Story Time: “I’ve Never Been With A (Insert Race Here) Girl Before”

Bonjour à tous!

It’s official. I’m an owner of a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism. I haven’t been this excited and fulfilled in my entire life. I’ve jumped many hurdles in life, but this amazing accomplishment is, by far, the biggest. Now, it’s time for grad school to accomplish another huge goal; receiving my master’s degree.

Post-graduation, I’ve decided to take advantage of things that I’m unable to do during my the school semester like watching Netflix with a glass of wine, going out and meeting up with friends, and just having a great headstart into the summertime.

While having some drinks in Downtown Manhattan with a friend that I met in France last summer, I got to meet some new people, including one interesting guy that got me thinking about a statement that he had made while attempting to flirt with me (very poorly I might add) over a glass of rosé. Let’s call this guy ‘Alex.’ After the “you’re gorgeous” statements and standard “tell-me-about-yourself” questions, Alex slightly giggles and says, “I’ve never dated a black girl before.”

How did I respond? I didn’t. If I did, I’d instantly become the “angry black woman.” I turned my back to him as if we’d never met.

Let’s talk for a moment.

It’s completely okay to have never dated outside your race or outside of your normal dating preference, but it is absolutely not okay to blurt out that fact when you first meet someone. Regardless of your intentions, it’s offensive and it only tells us one thing.

Now, let me explain thoroughly.

Let’s start with the stereotypes put upon women of color (par example). Latinas are sometimes stereotyped in society to be fiery and sassy while black women are said to be loud and/or (wait for it) “exotic.” If the first thing that you point out to a woman of color when meeting her for a date or talking to her for the first time is her race, then this is a form of objectification. It expresses that you see her as nothing more than an object; one more “to-do” to kick off your bucket list or a great story to tell your pals about that ‘one time with a [insert race here] girl.’

As a young woman of color who has experienced such events, I’ll tell you honestly that statements like these are not funny or cute in the slightest.

They’re actually quite ignorant.

When I meet people for the first time, contrary to popular belief, their race is not the very first thing that comes to my mind. So excuse my astonishment that my race, along with racist stereotypes (yes I said it,  because, let’s face it, stereotypes are racist) are almost absolutely the first thing that comes to mind when I converse with the opposite sex of a different race apart from my own.

It doesn’t keep me up at night but it’s definitely a conversation starter. What are your thoughts?

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À la prochaine,

A.

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Suggestions: Graduation Outfit Dilemma

Bonjour a tous. Joyeux jeudi!

Final exams are over, I’m packing up to leave college, and graduation is only a week away…and I can’t think of a thing to wear.

For as long as I can remember, the traditional graduating woman’s attire was a mid-length dress with a pair of strappy heeled sandals. Unfortunately, the New-York-born fashionista in me hates trends and loves being different from the norm, so I’m thinking about ditching the traditional graduation dress for a chic tuxedo.

You read that right; a female tuxedo. Carry Bradshaw did it and so will I. Sadly, female tuxedos are extremely hard to find, and if you do find one, it will probably cost you an arm and a leg. However, I am open to suggestions from all of you. I would be a huge help!

Any suggestions for what I should wear on such an important day? I’d really appreciate the help. Email FTLF a ftlfblog@gmail.com OR just comment below! Merci beaucoup!

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MSU ’17 Graduation Cap

À la prochaine,

A.

Story Time: Your Greatest Flaw May Be Your Strongest Attribute

Bonjour à tous!

I just took my last final exam of my undergraduate career yesterday and I honestly cannot believe that it’s all over.

It’s 4:00 in the morning in New York right now and I haven’t slept all night. I’ve been lying in my bed reflecting on how I’ve gotten this far and the reason is simple, yet not so simple: I’m stubborn.

Now, bear with me. This is a post that has been about six years in the making. I am about to let you into some of my life’s deepest experiences in 700 words.


As a young woman growing up in a traditional impoverished Caribbean household on the island of Dominica, asking constant questions or having a piqued sense of curiosity was considered obscene, rude, and seen as a form of blatant disrespect. After years of battling anxiety and innumerable obstacles under a family who never appreciated my hunger and devotion for knowledge, writing was the only way that I could speak without being silenced; my escape from the deceptive shackles that bound my free speech and intelligence. “Stubborn” is a word that I’ve been called many times growing up. As a child, I was called stubborn because I wanted to be one of the boys. I did not desire the anatomy or the attire of the boys. I desired their freedom. I desired to play without being told that I must “play like a young lady,” I desired to eat without being told to “sit like a lady,” and I desired to ask questions without being told that as a young lady, I must “speak only when I am spoken to.”

Being a child who challenged the beliefs of those around me played a large part in the journey to find myself. My curiosity and defiance towards many of my family’s traditional norms was the beginning of a new-found courage that paved the way for many opportunities to become available to me. Because I have objected to, or rebuffed certain rules that I felt prevented me from discovering myself, I have created possibilities that would have otherwise not existed. Today, as a young adult on the edge of receiving my baccalaureate degree in Journalism, I look back and realize that my childhood obstinacy has gotten me farther in life than any other characteristic used to describe me.

I strongly believe that every person is unique, but life’s obstacles and society’s definition of “normal” can cause us to conform to the beliefs, habits, and ways of life as the people who are amongst us. Hence, preventing us from finding our place in the world without social interference. Jotting down short stories about my life and the world around me, which were usually just a series of anecdotes, was my only sense of peace. These small descriptive pieces of writing in a soft-covered black and white composition notebook made me discover my passion for telling compelling, impactful stories which sparked curiosity in others who may feel silenced in the world as well.

Through this curiosity, the freedom that I so desperately craved came about. Intellectual curiosity and seeing the world through other people’s eyes has shown me that absolutely everyone has a story. But many of their stories go untold and are buried with them. This is why I have decided to dedicate myself to giving others who have been silenced a chance to tell their stories. Stories of the downtrodden, the misunderstood, and the forgotten; I wanted to give a voice to the voiceless.

As a young woman of color, whose parents come from an underprivileged country, it is no secret that I have to work twice as hard as many other people. But I am okay with that. Because of the many obstacles and misfortunates that life has thrown my way, I have acquired a gift for caring for others and seeing people in ways that the world does not, which is evident in my writing. My stubborn desire to answer unanswered questions and my passion for others has always been my strongest attributes, despite being taught at a young age that women should learn how to “stay in their lane.”

My own journeys have led me to write stories of people who have felt left behind or who have found that small beam of light in their world full of darkness; similar to my life in the past. Through possibilities abound, like many stubborn people, I have goals that I’d like to accomplish and I refuse to rest until I get there. The world of journalism can never have too many fashion-loving advocate journalists trying to raise awareness or attempt to influence others one nut graph at a time.

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Fun fact: The majority of the information in this story was told in my Ivy League college essay. Being stubborn got me into one of the best schools in the United States and all I did was turn my worst flaw into my strongest attribute. And so can you.

 

Thanks for tuning in! Look out for more posts every Thursday!

À la prochaine!,

A.

Montmartre: Home of the Creative

Cobblestone roads, enormous hills, and a hidden beauty in every nook and cranny; this historical city is, without a doubt, the heart of Parisian life.

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Photos By: Charlotte bergen | Instagram: @charlottebergen

Montmartre is more than just the home of the Sarcé-Coeur Cathedral or near the infamous Moulin Rouge. It’s a city where tourists roam in the daytime and artists flock the streets by sundown. In the 18th Arrondissement of Paris, one can’t help, but get hooked on the food, the scenery, the daily effortless fashion and of course, the artsy neighborhood.

The history speaks for itself. Pablo Picasso, Gen Paul, Vincent Van Gogh, Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec and literature royalty, Ernest Hemingway have all either resided in or found their inspiration in Montmartre.

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My Airbnb listing stated that my apartment was a studio, but not that it was an actual historical arts studio that catered to an array of French artists. Now, I admit that I am a young woman who knows more about what type of stitching Elie Saab uses in every garment each season than what it takes to capture La Seine on canvas. But I, like the lives of many of those I’ve met in this playful little town, lives for creativity. Painters, photographers, fashion designers, actors and actresses, sculptors; they have made and continue to make Montmartre what it is today.

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If you look in the right places, such as near rue Durantin, you’ll find the coolest hipster bars and cafés with the best Parisian food. Every bar has its own pizazz and homemade arts decor that make the atmosphere feel extremely welcoming.

Constantly distracted by the northern Parisian atmosphere, I didn’t realize that I was getting a daily workout on this mountain of a town. But it was all worth it.

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Thanks for stopping by! Tune in next week!

 

À la prochaine!

A.

À Paris!

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Bonjour à tous!

Okay, let’s be honest. Going on trips and experiencing new adventures is exciting, but packing…not so much fun. Have you ever packed for a trip, promised yourself that you wouldn’t pack a lot…then end up packing your entire closet?

This happens to be a bad habit which I possess, but sometimes, it’s also a good habit. The worst thing is coming across an unexpected event in another state, country, or anywhere that is not your hometown and having to go shopping for an outfit that you most likely already have hanging in your wardrobe back home.

To pack light or not to pack light? That is the question.

The answer is pack “smart.” 

Shoes: Steve Madden, Jeans: Fashion Nova, Top: MissGuided, Bralette: Forever 21

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Bodysuit: Lilac Shade

Here are a few packing tips that I’ve learned through traveling:

• Think of at least three events that you will likely attend on your trip and be realistic. Pack three specific outfits for those occasions. The rest of your suitcase should be clothing that you wear on a regular basis.

• Accessories, accessories, accessories!! I cannot stress this enough. If you wear a black dress on one day and you add a popping handbag and a matching scarf the next, you’ve just expanded your outfit choices.

Dress: H&M France, Sneakers: H&M, Scarf: Net-A-Porter

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Top: Nordstrom, Pants: Express, Shoes: Express

• At least 25 percent of the clothes in my suitcase are what I call “toss-worthy.” Toss-worthy clothes are anything that can be tossed if worst comes to worst and my suitcase is too heavy. Toss-worthy clothes are anything that costs ten dollars or less.

For example, one-dollar flip-flops, two-dollar tanks, or seven-dollar shorts are a few pieces that I consider to be toss-worthy.

I love clothing stores like Old Navy, Uniqlo and H&M where there are regular bargains and deals. If the option of making my suitcase lighter before traveling back home approaches, getting rid of a $1.90 top or a $5.50 pair of pants will not severely harm my wardrobe or my wallet.

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Shorts: H&M, Flats: H&M, Choker: Forever 21, Bodysuit: Forever 21

• The same goes for toiletries. Travel bottles are great for weekend and week-long trips, but they should never be a burden. They are very cheap and they can afford to be tossed out if needed. For long trips, if possible, it’s best to buy most of your toiletries in the place that you are visiting. It may save you a lot of space and hassle.

Wherever you go, just remember that you may want to bring a few things home from your trip, so make sure you have space in your travel bags to do so!

Thanks for tuning in!

I will not be posting next week. It’s Final Exam Preparation week. Stick around for the week after!

À la prochaine,

A.

Nevertheless, She Persisted! …And Then Got Scolded For It

.Bonjour à tous!

Have you ever achieved something in your life, but received negative comments or feedback from others despite your success? I have. Especially last week, when I found out that I was one out of 19 percent of applicants to be accepted to attend one of the top journalism graduate schools in the U.S. What’s surprising is that a lot of these negative comments did not come from men, they came from women.

In this age of widespread feminism, I cannot understand why women still bring each other down rather than uplift each other.

I’m a feminist who watches the patriarchy of many different societies tear down women every single day, but no one talks about how women do the same to other women. Feminism often bases its platform on equality between women and men. This includes a woman’s right to succeed as well as any man. But shouldn’t women, especially those who call themselves “feminists,” applaud other women when they succeed in a male-dominated world?

 The answer is, “without question.”

If you are a woman or you call yourself a feminist, live up to it. We fight against hate, not become it. On that note, here’s to smashing the patriarchy!

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Celebrate your sisters as they should celebrate you.

Stay strong and kick a** together.

Photos by photographer, Dina Raketa (Instagram: @dinarocket)

Merci for tuning in this week!

À la prochaine,

A.

Street Fashion in Brooklyn

Brooklyn! Manhattan is amazing, but when it comes to art, the best international food, and unusual scenery, I’ll take Brooklyn any day. Especially in D.U.M.B.O. where I worked with Brooklyn photographer, Dina Raketa to shoot some streetwear. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of the cold weather. When will le printemps (the Spring) season get here?

It’s Mid-March, so I decided to bring a taste of the nice weather.

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Outfit Details: Top (MissGuided), Pants (Fashion Nova)

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Outfit Details: Bracelet (Tiffany & Co.), Sunglasses (Dior), Shoes (Steve Madden)

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Outfit Details: Handbag (Coach)

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Merci for tuning in this week!

À la prochaine,

A.