I used to wake up at the insane hour of 5:30 am on Sundays, just to watch B.Smith with Style. I found the show on accident one morning (more than 10 years ago) and was hooked the moment I saw a black woman making crafts burst onto the screen. If you’re unfamiliar with it let me give you the quick breakdown. It was a nationally syndicated program, featuring former model, author and restaurateur, Barbara Smith. Each episode found Ms Smith designing room decor, cooking delicious meals with black celebrities, crafting, and generally just being fly for 30 minutes a week.
All these years later and we still haven’t had anyone else even come close to replicating a program of that caliber with a black woman at the helm.But how can that be??? I myself follow a ton of sistah girl fashion, food and design blogs. Why can’t we throw crafts up in that mix and get a 30 minute platform once a week to highlight all these divine elements? I feel like it would fit nicely on the OWN Network or TV One. Y’all catch that none-too-subtle pitch there?
Now I can’t sit up here and pretend like I didn’t watch Martha Stewart Living or the always on somebody’s channel, but always uninspiring, Katie Brown back in the day. While I appreciated Martha’s ideas and organizing techniques,I needed just a little more. The Canadian chic (I actually liked her) from She’s Crafty came close a few times, but nair- one of them ever made Jerk Turkey with Malik Yoba or explained the significance of Juneteenth while making traditional Hibiscus Tea Punch on National Television. I’m just sayin… B. Smith With Style had it all and all is what we deserve, again.
Recipe: Hibiscus-Ginger Tea Punch- B. Smith
- 4 cups boiling water
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
- 8 Red Zinger or hibiscus tea bags
- 1-1/4 cups sugar
- 1 (25.4-ounce) bottle sparkling apple cider, chilled
- Lemon wedges, for garnish
Pour 4 cups boiling water over tea bags. Cover; steep 10 minutes. Strain the tea and stir in sugar until dissolved. Chill until ready to serve. Stir in sparkling cider; serve over ice. Garnish, if desired.
Last summer, Smith announced that she had been battling Alzheimer’s, an incurable disease according to the Alzheimer’s Association, that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior and is twice as likely to develop in African- Americans. She bravely allowed a camera crew into her home and spoke about the difficulties of managing the disease in it’s current stage.
Month’s after the above interview, the beautiful Ms Smith went missing in the Hampton’s. Thankfully, she was located within 24 hours, but the initial scare left me wishing I had a way to reach her and say Thank You. Do you know what I mean? Maybe I’m not being clear, I sometimes find it hard to connect my need for action with the my reasons for doing so. But I’m going to utilize this space and try.
By writing this letter (that’s right, I’m calling this a letter) I’m declaring the layered reasons this multifaceted woman is such a motivation to me. It’s much more than just her show. It’s having a viable example of an existence, a lifestyle as it were, that we as women of color, are seldom privy to or encouraged to aspire to. Barbara Smith has comma after comma listed after her name because she masterfully conquered that many mountains and isn’t afraid to own or share that.
When was the last time someone asked you what you do? Did you hit em with a few highlights and save the rest for fear of looking like you do too much? Come on…be honest. Because that’s usually how it goes. We give folks just enough and leave the rest to linger out of fear. I say quit it. Next time someone haphazardly pretends like they’re interested in your life and asks what you do, or where you work or how you doin…say it all. If you climb mountains,cook elegant meals for one, design baby clothing, sing in the choir, sew weaves in as a side hustle or pen your thoughts quietly in a journal each night before bed, say it. Tell them that you have many attributes and say it with conviction because you know it’s true. You earned it, you should share it. If you don’t do it for yourself then do it for B Smith. I think she’d like that. I think it’s the best Thank You, that you or I or anyone could ever give someone who changed their lives for the better.
Thank You Barbara Smith. We Love YOU!
Devoya Mayo is Co-Creator of The Happy Black Girl
Get To Know An HBG is her favorite column to write.
You can contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org