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Before his interview on Huffington Post Live with Marc Lamont Hill, the longest time I can recall listening to T.D. Jakes speak was during a recent episode of Braxton Family Values. And yet I found myself somewhat impressed by how he toed the line with respect to reconciling his place as a member of the clergy with the Supreme Court’s decision that made marriage equality a reality nationwide. As previously reported, the conversation started when Hill fed the Potter’s House pastor a viewer question: “Do you think the black community and the LGBT community can coexist?”

Jakes’ answer was thoughtful and nuanced and reflected one key truth I wish more Americans—Christian and otherwise—were more aware of: The United States is not a Christian nation.

So in response to that inquiring mind wondering how WWJD and LGBT mesh together, Jakes noted that “public policy does not reflect biblical ethics.” It’s a point Jakes first shared in a sermon in June following the Supreme Court’s announcement. Yes, one might imagine that the comment “the world being the world and the church being the church” may have been eye-roll-inducing, but what followed was what mattered most.

“The Supreme Court is there to make a decision on constitutional rights and legalities that fit all Americans; they are not debating Scripture,” Jakes told his congregation and, once again, HuffPost Live viewers. It’s a lesson a bakery owner just learned after the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that his family bakery cannot refuse to make cakes for same-sex couples. There are your beliefs and there is the law of the republic in which you live.

For some reason—be it earwax buildup, lack of ability to properly comprehend words being said or some combination of the two—many misconstrued Jakes’ remarks. Some took Jakes’ words as an endorsement of marriage equality. In response, Jakes released a statement, both on Facebook and to the site that initially played the role of spin doctor.

On Facebook, Jakes said, “I have come to respect that I can’t force my beliefs on others by controlling public policy for taxpayers and other U.S. citizens.” Moreover, he added, “Jesus never sought to change the world through public policy but rather through personal transformation.”

Even in the interview, regarding whether Christians collectively will come to let go of stigmas attached to same-sex relationships, just as they evolved on slavery (justified throughout the Bible), Jakes said perhaps, but “the argument has to be theological, not sociological.” There are plenty of Christians already having this argument. The same can be said of Islam, most notably in a New York Times op-ed titled, “What Does Islam Say About Being Gay?

It is an argument worth having. In the meantime, though, whatever you believe as far as same-sex marriage goes, in this country it is determined by interpretation of the Constitution, not the Old or New Testament. That is what Jakes was stressing, and it’s an important sentiment to stress. Jakes even went one step further, making clear not to paint all gays or all Christians under one broad stroke, advising LGBT members of faith to seek a church that would be more accommodating to them. As in, while Jakes has “evolved” and professes to be still “evolving,” one can go find Christian fellowship in a place that’s already there.

Read the rest at The Root.

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To the delight of many—and presumably, her boyfriend, Tyga, who at long last can say he has a girlfriend who can legally consent in the state of California—Kylie Jenner is 18. Based on images from Instagram and the word of TMZ, the youngest of the Keeping Up with the Kardashians clan is having quite the celebration. Although she can now vote, buy cigarettes, and date her 25-year-old rapper boyfriend without fear of SVU-like investigation, a new age does not wipe away the last two years of her life and what it all represents.

For starters, it will never not be despicable how much of the media chronicled the relationship of a teenage girl with an adult male. As I have written previously in this space, there was a cutesy quality to the manner in which Kylie and Tyga’s relationship was chronicled. There is nothing endearing about a grown man dating a child, no matter how that child presents herself to the public.

Speaking of said presentation, while it is not my place to police someone else’s expression of sexuality, I can take issue with how those in the media have capitalized on it. These are various headlines taken from several mainstream publications before Kylie turned 18:

 

 

Again, all of this is before she turned 18. Before. Why was more not made out of adult men and women writing headlines about a 17-year-old girl using the words “sexy” and “seductive” while referring to her “curves,” “boobs,” and “big booty”? Many will argue that Kylie was just being a typical teenager. That may be the case, but that does not excuse the media going out of its way to further sexualize a minor.

Read the rest at VH1.

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No one with even half a clue hiding inside their head will deny the role ageism plays in the entertainment industry, particularly in the eternally image-conscious world of pop music.

So, in many respects, I totally understand why Madonna’s latest favorite collaborator, Diplo, is airing his grievances about the state of the icon’s music career. As someone still very much obsessed with the documentary Truth or Dare, Diplo is right in his assessment that, “She created the world we live in.” Likewise, Diplo is correct in noting that Madonna still manages to sell out “her tour in minutes.” However, when he tells Rolling Stone that “no one wants her to succeed,” one can’t help but boo and hiss at such a hyperbolic claim.

The same goes for Diplo’s categorizing of present attitudes about Madonna: “Madonna, we’ve been there, done that, now we’re about Kim Kardashian. Her song ‘Ghosttown’ was a guaranteed Number One for anybody else, but she didn’t get a fair shot. With ‘Bitch I’m Madonna,’ everyone said there’s no way it will go anywhere, but I’m like, ‘Screw it, it represents you more than anything.’

The song “Bitch, I’m Madonna” does indeed represent Madonna in 2015 “more than anything,” only that is exactly the 56-year-old singer’s problem. I will not deny that in terms of maintaining relevance, Madonna has two disadvantages: her age and her gender. They are similar challenges her fellow older pop singers like Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, and Janet Jackson find themselves facing. It is indeed unfair how we collectively dispose of singers reach a certain age bracket.

That said, everyone has their moment and what happens after that has a lot to do with the product they present. I’m not entirely convinced that “Ghosttown” would be an easy smash for “anybody else” as Diplo argues, and while Madonna’s latest album, Rebel Heart, is her best offering in quite sometime, that’s not exactly saying much.

My favorite Madonna album is 1994’s Bedtime Stories, which Madonna acknowledged was heavenly influenced by Joi’s influential and very much ahead of its time The Pendulum Vibe, released that same year but months prior. Madonna was so influenced by that album that she tapped its executive producer, Dallas Austin, to help her steer Bedtime Stories in a similar direction. A pop star’s ability to notice trends and pull from the periphery to create works for mass consumption is a skill – one that Madonna had mastered for much of her career.

Unfortunately, with age comes a certain disconnect. For the last decade now, Madonna has been chasing trends that are either dying out or long been over. See 2008’s very good, but very much too late to the Timberland-resurgence bandwagon party Hard Candy, or 2012’s rather forgettable MDNA. This year’s Rebel Heart is no different.

Read the rest at VH1.

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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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