'Light Girls': More Problematic Than Useful

Curious, but skeptical, I decided to turn to the OWN network on Monday night and watch the premiere of Bill Duke’s second documentary on colorism Light Girls, a follow up to Dark Girls—which explored the marginalization and ridicule darker complexioned Black women face.

Light Girls continued the ongoing discussion about intraracial discrimination and presented personal anecdotes from more than 200 people on the opposite (most preferred) end of the complexion panorama; interviews with lighter- skinned Black and biracial (half-Black) women, including TV journalist Soledad O’Brien, actress Raven-Symoné, glamour model Amber Rose, and “image activist” Michaela Angela Davis, among others

Since intraracial discussions about colorism—much like discussions between Black and white people about racism—seem to breed denial, cognitive dissonance and sow the seeds of discontent, I was reluctant about tuning in. Alas, curiosity got the upper hand and I had already watched Dark Girls, so I thought it only fitting that I check it out. I decided to table Sleepy Hollow until later and dove in, not knowing what to expect. Needless to say, there were several moments during the course of watching Light Girls that made me heavy-sigh in frustration.

Much like the first installment, Light Girls mostly grazed the surface of a very multilayered and often contentious issue, and focused on the more superficial arguments surrounding colorism; which is often the case with documentaries--often produced and directed by men--exploring Black female body and beauty politics (see: Chris Rock's Good Hair).


Black Girls' Night Out: Cookie Lyon

I knew it.

Let me tell y'all how much Lucious Lyon still loves Cookie (aside for the fact that he flat-out states it): Cookie thinks Jamal needs a big hit, but she feels he can't write it himself; it's just not his style.  So Cookie visits an old family friend, Dwayne "Puma" Robinson (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), who gives her a song he wrote years ago.  It's a song about Puma's unrequited love for Cookie, which Lucious never really took to and couldn't musically tweak (in part, due to a jealousy which never went away).

Cookie gives the same song to Jamal who, being the genius that he is, plays a rearranged version for his father (after a hilarious family dinner, I might add).  The look on Lucious's face...no words, y'all.  No words.

The nature of this development is very Sun Tzu; Cookie is learning just how much her ex-husband still cares for her, while simultaneously confirming what's she suspected all long.  Lucious's biggest gripe with Jamal isn't his sexuality (though it's still major point of contention, mind you).  It's the fact that Jamal's musical talent is vastly superior to his own.  Lucious is washed-up, living on minimal borrowed time, unable to craft a good track anymore (see the pilot), while Jamal is still young, healthy, charming, and ridiculously gifted.

For people who are complaining that Cookie's role is becoming limited to throwing shade and wearing flashy outfits, they're not seeing the layers of Empire.  They see the fun and outrageous Cookie, but not the clever, insightful Cookie.  Need I remind folks that this woman went from a being penniless ex-con to a millionaire overnight?  No run-of-the-mill, loudmouth hoodrat can do that, children.


Black Girls' Night Out: Cookie Lyon


For starters, let's give a round of applause to Empire getting a renewal after only two episodes.  Damn, Lee Daniels!

While folks pretty much agree the second episode wasn't as good as the pilot, we still learned a lot about the characters on Empire this week.

Last week, Cookie had the moving scene where she surveyed her ex-husband's office and realized just how far her $400,000 took him.  This week, she goes to Lucious's classy mansion and does the same.  While talking with Lucious, Anika interrupts wearing only her underwear (having been fully dressed only a moment earlier).  Ladies, I thought that not only was her behavior tacky and childish, but a mistake.  Anika is clearly threatened by Cookie (as well she should be), and now Cookie knows for sure.

Anika is actually smart to be threatened.  Whatever Lucious and Cookie had between them is slowly coming back.  Lucious's label comes under fire after one his of rappers - Kid Fo-Fo -  inspires a shooting at the mall and his idiot son Hakeem is shown drunk on YouTube, peeing in an upscale restaurant and trash-talking Barack Obama.  Protestors and press flood the steps of the company.  While Anika and his other colleagues at Empire are coaching Lucious to appear non-threatening on "white TV", Cookie states that the Lucious she knew would get on TV and tell those people, "The streets weren't made for everybody.  That's why they made sidewalks."


Black Girls' Night Out: Cookie Lyon

There's a reason why they
call her "The Queen"
~ Special Edition ~

I'll be honest: I both did and did not want to do this one.  I did because I am so, so, so happy to welcome Taraji P. Henson back to Black Girls' Night Out, our favorite running feature which she helped originate.

I did not want to do this, however, because the character of Cookie Lyon is so unspeakably, indescribably beyond awesome that I felt unworthy to even try this.

But our other writers have their plates full so...guess who?

For those who didn't watch the pilot of FOX's new hip-hop drama Empire...what are you doing with your lives????  Critics have unanimously declared that Cookie Lyon is the best aspect of the show.  She's powerful and riveting, stealing every scene she's in, and dwarfing the other members of the cast.

Cookie is the ex-wife of Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard, of course), a rapper-turned-mogul.  Now, it's very important to know that the only reason Lucious even experienced such success is that Cookie was a drug dealer who invested $400,000 in their company.  She got caught and was sentenced to thirty years...but only serves seventeen due to good behavior (which is hilarious considering her behavior outside of jail).



My, my oh my...we haven't had one of these in a WHILE have we???


Fantasy Sisters: Nala of "Sinbad" (@estella_daniels)


Of course I'm only learning about this show two years after it aired and one year after the BBC canceled it (after only one season).

Estella Daniels absolutely shines as Nala, an African noblewoman who finds herself aboard Sinbad's ship and a member of his oddball crew.  What thrills me about her casting and characterization is that she's the "Princess" character of the show - she's the beauty, the nobility, and has the kick-ass wardrobe.  She's also the love interest of the titular hero, Sinbad.

Or rather...she was.

For reasons I absolutely cannot fathom (sarcastic voice), the aristocratic Nala was written out of the show by the seventh episode, and by episode nine, a white female character takes her place.

Then again...maybe it wasn't such a bad thing that the show got canceled.  After all, interest gradually declined and ratings dropped, and I bet you it had something to do with the abrupt removal of Nala.

*shrugs*  Who knows.


NBC...More Alfre Woodard, Please

Let me be clear; I do not want State of Affairs to be canceled.  Despite my gripes with this show, it is nooooooowhere near as bad as Deception.

The show is slowly starting to find its footing, but Alfre Woodard remains the primary highlight.  Whoever thought to cast her as President Constance Payton is brilliant.  Whoever thought cast Courtney B. Vance as her First Gentleman, Mr. Marshall Payton - genius.

I don't know how long these actors have known each other in real life, but their chemistry is immediate.  I was convinced they are a married couple.  I was convinced Constance and Marshall are genuinely grieving the loss of their only child.  But because Constance is POTUS, she has to put the concerns of a nation ahead of her family's, and the tension that causes with her husband is awesome.

I'm also digging her ruthless heroism; I like how Payton lets Heigl's character know that she's not the only source of info for the Oval Office.  The presidency really is not for the faint of heart, and now that they're introducing more political players and widening the POTUS's role on the show there's so much potential to continue to show how far she's willing to go.

Fitz...ain't got nothin' on this, y'all.  I hate to say it, but in the competition of who has the best POTUS, it's SOA -1, Scandal - 0.

But I need more.  I can't do a Black Girls' Night Out series with the material given thus far.  And as it stands, NBC's trying to make Kathering Heigl the next Kerry Washington/Olivia Pope and it simply won't work.  They'll need to take a different tack with that one.