November 27, 2015

About Love and Lists

At 20-something years old, I've decided to make a list. The truth is, grown women make lists. In being fierce and independent and fabulous (FIF), women like me are encouraged to go after our goals and dreams- even setting micro goals that get to the big goal.

We are taught to take charge of our finances, and get to that down payment on our first house. To be clear, you are reading the words of a woman who paid off her student loans in 4 years while taking International trips. Yes, budgeting on fleek. However, this same kind of precision is not encouraged in romantic pursuits. Or if it is, it's because the woman "isn't getting any younger" and it's thought to keep desperation in check. That's crap.

The main reason most people don't make lists is because their romantic relationships are driven by location, familiarity, and class. Don't worry, I won't dig out my Sociology course work on this, but suffice it to say most people don't make lists because they don't have to. The more fortunate folks who's no-brainer husbands materialized after saving her from a breakdancer's sharp elbow in the subway, or catching his embarrassed eyes after he hit that sleep nod hard in your grandma's church, are good to go. Girls like me go their weddings.

The big myth though, is that girls like me are unhappy at their weddings because we wish we were them. Does it look good to have a partner in crime for life? Of course! But I'm also not trying to rush into an argument about which way to roll the toothpaste. Very rarely is everything all that it's cracked up to be. Things that also fall in this category: babies, freelancing, mo' money, but I digress...

Aziz Ansari has talked about this whole relationship thing and how we have become burdened by having too many choices. Now, I'm not a world-famous traveling comedian, but dammit if I don't have choices. In fact, in talking to a close friend recently, she called me spoiled. (Yes, my friends will call me out on my crap, and I'm thankful.) I'm used to certain things and men being a certain way. My parents have also mentioned this, so at this point, there's some merit to it. To be clear, spoiled in my case is about being head-strong and generally unimpressed. So, the "partner must-haves" to work with this need to be listed. SEE: Patient AF.

Some ladies don't need lists. ALSO, the list does not mean your husband will materialize next week, that you want one, or that you are now obligated to find this man. I don't plan to change a damn thing. What I do know, is that if/when he appears I'll know it. And not for some whack-ass, "he looked in my eyes and I knew reasons," but some real "I will dance battle you in this Target woman!" reasons. Because that's what my life is about. 

October 23, 2015

6 Reasons Why Feminists Love Drake

I would like to believe that there is no longer a debate about Drake being kind of a big deal. Not only has he said it a few times, but if I had a dollar for every singing rapper that's been out since '06, I could buy a really nice martini at bar in Manhattan. So here we go!

6) He was a kid once: Like does anyone know what a baby Ja Rule looks like? I rest my case. Moving on.

He is getting it! Foreshadowing much?
5) He goes for the long shots:  Bad Girl Ri Ri, Onika, Scrippas... he likes to go for the girls who just a little bit out of reach, but only because they're really just like every other girl who wants love. Hey, if Jermaine Dupri could get with Janet Jackson, anything is possible. (No, I will NEVER forget that happened.)

4) He's not afraid to grow facial hair: Some guys get really attached to their image, especially rappers. Like, L.L. Cool J is still blowing kisses, but I digress. I like this new mature bearded Drake that wears turtlenecks and goes to the U.S. Open. He's brave. He's not afraid to be himself, which leads me to...

3) He's honest: Drake gets a bad wrap for being sensitive, but who said men can't be honest about their feelings? I mean who hasn't been in Marvin's Room a time or two? "Yes, I am drunk right now, and you should be here with me while I feel on your booty." More guys should be honest like that. The world would be a better place.

2) He has a sense of humor: At this point, we've all seen the Hotline Bling video... and the memes. Clearly that was a joke. Also, that time he was on Jimmy Kimmel making fun of himself.

1) He likes 'em BBW: The best verse in "Only" goes to Drake. Not only does he talk about it, he really is about that life. *see points 2, 3, and 5

I'm just scratching the surface here, but the truth is we didn't know we needed Drake until he showed up. Now we don't what we'd do without him. He's like the new cupcake shop on the corner of your block.

August 17, 2015

A Brief Story About Ethnic Authenticity and Interviews

"We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes..." 
-Paul Laurence Dunbar

As a freelancer, your life is filled with meetings, "projects," and temporary deals. Now that my most recent temp. job has come to a close, I have been interviewing and taking meetings, a lot. To make myself stand out, I have re-positioned my college info back to the top. (Hell, I worked hard for that magna cum laude.) However, as an unintentional consequence, my study abroad experience has become a new topic of discussion. While it has always been on my resume (since 2009),  professionally it has only been an honorable mention as the recruiter/hiring manager pours over my credentials. It has never been anything I have had to prep a PC interview answer for.

Don't I look so optimistic about the future?
Here's the truth: Erin Parks has a rebel heart. I really only have sheath dresses because I need to pay the rent, and to occasionally flex. (See photo.)

Going back to May of 2008, stepping off the plane in Accra, Ghana, it is hard to explain. I wasn't there "to feed starving children," I don't have a savior complex. I was there to learn. I wanted to soak up the accents, faces, and elegance that is a woman walking in perfect balance with her hand-woven basket of goods to sell at market. She is smart and perfectly dressed. I, a Black woman from America, am one of "the lost ones." My birth place hyphenates my very existence.

At one point during the study abroad trip, I got a little sick and spent the ENTIRE day in my room watching a marathon of some soap opera. That day changed my life. That day, the days we went through Elmina and Cape Coast slave castles, or the days I just felt free from not being a "minority," are not admissible, which makes the interview question about that experience itself somewhat invasive and false.

The whole interview process goes something like this:
Step 1: Firm handshake

Step 2: Convince the hiring persons that you're awesome. Your awesomeness is not up for debate, they just have to know how to see it, Valencia or Lo-Fi.

Step 3: Show enthusiasm for the position, and that you won't be a complete waste of space on the job.

Step 4: Ask a few questions to make sure you wouldn't in fact, be completely miserable, but with a smile on your face.

Step 5: Firm handshake

The most lengthy part of the process is Step 2, and unfortunately if the other person's filter is stuck on Willow there is not much you can do, but because you don't know that, you will try. You will avoid getting cornrows "to look more professional." You will find a way to contain your fro so you don't look too "combative." You will wear your sheath dress without the fun pattern. You will wear tiny ear rings, not the ones shaped like Nefertiti. You will use the King's English and say complex words, like interdisciplinary with amazing diction. You will say, "my trip to Ghana was great, it inspired me to travel and discover things for myself." 

You WILL NOT say the U.S. and French govt. need to stay the f%ck out of Africa. You will not say this process is exhausting. You will not say, "Love me or hate me, I get sh@t done." #nofilter, and drop the mic. Even if all of it is the truth

I once saw an article about the power of ethnic authenticity in the work place. The article emphatically stated that we have come into an age where people actually want to learn about other cultures and are not repelled by things that are different. My issues with this type of work/personal integration advice is that it focuses on how to "make it work for you," i.e. using the cultural elements that you are the resident expert in to make people comfortable. Talk about Chinese New Year, don't mention Chinese railroad workers. Talk about the whitewashed Martin Luther King Jr., not the MLK that called for economic equality and rolled with Malcolm. Talk about that salsa recipe you learned from your host parents, not the exploitation of immigrant workers. Well, my authentic isn't about placating people. So let's just focus on my Photoshop skills.  

From the Author
This is my perspective coming from working in a predominantly White, heteronormative industry where the environments reflect that. However, there were two times in my life where I interviewed, was hired, and did not feel "othered" during the process. Follow-up to this piece to come. 

Also, Part 1 of the Ghana album is here