Looking for Africa?
Today's NY Times featured an article about the fashion world's recent embrace of all things 'African'. Really, Africa is in style this winter? Who knew?
I think my real conflict is that I do find myself looking for these "exotic" pieces whenever I'm out shopping. My best friend is off to her native Mexico? Please get me a colorful bag. My mother-in-law is in Ecuador? A poncho, please. Friends to Puerto Rico? I would like the requisite black faux-leather flip flops that say "Puerto Rico" (ok, this is a sad example. But I do ask each and every time). There is even a major graffiti painting in my dining room of an indigenous woman (indigenous to which country, no one knows. But she looks damn stunning). I so want to believe that this is a problem of white Americans wanting to make money off of everyone else, but what happens when I am the one shelling out the cash to buy these pieces of culture?
By the way, if you really are on the hunt for awesome handmade clothing made from African prints, check out naKIMuli. Love her clothes.
About five years ago I had an idea for an online literary journal. The internet boom was the day's prevalent cliché and I thought I might cash in with a repository for what I thought was exceptional urban talent. Laden with grandiosity and biased by nepotism, I bought a domain name and had my brother help me put up urbanrhetoric.com. While I don't remember much of my mission statement, it probably had little to do with the self-serving purposes for which I devised the site, and more likely illustrated my intent to provide an outlet for a fresh voice.
This voice was to be the voice of new breed of intellectual. College graduates were of that age where hip hop was their birthright - their cultural description. They were alive to hear the first mainstream hip hop record and at the same time remember when rap labels had seventeen artists - all with very unique sounds. This new literati could dissect the metaphors of Lord Finesse, beat box for a freestyle cipher, and at the same time expound on the mediocrity of Joycean epiphanies. In short, formally educated people were brought up in the admiration of, and largely by, an iconoclastic street art form.
I wanted to develop a forum where these intellectuals (on a more narrow focus - my peer group) could share their poetry, artwork, music and ideas with each other, and, hopefully, the general public. I wanted to generate a publicity machine for the explosion of urban stereotypes, fusing the embodiment of the street with the wisdom of educators.
Unfortunately, I was not very self-motivated, had no knowledge of HTML, and for the most part, could not dedicate the time such a site required. As editor-in-chief,
For me, the highlight of the
It is odd how three years later the site is no less necessary than it was when I first devised it. This intellectual voice, while being more reflected in actual hip hop (some of these rappers have actually sniffed a college textbook) has still not been provided with an outlet for the most profound of its thinkers. The dialogue is still lacking, and this has been evident by the initial interest drawn by the new editor's appeals for talent and input.
Finally, I want to point out that hip hop is my point of reference, and not a point of reference for the site.