Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Looking For Brother Socialites

Like some of you, I spent several good years slugging it out with Brothers to attend various functions with me. It was like pulling teeth from a running moose to get them to wear a tuxedo, attend a gala, or go to the opera.

Some of them where/are strictly friends and others were men I dated at one time. Yet regardless of my status with them, we would revisit the same theme song over and over again…

“Well, um…I’m busy”
“Oh, I have plans that night” (although I would ask months in advance)
“Why do we have to go to that?!”
“I bet there won’t be any of us there…”
“That’s too expensive!” (but they drive foreign cars and mysteriously find money for their interests)
“I have no interest in attending (insert name of event here)…”
To add further insult, some guys would “show off” (Sistas, you know what I mean) or act like five year olds so that we would have to leave when they were ready to go home.

But interestingly enough, there was the expectation that I was to perform my best rendition of the standard “grip and grin” at events that were of high importance to them.

Needless to say, that type of selfishness got real old with me. So rather than subject myself to such nonsense, I became extremely comfortable attending events and activities alone. It is more important for me to have a good time, socialize freely, and network - and less important to appear to be “coupled.” And, as I have shared with you in past posts, part of being a good Socialite will mean that you may have to go out by yourself periodically.

But I’m single. And I have to be really honest with you about something that kinda troubles me.

It is striking how many Sistas in relationships (married, dating, or co-habituating) attend events alone. You probably see it in your hometown too.

I get that you don’t have to do everything together as a couple – BUT I am slightly alarmed when I see coupled folks rolling solo frequently. And, I know from first hand experience, that a lot of these ladies “grin and bear it” – but cry inside (or to their friends) that their spouse/boyfriend/friend refused to escort them to an event.

I scratched my head and began to wonder how Sista Socialites (or aspirants) could troubleshoot these issues on their quest for the Socialite lifestyle.

So, I put on my 'Geraldo hat' and launched an investigative report. I interviewed several Brothers of their opinions.

Here are the startling results…

Some men pointed to fact that Sista Socialites don’t filter activities of importance for their men. Sistas want their man to go to every fashion show, truck show, tea, luncheon, gala, card party, etc as a show of support rather than picking and choosing which ones are most important. As a result, the Brother would rather stay home versus being one of a few “hen pecked” men at a women’s event.

One Brother suggested that Black people function more as individuals in relationships rather than as partners (pointing to the Single Parent phenomena in our community). He suggests that Sista Socialites emphasize your desire for a partnership more than a relationship so that you can share discussion on how both people’s interests can weighted equally most of the time.

Another Brother added that Sistas may cater to their men a bit too much and don’t establish “rules of engagement” during dating. So, if you want to get your Socialite shine on, tell the man this early in the relationship. If you are a budding Socialite and married, strive to get your husband’s support for your quest. If he loves you, he may not participate all of the time but he won’t stand in your way either.

So folks, there is it.

Interesting perspective and I think good food for thought for many of women who are on the quest for Socialite-dom.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Enjoying Verdi's Rigoletto

I recently attended a phenomenal performance of Rigoletto by The Opera Company of Philadelphia (OCP) starring famed British Baritone Alan Opie and Israeli Soprano Chen Reiss (first photo). People came from near and far (including Munich and Poland) to enjoy this outstanding event.

Also, a younger generation of Brother and Sistas artists were represented in the cast as well including Bass-baritones Frank Mitchell & DeAndre Simmons and Mezzo-soprano Allison Sanders (second photo).

Many of you are already familiar with a few of this opera’s popular arias like “La donna e mobile” and “Caro nome.”

Rigoletto can be tough if it is not performed correctly. Most opera performances I attend are usually three hours long with several intermissions to give you an opportunity to stretch your limbs and grab some coffee. So, when an opera is horrible – it is worst than a Charlie Horse cramp as some people nod off and start snoring (a true story).

What was especially exciting for me is that I was able to enjoy Rigoletto with my ‘special friend’ (wink, wink). I treated him to premium seating as his birthday present since he expressed interest in attending the opera.

To make my friend's first time opera experience even more special, the Managing Director of OCP (who is a great buddy of mine) orchestrated the opportunity for us to meet the cast, provided a backstage tour of the set and stage, and then treated us to a divine dinner along with his partner.

My special friend is still raving about the evening weeks later. And, not only did he enjoy the performance, he is now eagerly looking forward to a repeat visit.

In case you are curious - my friend is very much your classic Brother – a “guy’s guy” who enjoys simple pleasures like good food, baseball, beer, and wine. He is not a part of the Black Socialite Set of our hometown nor is ‘Socialite-dom’ his aspiration.

But, he is willing to try out new things which is a breathe of fresh air.
Photo credit: Opera Company of Philadelphia

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Matter of Skin Color

If your email was hopping like mine over the past week, you probably heard about the ridiculous “light skinned women in for free” party that was supposed to be held in Detroit recently.

The news of this event swept through listservs and chat rooms with such fury, that CNN actually picked up the story, providing their own analytical spin with the obligatory experts in Sociology and African American Studies. Needless to say, the outcry was loud enough that the event promoters cancelled the party.

But it was also clear that this party opened up old wounds for some regarding issues of attractiveness and desirability in Black America.

I actually fielded enough questions as to whether or not I believe that skin color is still a factor within The Black Social Elite that I decided scribe this post.

It is no secret that Black America still wrestles with issues of color and class. Some Black Americans are highly annoyed that there is social schism within our own race and point back to the plantation (and the proverbial white man) as the culprit.

The unfortunate truth is that class and color are historically intertwined. We all know that lighter skin Blacks typically received greater financial and social privilege versus those who were darker skinned.

And, according to a recent study, skin color of Black Americans is still a major factor for employability. The so-called “color caste system” has polarized families and friends for generations in our community – and it appears that there is no end in sight.

Many would argue that skin color is still a determinant among The Black Social Elite as well. And quite frankly in certain corridors of the country, this may be true. Several of the organizations listed in the sidebar of this blog have been accused (rightfully or wrongfully) of colorism.

But, I am highly doubtful that colorism is the norm among today’s Black Socialites.

As demonstrated on this blog – the beautiful spectrum of our people is displayed for your viewing and reading pleasure.

Whenever I attend functions of Alpha Kappa Alpha, The Links, Delta Sigma Theta, Sigma Pi Phi, or Jack and Jill – I see all of our folks representing proud and tall.

I can’t say that this was always the case. But, if you poll older members (those who are 60+) of any of these organizations, they will tell you that things have changed for the better within The Black Social Elite.

So good people, there isn’t much we can do to change the historic wrong of colorism in Black America. It is ugly and hurtful business.

And, it is what it is.

However, you can elect to not play perpetrator, participant, or victim in this nonsense with our people.

OK…I’ll make it plainer.

Your skin color alone should not deter or encourage you to achieve Socialite aspirations.

If you are lighter skinned, you will not automatically receive the keys to the Black Socialite kingdom merely because you are light. If you are darker skinned, the doors will not be slammed in your face solely because of your hue.

As Dr. Phil says, you train people how to treat you.

Carry yourself with elegance, grace, style, poise, and confidence at all times and trust me…the world will be at your feet. There is nothing more striking and attractive that a proud and elegant Black person.

Now, I need to be clear about something…

I am not trying to devalue the real pain and scar tissue from color discrimination. All of us in Black America have encountered it. And, I know that it cuts more deeply when it comes from our folks.

But, we can only control ourselves and our actions – after all, the most powerful form of change begins at home. We have to guard our spirits against haters - of all races and stand firm to the truth of how beautiful we all are.

Friday's Fabulous Flick

Here's our gal and Super Black Socialite Ms. Melody Hobson (President of Ariel Capital Management) with her boyfriend George Lucas (yes...that George Lucas!) at the 25th Anniversary Princess Grace Awards Gala at Sotheby's in New York City yesterday.

I think they look great in this flick and she looks especially happy! I think she is getting better looking with age.
If her face is familiar, it's because she is the Financial Advisor for Good Morning America.
The couple has been dating for quite some time now and rumor has it that a mega fab wedding may be in the works. Of course, I'll keep you posted if I hear any new news.

Now...some of you have been beating up yours truly due to my lack of posting recently.

OK...I'm leaning forward towards the screen so that you can smack me in the head...

OUCH...not so hard - remember I have events to attend and I can not have visable lumps that makeup can't cover!!

I'm back in commission and on the grind - we have sooooo much catching up to do.

In the meanwhile, have fun this weekend - I sure plan to!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday's Fabulous Flick

Patrick Vatel and Yemi Benedict-Vatel are seen here enjoying The Frick's Collection Autumn Dinner honoring Ann & John Marion earlier this week. Both husband and wife are corporate climbers in the banking industry in New York City.

It's soooo wonderful to see a young couple representing us with such grace and elegant.

Keep your eyes peeled for more socialite sightings of this outstanding couple.

Yours truly has a nasty bug so I promise to get back to my standard "grind" of posting more updates and details for your reading enjoyment.

Until we chat again, try to have a great weekend - in spite of the odd weather patterns sweeping the country!

Friday, October 12, 2007

This Friday's Fabulous Flick

Hat's off to the New Haven, CT Chapter of The Girlfriends who recently celebrated their 75th Anniversary with a series of events including a glittering gala!

Don't the ladies look simply marvelous!

Fall has finally arrived - at least weather wise - in most parts of the country so it's time to don your fabulous attire for upcoming formals, concerts, and other fun activities.

It's also a good time to try some new things. For example, treat yourself to a classical music or Opera performance. Have dinner at an ultra chic restaurant. Or, consider a nice fall picnic of simple delights like good wine, cheese, and fun with your special someone or a group of friends.

My point to all of this is that I hope that you are coordinating your social calendars with your loved ones and friends.

That's my plan for this weekend.

Cheers all and enjoy the fall foliage!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

B-Boys & Girls Tryin' To Perpetrate The Fraud

As of today, there have been than 7,600 page views since we started on this journey together and the email is incredible.

You are soooooo fabulous!

Some of your notes have been beautiful and heartwarming. Many of you have commented that seeing talented, attractive, successful Black people has provided you both professional and personal inspiration. That’s great news and I will continue to strive for excellence.

However…I gotta call some of you on the carpet.

Some scandalous trolls have tried to pull the ‘wool’ over my eyes and pass yourselves (or your friends/relatives/fan base) as members of the Black Socialite Set. Consider reading some of my August postings on ‘Defining The Black Socialite,’ ‘Becoming A Black Socialite,’ and ‘Cracking The Black Socialite Code’ before contacting me about inclusion or coverage on this blog.

As a word of caution, I am pretty darn good at sniffing out perps lying about membership in any of the organizations I have listed on this blog. And, keep in mind that membership in said organizations does not necessarily make you a member of The Black Elite (although many members of The Black Elite belong to a slew of organizations).

Some other folks are just vicious self promoters looking for press. OK...that's all good but I live by the evidence based model of Socialite-dom. Your picture appearing one or two times on some magazine's 'party page,' on your MySpace or Facebook page, etc. does not necessarily make you a Socialite.

Just so that we are all on the same page, believe that I verify Socialite Status before I write about anyone on this blog. This blog has been hyperlinked to The Washington Post, The New York Times, and numerous other blogs, listservs, and chat rooms.

So understand me clearly when I say that there is no way that I will allow bogus rogues to self promote without any supporting data demonstrating that they are truly a part of the tribe.

Remember that The Black Elite is super small and it takes just a phone call or email to check someone out.

Until we meet again!

Friday, October 5, 2007

This Friday's Fabulous Flick

This is a great looking couple and a team to definitely watch!

Married in 2005 in a Black Socialite studded wedding, Judith Byrd-Blaylock and Ronald Blaylock often attend super fab events in New York City. She is a Senior Vice President and Founding Partner of a airline consulting firm and he is Chairman/CEO of his own full service investment banking firm.

The couple met on a blind date, dated for three years, and were engaged on Martha’s Vineyard in 2004. Judith has been recently ‘pressing the flesh’ fundraising for Senator Barack Obama helping to raise more than $50,000 towards his campaign.

Of course, as I hear of more details about the Blaylocks – I promise to share all of the scoop with you.

In the meanwhile, have a great weekend and walk with stylish flair!