Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

For a few weeks now, I and presumably other writers like me, have been asked to brace ourselves for this moment and to have our thoughts ready. These thoughts were mostly centered on this question: “If they decide not to indict Darren Wilson, what do you think should come next?” My answer remains the same: I don’t know.

What I do know is that Michael Brown’s killer shot him while he was unarmed and though the narratives of how that conclusion came to be have varied, the reality remains that if you are young and you are Black, you are 21 times more likely than whites to be shot dead by police. After that, your reputation may have to die, too, to uphold your killer’s name.

With this jury decision comes yet another reminder of how little many care about Black life. I’m not sure what’s next and none of us are being given enough time to consider our options. It’s already happening again.

On Saturday evening, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by a Cleveland police officer outside of a city recreation center. The officers who answered the police call about a “male threatening people with a gun” – a first-year rookie and a 10-year department veteran – “have been placed on administrative leave pending the results of the department’s investigation.” Rice was carrying a BB Gun and I have no faith in the department’s investigation.

Not even little Black kids are safe from a police officer’s biases and bullets.

And when Black people are rightfully angry about it and peacefully take to the streets, somehow the victims get categorized as the agitators. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon set an unnecessary tone when he issued a state of emergency and activated the National Guard before the grand jury’s announcement. Earlier today, Nixon held a press conference where they effectively pleaded for the protection of property to people disheartened and rightfully angry with the police for stealing lives.

Over the weekend, President Obama did not help matters as he told ABC News that no protestor should use their right to express their views “as an excuse for violence.”

The police are the ones committing acts of violence and it is law enforcement agitating otherwise peaceful protests.

Worse is when Obama refuted Congressman John Lewis’ (D-GA) assessment that Ferguson is a “turning point” for the modern Civil Rights movement, comparing it to the march on Selma.

Mr. President, you don’t get to tell someone who was at Selma, or what is or is not like Selma. Moreover, to dismiss the role systematic segregation and discrimination plays in today’s culture of police brutality is to be willfully obtuse. Just look at Darren Wilson, a former member of a police force that was disbanded due to racial tensions, and a soon-to-be-retired member of another police force that has its ownreported issues with “officers’ training and racial sensitivity.”

America is not Disneyland; don’t bother trying to convince any of us otherwise.

As if this reality were not harsh enough, the manner in which the announcement that Darren Wilson would not be indicted made it all the more infuriating. While delivering his remarks, St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCullouch ever so condescendingly faulted the media and social media for…daring to care about Black life or not allowing them to quietly sweep Michael Brown’s life under the rug? At one point, McCullouch declared, “The real villain is the 24-hour news cycle.”

The villain is the person who killed an unarmed Black man. Don’t moralize the media and the folks on social media who got them to give a damn. Bob McCullouch’s speech was basically pouring salt on the wound and spitting in our faces.
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

While discussing how wrong and utterly stupid people can be about anything Beyoncé related, my friend La succinctly packaged my grievances by noting, “I hate that every time she does something, it means we all who pay attention and have critical thinking skills have to suffer thru think pieces from who don’t.” She added an “lol,” but my ass ain’t laughing. The thinkpieces haven’t arrived yet, but the thoughtless musings have already started.

For starters, this idea that “7/11″ sounds like something from Unapologetic. Songs like “Pour It Up” are taking cues from Juicy J and “trap,” both of which are heavily (and admittedly by producers) influenced by DJ Screw and UGK. You know, the area where Beyoncé is actually from. As someone who still occasionally writes about music, it irritates the ever living shit out of me how often people who write about music don’t know much about it. This is always true about anything southern Black related.

Even after the now perfect visual, there are some who once again want to echo this sentiment and attribute to the larger point: Beyoncé is copying Rihanna. The people who think this are more than likely the folks who had no idea about the term “ratchet” and Lil’ Boosie until they discovered Twitter. Likewise, these are people who don’t know anything about southern rap outside the shit they discovered in the aughts — so much of which is nothing more than an amalgamation of sounds from the cities of Houston, New Orleans, Dallas, and Miami. This is probably why some felt “Bow Down” was jacking A$AP Rocky, the Harlem native whose entire sound has largely been derived from the Houston rap me and Beyoncé listened to in like elementary and middle school.

Let’s just be clear that a Black girl from Houston, Texas doesn’t need to take cues from a girl born in Barbados, a man from Harlem, among others riding off a Houston influence (Hey, Aubrey Graham) on how to incorporate Screw-influenced music and otherwise hood shit into her act. Especially if said artist is from the Third Ward area of H-Tine, and most of all, has been doing “ratchet” shit before these complaining sum’bitches started dick-riding the term and proceeded to abuse to death.

Since Destiny’s Child started, Beyoncé has worked with local Houston rappers, No Limit rappers, and if you gloss over the Destiny’s Child catalog, has as many birds in her stock as a Popeye’s on MLK. Never forget that Destiny’s Child scored a crossover hit in a song like “Soldier,” which is about their love of a big dick thug. This is a song that came out after they became mainstream staples, mind you.

Beyoncé is also the girl who flipped an old DJ Jubilee sound into an R&B dance track. Perhaps some of you were blinded by the video, which was inspired by The Frug Bob Fosse’s film adaptation of the Broadway musical Sweet Charity, but that’s still New Orleans bounce you are dancing to, beloveds.

I could go on – Beyoncé breaking into the southside flow on “Kitty Kat” – but these motherfuckers don’t pay attention or listen, so why keep bothering? If anything, unlike Rihanna and many other Black acts, Beyoncé is someone whose music remained unapologetically Black more often than not in spite of the shrinking influence of “urban radio” and the pressures to join the EDM, Kid Bopz sounding bullshit one finds on those pop stations.

By the way, I also some tweet that said “7/11″ sounds like The Lonely Island’s idea of a Beyoncé song. That’s some white people shit and I’ll leave it at that. Well, I’ll add a “God bless.” There. Next.

Oh yes, there’s that lingering complaint that Beyoncé has no personality. Early interviews have long suggested otherwise. What Beyoncé did do, though, is pull back on the media in the wake of LeToya and LaTavia’s dismissal. She probably didn’t want to end up being portrayed as Diana Ross given these days the only folks who can get away with such behavior are the Katherine Heigls of the world.

I welcome constructive criticism of Beyoncé. I can think of a few areas worthy of consideration. No, I won’t share ’cause I’m not up for doing the work of lazy thinkers. However, what is and continues to be the main problem about this line of critique about Beyoncé is that it’s brainless and often comes from people who come across butt hurt by her for whatever reason. Shut up, or at least, step it up.

Anyway, all hail the biggest pop star in the world for making a music video on an iPhone 6 for a song with absolutely no structure, but is the bop…which is really the most important anyway.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

My initial reaction to TV Land’s decision to cut The Cosby Show from its lineup was mostly tied to the notion that Bill Cosby is not being afforded the same luxury as his white counterparts like Woody Allen and Roman Polanski, who continue to see their films aired and celebrated even when we’re given detailed reminders of their sexual allegations. However, when it comes to Bill Cosby, it’s a bit more complicated than my knee-jerk reaction to the cable network’s decision suggests.

If you go on social media, you will see tweets like, “Remember..at one time Bill Cosby was about to buy the NBC network..a Black man with any kind of real POWER is not cool in America!!!!” Likewise, “They can’t never let a Black man be successful & respected by all at the same time….don’t try & dirty Bill Cosby’s name bruh.”

Then there outlets posing leading questions such as “We see Bill Cosby, a Black man, being accused by multiple white women of rape. Is he automatically guilty because of the racial layer?” Even some misguided white people have entered the fray, arguing that Cosby is being mistreated while white women like Lena Dunham are being let off the hook.

Some refuse to believe the ever-increasing number of women who have accused Bill Cosby of raping them due to the idea that this is nothing more than a concerted effort to bring an iconic Black man down. An iconic Black man who presented an image of a Black family that means so much to so many – exactly why the Black-focused networks like the BET-owned Centric and Magic Johnson-founded Aspirehave decided to keep airing episodes of The Cosby Show.

No one can deny the reality that Black people – even famous, wealthy ones – are often treated more harshly than white people. Nonetheless, these Bill Cosby apologists conveniently leave out the part that Bill Cosby has long been accused of raping women over the years and he’s only now really facing public backlash for it. So if this was truly about the media “just trying to assassinate another Black man character” as some have suggested, why did it take so long?

What’s happening to Bill Cosby now is not an affront on the Black man. This is a testament to how one powerful man can no longer flex his muscle to shut people up in an age where new media and social media drive the conversation in ways a 77-year-old celebrity is not used to. Sure, TV Land’s decision is harsh, but it will likely be reversed the same way networks have returned to airing episodes of 7thHeaven despite its show’s patriarch, played by actor Stephen Collins, confessing to child molestation.

This isn’t about racism so much as it is a lingering lassiez faire attitude many have about sexual assault. There is not enough sympathy in the world for victims of rape and there’s even less when the accused rapist is an entertainer. People will put their entertainment value ahead of a person’s humanity. It is why Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, and yes, Bill Cosby, have managed to amass fortunes for their art with only small blemishes to their legacies.

It is why R. Kelly continues to have a career despite the charges leveled against him. This is a man who has been accused of raping children for several years and has responded by being just as sexually explicit in his creative works than ever before. If we go by the logic that Bill Cosby’s current media narrative can be attributed to racial politics, than why is R. Kelly still relevant? As much as many of us love 12 Play, his contributions to culture are far less important that Bill Cosby and he doesn’t possess a fraction of the prestige Cosby has.

Read the rest at theGrio.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

As far as “post-racial” and “New Black” famous Negroes go, Whoopi Goldberg is a pioneer. When she discusses race, it’s enough to make your average Black person living in America shout, “What in the hell is she talking about?”

This week on The View, Whoopi gave more informed viewers a head-scratching, eye-roll inducing comment about the role racism plays in our justice system. While discussing whether or not Darren Wilson will be indicted in the shooting death of Michael Brown, The View co-host Rosie O’Donnelldeclared: “I’m sick of it. Black boys are like the endangered species in America. They’re killed at an absurd rate and nobody seems to care enough.”

To which Whoopi replied: “A lot of people care. What has to happen is, we need to remind everybody: ‘These are your sons. Forget the color. Because it could be you tomorrow. Injustice doesn’t care what color you are.’”

To “forget the color” is to ignore the problem — even as it chases Black men and women down to execute them as they hold bags of Skittles and toy guns.

Of course, this is not surprising. In the past, Goldberg has defended the use of blackface. She once went above and beyond to convince The View viewers that Mel Gibson does not have a racist bone in his body despite his use of racial epithets and employment of racial stereotypes.

She’s also argued over what constitutes rape as opposed to “rape-rape” as she defends the likes of Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, and more recently Bill Cosby. Goldberg has consistently used her platform to play the role of devil’s advocate. I continue to love her as an artist, but I increasingly can only bear to her hear when she’s speaking of a fake reality lifted from script pages as opposed to the one in her head.

Injustice affects us all, but Black people more than everyone else.

Just this week, USA Today unveiled a study that Black people are more likely to be arrested than any other group. Moreover, disparate arrest records in Ferguson, Mo. are reported “in cities as large and diverse as Chicago and San Francisco and in the suburbs that encircle St. Louis, New York and Detroit.” This is nothing more than additional evidence to what we’ve seen in conviction rates, prison sentencing and police brutality cases across the nation.

Goldberg may be right in that “a lot of people care,” though we do live in a country where polls show white people will support voter ID laws more after being shown photos of Black people. So sure, some people may care about Michael Brown’s shooting death, but a large portion of that group includes people who look like him. The lack of empathy towards Black life speaks to the very issue Rosie O’Donnell intended to highlight before Whoopi’s interruption.

Read the rest at The Urban Daily.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

Don Lemon wasted his breath when he told Joan Tarshis, a woman claiming she was raped by Bill Cosby when she was 19, “I don’t mean to be crude, but…” as he went on to be not only crude, but repulsive and pathetically ignorant to a woman speaking on her alleged victimization.

On the November 18 edition of CNN’s CNN Tonight, Lemon had a follow up interview with Tarshis in which he questioned whether she was really forced to perform fellatio on Cosby.

Don Lemon did so as only Don Lemon knows how to: in the most vapid, cringe-worthy fashion imaginable:

LEMON: Can I ask you this, because — and please, I don’t mean to be crude, OK?

TARSHIS: Yeah.

LEMON: Because I know some of you — and you said this last night, that he — you lied to him and said “I have an infection, and if you rape me, or if you do — if you have intercourse with me, then you will probably get it and give it to your wife.”

TARSHIS: Right.

LEMON: And you said he made you perform oral sex.

TARSHIS: Right.

LEMON: You — you know, there are ways not to perform oral sex if you didn’t want to do it.

TARSHIS: Oh. Um, I was kind of stoned at the time, and quite honestly, that didn’t even enter my mind. Now I wish it would have.

LEMON: Right. Meaning the using of the teeth, right?

TARSHIS: Yes, that’s what I’m thinking you’re –

LEMON: As a weapon.

TARSHIS: Yeah, I didn’t even think of it.

LEMON: Biting. So, um –

TARSHIS: Ouch.

LEMON: Yes. I had to ask. I mean, it is, yeah.

TARSHIS: Yes. No, it didn’t cross my mind.

First it was pull up your pants and pick up the trash on the sidewalk to stop white supremacy, now Lemon is suggesting women use their teeth as a tool for rape prevention. Never mind the reality that there are plenty of men currently rotting in prison for forcing women to perform oral sex on them. Or that the man at the source of these allegations likely weighs somewhere between 50-100 pounds more than the alleged victim(s) and that he used to play football in college.

Regardless of whether or not Lemon believes Tarshis’ account, there is a certain of respect one ought to pay anyone who steps forward about being sexually assaulted. Considering Don Lemon himself is a survivor of sexual abuse, one would imagine he of all people might understand this. However, as we’ve all come to learn, the star of Don Lemon has risen dramatically in recent years due to him beinginconsiderate of other people and of victims’ circumstances.

This approach maybe be good for his public profile, and perhaps, CNN’s bottom line, but it comes at a cost. Don Lemon has trivialized the serious topic of race and now he’s set his sights on rape. No one working at a major cable news network should be rewarded for consistently being so utterly stupid and irresponsible.

In response to the criticism, on Wednesday, Lemon took 14 seconds to say the following:

“As I am a victim myself, I would never want to suggest that any victim could have prevented a rape. If my question to her struck anyone as offensive, I am sorry, as that certainly was not my intention.”

This one of those obnoxious apologies that doesn’t acknowledge the fact that intent does not outweigh impact. Moreover, it’s senseless to say “if my question was offensive” when there is no if about it, otherwise you wouldn’t be on air trying to save face and your job.

There are some anchors who are capable of analyzing the news, despite the fact that they are normally just reciting it to viewers. Lemon is not one of those people, as his opinions – especially in this instance – are not informed ones.

Don Lemon is too simple-minded for serious subject matter and too poisonous a voice for the platform he presently holds. CNN: Put him back on script or send him back to the field.

Read the rest at NewsOne.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

Much of last night’s episode of Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood was about choices, and in particular, a PSA to the audience on learning to stop making the wrong choices. For starters, if you allowed Soulja Boy to plant a seed in your uterus, you obviously don’t love your uterus as much you should. Similarly, if you’re constantly engaging in displays of public embarrassment over Yung Berg, you might want to go off and pursue an Amber Alert for your self-worth.

However, let’s start with Omarion, the most sensible cast member on this show. Starting directly where we left off, we greet Omarion, Apryl, and Omarion’s mama Leslie joyfully celebrating the birth of Omarion and Apryl’s first child. As Omarion put it, “I named him Mega because that’s exactly what this is: It’s mega.” It would have made more sense if he said, “I named my kid Mega ’cause while I used to love Sega Genesis, I didn’t want to be too-too obvious.”

Whatever, Omarion is rightfully elated so let’s just allow him to keep rocking.

Meanwhile, Apryl is focused on being a new mommy, but cannot shake the longstanding issues she has with her own mom. So she finally confronts her to underwhelming results. I’m merely speculating here, but from the looks of it, Apryl’s mama used to be a 1990s Halle Berry character, so it may be extremely difficult for her to give her the real on why she sent her to live with her grandmother. It’s painful for (presumed) addicts to be completely frank about their past; their children may never be as ready to hear the complete truth no matter how much they protest to hear it. If nothing else, at least Omarion’s mama is finally giving Apryl room to breathe.

I assume Omarion made sure Leslie continued to have her hair done, nails done, everything did for the sake of keeping the peace.

Speaking of parenthood, Nia revealed to Morgan that she is pregnant. Soulja Boy is the father, only as past episodes have shown, they’re not exactly in the best space. Nia is unsure about the pregnancy as a result of this, and when she finally does try to tell Soulja Boy that she is carrying his baby, he blows her off. Sadly, Nia miscarries and has to deal with the loss on her own.

Side note: Soulja Boy often seems less than sober in most of his scenes. I’m tempted to ask my mama if she can dig up the speech I wrote for D.A.R.E. back in fourth grade. Don’t worry, weed heads: I’m not including marijuana.

While she’s allegedly never high on the show, Masika must be on something to think she’s about to be the Maleficent of R&B. Now in the lap of Yung Berg, we caught a glimpse of Masika singing in the studio. No lie: The song sounded decent, but Masika’s singing voice gives Teairra Mari, first thing in the morning.

That doesn’t necessarily matter because if the beat is hot, this bird will bop, but songbird she’s not.

Anyhow, after telling Berg about the confrontation she had with Hazel E, Berg not only gives Masika the track he originally intended for Hazel, but invited Hazel to his all-white party for the sole sake of seeing Masika perform the new incarnation of the track. Hazel E comes with Ray J and offers a big “fuck you” to the dress code—showing up in all black. To be fair to Hazel, Berg, and Masika are intentionally provoking her, and she was pushed to react by Ray J.

However, Hazel is still out of her mind. This woman decided to randomly start performing her rendition of the Berg track as Masika’s version plays. I was so embarrassed for her, and that says a lot because most of us regular reality TV watchers are totally desensitized. Hazel, no man is worth this level of debasement, especially not one who can’t ride all of the best roller coasters at Six Flags and allegedly punches you when you pay for the bill his credit card when he is unable to.

As the back and forth between Hazel and Masika goes on, Teairra Mari decides to jump in a la Hazel E ’bout a week ago. Then came that random club promoter Sincere, who talks slick to Teairra. Will they learn not to try Detroit?

At one point, Teairra Mari screamed, “SINCE YOU WANT TO TURN UP FOR NO MOTHERFUCKING REASON THEN TURN UP. TURN UP, MOTHERFUCKER.”

Teairra Mari is the star of this show. I truly hope she manages to resurrect her singing career because she could become the Crime Mob of R&B and fulfill the promise of Brooke Valentine’s one hit. I love, Tee-Tee!

Read the rest at Complex.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

Lifetime’s interpretation of the life of the late R&B singer Aaliyah was as much a tribute to her legacy as a drunk, hoarse person’s impromptu cover of “Rock the Boat” at a karaoke bar is.

Aaliyah: Princess of R&B is that bad and for numerous reasons. For starters, there are times when you don’t necessarily need a family’s involvement in a biopic to make it quality; however, when you’re making a movie depicting the life of an iconic singer, it is imperative that you have the rights to said singer’s music. The family owns said rights, they were unwilling to share, and the movie suffers heavily as a result.

The only songs the production team could secure are ones like “Journey to the Past,” which yes, Aaliyah performed at the 1998 Academy Awards but is not exactly among the first 10 songs she is best known for.  The same goes for her cover of Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up”—a track from One in a Million that did lead to a music video, though not one that anyone outside of her core fans ever cares to revisit. If they were this hard up for Aaliyah music, I would’ve advised producers to go even deeper into the crates and go beg for “Are You Ready?” from the Sunset Park soundtrack.

There were at least two songs used that we knew. Diane Warren did accept Lifetime’s check to use “The One I Gave My Heart To,” and the film did make note of Aaliyah’s brilliant rendition of “At Your Best (You Are Love).”

Unfortunately, Alexandra Shipp, who was selected to play Aaliyah after Zendaya Coleman smartly bowed out of the project, was the person whose voice we heard as opposed to the singer whose life was being chronicled (poorly). Shipp’s take on Aaliyah’s works are subpar. She simply lacks the spark of Aaliyah’s sweet soprano. But that is not a shot at Shipp; she should not have been placed in the position to sing those songs. Now with respect to Shipp’s dancing, which was also not reminiscent of Aaliyah, she probably didn’t have enough time for dance rehearsal given so much of this movie feels rushed.

Shipp is actually not the worst of the casting, though. Who made the choice to make Timbaland Gluten Free, and Missy Elliott thinner and lighter than she’s ever been? Even so, there’s some reward in making R. Kelly look more like Aaron Hall given how much of Hall’s style Kelly heavily borrowed from.

Still, the casting is bad, and the script, messy and choppy.

There are parts of this story that simply don’t match the actual trajectory of the career. There were many moments where I kept thinking aloud “If this is supposed to be in year 1996, why are we watching things that actually happened in 1998?” By the way, are we supposed to believe that after Aaliyah’s marriage to R. Kelly was annulled, she mopped around for five years later waiting for…Damon Dash?

So we’re going to gloss over the fact that she was linked to other men like Jay Z? This only reminds us that the problem with trying to make a movie about Aaliyah’s life no matter the medium—basic cable or a proposed feature film—is that not everyone wants to be completely frank about the course of her life.

Read the rest at Complex.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

As reckless as she’s been in recent years, AzealiaBanks is well aware of the ramifications of her headline-grabbing antics. In an interview with BBC One’s Zane Lowe about the surprise release of her long-delayed debut album, Broke With Expensive Taste, Banks was asked if she ever doubted whether she would fail to deliver an album. Always candid, Azealia answered, “No, I knew it would come out. I just was afraid that it would come out when people really didn’t care.”

When it comes to the people in question, the answer depends on the crowd you’re talking about. The general public has long written Azealia Banks off, and they’re never, ever getting back together with her. Stranger things have happened, but the idea of Azealia Banks becoming the sort of star Nicki Minaj is and Iggy Azalea is turning into seems virtually impossible at this point. But she doesn’t really need to be; some acts are as broad as Beyoncé, others specific as Solange.

It’s always been difficult to box Banks in, and that undoubtedly was the real point of contention between her and her now formal label, Universal. For those of us not under the pressure of making sure our million-dollar investments churn out a radio-ready hit, we’re free to just enjoy Banks being her multifaceted, notably curious, and ultra vulgar self.

Speaking of, a friend who, like me, had grown weary of Banks’ antics and missing album took a listen to the Harlem native’s debut and told me the following shortly thereafter: “This bitch is gonna make me start liking her again.”

Broke With Expensive Taste is an impressive record, and yes, very much worth the wait, but it’s so many things at once. Sometimes it’s many things in a single song—which you immediately come to understand in the song’s opener, “Idle Delilah,” a mix of dubstep and I don’t know, tourist commercial light “island” reggae music?

There’s also U.K. garbage, house, and what people consider “trap” now. (I’m a Southern rap fan. This trap will never be mine.) Banks also will unexpectedly but impressively break into rapping in Spanish. Why? Well, why not?

For the most part, it works, though there are some missteps like “Nude Beach a Go-Go,” which reminds me of the kind of corny Beach Boys music Uncle Jesse raved about so much on Full House. And while it’s certainly her most known song, “212” should’ve been left off the album and replaced with the sublime “1991” from the good EP of the same name. Or at least tweaked a la the reworked “Gimme a Chance.” The same goes for other songs that are good, i.e. “BBD,” but we’ve long heard.

The errors are minor, though.

Read the rest at Complex.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

It was rather sweet to see Shonda Rhimes dismiss the criticism—delivered in real time by way of Twitter—that the new ABC hit How to Get Away With Murder had one too many gay scenes the way she did. Ever cognizant of everyone’s humanity, Rhimes tweeted back, “There are no GAY scenes. There are scenes with people in them.”

It reminded me of an episode of Sesame Street—a compliment, I promise—in which we learn at the end the valuable lesson that people are just people. The sentiment is endearing, but our differences and labels make note of another reality.

I don’t subscribe to the logic that labels are bad. Yes, they can be limiting, but oftentimes it’s not so much the label that’s the problem as it is the associations that the linear-thinking sect attaches to it. You can remove the label—e.g., refer to “scenes with people in them” as opposed to “GAY scenes”—but it proves to be a fool’s errand because the person who has the problem with two people of the same gender simulating sex on camera will have a problem no matter what you call it.

So let’s just call it exactly what it is: gay sex. More important, gay male sex. How to Get Away With Murder features a lot of it. That gay sex has since sparked debate on specific topics related to bottoms and the notion of “bottom shaming,” as well as a broader conversation about what all of this gay sex on a key night of network TV means.

Ultimately, it means the normalization of sex between two men in a meaningful way. Support for marriage equality may be thriving, and the movement will eventually triumph with nationwide recognition, but a lot of that has to do with packaging. Straight people have increasingly accepted gay marriage because it is presented to them through a heteronormative filter: Two consenting adults want their love recognized. Maybe they’ll then go have a family.

It’s shrewd, but many can get used to the idea of two people in love, wanting a wedding. But the thought of what happens during the honeymoon may still trigger some discomfort.

We have seen lesbian sex featured on various sitcoms through the years, but that feat was accomplished far sooner because of the boost it was provided by certain circumstances—say, the way the imagery might play into a heterosexual man’s fantasies.

Two gay men having sex does not play into that; therefore, the struggle to see it regularly in certain places has remained. Even on gay-centered shows like HBO’s Looking, the sex scenes are never as explicit as those you’d see involving straight characters. How to Get Away With Murder and its gay male lead—Jack Falahee as Connor Walsh—are changing that. The more you see gay men—gasp—expressing themselves for this big audience the way every other horny person does, the more that discomfort will be tamed over time.

And though Rhimes is not the creator of How to Get Away With Murder, she is the reason it’s on the air. Her contributions cannot go unnoted. The same goes for the irony.

Read the rest at The Root.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

As much work as the people behind the Washington Post’s interactive project on “The N-Word” likely put in, its biggest and only beneficiaries are those who profited from the traffic it generated. Sure, the publication tried to argue the purpose of its package. When you venture on to the site, you are greeted with this message: “After the National Football League made the controversial decision to ban it on the field this year, a team of Washington Post journalists explored the history of the word, its evolution, and its place in American vernacular today.”

This, despite the reality that such exploration has been done for what feels like a million times already. I’m probably really close to the exact number.

It may be serious in its presentation, but no serious person could expect any real evolution from long-established points: the word isn’t going anywhere; some Black people will continue to use “nigga,” and they are well within their rights to take a slur and morph it into a colloquialism they feel comfortable with; some Black people will never feel comfortable about “nigga” and they are well within their rights to hold that opinion; and most will reach an accord that a White person who uses “nigga” should immediately lose their lips and tongue.

Another basic albeit inconvenient truth is that it’s easier to have a conversation about “the n-word” than racism.

It’s not even a symptom of systematic racism so much as it is a response to that. A response that’s relatively small when you consider everything else going on right now.

The Washington Post makes note of this point of view, but where is the big interactive project on that?

A project that examines just how detrimental institutionalized racism is and how strongly it presses on. Just check the Washington Post masthead — particularly the very top of it.

Even if Black people took part in the project, this is another instance of White people holding a magnifying glass to Black people when they ought to be standing tall in the mirror, wondering just when are they going to give Black people a fighting chance in this country. Instead, we go for repetition and the superficial. And not surprisingly, we are met with the same results.

Enter television personality and unapologetic troll Piers Morgan (pictured), who wrote the essay “If Black Americans Want the N-word To die, They Will Have To Kill It Themselves,” where he attempts to tell Black people about themselves when it comes to the vernacular remix of “n*gger.”

Like other White men who have no realistic concept of racism because it has never been a factor in their lives, Morgan offers a naïve assessment of how racism works.

Black people are victims of racism. We cope with the conditions we’ve been given. It is not our responsibility to solve the problem we did not create.

It’s hilarious that a British White man wants to tell Black Americans about the state of race when he’s from a country long criticized for not even acknowledging Black people and culture.

In any event, Morgan got the attention he wanted from John Legend and writers like Ta-Nehisi Coates and Rebecca Carroll. And now me. He’s been smug in all of his responses to the aforementioned and basically told Black Twitter to shut up given he covered Trayvon Martin.

You know, despite it being those very members of Black Twitter who helped up the volume on the journalists and activists who worked to have the story of Trayvon’s tragedy told.

Read the rest at NewsOne.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone