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Last weekend, at the Tidal X 1015 concert in Brooklyn, N.Y., Nicki Minaj delivered a pointed critique that echoed a sentiment that quite a few share about Melania Trump. After reciting lyrics from “Win Again,” she said: “It’s O motherf–king K, ’cause Barack needed a Michelle, bitch, and Bill needed a motherf–king Hillary, bitch; you better pray to God you don’t get stuck with a motherf–king Melania. You n–gas want brainless bitches to stroke your motherf–king ego.”

When a fan on Twitter claimed that she “dragged” Melania Trump, Minaj wrote in response, “Wasn’t ‘dragging.’ She seems nice. But a smart man knows he needs a certain ‘kind’ of woman when running for President/attempting greatness.”

Donald Trump is not a smart man. Shrewd as he may be, this presidential campaign has best highlighted Trump as an egotistical blowhard who whores for attention. So even if Melania had objections to Donald’s run, he doesn’t strike me as the type to be told what he can and cannot do. Ask any of his former campaign managers. Ask his current campaign manager.

There’s also the long-standing suspicion that Donald Trump didn’t expect to get this far with his presidential bid. Stephanie Cegielski, the former communications director of the Make America Great Again super PAC, wrote in, “Trump never intended to be the candidate. But his pride is too out of control to stop him now.”

Donald Trump, presidential candidate, has long come across as a stunt that went too far. And when it comes to Melania, it seems as if she signed up to be a rich man’s wife, and if there were any grand entrance into public life for her, the entree point would have been a spot on The Real Housewives of New York City, not the pursuit of life as the Republican Jackie Kennedy. After all, she already had a QVC line going for her.

I don’t think she signed up for all this attention—notably being exploited by way of the New York Post’s publication of nude pictures that she had taken decades ago.

Still, to some extent, Melania has shown up—only the end result has been her humiliation. Look no further than her disastrous speech at the Republican National Convention, in which her speechwriter lifted heavily from remarks made by first lady Michelle Obama years prior. More recently, she re-emerged to talk to the press, but only to try and defuse accusations that her husband had sexually assaulted more than 10 women.

Their politics aside, there is a parallel between what Melania Trump just did for her husband and the fact that Hillary Clinton did the same thing for her husband, Bill Clinton. That said, Melania did manage to offer her own digs at her husband, quipping to CNN’s Anderson Cooper: “Sometimes I say I have two boys at home. I have my young son and I have my husband.”

As for Michelle Obama, she, too, has recently offered a critique about political spouses that one might easily assume applies to Melania Trump. When late-night host Stephen Colbert asked if she had any sympathy for political spouses, she answered: “Because if—you know, you have to be, you know, in it. If you’re in it, and if you don’t agree, you should have agreed before they ran. Bottom line is, if you didn’t agree with what Barack was saying, I would not support his run. So I stand there proudly, and I hope they are, too, standing with their spouses proudly. So no, no sympathy.”

Well, Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump has largely served in the role some might have expected Melania Trump to fill. Earlier this year, Melania told GQ: “I chose not to go into politics and policy. Those policies are my husband’s job.”

As far as whether or not she has her own political opinions, she stressed that she did, only, “Nobody knows and nobody will ever know. Because that’s between me and my husband.”

It’s hard to feel sorry for anyone with as much wealth and access as Melania Trump enjoys, but as far as being a political spouse goes, she’s dealt with Donald Trump’s presidential run better than many might give her credit for. She’s been placed in a tough position—although, despite my own feelings about her husband and what he represents, I question whether she, as a political spouse, is functioning all that differently from how others function, particularly when met with scandal.

Read the rest at The Root.

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Last night, Donald Trump managed to behave himself by the very low standard we’ve collectively set for him for almost the first half hour of the final debate. Was he as good as some in the punditocracy suggested?

Is he ever?

No, no, no, no. To put things in perspective, think of the dog you trained to defecate on newspaper versus your freshly shined wooden floors who finally follows directions. That’s Trump for that period of time.

When the subject of the Supreme Court came up, Trump seemed more upset that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had bad things to say about him than anything else. Trump did speak passionately about abortion from his suddenly pro-life stance.

He was far too gory, hyperbolic, and not truthful about the number of late-term abortions actually performed, but he managed to form complete sentences that didn’t include insults. I imagine he lifted these lines from Mike Pence. His lies aside, it was about time we had discussions about reproductive rights in the presidential debates – you know, when it was Hillary Clinton’s turn to speak.

Per usual, Trump was vigilant in his objections to NAFTA. If there is one constant about these debates, it’s Clinton’s reluctance to directly address legitimate complaints about the trade deal her husband signed in the 1990s. If Trump were a more disciplined debater, he would have stuck to creating moments like these as opposed to…everything else. Say, referring to undocumented immigrants as “bad hombres” and revealing that he doesn’t get the Second Amendment.

But super first half hour for Trump, y’all.

For much of the debate, Clinton and her expansive book of receipts highlighted what an uninformed fool she’s running against. Trump more or less went “nu uh!” at every claim Clinton made, only to have her follow it up with a direct quote.

As the debate went on, Trump knocked the voice of campaign manager Kellyanne Conway out of his head and returned to the sniffling, face crunching, rude somebody we’ve known him to be.

And it bears repeating: Trump knows nothing.

Trump spoke in incoherent circles about Syria. Trump couldn’t just flat-out say his “MCE” Vladimir Putin is not the most amazing person and that the U.S. Intelligence community is correct about Russians hacking email accounts of American institutions and citizens to meddle in our election. Trump also did little in the way of detailing his economic policy or any policy outside of building a big wall.

Instead, Trump continued to deal in generalities and gibberish before moving on to flat-out conspiracies. Say, when he accused the Clinton campaign of coordinating with the media to compel nine women to accuse him of sexual assault. This man thinks like an alternate on Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine.

What will stick out most about this final debate is Trump being asked if he will accept the results of the election and answering, “I’ll keep you in suspense.” This man acts like he’s up against Kenya Moore at a Real Housewives reunion, doing what it takes to secure a peach for the next season. Meanwhile, it’s interesting now we can talk about rigged elections – which is not a thing in America – yet forgo having the candidate address voter disenfranchisement efforts actually happening across the country.

Read the rest at Essence.

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In a recent interview, Barry Jenkins was asked if he felt pressured to “make something representative, to tell the big story?” The director and screenwriter behind the beautiful Moonlight responded, “I think there was an element of that. The movie is about very specific characters, in a very specific neighborhood, going through very specific ordeals. In that specificity there’s something universal, but also there’s a statement on the black experience.”

There is a burden typically placed on black creatives. Rarely, if ever, are we allowed to share works that speak to specific experiences. Our art often has to forgo the individualistic in favor of the collective for the sake of selling a point to the masses. In Moonlight, which is loosely based on a play by Tarell Alvin McCraney, the movie does indeed address universal themes like love, friendship, identity, and manhood. But there is much specificity in how they are explored. When it comes to the black experience, Moonlight tackles subjects like hypermasculinity and addiction in the aftermath of the War on Drugs. Those are issues that have uniquely impacted the black community at large, though I wonder if those who see the film and (rightfully) praise it will know that is not the only black experience.

A.O. Scott, chief film critic of the New York Times, recently said, “In the prestige movies that court critical and academy approval, Black people are often symbols and symptoms, their stories parables of pathology, striving and redemption.” For directors like Nate Parker, his intent with The Birth of A Nation was to offer imagery speaking to black strength, but as his past comments on why he would never play a gay character suggest, he, too, falls victim to the idea that only certain types of black characters warrant celebration.

As much as I enjoyed Moonlight, it does fit neatly into the kind of black movies Scott notes, that net critical and Academy approval. I’m troubled that some of our stories only make it to the mainstream when they feature pathologized imagery like the crack addicted black woman or the sad gay black man. Still, one hopes that those who see Moonlight and find it moving come to realize the black experience and the gay Black experience can be more than this. In the meantime, this movie at least offers nuance and complexity to characters and stories like these.

It’s best to view Moonlight as it presents itself: as a coming of age story of its protagonist, Chiron. The film is divided into three chapters chronicling Chiron’s journey to manhood. Chiron, who is played by three different actors, is the child of a crack-addicted mother, being raised in a poor neighborhood in Miami.

In the first third of the film, we’re introduced to Chiron, or Little as he’s called then, who’s much smaller than the other boys surrounding him. As a result, he is perceived as soft and subsequently picked on. While running away from antagonizers, he escapes into an abandoned home (serving as a crack house) where he soon meets Juan, played by House of Cards alum Mahershala Ali. Juan, along with his girlfriend Teresa, played by Janelle Monae, take care of Chiron in ways his mother Paula doesn’t. There is a poignant scene in this segment in which Chiron asks Juan what a “faggot” is—a term he learned from his mom. Juan points to it as a term used to dehumanize gay people. When Chiron asks if he’s gay, Juan, after looking at Teresa, let’s him know that is something he’ll have to figure out on his own.

Read the rest at Complex.

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Normally, I do not tolerate rosé slander, but in Alfred’s case, I can understand the frustration. If you’re a rapper booked for an appearance at the club, you should get more than free wine. That man deserved brown liquor, damn it.

Righteous indignation aside, Alfred’s got to work on that attitude. Does he want to be in the club? Based on his variety of grimaces, nah, but he’s getting paid to be there, so he should treat it like the job it is. He does declare, “I don’t trust niggas in the club.” I mean, duh, but my point stands.

Not that many people appear to be familiar with Paper Boi, and of the few who do know him, the response is equal parts salty and stank. Alfred has got to get that game face together or else the “for bookings” portion of his social-media-account bios will go largely ignored. He is new to all this, so maybe there’s something to be said of a learning curve. I’m southern, though, so it ain’t too high ’round my way.

Alfred needs to be more like Darius. People just buy him free drinks. Of course they do! He is what the kids would describe as “good energy.” When he got up to bop, I was like, “HE THINK HE ME!” If you didn’t read that in a hoodrat tone, go back and reread the sentence.

Now, Alfred not getting any free Crown Royal Apple aside, his other problems include a shifty promoter who planned to screw him over. Earn is the manager, so handling that is technically his responsibility. Perhaps it’s a familial trait, but Earn hates the club, too. He calls it a “money suck.”

Earn’s other keen observation include “Somebody smells like Wendy’s double stack.” Whoever wrote this line, I appreciate your specificity. That’s like me saying someone smells like a half-eaten No. 2 combo from Whataburger and two puffs of Newports. Anyhow, Earn is chasing this promoter around the club, asking for the $5,000 owed to them. The man literally escapes into a secret room to avoid coming off the appearance fee.

In the meantime, Earn greets a bartender who very quickly gets him together. As he complains about the club, she asks if she can offer him a bit of advice. “Leave,” she advised. “No one is keeping you here, but if you’re at the club, then deep down you want to be at the club. You’re not special.”

This woman deserves a round of applause. I hate dealing with people who go on and on about the club while they’re at the club. Take your ass home then! That’s why I hate that song “Here” by Alessia Cara. The door works well when you open it, girl.

And while bottle service tends to be an overpriced hustle, the bartender is correct in excusing that, too. As she says, “Everyone needs to feel special sometimes.”

Like the G that she is, the bartender slips Earn a note (after pouring several shots that he didn’t need since he can’t hold his liquor), letting him know that you need to pull the fire alarm to get into the sleazy promoter’s back room. Once Earn slips inside, though, he is promptly shut down. You see, the promoter claims that Paper Boi exceeded his alcohol order limit, required extra security because he is a “thug,” and didn’t perform as promised. So what does Earn end up getting? Only $750.

Earn ain’t exactly threatening, so he takes that money and goes back outside with the face of a sad-dog meme. By the time he finds his cousin, though, he’s riled the hell up. Alfred is in a mood, too: He was already bothered that another rapper with real money and popularity overshadowed him, then got vexed by the fact that his section was besieged with a bunch of folks he didn’t know. Alfred kicked them all out, but did offer to let the women stay. Of course, those women left anyway.

Alfred likes one woman in particular, but when he asks for her number, she shut him down, telling him to follow her on Instagram. She has a boyfriend, it turns out, but promises to check out Paper Boi’s music on SoundCloud. When Alfred felt a way, she kept it funky. She knew he wanted to party with a cute girl like her, so her services are done.

Pissed about everything, Alfred storms into the back room, punks the hell out on the promoter, and gets the money he was promised. “Wow,” the promoter says moments after he leaves. “That boy’s gonna be a star.” He then tells a woman he works with to call the police.

By the time Earn and Alfred and friends make it to another spot to eat, they learn via the television that Paper Boi is wanted for armed robbery in connection to a shooting outside the club. Also, one of Darius’s friends recorded Alfred manhandling that promoter with his phone, further confirming why you can’t trust niggas in the club.

This episode is great all around, but I do have one lingering complaint: WHY WERE PEOPLE NOT JUMPING AROUND WHEN “KNUCK IF YOU BUCK” WAS PLAYING? What kind of blacks in the club don’t lose their mind to that Crime Mob classic? Hell, I stood up and started jumping while watching the episode. Those extras ain’t real.

Read the rest at Vulture.

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When will everyone learn that when you go against Beyoncé’s wishes, only failure and fury will follow? There are rumors floating that Lifetime is considering making a film based on the life of the finest Creole to twerk the earth. A source tells the Daily Star, “Beyoncé is arguably the world’s biggest star and has a story Lifetime thinks is too compelling to ignore.”

Oh, please reconsider.

Of course, British tabloids are notorious for lying like hell, but when you factor in the reality that the network is making a film about Britney Spears, there is legitimate reason to fear. And boo. And hiss. In that order. Word to Momma Dee.

To give them a lil’ teaspoon of credit, Lifetime has come a long way with its original movies, notably the ones with Negroes in them.

With This Ring and A Day Late and a Dollar Short, respectively, were well-made and enjoyable. Each of those were based on novels, however, which meant they had rich material to work with and, more or less, authors who wouldn’t let the network take their works and ruin them. When it comes to Lifetime biopics, that’s where the compliments about Lifetime original movies go to die a slow, excruciating death.

The Aaliyah biopic was equal parts absurd and abysmal, and the one made about Whitney Houston released a year later was not absolutely horrible, but pretty damn bad all the same. Now, Toni Braxton’s biopic, Unbreak My Heart, was a fast ride in terms of storytelling, but nonetheless enjoyable. The key difference between the Braxton biopic and the other two, however, was Braxton’s involvement. Once again, if someone who is the root of the source material is involved, a Lifetime movie will be OK or surprisingly good.

To that end, we can all easily infer that Blue Ivy’s mama wants no parts of this project.

The film is said to be using J. Randy Taraborrelli’s book Becoming Beyoncé: The Untold Story for “inspiration.” In other words, the plan is to use a book Beyoncé didn’t want out for source material—only annoying her even more. As an original member of the Beyhive, I’m now worried about whether my even mentioning that book is a sin.

Forgive me, Beyoncé. I only wrote it to shade it. Amen. Uh oh, uh oh, oh no no.

This source explained: “They know they may receive some pushback for digging into some of her darker moments, but believe her story must be told.” And: “It could ruffle a few feathers, but finally people might get a sense of the real Beyoncé.”

Here’s what’s going to happen: Beyoncé will likely have this project shut down and cleanse the universe of this ugliness. If that miraculously doesn’t happen, this movie will be raggedy as hell. Again, Lifetime has its cute original-movie moments, but this is Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter. Lifetime can’t handle that splendor.

Beyoncé is Houston, Texas. Lifetime is Tyler, Texas. Beyoncé is a luxurious weave plucked directly from a Malaysian handpicked by God, not a weave bun from the gas station that you can clip in. Beyoncé is worthy of a cinematic masterpiece if and when she decides to have a movie based on her life made, not what Lifetime would offer, which is more or less the moviemaking equivalent of cold General Tso’s chicken ordered four days ago.

Read the rest at The Root.

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If he has his way, Donald Trump may have laid the groundwork for a race riot right by Red Lobster.

According to the New York Daily News, the Trump campaign has been actively trying to book the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem for a rally.

Apparently, organizers have been calling “every day,” though there is a bit of a discrepancy over how interested the Apollo is in allowing him the space to hold a rally featuring a bevy of paler folks with an allure for those who like to make aesthetic statements with white foods. One described insider said, “They don’t want him there,” while another claimed, “The two parties may have talked, but no deal has been announced.”

You know, Harlem may have changed, but racism is pretty consistent as far as consequences go.

I remember casually strolling along 125th Street one day and asking myself, “Where did all of the white people come from?” No shade, white folks. I had just never seen that many of y’all in Harlem. The next day, I learned that Amy Schumer had been recording a comedy special at the Apollo, which ultimately aired this time last year. Schumer fans are one thing, but when it comes to supporters of a hate-mongering man who looks like the lovechild of Fanta and Benito Mussolini, can we not?

Trump supporters remind me of a few things: Mama’s Family, business-casual bigotry, misspelled signs and “Heil Hitler!” Needless to say, you pile that into Harlem and all I see happening is white people with signs about Obama arguing with Black Israelites while someone eventually pulls out his phone and yells, “WorldStar!” And lots and lots of NYPD, which can be fearful for anyone who doesn’t look like they belong at a Trump rally.

Why exactly would Trump want to hold a rally in Harlem? At this point in the campaign, “the Blacks,” as he affectionately calls us, know what his deal is. He has four black friends: Ben Carson, Omarosa, Diamond and Silk. Zora Neale Hurston already settled the matter with them: “All my skinfolk ain’t kinfolk.”

As for his “black outreach,” which one presumes would be the basis of his Apollo rally, we’ve already heard his shtick. We’re living in the slums of the inner city, where, as soon as we step outside, we duck bullets because we’re our own suicide squad. We’re all dancing energetically across, below or right on the poverty line. When it comes to our schools, they’re falling apart brick by brick, and students have had to burn the books left over from Reconstruction to stay warm because the heat went out and Booger from Good Times never fixed it.

Like, we get that we’re poor, black and ugly, Trump, and honestly, the lines were performed better by Mister in The Color Purple. Then again, Trump’s black outreach was always for white women anyway.

Just this week, Trump professed a desire to improve conditions for blacks and Hispanics. And yet, days before that, during a campaign stop in Pennsylvania, Trump had this to say to supporters: “So important that you watch other communities, because we don’t want this election stolen from us. We do not want this election stolen.”


Read the rest at The Root.

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As many of us politicos have come to know, the Grand Old Party is overflowing with stupid white men. In this campaign season, though, Donald J. Trump has been sucking up so much of the election coverage, the rest of those of that dumb-dumb-diddy demo have been overlooked.

That’s why I am so grateful to Jon Girodes, the Republican candidate for New York’s 30th Senatorial District, who’s doing his part to make sure we all remember there are many other racist buffoons worthy of our ridicule and condemnation.

As NBC 4 New York reports, Girodes planned for an event in Harlem, which, I’m sure in his mind, was some sort of attempt at black outreach. However, if you took a random poll of black folks, most would hear this plan and say something to the effect of, “Bitch, you got us f–ked up.” And he does.

What’s the plan? Well, per an email Girodes sent out to NBC 4: “I’m hosting an event in Harlem which will be in front of the state building in a few weeks. We will [donate] Kool Aid, KFC and watermelons to the public on 125th street in Harlem. Please join us to help the community.”

Of course, the image for this proposed event features Martin Luther King Jr., this type’s personal get-out-of-“That’s racist!” card. Bless his ignorant, clueless heart.

As someone who walks past that building just about every single day, I’m trying to envision what it might look like to see some Republican stroll up to the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building and more or less offer a trio of stereotypes to black people.

“What I think is anyone who gives free food to people is doing them a favor,” Girodes explained to NBC 4. “Get a bunch of people who say it’s offensive and let me go into their neighborhood and give it out for free and see if they take it.”

Fine, I’ll admit that if I just so randomly stumbled onto someone handing out chicken wings and fried fish sandwiches, it might initially pique my interest. No one will shame me for a love of either thing. That said, who goes to Harlem and offers KFC? There is a Popeyes on 116th, 125th and 145th streets. How are you shimmying into Harlem with KFC? No one wants that, you silly, likely no-seasoning-using man.

If you’re going to stereotype us, at least do so more productively.

Then again, fried chicken is beloved by all, so to couple that with watermelon and Kool-Aid is pretty damn offensive. You want black votes, so you give black voters high cholesterol and “the sugar”? For the love of God, it is National Diabetes Month.

Read the rest at The Root.

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When Nicki Minaj took to Twitter this week to announce a new album, titled Pick My Fruit Out and featuring tracks like “Fruit Loops” and “Bananas (Harambe Interlude),” one could quickly deduce that she was clowning around. Pick My Fruit was a joke, but it called attention to the fact that it’s been nearly two years since she released The Pinkprint, her finest album to date, and that her fans are rightfully ready for new music. Apparently, the wait won’t be much longer—Minaj’s new Marie Claire cover story promises that she has a new album on the way.

Which leaves us to speculate: what will the album sound like? With Minaj, it’s always hard to say.  As a member of #TeamMinaj, I have some hopes (and fears) for what Minaj’s fourth release will have to offer. This is, of course, very Laptop Label Head of me, but it’s all said with love, beloveds.

Trim the tracklist.

The Pinkprint is Minaj’s best complete body of work because she finally managed to deftly bridge her rap songs with tracks catering to her pop leanings. That said, there are still a smooth six songs that could have been left out.

I love Cash Money, but their model of album-making is stuck in the CD era. Their modus operandi is to give you at least 20 tracks. That was cool ten years ago, because it truly gave fans their money’s worth for an album. In the age of streaming, though, it just comes across as too much. Yes, there are those who call the album a relic and continue to argue we live in a singles world, but when I think of a rapper as iconic as Minaj, what separates her from rappers of yore is an undeniable classic record. Being more selective about tracklisting and sequencing will get her there.

Think of it as a meal. We all have our greedy moments, but in this instance, it’s like you’re getting fried fish, ox tails, chicken wings, turkey legs, and then it’s like 19 sides awaiting you after that. You don’t need it all.

Less pop, more rap. No shade.

In August, London On Da Track told Complex that he was in the studio with Nicki Minaj, but noted that the songs were more on the pop side than rap. Please reconsider this, or, at the very least, can we place a small cap on the number of pop songs on NM4? Yes, “Super Bass” was a huge hit, and helped Minaj reach fans who might’ve otherwise taken far longer to access her (if they ever were going to), but please, oh please, Nicki, not too many of those.

I would love an album of Nicki Minaj just straight rapping throughout. Hell, give me Beam Me Up Scotty, squared. No “Starships” please. Please. I said please. Please. I said it again.

Read the rest at Complex.

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When I saw that tonight’s Atlanta episode was entitled “B.A.N.,” I thought it was an acronym about “bitch ass niggas,” which promptly had me body rolling at my desk to Sevyn Streeter. Alas, “B.A.N.” actually stands for Black American Network, a fictional television channel that’s the love child of PBS and Bounce TV. And on that network is Montague, a low-budget panel show starring Franklin Montague (Alano Miller). The dude looks like Ed Gordon’s nephew by marriage.

“B.A.N.” comprises an entire episode of Montague that’s centered on transitions. To start, Montague wants to explore the “growing outlook on accepted sexuality and its effects on black youth and culture.” That sentence alone elicits fear, given most discussions related to black folks’ views on sexuality being drowned in stereotypes about how us colored people are so much more homophobic and transphobic than everyone else.

The show-within-a-show features the one and only Paper Boi as a guest along with a white woman named Dr. Deborah Holt (Mary Kraft), who is introduced to as a trans activist. According to Montague, Alfred was invited to the show because, during a recent tweet storm, he said he wouldn’t sleep with Caitlyn Jenner. When asked if he would explain the statement, Alfred’s initial response is a simple “Nope!”

After a follow up, however, he goes on to declare, “I just don’t think I have to have sex with Caitlyn Jenner ’cause y’all said so.” Montague volleys a leading accusation guised as a question: “So how long have you disliked trans people?”

“Man, I just found out they exist,” Alfred answers. Montague won’t let it go, quoting some Paper Boi lyric about Caitlyn Jenner. Alfred fires back by saying he’s just rapping and shit, you know, before highlighting that the host doesn’t know all of his catalog. Has Montague ever even heard “Illuminati Sex” before?

Sidenote: How in the hell is “Illuminati Sex” not a real song?

In any event, Deborah very much plays into familiar Negro pathology. She claims that Alfred plays into “cultures of exclusion and power.” She then blames hip hop for Alfred’s attitudes, albeit with a slight twist: This time, issues with masculinity are supposedly the problem, rather than widespread homophobia or transphobia.

“Please, please. Tell me about myself,” Paper Boi quips.

Deborah most certainly does. “Black men aren’t ready to accept the implications of a trans accepting culture,” she says. Even if this is a parody, it’s unfortunate that so many believe this idea. The Montague panel reminds us that many white liberals are as guilty as their conservative counterparts in generalizing black people. What Deborah does is right on par with Donald Trump watching two episodes of Good Times, then declaring that all black people live under hellish conditions in the inner city.

Likewise, I must say that Paper Boi not wanting to smash Caitlyn Jenner is an extreme example of an ongoing media trend: When a person of note makes controversial comments, critics are ready to pounce. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but in some cases, the outrage goes way too far. Is it worth ascribing a belief to Alfred that he may not hold? Of course not. Advocacy is important, but plenty of folks see it as a come up so they trot out terms like “problematic” in an effort to appear more enlightened than thou. When people make mistakes, you should correct them, but only within reason.

Although I appreciated the humor employed to shoo-shoo away blanket generalizations about black people and our thoughts on sexuality and gender, the next Montague segment almost negates those efforts. It’s a story called “Trans-racial,” which features a black man named Antoine Small who says that deep down inside, he is a thirty-something white man named Harrison Booth. Reminds me of a bunch of black dudes along the Florida-Georgia border.

“I’ve always felt different,” he tells the interviewer. “I go to the store and movies and just be thinking to myself, ‘Why am I not getting the respect that I deserve?’ And then, it just hit me: I’m white. And 35.”

The segment follows Harrison as he begins transitioning by doing a bunch of “white things.” He practicing ordering an IPA at bars. He wears thick brown leather belts. He’s also planning surgery for a “full racial transition.”

Now, I did laugh at his mama’s response to it all: “I’d love to wake up one day and say, ‘Hey, everybody. I’m Rihanna.’ But I ain’t.” But it’s all strange to watch if you’re familiar with the likes of Rachel Dolezal, who I long ago dismissed as a fake-ass Freddie Brooks from A Different World. According to some of Dolezal’s apologists, if one can argue the sex they were assigned at birth does not speak to their true gender, then why not race too?

Race is a social construct. Race is complicated. Nonetheless, gender has historically been far more fluid and varied outside of Western ideals. I didn’t necessarily expect Atlanta to invoke the hijras of India, but I do wish the fundamental differences between this T-Pain-looking black man and those of Dolezal’s ilk were better explained. You know, for the folks watching at home who might not get it.

Read the rest at Vulture.

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How many Black lesbians can you count on television? There’s Kima Greggs on The Wire, but that show’s been over for years.

Ditto for The L Word, which gave us Bette Porter. There’s Anika Noni-Rose’s character Jukebox on the recently concluded last season of Power, but although she was a standout, she was nonetheless a guest star. In the film, the scarcity of Black lesbian visibility is even worse. My only immediate reference was the superb but largely overlooked 2011 film Pariah.

Although Black people were found to self-identify more as LGBTQ than other groups by a Gallup poll in 2012, so much of how the entertainment industry represents the community is lily white. Black lesbian visibility is lacking, so it’s not surprising that Black lesbians themselves have had to force a change.

The award-winning documentary The Same Difference focuses on this much-overlooked group and examines the impact that internalized homophobia and the stubborn clinging to gender roles have on Black lesbians. The film, directed by Nneka Onuorah, was initially released in June 2015 but will premiere tonight on CentricTV in celebration of National Coming Out Day.

While it’s important to celebrate people owning their truth, it’s just as vital to examine what exactly they’re coming out to.

Over the course of an hour, we learn that while there are varying labels women in the community identify with—gender nonconformist, stud and AG (related to women who are considered more masculine), trans, femme-aggressive (as in a woman who switches between masculine and feminine roles), and so on—there remains a binary that boxes in far too many. Those limitations can result in slights from other lesbians, and, in some instances, violence. At one point in the film, one lesbian reveals that she was jumped and told, “You’re too pretty to be stud.”

Moments into Onuorah’s film, you hear the declaration, “We are conditioned to categorize ourselves.” Throughout the documentary, we see how this happens by way of purported rules among the community: “Must be stud or femme, nothing in between,” “No stud on stud,” “No bisexuals,” and “No pregnant studs.”
To a gay Black man, parts of The Same Difference feel familiar—like the way heteronormativity plays such a pivotal role even in non-heterosexual spaces, and how so many people who are not straight look to straight relationships as the basis for their romantic and sexual relationships. So many of the women in the film conform to the idea that if one appears like “the man,” they take on certain roles both sexually and in terms of who more or less “leads” the relationship.

Read the rest at ELLE.

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