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A bittersweet tribute to black womanhood

sweetbaby 600"Where are the ants?"

It's Mother's Day. My mother has come to New York to spend the weekend with me, her only child. After a rooftop brunch, I insist that we swing through the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, N.Y., to see Kara Walker's latest art exhibit, "A Subtlety" (or "The Marvelous Sugar Baby"). I'm especially eager to see it on opening weekend, when it's fresh (and before the masses see it and all the think pieces are written that will undoubtedly alter my perception), and I also want to see how my mom, not so much an art lover, reacts to it.

Walker, who is best-known for using her art to explore race, gender and sexuality, doesn't disappoint. Her newest work, currently on display at the Domino Sugar Factory, is a modern-day sphinx in the image of a black woman. The "sugar sphinx," as I've taken to calling her, wears a head scarf tied like a mammy and is replete with an ample bosom and the unmistakably black features of a wide nose, full lips and—the part that's been getting all the social media attention—a gigantic butt.

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The fashion way

fashionbusiness 600From designer fragrances, clothes, shoes and bags, men and women go in debt to stay current in fashion. While the trends may come and go, fashion as a whole is the staple of life for many. Even the knock offs have a place in society. Just as in any business, it takes determination, resources, creativity and talent to make it in fashion.

On a national level, entrepreneurs such as Russell Simmons of Phat Farm, P Diddy of Sean Jean, Damond John of FUBU, Rachel Roy of Rachel Roy Collection, and Tracy Reese of Tracy Reese have inspired an entire generation of designers and consumers alike.

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Is using lotion a black thing?

blacklotion 600Dear Race Manners:

Genuine question: Is lotion a black thing (especially for guys)? A random white dude at the gym asked me why I use all these "products" (basically face lotion and body lotion). I asked, "Don't you use lotion?" He said, "For what!?" I know lotion is marketed mostly to women (if advertising is correct), but I just remember from the time I was young, my mom would scold me if I tried to walk out the door with ashy knees.

Do white people get ashy knees? Or is the invisibility of dry skin a light-skin privilege? And furthermore (here is the academic side to this), I'm now wondering about how race and gender intersect to produce different grooming practices for men of color that do not fit white constructions of masculinity. —Confused about Creams, Color and Culture

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Meet the black officer who went undercover as a KKK member

Ron Stallworth_600Sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction.

Retired police Sgt. Ron Stallworth's story – about how he, a black undercover Colorado cop, infiltrated one of the nation's most notorious hate groups in 1978 – is one such truth. Stallworth, 61, recently released the book "Black Klansman," detailing his amazing story during his early years of service.

"I was sitting in my office reading the newspaper," Stallworth, who now lives in Utah, told The Root. "I was going through the classified section, and on this particular day there was an ad that said 'Ku Klux Klan.'"

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Kam’s Kapsules: OPENING THIS WEEK

xmaen 600For movies opening May 23, 2014

BIG BUDGET FILMS

"Blended" (PG-13 for profanity, sexuality and crude humor) Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore reunite for their third romantic comedy (after The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates), this go-round as a widower and divorcee who continue seeing each other despite a disastrous blind date. With Terry Crews, Kevin Nealon, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Dan Patrick and Shaquille O'Neal.

"X-Men: Days of Future Past" (PG-13 for nudity, profanity, suggestive material and intense violence) Latest installment of the Marvel Comics franchise finds a confederacy of mutants traveling back in time to join forces with their younger selves in order to change the past to preserve the future. Cast includes Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Ellen Page, Anna Paquin, Hugh Jackman and Michael Fassbender.

 

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