The Queen's Roundtable w/ Queen Quet: Africa Fashion Week Lowcountry 2017

A mean round of typical Charleston traffic couldn't keep us away yesterday as we made our way back to the Hampton House in Beaufort, SC to attend the Queen's Roundtable event with Queen Quet. Unique and I left right after work to hit the road, but if you live here in Charleston you know that we kind of set ourselves up for a rough ride when we decided to hop on Hwy 17 at 4:30 PM DURING some intense post-eclipse traffic.

Long story short, be better than us when it comes to finessing these Charleston roadways, y'all.  

From left to right: Queen Quet, Najmah Thomas and Donellia Chives. 

From left to right: Queen Quet, Najmah Thomas and Donellia Chives. 

The first time I saw Queen Quet was a little over a week ago at Cane Rhum Bar here in downtown Charleston. I went in for a dope brunch event hosted by Charleston's own Chef BJ Dennis and The Cocktail Bandits, and I could NOT stop staring at this one woman in the dining room.  

I was there with my boyfriend Devon and my girls Andrea and Chevy when my eyes kept drifting to this one woman over and over. I'd never seen her in my life, and couldn't figure out why I kept wanting to LOOK at her. When Andrea leaned over and told me that she was Queen Quet, my eyes felt like they grew three sizes.  

I wasn't going to miss my opportunity to hear her speak, even if traffic did stop my shine for a lil' bit. And LISTEN... she dropped soooooo many gems. The biggest one that stood out to me surrounded the concept of adornment. Being black people in America, so much of our existence outside the home is consumed by making ourselves more palatable to the majority. I've been thinking hard about this specific phrase from Queen Quet since last night:

"Anything you adorn yourself with, you should know what's in it."

This hit me on a personal level, because I've lived most of my life up until recently trying to do what I think others wanted me to do. My own sanity suffered because of it, because (let's be real) everybody who says they're for you ain't really for you. Ever since a health scare back in 2015, I've made it a point to cast out any interactions and relationships that don't contribute to my mental and spiritual well-being. It does still take work, but exercising that right to choose your own path goes a long way toward protecting your spirit. Don't thank me, thank Queen Quet for that one.

As an artist, activist, fashion designer, environmentalist, historian (for more in the list of greatness visit her website, because mama is EVERYTHING, in the best sense possible), the Queen Mother of the Gullah Geechee Nation spoke about the negativity she faced along her journey in the fashion world as she encouraged other black people to outwardly celebrate their culture and take pride in the heritage that we carry. All of her anecdotes still ring true today in regards to the ways some people dampen their blackness to appease others, and when she said that we were people of the sun and that people should look at us with that same excitement that they watched the recent eclipse with it took everything I had to stay in my seat and not yell out "YES!!!" 

After filling up our spirits with Queen Quet and feeling reaffirmed in the power and joys of being black, Unique and I needed to fill up our empty stomachs. We left straight from work, and dinner was calling. We were in luck through, because Donellia reached out to Mr. Jason and Jason's Seafood and Wings asking him to stick around and feed us before we went back to Charleston. 

AND FEED US, HE DID. 

I have been trying to track down BOMB lemon pepper wings like back in ATL since I've been in Charleston. Mr. Jason is all the way in Beaufort, but I'll gladly make that 1hr. 20min. drive to sit at his table and eat wings. I tasted that food and felt like I was right back at home!

I have been trying to track down BOMB lemon pepper wings like back in ATL since I've been in Charleston. Mr. Jason is all the way in Beaufort, but I'll gladly make that 1hr. 20min. drive to sit at his table and eat wings. I tasted that food and felt like I was right back at home!

Let me tell y'all. I adorned myself with those wings, and I could tell that love was all up and through them. I left that place so happy, because not only was my stomach fed but my spirit was topped off by Mr. Jason right along with that glass of sweet tea that tasted just like my mama made it. 

From left to right: Me, Mr. Jason of  Jason's Seafood and Wings , and Unique Law of  Uniquely His Productions

From left to right: Me, Mr. Jason of Jason's Seafood and Wings, and Unique Law of Uniquely His Productions

Anything you adorn yourself with, you should know what’s in it.
— Queen Quet, Chieftess and Head-of-State for the Gullah/Geechee Nation

 

 

We're mere HOURS away from the headlining event of African Fashion Week Lowcountry!

What are you doing to ensure that you're adorning yourself in healthy ways this week? 

Don't Tell Us to Smile: The First Southern Discomfort Discussion

A small portion of that day's panel. I'm sure our faces hint at how intense the day was. 

A small portion of that day's panel. I'm sure our faces hint at how intense the day was. 

If you’re up to speed on Charleston news, you probably saw the wildly inappropriate #SlaveBaby picture that some kid decided was a good idea to draw.

My friend, Diaspoura, called the artists and others out on it. Long story short, we had a panel about a week ago, and I was asked to sit on it.

This was my second panel appearance of any kind to date, and the nerves I felt beforehand were ridiculously unbearable. I was sick to my stomach, and kept moaning just like Tina from Bob’s Burgers. Why?

It was the first time I’d ever been given a place to talk about racial issues, and the fact that perpetrators are so quick to claim ignorance and obliviousness cuts me deeply on a daily basis. We were asked the question, “What is the spectrum of racism?” and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes a bit. And yet, I actually found the words. My answer?

“Racism can be blatant, but it is also saying, “anyone who knows me knows I’m not like that.”

This is on my list of top 5 hated phrases. I DON’T KNOW YOU. Therefore, in the moment where you felt it was cool to draw a baby in shackles with a large nose and lips, you gave me all of the impression that I needed.

The artist claimed to not know why he chose to draw the picture, but I honestly think he was embarrased to be on stage in front of everyone by that point. Why those features? I would have respected him better had he just flat out said, “When I think of ‘slaves’, I think of black people. When I think of black people, I think of fat lips and noses.”

It wasn’t long before the Uncle Ruckus-types came out of the woodworks, and to say that I was so ashamed for them? One was so misinformed as to say,

“We’re crying about white people being racist towards us, but we as black folks can be racist, too.”

There is WAY TOO MUCH reading material available for anyone to still be believing that. Minorities can be PREJUDICED, meaning that it is possible for us to dislike someone for the way they are. It only can be classified as racism when power of some kind is able to be exercised over another group because of how they look. See the Trail of Tears. See Slavery.

 

 

This one got me too, and it was in response to artists Matt Monday and Benjamin Starr sharing with the audience the struggles of trying to book Charleston area clubs as hip hop artists. Now, I assumed the screwed up part was the realization that they’re only able to book certain shows when a white colleague calls venues on their behalf. But the KICKER, y’all? A fellow “hip hop” artist countered with, “Go slow.”

 

 

Y’ALL. All I could hear in my head was Nina Simone’s “Mississippi Goddam” These artists want change NOW. Wait and go slow FOR WHAT? I’m ready for this next panel, because it’s evident that focused discussion needs to be maintained, and citywide political education needs to be a thing.


Did you catch the panel in person or on Facebook Live? What are your thoughts? Also? 

Click on those links and LISTEN to that music. I didn't share it for nothing. Get into it and support our local artists. Click the links.