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If there’s any constant with respect to social media and the internet, it is that somebody is going to do something incredibly stupid and racially insensitive. Congratulations to Snapchat for being the latest guilty party.

In concert with marijuana aficionados’ most cherished holiday, 4/20, the the social media company released a Bob Marley selfie filter that, when used, adds locs, a Rastafarian-style hat and darker skin to the user. Problem is, it didn’t dawn on anyone over at the Snapchat offices that adding black skin to a white user’s face might look a lot like blackface. No matter what Zoe Saldana’s makeup artist in Nina or racist college party attendees might tell you, blackface is not really poppin’ in the streets. Unsurprisingly, the internet rage machine quickly homed in on the deserving target.

That said, SnapChat did use Marley’s face and name in partnership with the legendary singer-songwriter’s estate. A Snapchat spokesperson told Forbes via email that the filter “gives people a new way to share their appreciation for Bob Marley and his music. Millions of Snapchatters have enjoyed Bob Marley’s music, and we respect his life and achievements”.

That permission doesn’t make the feature less racist. Marley was the voice of poor people and black liberation in a space very few artists ever have access to, a distinction that deserves due respect. Whoever gave Snapchat permission to do this, it was an idea that shouldn’t have been executed. And Bob Marley’s estate can’t be trusted to police this – it has a questionable history of licensing the late singer’s likeness. (Full disclosure: I use Bob Marley-brand protein powder.)

That put the onus on Snapchat itself to make the decision, and it failed on multiple levels. At the very least, Snapchat could have restricted the filter to just the hat and the locs. The darkening of skin was not necessary. And for no one in that company – at least those with decision-making power – to understand why it would be an issue to invoke an inglorious history of minstrelsy speaks, yet again, to the ongoing problem with diversity in the tech industry.

Snapchat’s record when it comes to race is questionable. In 2015, Recode’s Walt Mossberg asked Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel about the company’s staff diversity. Spiegel replied,

Diversity, for us, is really closely tied to competency. We have such a diverse group of people using our products and services every day, that in order for us to make absolutely great products and services for that community, we need a really, really diverse group of people. And it’s really that simple.

Spiegel added, however, that, they don’t think of diversity in terms of percentages, arguing “it’s not really cool to think if people as numbers.”

Read The Guardian.

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When the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) first announced a talk show based on men and relationships co-starring Tyrese one question raced to my mind: Has anyone over there ever paid attention to Tyrese before hiring him for this?

If you Google the words, “Tyrese sexist,” a flock of credible offenses will fill your screen. While a sexist man isn’t exactly an anomaly, one wonders why OWN, a network whose growth is largely attributable to Black women, would offer someone like this a platform. Black women saved OWN in ways Lindsay Lohan, Rosie O’Donnell, Wynonna Judd, and Shania Twain (all of whom had previous incarnations of television specials/shows) could not and the reward for their loyalty is misogynoir with musical sensibilities.

Even though the show is called “It’s Not You, It’s Men,” it does very little in the way of challenging sexism. Look no further than model Amber Rose’s appearance in February, in which she took on both Tyrese and co-host, Rev. Run for perpetuating forms of rape culture. When Rose complained about street harassment and overall disrespect by men, Rev. Run suggested that perhaps “a representation of what you’re wearing and stuff and seems like, in their mind, what you’re representing.”

Tyrese echoed the sentiment adding, “I’m just saying, the comfortability some people find in wanting to touch or grope you. It’s an energy that is sent out there that creates that type of response.”

Rose shut them down, but the problem is when it comes to saying something dumb about women, Tyrese simply can’t help himself. The latest example is an Instagram post in which he claims to no longer fancy a certain kind of women. Everyone has a right to their particular preferences, but there’s an underlying stench behind this chauvinistic notion.

Part of his caption reads, “I was just asked today what qualities attract me at this point in a women…. I love a woman that’s smart, confident, educated, self sufficient, (available to be as spontaneous as this lifestyle I live.) I use to be attracted to women with HUGE personalities LOUD and AGGRESSIVE and I would always it a wall…. Now I’m in a zone where I am ONLY attracted to women who’s voice is so soft and she has the energy and presence of grace and regal sophistication….. Not subservient REGAL!!!”

In the comment section, where intelligence and reason unfortunately often go to be violently slaughtered, one commenter wrote, “Don’t nobody want a bunch Ne-Ne, K-Michelle, Tamar, Mi-Mi, and Cardi B’s running around the house. I can’t stand loud, aggressive women in my space and I’m a woman.”

They are both speaking the same language, only the commenter is merely taking Tyrese’s opinion one step further. When you look clearly at the examples mentioned, you’ll see that NeNe Leakes and Tamar Braxton are happily married. Mimi Faust is in a serious relationship and not with a clown for a change. Cardi B is engaged. Fine, I’ll give you K. Michelle, though to her credit, while it may not last as long as she likes, she keeps a man around.

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Why do some people act as if Beyoncé eats with her feet?

I read Beyoncé’s recent and increasingly rare interview with Elle magazine, in which she discussed her new Ivy Park activewear collection in addition to answering questions about feminism, race and police brutality. I found it rather standard for Beyoncé, or any celebrity of her stardom, for that matter. Others, however, expressed shock and awe that she managed to form short, coherent statements.

About feminism, Beyoncé made comments like, “If you are a man who believes your daughter should have the same opportunities and rights as your son, then you’re a feminist. We need men and women to understand the double standards that still exist in this world, and we need to have a real conversation so we can begin to make changes.”

And when asked about those who protested her “Formation” video, Houston’s finest noted: “I have so much admiration and respect for officers and the families of officers who sacrifice themselves to keep us safe. But let’s be clear: I am against police brutality and injustice. Those are two separate things. If celebrating my roots and culture during Black History Month made anyone uncomfortable, those feelings were there long before a video and long before me.”

It’s not as if she broke down critical race and feminist theories in the Q&A, so why in the hell is anyone surprised by these not especially complicated sentences? I’ve seen some of my writing colleagues insinuate that perhaps her public relations team answered the questions for her. This was an echo of the sentiment expressed two years ago when Beyoncé’s essay “Gender Equality Is a Myth!” was published by the Shriver Report.

In that essay, Beyoncé wrote: “We have to teach our boys the rules of equality and respect, so that as they grow up, gender equality becomes a natural way of life. And we have to teach our girls that they can reach as high as humanly possible.”

Watch out, Toni Morrison, or nah?

Even if Beyoncé did have someone gussy up her essay, she wouldn’t be the first person to do so—celebrity or otherwise. We live in a nation where, if the proper use of “whom” were a choice that could end or life or death, a sizable portion of the U.S. population would immediately drop dead. So if you really want to talk about what is or isn’t dumb, I wouldn’t be aiming my dart in the direction of a pop superstar with a growing empire on which she has relentlessly proved to have a tight grip.

I’ve always found this “Beyoncé is some sort of simpleton” narrative to be painfully ignorant and remarkably dubious. Sure, after LeToya and LaTavia left Destiny’s Child and Beyoncé launched a solo career a few years later, she did noticeably become far more cautious in how she answered questions. That doesn’t necessarily say anything about her level of intelligence.

Read the rest at The Root.

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It didn’t take American Idol runner-up and new Motown signee La’Porsha Renae long to realize she probably should have kept her stupid to herself with respect to thoughts about the LGBT community. In a recent interview, Renae was asked about the controversial HB1523 legislation that was passed in her home state of Mississippi recently. While Renae did express some niceties about LGBT folks – we’re people like everyone else, we have feelings, and other things you learn early as a Sesame Street viewer – her phrasing rightly courted controversy.

You see, Renae could have left her comments right there, but she went on to note: “I am one of the people who don’t really agree with that lifestyle. I wasn’t brought up that way. It wasn’t how I was raised. But I do have a lot of friends and a lot of people that I love dearly who are gay and homosexual and they’re such sweet, nice people. We should just respect each other’s differences and opinions and move on.”

Renae has since conducted another interview that ran on Tuesday in which she acknowledged she had been “offensive by using the word ‘lifestyle’” to describe homosexuality. Renae adds that while she’s totally aware of the details of HB1523, she is “firmly” against any discriminatory laws. How nice.

To some, this would be the part where I pack up my annoyance and mosey on over to the next thing many would describe as “problematic.”

However, I’m comfortable right where I am so I would like to spend a lil’ more time addressing the issue with use of “lifestyle.” La’Porsha Renae is 23 years old, but sounds like an uncomfortable senior citizen describing her gay child’s longtime “roommate.” And just like Big Mama, Renae needs to understand that veganism is a lifestyle, not my predominate and natural attraction to members of the same sex. No matter what Rachel “Fake Ass Freddie Brooks”  Dolezal tells you, being Black is not a lifestyle choice either.

When people invoke “lifestyle” to describe one’s sexuality, they are insinuating that it is a choice. As in something that can be changed or “cured” depending on what kind of zealot you’re talking to. Renae might not even be fully aware of this because homophobia is so ingrained in society. Even her use of “homosexual” speaks to antiquated viewpoint of gays and lesbians. Whether or not she realizes any of this is irrelevant. The damage is done the minute the words are uttered.

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I try to steer clear of wishing ill on another, but I wish Erykah Badu’s cell phone, iPad, and laptop had forged a suicide pact in order to spare us all of the string of tweets she’s unleashed multiple days this week.

On Monday, Badu, like many others on Twitter, apparently saw New York magazine’s The Cut tweet out a link to a story about a New Zealand school that enforced knee-length skirts for girls in order to “stop boys from getting ideas and create a good work environment for male staff.” Badu’s initial tweet linked to the piece and added: “I agree. We are sexual beings. We should consider everyone. Young girls are attractive. Some males are distracted.”

Oh, those helpless men who can’t manage to avoid sexualizing minors on their damn job of all places. Let us all please consider their special needs. Badu continued, “Men and women both go thru cycles of arousal. Men automatically are attracted to women of child bearing age….” While she did acknowledge “Males should be taught to be responsible for their actions from childhood” and that “It’s not ok to “prey” on young women,” she still said when it comes to a heterosexual [adult] male being attracted to a young woman in a “revealing skirt,” she argued, “No, I think it is his nature.”

Badu continued this debate all through Wednesday, more or less repeating the same logic to the rising depression levels of many of her fans — myself-included.

To some, Badu might have been merely “telling it like it us.” The problem there is just because something sounds pragmatic on its surface doesn’t mean it actually is or even remotely insightful.

Here, Badu is essentially coddling men to the point of infantilization. If an adult man is sexually attracted to a minor and the endpoint is statutory rape, ultimately, the person who bears the greatest burden on that crime is the adult in question. Yes, we are all sexual beings, but this notion that a man cannot control himself because of his nature makes us no better than some wild animal. By the way, if grown men employed to educate school-age girls find themselves sexually attracted to their students, the reality is the length of a skirt will not be that remarkable a factor in thwarting that.

I’m also not totally comfortable with the idea of young girls of “childbearing age.” Exactly what age is that again?  Of course, I am not surprised by Badu’s sentiments. After all, as others have pointed out, this is the same person, who last November as host of the Soul Train Awards, claimed that R. Kelly “has done more for Black people than anyone.”

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What comes to mind when you think of Stevie J? To be kind, I’ll start off with “musician.” After all, he did work on the legendary Mariah Carey’s Butterfly album. OK, enough of that.

Thanks to Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta, when I think of Stevie J, I primarily think, “man with penis that suffers from attention-deficit disorder.” That’s why he cheated on Mimi Faust with Joseline Hernandez, who is either now his legal wife or the hood equivalent that is “wifey.” And based on the preview of the fifth season of this hit franchise, he’s cheated on Joseline, too. There may even be another baby on the way.

Are you thinking of Stevie J as a man of high moral character? Yeah, me neither. Still, stay with me. Suspending reality is the theme of this reality star’s story.

Now, after associating Stevie J with cheating, I think of the 2015 child-support arrest in which he was accused of owing more than $1 million in back child support. With that in mind, I find it highly comical that Stevie J reportedly has a problem with Mimi being in a relationship with a woman and that he doesn’t want the child he shares with her “exposed” to that. Stevie J recently told TMZ that he doesn’t “condone Mimi’s new relationship with GF, Chris.”

Stevie J went on to add that “he doesn’t want his little girl being raised in a lesbian household, and thinks that’s only a job for a dad and a mom.” If Stevie J were so fixated on a two-parent household, why did he never marry any of his baby mamas? Feel free to point and laugh here.

That said, on the most recent episode of the show, Chris revealed that she considers herself to be male, so the tag of “lesbian relationship” would not necessarily apply, and the couple themselves haven’t as yet labeled their relationship that.

Beyond Stevie J’s issues with Mimi’s relationship with Chris is his belief that Mimi is dating a woman only for the sake of a storyline. I haven’t made a baby with Mimi or made her weep on national television, but from the outside looking in, I’m not entirely surprised by her dating another woman. He should understand that sexuality can be fluid in many. Ask Joseline.

In any event, I’m fascinated by Stevie J’s stance for its hypocrisy and how it highlights what’s long been an issue—especially in the South.

In 2011, the New York Times published “Parenting by Gays More Common in the South, Census Shows.” In it, reporters spoke with Gary Gates, a demographer at the University of California, Los Angeles, who noted that gay couples in Southern states are more likely to be raising children than their counterparts on the West Coast, in New York or in New England. Moreover, black or Latino gay couples are twice as likely as whites to be raising children. Many of these relationships began after one party or both had children with partners in heterosexual relationships.

Mimi is not an anomaly but merely another example of a trend that’s been happening for years now. In recent years, there have been studies that show that kids being raised in same-sex households face no disadvantage compared with children raised by heterosexual couples. So it’s peculiar that Stevie J, who has also been two-stepping in rehab over the last year, felt compelled to speak to a media outlet to discuss what he deems inappropriate settings for child-rearing.

Read the rest at The Root.

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The future Angela Kardashian is my new hero.

Despite feeling somewhat disrespected that the soon-to-be former Blac Chyna stole my five year plan, I’m happy that she’s engaged to Rob Kardashian. As Blac Chyna’s rep told Us Weekly, “She was very excited and loves the ring. She’s happy with him and very happy.” Indeed, they look quite happy together and part of my joy over their engagement is rooted in the likelihood that Rob’s family members are sick over it.

To which I say: SUFFER.

Remember when Blac Chyna used to be great friends with Kim Kardashian? That is, until Kim’s teenage sister started dating the father of Blac Chyna’s child and her now former fiancé, that Timon from The Lion King looking rapper known as Tyga. Blac Chyna never publicly condemned any of the parties involved—including Kim—which was very nice of her, ‘cause I would have publicly blasted all of them. Twice.

The thing with those Kardashian sisters is that they are the reality-TV equivalent of any R&B song about a woman creeping in the wings, waiting to take a friend’s man. Seriously, why is it that so many of their relationships are modeled after SWV’s catalog?

Another former friend of Kim’s, Trina, has noted in interviews and on social media how Khloe Kardashian has dated two of her former boyfriends: French Montana (HAHN!) and James Harden, of the Houston Rockets. And though Amber Rose and Kim may “text each other all the time now,” don’t forget that Amber once referred to Kim as a homewrecker who plotted on taking Kanye West from her. Kris Humphries would agree with that sentiment.

I’m not sure whether or not Blac Chyna’s intentions with the only Kardashian brother were pure initially, but I do know that the end result is this family getting done to them what they have previously done to others. This is the family that consistently flips relationships into business partnerships, so I hope that not only do Blac Chyna and Rob Kardashian get married, I hope they’re at work negotiating a reality show. It’s the family way.

In fact, in Kim Kardashian’s Rolling Stone interview last year she discussed Rob, saying, “Do I think he smokes weed, drinks beer, hangs out, and plays video games with his friends all day long? Yes.” When pressed if it wasn’t more “like hookers and meth at the Ritz,” she responded: “No, no. Or he’d be skinny.”

Rob was said to be “furious” over this, but thankfully, his new fiancée is helping him out. See, Kimmy? It’s all better now. Blac Chyna is remodeling Rob the same way Kanye West ransacked your closet and put you in all those neutral tones.

So what if Kris Jenner and the rest of the family aren’t talking about the new addition to the family? Blac Chyna, Rob Kardashian, and his future mother-in-law, Tokyo Toni, certainly seem pleased. I think that’s what matters most.

Read the rest at Complex.

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Am I a terrible person because I watched Janet Jackson announce her second tour delay due to family planning and thought, “But, baby girl, what about these concert tickets?”

Before Beyoncé and her blond, freestyle braids took control of my life and thigh muscles, there was Janet Jackson, the patron saint of the butterfly, the master of the dookie braid, and the queen of the whisper. Janet Jackson has taught me many things throughout my life, so I was ecstatic to see her perform on the Unbreakable World Tour. That was supposed to happen in February, only she postponed the date until August due to surgery. Now Damita Jo is pulling out another doctor’s note to excuse herself from that tour date and all other dates.

I am so happy that Janet and her billionaire bae of a husband, Wissam Al Mana, are going to start a family—especially considering Janet is 49. I have no idea how this is going to happen, but as NeNe Leakes once said, “They make ’em when you got the coin.” Still, this couldn’t have been the first time the two thought about this, so why touch me, tease me with a tour she seems to not really care all that much about?

The way she’s treated this tour is a lot like how she has treated her latest album, Unbreakable. It was an album seven years in the making and reunited Janet with longtime collaborators, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Moreover, there was a press release that went out touting Janet’s new label, Rhythm Nation Records, which touted her as “arguably the first female African-American recording artist to form her own record label.”

The album’s first single, “No Sleeep,” went on to become her longest-running No. 1 song on the adult R&B song chart—a reminder that the blacks will hold you down even after a white man pulls off part of your shirt, exposing your breast in front of a billion people and leaving your career and a nipple out in the cold. The album has the nerve to be pretty damn decent, too. Certainly better than the material she recorded with Jermaine Dupri.

And then what happened? The hell if I know. Janet gave us one video and not another peep. Legend has it she shot a video for my favorite track from the release, “Dammn Baby,” but where is it? Probably in the closet with the tour wardrobe she apparently won’t be putting back on anytime soon.

I completely understand why Janet Jackson would be over the music industry. She was wronged after her Super Bowl performance and she struggled for a while to regain footing. If not for the support of her most loyal fans—a smooth millions of folks across the world—her legacy wouldn’t have endured as well as it has. However, it’s that support that helped launch her comeback—a comeback that now seems to ending with, “Never mind. Bye, y’all.”

Read the rest at The Root.

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When I hear someone say “I don’t believe in labels,” I roll my eyes all the way down to the nail on my big toe.

Before you roll your eyes back at me, let me make a few things clear. I respect everyone’s right to identify however they choose and I will accept that choice accordingly. Likewise, I understand why many object to labels. Labels can feel restrictive because they can packaged with preconceived notions and stereotypes. However, I find the premise that avoiding a label—particularly with respect to one’s sexuality—will spare one from whatever prejudices people may harbor to be flawed, at best. You need an almost a Disney-like level of naïveté to believe such a fairy tale.

There’s a certain hubris that comes with an announcement that you don’t believe in labels. Like, you’re somehow more evolved than others who succumb to the bait of a word like “gay” or “bisexual.” More often than not, this sort of announcement is just a grab for some shred of individuality—an typically masturbatory practice popular with many millennials.

I tend to look at labels as more of a productive tool than a hindrance because, in many ways, labels are part of what allows for community. If you’re a part of a marginalized group, a label can help foster a supportive, loving environment. (Label recognition and membership in a group are often the first steps to political change.) And really, labels like gay, lesbian, bi, pansexual, and so on are broader than many give them credit for.

To be gay is to have a predominant sexual attraction to someone of the same sex. That literally is the beginning and end of the label. Anything else someone wants to attach to that is by their own invention (and at their own peril). There are mores and customs that can be associated with the label—that is, gay culture—but to be gay does not necessarily mean identifying with gay culture. I blame education policies like No Child Left Behind for so many folks not being able to reach what feels like a very natural conclusion.

I am a gay, but would happily fuck Rihanna, given the opportunity. After we finished, though, I’d probably ask her to hook me up with her male background dancer. I’m sure she’d be down for that.

And while some people rather ignorantly don’t believe in bisexuality—notably among men—calling yourself something else won’t protect you from whatever biases another person has the minute you make it known that you are sexually attracted to someone of the same sex. The same goes for anyone who identifies as pansexual.

Read the rest at Complex.

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If you are curious to know how current and future generations are influenced by reality television, look no further than what happened yesterday after PARTYNEXTDOOR posted a picture of Kehlani’s hand on Instagram with the caption, “After all her shenanigans, still got the R&B singer back in my bed.”

These two have had a long history of sharing every intricate detail of their personal relationship, only what took place yesterday could have easily ended a 20-year-old Grammy-nominated singer’s life. Immediately after that post went up on Instagram, many online created a narrative that suggested Kehlani cheated on her boyfriend, Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving, despite not having a real idea of what may have actually been happening behind closed doors.

The picture dominated conversation across many social media feeds—even among those who had absolutely no idea who in the hell any of the individuals involved were. Not surprisingly, Kehlani was the one pounced on most as numerous folks proceeded to come with a bevy of different ways to call her a ho.

That ridicule preceded Kehlani’s hospitalization over an apparent suicide attempt. In a since-deleted post, Kehlani uploaded a picture of her arm with an IV from a hospital bed, writing, “Today I wanted to leave the Earth.” She went on to note, “Don’t believe the blogs you read. No one was cheated on and I’m not a bad person.”

Kehlani also thanked PND for saving her life. Thankfully he was there for her, but if he had any intel on how fragile her mental state was, in the future, perhaps maintaining privacy about what goes on in and outside of their bedrooms might be best for all parties involved.

I try to stay clear of the “GET OFF MY LAWN!” moments that come with getting older, but I am equal parts befuddled and frightened yesterday at what happened to Kehlani. More importantly, I am increasingly concerned with people sharing every tidbit of their lives and creating noise as if they are a part of a reality show subplot.

I am fearful for people her age and below. For many born after Madonna’s Truth or Dare, The Real World, and the O.J. Simpson trial, and with the rise of reality stars like the Kardashians, there is no such thing as privacy. This habit of chronicling everything about themselves for public consumption is the new norm.

I saw someone say, “If Beyoncé can have a private life, so can these D-listers.” That’s the thing: most people don’t want that. Her celebrity is sort of a relic. And for those who may not understand Kehlani and PARTYNEXTDOOR oversharing, there is another modern trait that people are just as guilty of perpetuating: online cruelty.

Read the rest at Complex.

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