Holiday “Don’t” List

After spending a day reading disheartening Facebook posts about insensitive family interactions and texting with friends who are desperately seeking respite from people hogging their newborn babies around the Christmas tree, I thought I’d put together this nifty list of what NOT to do around the holidays.

Christmas may be over, but Kwanzaa and New Years are still going strong. These things shouldn’t have to be said but apparently a bunch of people missed the memo on basic manners. The good news is that 2016 offers an opportunity to get it right!

That said, here’s my PSA of a holiday party list. Continue reading “Holiday “Don’t” List”

The Walk/School of the Art Institute Fashion Show

The Walk/School of the Art Institute Fashion Show

The first time I attended The Walk, the fabulous fashion show of the School of the Art Institute, it was 2009. I was astounded. I had no idea that the SAIC students had so much ingenuity and verve. I should not have been surprised, after all, they DO attend the School affiliated with the prestigious Art Institute of Chicago.

It was there I met the Fabulous Nick Cave (who is on staff at the SAIC) and became exposed to Nick’s “Sound Suits,” which recently were showcased in Vogue (and were showcased in Ebony prior to that, courtesy of moi, I’m happy to say.)

Anyhoo… at this year’s Walk I met a number of up and coming designers. I was happy to pen a short piece for Ebony.com about the event. Check it out.

 

 

An Evening of DST

I was the Jabberwock Scholarship Ball speaker this past Friday night at my alma mater: Northwestern University. The Theta Alpha chapter of Delta Sigma Theta was gracious enough to invite me to converse with them on this evening. It was a good time. The Gibbsman accompanied me (meaning that #brownbaby stayed at home with his Auntie.) I got to put on a pretty silk dress and end the week on a high.

It was really nice to come “home” to my chapter, Theta Alpha, for fellowship and sistershood. OO-OOP!

Below, some of the DEVASTATING divas of DST!

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Mary Mary Covers June’s Ebony mag and the story is by yours truly

It’s been quite some time since I blogged. Mostly that’s because my mom passed away in January, and I had a baby last October. Lots of life changes, and I do appreciate your thoughts and prayers. I’m back in the saddle now and feeling more normal, I suppose.

I’m also really excited about my first Ebony cover story since my return from maternity leave: Mary Mary! Erica and Tina Campbell opened up to me about their decision to take a break until 2015, Erica’s solo career and Tina’s attempt to stab her husband about a bout with infidelity.

Lots of juice in this story, and a healthy dose of what/who makes it all work out in the end: GOD

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A Life Well-Lived: Remembering Ronald Sherman Samuels

My Pops passed away last Monday. While it wasn’t unexpected (as he’d had a stroke in late summer) it still hurts – especially since he was on the up and up before taking a turn for the worse. But what’s done is done, and in my Christian experience, I know that all he did was change clothes. As the pastor says, “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” That sounds good to me. 😉

My Pops was the best.

Along with my siblings, I planned my father’s funeral. We had to buy a casket, select a burial spot, pick out a vault, order flowers, call our entire family, notify all the various bar associations, take care of our mother (and grandmother) and still somehow console ourselves. I wrote the funeral program and the obituary. My brother designed some of it. My sister sang at the funeral. My other sister wrote a poem. My husband read Invictus. All my uncles sang a medly of songs.

One hundred members of Kappa Alpha Psi came to my dad’s funeral and serenaded him. County Commissioner Bobbie Steele was there, as was Alderman Will Burns and all of the other politicians that my dad’s life touched. The church was so packed that people had to smush into the choir stands to be seated. The funeral procession from the West Side to the South Side was some 80 cars long – escorted by state troopers. Friends and family came from far and near to be with us and to stay with us. In fact, many are still here – opting to spend Christmas with our family in solidarity.

My own friends showed up and showed out. My sister’s friends showed up and showed out. My brother’s friends showed up and showed out. My father’s friends showed up and showed out. And my mother’s friends showed up en force and showed out. I’ve learned a lot about the traditions of the Black family and the Black church in these last few weeks. The “ladies who lunch” (i.e. my mother’s good friends, the other barrister’s wives) came armed with reams of toilet paper, paper towels, rotisserie chickens, boxes of tissue, flowers, stamps, mac and cheese, greens, pistachios, fresh salads, cookies, cakes, cobblers and laughter.

They mopped and cleaned and cooked and hugged and kissed. And then when they got tired, they were replaced by uncles and aunts and neighbors and godparents and church members from seven different congregations. Even my brother’s ex-wife showed up and stayed for four days.

Everyone brought their children. And inexplicably, every child under the age of seven that came into the big house ran straight into my arms and hugged me in the way that only a child can. What a sweet present, that toddlers told me that my Daddy was ok.

We asked God for comfort and he sent us friends.

It’s only been a week since my Dad died, and it hurts something fierce. But, time heals all wounds, and I honored my father while he lived. I will continue to honor him in this new transition.

I wrote his obituary. Here it is.

Attorney Ronald Sherman Samuels was born on June 17, 1941 in Chicago.  His parents, Peter Isaac and Lena Samuels, raised him to be a Christian, a man of strong moral fortitude and a force in the city’s political and legal communities. Ronald was one of seven children and came up in the Morgan Park neighborhood, where everyone simply called him Ronnie. He received Christ at an early age at Beth Eden Baptist Church, where his father was a deacon and today, much of the Samuels family still attends.

 

Ronnie, one of “the three babies” of the family, attended Esmond Elementary School and Morgan Park High School. His first job was as a paperboy, and he delivered to the nearby neighborhood of Beverly Hills. He determined that one day he would live there, in the area that at the time denied Black people the opportunity to purchase the pretty houses on the hill.

 

Ronald went on to graduate from Chicago Teachers College (now Chicago State.) He pledged Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated and was initiated on February 18, 1961. His line was known as “The Magnificent Seven” and he was called the “Beast of Iota.”    In 1969, Ronald graduated from the John Marshall Law School, finally fulfilling his destiny to become an attorney. He was known for his quick mind, dominating presence and biting humor, and those skills served him auspiciously as he entered private practice – becoming a partner with Washington, Kennon, Hunter & Samuels – and dedicated his life to helping the legally disenfranchised.

 

Ron wed the love of his life, his beauty queen and Chicago Public Schools teacher and librarian Melva Jean Bryant, on August 15, 1970. They had met at a party, where Ron impressed Melva, now a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, with his Kappa moves. Ronald also loved the Lord, and after wedding Melva – also of Morgan Park – he joined her family church: Mt. Hebron Missionary Baptist. There, on the West Side, he later became a deacon with his Christian service including being a church trustee and a Sunday School teacher. To boot, he loved driving his big burgundy Cadillac brougham – with Samuels on the license plate – to church on Sunday.

 

The fight for Civil Rights was a major concern for Attorney Samuels and as such, he provided legal counsel for Operation PUSH, the NAACP, the Morgan Park Local School Council, the Progressive and National Baptist Conventions, Church of God in Christ and the United Methodist Church in addition to being the chief trial attorney for Dr. Martin Luther King’s Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities. He was a key member of the election committees for Mayor Harold Washington, Cook County Commissioner Bobbie Steele and Appellate Court Justice William Cousins.  His work for the Leadership Council led to the landmark case – Holmgren vs. The West Side Times – that remedied certain housing discrimination issues in Chicago associated with “redlining” – a practice that denied mortgages to minorities.

 

Counselor Samuels played the leading roll in the Seaton v. Sky Realty case, which recognized racial discrimination as a tort. He became the first African-American supervisor in the Cook County States’ Attorney’s Office, where he also was chief of the Consumer Fraud Division under Bernard Carey. In 1982, along with the CCBA, he organized hearings on the conduct of the Chicago Police Department in what later became infamously known as the Jon Burge Case. He also represented the music group The Spinners.

 

From 1993 to 1995, Brother Samuels served as Polemarch of the Chicago Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi. Kappa League, for teens, was a cause close to his heart – as was the annual Kappa cook out. He served as president of the CCBA and was vice president of the National Bar Association for two terms, and a board member for seven years. (One of his beloved events was the annual Cook County Bar Auxiliary Christmas Party.) He was also a member of the American Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, the Chicago Bar Association and the American Trial Lawyers Association.

 

Ronald played as hard as he worked and he loved Melva’s family. He was a founding member of their family group, “The W-Right Connection.”  He helped to spearhead many reunions, parties and fundraisers.  He was a key part of many family trips, including excursions to Memphis, Acapulco and his forever favorite place, Las Vegas.  The family could always count on him to demand excellence and require that absolutely everything be “in writing.”

 

Ronald received many awards and served on many committees during his life of service. His awards alone are too many to name in this short space. His was a tough, enduring, intellectual love that accepted nothing but the best and pushed all in his circle to try harder and to be better and to always do what’s right. His love was also honest – straight, no chaser. He suffered no fools, but he loved to laugh – as evidenced by his booming baritone that frequently rang through the big house in Beverly during his legendary Bid Whist tourneys, Super Bowl parties and family meetings.

 

Ronald lived as a soldier for God. And this poem, used as the benediction at Beth Eden, eventually became his creed: “I must live with myself and so I want to be fit for myself to know… I don’t want to come to the setting sun hating myself for the things I’ve done.”

 

Ronald leaves a family of hundreds to celebrate his memory.

— Lovingly written by Adrienne P. Samuels Gibbs, the baby girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hanging with Zoe Saldana…

I know. I know. Some of you aren’t happy with Zoe telling me that she won’t be complaining about a lack of roles for Black women in Hollywood. And yes it’s true that other actresses, in other cover stories, have told me that there IS a problem.

Before you casttoo much more judgment, why not read the entire piece? Find it in September’s Ebony.

And to answer some of those Twitter questions: yes, she’s fun; yes, she’s tall; and yes, we really did talk about birth control. #newlywedchat

 

Divorce one year later?

I know a lady who signed her divorce papers yesterday. She got married around this time last year to a professional athlete. She loved him for a number of reasons. I frequently heard her talk about his house, his cars, the gifts he showered upon her, the trips she got to take. I never quite heard him discuss her finer points, but boy did they have fun!

Trips! Events! Dresses! Tuxes! Barbecues! Long rides down slick roads!

It all sounded very romantic. To hear the stories, I got wistful.

To be honest, they didn’t date for very long (three months,) so it kinda seems like he was getting to know her during that first year of marriage.

Sad that they broke up. The wedding guests are all aflutter about it.

That said, the situation made me think about what makes you decide to marry someone. Loving their job or their status or the way they look is awesome. But you also need to simply love the person. What if your NBA star breaks both legs? What if your golfer develops carpal tunnel? What if your sexy chick gains weight? What then?

I hope you might have something more to make you happy than the superficial.

This got me to thinking: how do you know it’s for real?

I think a lot of it has to do with honesty and discussion. I had long talks with my then-fiance about potential weight gain, how to raise children, expectations of family time, expectations of other kinds, how we might decorate our house, where we might live, where we might retire, what happens when our parents get old and sick, what diseases run in both families, do we need genetic testing, what are his favorite things, what does he want to do in 5 -10 and 20 years, how important is it that we get Direc Tv’s NFL package, etc and so on.

We’re still talking about that stuff.

All that said, I think that such conversations help a couple to know if they’re right for each other. If you don’t like what he says about his aging mother, then don’t marry him. If you don’t like what she says about her aging father, then don’t marry her.

It’s fairly simple to put lust aside and consider a future when lust is not paramount.

What are other “still dating” indicators of a great marriage?

I’d love your thoughts.

 

 

What Men Want: You can’t have it all

I stood on the porch of a high rise in Chicago. The sun was setting. The basketball game playing on the inside. Suddenly the gentleman next to me made a profound statement: The girls with the pretty faces never have big asses and big tits. The girls with big asses never have big tits. The pretty girls have one or the other, but never both. And the girls with big stomachs treat you the best.

Before you chortle at this, just think on it for a minute or two.

I asked the brother why he felt as though he couldn’t find a woman with everything. He said that if a woman had everything, she wouldn’t stay with a man because she would be too fine for him. This, of course, doesn’t apply to women who purchase body parts. (We discussed that too and he’s not a fan of fake anything.) Rather, he prefers his own lady, who has a bit of  a stomach pooch but has a big butt and a nice face and a great personality. She treats him right, so he’s satisfied.

He even tells me that she wouldn’t be herself if she was a skinny girl. If she were skinny, she’d have no booty!

This was an interesting conversation for me because I do think, to a certain extent, that he’s right. I don’t frequently see chicks with extra big everything unless they, uh, work in certain industries where such girl parts are paid for by the boss. And usually the gals with the prettiest faces don’t always have the biggest breasts or the model bodies. And vice versa.

I’ve never really heard anyone crystallize the female body in such a way and the thought process intrigued me. I’ve heard from brothers who won’t marry a lady unless her waist is small enough for him to clasp in his hands, thumb to pinky twice around. I’ve heard from brothers who won’t date a lady unless he sees what her mom and her grandma look like. I’ve also heard from brothers who only date ladies with big hips because they don’t want to have issues having babies later in the relationship.

Still, I’ve never quite heard it put like this: you can’t always have everything you want in a woman, so be happy with what you get.

Shifting Faith: Paying folks to go to church?

My Shifting Faith story (found in April’s Ebony) has a lot of folks talking about why mainstream churches are losing members. The numbers don’t lie. More people now are “non denominational” than are Baptist or Methodist or Catholic. They love God, but not the old-time religion. There are lots of reasons for that, and you can read my article for more details on that. (Or find my other postings about Shifting Faith.. use the search bar please.)

But I just listened to a radio show that used my article as the basis for the discussion. Many people said that where two to three come together, there is God. Others disagreed, saying that a church is very specific and not as easy as just a gathering of worshipful folks. But the most interesting thing to come out of the story was this: there is a church in Ohio that is PAYING people to attend Easter service.

They did it last year and they’re doing it this year. The pastor says it’s his way to bring people to God’s word.

Whoa. What do you think of it? Read more here. Then get back at me here or on twitter @adriennewrites.

My Personal Fantastic Voyage: All Aboard the Tom Joyner Cruise

Chillin’ in The Vault on the boat.

I’m baaaaack!

The Voyage truly was Fantastic. The cruise left out of Galveston, Texas and went to Grand Cayman and Cozumel. We had a huge beach party, tons of food,  a million laughs (courtesy of J. Anthony Brown, Gary Owen, Tony Rock and Damon Williams) and a ton o’ fun. I posted about the trip on ebony.com if you want to read direct missives.

It wasn’t a vacation since I had to take pictures, tweet and write about the experience, but I did spend a little non-interview time with a few of my favorite folks including Lamman Rucker (who has a really nice sidehustle with Forplai, a new line of body products like oils and whatnot), Salt (who is the ultimate party gal,) Terrell Owens (who I ran into in the casino, playing the 25 cent machine), Tony Rock (who is just a sweetheart and VERY popular with the girls), LisaRaye (who is just lovely and has no shame about getting on the dance floor), Fantasia (who gives a helluva concert at 2 a.m.) and the man of the hour Tom Joyner (who made the enormous cruise ship feel like it was his own living room because he was greeting everybody and keeping a genuine smile on his face at all times.)

Read about light-skinned/dark-skinned dodge ball , which I found to be an interesting take on an old issue. (It’s not as ignorant as it sounds, but you do have to think about it with an open mind due to the fact that our skin issues are still so effed up.) And, here is my 24-hours of partying on the boat story. I’ve been back for two days and I’m still tired!

It definitely was a party with a purpose, as Joyner has raised some $67 million for HBCUs through this endeavor. And I’m not mad at a 7-day, grown folks spring break cruise. Everyone is grown enough to drink and grown enough to know exactly what they are doing when they are putting on a teddy for the pajama jammy jam or donning a costume for Mardi Gras Night.

But here I’ll just post my favorite pix.

More pix!