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

I refuse to relinquish my dedication to the text message.

In recent months, I’ve come across relatives, friends and men I have dated who seem to have issues with texting – or more pointedly, returning a message I sent. “I don’t like to text,” they tell me, or, “You write too much.” Heaven forbid I don’t stop at “WYD. HRU.” For those who actually enjoy typing words out in full, this would be, “What are you doing?” and “How are you?”. Both of these abbreviations are disgusting, for the record.

If you’re kin I barely speak to outside of holidays or old classmates who I sometimes forget are still alive (listen, adulthood is stressful), by all means ping me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or whatever other social media service I am ignoring but likely signed up for. I like that social media brings many people who otherwise would never connect together.

But I increasingly loathe that it gives people a false sense of intimacy. As in, just because you see whatever I choose to share on social media doesn’t mean you know me. Likewise, you responding to something I put on the internet is not anything close to hitting me back on words said directly to you – it’s ignoring me. No one wants to feel ignored and the fact that I now can visibly see what you are doing on social media in real time as you ignore me is infuriating.

So if you’re a close friend or, even more importantly, a person I am dating, I will not bend on this. Respond to my text. I repeat: respond to my text.

I don’t understand why this task is difficult for people. After all, you’re on your phone either way. The way you can scroll through every social media app you’ve downloaded is the same way you can look to “messages” on your phone, read said messages and you know, respond to them. Why is this a challenge? Spoiler: it’s not.

Read the rest at The Guardian.

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

In terms of music, most speak of the ’90s, ’80s, and the ’70s with great reverence. That is not the case for the 2000’s thus far as many describe the decade as “some ole bulls–t” or some variation of the sentiment. It was a decade of great disruption – hello, illegal downloading – but it was not a total loss. There were some good moments here and there. Hello, Beyoncé’s solo career. Even so, it feels like decade full of one L after another. Here are my grievances. Feel free to add on.

Ciara and Ludacris should have made an album together.

Before I go on, do me a solid and stop booing and hissing at me. Hear me out, why don’t you? Recently, I was at the gym dancing inappropriately to Ciara’s “High Price” featuring Ludacris when it hit me that these two have amazing chemistry. See also “Ride” and “Oh.” Ludacris is out here looking like LL Cool J Jr. with Lionel Richie’s face. Meanwhile, Ciara is the Black Kardashian, and no, that’s not a compliment. These two have past their peaks in music, but I do wish they would worked together and become the sweet tea and chicken biscuits version of Ashanti and Ja Rule.

We would have protected Britney Spears better.

I get emotional when I think about this, but it’s a shame that no one made sure Britney Spears was safe and stretched on the set of the “Outrageous” video with Snoop Dogg. This is when she hurt her knee, which was when her rhythm went missing; when she linked with K-Fed; when the brilliance of Blackout was overshadowed by her seemingly disconnection from planet Earth. God, it hurts just to write about it. I LOVE YOU, BRITNEY.

The girl group would not have died.

With all due respect to Fifth Harmony, not enough people care, though that’s not their fault. Of course, the early 2000’s had a wave of girl groups – well, majorly Destiny’s Child, but you get it – but after that, the girl group became a bit of a relic. As someone who obsessed over SWV, Xscape, En Vogue, Kut Klose, The Spice Girls, and knew of those who worshipped at the altar of TLC and other girl bands, it’s a shame that we collectively let the girl group enter “throwback Thursday” terrain.

I speak for many when I say the world – and Capitol Records specifically – owes Cherish a huge apology.

Read the rest at VH1.

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 two quotes I cling to when it comes to responding to questionable commentary from members of my community. Of course, there is Zora Neale Hurston’s notorious declaration, “All my skinfolk ain’t kinfolk.” There is also my favorite auntie—and, more than likely, yours, too—who always throws out a “This n–ga here” when stupidity greets her. No matter your preferred phrasing, both sentiments perfectly encapsulate the wave of famous black people saying absolutely stupid things about race and racism.

The most recent examples include the likes of Raven-Symoné, Anthony Mackie, Don Lemon and Stacey Dash. There is also Jill Scott, circa the initial defense of Bill Cosby. Cosby himself, around the time he was telling black boys to pull up their pants and arguing that stolen packaged-dessert treats from the corner store warrant certain death. Or even LL Cool J, if you recall the god-awful “Accidental Racist.”

There have always been some famous fools, but the Internet has made many of us all too aware of that fact—day after day, if not hour after hour. That makes it more infuriating, more painful and more depressing. There are, however, levels of grievance and whether the comments justifies the offender’s banishment to the Island of Wayward Negroes.

I’m here to help you deal with the stages of grief. Consider it self-care. Besides, we all know there will only be more. You’re welcome.

1. Don’t panic.

Yes, your favorite fame-having Negro might have said something that made your black skin flinch like it just got hit with hot pork-chop grease, but settle down. Ask yourself, is it a one-time offense? Like when Phylicia Rashad gave an interview about the then-smaller pool of women accusing Cosby of rape and dismissed them by saying, “Forget these women.”

Yes, it was bad. It was an insensitive and arguably callous retort to Cosby’s accusers, and you would expect a nice girl from Houston who matriculated at Howard to know better. But everyone makes mistakes. It doesn’t excuse the error, but with more than 50 women now accusing Cosby, I highly doubt that the artist formerly known as Mrs. Huxtable would frame her sentiments in such fashion again. So it’s OK to forgive, but never forget. Now, if she continued to talk that talk, then we would have to move on to step 2.

2. Accept the truth that’s two-stepping in front of you.

Sometimes in life we have to come to grips with the reality that a black public figure is prone to damn-fool syndrome—say, a Dash, a Raven-Symoné, a Lemon. These types will either truly believe their uninformed, poorly thought out and nuance-lacking statements or will merely just continue making contrarian statements, if for no other reason than to garner attention.

The same way you know that one of your cousins can never come to your house because that sumbitch steals is the same way you have to learn to minimize your expectations that this sect of black folks might say anything that doesn’t make you want to throw a black power Afro pick at them. And trust me, I’ve been there. It takes time, but the sooner you make peace, the better off you’ll be.

3. Figure out your limits.

As in, after discovering how Dash feels about gender and race, ask yourself, “Do I want to spend money on whatever movie she’s doing that’s heading to Redbox?” For me the answer is an emphatic “Hell no.” The same applies to watching Lemon’s CNN telecasts on purpose. At this point, you know what you’re getting with these people; thus you have to adjust accordingly.

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

I remember joining the chorus of annoyance when I read Sam Smith’s declaration that when it comes to his role as a public figure that just so happens to be gay, “I’m not trying to be a spokesperson.”

He went on to tell Digital Spy: “It sounds awful of me, but I’m really just trying to live my life and write music about it. That’s what I do. I’m not trying to heal the world. From a young age I’ve always been like this, so it’s been normal. My family and friends have made it feel normal and I’m not going to stop that now.”

I found this sentiment frustrating, majorly because it came across as selfish and it was a continuation of what writer Rich Juzwiak referred to as his “f–ked up gay conservatism.”

Sam Smith was the gay guy who hated hooking up. The homosexual man who was so concerned being as mainstream as possible, he told The Fader, “I’ve made my music so that it could be about anything and everybody— whether it’s a guy, a female or a goat—and everybody can relate to that. I’m not in this industry to talk about my personal life unless it’s in a musical form. The same-sex lover who expressed to Rolling Stone that while it “felt great” to come out, he “had to be careful” because “I want my music to be sung by absolutely everyone.”

Smith’s reluctance to be a “spokesperson” for the gay community seemed more like a cynical ploy to court the masses by essentially being gay, but not “too gay” in a way that’s not too threatening to a public who may not be totally comfortable with gay people. In many ways, Sam Smith appeared to what to be to pop music what Ben Carson is to conservatives who don’t want to own the GOP’s racist fringe.

But even with my frustration, I concluded that he was young and that he would ultimately change his mind.

A year later, he has. Speaking with NME, Smith revisited those controversial comments. “I’m a gay man who came out when I was 10 years old, and there’s nothing in my life that I’m prouder of,” Smith explained. “What I was trying to say was that I didn’t want the album to appeal to just one community, I wanted it to appeal to all of them. I wanted anyone, gay or straight, to be able to relate to me singing about men, like I was able to relate to Stevie Wonder or John Legend singing about girls.”

Yeah, we knew that first time. The problem is he’s putting the onus on himself to shift the minds of straight people who can’t wrap their minds around a gay guy singing about another man and not feeling it’s icky or contagious. It appears that maybe he’s learned that.

Smith went on to say: “I want to be a spokesperson. I want to be a figure in the gay community, who speaks for gay men. I sell records in countries where gay men get killed and that’s a big thing for me, because maybe one person in that country will pick up my album, realise it’s by a gay artist, and it might change their opinion.”

Some have already seen headlines about this development and proceeded to roll their eyes. Yes, it’s much easier for Sam Smith to say these things now that he is a proven success. And no, this shift in sentiment does not negate some of the more frustrating comments he’s made about the behavior of other gay men.

Read the rest at VH1.

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 of you, I want to have sex with Drake. This is not a thought I ever anticipated having. But since the Canadian rapper-singer started behaving like an Instagram model – the kind of person who basically uses his account to show off various aspects of his body – it’s made his oddball geekiness seem sexy rather than deal-breaking.

Still, while I’ve found myself physically attracted to Drake, he wouldn’t be the kind of guy I’d normally select for a fling or a date. My type is more Zack; Drake is a Screech, but with Slater’s body. Drake strikes me as the sort of man who would want me to go bowling or to karaoke – things I hate.

Or to make another 1990s TV analogy, I’d opt for Will Smith’s Fresh Prince of Bel-Air character over his preppy cousin, Carlton Banks. Drake always sort of reminded me of Carlton, only he’s presumably more liberal in his political thoughts. They do dance alike – have you seen the Hotline Bling video? (Of course you have. How could you not?)

I’ve been watching it on repeat, and it’s converted me to the virtues of a corny man – a walking, rapping, version of the dork characters in those shows that used to run on the old TGIF on ABC. This comes after a lifetime viewing myself as a man who needs stuff more in line with ABC’s new TGIT – Scandal, preferably. They’re a mess, but Olivia Pope and Fitz are not cornballs.

That Drake has undeniable sex appeal doesn’t mean he’s perfect. If you listen to his song Diamonds Dancing with Future, you get the sense that he is one of those “nice guys” who turn on you the very second you stop wanting his attention. That aside, he has some redeeming qualities that I’m starting to appreciate more. There is something very endearing about a man who doesn’t take himself so seriously, someone who not only can make fun of himself but tolerate other people making fun of him.

As Kara Brown opined over at Jezebelthis week, Drake is a dork – the biggest dork in hip-hop. The best aspect of all this is Drake not only knows it, but he openly embraces it now. Drake’s dancing in the Hotline Bling video was more appropriate for a politician’s appearance on Ellen than a rap video. It’s the sort of body movement Barack Obama does in dad jeans. It’s so bad; it’s so uncool; it’s now so sexy to me.

Read the rest at The Guardian.

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

Had the pleasure of once again doing Smart Ass Pop Culture Feminist Clique duty on Janet Mock’s SoPOPular last Friday, talking Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Nicki Minaj. We also discussed Meryl Streep and whether or not 2015 was the year of identity. My hands are still waving like I’m performing “Touch My Body” and “Breakdown,” but it gets better.

Part one:

Part two:

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

While speaking on the importance of his faith – notably, in the midst of tragedy – Vice President Joe Biden said something to new Late Show host Stephen Colbert last week that made me feel both empathetic and envious.

“All of the good things that have happened have happened around the culture of my religion and the theology of my religion,” Biden explained.

Like Biden and Colbert, I was raised Catholic and, for many years, I shared a similar stance on the faith. It was there when I felt triumphant and when I felt utterly terrible (which happened far more than any child should experience). I was so devout that I was even approached for the priesthood.

At that same time I was deep enough in the faith that a priest thought I’d make a good colleague, I was also in deep denial of my homosexuality. I never seriously considered the priesthood, but the offer made me realize how the church I found comfort in was also making it extremely difficult for me to live a life that didn’t involve ample amounts of guilt.

So, I left, which is not an uncommon choice among US adults. A recent Pew Research Center study shows that among all American adults who were raised Catholic, 52% have left the church at some point in their lives. The study goes on to say that of these, about a fifth find their way back. But most, like me, never return to the faith. That’s because if, unlike Colbert and Biden, you’re not a straight, white, cisgender man, Catholic culture and theology isn’t speaking to you.

Since Pope Francis’s election in 2013, and more so as his impending US visit approaches, there has been much discussion as to whether or not he can reel the likes of me back into the fold with what some have deemed the “Pope Francis Effect.” A purported kindler, gentler and modern pope. In a recent interview with Father Thomas Rosica, media attaché to the Holy See Press Office and CEO of the Toronto-based Salt and Light Television, Colbert himself said he hopes that those who had long abandoned their faith will return. Colbert, who taught catechism classes, referred to Pope Francis as “Pope Hope.”

There is indeed a lot for disaffected liberals and minorities to like about Pope Francis. I appreciate him tackling issues such as the simplifying annulments, fighting climate change and advocating for the poor. Even so, when it comes to LGBT issues and reproductive rights, talk is focused more on tolerance than actual acceptance. It was powerful to hear Pope Francis declare, “If someone is gay and searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” And the fact that he met with LGBT activists is important. Nonetheless, a day after a gay pride march in Rome back in June, Pope Francis stressed the importance of children having heterosexual parents.

Earlier this month, the Vatican reportedly told a Spanish bishop that transgender people cannot be godparents, with their doctrinal arm replying that trans folks “publicly show an attitude contrary to the moral requirement to resolve one’s sexual identity problem according to the truth of one’s sex.”

Read the rest at The Guardian.

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

ave you ever wondered to yourself, “I wonder what the life of my proctologist’s wife is like?” Or question whether or not your gynecologist can curse like a sailor and fight like Ronda Rousey? Would you want dating advice from your dentist? Ever curious to know if the doctor who tells you to cut down on pork chops is just as anal with her girlfriends about their weight?

I’ve never wondered any of these things, but I give all the glory to those at FremantleMedia and Bravo who had the vision to ask themselves these questions. If not for them, I would not have the joy in my life that is Married to Medicine. The show, which premiered back in March 2013, chronicles the lives of women in the Atlanta medical community. Some of them are actual doctors themselves, while others are married to them.

I was not an immediate fan of the show. There are only two things I recall from the show’s inaugural season. The first was a fight between original cast member and co-creator of the series Mariah Huq and Toya Bush-Harris, who got into a brawl at some fancy event by the pool of the sole white cast member’s house. Toya talked about Mariah’s mama, so, you know, punks jump up to get beat down, or whatever. The mama in question, Lucy, jumped into the fight and proceeded to smash Toya’s head repeatedly with her purse.

It’s not that I can’t stand the sight of a physical fight on reality TV, but I did expect this show to offer more along the lines of sophisticated shade, as opposed to UFC realness. I mean, let VH1 have its thing. In any event, the only other thing I remember about the show’s first season was being annoyed as hell by Mariah and Toya’s sounding like every overzealous black gay man I’ve ever met—another cliché that I did not need more of.

Then something changed for me during the second season. They toned it down a bit, found some balance between shade and fight to the death, and—gasp—actually showed more of the women with medical jobs working. Imagine that. It’s all made for a much better show.

Along with those changes, they added the woman who has come to be my absolute favorite thing on television: Dr. Heavenly.

Dr. Heavenly reminds me of those Southern black women who chop you up like brisket, only with wit and a smile that almost makes it endearing. What makes her quips even more digestible is that her elementary-school-age daughter gives her a dose of her own medicine.

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

Displaying IMG_6265.JPG

Earlier this month, when Kim Kardashian premiered her selfie with Hillary Clinton (featuring Kanye West in the background, doing a mesh of mean mug and amusement), my immediate reaction was, “I hope she’s not trying to sell HRC on the benefits of wearing a waist trainer.”

I was guilty (as many are) of dismissing the idea of Kardashian having any legitimate interest in political and social causes. Well, none that don’t directly involve her, anyway. But as vapid as Kim Kardashian can be, there is something skeptics like me must accept: she’s been trying to show substance lately.

A year ago, Kardashian took to her site to pen a personal post that detailed how having a mixed race daughter has shed light on the realities of racism.

Kardashian wrote:

To be honest, before I had North, I never really gave racism or discrimination a lot of thought. It is obviously a topic that Kanye is passionate about, but I guess it was easier for me to believe that it was someone else’s battle. But recently, I’ve read and personally experienced some incidents that have sickened me and made me take notice. I realize that racism and discrimination are still alive, and just as hateful and deadly as they ever have been.

This earned her a resounding “duh” across the Internet, but Kardashian did go on to note, “I feel a responsibility as a mother, a public figure, a human being, to do what I can to make sure that not only my child, but all children, don’t have to grow up in a world where they are judged by the color of their skin, or their gender, or their sexual orientation. I want my daughter growing up in a world where love for one another is the most important thing.”

Her intent was to convey that motherhood is changing her, and that her eyes were beginning to open up—she’s seeing the world beyond her bubble. It’s one thing to date and marry black men, but it’s another to actually be a mother to a black child who will experience things she will never be forced to. In many ways, Kardashian has lived up to the promise of her post.

In July, Kardashian wrote on Twitter, “#WhatHappenedToSandraBland We need answers!!!! This is NOT ok! This is all shady! They need to own up to this & tell the truth!” Arguments ensued immediately, with people wondering whether or not she truly “cared.” It’s a stupid question to pose. At this rate, it should be very clear that Kardashian is methodical and hyperaware of what it means to extend her name to something be it a product or a victim of police brutality. She cared enough to bring attention to it and the end result was arguably Bland’s story being carried on entertainment programs that might’ve otherwise ignored the story.

Read the rest at Fusion.

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

“Who is that girl with the big ass head?” was my first critique of Rihanna. That was 10 years ago. I was an intern at MTV News and I had absolutely no idea who she was. A fellow intern and college classmate informed me that Rihanna, who walked around smiling and with only one other person with her, was behind the new song “Pon de Replay.” After that quick informational, it was not long before I could be spotted body rolling to the track on my iPod while en route to the West Village.

I did fall in love with her debut album, Music of the Sun, which turned a decade old this month, but if nothing else, I was at least aware of her name and one of her songs. For a label, it’s a not a runaway success, though it’s not a complete failure either. It’s something: a chance to build.

The same summer, I also interned at the now defunct music magazine Blender. That was where I met another new artist who was affiliated with Jay Z: Teairra Mari. As the sole black person around, I had gone to the set and helped them find the proper lighting for Teairra’s darker skin. This included standing there, not lose my black skin while testing the lights and hold the leashes of two doberman pinschers who would be a part of the shoot. When Teairra Mari walked in, she was surrounded by a sea of handlers – many of whom who I recognized from MTV. She couldn’t have been more than 17 at the time, but I recall her being served up in attire that recalled Vanity 6.

Then, I heard her second single, “No Daddy,” blaring from the speakers. As soon as I heard the hook of that song, I could simultaneously hear her career be dropped inside a black skillet filled with hot grease. I’m surprised none of the editors sent me to go get Teairra a side of french fries.

What they got wrong about Rihanna is that she was not supposed to be the Caribbean Beyoncé. What they got wrong about Teairra Mari is that she could have been like Monica in that she was a teenager with an attitude, but within limits. Monica was Miss Thang, Not Miss Motherf**king Thang. Her first album, Roc-A-Fella Records Presents Teairra Mari, which also turned 10 this month, is a lot better than its lazy title. It was too much, too soon from a teenager, though.

Unfortunately, only one of these two singers that I saw within weeks of each other that summer had the chance to rectify their handlers’ mistakes.

Read the rest at VH1 Music.

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