And so I shall speak

I’ve been wanting to break the code on what it takes to sit with the cool kids since I was 35 (didn’t matter so much before). Countless professional development books, articles, newsletters and (free) courses point a budding entrepreneur toward networking, pitching, and generally “getting out there.” Then, tossing the essential social media into the mix, blehhhh. Networking and outreach efforts are resembling talent shows and popularity contests more each day. So as I hope for Ancestors unKnown to be noticed within a sea of noticeable work, I’ve occasionally wished for a louder voice and bolder approach. And maybe some street cred?

Short of changing my personality from introvert to extrovert, and significantly upping my coolness factor, I’ve been looking for input on how to play a better entrepreneur game.

One consistent piece of advice: be a speaker. If you give talks and host workshops, you build and share expertise, gain an audience and credibility, and (appreciated bonus!) earn some money.


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Zwarte Piet, the Documentary

Okay folks, here’s something to get behind: A documentary from Shantrelle P. Lewis on the Dutch tradition of blackface.

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WordPress won’t let me do a real embed – click for the page.

New Orleans-born, New York-residing, Netherlands-frequenting, Black-focused curating, and an all-around master woman, Shantrelle is bringing the Zwarte Piet debate to a bigger screen.  And I think that’s just fantastic.

Zwarte Piet’s supporters and opponents alike have a tendency to make this yearly tradition of blacking up into a national issue.  And to a great extent, it is.  The celebrations are perpetuated by Dutch people.  And local opponents have the most personal experiences and confrontations with the attitudes of racism and disregard that are represented in these celebrations.  And let’s not forget about the examples of racism in the Netherlands that slap us in our non-white faces year-round, not just during the holidays.  If a fundamental and systemic change is really going to come (and I like to believe Sam Cooke when he told us it will), it needs to happen in the Netherlands.  And Dutch people need to be motivated or coerced to make the changes themselves.  Like a nation of Aquarians, they won’t be told what to do.

But real coercion comes in worldwide numbers.  And we certainly cannot dismiss the fact that this is also a global issue.  As much as people like to deny it, Zwarte Piet stems from the ignorance-drenched globalization of a racist practice.  The Netherlands did not exist in a bubble during the 19th-century, when Piet was born.  And it certainly doesn’t exist in a bubble now.  We are part of a global community.  Whether born in the Netherlands, moved to the Netherlands, never been to the Netherlands, or never heard of the Netherlands (well, check yourself on that one), this affects all of us.  So why should folks in the Netherlands be expected to continue fighting the good fight in isolation?

Let’s fight the fight in a united, global front.  Let’s get as much worldwide attention on this issue as possible.  Let’s show Dutch people that if you mess with some of us, you mess with all of us.  Let’s support Shantrelle’s film.

She’s well on her way to reaching the $20,000 goal for her Kickstarter campaign, with supporters aplenty (my Mama included!).  And there’s no doubt she’ll reach it.  Maybe some blackgirlgone readers can help her get there.  Won’t you consider being a part of the global movement?

Here’s the Kickstarter link again: Black Pete, Zwarte Piet: The Documentary 

And should I mention I’m in the trailer? Does that help?

And do you need to be reminded about Zwarte Piet’s history? Or how I feel about Zwarte Piet?

In anti-Piet solidarity.  See you at the premiere!

Everybody loves the sunshine

It’s true, right?  Sunshine is just absolutely necessary.  Even the most committed grumps must grow exhausted from the feelings brought by constant clouds and unpleasant precipitation. Even the faithful worshipers of the rain gods must hope their angels take a break for some much-needed beach or park time. Because everybody loves the sunshine, which is my point.

And then one begins life in the Netherlands.  This place is on some other -ish with all the rain and clouds and chilliness.  Days go by.  Days with no sign of the sun.  A break in the rain is a blessing.  A break in the clouds is unlikely. A break in the chill is a holiday.

So far this “summer,” high temperatures have lingered around  63 degrees (Fahrenheit –  sorry, haven’t caught up to the Celsius train yet).  It’s usually cool enough to justify a jacket and covered legs.  And you don’t question those who continue to wear those big scarfs along with their denim jackets, for that’s appropriate attire for the chillier among us.  If the day is warm enough to justify shedding a layer, it’s an absolute must to be prepared for the evening.  It will be cold, oftentimes dipping into the 40s.

Once you master the art of dressing for perpetual late-Fall, you’ll soon realize none of it really matters.  Because more often than not, the looming clouds give way to rain.  It can creep up in the middle of the night, become incredibly heavy in the morning, linger throughout the day, and only ease up a bit in the evening to gather its energy for the following day. No matter what you’re wearing or which umbrella you carry – you’re likely to get wet.  The rain is running things.

Or perhaps it’s just running me.  If I don’t have anywhere I must be, and it’s raining on the levels of torrential downpour, I’m quite likely to veto any plans of leaving my apartment.  To do what? Stand on the soaked, abandoned streets? No, thank you.  Confined to the indoors and clinging to faint memories of sunglasses and flip flops, I go all types of crazy.  Lazy, sad, unproductive, angry at the strange selection of “entertainment” on Dutch television.  You name the unimpressive emotion – I was probably experiencing it one afternoon in mid-June.

Ah, but cue the sunshine! Over the last couple of months, it’s made a few rare, yet celebrated appearances.  I usually hear rumors about it days before: “Its supposed to be really nice for a couple of days next week!”  Or, “I hear it’s going to be summer on a Thursday this year.” The expectations get me through the remaining days of chilly clouds. I play with the idea of wearing skirts and sandals.  I dust off my sunglasses and place them next to my keys.  I consider summer playlists.

And when the sunshine comes, it doesn’t disappoint.  I and every other poor, chilly soul in the Netherlands is drawn outside.  Everyone’s arms, legs, and toes enjoy some fresh air.  People ride their bikes more slowly, no longer rushed by unpleasant conditions.  Neighbors celebrate by stating the obvious, “het is warm!” And the parks are flooded with (in some cases too many) people.  Everyone smiles, as we all suddenly seem more likable.

So I’m happy to say we’re having an entire week of such wonderfulness.  That means it was nice on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  And they’re saying it will last through Friday.  Say whaaat?  Temperatures in the low 80s, clear skies, and a relentlessly shining sun.  And five straights days of it?  Ooooohhh shoot!  What have we done to deserve this?!  I’ll tell you what: we suffered through endless days of cloudy misery.  And we’re going to enjoy every warm, jacket-free minute of it.

We’re back in the 60s and ushering in a few clouds this weekend – or so say the gods of the weather channel.  But it’s okay.  We know we can get through it with the memories of this delightful week, and the hopes that another few days of summer will come.  Maybe we can get some summer in August, too? I don’t think I’m asking for too much.