Thursday, January 8, 2009

My Girl D and Her Brown Baby

There's this badass girl, with a badass husband, some incredibly gifted children, and a badass home. Nicknamed Bertha Stewart, she can put her foot in a pot and have you sucking the remnants of her culinary creations off your fingers. Yeah her kids take cooking, Mandarin and horseback riding lessons, AND have an art gallery of their work in their home. Yeah her sexy, sassy, classy style is impeccable (you'll never catch her slipping). But the baaaadest thing about this girl, and I mean the baaaaaaaaaaaadest thing, is her talent.

Denene Millner is a confident writer who knows how to work her finely-tuned instrument. A connoisseur of culture, she possesses a unique voice that is both sophisticated and sister girl. My friend is so on point and on fire sometimes that I have slapped my screen with a "right right, an "I feel you" or "go 'head girl." A few words from her will make you want to take some action. Witty as all get out, she'll have your sides aching at her observations and objections. And if she gets on you, you will be bruised and educated.

Denene don't play. She's an award-winning journalist who's been published in everything from the New York Daily News to Essence and Parenting. A relationship guru, she's authored of 17 books, fiction and non-fiction for adults and teens. She gets book deals so often that the ink doesn't dry on one before the next opportunity pops up. If you didn't hear me before - she's baaaaaad.

What is so exciting to me about Denene is that she is TOTALLY committed to raising the best black children she can - by any means necessary. Hence the launch of her blog, My Brown Baby . And she's willing to share her experiences, ideas, findings, battles and inspirations. The posts are great. Denene has written about everything from the power of her mother's mac & cheese to using music videos as a teachable moments and critiquing the New York Times for undermining a study about more black children being raised by two parents. The girl has even gathered a cadre of incredible contributors, who have insightful and useful, takes on parenting and everything else that goes along with child rearing. And she's had fantastic giveaways - designer children's clothes, nursery furnishings, and glam stationary.

I met Denene back in 2000 when I was feeling myself a bit as the newest editor at Honey Magazine. She came on board as the features editor a few months later and proceeded to show me how it was done - literally. When I got the assignment to write a cover story on my favorite singer at the time, Mary J. Blige, I turned in 6,000 words for the 1,500-word assignment.

Denene called me over to sit with her, suggesting we edit it together. About an hour later, it was the tightest, most fire profile that my name had ever been attached to. It was so hot that at the release party for that issue, Mary J. caused a ruckus trying to get at me (she tried to flex, for real) because of the way we'd honestly portrayed her chaotic life at that time and what she'd let slip in her interview). The article wasn't malicious. It was accurate, entertaining and well written - thanks to D.

Like I said, Denene don't play. That's why when she breaks it down; it is forever - evah evah - broke. Don't get me wrong; Denene isn't all heat and flames. She's sweet as can be (I recently admired a bag of hers and a brand spanking new one was delivered to me by FedEx from her with in a few days). D's fire comes from an overflowing core of love. She's a warrior for love.

That's where My Brown Baby came from - her deep and abiding love for her children and all those other brown babies who have to face this big ole bad world sometimes. So check it out, and tell her I sent you. JD

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