places and I'm surprised more people aren't having these conversations.

First topic: Where do people of color take their vacation?

During my week long stay at the beach house, I noticed that my family were the only Blacks within a three mile radius. Yes, they may have been staying in the next town over, but I haven’t seen any in the years that we’ve been renting this spot.

The consensus amongst my peers is that Black Americans take their vacations a little differently. They either don’t take them at all, they go to their family reunion down south, they take a week long cruise or they just pack up the family for a day and head to the beach. Why? According to my knowledgeable buddies, the average Black American family doesn’t have the resources to take a week long hiatus. I beg to differ but the way my friends broke it down made perfect sense.

I’ll be sure to share with you in an upcoming post after I ask a couple more people of color, which includes you...How do you vacation? Is it really a cultural thing?

Another topic: Are you ready? Because it’s quite cliché…Even though the United States has a Black president, racism still runs throughout the free world. See I told you it was cliché. What isn't a cliché is that Black film director, Justin Simien, made it a point to address racism in the movie, Dear White People - a satire about being a black face in a white place.

During my time at the NABJ conference, I had an opportunity to attend the screening of Dear White People. Part of the movie mirrored what we’ve been seeing in the news of race themed parties being held at predominantly white colleges throughout the U.S. I'm sure you've seen some of the Black face postings streaming through the feeds of Facebook and Twitter.

I've added this to my list of Films of Color to see. So stay tuned for my critique on this one…Right now, I’m still trying to find the right words to say without offending my Caucasian colleagues. In the meantime, check out the trailer below and get on Twitter to see what people are saying about #DearWhitePeople, which hits theaters October 17.

The Ultimate Topic of the Summer: One of my favorite discoveries was brought to my attention when I ran into friends during my summer break. We started to compare stories about the town we live in and how diverse it is but still racially divided.

The conversation ventured into being Black in the workplace. Yes, I am one of the few Black women in the newsroom, which is an uncomfortable challenge at times. My friends, who are an interracial couple (wife from Dominica Republic and husband who is Black American) then said, "You've got to read How to Be Black." Say what now?! How to be what...Black? Then it dawned on me that I did hear about it when the author, Baratunde Thurston, talked about his book on the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC during Black History Month. (Take a listen)

I just so happen to find the book in my little "diverse" town of Montclair, N.J. So far, Thurston has me laughing out loud on the train during my daily commute. He also makes me think long and hard about particular issues in Black culture.

I'll keep you posted as I flip through the pages of this New York Times Bestseller. Keep an eye out for my answer to when I realized I was Black. Do you recall when you discovered you were black? OK, maybe you're not Black. So answer this ... When did you realize that there was a difference? Taking answers now...

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