Archive | February, 2014

So What Do You Do Janet Mock, Writer, Transgender Advocate and Author?

26 Feb

by Janday Wilson

JM15-Redefining Realness (1)

Janet Mock first felt the stirrings of storytelling’s transformative power when she was a young girl in Honolulu stalking literary icons like Maya Angelou, Terry McMillan and Zora Neale Hurston in the Kalihi-Palama Public Library stacks: She knew she needed a notebook to capture the overflow of thoughts and feelings that the words elicited. Years later, after accomplishing her childhood dream of moving to New York and becoming a writer, she gained national and international attention when she shared that she is a transgender woman in a 2011 Marie Claire profile. Mock has since used that spotlight to give greater visibility to the devastating injustices faced by the trans population, availing herself of every opportunity to advocate specifically for young, low-income trans women of color.

Mock believes that the conversations facilitated by storytelling can deeply affect social movements. In 2012, her Twitter campaign #GirlsLikeUs gave trans women an open forum to connect and share their stories. Her recently released memoir, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More, is her ultimate act of storytelling thus far. “Creating this work taught me that [I am] enough, that [I] deserve to be heard and affirmed,” she said.

Mock’s recent appearances on Piers Morgan Live and the ensuing contentious debate about Piers Morgan and his show’s language regarding Mock’s trans background are a striking reminder of why she feels it is so important to educate the media and public at large about trans people. In an emailed statement about that incident, Mock told Mediabistro that, “The show framed our conversation with problematic language that showed their lack — and our culture’s lack — of understanding about trans people’s right to define themselves. It’s problematic for media professionals to use terms and words that we do not use to identify ourselves. What we must do is give people the freedom to declare themselves and define themselves.”

Read on for our conversation with Mock about her memoir and her mission.

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“Being Mary Jane” Season Finale: A Whole Lotta Crazy

26 Feb

Being Mary Jane: Season 1, Episodes 7 & 8 Recap

Saying goodbye is hard *tear* © Black Entertainment Television

“It’s not easy letting go of your dreams” -MJ *tear* © Black Entertainment Television

As my blog post title states, last night’s episode of Being Mary Jane was a whole lot of crazy. It started off sweetly enough (minus the colorism and self-esteem issues), when Mary Jane had a popcorn-and-movie-night sleepover with Niecy. But the episode took off to another level when Mary Jane learned that her friend Terrence Mitchell – the fraudulent journalist she helped expose – committed suicide.

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“Being Mary Jane” Episode 6 Recap: Reality Bites

19 Feb

Being Mary Jane Season 1, Episode 6 Recap

When things fall apart... © Black Entertainment Television

When things fall apart… © Black Entertainment Television

Last night’s episode of Being Mary Jane dumped a bucket of ice cold water on the characters, jarring them into reality. It all starts off so romantically as Andre and MJ enjoy each other’s company over a candlelit dinner. But then Andre confronts MJ about her nostalgic moment with David at the gala: “Are you screwing him? Am I his replacement?” He throws it in her face that he is breaking apart his life to be with her and she tells him that his sucky marriage should really be the impetus for that, not her.

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She Reads: “Bird of Paradise” and “How to Die in Paris”

18 Feb

she reads 1

It’s such a shame that I’m just now writing about these memoirs, considering that both have been sitting in many ‘NEED TO READ’ notes and documents on my iPhone and computer for a combined total of two years. What’s even more absurd is that after I ordered both books, I left them on my bookshelf for weeks. Perhaps I was waiting for the perfect moment in which I could fully absorb (and completely devour) them, and a snowy day a few weekends ago was it!

I had already started Bird of Paradise a few days before, but I finished the bulk of it and the entirety of How to Die in Paris in one day. There was something so enchanting about spending the day fully engaged with the meat of two peoples’ life stories. I laughed and cried and shouted and gasped and went mute at so many moments while reading these memoirs and I felt invigorated after the experience. Through the process of reading about Raquel Cepeda and Naturi Thomas’ lives in their own words, I almost felt challenged to assess my own life with different eyes.

The messages in these books will resonate deeply with any reader and I highly recommend that you pick them up and dive into their worlds as soon as possible.

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“Being Mary Jane” Episode 5 Recap: The Liars Club

12 Feb

by Janday Wilson

“Being Mary Jane” Season 1, Episode 5 Recap

© Black Entertainment Television

© Black Entertainment Television

The bleakness of last night’s episode of Being Mary Jane was made all the more dark because of the few ephemeral, bright moments that occurred. As a viewer, I was almost wishing that the characters could get everything their hearts desired, but it feels like they already made their deals with the devil. So unhappiness is the price that they’ll have to pay.

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“Being Mary Jane” Episode 4 Recap: No, BET, We Do Not Want To Be Mary Jane

5 Feb

by Janday Wilson

“Being Mary Jane” Season 1, Episode 4 Recap

© Black Entertainment Television

© Black Entertainment Television

This recap is dedicated to that completely perplexing commercial that was aired during last night’s “Being Mary Jane,”  which promoted a Twitter campaign encouraging BMJ watchers to share the reasons why “#iammaryjane.” Wait a second. I need some time to dismount my high horse. I kiiiiind of get where BET was going with this one. Mary Jane is a complex person, as we all are. Everything living on this planet has flaws. No one is perfect. Now with that said, though I do not hate Mary Jane as much as it appears many of my fellow BMJ watchers do, I would be DAMNED if I came out and said that I am Mary Jane. I do not want to be her. Let me count the ways based off of this episode:

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