Rikki Byrd on the anti-Black history of American department stores

I, like many other Black people, have been followed around stores for no reason other than my race. Add general anxiety to the mix and that makes me feel even more uncomfortable to just… browse. Rikki Byrd chronicled this anti-Black racism for Vox, via the depiction of Marshall Field’s in the hit series, Lovecraft Country:

Set in 1950s Chicago, Lovecraft Country’s deliberate insertion of Marshall Field’s exemplifies the show’s commitment to blending horror, magic, and science fiction with historical references to explore racial injustices faced by Black people in the US. Ruby’s determination to work at Marshall Field’s not only references racial discrimination in department stores writ large, but her persistent return to this store specifically is reflective of its impact on the city.

Now a Macy’s in downtown Chicago, Marshall Field’s was once a pillar in the Windy City, transforming the retail experience from merely an errand to an outing worth looking forward to. From its ceiling designed by Tiffany & Co. to its series of retail firsts, the building has a storied history complete with success, failure, and innovation. It also has a history of racism that long impacted Black Chicagoans eager, like Ruby, to work and shop there.

For more stories about anti-Blackness in stores, read this piece from Cassi Pittman Claytor, Traci Parker’s Black Christmas in American Department Stores, and Michael Liscky’s article on racism outliving the American department store.

12 objects unnecessarily covered in gold

I like gold pens and I once had a gold cover for my Game Boy Color which I loved. But a gold AK-47? A gold Porsche? Why? I guess rich people would reply “why not?” and to that, I say, pay your damn taxes.

iPods, Nikons, vibrators, Hummers someone has released a really crass gold plated gadget for the arms dealer market. Gizmodo suggested the gold plated shuffle “signaled the downfall of civilization”, vote according to which item you think is the most revolting.

More gold things: A Gold Experience, A Gold Experience: Part 2, The lost golden city of Luxor, Egypt, and …Paint that shit gold!

(via oobject)

Spend a night in Monica and Rachel's apartment from Friends

So booking.com, in collaboration with Superfly X is offering The FRIENDS™ Experience and a chance to stay overnight in Monica and Rachel’s apartment visit the place where Ross said “PIVOT!”, and relax on Joey and Chandler’s Barcaloungers.

As much as I loved the show and reference it frequently, I’m so over these Friends fan experiences. The show ended 17 years ago; it’s been off-air longer than it was on-air. And, yes, I know they’re doing a reunion series, and this is good for business but I’m tired. But I did realise one thing: the apartment decor was awful. Purple and yellow with a random assortment of furniture? What were they thinking? I guess that passed for decor in the 90s but looking at it now, it’s bad.

Friends related: A semi-alphabetical listing of Black actors with speaking roles on Friends

The woman who's lived in a Swedish forest cabin for 8 years

She has been Living in a Cabin in the Forests of Sweden for 8 years | Home Tour

Tova Christoffersson lives in a tiny cabin in the forests of Jämtland, Sweden. She has done so for the past 8 years. In the above video, she gives viewers a tour of her home and how she lives, with her husband and child.

If you have ever seen a cabin in a movie, Tova’s is very similar but more modern and without the impending doom/horror vibes (like The Hateful Eight or Evil Dead, for example). The purpose of living “off-the-grid” is to live a more sustainable life and what could be more environmentally friendly than this?

It’s not something I could ever do but it works for them and that’s the important thing.

Robb Report on the iconic fashion designer Willi Smith #

willi smith

According to a 1983 People magazine article, Smith’s brand employed 85 people and shipped its men’s and women’s lines—WilliWear is credited as the first brand to encompass both under one label—to more than 1,000 department stores nationwide. A year later, the company was grossing some $25 million annually (over $55 million when adjusted to today’s figures) and embarked on the first artistic collaboration of its kind with the likes of Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger and Keith Haring creating widely accessible designs. And yet for many who weren’t alive at the time of Smith’s massive success, his name was a mystery before 2020.

The sustainability of Christmas gifts

Lemon slices hung up

We’re 31 days away from Christmas, folks! The dreaded virus—alongside changing consumer behaviour—means we’re buying more and more online but that comes at a cost to your bank balance and the environment.

Shop Like You Give A Damn wrote an interesting piece on the sustainability of Christmas gifts. In the article, they looked at the impact of some of the most commonly given Christmas gifts in the UK including socks, shampoo, candles, and wrapping paper.

Here’s a brief look at the environmental impact of a pyjama set:

When examining a cotton pyjama set, we need to talk about water consumption first. A shockingly high amount of 20 000 litres of water is used to produce one cotton pyjama set. This is the same amount of water a UK household of two would use in about 2 and a half months!

Yikes!

Of course, this isn’t to shame people for giving or receiving presents but it’s helpful to know how items are made and how they affect the planet.

So if you’re interested in more eco-friendly Christmas gift ideas, check out Shop Like You Give A Damn’s gifts sets as well as Mrs Slee Jones’s eco-friendly Christmas post.

afrodrops: a Black-owned shop for Afro hair care

afrodrops logo

“Dad, I really don’t like how my afro hair grows, I hate it.”

That’s the opening quote on the afrodrops about us page. It came from the 5-year-old son of Luke Carthy, founder of afrodrops, who felt compelled to make a change in Afro hair care.

afrodrops is a Black-owned shop for natural and Afro hair care products. As Luke mentioned on the site, the products exist in abundance (afro hair care is worth $2.5bn in the US alone) but not many people (can) go to the specialist stores that sell them for various reasons.

Stores like Boots, The Body Shop, Lush, Tesco, and Sainsbury’s should stock Afro hair care products and reflect the needs of all their customers. afrodrops aims to restore that balance.

Stocked brands include:

  • Mielle
  • African Pride
  • Cantu
  • Palmer’s
  • Shea Moisture
  • Curly Kids

Also, if you subscribe to the afrodrops newsletter, you can get 10% off your first order. Head on over to their site today!

Killing the planet is the new black

Every year, Pantone Color Institute releases its colour trends report and the fashion world clambers to follow it. But with all trends, they’re fleeting. People spend billions on clothes and dispose of them within months, only for those colours to return in future years.

Elizabeth Sergan wrote “Our obsession with ‘color trends’ is killing the planet” for Fast Company back in February to illustrate how harmful these colour trends can be.

Companies from H&M to Target have figured out how to manufacture the latest styles quickly and cheaply, making them accessible to a broader range of consumers—but also adding to the waste problem.

All of this has sent us into a state of massive overconsumption. Most of us have about 150 items in our closet. The number of times we wear each item before throwing it out has gone down by 36% since 2000, and many of us only wear an item seven to 10 times before it goes in the trash. And all of this waste is clogging up our landfills and oceans, and spewing vast amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, accelerating climate change.

If you’re not into fast fashion, maybe you’d consider clothes made by fish leather (providing it doesn’t contribute to overfishing).

The diasporan style of Grace Wales Bonner

A man in a brown jacket, sweater, and trousers.

The New Yorker profiled Grace Wales Bonner, a Black UK designer who draws inspiration from the African diaspora to create beautiful fashion rich in Black history.

The twenty-nine-year-old London-based designer—a slight woman with enormous intellectual and artistic ambitions—draws from the creative and thus political minds of the modern African diaspora, not only to inform her art but to reveal how style has grown out of the diaspora itself, linking together our fragmented worlds in ways that others may not have noticed, but that we have. Equally at home with Aimé Césaire and Léopold Sédar Senghor’s theories about Negritude as she is with the history of Christian Dior—last April, she worked with the fabled house to reinterpret its New Look—Wales Bonner has been sui generis from the start, in part because, unlike many other designers, she doesn’t reference the past to service trend; in her work, she aims to make the broken history of the Black artist and intellectual in African, European, and American culture whole.

For more about Grace Wales Bonner, check out this interview she did with The Gentlewoman.

Hilarie Burton on leaving Hollywood

Hilarie Burton

I don’t pay attention to celebrity news but this caught my because I follow Hilarie Burton on Instagram and it was interesting.

In an interview with CBS News, she explained how she left Hollywood for a Rhinebeck, a small town in upstate New York, and found comfort.

“I found so much self-worth in this community that I hadn’t in work. […] When I’d accomplished everything I said I was gonna accomplish at a young age and still didn’t really like myself, there was a problem.”

Her reason for moving there with her husband Jeffrey Dean Morgan was “the memory — and destruction — of similar small towns where they both grew up”.

“The small towns disappeared. The mom-and-pop shops disappeared. Everything got replaced by big, massive chains. So when we found this community that was all mom-and-pop shops, it was so important to us that we preserved it and we honored it in a way that other people maybe saw the value in it.”

If this pandemic has taught me anything, it’s the time inside and away from everyone has been good for things like this — taking stock of where you are, what you’re doing, and why you’re here. For many of us, that can be difficult to face, especially if you were just getting your life together or at least trying to (myself included). I’m still doing it now and extracting yourself from an environment that leaves you unfulfilled can be liberating. I’m happy that she has found peace in her new surroundings with her family.

The Toilet Paper Calculator

Toilet roll that says it's the end of the roll as we know it

The hoarding of toilet paper seems to have died down, at least in comparison to March. But for those who didn’t panic buy multipacks of the stuff, you might want to economise when you get some. Enter the Toilet Paper Calculator.

Created by Nathan Yau, the Toilet Paper Calculator takes four inputs based on:

  • How many people live in your home
  • How many times each person wipes per day
  • How many sheets they use per wipe
  • How many sheets per roll of your toilet paper of choice

Are these personal questions? Hell yeah. But do they really need to be asked? Hell yeah; this is your money and the environment we’re talking about. The toilet paper calculator is there to help you get no more toilet roll than you actually need and stop those repeat offenders who use big wads for one wipe.

But if this sounds like TMI (tedious mathematical information), you could try one of Nathan’s mentioned alternatives to toilet paper including:

  • Bidet — a common bathroom installation in mainland Europe
  • Rags or old socks — “Wash after each use.”
  • Leaves — “Probably bigger ones are better. I cannot speak from experience.”
  • Some other water source — “Use a squirt bottle or spray bottle.”

I don’t recommend you use leaves for the sake of your health and your pipes. If all else fails, use your hand, wash it for 40 seconds, and don’t tell anyone. We already know too much about people who don’t wash their legs in the shower. Another good reason for social distancing I suppose.

Black Minimalists

Black Minimalists on YouTube

The Black Minimalists want to change that perspective. They are a community of individuals who identify as black and live minimalist lifestyles.

The website launched this year and is funded by the founding team members. The team is made up of four people: founder Yolanda Acree, and co-founders Farai Harreld, Kenya Cummings, and Anekia Nicole. Everything from food and travel to beauty and fashion is covered but more importantly, Black Minimalists welcome collaboration and support to spread the word and provide a safe space to do so.

You can find out more about them on their blog and donate to keep the community alive.

The Minimalists + the art of letting go

I got into The Minimalists in 2017 after a breakup and while the minimalist movement is heavily whitewashed and misguided, these guys talk sense.

Rather than getting rid of everything and only buy 5 expensive white items in your expensive white apartment, they tell you to keep the things that have value and get rid of the stuff that doesn’t. It seems basic but that’s the trouble with letting go: it can be a fine art.

Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, known to their four million readers as “The Minimalists,” have written four books, including the bestselling memoir, Everything That Remains. They write about living a meaningful life with less stuff at TheMinimalists.com. Their new film, Minimalism, is currently the #1 documentary of 2016.

Stream their TED Talk below.

The Art of Letting Go | The Minimalists | TEDxFargo