TikTok is that app that is sticking to the headlines for all the wrong reasons, and this time it’s because of the threat of a TikTok ban from President Trump. I’ll be honest, when I think of TikTok I do not think of the ban as the first problem facing this app. Why? Because while I applaud TikTok for democratizing online virality and being a new frontier, it’s quickly become as toxic as some of the more established social media platforms.
Some of the toxic behavior on TikTok is evident. This infamous behavior includes popular TikTok creators caught partying in a pandemic, to the many irrelevant feuds between its creators. I respect TikTok for giving a new generation of creators of different backgrounds and identities space. However, I do not agree with how TikTok has been slow, and sometimes absent, to protect or elevate its Black and BIPOC creators when their culture is constantly being appropriated.
What I want to discuss is the countless examples of cultural appropriation of Black culture, and BIPOC culture, when it comes to what has made these top creators the, “top.” Again, I understand the need for apps like TikTok which can be used as tools for socials change, we need to also hold its creators accountable to the same degree we hold other influencers to a standard. I operate within the framework that the personal is political. You don’t need a formal training in star studies or rhetorical criticism to understand that concepts like the commodity fetish, cultural appropriation, and the navigation of race exist in celebrity identity. Think of Kim Kardashian and her many call outs for cultural appropriation.
One of the most political tools we as humans have is our bodies. The way we walk, our dance, our fashion, our bodies have access to languages with its own sets of grammar and style. When the Black Lives Matter movement broke into TikTok there was an outcry that was long overdue. Black TikTok creators and Black culture was being blocked, not shared, and diluted. And non-BIPOC creators and non-Black creators steadily grew their influence appropriating Black culture.
Instead of a TikTok Ban Let’s Talk About Cultural Appropriation
The reason I'm writing this is because I continue to see dance and music that is localized and born from within Black culture being appropriated for the growth of non-Black TikTok creators. In case you're wondering, I am Latino and part of the Latinx community. I raise this point because know the importance of speaking out when I see actions that need to be called out - called out. I also know a thing or two about media representation because I both work in the entertainment industry and my undergraduate training was in rhetorical and media criticism, with a focus on new media. Yup, I have a lot of big words in my vocabulary always ready.
The post that sparked this piece was a duet by two TikTok dancers, Tony Lopez (@tonylopez) and Sarah-Jade Bleau (@sjbleau). As I scrolled threw the comments I saw dozens of people saying how, "cool" they looked and praising them. My problem with the duet and their performance of the song, "100 Racks" is that along with being remixed to have a Caribbean inspired beat the dance itself is stolen from Caribbean culture. I recognized these movements because many of my peers in college studied Caribbean dance and the same movements, gestures, and facial expressions exist in that medium of performance. Both TikTokers call themselves dancers, but what I ask is, "Where is your credit to this dance's culture?" On both creators accounts I have not seen any nods to Black culture which they heavily profit off of. There's a clear difference between cultural appropriation and appreciation and my gut tells me this is blatant appropriation. Without pointing to Black creators who may have first performed the dance, or the sources where they learned some, young people seeing this duet might just think it's just a, "cool looking" dance.
Well sorry to break it to you, the dance performed by not only these TikTokers but by any of your favorites are rooted in oppression and acts of protest. These dances convey a history, meaning, and culture that non-Black creators and non-BIPOC creators are profiting off. The consequence of this dance is that it leaves Black creators without credit and without their own culture to celebrate because it could be seen as out of trend by the time they do it.
The TikTok ban has scared many creators into pushing their fans to other social media platforms to help them maintain influence. In trying to funnel their fans into different content channels many creators are also still maintain their regular posting schedule. In writing this piece the words like patriarchy, heteronormativity, and commodity fetish rolled off my tongue on onto the page. Like all platforms, TikTok has space for transgressive representation. But the problem is that the performance part of TikTok, I’m talking about dance, is being ignored. Altering appearance through getting dressed is just one part of how creators can negotiate their representation in relation to race, class, and gender.
Writing is a process that for better or worse defines who I am. And my writing has cemented itself in themes of identity, politics, and media. I write because I want to be heard. TikTokers do what they do because they want to be seen. I admire the young creatives, younger than me and I'm only 23, who built a platform for themself on TikTok. I also understand that the TikTok ban poses serious questions about free speech. Yet, with the worry that President Trump's ban can impose we need to also look internally at the issues happening within TikTok itself. We need to ask, "How can we hold these TikTokers accountable?" YouTube has gone ahead and demonetized problematic creators. We need TikTok to release guidelines that actually curtail behavior that's problematic and insensitive. Whether it's banning creators or something of that nature - a change in TikTok culture needs to happen.
My writing is not shy of presenting the personal as political. I’m usually pushing out criticism sometimes on the most personal texts; the embodied. Our bodies are rhetorical, and people often forget. Writing about film, the grammar of a TV show, or the cultural appropriation in a TikTok dance has as much merit to raising social consciousness as the person writing for the 15th time about Shakespeare’s sonnets.
I'm curious to know, what are your thoughts on the TikTok ban? Can you think of any examples of the cultural appropriation I'm talking about? Let me know in the comments below or tag me on social media @Willsshowem
Thanks for reading these Words by Will! See you in the next post!
Summer 2020 looks nothing like what I imagined or planned and I’m definitely not the first person to feel this. My work went into a full work from home and Zoom meeting from 9 to 5 model and my life on red eye flights was put on pause. For those who don’t know, I work in communications and marketing in the entertainment industry. (To learn more about my job check out my first YouTube video here.) Believe me, I quickly got over the news of work trips being paused and award shows doing digital. One thing that I have always valued is knowing that there’s a real world outside of my work. And the world around me is the beautiful and comforting area that is the San Fernando Valley.
While I was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, this summer marks my 1-year anniversary of moving back and living in the Los Angeles, CA area. In my grand scheme of reaching my Hollywood dream, I imagined living in L.A. but for those in the know, that didn’t go as planned. (Yes, I landed an amazing job in the industry. However, I spent the last 4 years in college in Upstate NY.) Again, while I grew up around San Fernando, I am pretty unfamiliar with the scene here.
I’ve never actually had this much time to just be in both San Fernando and the Valley to explore and get to know the people and places that make it up. With my life no longer on endless red eyes, I wanted to take this moment and really explore the community around me. As the first in series of local travel blogs, I wanted to highlight some local and small business that have helped me call the San Fernando Valley home. I’ve not only enjoyed reinvesting into my community, but I’ve also enjoyed discovering the people that make these businesses a quality place to both eat and visit.
I’ll be listing these local restaurants and business in no particular order. By no means is this list comprehensive – these are the spots that I just happened to visit in the week of researching and writing this blog post. Let it be known that I’m writing this post because I’ve loved these places and want more people to know about them. I’m not an expert food reviewer, but I do love spotlighting places and people worthy of it! Here’s to my first shopping locally blog post where I traveled to small business around San Fernando, CA that I think are worth checking out.
Traveling/Shopping Locally in San Fernando Valley: 5 Restaurants to Know About
UCRAVE Grill - 110 Maclay Ave, San Fernando CA, 91340
When it comes to restaurants, I always check a menu to see if they serve iced coffee and/or avocado toast. And UCRAVE café in San Fernando had that and plenty more. My friend and I went for dinner and it soon become a whole mukbang! The menu at UCRAVE has something for everyone from breakfast, to lunch, and dessert options and more. From my first visit with one of my best friends, to running there for my morning iced coffee, and even taking my dad for brunch, UCRAVE Grill is one of many great small business in San Fernando, CA worth checking out. To check out their website and menu click here. Follow UCRAVE Cafe & Grill on Instagram @ucrave.cafeandgrill
My go-to order: Chinese chicken salad and a watermelon refresher.
POPS Artisanal Creamery - 450 N Maclay Ave, San Fernando, CA 91340
There is literally nothing better than a nice cup of ice cream on a hot summer-San-Fernando-Valley day, and that is how I discovered POPS Artisanal Creamery. Located up on Maclay Ave, this boutique ice cream shop warmed my heart (luckily the sherbet I got helped me cool down) with its charm and its history. POPS Artisanal Creamery is a family-owned Artisanal ice cream shop with specialties including: Coconut sundaes, Hawaiian floats, Pineapple sundaes, and so much more. I snapped a picture while I was there displaying my sorbet. You can check out the menu and website for POPS Artisanal Creamery by clicking here. Follow POPS Artisanal Creamery on Instagram @popscreamery
My go-to order: Small cup with coconut and pomegranate sorbet.
Sweetness Cakes And Cafe - 128 N mACLAY sT, sAN fERNANDO, ca 91340
When it comes to satisfying my sweet tooth, candy just does not do it for me. I am a true and blue pastry lover and Sweetness Cakes and Café in San Fernando, CA is where I get my sweet treats. A cute local bakery, Sweetness is another of the many treasures I’ve discovered in re-discovering the San Fernando community. I was honestly hooked when I saw that they offered a vegan cupcake in their shop. Let’s pause here-let me repeat that-yes, a vegan cupcake! Again, with my limited knowledge of local and small business in San Fernando I was so excited to find a bakery with both a good matcha latte and vegan pastries. Not only am I saving gas by not having to cross the Valley, but I am also reinvesting it into a local bakery with great options for breakfast and lunch. You can follow Sweetness Cakes and Cafe on Instagram @sweetnesscc
My go-to order: A vegan cupcake and iced matcha latte with almond milk.
Teriyaki Madness San Fernando Station - 1240 Truman St #165, San Fernando, CA 91340
One thing that I cannot live without is some good teriyaki chicken, and the Teriyaki Madness in San Fernando always serves it up right! In researching local restaurants for this blog, I remembered that Teriyaki Madness serves some of my favorite bowls around. Whether I’m grabbing an order or having it delivered, Teriyaki Madness always caters to my love of something that’s savory and sweet. As mentioned, I've enjoyed looking at the community around me and finding ways of shopping locally, and Teriyaki Madness offers that small business quality while having a successful franchise. Teriyaki Madness in San Fernando is a local option with a commitment to quality and serving fresh Asian-inspired food.
You can check out the San Fernando location’s site page and menu by clicking here. Follow Teriyaki Madness San Fernando on Instagram @teriyakimadness_sanfernando
My-go to order: Chicken breast teriyaki bowl with a vegetable base, and of course, the thick sauce.
Truman House Tavern - 911 San Fernando Rd, San Fernando, CA 91340
The first time I stepped inside the Truman House Tavern in San Fernando, CA was during a New Year’s celebration night. My friend who lives down in San Diego came up to see her family and I convinced to have a night out. Our Uber map history was disorienting as we jumped all over Los Angeles. The best thing that came out of this night was that I discovered the Truman House Tavern. One thing I loved about researching for this post was getting to visit these places again and be reminded of why supporting local business matters. The Truman House Tavern opened in 2018 and has grown to be a great spot for people of all ages to grab a drink. I’ve gone to catch up with friends, for the Sunday Brunch menu, and to introduce friends to their amazing Mimosa flight. From the brunch menu, to their current online to go menu, it's a great local restaurant for a quick bite or something more filling - and oh boy, are those paninis filling and delicious!
You can check out the Truman House Tavern's online to go menu here. Follow the Truman House Tavern on Instagram @trumanhousetavern
My go-to order: Chipotle chicken panini, minus the cheese, or the Quinoa avocado salad with chicken
I hope you enjoyed this shopping locally inspired travel blog! Let me know what local restaurants in the San Fernando Valley I should visit next! Comment below or tag me on Instagram @Willsshowem
Thanks for reading these Words by Will! See you in the next post!
The importance of wearing face masks in public is paramount. As more spaces require face coverings, carrying a face mask is part of our new normal. Before I leave my house I ask myself, "Do I have my phone?" and, "What about my wallet?" and of course, "Did I remember my face mask?"
In this unprecedented time, I’m trying to both wear my mask and never have it too far when it's not on. In trying to make sure my face mask is secure in public, I’m also trying to make my masks more stylish. Again, I'm Will and just like guacamole I'm always extra! In the last few weeks I not only found a new accessory that's oh-so stylish, but it's also super functional! Welcome to Instagram’s and fashion’s newest trend; the mask-chain movement.
This is a trend that I've been grow in popularity on Instagram and has now spanned dozens of listicles at top publications including British Vogue. In this new normal, functional fashion is taking the main stage. Top designers and brands have been releasing stylish face masks to help everyone find their socially distant style. Face mask chains are the newest accessory to join the social distance fashion movement, and I'm totally here for it.
The Stylish Face Mask Accessory That Is Functional Fashion
As seen above, I paired my Old Navy face mask (to learn more about this mask and where to buy it click here) with my Omega Face Mask Chain from Express. The result was a stunning neutral style combination. (This combination made me even more excited for my Louis Vuitton MULTI POCHETTE ACCESSOIRES that I ordered in the same rich green color.) This combination complimented my tan neutral style sweats from Summer Fridays. I tied the look together with a chunky gold necklace from Asos and a gold bangle from Coach. Gold has always been my hardware of choice and it's a tone that goes great with summer 2020 style that's leaning into more neutral and pastel colors.
Rest assured that if gold isn't your color of choice there are mask chain accessories available in all different colors, styles, and materials. Face mask chains are as varied in styles and materials as the face masks they are meant for. I think it's exciting to see this new trend and accessory that is both fashion and function. To a degree I think that face masks chains both entice some people to wear their masks, while also just being another cash grab. Again, whatever the motivation as long as people wear face masks that is what matters.
Candidly, I tried to find the face mask chain I purchased and it was sold out. Upon doing some more research, I kept seeing mask chains sold out across different retailers. However, I did find on Etsy several listings for different kinds of masks and I will link that page here.
I'll also include a screenshot below of one of the most popular face mask chains on social media. This is the Nikki Face Mask Chain Strap from Pretty Connected Shop. These chains are not only super versatile but the company has done so much good in giving back during this unprecedented time, and we love to see it and support it! (Yes, I'm totally ordering this chain now that I found it.)
At the end of the day whether you go gold, or silver, or you want a bow, or you wear your face mask au naturel, just wear a face mask!
Let me know, have you seen this trend going? Do you think you'll join the mask-chain movement? Let me know in the comments below or tag me with your reply on social media @Willsshowem
Thanks for reading these Words by Will! See you in the next post!
Over the last few years Hollywood has had a rude awakening to the cries of audiences, industry insiders, and creatives saying, “Representation matters!” I am Latino and I have a dilemma with both my passion and profession in the media industry. I love this year’s 2020 Emmy nominations, but I’m also disappointed to see that no Latinx series, talent, or stories were recognized by the TV Academy’s members. It’s very important I make this distinction because people don’t know who or how shows get nominated, and I’m here to tell you how exactly it goes down.
My opportunity to start working in the entertainment industry came after the watershed moment of #OscarsSoWhite back in 2017 when I became part of The Academy’s Academy Gold Internship Program. This was quite literally my golden ticket into being in the know within entertainment. From movements like #MeToo and Latino leaders called for a boycott of Paramount studios after seeing a lack of Latino representation in film, I heard it from within the industry first.
2020 Emmy Nominations: Latinx Shows and Acting Absent
As I advanced in my career, I had a front row seat to other landmark movements calling for representation. And as these moments unfold, they offered both hope and heartbreak to young people like me, BIPOC people, in the entertainment industry. Today another heartbreak moment came when no Latinx show or acting nominees were announced as part of the 2020 Emmy nominations. It saddened me because as a Latino, a storyteller, and a young person in this industry, it was another moment that affirmed that our voices are constantly muted.
Don’t get me wrong, I was proud to see that this year’s Emmys nominations showed progress in both its nominees and its announcement. The iconic Laverne Cox hosted the 72nd Emmy Awards Nominations Announcement that was live this morning Tuesday, July 28th at 8:30 AM PT. To see her reading these nominations, and then be nominated, was special. Then there was the recognition of BIPOC talent across leading actor and actress nominees as well. My heart has a special place for Zendaya and HBO’s Euphoria; Sandra Oh and Killing Eve; and Regina King and HBO’s Watchmen. Honestly, this is a strong class of contenders that speaks to the diversity of talent, stories, and voices housed on the silver screen.
But again, the vote was absent for Latino acting roles. It should be noted that Nadia Hallgreen, director of Becoming; Brian Lazarete and James Lee Hernandzes of McMillion$; and One Day At a Time in the category of Best Multi Cam Editing are part of the 2020 Emmy nominations. The pundits, including myself, felt Rita Moreno had a chance. Starz’s Vida had begun its final season, and most Emmy voters have love for a swan song of a season. This year’s nominees are a sobering reminder that voters, like those in the TV Academy, do not always vote solely based on press and rave reviews.
I know that politics that play a huge part in how voting works. There are explicit and implicit rules we follow in FYC campaigns, yet it comes down to who is in these groups with the power to vote. If this moment in time has taught me anything it’s that simply existing in the entertainment industry as a Latino may not be revolutionary enough. From seeing no acting nominees for Latinos, to having done research and learning of the dismal Oscars won by Latinx filmmakers, I know my work in this industry is just beginning.
In order to get nominated for an Emmy, you must be voted on by your peer group in the TV Academy. That means that behind-the-scenes either not enough Latinx people are in these groups or their stories are being seen as, "too ethnic." I know this because when I worked on my first Latinx directed, produced, and story, the studio tried to pigeonhole it to the U.S. Hispanic audience. I hate to say it but as an insider I know that Latinx stories are seen as different. This country's rhetoric has made it clear how it feels about BIPOC people; we are not welcome.
Seeing and hearing how voters address, or do not address, Latinx films and shows can be disheartening. But it's a reminder that I as a Latino creative, and part of the Latinx audience, must speak up but also show out. We need to tune in to Latinx and Hispanic shows. We need to support Latinx stories and talent by buying tickets and growing their influence. If we want the industry to change and things like the Emmy nominations to reflect America we must be inspired and empowered to be that change. These are my behind the scenes thoughts.
Let me know, who are your thoughts on the 2020 Emmy nominations? Comment down below or let me know by answering on socials and tagging me @Willsshowem
Thank you for reading these Words by Will! I'll see you in the next post.
I’m a firm believer in having some self-care time on not just Sundays, but days that end in, “y.” I recently took a trip to Malibu, CA with some of my best friends for a relaxing and socially distant beach day. Honestly, this self-care day was long overdue. The stress of working from home had started taking its toll. As summer is in full-swing, awards season starts picking up pace as I begin the long road to the 2021 Academy Awards as part of my job in entertainment public relations.
I didn’t know the next time I’d have a weekend off, or that all my friends would either, so I made a day of self-care and indulging in my easy and effective skin care routine. After a day of sipping on a hard seltzer or two, and sunbathing with a copious amount of sunscreen application, I treated myself to my indulgent and easy nighttime skin care routine.
At Home Spa Day: Easy Self-Care and Night Skin Routine Summer 2020
Nighttime skin routine: start with a double cleanse with an oil-based cleanser
Whether you’re coming home from a beach day, finishing up a workout, or spent some time getting fresh air, I highly recommend a double cleanse with an oil-based cleanser. Double cleansing is an important part of my skin care routine especially during summer.
I have oily combination skin and this idea of using an oil cleanser in my skincare routine seemed counterproductive. But in doing research I learned that sweat, pollution, and dirt from everyday life can sit in your pores even after you rinsed off your face. My current favorite oil-based cleanser in my skincare routine is the Drunk Elephant Slaai™ Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser. A little goes a long way with this baby, and a little is all you need.
Prepare your skin with a toner
I won’t get too much into toners or why they are important, there’s dozens of blogs and videos on that. When I’m doing an at home spa day or my normal night skin routine I opt-in for a toner with balancing properties. LUSH Cosmetics makes my favorite toners and for my P.M. regimen I use the LUSH Eau Roma Water.
After a few spritz I press the toner into my skin. And before it can dry, I bring out my skin care favorites treasure troves from my skin fridge.
Grab a cocktail, that is a drunk elephant night skin routine mix
My at home spa day would not be complete without a cocktail, and yes, I’m talking a skincare care one! There’s always time for a cocktail! And the one we’re making is a Drunk Elephant mix meant to hydrate, exfoliate, and make your skin glow. After properly cleansing and toning my skin I mix 1 pump of the Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos™ Glycolic Resurfacing Night Serum (shop here) and 1-2 drops of the Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Antioxidant Face Oil (shop here).
The Drunk Elephant night serum is a staple in my skincare because of the AHAs and BHAs that work overnight helping me wake up with clear skin. Sephora’s website does a great job at summarizing why that is, “With a blend of glycolic, tartaric, citric, and salicylic acids, T.L.C. Framboos™ delivers chemical exfoliation without dryness or sensitization, curbs excess oil, and reveals clarity and luminosity.”
Just like using an oil cleanser in my skincare routine, initially I didn’t understand why I should put oil on my face. Face oils are a great part of your skincare routine because they sit atop your skin giving your skin essential vitamins and nutrients. Of course, that’s with an oil that’s meant to be used as a facial oil!
Happy masking (Summer Fridays Jet Lag Face Mask & Summer Fridays Lip Butter Review)
No at home spa day, or self-care routine, is complete without a face mask, and my current favorites are from Summer Fridays. Both the Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask and Lip Butter Balm have quickly become staples in my skincare routine. From oh-so Instagramable nature of these products to their vegan, cruelty-free and paraben-free formulas this a brand we #stan.
My review of the Jet Lag Mask is that it’s a perfect catch all for my skincare needs! I use this Summer Fridays mask as a daily moisturizer, an overnight mask and a hydrating mask after a thorough double-cleanse. If you want to use is as a mask, apply an ample amount of Jet Lag and create a visible layer. Leave it on for 10-minutes and then wipe off, no need to rinse!
Whether I’m using it as a daily lip balm, or an overnight lip mask, my review of the Summer Fridays Lip Butter Balm is that it’s an iconic everything-for-your-lips. I’ll leave some of this lip butter on at night and I wake up with my lips hydrated. This is a great replacement to your daily lip balms because I guarantee you’ll never faced chapped lips and that vanilla taste will curve any sweet cravings you may have.
Below is a link (non affiliate) you can use to get a $5 off coupon at SummerFridays.com in case you want to try any of these products or anything else in their shop!
How you tried any of these products? Or do you think you will?
Let me know how you practice self-care in the comments or by tagging me on socials! Instagram/Twitter @ Willsshowem!
See my skincare routine on YouTube below: