That Obama Issue Of Ebony And Other 2016 Highlights From Adriennewrites


2016 was a great year. I gave birth to my second son, I worked as the senior editor of Newcity (a Chicago-based arts magazine), I started an entertainment column at Forbes and I was the special managing editor of Ebony’s special commemorative Obama issue. The Obama issue came together in a beautiful way, and I’m grateful to all the celebs and politicians who responded to my call and came through with quotes and essays and photos. Magnifique!

Other editorial highlights include:

  • A fun chat with Joseph Sikora, star of Power, for Chicago magazine. Sikora, who is from Chicago, swears to me that he didn’t really throw up a pitchfork gang sign in a photo. Of course, after I wrote this article, plenty of people contacted me to say they still don’t believe him. Ah well. Power returns in the summer of 2017.
  • I wrote about one of Chicago magazine’s most influential Chicagoans, Tamar Manasseh, for this extra special issue celebrating the denizens of the Windy City. It’s not everyday that I get to be a featured writer for such a special issue.
  • My Forbes column is fun. You will read about everything from binge-watching hot television shows to understanding why some stars make a ton of cash hawking wigs. 

City Stories: Not a big fan of small hotels/motels….

Perhaps I’ve been watching too much Cold Case or CSI, but I the only female who isn’t too keen on staying in a hotel or motel by myself?

I recently took a trip to Iowa, and I had to stay in a Sheraton in a small town. I drove myself down there and it was about a five hour ride in the snow. The hotel was nice and they did get me on the second floor. I locked my door and all that. But midway through the night, I woke up because I SWEAR that someone was trying to open my door. My sleep was shot then.

Another time I was staying at a Motel 6 in a small town outside of Oklahoma City. I was there with a photographer because we were covering a Harley Davidson rally at an open field about five miles down some dirt road. I’m not usually a Motel 6 patron, but this really was the only spot to stay.

After washing a roach down the sink, I sat on the bed and tried to sleep. But between remembering the truckers asking me if I was alone, the bikers asking me if I wanted a ride and the shadows that kept walking by my window, sleep eluded me. I couldn’t do it. The photographer, on the other hand, said he slept like a baby. His room was nowhere close to mine.

Last example… Two years ago I was on Obama’s campaign trail as part of Ebony’s election coverage. I had followed him to Iowa, North Carolina, South Carolina… But in South Carolina, I once again was at a motel because my company couldn’t get me into the hotel with the other reporters. So my motel was spread out along some train tracks and at the edge of a forest. I was in room 1, building 14, which was facing the train tracks and at the extreme northern end of this complex. When I drove all the way to the back, I was the only car in a parking lot whose lights didn’t work. They also put me on the first floor, ground level. (there were only two floors to this motel.)

Then, my kitchenette door didn’t lock from the inside and the room wasn’t clean. Before I could even call the front desk, a security guard knocks at the door, asking to be let in. And I’m like, “Oh Shit.” I called the front desk and got immediately transferred. The security guard finally went away when I didn’t open the door. The new room, now on the second floor, was just as dark and out of the way as the old one. They refused to give me a room facing the highway!

I wound up taking myself to the Embassy Suites across the highway and paying for my own hotel room in an actual hotel. I was on the fourth floor – NOT the ground floor. The accounting folks got a little miffed at me for making the switch. And the men in my party (who all had motel suites facing the highway) didn’t understand why I didn’t want to stay in a ground-level motel room facing the forest, but I guess they don’t know much about being a woman traveling by herself.

My husband was the one who strongly suggested that I need to relocate myself into a proper hotel and pay for it myself if the company won’t do it. So that’s what I did. And, I slept quite well that night. No roaches, no bounty hunters in the bathroom (true story! I’ll tell that one next…) and no one jiggling at my hotel door in the middle of the night.

Of course, put me on the 25th floor of the Hyatt in New York City or on the 3rd floor of the Standard in Los Angeles and I sleep like a baby. 😉

The Ultimate American

President Barack Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize just months into his presidency. Meanwhile, the New York Times researches Michelle Obama’s genealogy and finds out that she (surprise surprise) is a descendant of a slave girl named Melvinia, who ultimately was raped/force wed to her white owner. So both Obamas got whoppers of information this week – as did America and the world.

All this makes one think about the concept of being an American. For the longest, it was common in the Black community to say that Black is Black. Most Black folks don’t initially identify with being an “American,” because the typical Black experience, and reverberations of racism, lead some people to believe that being an American is a title reserved for White people. But with the developments of the past five years or so (capped penultimately by Obama’s presidential win and the newly known fact that Michelle Obama, descendant of slaves, now lives in the White House which was built by slaves) it’s easier than ever for Black folks to simply say that they are American. No need to have a hyphen at all.

As they say with children growing up, perhaps all that’s needed is a good, popular, visible role model who makes it “cool” to be an astrophysicist or geologist. And in the Obama’s case, they are the Black poster children for breaking the historical and psychological barriers for Black folks who have a hard time thinking of themselves are willfully belonging to this country. The Obamas represent one of many examples of triumphs that pull Black people out from being the abused, ignored, make-you-nervous bastard stepchildren of American culture. Michelle’s history is Black history. Barack’s history is Black history. Black history by default is American history… But teachers and writers and parents often forget that fact when choosing to focus only on great White, historical events. But now, with both Obamas being in the White House, and Barack Obama winning the Peace Prize, this is yet another great Black event that is undeniably a great American event. The icing on the cake? You can’t tell their story without acknowledging America’s sad racial history. So like the Jews, America can never – and should never – forget what happened in its past. There is no revisionist way to rewrite that chapter.

Barack Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to work better with the Muslim world and his work toward diplomacy and better relations with other nations. Michelle Obama, along with her husband, represents what happens when racism gets out the way and allows excellence to shine through.

Fifty years from now, perhaps another barrier will be broken: that of the average history book. The writers of such tomes have no choice but to write of the achievements of both Obamas who just so happen to be Black and just so happen to be living the next chapter of American history. Get that? AMERICAN history.