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On Sunday, an arthouse film that centers on both Black people and queerness, and that went on to earn over $22 million with a budget of just $1.5 million, made history by winning Best Picture at the 2017 Academy Awards. But while Moonlight‘s historic successhas made news, its story has been retold as one about the virtues of white graciousness.

In the days following the now infamous mix-up in which La La Land was wrongly declared the winner, much time has been spent praising La La Land‘s cast and crew for displaying characteristics that fall under the category of basic human decency. Much of that attention has been paid to producer Jordan Horowitz, who has inspired headlines such as “The ‘La La Land’ producer who declared ‘Moonlight’ the winner stepped up when it mattered,” “How La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz became the Oscar fiasco’s humble hero,” and “‘La La Land’ producer Jordan Horowitz is the truth-teller we need right now.”

These stories all convey the underlying subtext that everyone associated with La La Landis magnanimous just for allowing Moonlight to win the award that it had actually won. The obsession with Horowitz’s behavior is bizarre—and the fact that many commentators have chosen to focus on how noble and heroic a white man was for merely telling the truth, as if that kind of basic decency is anomalous, revolts me. What exactly did anyone think would happen? Someone made a mistake and someone else behaved the way anyone in that situation should. Yes, it’s unfortunate that those folks had to face that kind of public embarrassment—but they did not win.

And now, there is the Variety cover story featuring the director of La La Land, Damien Chazelle, and the director of Moonlight, Barry Jenkins. On the cover: a smiling Chazelle and a smiling but slouched-down Jenkins on the cover. The headline? “Amazing Grace.”

Schmaltz has its merits on occasion, but this is exhausting.

It has been pointed out that traditionally the winner of the Best Director award is given the cover and interview; and Variety co-editor in-chief Claudia Eller has explained as much in an editor’s letter. If everything had proceeded as usual, then Chazelle (who took home the Best Director award) would have been honored solo, meaning Jenkins—as he himself pointed out—is the “guest.” If the Variety editors decided that, given the circumstances, they would forgo tradition, such is their right. Even so, that concept—”Amazing Grace”—still plays into the heroic graciousness narrative. It’s not a headline that highlights their artistic achievement; it focuses more on how nicely one of them acted on that stage.

Read the rest at Elle.

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Earlier this month, Nielsen unveiled a study examining the broader appeal of black-led and/or -focused content—particularly in television. It begins with acknowledgment that black people play a pivotal role in shaping various sectors of popular culture in the U.S. In its findings, “73 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 67 percent of Hispanics believe that African Americans influence mainstream culture.” Congratulations to all who can clock the obvious without complication.

Now, as the report shifts to its specific focus, Nielsen notes, “Several programs with a predominantly black cast or a main storyline focusing on a black character are drawing substantial non-black viewership.”

Examining 2016-2017 television, the study finds:

  • With 89 percent non-black viewership, This Is Us, NBC’s Golden Globe-nominated ensemble dramedy, includes Sterling K. Brown as a black businessman raised by white parents and tackles topics such as drug addiction, racism, homosexuality, alcoholism, adoption, obesity and cancer.
  • ABC’s hit sitcom Black-ish follows a father and husband (Anthony Anderson) who’s trying to create a sense of black cultural identity for his affluent family of four and has 79 percent non-black viewership. Tracee Ellis Ross, who plays his wife, won the best actress in a comedy series Golden Globe for her role.
  • Three-fourths of the viewers are non-black for Secrets and Lies, the ABC crime drama that revolves around the biracial heir (Michael Ealy) to a Charlotte, N.C., equity firm and the murder of his wife.
  • ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder is the Shonda Rhimes hit drama starring Academy Award-winner Viola Davis as a criminal-defense professor who gets entangled in a murder plot. Sixty-nine percent of the show’s viewership is non-black.
  • Sixty-eight percent of viewership is non-black for ABC’s Scandal, a Shonda Rhimes “ShondaLand” thriller featuring Kerry Washington as a media consultant to the president.
  • With 63 percent non-black viewers, Fox’s Pitch is a dramedy about the first woman, a black woman, to play baseball in the Major Leagues.
  • Insecure is the HBO original comedy series co-created by Golden Globe-nominated Issa Rae. Inspired by Rae’s popular web series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, viewership is 61 percent non-black.
  • Half of viewership for the newcomer Atlanta is non-black. The show, a Golden Globe-winning comedy-drama on FX created by and starring Donald Glover, centers on two black cousins navigating the Atlanta rap scene.

Based on the tone of this study, one is supposed to find this encouraging.

Indeed, of its findings, Andrew McCaskill, senior vice president, communications and multicultural marketing at Nielsen, says:

Much of the American narrative lately has focused on a growing cultural divide. But Nielsen’s data on television programming show something different. Storylines with a strong black character or identity are crossing cultural boundaries to grab diverse audiences and start conversations. That insight is important for culture and content creators, as well as manufacturers and retailers looking to create engaging, high-impact advertising campaigns.

Respectfully, presenting data that reveals that black-led television shows have crossover appeal is akin to other Earth-shattering news like: Popeyes biscuits taste like heaven in your mouth; there’s nothing like being debt-free; and dick too bomb.

There’s nothing remotely revealing about this information. The same goes for the study’s noting that shows with a majority black audience like Empire can manage to still “propel a show to Emmy-nominated, award-winning mainstream success.”

Yes, Taraji P. Henson is a Golden Globe-winning, Emmy-nominated actress thanks to her role as Cookie Lyon on Empire, but you know who long ago met this feat? Jackée Harry, who remains the first and only black woman to win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. She won for her role as the original Instagram model Sandra Clark on 227. 227 was a show about working-class Negroes in Washington, D.C., before the white folks took over and put bike lanes on Georgia Avenue near Howard University.

So, am I supposed to be thrilled about this news that could easily have been packaged with the hashtags of #TBT or #FBF? Sorry, Nielsen, but I do decline.

Read the rest at The Root.

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Milo Yiannopoulos is a snide, racist piece of shit who benefits from the lowered expectations typically afforded to even the most mediocre white man. He has been referred to as a “beast” who “obliterates” political correctness as if PC culture—even at its peak—ever stopped a hate-mongering white dude with daddy issues from spouting out their prejudice-peppered acidity to sizable applause. Those who find him impressive are as small-minded and useless as he is. Those that assist him in boosting his profile, and subsequently, his brand of white supremacy, are nothing more than accomplices, not to mention assholes.

Yet, whenever Milo Yiannopoulos is extended an invitation to present himself and his worldview on a platform he doesn’t belong on, the responsible party abstains from accepting culpability. Instead, they play the role of victim, or in some cases, feign moral and intellectual superiority. You see, in their mind, inviting a bigot along isn’t the problem. No, no, the problem is with anyone who doesn’t see the purpose in offering a place for someone so stubbornly dedicated to their linear view of the world.

Bill Maher is the latest example of this, though for someone who often fancies himself as the reasonable and most thoughtful one, he is singing the same boring, intellectually disingenuous song all others before him have sung.

After Yiannopoulos was booked to appear on the most recent edition of Real Time with Bill Maher, one of the other guests, Jeremy Scahill, dropped out of the show in protest. In a post detailing his reasoning, Scahill wrote that Yiannopoulos “has ample venues to spew his hateful diatribes” and noted that “there is no value in ‘debating’ him.” Maher came with the trite “whiny liberal” narrative in response.

In a statement, Maher wrote:

My comments on Islam have never veered into vitriol. Liberals will continue to lose elections as long as they follow the example of people like Mr. Scahill whose views veer into fantasy and away from bedrock liberal principles like equality of women, respect for minorities, separation of religion and state, and free speech. If Mr. Yiannopoulos is indeed the monster Scahill claims — and he might be — nothing could serve the liberal cause better than having him exposed on Friday night.

The only person veering into sweet-sweet fantasy in this instance was Maher.

Bill Maher is the same person who took issue with former President Obama for not using the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.” Bill Maher also took issue with President Obama for arguing that ISIS and Islam have very little in common, claiming that much of Islam “has too much in common with ISIS.” Bill Maher has dismissed the notion that Muslims and those of other faiths may share some common values as “bullshit.” Bill Maher also tried to tie sexual assaults in Cologne, Germany, to Islam and refugees.

Read the rest at The Root.

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Whenever anyone commits an act that can be categorized with descriptors such as “malicious,” “disrespectful,” or “dumb as hell,” there is a tried and true chosen line of defense: “I wanted to open a dialogue.”

This week, conservative cartoonist Glenn McCoy committed an act through his art that is best surmised as malicious, disrespectful, and absolutely, positively, dumb as all hell. On Monday, the Belleville News-Democrat published a political cartoon in which McCoy sought to draw parallels between Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and civil rights activist Ruby Bridges. Bridges has long been exalted for being brave enough at the age of six to become the first Black child to integrate a segregated, all-White elementary school. Last week, protesters blocked DeVos, a White woman of immense wealth who recently celebrated her 59th birthday, from entering a public school in Washington, D.C.

Bridges’ story was documented in the Norman Rockwell painting, “The Problem We All Live With.” In McCoy’s cartoon, which recreates that infamous painting only in his deluded mind, DeVos is equal to Ruby Bridges. To the surprise of no one with sincere respect of the plight of Black people in America, McCoy was instantly criticized for this analogous portrait.

In a statement to Talking Points Memo, McCoy refuted criticism by acting as if he was making some grandiose statement about our current political climate––one that as mentioned, will “start a dialogue.”

McCoy writes: “My cartoon was about how, in this day and age, decades beyond the civil rights protests, it’s sad that people are still being denied the right to speak freely or do their jobs or enter public buildings because others disagree with who they are or how they think. I’m surprised that some readers see ‘hate’ in this cartoon when I thought I was speaking out against hate.”

Perhaps one doesn’t see hate in McCoy’s metaphor, but the sight of stupid in it is far too glaring to miss.

When I think about Ruby Bridges, I think about so many Black students, including my mother, who at some point in their lives, had to help integrate schools and deal with the vileness and unsubstantiated hatred from dimwitted White folks. To compare that plight to a billionaire closer in age to Blanche Devereaux than a damn child because she had to take a separate entrance to avoid protesters is wildly frustrating. McCoy doesn’t even see that to compare a Black child’s burden to an adult, well-off White woman’s issue is to deny not only her full humanity, but the fact that she is a child. McCoy has spent too long living in his bubble to see how asinine it is to infantilize DeVos and trivialize the civil rights movement.

Still, McCoy continued to explain himself: “The drawing depicts a woman passively walking while being protected from angry protesters. Isn’t that what went down the other day when Devos visited a school to do her job? You may disagree with her on issues but I didn’t see any hate coming from her. I did, however see hate going in the other direction which is what made me think of the Rockwell image.”

McCoy’s misreading of hatred and prejudice speaks to his ignorance and White fragility.

Read the rest at Essence.

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Whenever a white person does something remotely decent related to black people or black culture—be it displaying basic decency or performing some act with competence—a chorus of Negroes will declare, “They can come to the cookout!”

For our new white readers, “the cookout” is essentially what most of us across these United States refer to as a barbecue, though there are other culinary equivalences that amount to the same thing (black folks gathering for food, liquor and celebration as only we can): say, a crawfish boil, a fish fry or something similar. So, when someone of African lineage extends an invite to someone melanin-deficient to the metaphorical cookout, they’re more or less saying you’re cool enough to hang with us now.

OK, I don’t like being the literary Urban Dictionary. Besides, if I tell y’all anymore, you might steal it because y’all are good for that. No shade.

The most recent example of this came during the 59th Grammy Awards at which Adele stood before the awards-show audience and rightfully declared that Beyoncé was robbed in the Album of the Year category for her impeccable sixth album, Lemonade.

Although some took issue with the British singer-songwriter noting how her black friends were impacted by the project in ways even she, a longtime stan, could not relate to, those who knew better didn’t bat an eye. Nonetheless, for the most part, many appreciated Adele’s remarks and, by extension, a few invited her to come over their way and have a plate of ribs and a red Solo cup of her preferred spirit.

However, the loudest person to make this declaration was a white man.

Gary Owen is funny, has a black wife and has a reality series on BET. That’s super-duper dope for him, but he’s a plus-one. Plus-ones don’t get to extend invitations. I don’t care how down LOL-Teena-Marie thinks he is or even if he was joking; this is the ha-ha equivalent of Solange’s “Don’t Touch My Hair.” No, white man. No.

Yet, beyond the debate and Owen’s joke, there are some sentiments I read in which some black folks get way too giddy when someone white doesn’t sound like he or she hopped out of the basket of deplorables.

On some level it’s funny, but for the most part it’s irritating as hell. Personally, while I would love to drink with Adele and rap Nicki Minaj lyrics with her, I also don’t believe in handing someone from the majority absolute acclaim for doing the bare minimum.

 What Adele said mattered, but she didn’t explicitly state the outright racial bias the Recording Academy has long been proved to have. We can give her a polite church clap. You know, the kind we give soloists who don’t really hit the notes but were OK enough, and we just convince ourselves that they were caught up in the spirit. That’s basically her George Michael tribute, too.

And if recent years are any indication, more of us need to be more cautious about who we rave about and invite over. It has long been proved that a love of black culture doesn’t necessarily equate to a genuine affinity for black people. Robin Thicke was great until he took his Marvin Gaye obsession a wee bit too far. Speaking of obsession, some of us recall the Paula album. Then there is the subject of that album, who has recently lodged accusations of domestic abuse against him.

Read the rest at The Root.

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As a wave of sighs, boos, hisses, and expletives flooded various homes and social media platforms in the wake of Beyoncé losing every major category at this year’s Grammy Awards, a familiar sentiment surfaced just as swiftly: “What did you expect?”

The rhetorical question is rooted in the history of the most celebrated music awards show we have. It is a history that has long highlighted the fact that the Recording Academy has little interest in amplifying black art outside a few designated genre categories.

When Beyoncé’s Lemonade lost out to Adele’s 25 on Sunday night, some suspected vote-splitting was behind the upset. I think it was just white people being white—like they always have been.

Here is a list of the 10 black artists that have won the night’s biggest honor, Album of the Year, since the show’s inception in 1957:

Stevie Wonder: Innervisions (1974), Fulfillingness’ First Finale (1975) Songs in the Key of Life (1977)
Michael Jackson: Thriller (1984)
Lionel Richie: Can’t Slow Down (1985)
Quincy Jones: Back on the Block (1991)
Natalie Cole: Unforgettable With Love (1992)
Whitney Houston: The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack (1994)
Lauryn Hill: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1999)
Outkast: Speakerboxx/The Love Below (2004)
Ray Charles: Genius Loves Company (2005)
Herbie Hancock: River: The Joni Letters (2008)

It is a shockingly paltry sum, especially since many were basically handed the award long past their prime and for works that arguably catered more to the taste of the Grammys’ suspected older white male voting body. In more recent years, innovative works from the likes of Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, and, of course, Beyoncé, have lost in this category to artists such as Daft Punk, Taylor Swift, Beck, and Mumford and Sons. It therefore was not surprising to me that in a world in which Taylor Swift has two Album of the Year Grammy Awards and Prince has none, Lemonade lost to 25, a far more palatable album (to white people, anyway).

What’s even more frustrating about the Grammy Awards is that it purports to be more evolved on race than the Oscars. Last year, Neil Portnow, CEO and president of the Recording Academy, was asked about inclusion in the wake of the #OscarsSoWhite social media campaign. In his comments to Variety, Portnow projected a certain moral superiority:

The music community really is much more inclusive because of the nature of the collaborations. Also because of the nature of the proliferation of influences of one genre into another over time. It’s the history of how music has evolved from the very beginning.

Portnow sounds like a member of the Democratic National Committee touting the inclusion of the party while promoting the DNC. Sure, they present splotches of color in primetime, but the reality is that even though black women keep the Grammys alive, they don’t have enough of them in real positions of power. Because the organization don’t value them as much as claim to. Because they celebrate diversity only in superficial terms. That’s just how it’s always been.

That said, something did feel slightly different last night—largely because someone white at least alluded to the blatant biases that consume Grammy voters. Adele, who basically runs the British wing of the BeyHive, used her acceptance speech time (twice!) to profess appreciation for Beyoncé and Lemonade. “I can’t possibly accept this award, and I’m very humble and very grateful, but my artist of my life is Beyoncé,” she explained. “This album for me, the Lemonade album, was so monumental.”

Some took issue with this comment of hers: “The way you make me and my friends feel, the way you make my black friends feel is empowering. And they stand up for themselves. And I love you. I always have.”

Those folks need to be quiet.

Read the rest at Fusion.

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Midway through reading Boluwaji Ogunyemi’s New York Times essay “When ‘Black Like Me’ Means ‘White Like Them,’” I needed to find a napkin. I had to wipe the drool from my mouth after falling asleep from reading yet another essay that centered on the age-old myth that black people are betraying their cultural identities when they dare to care about academic achievement. It’s just another sad love song wrecking my brain like crazy. I’m all torn up because that story needs to be taken out back, shot and buried in the backyard.

There are a lot of people who make the unfortunate mistake of using their anecdotes to assess an entire community, and sadly, Ogunyemi is one of them. You get that sense very early into the piece when he writes, “Being the single black student in a school of 600 had been immaterial to me. I had not developed a sense of black identity because, simply, I did not have to.”

Black-red-and-green flag on the play. The problem here is that Ogunyemi’s parents made the mistake of not informing him that no matter where you go—even in Newfoundland, where he attended school—you are black. It doesn’t make you less than, but it doesn’t mean you are eagerly welcomed into the majority, either. The Canadian government may often like to tout its progressive stances in comparison with, say, the United States, but much has been written about the country’s issues with racism with respect to the racial profiling of blacks and its treatment of indigenous people.

When you are raised to know who you are, you develop a confident sense of racial identity—one that can’t be easily dismantled by the ignorance of others.

Case in point: Ogunyemi recalls a moment when he and his classmates eagerly learned the results of an exam. Ogunyemi, who netted the highest score, recalls: “Most of the others donned looks of approval or surprise, while one, an Indo-Canadian business student, was notably shocked. ‘Are you trying to be white, Bolu?!’ he jeered. The others laughed boisterously at the question.”

This moment should not have been as impactful as it was, but because having a black identity was “immaterial to him,” he’s over being a cliché-cliché-cliché. (If you didn’t hear Beyoncé’s voice now, you, like Ogunyemi, ain’t real.)

 Ogunyemi does then try to lend credence to his sad story by citing John U. Ogbu, a professor of anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, who has spent far too much time trying to legitimize the notion that black people don’t value education.

Last month, in “The Myth About Smart Black Kids and ‘Acting White’ That Won’t Die,” Jenée Desmond-Harris at Vox took an extensive look at this fairy tale, highlighting in varied ways how thin the research behind “the acting white” theory was to begin with.

Read the rest at The Root.

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If I could charter our new President Hog’s-Head-Cheese Hussein a flight anywhere, the destination would be obvious: the Seventh Circle of Hell. If his long list of sins against humanity before he was elected (insert laugh track) president did not confirm what an arrogant, selfish, greedy, cruel waste of the gift of life he is, then certainly, his actions mere days into his presidency have. So if 45 has already proved himself to be an inhumane tyrant in the making, why would anyone waste hundreds of words seeking to convince fans of the hidden virtues of a bigot?

As previously reported, Mean Mary Tina Campbell of Mary Mary wrote an open letter about the new president that advocates him in ways that a man who associates with white supremacists is undeserving of. Generally speaking, open letters are equal parts inane and irritating. However, Campbell did ask for people to “read my letter below with an open mind.”

As a recovering Catholic who was once recruited for the priesthood (coulda been Yung Pope, but sex, no shade), I obliged.

Despite the unfortunate reality that we live in a country which is divided by our differences, misguided by ignorance and fear, obsessed with power, and overcome with greed, I still choose to believe that better days are coming. I believe that, although America and all of its leaders are far from perfect, our spiritual guidance and covering that has been granted from our initial decision to be “One nation under God,” is what has established us as the great nation that we are.

Let me stop you right there, Heil Mary.

It’s fine to believe, despite the inept would-be authoritarian dismantling democracy day by day, that brighter days lie ahead, given that you’ve got God and a cushier tax bracket than most, but what is this nonsense about how “‘One Nation under God’” is “what has established us as the great nation that we are”? Beloved, you are black. This same nation that professed to extol the virtues of God was built on the backs of your enslaved ancestors and has systematically oppressed your kind since its inception. You can luh God like your sister, but no Negroes with the good sense God gave them should pretend that this nation hasn’t long bastardized religion.

I understand that Mr. Donald Trump is our new president, not our God, so as a citizen I choose to have a sensible expectation of him, accompanied by much prayer for him, and a complete dependency on God to work through him, as well as the others that are in office, to secure the welfare of this nation. I choose to opt out of fear of the unknown but rather opt in to hopeful expectation because if God is for us nothing can successfully stand against us.

I mean, if you’re not traveling from select countries on the Muslim ban, I suppose you can walk without fear. You can’t get an amen for this, but at least you are praying for the president. His punk ass needs it.

I believe that understanding and compassion is absolutely necessary for the progress of all people. So, although I don’t always understand or agree with Mr. Donald Trump’s politics, perspective, and approach, I believe that the same God that created all of us has deposited greatness inside of him that goes far beyond what many of us have seen and what many of us could imagine. I believe that God can do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think, according to the power that works in us. I believe that the power that works in us is our ability to love, and unify, and humble ourselves, and forgive, and hope, and pray, and educate ourselves, and apply wisdom and hard work to knowledge. I choose to believe that that same power that comes from Almighty God is at work in Mr. Donald Trump, and it will be used for the greater good of this nation and its people.

Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Did Campbell say, “I believe that the same God that created all of us has deposited greatness inside of him that goes far beyond what many of us have seen and what many of us could imagine”? This mediocre white man has built a career off of nepotism, good tax attorneys, bankruptcy laws, not paying people for their services and being a fame whore. He is the irregular sweater of humanity. I rebuke this.

It’s much easier to assume that someone is in power because God “chose” him than to wrestle with the reality that evil exists and there are instances where one must call a thing a thing—and then fight it. Enter the likes of the Rev. William Barber, who consistently fights for the very Christian principles 45 actively works against. Barber has routinely spoken out against the racism of 45 and the party whose racist rhetoric paved the way for him. He has done so with the assistance of religious people of varying faiths.

Read the rest at The Root.

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Whenever I am asked why I don’t go into the comments sections of any of my published work, my response is immediate and in the form of a question: “Why do you hate me?” I am black, gay, work in media and have private student loans. Have I not suffered enough?

For years now, many of my colleagues have rightly regarded the comments sections of various outlets as cesspools. As someone who writes for black and mainstream sites, let me assure you that when it comes to the comments section, no matter which water fountain you sip from, it’s all spit and old bacon grease.

If you’re not being trolled by someone from Gouda Gaddafi’s basket of deplorables, you’re dealing with someone who believes that Dr. Umar Johnson actually has something valid to say or who thinks you and the source of your erections both need Jesus. In the age of “self-care,” I try to avoid actions that result in voluntary acts of torture.

However, a new report earlier this month claims that readers want more journalists to respond to them in the comments section. In a survey that spans readers from 20 separate U.S.-based news organizations across various mediums (print to broadcast to digital), 81 percent of commenters said that they would like to see reporters clarify factual questions in the comments section. Additionally, an average of 73 percent of respondents said they wanted “experts” on topics to weigh in in the comments section. And about half claim that they wanted journalists to highlight “quality comments.”

As Nieman Lab notes in its story about the survey, which was jointly produced by the Engaging News Project at the University of Texas and the Coral Project, the Washington Post has started launching such endeavors—creating an email newsletter that highlights top reader comments and discussion threads.

I’m not a reporter, but when I was commissioned to write a piece for the Washington Post about Andrew Harrison’s use of “nigga,” I smartly ignored the comments section. Of course, my friends trolled me anyway and sent me sample comments. Most of them were from white people whining about why it’s a double standard that we colored folk dare create a colloquialism with an alternate meaning of a racial slur, but it’s unfair that they can’t partake.

Good luck to those political reporters who have to answer the questions of people in the age of our 45th president, a basket case who challenges facts at every turn to the delight of his equally dumb flock. Some will say that there are indeed comments sections less obnoxious than the average. Like say, Kinja.

Whenever I wrote for Gawker, I was “encouraged” to go into the comments section and respond to readers. It wasn’t completely bad, but when I wrote about Bernie Sanders irritating me as of late, I got bombarded on Twitter, Facebook and email about it. Bless everyone’s heart who felt that strongly about it, but I’m not in the habit of spending significant amounts of time responding to things like white people telling me that I’m privileged as if they’re still not white.

To quote Sheree Whitfield, “Hell to the nah to the nah-nah-nah.”

The only site I can think of that doesn’t have a comments section that makes me want to cry out to Black Jesus to ask why he won’t smite these damn fools is Very Smart Brothas.

Still, I typically read the essay and go back to minding my black-ass business. I just don’t trust most internet commenters. Too many people use anonymity to unleash things they dare not say to someone’s face. Way too many folks are under the unfortunate assumption that writers owe the reader more than what they’ve been contracted to write. Not enough grasp that anything beyond what was written is a bonus.

Read the rest at The Root.

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She can dress this up as an act of nobility all she likes, but it reeks of opportunism.

When Chrisette Michele was asked to perform for the new president, she had a choice: to stand with the marginalized or to align herself with their orange-tinged oppressor. In an interview with The Breakfast Club, she revealed that the question was an easy and immediate yes.

With that, her fate was sealed, though she’s certainly been trying to clarify an unconscionable decision in the wake of the immense backlash she welcomed. First, she released an open letter; the cyan font made it barely readable, but honestly, no matter the font or the color, none of it made much sense. Towards the end, she declared, “I am here, representing you, because this is what matters.”

Michele repeated that sentiment on The Breakfast Club. “I needed them to see us,” Michele argued. “I needed them to see what we have to say, what we look like, how we talk. With the entire campaign experience, I think that many of us were wondering, who is he talking to?”

The President is 70 years old and in his lifetime, he has engaged in housing discrimination against Black people, has called on the death of innocent Black men, has used racially inflammatory language over decades, and through his favorite job, reality TV host, has worked with Black people. The President has always seen Black people just as he has seen Latinos, immigrants, Muslims, and women; the problem is, he sees all of those sections of society as less than. As for who he was talking to, anyone that’s bothered to take a gander at any of his hate rallies during the campaign knew the answer: like-minded racist White people.

Given that line of thinking, the singer’s political naiveté made the interview nothing more than a 40-minute PSA on the virtue of not speaking on things you know nothing about. The fact that she continuously repeats the adage “I’m no political genius” doesn’t make her a sympathetic figure. No, it just painfully and frustratingly illustrates willful ignorance.

Let Michele tell it, it is imperative that we need to communicate. So, “I took a lot of heat, but I wanted to unite America.” The problem with this line of thinking is that it foolishly assumes that closer proximity to prejudice will help lessen it. However, in the first week of the new administration, needless walls will be built; cruel bans against refugees over their religion will be unleashed; the threat of martial law has been hung over major cities; Jim Crow is leering towards a massive return; stupidity is soaring.

In the end, Michele didn’t even get to engage the menace. “My family has disowned me,” she said, “If you decide to Google me, you’ll see that America is writing about me in their newspapers. I’m the Black poster child for discord right now, and he’s not going to shake my hand?’ So no, I didn’t get to meet him.”

And every Negro went “Duh.”

Michele then slipped and confirmed suspicion that this was more about herself than she lets on. When asked why she didn’t attend the Women’s March the next day, Michele answered, “They don’t invite D-list celebrities.” The self-deprecation displayed does not deny the hubris-laden subtext of her response.

Read the rest at Essence.

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