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

When Miley Cyrus revealed a newfound appreciation for twerking and producer Mike WiLL Made-It in 2013, her moves were shocking only to those unfamiliar with a common practice among Miley’s ilk: white child stars itching to cross over to bona fide adult star.

When they are younger, their squeaky-clean presentation is incredibly profitable, but unfortunately for them, they age out and soon run the risk of becoming something that threatens their respective careers: corny. They have to do something to hold on to their fan bases, who, like them, are growing up and are in search of new voices and sounds more aligned with their newfound older interests. So they clamor for something that will convey “rebellion,” and they run right to black culture.

Much has been written about America’s obsession with what is often referred to as “black cool.” In 2015, Ebony magazine’s then editor in chief, Kierna Mayo, ran a simple yet audacious statement on its cover: “America Loves Black People Culture.” It’s an exhausting dichotomy, but while the public at large loves facets of black culture, black people remain beset with lingering prejudices about who we are. As a black man, I am cool but also dangerous. Black women, meanwhile, are also perceived as cool and are subjected to gross stereotypes purporting hypersexuality.

Yet, when white people engage in traditional black art forms, they reap the benefits without any of the difficulties attached. So Miley and many of her contemporaries are just like Christina Aguilera in cornrows when she needed to venture away from bubblegum pop to remain a pop culture force. The same can be said of Justin Timberlake when he needed to escape the boy-band tag and stand as his own solo adult male star. Miley is merely the latest incarnation of an ongoing American cultural pastime.

Unfortunately for Miley, her recent Billboard cover story exposed what many of us on the sidelines had long suspected: Her aim was to co-opt our culture for personal gain and toss our ways aside when they no longer suited her interests.

While speaking about her new direction, Miley praised Kendrick Lamar’s song “Humble” but noted, “I love that because it’s not ‘Come sit on my d*ck, suck on my c*ck.’ I can’t listen to that anymore. That’s what pushed me out of the hip-hop scene a little. It was too much ‘Lamborghini, got my Rolex, got a girl on my c*ck’ — I am so not that.”

Miley went on to add: “I was torn on whether I was going to work with certain producers that I really like. But I feel if we’re not on the same page ­politically…. My record is political, but the sound bite doesn’t stop there.”

After rightfully being criticized, Miley took to Instagram to try and clarify her comments, explaining, “At this point in my life I am expanding personally/musically and gravitating more towards uplifting, conscious rap!”

However, this did not fix the problem at hand. Miley still went on to feign ignorance as to why she was criticized for how she used black female dancers as props.

Miley said her aim was to create “real change,” which included not just preaching to the choir. In her mind, her new folksy return to country music is her attempt to go back to her good-girl roots.

Even so, there are certain realities we all have to accept. There is something to be said for an artist having the space to try new things. And for many born of a certain age, hip-hop culture has been the defining culture for their entire lives.

Read the rest at Teen Vogue.

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

During the confirmation hearings for Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, racist sum’bitch, his Republican colleagues went classic Americana on us as they quite theatrically conveyed their collective belief that the real burden of racism isn’t racism itself, but merely being accused of racism.

There was Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who told committee members during opening remarks, “I have never witnessed anything to suggest that Senator Sessions is anything other than a dedicated public servant and a decent man.” According to Collins, Sessions “is not motivated by racial animus.”

Then came Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who asked Sessions, “Would you agree that being called a racist is the worst thing that can ever happen to someone?” Sessions emphatically replied, “Why, yes, sir, I would.”

These two said this even though Coretta Scott King once wrote, 30 years prior, that Sessions would “irreparably damage the work of my husband” when he was nominated for a federal judgeship. Everything about Sessions screams Dennis the Menace if Dennis the Menace grew up to be a racist with power. Still, these politicians argued that he was just a nice ole Southern fella, and it’s so doggone sad that folks want to brand that Confederacy-loving, egg-headed fuck exactly what the hell he is.

Joining them in the lie were two high-profile black Republicans—former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.)—both of whom pathetically lent their endorsement to Sessions for attorney general. Rice has long been an apologist for terrible white men associated with the Republican Party. Just last week, she was excusing Minute Maid Mao’s madness. As for Scott, who spent 30 minutes on the Senate floor advocating for Sessions, well, if self-loathsomeness is contagious, may he forever keep the fuck away from ’round me.

Sessions has been off to a rousing start since being confirmed as attorney general. He may very well have perjured himself in those very confirmation hearings during an exchange with Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.). And while he was supposed to have recused himself from Mother Russia and the investigation into possible collusion between its government and Saddle Tan Nixon’s presidential campaign, uh, ask fired FBI Director James Comey about how that’s gone.

Yet, between being a known racist, a liar and, potentially, someone who helped a sitting president obstruct justice, Sessions remains attorney general. It’s as if nothing matters anymore. That is, almost nothing.

Late last week, Sessions issued a new directive (pdf) for federal prosecutors nationwide: “that prosecutors should charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense.”

It came along with several other departures from directives issued during the Obama era at the Justice Department. In a news conference, Sessions said: “Charging and sentencing recommendations are bedrock responsibilities of any prosecutor, and I trust our prosecutors in the field to make good judgments. They deserve to be unhandcuffed and not micromanaged from Washington.”

Sessions also argued, “The most serious offenses are those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences.” Sessions even called the move “simply the right and moral thing to do.” Who better to judge us on right and wrong than the suited redneck who perjures himself and helps another con man try to get out of a federal investigation?

In response, former Attorney General Eric Holder released a statement, claiming: “The policy announced today is not tough on crime. It is dumb on crime. It is an ideologically motivated, cookie-cutter approach that has only been proven to generate unfairly long sentences that are often applied indiscriminately and do little to achieve long-term public safety.”

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

Toward the end of the four-part The Real Housewives of Atlanta reunion, host Andy Cohen tried to help Phaedra Parks save herself from herself.

Phaedra—who had been outed by cast member Porsha Williams as the source of a rumor that another cast member, Kandi Burruss, had once contemplated drugging Williams and taking her home, along with Burruss’ husband, Todd, for a felonious act of fornication—sat stoically as everyone else around her cried in disgust at her actions. Parks offered nothing more than another half-assed apology that pleased no one and permanently soiled her standing with Cohen, her castmates and the public watching at home.

Parks refused to truly own how trifling, how vile and how pathetic she behaved. She wouldn’t say that she might have been angry with her former friend Burruss and her husband for embarrassing her by way of continuing a friendship with her ex, the scamming Apollo Nida, and that maybe, just maybe, she wanted to get back at them, and her attempts at doing so got way out of hand.

Like, one imagines that Parks watched, with understandable fury, Burruss’ mom, Joyce, dressed like Inspector Gadget, filming a scene about consulting an attorney regarding Parks’ divorce proceedings. It wouldn’t have excused Joyce’s actions, but at the very least, Parks could have sized up her gossipmongering as hurt people hurt people. Nope. She just sat there, looking stupid, when “everybody knows” Ms. Parks is anything but.

Since then, Parks has reportedly been fired from the show after violating the “morality clause.” Yet it is also now being reported that the rumor Parks spoke of was not her invention. Even so, regardless of whether or not production did lend a hand in starting a false rumor centered on sexual assault, Parks is ultimately responsible for going with it.

However, when you read Parks’ recent interview with People magazine, you are reminded of how image conscious the attorney-turned-reality star is. Likewise, you are reaffirmed in your feelings that Phaedra Parks is so full of shit.

On the ominous question of Parks’ reality-TV legacy, she answered:

“I really want to show that you can be well-educated, you can be a professional and you can solve conflicts without being ratchet. You can be a lady, you can have dignity in your dealings—whether it be personal or professional. I think sometimes as black women, we’re stereotyped in categories of being overly sexualized, of being the aggressive black woman and of being this ratchet sort of character that doesn’t know how to behave herself.”

Parks went on to add:

“I want people to know that there is definitely a real kind of black woman who conducts herself in a certain way. She’s not out here screaming and cursing and acting crazy. She does things differently, and people love her for it.”

Therein lies what’s always been so frustrating about Parks: She is more concerned about appearances than the truth. For her, representation matters more than merely being yourself. It’s exactly why so many have long referred to her as “Fakedra.”

Parks buys into the notion of what a “respectable” black person, and specifically what a “dignified” black woman, looks like. Although battling stereotypes is important, it should not come at the expense of one’s truth. So while it’s great that Parks did bring more serious matters to the show throughout her run, she forgets one important thing: We can see her.

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

Even if it can boast of being a critical darling that’s generated historic ratings for the network, Underground‘s fate at WGN America appears to be all but sealed.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the slave-centered drama, which wrapped its second season Wednesday, will have to find a new home amid a new strategy employed by its new owners, the Sinclair Group, which recently secured WGN America’s owner, Tribune Media. Previously, WGN America had been trying to fancy itself as a new destination for high-quality dramas like Underground and Outsiders. Yet, in April, WGN America axed Outsiders, its top-rated drama, which subsequently sparked talk that Underground would likely go home to TV glory, too.

“It’s a complete pause at WGN America,” an apparent “agency insider” explained to the publication. “It’s unclear if they’ll still have scripted there. I had something being shopped there, and talks suddenly just stalled. They’re figuring out what they’re going to do and if they even continue on with scripted.”

That means WGN America will likely now become home to reruns of procedural dramas already airing on seven damn networks and cheap imports. Hello, Canada. What up, Britain? Hey, hey, Czechoslovakia. Let WGN America air your shit stateside for that low-low.

All hope isn’t lost for Underground fans, though. Its producer, Sony Pictures Television, has been trying to find a new home for the show, which reportedly carries a $5-million-per-episode cost. The show already has an exclusive deal to air episodes on Hulu, so here’s hoping that Hulu will add the show to its roster of original programming. After all, Hulu could use more color in its programming slate.

For those who didn’t take heed to my previous call to watch the show, stop depriving yourselves of greatness and dive in. The second season of Underground is superior to what was already an outstanding inaugural run. And while every cast member on the show is impressive in his or her respective role, Underground has given me a strong and ever-increasing affinity for the talents of Amirah Vann, who plays Miss Ernestine on the series.

While I’ll join fellow viewers in prayers, happy thoughts and wishes upon a star that Underground gets a third season on a deserving network or medium like Hulu, there is another aspect to WGN America’s new owners that ought to alarm anyone who worries about the role that big, conservative-leaning conglomerates have in our collective viewing habits.

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

If reports of NeNe Leakes and Kim Zolciak’s return to The Real Housewives of Atlanta are true, praise everyone on high because this season has been long, draining and worrisome. Some of the cast members are guiltier than others for that, and in the spirit of their nastiness, here is a ranking of everyone who’s irritated me from least to “Girl, you’re the absolute worst.”

Cynthia Bailey

Cynthia is the least bothersome cast member of RHOA. When she first joined the show, she was attached to NeNe Leakes like a ring to a nipple, which was a bit frustrating to watch when she would introduce things like the very ridiculous friendship contract. A long time has passed since then, though, and honestly, the most annoying thing about the former model has been her ex-husband, Peter Thomas. Peter liked being on this show way too much, until he didn’t. You noticed this at the end of the third edition of the reunion when Peter snatched off his mic and stormed away from the set.

Hopefully, now that the two are no longer a pair, he can keep away. If he finds another reality-TV show to be on—a highly plausible scenario—good for him. I won’t be watching it, but if Uncle Ben-face wants to trash-talk and throw brown rice on another forum, so be it. Just keep him away from RHOA, Cynthia and Todd Tucker, who is his heir apparent in the “This Negro really wants a fucking peach” aspect of this show.

For her next season, I hope Cynthia goes on some dates and meets less-cantankerous men. Don’t loan this new man any money, either, Ms. Bailey. The Lord obviously doesn’t find that to be the best option for you.

Shereé Whitfield

When Shereé got her peach back, I was so happy because if nothing else, Lady Whitfield is great for a good confessional drag and one-liner; see: “Hell to the nah to the nah-nah-nah.” That said, though she has been a longtime favorite of mine, she was a bit of a letdown this season. As the self-appointed bone collector, Shereé spent most of her time this season telling everyone else’s business. Much of that has to do with the fact that she doesn’t seem to have as much going on.

What frustrates me about Shereé is that she let other cast members do the hustles she should’ve been jumped on. Like, how is Shereé in possession of that body and not out here training celebrities and releasing top-selling fitness videos? Instead, all we got was another damn season of her talking about Chateau Shereé. I don’t know if Chateau Shereé is in her name or her mama’s name; nor do I know if the property is done being saddled with liens. Honestly, I’d rather Chateau Shereé settle all of that shit, once and for all, so that she can move on from the storyline and spare us in the process. And with that peace of mind, maybe she’ll find something more to talk about that’s actually about her.

I’m rooting for you, Shereé, and your fine-ass son. Bring him back anytime you want. Not just because he’s fine, but because he at least has a damn storyline based on himself. Learn from your offspring.

Kandi Burruss

As happy as I am that Xscape is finally back together, The Real Housewives of Atlanta has long suggested to me that Mrs. Burruss-Tucker bears a whole lot of responsibility for why it took so long for a proper reunion. Kandi is cool, but Kandi is also petty, and unlike a lot of you motherfuckers across social media, I don’t like petty.

Here is what bugs me about Kandi: She lets everyone around her drag the fuck out of her fellow cast members, then feigns aloofness about why people feel she may have issues with them that she won’t explicitly state herself unless it’s already a fight happening.

I don’t want to hear her employees take digs at other people. I don’t want to see her mama dressed like Inspector Gadget in a scene as she minds someone else’s business. None of those people have peaches; thus, why are we constantly subjected to them? Their thoughts and feelings about Kandi’s business shouldn’t matter so much, but they do because they tend to speak for Kandi.

Kandi should ask Tiny to join the show so that, at the very least, she can have a friend to hang out with. Like, how many more scenes must we see of Kandi’s employees talking noise about her co-workers during their breaks?

Now, Kandi has been treated terribly this season, but that doesn’t negate the fact that Todd talks too much. So does her mama. So does Don Juan, no Bishop. So does that other one whose name I can’t recall but I won’t Google because she ain’t on this damn show and I shouldn’t see her so damn much. Enough.

Porsha Williams

Bless Porsha’s heart, but all too often, she speaks as if the inside of her brain consists of a bunch of sedimentary rocks. I didn’t like her when she first joined the show because she was judgmental toward the other women while being married to that terrible man. After life humbled her and she put on a freakum dress, she tried to stop acting like she wasn’t in a Trillville video years ago.

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

More often than not and now more than ever, once a sitting president leaves office, he does the following: treats his former status as the most powerful person on earth for the winning Lotto ticket it is. This is done by way of lucrative book fees, high-paid speaking engagements and sitting on a board or 27 ½ for a pretty, pretty nice amount of money.

For former President Barack Obama, who can boast of being not only one of the few two-term Democratic presidents but also the first black one, such bonafides make him even more capable of making lots and lots of bread (please read “bread” in the voice of Stevie J).

However, like many things associated with his time in office, what was once considered a norm for others is now suddenly an issue when Obama partakes in the practice.

For more than a week now, a fair number of folks have been complaining about Obama netting $400,000 for a speaking engagement on top of the reported $60 million he and former first lady Michelle Obama earned for their collective book deal. Newsweek writer Chris Riotta asks the following: “How could it be that Obama, the smooth-talking Democratic candidate in 2008 who slammed Wall Street greed and resonated with the working class in a way his party has since been unable to authentically recreate, is living his post-presidential life like an elitist one percent?”

The annoyances in this leading question are twofold. One, to quote many a lovable Negro today, “I just think it’s funny how” suddenly the first black president has to be held to certain standards with respect to making money. After all, capitalism is a religion in America, so it’s peculiar that anyone is perplexed that a former head of state of this capitalistic country wouldn’t follow traditions such as seeing his postpresidency through the lens of “Cash rules everything around me.” Yet the likes of Riotta and others have been asking, “Isn’t $60 million enough?”

Go ask a Clinton, a Bush, a Reagan or a Kennedy that. Speaking of, Obama and Bill Clinton biographer David Maraniss said, Obama “does not need the money and should not accept it.” A Clinton biographer said this. The Clintons treated the White House like an Airbnb for big donors and made several fortunes after the Clinton presidency. But please, Barry, don’t get too rich on ’em. Mind you, the types making these calls are well-paid white folks in media who currently earn far more than I and others like me make for similar, if not less, work.

As for the 2008 Obama who “slammed Wall Street,” there is a bit of revisionist history at hand. Like a kid at the end of an old ABC family sitcom who suddenly saved the day with his naivete, Riotta quotes Obama in 2009 saying, “I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street” and ends his piece with this quip: “Maybe that Obama should have a talk with 2017 Obama.”

Obama notoriously raised more money than political opponents like Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Mitt Romney from Wall Street. He even raised more money than former President George W. Bush. The Obama administration has long been criticized over this, which is why, when asked about the fee and criticisms over it, Obama spokesman Eric Schultz said: “With regard to this or any speech involving Wall Street sponsors, I’d just point out that in 2008, Barack Obama raised more money from Wall Street than any candidate in history—and still went on to successfully pass and implement the toughest reforms on Wall Street since [President Franklin D. Roosevelt].”

That’s long been an Obama retort to criticism over taking so much money from the Street. One could also easily refute that by noting that many of the folks on Wall Street who played a pivotal role in the financial disaster of years past ought to be in jail. Nevertheless, when it comes to Obama and who he’ll take money from, he’s long told you what he was about. The game is the game, and while you can criticize it as you see fit, don’t rewrite history to make your arbitrary, hypocritical point.

Joining the well-paid media people admonishing Obama for taking $400,000 to speak about health care (imagine the man behind Obamacare doing such a thing) are Democratic politicians with curious ambitions for 2020. Enter Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who said that Obama is a “friend of mine,” yet he finds his decision to be “distasteful.”

“I just think it does not look good,” Sanders explained on CNN. “I just think it is distasteful—not a good idea that he did that.”

Oh, Bernie. You still think 45’s base cares all that much about their own economic well-being as opposed to the preservation of the white establishment and their frail lil’ egos. 45 has been categorized as an economic populist, but he’s a billionaire and longtime scammer who’s stacked his Cabinet with just about all of Goldman Sachs and various other billionaires who know absolutely nothing. And yet those deplorables still heavily support 45, as evidenced by poll after poll.

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

When Janet Jackson decided to stop depriving us of her splendor, I was elated. “No Sleeep” was her best single in years and managed to be a successful launch for her Unbreakable album, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

Then came the other part of her comeback: the world tour. You know, the one she abruptly stopped because she decided to have a baby at 50.

When Janet announced that the tour was going to be on hold as a result of one of the best medical miracles money can buy, even her most ardent fans asked for a refund, understandably assuming that Janet was going to circle back and tell us, “I can’t butterfly right now, you guys. I’m breast-feeding.”

However, Janet is indeed back—for the newly rechristened State of the World tour. Tickets for the tour, which begins in September, are now for sale, but as much as I love me some Janet Jackson, I have a few concerns I want to address. Keep in mind, I’ve already purchased my tickets, and the goddess is free to tell me to go fuck myself and enjoy whatever she gives me.

She’s Janet Jackson, so I will, but I have a few requests all the same.

Now, I noticed from the clips of the then-Unbreakable tour that Janet was far more subdued in her appearance than she had been in years past. Moreover, she was curiously skipping select lines in some of her biggest hits. For example, she definitely wasn’t singing about spotting a nice package and needing to ride it, as echoed on “All for You,” anymore.

It was a bit disappointing. Girl, you better sing about riding that dick. You’re Janet fucking Jackson. Of course, she was said to have converted to Islam after marrying her now soon-to-be-ex-husband, Wissam Al Mana.

Last month, New York Post’s Page Six quoted a source that touched on Al Mana’s influence on Janet’s tour.

“She thought he had become too controlling during the pregnancy, and she had already allowed him to dictate her appearance and even the way she performed at concerts,” the source explained. This also translated to her music videos.

The source added,“It drove her crazy, and she felt she was losing her fan base.”

If you’re still stanning for Janet Jackson, you’re in it for the long haul. That said, while those genie pants she wore didn’t scare us off, if Janet is so inclined to bring that old thing back, please do so on the tour. Even if she doesn’t want to let those breasts back out and back her infamous ass up on someone who is ideally as fine as her old dancer, the legendary Omar Lopez, can we at least get some costume changes?

Like, you’re Janet Jackson.

I have seen Janet Jackson in concert, premarriage to Wissam Al Mana. It was an absolute spectacle. I miss the spectacle. Bring the spectacle back, Damita Jo. Give me all of the costume changes and all of the tricks onstage. Gimme, gimme more, essentially.

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

Charles Barkley is like that black uncle you find amusing but limit conversations with at family gatherings to select topics such as sports, Gap Band songs and brown liquor. When it comes to more serious matters like politics and, specifically, racial politics, the phrase “Stop, drop and roll” is an immediate survival guide to sparing your last nerve from a fatal end. If, however, you find yourself cornered, you grit your teeth and try to remain respectful of your elder before you end up screaming, “Nigga, what the hell are you saying?” in an effort not to upset your mother.

I recently found myself engulfed in the press equivalent of that situation as I attended a luncheon and panel discussion in support of Sir Charles’ new TNT series on race, aptly titled American Race.

When I first got word of this show, my immediate response was that I would rather watch my own cremation than subject myself to Barkley’s musings on race and racism. After all, this is the same man who, only a year ago, claimed, in the wake of the sniper shootings in Dallas that left five police officers dead, that black people have “got to do better.” Yes, in that ESPN radio interview, Barkley explained to Dan Le Batard that police “have made some mistakes; that don’t give us the right to riot and shoot cops.”

No, it doesn’t, but Barkley then went on to claim that we “never get mad when black people kill each other,” before adding that “there’s a lot of blame to go around.” Sure, but aim it at the institution that has consistently abused black women, men and children since its inception, not “black-on-black crime.” Anyone who still cites intraracial violence to deflect from the issue of state-sanctioned violence that targets black folks is a person who by and large needs to shut the fuck up and go read a bit more.

Toward the end of the panel, Barkley mentioned how he would always rally behind the cops and proceeded to offer anecdotal evidence of something that data has long supported: Yes, there are plenty of great law-enforcement officials. Indeed, we can have fruitful conversations with individual police officers. However, that will not stop the problem. See any police-union statement wildly defying calls to end racial profiling and various patterns of abuse.

Combine this with Barkley’s other previous comments—a lot of black people are full of shit, his condemnation of “unintelligent” and “brainwashed” black people, and purported “dark secrets” within the black community about “acting white”—and one wonders what, exactly, is Barkley’s aim with American Race?

According to Michael Bloom, who is senior vice president of unscripted series and specials at TNT, Barkley came to him a year ago in earnest, wanting to use his platform to explore why so little has changed in terms of race in America. Of course, this is a black man who has routinely used the platform he already has to speak of his own in such false, dehumanizing and totally unhelpful ways. Did Barkley need a promotion?

Barkley himself said that he wanted to present “positive programming” and that he had been “bothered by negative stereotypes about people of color, especially blacks on television.” In 2017, there is a wide array of depictions of black folks on television. The situation is not perfect, but certainly it is much better in terms of fictitious portrayals of black people. In unscripted programming, well, we have a ways to go. This is a case in point.

As attendees were presented with various clips from the series, along with a screener of the first episode, the biggest takeaway from American Race was that Barkley had an inquiry and created a television show around it. Whether or not you take anything from it depends on how little you know about the world around you.

It was repeatedly stressed throughout the event that the intent was to engage in “thought-provoking conversation.” This is a line that is so often repeated by those serving us the same old cyclical bullshit that has long bored us. The same goes for the line about how the show features “real people,” as opposed to those in a “New York studio.”

New York is a real place, although, as a Southerner, I am constantly amused by how advanced New Yorkers and their coastal cousins in Los Angeles continue to believe that they are far more progressive than they actually are. The 45th president of the United States—more or less George Wallace on steroids and with far greater political success—is a New York native.

Likewise, we just celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots, which were rooted in the fact that the police officers who beat Rodney King managed to get off by virtue of nothing more than their lily-whiteness and the power of their badges. The types who order these shows can’t even see the prejudices surrounding them, but we’re supposed to entrust them with the cameras going to “real America.”

What the fuck ever.

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

There are certain rules in life that I try to live by: Be good to people. Never stop trying to be your best Beyoncé. And, most of all: Don’t give a damn about what white people think of you.

Of course, some might say that’s a kind of privileged fantasy. If you are part of a racial minority in the U.S.—most of all, if you’re a Black person—much of your survival and well being is contingent on whiteness and how it treats you. Much of your overall peace of mind has to do with whiteness, and how it defines you in relation only to itself. It’s unavoidable.

 As a child growing up in Houston, I didn’t know that institutional racism and socioeconomic barriers had more or less kept white people away from me. The one inkling I did have came from my working-class mother: even though she didn’t have the means to support me in other ways, she instilled in me a sense of pride—in not just myself, but in those who look like me. Moreover, she made it very clear that when I did come across white people, some would have certain biases against me, and that I should not let them break me.
Later on, I also attended a college that wasn’t predominantly white. Still, as a Black person living in this country, I’m well aware of what society makes of us. That means I take people as individuals, but never forget that, collectively, white people continue to think the absolute worst of me and mine—or, at the very least, harbor racial biases they might not even be aware of. My expectations are set accordingly.

Knowing all of this, I aim to never be consciously burdened by whiteness more than I have to; it’s pervasive enough as it is. And so, while I enjoyed the 2014 film Dear White People, I wasn’t personally invested in its message. Not to diminish the significance of its narrative—white people perpetuating and inadequately responding to racism is a reality that should be talked about and pushed against. But in many ways, Justin Simien’s film was arguably not so much about identity, but more about the preconceived notions other people have about a minority in a majority space.

 At the end of April, Netflix released Dear White People as a series. Many of the film’s elements have been brought over, but television offers a deeper look at the characters. In this expanded version, I found something I could much more directly relate to: Lionel Higgins (DeRon Horton) and his experience of coming to terms with being a gay Black man. Not only did I relate, but I appreciated that story being told—men like us are so rarely seen on television, much less heard from.
Each of the ten episodes of DWP‘s first season is told from the perspective of a different character, all students at a fictitious Ivy League school called Winchester University. In Lionel’s episode, “Chapter II,” we bear witness to his inner struggle: an attraction to his outrageously attractive, no-body-fat-having roommate, Troy (Brandon P. Bell, who reprises his role from the film).

Read the rest at Elle.

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

Like many reading this, I didn’t know what the hell a Lil Yachty was until a younger person explained it to me. Then I listened to him and immediately went back to playing classic artists like Future and Rihanna. “No Child Left Behind” rap isn’t always my thing. However, if there is one thing I know as a Southerner who loves Southern rap and is familiar with the coastal snobs who trashed what I cherish most, it’s to not repeat their mistakes.

Unfortunately, not everyone is as accommodating.

On Wednesday the Atlanta native made an appearance on Complex’s Everyday Struggle web series, hosted by Joe Budden. For the entire interview, Budden picked Yachty apart.

While addressing the artwork of Yachty’s new album, Budden said:

I don’t think that Yachty is hip-hop. I don’t think that Yachty’s label is hip-hop. When you’re not hip-hop and you’re trying to just troll or exploit, you get things like this.

I’ve read other critiques of the Teenage Emotions album cover. Complaints about two gay white men kissing, as opposed to two black men, are understandable, but cries of cultural appropriation, not so much. Two men kissing isn’t culture, and if the aim is to be inclusive, as many claim, that’s inclusivity (with white folks, oddly enough, but still).

Budden’s main gripe is that it isn’t real, but there are plenty o’ rappers who have been fake as fuck for decades now. Their lies were far more harmful than what Yachty just presented to the world. What was really interesting to watch, though, was Mr. “Pump It Up” losing his shit over Yachty’s claim, “I am happy every day because life is moving in such a positive way, I can’t get slowed down.”

Yachty is a famous rapper with minimal skill living the dream. He has no reason to appear as bitter as the likes of Joe Budden, who shape-shifts back and forth between being the Hannibal Lecter of hip-hop and the Statler and Waldorf of rap: two for the price of one.

The latter won this time, with Budden challenging him:

Let me tell you how humans are. Feelings are fickle. What that means is they come and they go. Nobody is one thing forever. You cannot tell me … you would be lying to tell me that, as a young man in this industry—in this industry, in the music business—you are happy 24-7! That is a lie!! That is bullshit and I refuse to have someone tell me bullshit! I want to have an honest conversation.

Is Lil Yachty the best catalyst for a chat on the limitations of striving to always maintain a positive attitude? Did Joe Budden forget this is a 19-year-old? All of the superficial reasons Yachty cited to validate his happiness gave me “typical teenager barely into adulthood.”

On why he’s so happy:

When you come from a college-dorm room with no money, you scamming credit cards and you aint’ gettin’ no play from no girls, you have no clothes, you have no car … and you come to having three [or] four cars, you have millions of dollars, a half-million dollars on your body just to wear and any kind of clothes you want, any hos you want, how could you be upset?

Again, Yachty sometimes raps like his tongue is taking a nap, but he’s poppin’ right now all the same. He has no reason to act like he’s in a monogamous relationship with misery. But I suppose when you’re in a rush to transfer your cynicism, you let reason go for the sake of your personal cause.

To wit, Budden claimed that Yachty must have had media training to craft these responses, but Yachty shot back, proving how nice it is to walk around not being a contemptuous asshole. Budden also poked at his business dealings with the record label (Yachty has since clarified whether he has a 360 deal via Twitter). Budden tried to refute any potential criticism that he was being an angry old head, claiming, “I was you last decade. I was dissing Wu-Tang.” Budden is referring to the time Yachty told Billboard magazine that he could not name five songs by 2Pac and the Notorious B.I.G., only to later deem Biggie “overrated.”

Maybe, but Budden didn’t want to help Yachty; he wanted to embarrass him, because that’s what Joe Budden does. See his stint on Love & Hip Hop: New York. Also see his Twitter timeline.

Read the rest at The Root.

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