It’s 2018! For many of us, that means fresh starts. It certainly means that for me.
I’m sure you can relate to this, but 2017 was a serious challenge for me. Without a doubt, it was one of the toughest years of my life. Granted, when life gives you challenges, it’s only meant for you to grow. But you can’t deny how hard it is to learn those lessons and deal with the awful packages some of those lessons tend to come in.
If you’re like me and you’re glad you’ve made it out of the fire, congratulations! You’ve endured some tough stuff, which means you’re much stronger than you’ve probably given yourself credit for. You’ve learned some hard life lessons, dealt with unforeseen drama, and found more of yourself in the process. Now that we’re out of the forge of 2017 all brand new, let’s keep 2018 going in the right direction by mapping out exactly how you want your 2018 to go down.
It’s definitely important to keep your goals and life lessons handy because if you forget (and you will), you can easily find and review them to keep yourself on the right path. What I’ve done is make myself a laptop wallpaper that doubles as my 2018 goals checklist. My plan is to update this checklist throughout the year, so throughout the year, my wallpaper will have new goals added or old goals scratched off. (If you’d like to make your own, Canva already has a wallpaper-sized template with several layouts you can choose from, or you can use the blank template and make your own theme from scratch.)
If you don’t want to make a wallpaper or can access your thoughts better in journal form, I’ve made this short 2018 cheat sheet PDF. You can print out the pages and stick them in your notebook, journal, binder, pin them to your wall, or do whatever you need to with them to remind yourself of what you’re working towards and what you’d like to avoid. Click the image to download.
Just as a disclaimer–I’m not a psychologist or therapist. I’m just someone who has learned a lot in 2017 and felt a document like this one will help others jumpstart getting their lives in order for 2018. I’m gonna use this myself, since 2017 wouldn’t quit, even down its last hours.
2018 is a year I hope we can all look to as a time to get out from under our personal rubble and start anew. It’s time to get rid of bad habits, shake off bad influences and prepare ourselves for awesome lives ahead.
What are some of your goals for 2018? Share if you feel so inclined in the comments section below!
You may or may not have noticed a slight change-up in how I use my Twitter accounts, particularly @moniqueblognet (FOLLOW ME there and at @COLORwebmag if you haven’t already!). There’s a reason for that–I’m writing media reviews EVERYWHERE!
For every time I’m writing something on this website, I’m usually writing two to three (or more) times that for other sites as well. In short, if I haven’t talked about something here, I’ve probably talked about it elsewhere. (Hey, I didn’t get that film critic shoutout from Pajiba for nothing–I work more than you know.)
So if you’ve been wondering where to find all of my recent work, here’s the definitive (yet constantly growing) list.
MAGIC: THE GATHERING
Amonkhet Art Review by Mike Linneman (featuring my contribution on colorism in art)
http://www.tor.com/search-page/?s=monique+jones (Includes Luke Cage recaps, articles on Star Wars, Samurai Jack, Magic: The Gathering, Harry Potter. More articles coming soon.)
COMIC BOOK RESOURCES
http://www.cbr.com/author/mjon/ (Includes articles about movie, merchandise, and comic book news–this is a constantly updating link.)
BLACK GIRL NERDS
https://blackgirlnerds.com/?s=Monique+Jones (Includes Sleepy Hollow recaps and articles, articles about various topics affecting black female blerdom and representation, including Into the Badlands, Mulan, Riverdale, blerd self-acceptance, Murder on the Orient Express, etc. This list will continually grow.)
(This list will continually grow.)
http://www.slashfilm.com/author/monique-jones/ (Includes my feature on black women representation in Wonder Woman, plus more coming down the pike)
NERDS OF COLOR
https://thenerdsofcolor.org/author/moniquej1988/ (Includes articles on Ghost in the Shell, The Walking Dead, Power Rangers, Riverdale, Moonlight, Magic: The Gathering, Star Wars, DC, Marvel, etc. This list will continually grow.)
Let’s be honest: One of the things that hampers indie entertainment blogs or just small blogs in general is being able to make money. The challenge creating a self-sustaining blog that can be used as a full-time career has certainly been one of my biggest challenges. But that’s going to change. Starting now, JUST ADD COLOR is openly seeking advertisements and sponsorships.
If you’re an advertiser, here’s why working with me will help you advertise your business or project:
• JUST ADD COLOR has a growing Twitter presence, with 2,164 followers and growing
• JUST ADD COLOR is part of a grassroots network of influencers reaching an intersectional, socially-conscious audience
• JUST ADD COLOR has a audience 69.5 percent female between the ages of 18-34, aka “millennials.” This is the demographic most likely to purchase items based on the value they provide to society on a socially conscious, meaningful way.
To learn more, visit my Sponsorships/Advertising page, where you can download my full media kit and purchase the package that works best for you.
For loyal readers
Now, for those readers who are concerned about how advertisements and sponsorships will affect the site, let me lay out how it will help me.
As I wrote above, one of the challenges in running a website is figuring out how to make money from it. As you probably already know, several people who have niche websites still have to have a full-time job to be able to pay for the bills, including me. But, while having a full-time job helps me keep a roof over my head, money in my wallet, and food on my table, it also takes away valuable resources (namely time and energy) that could be used for writing, promoting, and further enhancing my site. What sponsorships and advertisements can help me with is 1) give me a clear pathway to make JUST ADD COLOR my full-time job, 2) with the worry about money lifted, I’ll have enough time to write all the posts you love reading plus have even more financial resources I can use to fund the site and its various needs or projects (such as buying movie tickets or products for review, taking care of any website issues, etc.). In short, I’ll be able to devote all of time to providing great content without having to feel stressed.
In fact, here’s one way you as a reader can help me right now: Make sure to spread this blog post around to anyone and everyone you know who are looking for websites to partner and advertise with. Let them know that JUST ADD COLOR is open for business. If you can spread this to the folks in your circle looking to do business, then that’ll make my quest to make JUST ADD COLOR a fully sustainable site even easier and quicker.
If there’s one thing I’ve thought a lot about, it’s how to be a fighter for social justice while being a “perfect” person. In other words, how does one become the perfect symbol of resistance without having a few issues you have to fix within yourself?
This thought came to a head this week, as I thought it an opportune moment to admit that even though I have a website dedicated to representation in entertainment, I too have some work to do.
In a small Twitter thread, I wrote about how I realized that I still harbored some fear-based ableism around blindness. As a small child, I was scared stiff of going blind because of my own near-sightedness. An elementary school nurse had scared me into wearing my glasses, and after school, I thought, “What if I don’t wear my glasses and go blind?” I was afraid of the dark, which I equated with blindness. And what took root was a fear of blindness I never truly resolved, despite my conscious knowledge of ableism and how it’s not right.
Something that’s always taught me about life, for better or worse, is entertainment, and it took something like Rogue One to make me confront that neglected part of myself.
Sometimes I write fanfiction to practice “writing for real.” Have I published anything outside of what I publish on this blog? Nope. But I write fanfiction just the same. This time, I was trying my hand at a Chirrut Imwe/Baze Malbus Rogue One modern day alternate universe story (Why alternate universe? Because I’m not the biggest Star Wars fan and I don’t feel like looking things up every five minutes.) The thing I didn’t know how to depict was blindness. So I decided I needed to do some research. Of course, I’d never be able to accurately portray blindness, since I didn’t live it, but I wanted to write something beyond the standard “he saw darkness” line.
What I learned was, in short, that what I thought I knew about blindness was not at all right. Darkness is not all that blind people see. It’s a much more layered experience than that, and it varies depending on the person and their type of blindness. But a development that is just as important is that I had come face-to-face with my own ableism, and I was fairly annoyed at myself. Since I’m a semi-public figure, I thought this was a good teaching moment to share.
However, after posting about it, I soon started having dread. What if everyone who followed me began to hate me because I admitted to a fault I needed to correct? What if I started being seen as the dreaded “P” word—problematic?
I didn’t want to be problematic. Not only would I become an internet pariah, but any chance at a lucrative blogging career would be gone. (Or at least, the chance the blogging career I’d like to have.)
The term “problematic” is something I’ve always disliked, simply because it’s often used as a way to block others from sitting at the proverbial “Cool Kids Table.” It’s a way to create an in crowd, a bureaucracy of sorts, and if you’re not in the in crowd, then you’re a nobody. I haven’t liked how in many cases, online “wokeness” involves someone elevating themselves to a loftier position and never revealing when they themselves have been “problematic.” To admit that would be faced with being kicked out of the Cool Kids group.
The term “problematic” is also associated solely with clearly racist or discriminatory people. It’s easy to call them problematic, but what about everyday problematic things, like casual misogyny, or like my personal example of being afraid of blindness? Aren’t well-meaning folks and folks who do their part to advance society in a positive direction also capable of being problematic? Of course.
The fact is that we are all “problematic” on some level. We have all said or done something that we are not proud of. We have all marginalized someone, even if that someone is just ourselves. We all have something to work on. For me, some of that work includes snuffing out some remaining ableism as I continue on the quest to become a more inclusive person in both thought and action. While we all strive to be at the Cool Kids Table, we’ll definitely all have a seat at the Problematic Table. If you’re alive and making mistakes, there’ll be no way you can escape that hot seat, so we might as well become at peace with that fact. I know I have to come to terms with that, regardless of how right I try to be.
But just because we disappoint ourselves sometimes doesn’t mean we’re intrinsically problematic, though. All it means is that we are human, and as humans, we are going to fail. But what’s truly problematic is if we don’t learn from our mistakes and strive to do better in the future. If you can learn and work on becoming more aware of your own biases, then that’s the road towards socially-conscious success. I’m taking my own advice, especially since I’m on the visually-impaired spectrum myself. If anyone should have more sensitivity about sight-based disabilities, it should be me.
I’m sharing my thoughts with you to show that yes, even those of us who fight for representation make mistakes too. I, like everyone in this fight, am an imperfect messenger. But hopefully the message I want to spread is coming through, despite my imperfection. If you want to spread the message of social justice, but are afraid of doing something that could be seen as problematic, don’t feel scared to try to fight the good fight; just embrace the fact that you will do something “problematic.” But if you can learn from it and become better for it, then you can have a seat at the Cool Kids Table, too.
Recently, I put out a podcast airing out some of my raw thoughts about this impending Donald Trump presidency. One of the biggest issues I’ve been dealing with, aside from how everything Trump might do could basically end life as we know it (only being half-sarcastic about this) is how I was going to continue the work I’m doing here on my corner of the internet, JUST ADD COLOR.
After doing a lot of thinking, soul-searching, talking, and a little “HOW AM I GOING TO GET THROUGH THIS?!”-based crying, I decided I’ve got to do what I’ve been doing, which is talk about representation in entertainment. That’s what this site is founded upon. A lot of what happens in the entertainment sphere echoes what happens in society. In fact, I just learned that in Ava DuVernay’s The 13th states that the KKK’s penchant for cross burning only happened after D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation came out. If that’s not a direct correlation between life imitating art, then I don’t know what is. So talking about entertainment’s influence on regular life is something that is going to continue and something that has to continue.
However, we all need some levity, so please think of JUST ADD COLOR as a safe space for discussion about popular TV, movies, games, comics, etc. I’m working with a lot of POC geek outlets to utilize some of their content to help fill in the gaps I might have in my entertainment coverage (because I don’t play all of the games or read all of the comics on daily basis). I’ll also make sure to post some more articles concerning some of the recent comics and books I’ve bought recently. And, since looking back at happier times is something we all need to do from time to time, I’ll definitely pull from happier moments in history, such as analyzing the surprising pro-black woman anthem that is Sir Mix-a-Lot’s Baby Got Back (yeah, I know, I talked about my hatred of the aught’s obssession with big butts, but Sir Mix-a-Lot takes the butt obsession from a different perspective than today’s love of butts, I think).
I’ll also preach more about unity here. In these times, we need to deal more in unity and less in division. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’ll sugarcoat any intra-race racism, for instance, calling out non black POC discrimination or fetishizing of black people, or when black people express discriminatory/fetish thoughts against other non black POC. But on the whole, I’ll focus on how we as the marginalized can and should work together to preserve our quality of life under this new regime.
This is the current plan for JUST ADD COLOR going forward. I’m hoping you can help me flesh out my plan and coverage; if you have anything you’d want covered, let me know either via Twitter, Facebook, or by emailing me at email@example.com
You might have heard me speak on the latest Black Girl Nerds podcast about the horrific Sleepy Hollow ending (which resulted in the much controversial death of Abbie Mills). I said in the podcast that the entire trajectory of Sleepy Hollow and its fan interaction is a masterclass in what not to do when creating a show, and that future showrunners, writers, directors, and even actors can learn from it. That leads me into another point, a point I forgot to say in the podcast, but have said in my Sleepy Hollow takedown article, so let me quote myself right here:
…[M]y anger has spurred me to write my own pilot. Do I know when my idea will become a show? Nope. But anger can be a great motivator, and I hope that other POC writers who are mad beyond belief will use their anger to create their own projects. It’s clear that diversity doesn’t start from the top down; it starts from the bottom up. We’ve got to be disruptions if we want the top brass to hear what we’ve got to say. Remember how wrongly Abbie, Tara, Lexa, Lincoln and countless others have been treated on these shows, and get to creating.
You might be reading this thinking, “YES, I AM ONE OF THOSE ANGRY VIEWERS! But where can I get my big break!? I don’t know anyone in the business or where the opportunities are, and I can’t just drop my stuff and move to California in the hopes of making it big!” I get you. I can’t move to California right now either. But what you can do is take a look at some of these workshops. If you’re already at the point where you’ve got a polished script collecting dust and want an in, the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) TV Writers Program and the Women in Film (WIF) Black List Episodic Lab might be for you.
NHMC TV Writers Program
Submission deadline: August 7
Program dates: October 3-November 4
The NHMC TV Writers Program is, as the NHMC websites states, “an intensive scriptwriters workshop that prepares Latinos for writing jobs at major television networks.” The program is modeled after the Hispanic Film Project and “is a direct response to the lack of diverse writers in primetime network TV.” For those writers who finish the program and want to take their craft even further, NHMC also has the Latino Scene Showcase.
Some important stats about the NHMC TV Writers Program:
Since its inception 12 years ago:
120 writers have completed the NHMC TV Writers Program
28 writing careers have been launched
25% of NHMC Writers have been staffed on shows at the following networks: ABC/Disney, NBC, CBS, FOX, Nickelodeon, CW, BET, LATV, VH1 and NUVOtv.
Some of the shows graduates of the program write for include East Los High, Devious Maids, Elena de Avalor, Rosewood, Superstore, Hot and Bothered, NCIS, The Catch and Jane the Virgin.
Women in Film Black List Episodic Lab
Evaluations deadline: May 1
Submission deadline: May 15 (WIF members), June 1 (Black List members)
Program dates: August 2016 (specific dates not listed as of this post)
If you’re into film and/or screenwriting, then you already know how influential the Black List is. If you get your script listed on the Black List, then that means you’re considered the cream of the crop of upcoming screenwriters and, more than likely, you’ll get tapped to write a script for major studio. However, the Black List wants to do more than just showcase awesome scripts; it also wants to help bring new voices, voices who are often marginalized, into the fold.
The WIF Black List Episodic Lab will bring in eight writers who identify as women to Los Angeles to take an eight-week course in script development and script workshopping. The eight weeks will also include master classes with industry execs and veteran writers in the biz. Best of all, participants in the lab will have their final pilots read by networks and agencies.
More opportunities will be listed at JUST ADD COLOR when I see them online, so keep coming back to find the right opportunity for you!
The formulation of this post started at some point between this tweet:
— Monique Jones (@moniqueblognet) April 9, 2016
And this tweet:
— Monique Jones (@moniqueblognet) April 9, 2016
with some final conclusions coming in at around these tweets:
@BlackGirlNerds I know one thing—I’M about to write for us! I’m getting on my script before the night is out!
— Monique Jones (@moniqueblognet) April 9, 2016
Congrats on a job well done, @NikkiBeharie I’ve been a fan since “42” and I’m looking forward to your next project.
— Monique Jones (@moniqueblognet) April 9, 2016
Indeed, several TV critics on Twitter were aghast at what happened:
I haven’t watched #SleepyHollow since early S2 and tonight’s news still makes me sad. What a waste of a show on all levels. Crikey.
— Ryan McGee (@TVMcGee) April 9, 2016
Been a long time since I watched Sleepy Hollow, but when I liked it, it was for the interplay of the leads. Sounds like a big mess now.
— Alan Sepinwall (@sepinwall) April 9, 2016
— Mo Ryan (@moryan) April 9, 2016
And several online recaps had the same theme throughout the post: If Abbie and Nicole Beharie are gone, then what’s the point of even watching the show? Just as important: Why on God’s green earth would the writing team as a whole (including the showrunner) go out of their way to lead the fanbase on and act like they were going to give the fanbase what they wanted (which is a final say-so on #Ichabbie) just to turn around and destroy the only thing that made the show worth watching? To quote Vulture’s Rose Maura Lorre, “The latter statements [of Pandora stating in her dying breaths that Ichabod loves Abbie] lead me to believe that, intentional or not, this show’s careless disregaard of its Ichabbie ‘shippers has been fucked up. Make them just-friends or make them more-than-friends, but have a conversation about it and stick to your decision. Don’t keep stringing the ‘shippers along with your hand-kissing and your ‘be still my beating heart’ (which no person has ever said platonically) while you know Abbie’s imminent fate full well.” And as The A.V. Club’s Zack Handlen wrote, “I’m not sure if there were behind-the-scenes issues we are privy to, but Beharie’s a crucial element of the series. Tom Mison is a fine actor, but without the two of them together, what’s the damn point?”
The chemistry between the two leads, Tom Mison and Beharie, was the only thing that kept mostly everyone tuned in. (I say most, because somehow, there are folks out there who think Sleepy Hollow is just Ichabod’s story of time travel. When was he the only lead on this show? I have a lot more to say about this later on in this post.) Sure, the creative elements that made up the show, like the lighting, the set design, the creature makeup and stuntwork, and the time travel/Christian apocalypse madness were amazing and really gave the show its creepy edge. But the glue that stuck all of those disparate parts together were the grounding forces provided by Ichabod and Abbie. Without one or both of them, the show’s just a bunch of junk, to be quite honest about it. So I ask again: Without Abbie, what the f*ck is the point of watching a fourth season?!
I don’t even like using coarse language, but how else am I supposed to get this point across? How much more plainly can I say it? Abbie was the show. Even Mison would agree to that, I’m sure, since he was never without a kind word to say about working with Beharie and being able to share the same breathing air as her. Mison has always stuck up for Beharie and looking back on it, it makes a lot of sense as to why neither Mison nor Beharie have done a lot of press for this season. It’s slowly come out that Beharie was deeply unhappy during S2 and wanted out of her contract, and I don’t blame her for wanting to leave, because as I’ve written before, Abbie was made to be a house slave for Witchy White Feminist Katrina. As far as Mison is concerned, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Mison eventually leaves as well. If someone decides to interview Mison about his thoughts on everything, I betcha he’ll reveal his true emotions over this, just like how he did with Ichabod fawning over Katrina in S2. (To paraphrase him from an earlier interview, he had a serious disagreement with the writers about how Ichabod was acting out of character. We already know how he felt about Katrina from some of his DVD commentary, in which he shades Katrina for only being able to lift a stick even though she was supposed to be a powerful witch.)
I could just go on rambling, but I’m going to use my favorite writing tools—bullets—to boil down my points into easy-to-follow chunks.
Are you a regular reader of JUST ADD COLOR who would love to put in your opinion about popular issues affecting diversity in America? Are you a new reader who wants a shot at becoming a published writer? JUST ADD COLOR is now accepting guest posts!
JUST ADD COLOR is run by one person (me), and while I do my best to showcase as many issues as possible, I’m also just one person who is sometimes limited by my own worldview. A black cis woman can’t be an Asian disabled bi man or a Middle Eastern trans woman. That’s where you come in.
If there’s an issue pressing on your heart, an issue you feel has been neglected by the media, or TV and film reviews you want published for the world to see, use JUST ADD COLOR as your platform! Send me a pitch at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “JUST ADD COLOR/PITCH:”XX” (with “XX” featuring the title of your post). All guest posts are unpaid, but you can use this opportunity to get your footing in the blogging world and exercise your writing skills to advance your writing career!
If you know someone who would love a chance to publish a guest post, please share this post with them! I can’t wait to read your posts!