In my favorite online TV show, the main character is distressed the prospect of having to get it poppin’ with her new beau. She poses an essential question, which has become a catchphrase throughout my Twitter and Facebook timelines:
What would 90′s Nia Long do?
Nia Long has always been a cultural touchstone: sweet (as Brandi in Boyz in the Hood), beautiful (as Beulah in Fresh Prince of Bel Air), saucy (Jordan in the Best Man), or ‘deep’ (as Nina in Love Jones). Long has solidified herself as the woman the guys love and the girls want to be like. She can really do no wrong. This made me think, who is the one actress whose characters I wouldn’t want to model my life after?
What if, instead of asking what 90s Nia Long would do, we asked, what wouldn’t Sanaa Lathan do?
Sanaa Lathan is cute in a girl-next-door kind of way, not quite tall, not quite short, medium tone, medium hair, medium build. And in almost all of her roles she’s played the nice, bland girlfriend that goes above and beyond for someone that doesn’t deserve her time or attention.
And it makes my blood boil.
While 90s Nia Long spunky and taking pictures and about her business, Sanaa Lathan is leaving her basketball career behind because she misses her old boo.
While 90s Nia Long is cussing out Debo and falling for Craig, Sanaa Lathan is an engaged dude’s second string.
While 90s Nia Long is getting love poems dedicated to the blues in her left thigh, Sanaa Lathan is playing 1-on-1 for the love of a man who can’t be bothered.
90s Nia Long is the one luring Taye Diggs to f*ck, and Sanaa is the one taking him back when he f*cks up.
For some reason, it feels like Sanaa’s characters don’t ever get to “Happily Ever After.” Maybe the reason she infuriates me so much is because it doesn’t have to be that way. I want to yell, ‘walk away! you don’t have to deal with that bullshit!’ at the screen. In most of her movies (Love & Basketball, Brown Sugar, The Best Man, Something New) Sanaa is frustrating because she could do so much better. Maybe I recognize that many women, myself included, have been more Sanaa than Nia in our day-to-day lives, not recognizing our true power and accepting less than what we truly deserve. Is 90s Nia Long the ideal, and Sanaa Lathan the reality we deal with? Yikes.
It’s summer time, and you need a choose a book to read on the side of the pool/at the beach/at your family reunion. Don’t worry, I created a mind map of books based on TV shows for you. This infographic is based on personal reading, suggestions from others, Twitter convos, and a bit of magical thinking.
For those of you who don’t dig infographics, here’s a linked list of all the books below. Let me know what you think!
Bossy Pants (Tina Fey), 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in theMouth (And Other Useful Guides) (Matthew Inman), Stuff White People Like (Christian Lander), PostSecret: Extraordinary Secrets from Ordinary Lives (Frank Warren), Found: The Best Lost, Tossed, and Forgotten Items from Around the World (Davy Rothbart)
Oprah Winfrey Life Class
The Power of Habit (Charles Duhigg), 5 Love Languages (Gary Chapman), Beneaththe Lion’s Gaze (Maaza Mengiste), State of Wonder (Ann Patchett), The Artist’sWay (Julia Cameron), Back of the Napkin (Dan Roam)
The Long Fall (Walter Mosley), Leaving Atlanta (Tayari Jones), Darkly Dreaming Dexter (Jeff Lindsay), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Stieg Larsson), Homicide: AYear on the Killing Streets (David Simon)
Wild Seed (Octavia Butler), Dhalgren (Samuel Delaney), Pym (Mat Johnson), The Watchmen (Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons), Shades of Memnon (Brother O), A Song of Ice & Fire :Game of Thrones series (George Martin)
Bonfire of the Vanities (Tom Wolfe), Prep (Curtis Sittenfield), Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe), 48 Laws of Power (Robert Greene), Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun (Reginald Lewis, Blair Walker)
Awkward Black Girl
How To Be Black (Baratunde Thurston), The Broke Diaries (Angela Nissel), Nappily Ever After (Trisha Thomas), BeforeYou Suffocate Your Own Fool Self (Danielle Evans), The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Diaz), The Return of Simple (Langston Hughes)
Love + Hip Hop
Coldest Winter Ever (Sister Souljah), Drama is Her MiddleName (Wendy Williams, Karen Hunter), Diamond Life (Aliya S. King), Bling (Erica Kennedy), The Vixen Manual: How to Find, Seduce and Keep the Man You Want (Karrine Steffans)
Drift (Rachel Maddow), Emperor of Ocean Park (Stephen Carter), Black Cool (Rebecca Walker), MalcolmX: A Life of Reinvention (Manning Marable), The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Rebecca Skloot),The New Jim Crow (Michelle Alexander)
RuPaul’s Drag Race
Giovanni’s Room (James Baldwin), Gotham Diaries (Tonya Lewis Lee, Crystal McCrary Anthony), OutlawMarriages (Rodger Streitmatter), The Commitment (Dan Savage), Seriously I’m Kidding (Ellen DeGeneres), Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? (Jeanette Winterson)