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The “racial slur” accusations and “double standard” charges hurled by the media and from angry corners of Twitter after Andrew Harrison’s hot-mic moment last weekend are evidence of just how perverted our nation’s race conversation has become. The University of Kentucky sophomore, on the heels of his basketball team’s first and only loss of the season, was caught muttering “F— that nigga” under his breath when a teammate was asked about opponent Frank Kaminsky during a post-game news conference.

Harrison blundered when he dropped the f-word in a formal setting and on an open microphone. It was a 20-year-old’s stupid mistake, and his apology should have been the end of it. But it wasn’t. Headlines indicted Harrison(a black guy) for using “a racial slur” against Kaminsky (a white guy). Then came whining from across the Internet that Harrison was the beneficiary of a double standard, because his use of the word didn’t result in his expulsion or his being branded a racist. The same day, these critics noted, news broke that a University of South Carolina student was suspendedafter a photo of her writing the plural of the n-word on a white board went viral.

To make such claims is to be willfully obtuse. After years of such trite debates, it should go without saying: Context matters. White people invented the word to disparage black folks. Using it to blame black people for ruining some formerly lily-white institution is an American pastime. It’s in that context that the University of South Carolina student scrawled the plural of the n-word as the first in a list of things ruining the school’s wi-fi (illogical, but I guess she’s still learning, or something). It’s in that context that students at Bucknell University were expelled for a radio broadcast that included the n-word, along with racist comments like “black people should be dead” and “lynch ‘em.” And surely, that was the context for members of University of Oklahoma’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, who were recorded singing that racist little ditty about “hanging them from a tree.” Contrary to some ridiculous claims, those SAE boys didn’t learn that context from any rapper.

In those types of circumstances, the n-word is used to exclude, demonize and terrorize a group of people. It’s dishonest to try to lump in Andrew Harrison with that form of systemic racism. Even though this rationale upsets some, including some black people who are vehemently against the use of the word under any circumstance, it’s nonetheless true. Those critics argue against reclaiming or redefining the n-word slur, using the derivative Harrison used. But it is clear that among those who do use that derivative, particularly millennials, the connotation is not the same. In that context, it’s used not as a racial slur, but as a comparatively benign and generic reference to another individual.

If someone finds it a burden that white people cannot use “the n-word” without inciting anger, they operate from within a bubble filled with entitlement, privilege and delusion about what real racial burdens in America look like. It’s exhausting to have to repeatedly explain somethingthat ought to be so easy to understand. The fact that we continue to have this debate, over whether black people should be able to repurpose a slur that is not their own invention, speaks to whose interests still dominate the race narrative.

Read the rest at the Washington Post.

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It’s 7:00 a.m., you’re feeling barely alive, and you need a mighty jolt of caffeine to properly prepare you for the morning. Is that the best time to talk to your server about institutionalized racism and white supremacy? Would you like a shot of espresso coupled with a brief chat about the tenets of racial equality? Or that Oprah chai I keep hearing about?

I don’t want any of these things, so for all of CEO Howard Schultz’s intentions, I’m not sure what pushing Starbucks baristas to talk race with the stores’ customers will accomplish.

On the company’s website about the #RaceTogether initiative, the site explains that Schultz saw what was happening in cities like Ferguson, New York, and Oakland and felt that, “We at Starbucks should be willing to talk about these issues in America.” However, “Not to point fingers or to place blame, and not because we have answers, but because staying silent is not who we are.”

So, you’d like to discuss race in America based on instances of racial unrest tied to discrimination in the aforementioned cities, but “not to point fingers or to place blame.” In essence, this is encouraging banter but not serious or arguably meaningful conversation.

How American, indeed.

To have a real conversation about race in America is to discuss racism. Without looking at an issue wholly, you are having nothing more than superficial dialogue. It would be like first date conversation, only the kind the results in you never seeing that person again. Ever.

To be fair to Starbucks, the store does notable charity work and is now helping some of its baristas cover the costs of college. This comes across as an extension of their commitment to community. Even so, for many a working class or poor neighborhood resident, a new Starbucks is the first sign that a change is going to come — that will more than likely displace them. The CEO of Starbucks would probably find himself in an awkward conversation discussing this reality. Can you imagine what a barista might face if they write “#RaceTogether” on a cup and someone dares to inquire?

Speaking of these baristas, already there is a hashtag #StarbucksRaceTheory in which someone and likely others will share their experiences with uh, racially insensitive Starbucks workers. Most of them are not equipped to discuss such complicated matters. They’re collecting a check (that should probably be bigger) and the customers just want caffeine (to go collect a check that should probably be bigger, too).

We should not complicate this formula to assuage the guilt of white liberals. White liberals who are diverse in their worker base, but not in their executive offices. Per the Starbucks website, one partner said, “The current state of racism in our country is almost like humidity at times. You can’t see it, but you feel it.” Many of us feel it damn near every day of our lives. What is your barista going to do about it? What makes you think I want to talk about it anyway?

Read the rest at NewsOne.

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I want to be white for a day. For no other reason than I am curious to know what it’s like to be christened a king despite offering only a pauper’s level of effort. Sam Smith can certainly sing, but as far as being a soul singer goes, he ranks right up there with soul legends like Bette Midler and Lance Bass. However, because he’s white, he is handed the crown by virtue of simply walking in the room.

Enter Smith’s GQ profile, which is titled “The New Face of Soul.” In it, writer Amy Wallace describes Smith’s debut album, In the Lonely Hour, as “part funky falsetto, part gospel-infused electronic pop.” This is both majorly hyperbolic and highly irritating. How does that combination even translate to “The New Face of Soul?”

GQ’s christening recalls Forbes last year publishing the piece, “Hip-Hop Is Run by a White, Blonde, Australian Woman.” After noted pushback, the article was changed to “Hip-Hop’s Unlikely New Star: A White, Blonde, Australian Woman.” The latter title made more sense, but the former is the sort of clickbait that drives traffic.

One imagines GQ knew that sort of bold proclamation would generate interest as soon as the article made its way online. I would love it if these mainstream publications would stop trolling Black people online, but I have to acknowledge that GQ is not the first to make this inept claim about Sam Smith.

Last year, VIBE deemed Smith “the ruler of soul.” In response, I wrote at the time, “Sam Smith can sing, but if Luther Vandross is collard greens and smoked turkey, Sam Smith is kale with the wrong kind of hot sauce. That’s cute if you like the latter, but never mistake it for the former.”

If you’re familiar with the Foxy Brown track “I Can’t” featuring Total, this is the part where you should sing, “Say it again, say it again. Say it again, say it again.”

Yet, here we are, still having to discuss Soul Zero being hailed as the savior of a genre he isn’t even a genuine participant in.

Read the rest at The Urban Daily.

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In what was formally a confidential memo that has since been exposed by the New York Times, a former pollster for President Obama offered a very blunt assessment of what Democrats can expect on Election Day. Cornell Belcher warned of “crushing Democratic losses across the country” if the party did not do secure more Black votes.

Belcher went on to explain why such a feat may be unattainable given when “over half aren’t even sure when the midterm elections are taking place.” So now, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is pouring tens of millions into an initiative that directly targets the kind of voters needed to maintain control of the Senate – particularly for races in states like North Carolina, Louisiana and Georgia. Meanwhile, prominent Back elected officials and surrogates (good day, pastors) are being deployed to encourage us Negroes to get to the polls.

These efforts would be more impressive if they didn’t reek of desperation. If Black votes matter so much to the Democratic Party, where was the attention to our needs 18 months ago? It seems as if the Democrats’ original plans to maintain control of the Senate still appeared within reach, there would not be this sudden rush to boost Black voter turnout.

If there’s any one Democrat who could prompt more Blacks to turnout in a traditionally low voting year overall, it would be President Obama. Unfortunately, many Democratic candidates have placed distance between themselves and Obama. To the point that he has only been booked to appear in less than 10 campaign events. Some call this independence, but I consider it an act of cowardice.

Ken Salazar, a former senator from Colorado who served as Interior secretary during Obama’s first term, argued that in order for, Senator Mark Udall (D-Co) to win, Udall must show that he stands for “the Colorado way, not the Obama way or the Democratic way.” Yes, vote for the Democrat who doesn’t stand for the Democratic platform or the Democratic president who helped Udall get elected in the first place.

Then there is Kentucky Democratic candidate for Senate, who not only initially refused to acknowledge whether or not she voted for Obama, but also ran an attack ad leveled against Obama this summer. Never mind the reality that while many Kentuckians have never liked Obama, they despise Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for opposing the health care reform that is Obama’s creation. The same can be said of doing everything in his power to make sure nothing gets done in Washington.

Although Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) was brave enough to admit that he voted for his party’s nominee in an interview with the Washington Examiner, he added, “The president’s not relevant. He’s gone in two years.” Vote for Mark Begich: So Democrats can keep the Senate and do absolutely nothing because the president is irrelevant. Are you fired up and ready to go, y’all?

And while it’s less harmful to bash the nation’s first Black president in states like Kentucky and Alaska, Michelle Nunn, the Democratic candidate for the United States Senate in Georgia, did admit voting for Obama, but also complained about an attack ad by her Republican opponent, David Perdue, for featuring a “misleading photo of her” with the president. Surprise, surprise: The only way Nunn wins this race is if she boosts Black voter turnout in key areas like ATL, shawty.

Georgia Democrats recently released a flyer with two Black children holding up “Don’t Shoot” signs coupled with the caption, “If you want to prevent another Ferguson in their future — vote. It’s up to you to make change happen.”

It is as patronizing as it is misleading. After all, much of the blame in the mishandling of Michael Brown’s killing in Ferguson goes to Missouri Democrats presently wasting space in office. Just ask some of the St. Louis County residents now asking Black voters to consider voting GOP next month in order to punish those very Democrats.

Read more at EBONY.

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What I love about technology is that it’s given us so many different ways to communicate with each other. What I’m increasingly hating about technology, and to be specific, social media, is that it’s chipping away at one of the oldest methods of communication: words. Chat acronyms flood my Twitter and Facebook timelines daily and have been a constant pain in text conversations over the years.

Now, I try to be respectful of other people’s views. For example, despite thinking that only selfish, soulless corporatists find any of the tenets of modern conservatism to be virtuous; I don’t hate you or your Fox News-feasting brethren. Likewise, Jesus seems like the homie, but these days I limit my praise and worship to blasting screwed and chopped version of Mary Mary’s gospel music in the morning. And if you don’t share the fanfare of Lupita N’yongo I don’t judge you; I respect your right to be wrong.

But, there are two lifestyle choices that make me wince, or in some cases, force me to tame my inner Chris Brown. The first is a disdain of Beyoncé. As I say often, if you don’t like Beyoncé, you probably have some sort of personality disorder and I want you to stay far, far away from me.

The other thing that really snap, crackle and pop locks my last nerve is our heroin addict-like obsession with shorthand. Don’t get me wrong; I do agree that acronyms have their place. Sometimes it’s just easier to say NAACP, NWA, or YMCMB. That said, technology has coddled far too many of you fools and my eyes are sick of it.

Call me whatever you want, but if you text “HBD” instead of “Happy Birthday,” you’re a terrible person. It literally only takes a few additional seconds to type out the words. Hell, if you have an iPhone, it will more than likely auto-complete the word for you. By the way, why is it “HBD” when “Birthday” is one word? I guess this is what happens when you make an entire generation of students train to take a test versus teaching them things like language, or critical thinking.

Read the rest at Complex.

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At one point do you look in the mirror and say, “I’m too old damn for this bullshit?” I will always and forever cherish Mariah Carey. I love this woman the way she loves all things prepubescent; the way Hoda and Kathie Lee love wine o’clock; the way Rick Ross loves a good tall tale (insert aggressive grunt here). As a matter of fact, I am singing “Honey” aka a legendary ditty about going down while writing this. My dedication to Mimi is unwavering, but I did look at this pictures and feel a little sad.

I know, I know. Mariah is who she is. I get it. Still, girl, what? Leave it to Mariah Carey to challenge the limits of my progressivism.

Why does she look like the old whore of Candyland?

I’m all for a woman of a certain age owning her sexuality. Mariah is getting older, but that doesn’t mean “that pussy old, that pussy creaky.” Yet, here I sit stumped. Mimi, a bra made out of Valentine’s Day candy? I mean, that’s probably fun for a horny diabetic ready for a night of sex themed around “titties and treats,” though I’m not sure this should’ve made its way to the ‘gram.

Like, when is someone going to say, “Mariah, you’re not Blanche Devereaux yet, but you’re about two or three birthdays away from Samantha Jones territory. Maybe it’s time to stop dressing like a tween gon’ wild?”

I guess not anytime soon. What is the theme of this video? Tinkerbell’s sex dreams? Oh, Mariah. That said, I do like her new single “We Still Belong Together On The Top Of The Charts” “You’re Mine (Eternally).”

I also absolutely adore her in this interview with “The Breakfast Club.” She is so ridiculous and it’s always pleasant in radio interviews.

Not so much select visuals. I suppose you have to take the good with the bad. Why do I get the feeling she’ll be swimming in a pool full of Sweet Tarts in her 50s? Wait, why am I even acting surprised by any of this? Mariah Carey is a part crooner, part cashew. I would love it if someone would reel it in, but that’s like mission improbable.

Lamb forever, but…oh, fuck it.

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About two weeks ago, I took part in another panel on Hot 97’s Street Soldiers themed around the men of reality TV and whether or not Black men who act a fool on television for pocket change are dooming the race.

If you’re vaguely familiar with my opinion on that “respectability” rooted argument against reality TV, you can imagine what my comments were. Actually, don’t imagine. Listen. And then tell a friend. After that, a cousin. Maybe even a co-worker who you don’t really like, but imagine will see it for the kid. Did you hear “the kid” in Nicki Minaj’s accent? God, I hope so. That’s how I intended you to.

The episode replayed on Sunday so I decided to quit playing and post about it.

You can check out the show below. Click on the player below, select “Reality Men.”

Now one thing I will say is that while Peter Gunz’s life is a fuck shit sandwich with fries, I do have a better understanding about why Tara sat on it. I also found myself defensive on his behalf after the way another panelists described him and his co-stars. I think reality TV deserves criticism just by nature of it being available for public consumption. Still, be mindful that these are real people no matter how they’re edited and storyboarded.

I’m increasingly realizing just how much I love to be on a mic. Okay, I was a broadcast journalism major so it’s not so much realizing as it is remembering. 2014 is all about making me the hood’s Donahue until I’m everybody’s actually Black Andy Cohen once Don Lemon is sacrificed in repentance to our ancestors. Order my steps, God and Beyoncé; be sure to include hot sauce with the order.

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Ever since CNN anchor Don Lemon decided to start editorializing, he has not shown himself to be a serious thinker. Lemon has developed a knack for trivializing complicated sociopolitical issues affecting people of color, mostly by offering personal anecdotes to argue positions that could be easily debunked with data, such as when he peddled the silly little idea that if all Blacks just put on a belt and stopped calling each other “nigga,” everything would be okay.

Don Lemon should know a style of dress or subtracting words from your lexicon won’t necessarily make you less susceptible to racism. It didn’t go away for him in 2001 when he sued a department store for racially profiling him.

Then there’s the reality that Lemon often proves himself to be just as culturally ignorant as the older White audiences he’s whispering sweet nothings (about those wayward Blacks) to. You know, like the time Don Lemon came out of the closet and threw Black people under the bus by agreeing that Black people are more homophobic than Whites. Meanwhile, Blacks make up the largest bloc of the LGBT community. As in identified gay. Yeah, there goes your little “down-low-brother” myth too.

You would think one of the most-visible gay Black men in media would be fighting the stereotypes plaguing people like him and the collective community to which he is a part of.

Instead, he’s been nothing but a boil on the butt of common sense — cheerleading vigorously for the ideas from the greatest hits collection of systematic racism.

RAH! RAH! RAH! YAY, STOP-AND-FRISK! BOO, “POLITICAL CORRECTNESS!”

Not surprisingly, he is now being rewarded for it at CNN.

Read the rest at NewsOne.

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It’s a shame self-loathing Negroes like The Guardian’s Orville Lloyd Douglas didn’t take the “Big Poppa” lyric “I wish people suffering from I hate being Black disorder took the Biggie line, “Heart throb never, Black and ugly as ever. However, I stay Coogi down to the socks.” more to heart.

I’m half-kidding, but after reading Douglas’ “Why I hate being a black man” I have to make some kind of joke from stopping myself from crying silent tears over such a grand display of defeatism. In Douglas’ essay, he laments over the fact that “Every time I sit on a crowded street car, bus, or subway train in Toronto, I know I will have an empty seat next to me.” His sister explains that his towering presence and Black skin are dually intimidating to Canadians. As Douglas himself argues, “Although Canadian society presents the façade of multiculturalism the truth is Canada has a serious problem with the issue of race.”

Yeah, but so does Orville Lloyd Douglas.

To be fair, Douglas is correct in his assertion that when it comes to Black self-hatred, it “is usually depicted from a female point of view.” In that regard, I commend him for daring to do what many would deem emasculating. Damn him all the same, though, and damn anyone like him who may recognize a problem but use his or her platform to further perpetuate it.

wrote a response to a previous Douglas essay in which he condemned 12 Years A Slave and all slave-themed movies based on the notion that such works “are created for a White, liberal film audience to engender White guilt and make them feel bad about themselves.” He argued “these films are unlikely to teach you anything you don’t already know” and then said, “Frankly, why can’t Black people get over slavery? Or, at least, why doesn’t anyone want to see more contemporary portrayals of Black lives?”

At the time, he looked like a fool with the intellectual curiosity of a gnat, too stupid to understand the nuance in Steve McQueen’s depiction of slavery and most of the movies that preceded it and too lazy to use the magic machine known as Google to realize that while 12 Years A Slave may be highly buzzed, there are actually a lot of Black movies out this year that do just that. As for his inability to grasp that slavery is a part of history, and thus, always a relevant story worth telling from different angles, let us all sing Aaron Hall’s “DUMB, DUMB DIDDY” really, really loud.

We can now add hypocrite to the list as it’s fine for him to pen maudlin works in an effort to illicit white guilt (on top of bashing Black movies outlining racism for white amusement), but not okay for anyone else to make white people sad.

Read the rest at Clutch.

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Lord knows I have tried to be patient with Kanye West as it’s becoming ever so clear that he can’t play spades at most peoples’ tables given he’s not working with a full deck. Still, we as a people – of any color and every persuasion – have got to find a tricked out trap door for this wayward Negro to fall through. Kanye may be arguably a creative genius, but that doesn’t make his increasingly asinine statements any less annoying.

Kanye West is dipped in megalomania, baked in delusion & frosted with f**k s**t. I’m so sick of some people – i.e. his most ardent fans – pretending otherwise. Kanye has morphed from what initially appeared to be a thoughtful, charismatic rapper who could mix catchy songs with meaningful commentary and take it mainstream into something reminiscent of the average Internet troll. The sort of person willing to say whatever “controversial” statement he can conceive without any real thought of its accuracy or whether or not it contradicts whatever musing is made after it.

It’s okay to think highly of yourself, and it’s equally fine to share that admiration for your significant other, but Kanye West ought to be arrested for public masturbation following his appearance on KIIS FM’s On Air with Ryan Seacrest. I don’t know why walking ego trip believes he and Kim are “the most influential with clothing,” but I do know anyone, much less a Black man, who would denigrate one of the most visible Black women in the world to a swimsuit Instagram challenge might need to down a bleach cocktail should he not find the missing piece in his brain that’s clouding his judgment.

Kanye didn’t have to signal out Michelle Obama. He could’ve easily argued that as the person largely responsible for the integration of celebrities into Vogue magazine, Anna Wintour ought to recognize that the notion of celebrity has evolved, and thus should perhaps reconsider her anti-Kardashian stance. But he didn’t and willingly targeted FLOTUS, which may make Kim smile, but doesn’t do much for his half-Black daughter who benefits from all that Michelle Obama represents to the world.

I don’t begrudge Kim Kardashian in any way, but her style as described by a friend is an “upscale Bebe” or “Bebe couture.” Anna Wintour may not love it, or her brand of celebrity, but such is her prerogative, so pretty please, Yezzus, spare the world with your whining over KimYe being victims of classism.

Especially when you make statements like: “People used to be, ‘What is [Kim] talented at?’ She’s talented at being beautiful! Like, if you go to a club, and you see a bunch of beautiful girls, you might say, ‘It’s a bunch of talent.’”

So Kim Kardashian is a victim of classism despite the conveniently forgotten fact that much of her “talent” over the years has been styled by a cosmetic surgeon. You don’t know struggle if you’re talking about elective surgery. Shut up.

Read the rest at Clutch.

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