Hey VSB, What We Talkin’ Bout?

In case you know anybody that needs a seat, we've got plenty.

In case you know anybody that needs a seat, we’ve got plenty.

As I sit back relax, steam a blunt sip a Becks steam some broccoli, sip some water, we’re going to continue on with some of this VSB 5-Year Week stuff. By the way, I don’t know that I’ve actually ‘branded’ it the same way any day this week. At all.

Much like I said, none of this is uniquely planned or mapped out. We need some assistants out this jawn.

Anyway, obviously, or community is largely what keeps VSB in the conversation at all times. We know that we could probably write a post with the words, “how they do dat there…” and folks would turn that into a conversation about whatever tickles their Elmo or fancies at that moment. This is the beauty of VSB.

However, one of the ways that we do feel VSB contributes to the greater good of mankind and all that Miles Davis is by being facilitators of conversations that are happening in the community, need to happen in the community, or perspectives that probably need to change – sometimes our own.

We got our start doing this relationship thing but have branched out to talking about any and everything. But real talk, we know there are tons of things that people want us to talk about or conversations that people want to have in a space like VSB. So in the spirit of growth and keeping the community involved…

…what are some things that you all would like us to do here at VSB that we may not be doing? What’s on your minds out there VSBers?

And lurkers, now is a perfect time to kick into the convo. Join the fun.

Here’s an interesting caveat I’m going to throw in: you all tend to have a good idea of what Champ or I are good at writing, are there things you’d specifically like to see either of us tackle?

That’s a good question.

Yes, I just hi-fived myself.



Still Black In America

I got caught up in Soledad O’Brien’s latest edition to the Black In America canon that aired last night on CNN. This episode was entitled “The Promised Land – Silicon Valley” and was about Black entreprenuerism in the tech world. It followed a house full of individuals, Black men and women, attempting to demo projects in order to raise money to get their sites and projects off the ground. Really heady stuff…mostly because despite living a semi-charmed life online, I know pretty much jack sh*t about building a startup tech-centric website.

But one particular scene stood out from the rest, poison as can be, a high powered chest to me. A professor from Duke University (can’t remember his name to save my life) of Indian descent was talking to the developers about the fact that when he began his venture capital company somebody told him to get a white man to be the face of the company and that’s how a lot of companies operate. Basically, investors like to see white men because it gives them some sort of comfort in the product. You know, the psychological something or other that exists in nearly every community.

I mean let’s be real, I feel safer (and more inclined to be okay staying there) when I see white people live in a community I’m interested in. That tells me that there’s growth and *ding* investment potential. People with money – largely white people – look for other white people in order to feel comfortable handing over the dividends. It just is what it is, to me at least. Hell, in China you can rent white people for that very purpose. Basically everybody’s racist. Which kind of makes nobody racist. Riddle that sh*t.

This admission seemed to bother a lot of the folks in the house. And while I get it, I kind of don’t. See, I’m generally more surprised by other people’s surprise that the rules haven’t changed yet. I know we all want to believe in the world as it should be. I have a kid. If there’s one reason to ever hope for the best in people it’s because you don’t want to bring your kids into world that’s worse off than the one you grew up in. However, you have to acknowledge that people are creatures of habit. Especially in a tech world that’s all white and Asian.

Aside: there’s really no way in holy f*ck that Jennifer Lopez would really drive a damn Fiat. Thank you and good night.

One thing that the Indian professor from Duke said was that you have to take that information, as unfair as it sounds, and use it to your advantage. Now, I have no idea how to use it to my advantage, but I’m sure its possible. I guess. But this does beg the question, a few actually. Do we just assume that white people, and say other minorities, don’t really realize they’re being racist and therefore to hear them acknowledge it is what pisses us off?

And if they know that’s the case, that means they can do something about it right? Self-aware people can change f*cked up stuff, right? So if they choose not to, that means that the injustice is not only accepted but condoned. Right? And if they know that we need to use it to our advantage, shouldn’t they just help out in the beginning by not being racist? I realize that last one is asking a lot but I figured I’d throw that log on the fire.

And I think that’s what tends to piss me off about these situations – should I find something to be pissed about – its that the folks who are creating the injustices know that they’re doing it. But nobody wants to rock the boat though for fear of losing, especially in business.

Odd dilemma.

So I bring those questions to you kimosabe (ß—- that’s racist), does open acknowledgement of racism make it worse or is racism just racism no matter how you get there?

And more abstractly, does racism still frustrate you or is its mere presence just something you know exists and therefore you keep it moving? Or is it both?

What say you?

Say you, say me.


Things All Black Households Should Have

Even bougie ninjas have plastic on their furniture. Ask Barack and Michelle.

Much like the Baltimore Ravens, all Black families have murderers in their families. Or is that just mine? Wait…did I just snitch? If I tell on myself, does that violate the Stop Snitching hood edict? I’ve never known the answer to that question.

Mr. Panama sir…what’s your point?

Glad you asked.

While criminals are innate to the Black family – and shouldn’t be – there are some things that all Black households should have.

(Don’t you love that completely non-sensical unparalleled parallel that I made there?)

Growing up, I always noticed a certain similarity between my home and the homes of my various friends and family members with Africa in their souls. Simple things like those big ass spoon and fork combos that nobody but Shaq or Willie The Giant could eat with that always managed to sit in a corner like they were fine collectibles and antiques. What is it with ninjas and big versions of everyday stuff? We like big cars, big hair, big booties. None of that is practical. Big cars use a lot of gas. I STAY losing my keys in big haired chicks big hair and a to quote the great poet laureate Andre 3000, “fat t*tties turn to teardrops and fat a** turns to flab…”

I’ll bet you never heard of a player with no game.

Anyway, to be a truly Black household, here is a list of things that you should have. Get like we.

1. A drum

Stereotypical out the gate? Absolutely. I’m dumbfounded by how many Black households don’t have a drum. Any kind of drum. Real talk, when ever I have people at my home and a deep conversation gets going I always break out the drum so people know that it’s real. Amazingly, all of the convos then follow the cadence of my conga playing. Basically it all looks the scene in Love Jones when Savon starts drumming, because drumming was SOOOO a Savon thing to do. By the way, all of this was hypothetical because I don’t actually have a drum. *hangs head in shame*

2. Some sort of Obama something

Commemorative plates. Bobbleheads. Random wanton posters featuring Obama saving a kitten in a tree. Chinese porcelain dolls named Sasha and Malia. Brown paper packages tied up with string. Something. No Black home is complete without some sort of picture, shrine, or weekly family dedication to the Obama clan and their quest to make Black people relevant.

3. Coming To America and at least 2 Spike Lee movies

Well, duh.

4. The Bible and an African-American historical book

Let me tell you something. Back in the day when folks used to go door to door selling sh*t like vacuum cleaners, X-ray machines, and encyclopedias, my parents were the ideal client. Especially if there was some sort of Black book collection. We ended up with a Black Bible (what made it Black, no idea, except it was huge and heavy. We automatically laid down our burdens every time we tried to pick it up.) and some set of encyclopedias that told the Black story. Which was great except 1) who just sits and reads encylopedias (aside from me) and 2) no reports in school were ever about who created spinners or the first ninja to niggarig something. But still, no household is complete without it. Extra points if you have that same ridiculous African-American bible that we have.

5. TCB

Every Black household should have some of that good hair food. That and some pink lotion. Hell I have four bottles of pink lotion and I don’t even have hair. Oh, and NO household is complete without Palmers. One day at Target they were selling bottles of Palmer’s Cocoa Butter lotion for $1.99. I don’t know why or who thought that was a good idea. But I’ll tell you what, I copped 5 bottles. Ashy to classy like a motherf*cker. Word booty. Target definitely caught the fade that day.

6. Diana Ross’s The Bossand Diana albums strictly for the album cover art

It’s that real in the field. Admittedly, this could be a man thing.

What else should all Black households have? Talk to me.


[***AdminNote: For the DC ninjas, come party this Saturday, November 5, 2011 at Liv Nightclub (2001 11th Street, NW) as VSB brings you another edition of REMINISCE, the party dedicated to all 90s everything. Free before 11pm ($10 after); open bar from 10-11pm (real talk); and no dress code. Party wit' ya folk. Doors at 1opm.***]

Angry Ninja Rhetoric and Best Practices

Take the exact opposite of every characteristic of this man in this picture and you've got an angry ninja. He did marry a white woman though.

If you know Black people that read, then you know an angry ninja. Chances are you’re looking at one right now…assuming you know that you’re looking at a ninja. But if you are, and they are angry, I’d suggest that you stop.

Because they’re angry.

Now, let me be upfront and clear about this. Every Black person has a right to be angry. And hostile. I watched The Rise Of The Planet of The Apes and got upset. That’s not true, but if I was an angry ninja, then it would be. Because angry ninjas are really just extremely loud versions of conspiracy theorists. The main difference is that instead of just stating what the conspiracy is, they also get mad at you while telling you what it is. Somehow everybody is at fault when an angry ninja is present. And there’s ALWAYS something to be mad about. It’s like the reverse Obama with a side of Al Sharpton.

And no, that didn’t make any sense.

You might be asking yourself: are angry ninjas dangerous? Absolutely. They pose a tremendous danger to peace and quiet. And your good time. While they can be tremendously fun, the angry ninja is much like the puma. Sleek and stealthy, and if you aren’t careful, they’ll end up getting their own shoe.

To be more clearer, I’m a fan of angry ninjas. Truth is, they bring that necessary amount of chaos to any and all conversations that keeps the mood interesting and all your Christmases bright. Though I’m not completely sure angry ninjas believe in Christmas. They tend to get mad at how much they have to spend supporting the white man’s businesses.

“You there, in the Huey Newton Goes To Malibu High t-shirt, do you have a question?”

“Yes, what are the signs of an angry ninja?”

“Glad you asked.”

1. They start every convesation with a hesitant but climactically built up…”Yooo…” or a very quick and shart…”Yo!” (no Kappa)

Real talk, that’s how you know you’re about to get an earful about something you didn’t know you were supposed to give a sh*t about. See, starting any convo off with a “Yo” means that something of immense importance is about to follow. Why? Good question. It’s an indicator of something that’s been on the angry ninjas mind. They just haven’t had the chance to explore it with you yet. Be careful, you’re about to get hit with the hee.

2. “F*ck you ni**a, I got passion!”

You ever notice how extra angry folks aren’t really angry…they’re just passionate? You could take the passion of the Christ, thug passion, passion fruit, throw in a side of mango and you STILL wouldn’t have as much “passion” as an angry ninja. They get so emotionally invested in whatever it is that pissed them off (usually something to do with the oppressive power structure…or something they saw in a Disney movie) and how the rest of us don’t care enough (which in a bit of non-irony, tends to make angry ninjas more angry if you blow their tirade off) that you could probably incite one into a felony if you push the right buttons. The interesting part is, a lot, if not most of that anger is misguided…

…in fact….

3. The most oddball beefs

You know, I actually applaud the angry ninjas efforts in racial reconciliation and reparatory comeuppance. If only these jokers didn’t get up in arms about the most non-sensical of sh*t. Like that article a few months ago written by the white chick about Black Twitter. Angry ninjas were LIVID that this white woman would have any say so about what us Blacks were doing on Twitter and how amused she seemed to be by it. Here’s the thing…WE’RE ALL AMUSED BY IT TOO. But she ain’t have the right to say it because she didn’t have proper context because she was white. Fair enough….except…my ni**a…THAT’s the battle you chose to fight? ‘Pac is gone and Brenda’s still throwing babies in the garbage. I’m not really sure what topics always set off angry Black people, but rarely do they have anything to do with something you’ll care about ten minutes later…like the economy.

4. Not angry, opinionated.

Similar to passion and equally ridiculous. This one, (like most of this in truth) is a general person thing. Folks who are mad but who don’t want to be know as being mad hate to be called mad. They’re just passionate, opinionated people. Okay. Alright.

5. Seem to be attracted to the very people they hate the most, in theory

Is it me, but has anybody else noticed how many angry Black people marry white people? Or date them…almost exclusively? Or how about date the most ignant sumamab*tches known to man? The people who incite the most rage are the very ones angry ninjas spend most of their time with. It is an odd little dance. Angry ninjas do the cat daddy.

Again, I love my angry ninjas.

Good people of VSB, what are the other signs of of the angry ninja?

Talk to me.


Bougie Ninja Best Practices

Picture this with an ascot. Then you got a bougie ninja.

Let’s be real here, the vast majority of us tow the line between being the pretentious bougie ninja we hate the most and the person two steps out of the projects still concerned with credibility. It’s why men fight in three-piece suits and women complain like hell about Basketball Wives and Single Ladies while keeping them DVR’d. We’re always keeping it real or just being entertained. For a large part of us, success is erroneously how other people perceive us. It’s no secret we tend to be statusticians.

We’re a confused bunch for the most part. And if confused is too strong a word, then denial is the closest term. It’s like most of us reading black ninjas are constantly in a fight for that whole double consciousness Black thing that W.E. was rappin’ ’bout back in the late 1800′s and further in the Souls of Black Folks. Basically, Black people have had image problems for a very, very long time.

However, given that we are a bunch of bougie ninjas, or aspiring considering one’s current station in life, I figured that I’d run down the list of what actually constitutues the current practices of the bougie ninja…best practices if you will. See, bougie ninjas like saying sh*t like best practices because it implies you’ve read a book. Nobody in the hood says “best practices” unless they’re on a team somewhere and you know, “that was one of the best practices we done had, boss…”

Tupac back.

By the way, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a bougie ninja unless you actively look down on other people. Life’s a lot easier when you stop being so judgemental about everybody else’s f*cksh*t and do you. Then again, can one really be a bougie ninja without being judgemental? Confruscious my ni*gga. Confruscious.

Let’s take a stab at this, shall wel.

1. You must know where NOT to go.

Bougie ninjas congregate in all types of places. Grassy knolls. Bookstores. Coffee stores. Home Depot garden centers. Basically, you can go anywhere and be bougie and live your life. What’s important is to know where bougie ninjas don’t go. Like clubbing in Maryland. Not because you won’t see other bougie ninjas, but because non-bougie ninjas don’t really f*ck with bougie ninjas like that. And if you show up at Jasper’s with an ascot, my ni**a,  folks are going to talk about you. I think women tend to do better at this than men, women STAY up on where not to go.

Hmm…has anybody noticed how liberal we are with male fashion choices? Honestly, ladies, I blame this all on you. I’ve seen men wearing some of the gayest attire out in public and catch no flack from any ladies. Skin-tight pink button ups with a vest, ascot, pocket square and those polyester not-quite-tennis-shoes-not-quite-dress shoes from Aldo with some skinny jeans. Somehow, someway, this became acceptable attire. I don’t know when stylish dudes decided that looking gay was the way to get women, but it seems to be the case. Perhaps this is a DC-ATL-NYC-LA problem but really, someone please call 911.

2. You have to be up on some sort of artistic expression be it art, esoteric music, or travel arts.

Yes, I said travel arts. And do you know why I said travel arts? Because some of you ninjas treat your travels like its the gateway to painting oneself as a well-learned person. And while I do believe that experiencing new things helps to make you a fuller person, I definitely know some bougie ninja women who travel just so that they can tell other people that they travel so that they seem otherworldly to other folks who think a stamped passport makes you cultured. Bougie ninjas like art. I’m not sure why, but this is fact. I remember a long time ago this cat trying to sing to me the praises of Cody Chestnut’s Headphone Masterpiece. It’s mixed like hot garbage. On purpose. And somehow this made it artsy and I just wasn’t up on that hot sh*t because I didn’t f*ck with Cody’s album. Still don’t. But being the music snob that I am, I understood his plight. It also helps if you actually know what things like impressionism mean. I don’t. But my art knowledge is largely based on vinyl album covers. This right there? Is art.

3. You really do have to pretend to hate current popular Black culture and only have love for all things 90s

Rick Ross is the exception. Somehow, all bougie ninjas can get down with Rick Ross. Could be because he keeps making dope music. Maybe it’s his titties. I don’t know. The interesting thing about this one is that in order to hate it you have to engage in it. Which means that we have to listen to it all to hate it, which we do with enthusiasm. I know I do.

4. BET is the ruining the community.

You just have to say this a few times a week or whenever somebody says BET. And you can use any BET awards as your only reference point. It’s like an exemption to play in the Master’s.

5. It is vital to appreciate natural hair.

Odd, I know. But there is a huge undercurrent of women going natural and it has to be loved and appreciated en masse. Now I personally love natural hair. En masse. See what I did there?

6. You must be willing to overspend on food.

Real spit, I HATE boutique eateries. If your menu only has 8 items and all of them cost $20 per plate, I cannot f*ck with you. But if I want to see other bougie ninjas, that’s what I have to do. Well, if I want to see bougie women. A group of bougie ninjas will hit up TGIFridays in a minute. Of course, this one is more prone to be likely in major cities as well.

I think I’ll stop there for now. These are a few of the best practices of the bougie ninja.

VSBNation, what else you got?