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In theory, Mariah Carey, reality star, sounds nothing short of must-see television.

Long before Real Housewives came along, Carey offered the world various strains of grandiosity, eccentricity, and lots o’ theatrics. Surely someone who admittedly acknowledges living in her own bubble would be the perfect vehicle for a new reality series. However, Carey has been particular about making sure this show was not a reality series, but a “docuseries.”

Granted, some shows actually do fit the bill of “docuseries,” given they’re more documentary than soap opera. There’s a certain level of openness and authenticity required to make those work, though. Anything else would fall into what we know as reality TV, where, if nothing else, the manufactured drama we bear witness to is satisfying in its entertainment value.

As far as the premiere episode of Mariah’s World goes, it meets neither standard.

The show begins with Carey dressing up as Bianca Storm, the alter ego she played in the “Heartbreaker” video. Some lambs, her most dedicated fan base, might have seen the sight of Bianca and found the nod heartwarming. Other fans may have likely looked at Bianca and asked themselves, “Why are we back in 1999?”

Of course, the show proceeded to run down Carey’s stats as the biggest-selling female artist of all time with more No. 1s than any recording act other than the Beatles. We all knew that, but Carey will always make time to let you know who the hell she is. Not long after, Carey tells us the story of how she came to be a professional singer. As if we haven’t heard this story numerous times over the course of 20 years. And you guessed it; she also let us know that she writes on every song she’s ever recorded.

Mariah, I adore thee, but I think we’ve got it by now. That said; it is your world. Perhaps she’s not the problem so much as my expectations are? Or not.

There are some things to appreciate about the show—namely Carey’s confessional looks. Leave it to her to practically lounge in a nightgown while holding a glass of red wine. The other Carey constant is magnificent lightning. Carey probably has a better lighting crew than God, so she’d be damned if she were made to look anything less than spectacular on her show.

As for what one can learn from Mariah’s World, let’s start with the new understanding that the Kardashian sisters have stricter hiring practices for Dash than Mariah Carey does for anything. Her new manager, Stella Bulochnikov, was hired thanks to Carey’s friend, film director Brett Ratner. And based on reports, Bulochnikov cleaned house once she got that position—something Carey’s makeup artist notes on the series premiere.

On the show, Bulochnikov hires a young woman who doesn’t seem to know anything about assisting people, let alone assisting one of the biggest music artists in history. The end result is that part of the episode centered on this new assistant crying that she could not set up Carey’s Apple TV in her hotel suite, which Carey requires having on to sleep. As nice as it was to see one of the hotel staffers more or less tell that young woman to buck up, why was this on television? Who in the hell cares?

This show is supposed to be about Carey launching a tour and planning a wedding. Well, we already know now that the wedding plans end with a breakup, but production sure didn’t waste time planting the seeds for a backup story. Carey is reportedly dating dancer Bryan Tanaka and their on-screen flirtation is made apparent in the premiere. Who knows if that backup storyline was planned in advance or not, but it’s easier than ever to see Carey’s engagement was much ado about nothing, and it’s hard to believe she cares that much about what looks like nothing more than a cute homeboy.

If you’re wondering where Carey’s manager came from, as fate and opportunity would have it, she has a background mostly in reality TV, credited on the following shows: T.I. & Tiny: The Family HustleMaster P’s Family ValuesParis Hilton’s My New BFF, and Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School.

Read the rest at The Root.

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There are many reasons for anyone of conscience not to serve in the administration of our hate-mongering, habanero-hue-having president-elect.

He is a racist. He is a sexist. He is a xenophobe.

Likewise, there are plenty of reasons for a black man in particular not to want to serve in the administration of such a character.

His comments about the Central Park Five then and now; his history with housing discriminationhis very long history of making racist comments, particularly those that are anti-black; his efforts to publicly undermine the nation’s first black president by questioning his citizenship; his describing black neighborhoods and black life in America in the spirit of Mister telling Celie that she was po’, black and ugly.

Yet, for all the ample amount of evidence readily available, Robert Johnson cited a reason rooted not in principle but in loss of power.

Speaking with CNBC this week, the BET founder revealed that he had met with President-elect Donald Trump earlier this month and was offered a Cabinet position. “It was an easy discussion because I wasn’t coming there on a job interview,” Johnson explained. “He hinted at something I could be interested in, and I quickly shut that down. It was a Cabinet position.”

What prompted such a quick dip? According to Johnson, he can’t work for the government “because to me, as an entrepreneur, trying to work in a government structure where you got to go through 15 different layers of decision-making to get what you want done doesn’t fit my mold.”

So this Negro’s only real gripe with serving in the Trump administration is that he wouldn’t be able to have as much say as he’s accustomed to. Not to mention, he wouldn’t be able to make the kind of money he’s used to earning.

This line of thinking is more verbal manure than most decent people can take—except, Johnson decided to take things one step further by arguing that Minute Maid Mao was not racist.

“To me, I never thought Donald Trump, and I still don’t believe it today, was a racist. I don’t believe that he’s anti-African American,” Johnson argued. “For too long, the African-American community has been ignored by the Republicans because they thought we were always locked with the Democrats.”

To Johnson, one plus one equals a 12-pack of Sunkist, each one topped with a weird-looking wig. There’s willful ignorance and then there’s Bob Johnson on national television to claim that a man proven guilty of housing discrimination and with a lengthy track record of saying incredibly racist things for decades is not racist. The man can trot out that cliché about the Grand Old Party needing to engage more with “the blacks,” as his tangerine demagogue of a work buddy likes to call us, but the reality remains that Republicans consistently engage with us: It’s called voter suppression.

Johnson went on with his brown bag full of lies, saying that Trump is neither Democrat nor Republican. “Certainly not an establishment Republican [and] he’s not a Democrat; he was open,” Johnson said. “And he’s a business guy. And business guys tend to look at where’s the opportunity for a benefit.”

Minute Maid Mao may lack political ideology, but there is a constant that has lingered throughout his personal life, his business practices and his political ascension: bigotry.

What a pathetic sight to see: a black man saying the sole reason he won’t serve under an administration swimming in white supremacy with a minority friend here and there serving as water boy is that he doesn’t want to deal with a high chain of command. Not only that, but to go out of his way to lie about exactly what kind of man our president-elect is.

If there’s one thing to remind ourselves in the coming months and years ahead, it is that black people must know who is for us and who is not. Being black alone does not mean you are for us. Johnson is proof of that.

Read the rest at The Root.

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There are many things to love about the Ava DuVernay-helmed OWN drama, Queen Sugar.

If you are a fan of shows like Six Feet Under, seeing Black faces guide this nuanced family drama in similar fashion feels refreshing. Much like Donald Glover’s AtlantaQueen Sugar takes characters we are familiar with seeing on television, but adds the sort of complexity that for so long evaded them. Those layers have proven pivotal and what largely separates Queen Sugar from its predecessors in how it tells the tale of a Black family in this medium.

When it comes to past images of Black families on television, most have straddled the line between aspirational and accessible. For many, The Huxtables were more than just a family, but a symbol of what could be, or in the cases of some, what a family should be. Others like me may have found The Cosby Show entertaining, but not necessarily anything reflective of my worldview. So other working class shows like Roc and Thea helped fill that void, as did sitcoms such as Living SingleSister Sister, and Martin, each of which highlighted a truth many of us have come to learn over time: families are not necessarily assigned, but of our own invention.

Each of these shows spoke to a specific kind of family reflective of the time. All of them have value. Queen Sugar doesn’t deal in aspiration or accessibility, but something no less vital and urgent: authenticity.

The Cosby Show was an indirect rejection of the caricatures Ronald Reagan made of Black people, and the 1990s sitcoms more or less comic relief in the wake of President Clinton taking those caricatures and using them to further break up the Black family through mass incarceration, a show like Queen Sugar is an honest look at where many of us stand now.

Charley Bordelon has managed to achieve social mobility, but then you have her brother, Ralph Angel, who is on parole and serves as an ongoing look at recidivism as he struggles to find steady employment as a single father. So many people want to do right, but can only deal with the hand they have been dealt. Their sister, Nova Bordelon, understands this, and through her work as a journalist, highlights that for many Black people who work in media, one often has to take on the role of activist in the midst of a for-profit media world that could care less about Black people.

Together, they try to run their late father’s farm while they grapple with new forms of the institutional racism their ancestors faced. It’s no longer chains, but wealthy, greedy, corporatist White folks who love nothing more than putting racial minorities back in their perceived place.

There are less serious themes at work on the show, but they still play into the overarching theme of taking characters and making them equal parts real and palpable for viewers. When I look at Aunt Violet and her younger boyfriend Hollywood, I’m delighted to see an older Black woman get to be sexual and vibrant given how the real Hollywood is so quick to take Black women of a certain age and stick them solely within the constraints of the one-note matriarch.

Read the rest at Essence.

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It’s often difficult to resist the urge to let my eyes roll to the back of my head at peak Janet Jackson speed upon hearing the declaration that X issue is a distraction from Y, the bigger, more important matter at hand. Yes, in media, superficial stories can often be assigned more attention than their more substantive counterparts, but that sentiment is based on the unfortunate assumption that the brain cannot process multiple things at once. In the same way that many of us can walk and chew someone out at the same time, we are just as capable of juggling the ongoing horror show starring our president-elect.

When Donald Trump garnered media coverage over tweets aimed at the casts of Hamilton and Saturday Night Live last weekend, it was disappointing to see some smugly dismiss those antics as spectacle unworthy of concern. Although Trump has been known to court attention from the very New York tabloids he’s often battled with, certain truths remain: The man is thin skinned. The man is vengeful. The man has an issue with anyone he feels has wronged him—especially when done publicly.

Trump has long conflated any form of criticism or protest with persecution. There will be no pivot. There will be no miraculous arrival of maturation. It’s best to pay attention to what this could mean in the future.

Sure, Steve Bannon, a racist with a penchant for propaganda peddling, may enjoy Trump’s temper tantrums because they do steal focus from his more nefarious dealings, but that doesn’t make them any less noteworthy. Trump is an orgy of problems, and we ought to pay attention to every single one.

In this case, Trump’s pattern with criticism is overbearing in its clarity, and with the power of the presidency, soon there may be hell to pay for those who dare speak ill of him. While the casts of Hamilton or Saturday Night Live will be free from his reach, other artists may not be so lucky. Now more than ever, I worry about artists in public spaces who will be punished for displeasing President Trump.

Republicans have a long-standing history of attacking the rights of artists. In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan immediately attempted to defund the National Endowment for the Arts. In response to the substantial proposed cuts in arts and humanities, Rep. Frederick W. Richmond, the Democratic chair of the Congressional Arts Caucus, told the New York Times, “Arts are crucial to the well-being of America.”

Reagan was not completely successful in those efforts, but the agency spent much of the decade battling members of the religious right, like Pat Robertson and Pat Buchanan, along with legislative bigots like Jesse Helms.

In 1994 Newt Gingrich took on the NEA, branding the independent federal agency “wasteful” and “elitist.” During this same period, then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani used the Brooklyn Museum of Arts to wage a battle over public funding of the arts.

Just this year, select Georgia lawmakers took on the national exhibition “Art AIDS America” once it reached Kennesaw State University. I covered that exhibition for the Village Voice, and part of the exhibition spoke to the failure of the Reagan administration to handle the AIDS crisis, and the work of conservatives to silence awareness of it. They were bullied out of museums and barraged with threats of retribution. In response to such a hostile climate created by bullies with power, many artists had to covertly use their art to chronicle how their friends and, in many cases, themselves were dealing with the disease. Their art lent voice to those who did not garner enough attention from mainstream media.

 

Read the rest at The Root.

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It appears that in the aftermath of a monumental but nonetheless failed presidential campaign, Bernie Sanders remains most comfortable in the spot that made him a loser: trying to separate class and race.

Sanders has never been wrong about the damaging roles establishment politics and economics play in the lives of millions of Americans. Even so, he’s long struggled with acknowledging that focusing on class alone won’t make this country better for many who are struggling. That the revolution cannot be colorblind if it were to truly make this country better for all of the disenfranchised.

At a speech in Boston on Sunday, the Vermont senator advocated “go[ing] beyond identity politics,” declaring, “The working class of this country is being decimated — that’s why Donald Trump won. And what we need now are candidates who stand with those working people, who understand that real median family income has gone down.”

Yes, it has. But Sanders, like the others parading this pedestrian punditry in the aftermath of the news that most white people voted for Donald Trump, is missing the point while continuing to promote the very ideas that sunk him during the primary. He lost many potential voters of color because we know color-blind economic policies alone will not change certain realities of racism in America. They might “make America great again”, but only for people who have always had it pretty good.

In October, when asked in a New Republic profile how uncomfortable he appeared talking about race, he answered, “OK, see, this is an issue I’m not really – what I don’t want to do is get into me.” When told that it wasn’t about him per se, Sanders said, “It’s a complicated answer. It’s a good question, but I prefer not to get into it right now.”

Though Sanders did make some efforts toward minority outreach eventually, it was too late and not good enough. After all this time, that reality has still failed to reach him.

In his Boston speech, he demonstrated this blind spot yet again, when a woman in the audience asked asked Sanders how she could become the second-ever Latina senator.

“It is not good enough for somebody to say, ‘I’m a woman, vote for me,’” Sanders explained. “No, that’s not good enough. What we need is a woman who has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industry. In other words, one of the struggles that you’re going to be seeing in the Democratic Party is whether we go beyond identity politics.”

Why should we pretend “identity politics” hasn’t always been America’s way – that discounting them invalidates the lived experience of the very people that opted against sending him to the general election?

When Bernie Sanders talks about the Democratic party’s failure to reach working-class white voters, he manages to somehow forget he lost to a woman who bested him partly because she spoke of the need of criminal justice reform and the overall role racism plays in America before he did.

Nonetheless, Hillary Clinton went on to lose to a demagogue who promised to restore the nation to an image that excluded Americans like me and like the woman who dreams of becoming a US senator.

Read the rest at The Guardian.

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14956524_10157728692705483_4402167199728957618_nIn a concession speech that was exceptionally gracious, given the behavior of her political opponent throughout this abysmal and subsequently catastrophic election season, Hillary Clinton declared, “Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.”

Clinton is a consummate professional, and though she deserved a far better end to her 40-years of public service than to lose her lifelong dream to an unqualified buffoon who went into politics as a newfound hobby, it makes sense for her to make such a statement. However, for the rest of us who are not politicians and did not campaign against Trump for the presidency, we don’t need to express such sentiments. We do not owe an audacious bigot anything.

Yet the sentiment that Trump deserves a chance has since been echoed by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. In his column, Kristof asserts: “Yet, like it or not, we Americans have a new president-elect, and it’s time to buck up. I’ve seen past elections that were regarded as the end of the world—including, in many Democratic circles, the Reagan triumph of 1980—and the republic survived. This time as well, our institutions are stronger than any one man.”

America came to be at the expense of its original inhabitants and was subsequently built on the backs of African slaves. This country’s inception was rooted in thievery and bolstered by racism, so the notion that the republic will survive the election of a demagogue is a moot point. Of course America will survive in the wake of a win for bigotry; bigotry is what birthed and has long nurtured her.

As for Reagan, for all the damage he did during his time as president, black people suffered the most. And black people knew what was to come with him before he took office. The same can be said of Donald J. Trump, the man who described Mexicans as rapists, proposed bans on Muslims for no other reason than that their religion gives him the heebie-jeebies, and has already threatened to curtail the reproductive rights of women and punish those who dare break his command of their bodies—plus who has a long-standing history of treating black people terribly. We know what is to come.

Still, Kristof writes: “It was disgraceful that many Republicans eight years ago tried to make President Obama fail. That’s not the path to emulate. Today, having lost, we owe it to our nation to grit our teeth and give President-elect Trump a chance.”

Au contraire, white man. My black ass doesn’t owe Trump a damn thing. The same goes for anyone else in this country who is not white, straight and male—or, you know, a white woman who supported Trump and cares far more about preserving the privileges of being white than about any of her autonomy being stripped because of gender. Like many pundits who have been wrong this entire time, Kristof cites Trump’s lack of knowledge and experience as reasons to question the sincerity and likelihood of his building that wall he speaks of, bringing law and order to the nation (its blacks), and fulfilling other campaign promises that pleasured white nationalists in their most private places.

Trump has no ideology, but he campaigned on bigotry and has a strong record on it. Trump also has the support of Republicans in Congress, who are very much aware that their newfound control of every branch of government has a lot to do with his success. Paul Ryan has already confirmed that. They owe Trump, and he knows it.

Whoever is willing to take the risk that Trump will fail to deliver on his promises is someone who can afford to take that risk and give him the benefit of the doubt. For the rest of us, all we see is prejudice being handed power with a strong mandate.

And in unsurprising fashion, Kristoff goes on to let out this naivete molded and shaped by an inexpert understanding of racism: “Democrats are too quick to caricature Trump supporters as deplorables. Sure, some are racists or misogynists, but many are good people who had voted for Obama in the past. My rural hometown, Yamhill, Ore., is pro-Trump, and I can tell you: The voters there are not all bigoted monsters, but well-meaning people upended by economic changes such as the disappearance of good manufacturing jobs.”

That’s a charming bedtime story, but the reality is, to vote for Barack Obama does not mean you cannot be racist. Racists have lain down with those they hate, and the second they pull their pants up, they’re right back to putting those they view as less than back in their place. A vote is nothing.

If you voted for a racist candidate, you are either an unabashed racist or you are complicit in racism. The latter makes you racist—just at a different level.

Read the rest at The Root.

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If there’s one American pastime I can always count on, it is white people blaming Black people for problems not of our creation.

As we now reach the conclusion of what has been an equal parts absurd and abysmal election season, a familiar political question about the impact of the Black vote has been trotted out. Last week, New York Magazine ran a piece entitled “Will minority voters fear a Trump administration enough to turn out in large numbers to help stop it from happening?” In it, writer Ed Kilgore notes, “As we approach Election Day and what could be a close presidential contest, however, it matters a great deal whether minority voters fear a Trump administration enough to turn out in large numbers to help stop it from happening.”

Kilgore then cites a recent article from The Cook Political Report that claims Black voter turnout is down compared to 2012. Kilgore uses to make the following argument: “The Clinton campaign might want to get the word out aggressively over the next week that the barbarian is at the gates, and Black voters who want to protect Barack Obama’s legacy and their own aspirations might want to take the time to vote.”

Two sentences and yet so many problems in each statement. To be fair to Kilgore, he hasn’t been the only one employing this narrative about the Black vote. The problem, though, is that with respect to Black voter turnout, context is key and many are failing to serve a health enough portion of it needed to present the stories centered on the Black vote in 2016 adequately.

While there were initial reports about Black voter turnout being lower in states like North Carolina, Ohio, and Florida, newer figures are pouring in and challenging that. Yet, even in the case of a state like North Carolina, if one is to dissect lower voter turnout among Blacks, it has to be made clear that such results are by GOP design. North Carolina Republicans are actively boasting about making it harder for Black people to participate in early voting (or voting period).

The Republican Party is playing directly from the playbook of Jim Crow to help elect Real Estate Hitler to the presidency. So, as ridiculous as it is to expect Black people to vote with the same fervency as they did for the first Black presidential nominee and first Black president, at the very least, more ought to make a real effort to highlight that the Black vote has historically been under attack and recent years are its latest incarnation.

There have been far more efforts by many in media to try and humanize Donald Trump supporters than there has been wide focus on a political party trying to strip Black people of our basic rights as citizens. As for those Trump supporters helping them reach this feat, if it proves to be that there are more of them than there are Hillary supporters, don’t look in the direction of Black folks when it’s time to dole out blame.

If a racist, sexist, xenophobic presidential candidate unqualified for the job of commander-in-chief manages to become that in a democratic election, the blame of that should not fall on the backs of minorities but the white majority.

Read the rest at Essence.

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Image result for lady gaga joanne coverLady Gaga can make anything sound amazing, but should she sing everything? The pop star’s latest album, Joanne, reminds me of the phrase “boot, scootin boogie,” Bruce Springsteen, and in select parts, the best 1970s rock tribute band you can book in the Midwest. None of these things speak to what made Lady Gaga such a compelling figure in contemporary pop music. None of these things connect back to her best release, 2009’s The Fame Monster.

Granted, Gaga has been known to employ her classical musical training to shapeshift sonically and drag her fans to new terrain whenever she sees fit. In 2014, Gaga released an album of jazz standards with Tony Bennett. It was a successful project, but some of us assumed this departure was an anomalous act, a bit of cover for the commercial and critical disappointment of ARTPOP before getting back on track.

However, Joanne’s first single, “Perfect Illusion,” indicated that the album wouldn’t be a return to form. Gaga’s love of Springsteen has been widely known for several years, so she was bound to release another tribute track. The same goes for incorporating rock influences into her pop art. When discussing Born This Way, Gaga told Rolling Stone, “I would call it avant-garde techno rock. There’s a lot of rock influences on the album, but not in a ‘This is a rock music record’ kind of way.”

On Joanne, she’s a bit more heavy-handed with the influences and she’s assisted by Mark Ronson, Bloodpop, Florence Welch, Father John Misty,  Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, and Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme.

Gaga is theatrical, so even when she thinks she’s stripping everything bare, she still largely sounds over the top and a total ham. That’s why, while you can tap your foot to “Sinner’s Prayer,” it sounds like Gaga’s answers to those soulless sitcom covers, like you’d hear on Glee. “John Wayne,” “A-YO,” and “Come To Mama” bring about similar feelings. I believe this more from Miley Cyrus or even Beyoncé on “Daddy Lessons.” Those two sound more familiar with country whereas for Gaga, it sounds like a hasty field trip.

Gaga’s much more convincing covering “Lush Life” than she is singing this material. (“Million Reasons” is another exception.) Gaga shines on Joanne’s title track, though, which is moving for no other reason than her beautiful vocals. And surely on “Hey, Girl,” a duet with Florence Welch. Not surprisingly, that is more danceable track recalls what I enjoy best about Gaga. The Gaga I wish I heard more of on Joanne.

In an interview with T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Gaga discussed the wide array of collaborators and sound they helped her cultivate for Joanne. “It’s an endless proving of myself, that I really am a musician, that I have something to offer in the room,” she said. “That women can be musicians, women can be rock stars, women can be more than an objectified idea of a pop star.”

That’s always been her problem: trying unnecessarily way too hard to prove herself.

We didn’t need Gaga to prove women can be musicians, rock stars, and whatever “objectified idea of a pop star” means to her. Haven’t so many women who’ve come before her proven that already? Even the country meets electronic thing was done by Madonna on Music.

Speaking of, Gaga said this of Madonna to Zane Low:

“Madonna and I are very different. Just saying. I wouldn’t make that comparison at all. I don’t mean to disrespect Madonna. She’s a, you know, nice lady. And she’s had a fantastic, huge career. She’s the biggest pop star of all time. But I play a lot of instruments. I write all my own music. I spend hours and hours a day in the studio. I’m a producer. I’m a writer. What I do is different. I’m not just rehearsing over and over again to put on a show. There’s a spontaneity in my work. I allow myself to fail. I allow myself to break. I’m not afraid of my flaws. There are my major differences between me and her. I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way. I just will not be compared to anyone anymore. I am who the fuck I am. This is me. My life story is my life story, just like yours is.”

You do all of that, and yet, through the ears, there have been blatant instances of you drawing inspiration from Madonna. That’s actually always been too gracious a compliment. Lady Gaga is more like white Alicia Keys: there is some technical training there, but there is a lack of vision. With that lack of vision, usually assisted with the aid of a Svengali, they peak early and then coast on the accomplishments of year’s past.

As far as Gaga the pop star goes, she’s been majorly judged by the kind she sold herself as. No one asked for those elaborate costumes — that’s what she gave us.

That’s what’s so off-putting about her attitude going into Joanne.

While Gaga certainly has every right to explore, this comes across as such an abrupt shift. Her most ardent fans may not mind, but if Gaga’s goal was to further distance herself from the days where she was the attention-snatching pop star, she’s outdone herself. I miss Gaga of yore with RedOne singles and collaborations with Laurieann Gibson. The pop music maker who, yes dabbled in different sounds, but also churned out perfectly crafted, idiosyncratic dance tracks. That is to say, what made her popular to begin with.

Gaga’s taken off the costumes, but Joanne doesn’t sound any less contrived than previous efforts. That’s not an insult either. She’s a pop star; it’s what they do. Some pop stars are just better at exploring but executing in ways that don’t sound alienating.

It’s easy to find Lady Gaga as Garth Brooks not as enjoyable. The voice will captivate you while listening, but most of the songs aren’t strong enough to push you towards future listens. No, not bad, but largely forgettable. For all of Gaga’s talent, the results should be yielding a more favorable conclusion.

For those that have supported Gaga, it was already understood that she had musicianship and something to offer in whatever room she stepped into as an artist. Joanne doesn’t reinforce what we have known to be true. If anything, it suggests that for all that raw talent, Lady Gaga remains blind to winning vision.

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Donna Brazile responded to headlines regarding her resignation from CNN—in light of leaked emails showing her providing the Clinton campaign with debate questions—in familiar, black auntie fashion.

Brazile quoted Michelle Obama’s “When they go low, we go high.” She invoked Dr. Martin Luther King. She thanked people for their prayers, in some instances, in a sweet, cutesy way tied to Halloween. And when responding to others who’d heard about her leaving the cable news network, she tweeted lyrics from “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around.” Brazile also got back to the business of criticizing GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump and pushing for Democrats to vote.

Donna Brazile, more or less, behaved like the political equivalent of the words to Mary J. Blige’s single “Just Fine.”

However, as much as I have enjoyed Brazile on television—she doesn’t give way to CNN’s format of verbal pro-wrestling and is extremely Louisianan on all fronts—when it comes to what sparked her resignation, it’s not fine-fine-fine-fine-fine-fine (whew).

No, it’s not OK for a hostile foreign government to interfere in our elections, but that doesn’t excuse what’s been found out through hacked emails. On the day before a CNN-sponsored Democratic primary debate set in Flint, Mich., in March, Brazile reportedly wrote an email with the following subject line: “One of the questions directed to HRC tomorrow is from a woman with a rash.”

“Her family has lead poison and she will ask what, if anything, will Hillary do as president to help the ppl of Flint,” Brazile wrote to John Podesta, the Clinton campaign chairman, and Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton’s communications director.

Clinton was indeed asked about this, only the answer wasn’t exactly satisfactory. “I hated Hillary Clinton’s answer,” Lee-Anne Walters told the Huffington Post the day after the debate. “It actually made me vomit in my mouth.”

Nonetheless, to quote Real Housewives of New York star Luann de Lesseps, this was a very “uncool” thing to do, Ms. Brazile.

That said, if you were scheduled to debate in Flint, Mich., and didn’t anticipate being asked about the poisoned water, you likely can’t put on a pair of pants without supervision.

Moreover, much of the leaked emails have exposed nothing but much of what we already knew about how political parties work—notably that when a longtime Democrat like Clinton goes up against a nouveau Democrat in Bernie Sanders, party operatives side for what they know. Also toss in the tidbit that if you happened to watch any of the debates, Clinton didn’t exactly need much help debating Sanders and his penchant for just regurgitating the word “revolution” whenever called to expound on his policy proposals.

But OK, OK: Bad Donna. Bad, bad, Donna. She was wrong. She shouldn’t have done that. It was a silly, bad move. I still want to try her gumbo, but for shame.

Now that she’s gone, though, it’s still pretty grating to watch CNN play pious card on this matter.

In a statement, Lauren Pratapas, a CNN spokesperson, said, “We are completely uncomfortable with what we have learned about her interactions with the Clinton campaign while she was a CNN contributor.”

Yet, they’re comfortable with Corey Lewandowski despite Federal Election Commission filings showing that Lewandowski is being paid by the Trump campaign for “strategy consulting.” This is in addition to his cushy CNN contract as a political commentator. Speaking of that commentary, Trump requires everyone who works for his campaign to sign “non-disparagement” agreements. As Nancy LeTourneau notes in Washington Monthly, “Lewandowski is probably legally bound to avoid any criticism of his former boss. CNN is basically granting a microphone to the Trump campaign in the guise of political commentary.”

Read the rest at The Root.

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Michelle Obama is as likely to run for office as Lil’ Kim is to present a lifetime achievement award to Nicki Minaj with a speech penned by Foxy Brown.

Or, as Obama’s former communications director, Kristina Schake, once explained to Politico in 2014, “She is as likely to put her name in contention to be the next pope as she is to run for political office.” President Obama echoed a similar sentiment recently in an interview on Sway in the Morning.

Despite the First Lady’s own long history of dismissing the idea of entering politics as a candidate, questions as to whether or not she should and what sort of reactions she could expect have followed her for years now.

It’s easy to peg why the speculation has never wavered: people know a natural when they see her.

FBI Director James Comey’s poor letter writing skills may have distracted many from the sight of our current First Lady supporting a former First Lady’s historic presidential bid last week, but white noise does not drown out another instance of Michelle Obama proving herself to be a gifted speaker and campaigner.

Beyond her eloquently expressed disdain of Trump, Obama has been effective in stressing the severity of voting to Black people without the sort of condescension we tend to hear from her husband. Whereas President Obama speaks of this caricature known as “Cousin Pookie,” the “lazy” person sitting on his couch who “hasn’t voted in the last five elections,” she speaks more empathetically. Some may not agree with her positioning, but it’s hard to argue that she is not at least more thoughtful and considerate in her explanation.

On why Michelle Obama has been so effective, political scientist William A. Galston, a former aide to President Bill Clinton and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told The Washington Post, “She has a kind of informality that comes off as very natural, and in a generation that is searching for authenticity and connection, I think that helps.”

There are obvious other factors behind Michelle Obama’s popularity – most of them rooted in her not doing much in the way of policymaking. Even when it came to the issue of tackling childhood obesity, Obama was attacked by the likes of Sarah Palin. Others, including Governor Chris Christie, Fox News host and Trump University varsity cheerleader, Sean Hannity, and other wastes of time have harshly criticized her through the years.

If Michelle Obama opted to entertain a political career on her own, our current political climate suggests that the attacks on her would be as vicious as those on her husband. Actually, maybe even worse. See: Hillary Clinton’s life. That said, with her skill set, name recognition, and eager support from her party, she would be a formidable candidate. She could easily win a Senate seat. She could very well go on to become our first Black female president.

I imagine she’d rather go live in private, and have the likes of me go back to minding my business.

It’s understandable why Obama will never run for office, though it does highlight an ongoing dilemma. The Democratic Party, whose survival relies so heavily on the support of Black women, doesn’t have enough Black women on the national scene or elected office in general. There has been some progression in terms of visibility at this year’s Democratic National Convention and the likelihood of Kamala Harris quietly making history next week for being elected California’s first Black and South Asian female senator.

Read the rest at Essence.

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