If you don’t know that the St. Louis American Foundation’s 31st Annual Salute to Excellence in Education Scholarship and Awards Gala is going down this weekend, I don’t know what to say other than something is seriously wrong with you. I’m so excited I can barely see straight! I know my opinion may seem partial, but it is seriously one of the most inspiring and uplifting experiences you will ever attend. Giving praise where praise is due to scholars and educators in front of one of the city’s most influential citizens is a sight to behold. And when the formal program is over, we party like its 1999. Denise Thimes is going to slay her cabaret, and DJ Kut will have the tables blazing for the afterparty. I don’t know if it’s sold out yet, but it’s worth it to find out by visiting stlamerican.com or calling (314) 533-8000.
Standing ovation for ‘Static.’ Before I say anything, I must say this: wasn’t it a good weekend to be black and in St. Louis?Well, every weekend is a good weekend to be black and in St. Louis, but it sounded catchy and there were some major festivities catered to us that had me feeling like St. Louis was temporarily a lightweight Wakanda. Shall we get into it? We must. Things got started Thursday night with the premiere of young St. Louis filmmaker David Kirkman’s long awaited debut of his film ‘Static’ in its entirety. The trailer for the film won the local Real to Reel short film competition presented by Gentlemen Jack over the summer – and the full “Static” was all the rage, do you hear me? Folks were wrapped around the Tivoli to get a glimpse of the Kirkman’s take on the classic comic book super hero “Static Shock.” The theater actually low-key looked like opening day of “Black Panther” with all of us coming through to show support for a cinematic effort. I won’t give the details of the film away, because he is dropping it on Facebook by way of the film’s page on Sunday. Be sure to check it out so he can get the kind of views that get the attention of studios, producers and/or sponsors.
Naturally ever after. The melanin movie magic continued as Tendai “The Hair Whisperer” Morris celebrated her new partnership with retail giant Macy’s with a screening of the Netflix film “Nappily Ever After” and one of her famed Texture Talks, based on how folks related to Sanaa Lathan’s character’s hair drama and extreme big chop - and the turn of events that took place in its wake. Sanaa was about the only one who didn’t show up for the red carpet celebration that was so full of beautiful sistas dressed to the nines that I was surprised the House of Soul wasn’t leaning over. I got my life! And I was so thrilled with the outpouring shown to Tendai as she continues her work to provide options for the exploding natural hair market. The grand entrance with a toast and “Girl on Fire” performance by Tish Haynes-Keys that put Alicia Keys (no relation at least not as far as the voice goes) to shame brought Tendai to tears. The whole evening was just magical – even when the folks were talking back to the screen like they used to do at the late, great Halls Ferry Cine.
Tasting black St. Louis. Satan was clearly involved in the scheduling of the Taste of Black St. Louis as I made my last push to be able to take deep breaths while wearing my salute gown, but the event itself was still wonderful. I was expecting to have a nice experience when I made my way to Tower Grove Park before noon in the hopes that the smells wouldn’t be poppin’ to the point where temptation got the better of me. I was too late. Tara’s Tasty Treats and Yashica’s Desserts Out The Jar will be the responsible party if I have to resort to bedazzling a trench coat to top off my gala look in an effort to hide a halfway up zipper. But back to the taste. The logistics, the organization, the vendors and the crowd make me eager to not only see Taste of Black St. Louis return, but expand. I ran into some folks who came all the way from Chicago to check it out (I see you Black Foodies!) – and they were thrilled with their experience, saying it was definitely worth the drive. I know I wouldn’t hesitate to head from North County to South City for a 2019 Black Taste!
Nice effort from the Natural Hair Expo. The Downtown Holiday Inn Express was transformed into the Natural Hair Express as the 4th Annual Natural Hair and Black Cultural Expo got underway this weekend. Yes, another black people event – and it ain’t over. I told y’all the city was Wakanda on the low this weekend. Anyway, I got a t-shirt, some samples and fellowshipped with friends during the youth fashion show hosted by a woman who was giving me equal parts KiKi Shepherd and grown up Olivia from “The Color Purple.”
Kudos to Conciousfest. The blackest event of them all was saved for last. Just when I thought I couldn’t get any more woke from a weekend of events for us and by us, I headed downtown for Conscious fest – an event that had some the most Afrocentric performances and retail vendors in one place at one time in St. Louis. The aroma on the whole block of South 4th street was a blend of incense, African oils and Shea Butter – and it was on ten. And the dashikis and head wraps were deep, the beautiful irony is that it was right near parking for Busch Stadium. Listen, my favorite rap from the evening of folks that graced the stage had a line in it that said, “I thank God for being black.” I was like, “Get out of my head!”
Skylar’s birthday ball. My weekend closed out with the birthday extravaganza of the wonderful designer and stylist Skylar Barnes on Sunday at the Central West End Bed and Breakfast. He really outdid himself with the four wardrobe changes. I think I’m partial to the tuxedo paired with the sequined ski mask inspired by Beyonce’s original On The Run get up. All the stylish tastemakers came through – including some I hadn’t seen in awhile, like Shaki’s super fashionable baby sister Shemelle. I didn’t stay long, but I was surrounded by folks long enough to have a blast and get my entire life – as well as some last-minute salute accessory ideas. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, I might try to borrow Dameon Christian’s glorious top hat for humidity’s sake.