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There were many ways to handle frustration over the Oscars being whiter than a Donald Trump political rally, or you know, as white as the Academy Awards typically are any given year. Some created art as a tool of advocacy in response while other others used their star power to shed light on matters in which racism has more haunting consequences. Personally, instead of watching the Oscars, I danced to “Formation” multiple times with Latinos, Blacks, and drag queens — the sort of intersectionality Hollywood stubbornly fails to produce.

Still, like many of these people angry over our erasure, I did have hopes that the host of this year’s Oscars, Chris Rock, would serve as an echo of those feelings directly in front of the people who needed to hear it. Rock, who has long possessed the ability to make white people squirm as much as he does laugh with his thoughts on race and race relations, seemed like the perfect person for the perfect moment. Unfortunately, he failed and I found myself fidgeting more at home than the white people in the audience who actually deserved uncomfortability .

There was an outright pandering in Rock’s remarks that one wonders was there any intent there besides pacification of a primarily white audience?

At one point, Rock compares the Oscar protest of 2016 to ones of yore, quipping that “we had real things to protest at the time, you know” before adding “we’re too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematographer.” I don’t find a room full of white people gleefully cheering such lines to be at all amusing. Not only is it ahistorical to act as if Black people haven’t leveled protest of discrimination on multiple fronts, it doesn’t give Black folks the credit we deserve. We can two-step and chew gum at the same time. We can be mad about what’s happening in Flint, Michigan and our own communities as much as we can be pissed our contributions continue to be viewed as less than.

Whiteness is centered in each of these examples, hence the problem, so who is anyone, much less a comedian of all people, to downplay the importance of calling a wrong a wrong no matter its level of “seriousness?”

Then there is the matter of Rock’s comments about two famous Black women Jada Pinkett Smith and Rihanna: “Jada said she’s not coming. I was like, ‘isn’t she on TV show?’ Jada’s gonna boycott the Oscars? Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited!”

Motives aside, Jada Pinkett Smith used her platform to bring awareness to a longstanding barrier that Blacks in Hollywood face. To his credit, Chris Rock has recently spoken out about the plight of Black actresses, but Smith’s efforts didn’t need to be downplayed. It speaks volumes that a Black man failed to hit hard at Hollywood’s racism directly in its face, but managed to invoke Rihanna’s name for a sexist joke.

Chris Rock is hilarious. Chris Rock has said many astute, important things about race through his comedy. Chris Rock last night at the Oscars felt like a missed opportunity to be the aforementioned.

I did enjoy Rock’s observation that “Hollywood is sorority racist.” He explained, “It’s like, ‘We like you Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.’ That’s how Hollywood is.”

And though Blacks may never actually bet let into the sorority, last night proved Hollywood might invite us to the party every now and again, but they’d prefer we not make too much noise.

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Last week, it was confirmed that Abigail Breslin will play Baby in ABC’s Dirty Dancing TV movie musical. My immediate response was, “Oh, I’m not watching that.” However, for a person who does not like musicals but will occasionally watch one – i.e. The Wiz – I have a few suggestions on musicals that ought to happen sooner than later. Before you even say “Enough musicals!” give it up, turn it loose. They’re happening throughout 2016 and beyond. Let’s just all get a piece of the action.

SWV: The Musical

For one anyone that’s watched the new cancelled WeTV reality series, SWV Reunited, you know those women are basically three aunties who love each other but don’t always like each other. I, for one, would love a musical version of their journey complete with Coko cursing out LeeLee and Taj in song. And vice versa, of course. I also want to see them perform “Downtown,” “Can We,” and all of the other sex songs it took Coko years to start singing again after she got all extra Christian on the world.

Bebe’s Kids: The Musical

I would say the members of Mindless Behavior could star in this, but I assume, 1. they’re 45 now, 2. that wouldn’t get this green lit in 2015. Round up some badass kids who can sing or lip sync for their lives to do this. Oh, wait. I know: book those kids who play twins on Black-ish. They are everything.

Read the rest at

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I believe in calling things what they are.

I am a black man. I am a black writer. I’m not afraid of these labels because they accurately represent me. More importantly, no matter what I call myself, my race will always be part of the equation. I could be “Puff the Magic Dragon,” but the inconvenient truth is that people would still likely refer to me as “Puff the Magic Black Dragon.”

Being a black writer and owning that doesn’t mean I’m incapable of relating to those who aren’t like me. For those who feel differently, however, I shouldn’t carry the burden of changing their small minds. I refuse to downplay myself to win the approval of those who can’t get past how I look.

That’s exactly why I was disappointed by actress Sanaa Lathan’s comments in a recent article titled, “Why The Perfect Guy Isn’t A Black Movie.”

“I have heard people talk about this film as an urban film because we’re black. The truth is … all races love watching us if it’s a good story,” said Lathan, who stars as lobbyist Leah Vaughn in the film. “If it’s a good movie, it’s a good movie, regardless of our color. We’re brown, but we’re just making movies. We don’t have to comment on our race.”

She added, “I was reading about Straight Outta Compton, and it’s interesting how the journalists talk about it. The way that they talk about the success is very marginalized. It’s like, ‘This is a specialty film.’ No, it’s not. This is an American film about American history. Hip-hop culture is world culture now. It is universal.”

While I agree race should not dictate whether someone enjoys a movie or not, what good is it to pretend that a film with a predominately black cast is not a black movie? And why should we avoid calling something a “black movie” just to encourage non-black people to see films like Love & Basketball?  Trying to be colorblind when categorizing a movie puts the onus of combating racial prejudice on black people, rather than on those who should overcome their prejudices.

Lathan​’s The Perfect Guy co-star, Michael Ealy, also chimed in, saying, “I understand why people want to label them black movies. But … if you watch The Big Chill, I don’t think they talk about their whiteness.”

The problem with that argument? White people don’t declare their whiteness because whiteness is considered the norm. It’s the standard; everything else is an outlier.

Read the rest at ntrsctn.

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Last night’s Love & Hip Hop Atlanta opened with a prayer, some chicken wings that looked like they were fried in bronzer, and unsettled beef. I think Scrappy’s side-eye at Momma Dee’s lengthy and rather ridiculous prayer sizes up my feelings on this dinner quite nicely. Scrappy hasn’t said a whole lot this season, but I appreciate him shooting his mom a look that loosely translated to, “Momma Dee. Jesus ain’t trying to hear all that bullshit, ya feel me?”

After the prayer came the convo—leading with Ernest’s mama, Bernice, explaining to Momma Dee that she remains somewhat upset that Momma Dee put her son in jail. To her credit, Momma Dee continues to maintain “Yeah, I ain’t shit for that” but won’t necessarily linger in that sentiment for too long. She’s very, “You know, I put him in jail because he was treating me bad, but we off that. Why aren’t you?”

Bernice looked like she was crying, but since there were no visible tears, I wonder if it was emotion or just too much Slap Ya Mama seasoning. Whatever the case, Momma Dee’s daughter, Jasmine, then spoke on her beef with Ernest—basically, she can’t stand him—resulting in Scrappy having to hold Momma Dee back before she went oops, upside her daughter’s head and her plate. Later, Momma Dee stressed to Ernest that he needed to prove to her “crumb-snatching kids” that he loves her. I wouldn’t be surprised if this relationship ends with multiple folks being hit over the head with a Crown Royal bag filled with nickels and neck bones.

In related family news, Stevie J was released from rehab only to head to New York to deal with his child support issues. Now, as much as I love the Puerto Rican Princess and respect her right to continue working out her daddy issues by way of sex with Stevie J, question (read in Beyoncé’s voice, please): If your husband is facing prison time over charges of unpaid child support and just got out of rehab, what makes you so antsy to procreate with him right now? Then again, she’s not getting any younger and I’m pretty sure those two would create a gorgeous kid. But let me say this about Stevie J: Thus far he has shown himself to be truly evolving.

Kaleena, who joined Joseline on the set of her wedding-themed magazine shoot (they’re running this six-feet-deep into the ground at this point), wanted to get Stevie to tell her husband, Tony, not to do business with the dude Stevie once opened a business with. You know that place he opened with Benzino a season or so ago. Yeah, I don’t remember it either. Point is, Stevie J has become the voice of reason.

And if you saw him last week on Love & Hip Hop Live: The Wedding (that ends in denial of conjugal visits, but I digress), you see that Stevie might be able to add another revenue stream to his arsenal by way of TV hosting. I’d still like for Stevie J to reunite with Mariah Carey in the studio, but you know, get your money, Steebie.

Besides, it could be worse for Joseline: She could be Rasheeda. Look, I’m increasingly fed up with her and Kirk’s storyline. Yes, they’ve added disrespectful Ashley Nicole into the mix, but second verse, same as the first. It’s like the universe is yelling, “GET A DIVORCE, WOMAN,” into Rasheeda’s ear with a megaphone, yet she continues to be Helen Keller to the shit.

As for Rasheeda describing Ashley Nicole as a “no buzz having bitch,” uh it wasn’t that long ago she was being told, “My name is Rasheeda/I rap like Shawty Lo.” I’ll leave it at that.

Read the rest at Complex.

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Unfortunately, for so many women, every day they step outside is considered an invitation by some men to speak to them as if they’ve only discovered women and erections seconds prior. Even worse is the new reality that these same parasites have since carried over their thirsty ways to social media– spurring so many women to shout out “Can I live?” in horror. Though I can’t do the Lord’s work,  (i.e. instantly make the penises of the guilty parties fall off) I can at the very least inform you folks how not to hit on someone online. Grab your sippy cups and settle down. I’m here to help.

You’re welcome.

Stop Showing Your Dick

There are some pretty widely acceptable ways of greeting someone you’re interested in. Say, “Hello,” “Hi,” “What up, though,” “Hey,” and “Good morning, afternoon, evening.” Then maybe you can follow with a “How are you?” These are all pretty standard and not remotely aggressive. You know what’s the total antithesis of all of this? Immediately sending someone a shot of your dick. Your dick should not be the greeting as it’ll likely spur a prompt goodbye.

Lesbians Don’t Want You, Dude

For the slow people in the back of the room, if a woman is a lesbian she’s not interested in your dick, how big it is, or whatever sexual magic you think it has. Why? Because she likes vagina, fool. Women, some of you are guilty of this with gay men, too. I don’t know if you’re inspired by Liza Minnelli and Star Jones (allegedly), but your box ain’t the Hocus Pocus either.

Read the rest at Complex.

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It took her long enough, but on the Scandal season finale, Our Lady of the Trench Coat finally had some self-realization. That manifested itself into Olivia Pope finally saying these four magic words: “I am the scandal.” Damn right you are. As much as I’d love to focus on just that and what Olivia Pope could do to stop wrecking so many of our last nerves, since it’s Scandal, we’ve got to focus on the seven million other things that happened, too.

The episode kicked off exactly where we left off — Fitz and Cyrus in the Oval Office, reviewing Fitz’s eulogy as the church was on its way to being blown to smithereens thanks to Mama Pope’s bomb. Suddenly, Cyrus started to feel a little guilt about not warning the president about the bomb because he wanted Sally to get drop-kicked by Jesus into hell. Whatever, Cy, because Jake stormed into the Oval Office to warn Fitz about the terrorist plot.

That bomb went off not long after and a still very much alive VP Sally Langston almost won the presidential election after a wonderfully crafted PR stunt. Just as Sally was about to hop in her limo and get the hell out of dodge, her campaign manager stopped her, rubbed some black marks on her face, ripped her suit and told her, “Be Jesus. You go in there and Be Jesus.”

Sally then played saint and started helping the injured in the name of Jesus winning the presidency. Her “her heroic duty” was so “compelling” that news organizations did a split screen between the presidential briefing on the bombing and Sally Save-These-Hoes (I’m terrible, but I couldn’t resist). Then they just switched to Super Sally and left Fitz wasting his breath. After this, Olivia Pope told Fitz, “Dude, you’re about to lose, B. Sorry, I know this sucks for you.”

Or something to that effect.

Mellie Mel, with fresh vodka in her hand, rightly blurted out, “I want a refund. I want our money back. Whatever your fee is. Whatever ridiculous amount of money we wasted on you. Why did we hire her, because I thought we hired her to win?” Damn right, Mel. Olivia Pope is a terrible campaign manager. Who tells the candidate they’re going to lose even if you think it inside? Why not follow Tisha Campbell’s advice and push until you get it right?

After Fitz’s hopes and dreams were dashed, Gladiators were subjected to yet another nauseating discussion about “Vermont.” Yo, shut up about Vermont. I’m so sick of hearing about that damn state and what all it represents to these two. Either move or stop talking about it! Olivia & Fitz are the best thing to ever happen to Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz. Ditto for Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union. Those two couples have a much better follow through game.

Now, as Fitz talked about what a horrible woman Mellie was and she never loved him, only wanted his power, blah, blah, Olivia thankfully broke girl code and cracked Fitz’s jaw by revealing that the reason why Mellie treats him like his dick is the anatomic equivalent to the Snow Queen’s poison apple is that his awful ass father Big Jerry raped her. When Fitz found Mellie to discuss what happened (this felt rushed, but whatever), Mellie blurted out, “Olivia Pope can’t do anything right.”

That woman is shade in its best form. Mellie went on to tell Fitz that Jerry is indeed his son. Fitz didn’t care—though with Mellie’s secret discovered, naturally, there’s no way in hell Fitz can divorce Mellie now without truly being the worst person ever. He told Olivia as much and she understood, but if you listen very, very closely, you could hear the tracks of her tears, and an ice box being installed where her heart used to be.

As much vilifying that Mellie suffered at the hands of Fitz, I’m glad he finally understands that if there’s anyone around him that truly loves him and is willing to make sacrifices for him, it’s his wife as opposed to his girlfriend.

That said, Mellie, you should still look into divorcing Fitz and making VP-elect Andrew your new bae.

Oh yeah, y’all knew Fitz wasn’t losing that election. Unfortunately, he won due to his son Jerry collapsing on stage and dying due to bacterial meningitis and the nation feeling just plain awful about it.

Rest in peace, Jerry. You were a brat (understandably so), but you didn’t deserve that.

Before Jerry dropped dead at Fitz’s campaign event, Olivia and her mother had a final confrontation in Rowan Pope’s hospital room. There, Maya explained that everything she’s done was for her. She explained, “That man hurt you. He uses you and he will throw you away when he’s done with you. I just wanted to give you the chance to be free. To be happy.” Mama Pope wants to murder Fitz because he hurt her baby girl. A little abrasive, but sweet for a sociopath when you really think about it.

When Olivia pressured her mom to answer whether or not any of the first 12 years of her family life was real, Mama Pope said, “I didn’t kill him and we both know I could have.”

Read the rest at Complex.

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A few weeks ago, I offered to take a trip to Walmart and secure the firearm needed to putBasketball Wives out of its misery. I’d like to update that proposal. I am willing to buy this show the Ginsu knife collection, a couple boxes of Ambien and a map to the nearest and tallest bridge. Whatever it takes, just end this suffering. Yes, there have been some highlights in this abridged season of the fledgling VH1 franchise, but last night’s season finale all but confirmed that the show has been stagnant for too long and no longer works.

Will VH1 cancel the show? I doubt it. If anything, they’ll probably try to retool the show with a mostly new group that will fail miserably at trying to top their predecessors. Until then, let’s wrap this up properly, shall we? —Michael Arceneaux (@youngsinick)

5. Punks Jump Up To Get Beat Down

Bless Suzie Ketchum’s heart because I can understand why after years and years of being everyone’s punching bad, she wanted to huff, puff and blow someone else’s damn house down for a change. Unfortunately, she picked the wrong one in Kenya Bell. Tami describes their altercation the best when she matter-of-factly told Suzie, “I love you, but she beat your ass.” We didn’t get to see the actual fight – damn you petitioners – but we saw Suzie’s bloody lip.

That’s pretty much all the confirmation we needed. I will say, though, Suzie, good for you saying, “I’m not just gonna sit there and be a pussy.” No, you’re not, but Shaunie was right in that fighting isn’t your thing. It’s one thing to be more assertive, it’s another to rush someone knowing you’re in need of a few dozen kickboxing classes.

The fight ends the finale and if it’s the last segment of this show that ever airs, goodbye. Thanks for the memories…not so much the ones from this season. I’m blocking most of those out. BYE.

Read the full recap of the finale at


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On this week’s edition of Women Trying Not To Behave As Badly As They Used To aka Basketball Wives, Evelyn Lozada is in therapy, Evelyn is still debating whether or not to go back with Chad, and everyone has to talk about Evelyn and whether or not she will or should go back with Chad. Not to be outdone, Tami Roman continues to show why she needs a therapist her damn self as she seeks to handle a relatively harmless remark. Meanwhile, Shaunie O’Neal doesn’t have time for Tami or her talk of sucker punches and I certainly don’t blame her. These characters sure know how to test your empathy levels, but I appreciate the challenge. —Michael Arceneaux (@youngsinick)

4. Tami and The Seed

Tami met up with Evelyn to whine about Shaunie explaining to Tasha that a meeting with Tami could go very well or not. This is the case for most human beings, especially those who are known to be aggressive with not the most pleasant attitudes in the company of alcohol or even a freaking weekday. As Evelyn said in the confessional aired during this segment, if Tami is all about changing and showing the lighter side of herself, she needn’t overanalyze such a minor tidbit of information.

In reality, Tami feeds off of conflict and doesn’t know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. I wish there was a prescription someone could write her as I’m exhausted with watching a person continue to complain about perceptions they are responsible for creating. To wit, Tami already invoking the possibility of violence, noting, “I love Shaunie, but I will hit you in your face if it goes left.” Madam, you are 43 years old. If you don’t want people to call you a bird, stop clucking.

You can read my Basketball Wives, episode four, season five recap in full at


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Dear Twerk Thieves & Ratchet Robbers:

No, I’m not about to spend 800 or so words ruing the day that Miley Cyrus took “twerk” mainstream and ruined it for those who, as Beyoncé recently put it, have “been doing this since the 90’s with DJ Jubilee.” I’ve already come for hertwice. I would, however, like to talk about the folks who might not be sitting in first class with Billy Ray’s baby on Appropriation Airlines, but certainly have a seat on the plane.

I quite enjoyed reading the many, many Miley-themed thinkpieces about her disaster of a VMA performance, but a lingering theme in many of them reminded me of a longstanding problem I have with people who discovered the words “ratchet” and “twerk” within the last three years, or in some cases, three minutes.

Like one of my brilliant friends who articulated her frustration this week, as someone from a Southern, working class Black family who grew up with that terminology, it grates my nerves that certain folks – Black and white alike – write on what they don’t know with such authority. In some ways, non-southern Blacks who don’t know the culture view twerking and ratchet just as novel and trendy as many White people do.

To be fair, none of you are conducting “scientific studies” on twerking like ABC News, which made me feel as though my life has been lived within the confines of a zoo. Ditto for the “TEACH ME THAT TWERKING THING MILEY DOES” tone articles I’ve spotted here and there. Yet, amid all these works on mores and customs pulled from southern Blacks going mainstream, very few of them have been written from the perspective of southern Black people. That has lead to so many of these musings conveying both unfamiliarity and a continuation of the same kind of erasure that’s problematic for a variety of reasons.


My VMA recap (via
Catfish, episode 10 recap (via
On the mind-numbingly dumb comments recently made by Lee Daniels, Rand Paul & Michael Bloomberg (via NewsOne)
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The story seemed so ludicrous that I easily dismissed it, especially given the earliest reports didn’t specify the exact role actress Zoe Saldana would be playing in the long-delayed Nina Simone biopic. But alas, it seems that Saldana will in fact be portraying the life of singer, songwriter, pianist and activist and not the singer’s daughter. A back and forth has predictably albeit understandably ensued upon the confirmation.

Some have quickly scrutinized the choice of casting largely on the merits of aesthetics. It’s somewhat cringeworthy to hear it explained in the context of “Zoe doesn’t look Black enough,” yet beyond such a provocative statement is a legitimate critique that a fair-skinned, ultra thin, Black actress portraying a woman who was everything but is a bit of a slap in the face to Simone’s legacy – which this movie purportedly seeks to honor.

At the same time, one could make the case that if the people behind the movie initially wanted Mary J. Blige in the role (who reportedly left due to the project’s troubles with financing) perhaps what’s most important to the project’s handlers is a name versus a look.

After all, we do live in a world where Ne-Yo can say he turned down the chance to play Dr. Martin Luther King on the big screen because he didn’t want to gain any extra pounds following the formation of a new physique to coincide with a new album.

That reality allows for another and maybe more credible argument to make against the project.

As much as I adore Mary J. Blige and don’t doubt her claims that she was working hard to deliver a credible performance, didn’t she essentially start the long running joke about this movie among skeptics? All Saldana’s casting does is offer doubters another way to deliver a punch line. And rightfully so, actually, because while Saldana is a decent actress, even if she looked like Nina’s long lost twin she’d still be an odd choice to play the high priestess of soul.

Nina Simone is someone who once argued “Slavery has never been abolished from America’s way of thinking.”

Meanwhile, Zoe infamously told EBONY magazine last year, “We have a Black president right now. So why the f— would I sit down and talk about how hard it is for Black women in Hollywood when there’s a Black president in my country?”

To get someone with Zoe Saldana’s mentality to portray the likes of Nina Simone on screen is akin to asking Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta’s Joseline Hernandez to play Assata Shakur – and even then I might give the edge to Joseline.

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