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Amber Rose was correct in her assessment of Kim Kardashian in an interview with Power 105.1’s “The Breakfast Club.” Kanye West has every right to defend his wife. However, the manner in which West did so highlighted that for all his talk of innovation and forward thinking – in both art and perspective – Kanye can be just as much of a misogynistic jerk as many other non-hypermasculine men who present themselves as “good guys.”

When asked about Kardashian in a separate interview with “The Breakfast Club,” Rose argued what many of us believe: she feigns naiveté about her use of sexuality for attention.

In response to his ex-girlfriend about his current wife, West said:

She’s just soaking in the moment. If Kim had dated me when I first wanted to be with her, it wouldn’t be an Amber Rose … It’s hard for a woman to want to be with someone that with Amber Rose. She wasn’t sending me no pictures. I had to take 30 showers before I got with Kim. But I just wanna be respectful, man.

By his own logic, we wouldn’t have a Kim Kardashian had Ray J not ejaculated on her on camera and sold the footage to a porn company, which only sent Kardashian’s star soaring and brought more attention to her looming reality show. Had none of that happen, it’s perfectly plausible to believe that Kim Kardashian may have remained nothing more than Paris Hilton’s closet organizer.

Even so, what’s done is done and no matter how one gets initial attention, it’s up to that person to turn it into something else and sustain it. Both Kardashian and Rose have proven capable of doing just that. More importantly, these adult women are free to do whatever they want with their bodies.

Nonetheless, only West chooses to portray Rose as someone who, after being intimate with, requires an excessive amount of bathing.

This is the same woman who inspired portions of arguably his best album, My Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy, and whom he once said in concert in her hometown, “To the city of Philly, I want to thank y’all for making the incredible person that this song was made for.” But you know, now she’s dirty, though one wonders how many showers it took KimYe to wash off the minor R&B singers, strippers, professional athletes between them. Likewise, it’s interesting to see a rapper who has helped celebrate infidelity and stripper culture now suddenly wants us to view him pristinely by comparison.

West went on to argue that his wife is using her naked body to break down class barriers. As funny as it was for West to speak of his wife’s body type as “new,” it’s even more hilarious for him to argue Kim Kardashian is fighting elitism and promoting healthy body types by doing a nude spread in a magazine spread shot by, Jean-Paul Goude, who has a sordid history with this body type and the Black women typically associated with it.

In typical Kanye and Kardashian fashion, they purport their typical antics as atypical because it’s presented in glossier filters. This makes them feel superior despite all signs pointing to the contrary.

Enter Khloé Kardashian refuting Rose’s critiques of 25-year-old Tyga’s rumored relationship with her 17-year-old sister, Kylie Jenner (since she was 16), by invoking her past as a teenage stripper. Of course, I wouldn’t expect anyone living with the confines of their vapid world to realize that if anything, Rose is an expert on the problems with grown men sexualizing teenage girls, but I still want to pass her a dunce cap all the same.

Read the rest at The Urban Daily.

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Whether imagined by a semi-bored press or very real for those the post pissed off nonetheless, the controversy surrounding Mary Cheney’s Facebook inquiry about drag and blackface speaks to many truths.

For starters, it proves for the umpteenth time that no matter what the privacy settings on your social media tell you, if you’re a public figure or, in this case, you just happen to be the daughter of a former vice president, there’s no such thing as privacy. It also shows that the LGBT umbrella is always wider than you think.

She asked this:

Why is it socially acceptable—as a form of entertainment—for men to put on dresses, makeup and high heels and act out every offensive stereotype of women (bitchy, catty, dumb, slutty, etc.)—but it is not socially acceptable—as a form of entertainment—for a white person to put on blackface and act out offensive stereotypes of African Americans? Shouldn’t both be OK or neither? Why does society treat these activities differently?

Now, like Cheney, I’m gay. And, like Cheney, I don’t know a whole lot about drag shows. I’m familiar with some basic tenets of their history and their influence on pop culture through the years. I also know that many a drag queen has interrupted my performances of (insert any Beyoncé song) to perform Patti LaBelle’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” or, more recently, Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” way too many times.

But there’s one key difference between Ms. Cheney and me: If I’m unfamiliar with something—particularly an issue with even a smidgen of hypocrisy potential—I generally opt to exercise my intellectual curiosity. I use that magic machine I’ve heard cute, elderly people refer to as “the Google” or I look to friends who may be better versed on the topic at hand. Essentially, I hold off on forming an opinion about a subject until I am informed about it.

What I don’t do is blindly and ignorantly use a public forum to pose a seemingly innocuous, but actually very much insulting, question that simultaneously screams “hyperbole” and “silly things white people say.”

That’s exactly what Cheney did, though, when she took her half-baked query to Facebook.

And she probably thought she was really saying something. It’s just that people like Cheney need to be better about expressing a specific grievance about art without generalizing the entire art form itself. Especially if you’re Cheney and clearly don’t know much about what you’re attacking.

In a thoughtful retort, drag queen Miz Cracker did acknowledge that there is some level of misogyny among some queens. Even so, she warned about using some bad apples to paint a bunch using one brush. Cracker noted, “Just because some drag queens partake in misogyny individually does not make the entire art form inherently misogynistic—and this is where the blackface comparison breaks down.”

Read the rest at The Root.

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Two years ago Azealia Banks had a point about gay media and its portrayal of her as homophobic in light of her use of the word “f–got.” Though I did not agree with her, she was right in noting that some celebrities—i.e., the white ones who either are a part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community or consider themselves allies—were given de facto passes to use it, while she was categorized as hateful. Although I defended her then from those charges, at this point there is no denying what the Harlem-bred emcee has made all too clear: She very much has a problem with gay men.

In a recent tweet she claimed, “Gay media has to stop using homophobia as a means to try and victimize itself and scar the names of its opponents.” And in an exchange with Vice writer Mitchell Sunderland (which she initiated, by the way), Banks not only berated Sunderland for being far less well off than she but further insulted him because she had an “extra hole” and he did not.

Banks went on to argue that gay men have no claims to their culture because it’s all derived from femininity and women. I’ve heard this argument before; it sounds stupider each time. Yes, a very long time ago, men who went on to become drag queens and those who started ball culture might have pulled initial inspiration from the women who clearly influenced them; however, these were marginalized folks who pulled from the dominant culture and subsequently created and developed their own thing.

When Banks samples Dorian Corey’s commentary in the iconic documentary Paris Is Burning on her mixtapes, among other influences from gay black culture in other aspects of her art, she should be very much clear that she didn’t build that. After all, if gay black culture is a direct bite from black women, why not go to them instead of the queens?

This is like saying that black colloquialisms are not black because they stem from the English. Actually, before Banks started crying about black culture being appropriated by white people for greater fortune on Hot 97, she made this point in a since-deleted tweet last year: “Like black American culture is ESSENTIALLY some adapted version of British culture, Because American culture is bastardized English culture.”

I think it’s cute that someone has since lent her the syllabus for an intro-level African-American-history course, which is why her tweets have become noticeably more black since then, but she is not as thoughtful as she thinks she is or as some have pegged her to be.

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I understand black homophobia on a deeply personal level. In seventh grade, I was called a faggot by someone named Chris on the school bus. I try to never let people see me sweat, but Chris took it one step further: he said my mama was probably gay, too. You can’t talk about my mama; Chris ended up with a black eye by the time we were dropped off to school. The last time I was called a faggot was a year ago, in Harlem; three dudes were driving by and proceeded to hurl that insult and french fries. I wanted to throw a bottle at the car, but I was outnumbered and keenly aware of the multiple deaths members of the LGBT community suffered the year beforehand.

Much of my 2014 was spent wondering if I will be able to maintain a relationship with my mother because my sexuality—well, my choice to both act on my natural attractions and write freely about my orientation—remains a major point of contention. My father once asked me if I was “funny” while shaking his hand; he was not longing to hear his son say, “Yeah, pops. I’m hilarious when I’m screwing a man.”

Most of the people who have given me grief about my sexuality have been black like me, though I’ve been around mostly black people my entire life. It’s more about geographic and socioeconomic status, not inherent biases. To that end, my individual experiences do not speak for the collective. It’s dangerous to use anecdotes to diagnosis a community of its purported ills. Never forget that there is a world beyond yours.

Lee Daniels has forgotten this lesson. Two weeks ago, he explained that he wants to “blow the lid off homophobia” in the black community with his new show,Empire, using the rift between Jamal, a gay aspiring singer, and his deeply homophobic father Lucious Lyon, a record executive. Daniels might as well have added that he also hopes his hip-hop inspired soap opera would also hip music consumers to the power of the MP3. Black homophobia has been a subject of national conversation for several years now, but at this point, the conversation has long grown stale given that it’s largely a merry go-round of myth-pushing.

Daniels has every right to inject his own experiences into his art. The famed director has been candid about the homophobia he experienced as a child. His life experiences are his, but those experiences should not be exploited to make a broad criticism of the black community that is not rooted in reality and far more complicated than his soap opera suggests.

I would rather not politicize Lee Daniels’ vision, but he has elected to do so and no one who knows better can let him help continue a lie.

Daniels gets some things right, namely the hypermasculinity within hip-hop, and by extension, the black community. But a mostly a white consumer base of rap music only further highlights how we are all collectively guilty of homophobia, which is largely based in misogyny.

Therein lies the problem when I hear lines like, “He’d never pick me. Too much homophobia in the black community” on Empire.

As opposed to other communities where tolerance for the LGBT community is remarkably higher? Blacks are not the X-Men of anti-gay bigotry. We don’t have some superior level of homophobia compared to other groups.

Read the rest at Complex.

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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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My immediate reaction to Kendrick Lamar’s interview with Billboard magazine was to add his name to the list of stars who need to be sent to the Island of Wayward Negroes. A list that includes names like Don Lemon, Whoopi Goldberg, and the “labels” one herself, Raven-Symoné. Well meaning or not, Lamar invoked God to defend Iggy Azalea and respectability politics to partially excuse law enforcement’s collective assault on Black people. The rapper from Compton sounded like one of those AARP-aged Blacks who thinks the Lord will deliver us from evil (aka white supremacy) the second we pull up our pants and leave that white woman who’s really just trying to make an honest living via a pop-rap career alone.

When asked about the killings of Black men and women at the hands of police officers last year, Lamar did acknowledge that Michael Brown’s death should’ve “never happened,” only he added, “But when we don’t have respect for ourselves, how do we expect them to respect us? It starts from within. Don’t start with just a rally, don’t start from looting— it starts from within.”

Lamar took the complex problem of institutionalized racism and offered up the equivalent of an inspirational meme found on Instagram as a solution.

It’s bad enough when white people tell us that the onus of racism is on the victim to fix and not the culprit, but it is particularly bothersome when someone who looks like us makes that same case— to a mainstream outlet, no less.

It does not matter if you dress like an investment banker or someone who has used a payday loan to get by: If you are Black, racism will reduce to you pigmentation and the prejudices that will follow.

The same can be said if you speak as eloquently as President Barack Obama or as rambly and somewhat incoherent as my new musical play cousins, Rae Sremmurd.

However, as disappointed as I am in Lamar’s answer, upon more reflection I’m more inclined to sign up for a book club than send him an itinerary for a permanent trip to a far away land. In the profile, Billboard’s Gavin Edwards writes, “Surprisingly for such a hyperliterate lyricist, Lamar is not much of a reader, saying that he mostly learns by talking to people from different walks of life.”

As great as conversation is, so are books in tackling complicated matters like racism. Hopefully, Lamar will learn that having respect for one’s self does not matter if the person with power has no regard for you or your life. That aside, Lamar’s comments about Azalea remain irksome.

When the Australian rapper came up in the interview, Lamar said, “She’s doing her thing. Let her. People have to go through trials and tribulations to get where they at. Do your thing, continue to rock it, because obviously God wants you here.”

Again, hokey language being used to de-legitimize credible complaints about racially-motivated biases.

To be fair, Lamar’s cousin is Los Angeles Lakers star Nick Young, who is dating Azalea — and that puts him in an awkward position. Still, while it’s one thing to not go out of your way to insult  a family member, it’s another to argue that someone is ordained to perform in audible Blackface.

I don’t like when people use God as a shield for their half-thought out musings. I also have a hard time thinking God really gives that great a damn if Azalea builds a fortune biting the flow of Charli Baltimore and the voice of Diamond on a track that sounds like discount DJ Mustard.

Read the rest at The Urban Daily.

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Of all the ways legendary TV actress Phylicia Rashad could speak on rape allegations against former co-star Bill Cosby— and in this instance, rape allegations from multiple women of varying generations spanning decades— “Forget these women!” is by far one of the worst ways to respond.

Although Rashad initially told columnist Roger Friedman that when it comes to rape allegations leveled against her TV husband, Bill Cosby, she did not “want to become part of the public debate,” Mrs. Huxtable proceeded to offer remarks that now place her directly at its apex.

“Forget these women,” Rashad said. “What you’re seeing is the destruction of a legacy. And I think it’s orchestrated. I don’t know why or who’s doing it, but it’s the legacy. And it’s a legacy that is so important to the culture.”

Rashad became especially dismissive when she offers an “Oh, please,” once the names Beverly Johnsonand Janice Dickinson came up in the interview.

When anyone claims to have been sexually assaulted, you do not simply “forget them.” It’s probably best not to throw out an “Oh, please” either. When more than one person alleges the same violation, it’s even more difficult to just “forget them.” It’s fair to be skeptical— particularly if you know the accused on an intimate level — but to be both dismissive and denigrating about rape can provide a disturbing image of one’s character.

It’s easy to see why Rashad might be defensive, but she doesn’t sound any less haughty or less demeaning to women who are already claiming to have been victimized, and no less foolish when it comes their intentions.

It brings me no joy writing that. Like me, Phylicia Rashad is a Houston, Texas native. Like me, Phylicia Rashad is a Howard University graduate. Phylicia Rashad and her sister Debbie Allen have always been inspirations as to how far I could move from a city that at the time, felt too small for my big dreams.

Still, she’s wrong.

Read the rest at The Urban Daily.

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Charles Barkley is about as qualified to speak on race as LeBron James is to be Sophia Vergara’sstunt double; as ready as singer K. Michelle is to be U.S. ambassador to Kazakhstan; as Ben Carson is ready to be president. Unfortunately, none of that matters to U.S. media. All that matters is Charles Barkley is 1) famous, and 2), a Black man willing to articulate the sentiment of your average white male conservative who may or may not sound more like a typical white supremacist. So when asked to opine on the latest musings of the former NBA player turned sports analyst and race scholar, I instantly had a greater appreciation for day drinkers.

In response to a radio interview in which he claimed that those who torched buildings in anger in Ferguson are “scumbags,” Sir Charles did yet another interview with CNN’s Brooke Baldwin. There, Barkley argued yet another falsehood: That white cops are not out to shoot Black people because of racism.

First, Barkley explained, “We never discuss race in this country until something bad happens.” He is a Black man and son of the south. When has their ever been a time when America was not bad in terms of its treatment of Black people?

In any event, Barkley added, “Everybody wants to protect their own tribe, whether they are right or wrong.” I imagine this is the part where I’m supposed to feel sad and cue “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” in my head. Pass.

Then Barkley proceeds to prove he is Bill Cosby’s understudy by condemning his own people for the amusement of others:

“We as Black people, we have a lot of crooks. We can’t just wait until something like (the Brown shooting) happens. We have to look at ourselves in the mirror. There is a reason that they racially profile us in the way they do. Sometimes it is wrong, and sometimes it is right.”

Well, there are crooks in every community, only some are prosecuted at higher rates than others. See: white collar criminals, those who brought this country to its knees on Wall Street, and any other crook you can think of that’s white.

Also, there is a reason why Black people are racially profiled: It’s called racism. It’s never right and it’s usually misguided.

If one is serious about solving crime – particularly in poorer communities – treating people as subhuman is not the solution; rather, it is another symptom of what seems to be an incurable disease in America.

Investing in communities is the answer. Having police who actually care about the communities they are policing is another. What Charles Barkley is saying is a bunch of nonsense that only makes sense to him and others who are out of touch –antiquated view-holding somebodies who ought to be quiet and let more informed people speak instead.

Read the rest at NewsOne.

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Now that he’s gotten away with fatally shooting the unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown, Darren Wilson has started to step out in order to tell “his side of the story.” Similarly, other public figures are doing their part to ultimately assist Wilson in the shared goal of humanizing him. It’s an exercise in futility.

In a single interview Darren Wilson appears no less the monster many of us have pegged him to be, based on his actions and the ridiculous testimony he gave the grand jury in defense of it. If anything, we’re only more angered by the defiance he continued to display in his interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos.

Wilson disparages the area where he shot Michael Brown and let his dead body rot in the streets for several hours for residents to see yet assures Stephanopoulous that there is no racial bias, arguing “Ferguson loves Ferguson.” There is no remorse for what he did as he explains that when it comes to the federal investigation into his actions, “I stand by what I did. I stand by my training, and just have to wait and see what they determine.”

Darren Wilson’s lawyers also make clear that he will not apologize to Michael Brown’s family. One member of his four-person legal team, James Towey, argued to The Washington Post, “Even if he gave the most heartfelt apology, they’d still not like it.” Maybe not, but an attempt to make an act of contrition is a testament to one’s character.

The entire scope of the article is to make us feel bad for Darren Wilson’s life following him ending the life of Michael Brown. He can no longer be a cop. He has become “the poster child for bad race relations.” He lives in hiding.

Boo hoo, blah, blah, I don’t give a damn.

At least he’s alive. He’s married, he’s got a baby on the way, and he’s secured both a nice retirement package and in excess of a million dollars from donations. People have rewarded him for taking the life of an unarmed Black teenager.

And thanks to one biased special prosecutor and his team of police-loving, equally morally bankrupt flunkies, Darren Wilson won’t even be charged for his crimes in the state of Missouri.

Forgive me if it’s hard to feel sorry for him.

Read more at NewsOne.

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Even fair weather fans of Robin Thicke have long known that Alan Thicke’s boy had a huge crush on Marvin Gaye’s music. Before “Blurred Lines” took over radio and various cookouts across the country last year, he was releasing albums like 2008’s Something Else, which could’ve also been titled Vanilla Latte Marvin Gaye. Thicke has been doing this, only never to the success he secured with his now lawsuit-spawning massive hit.

However, thanks to the newly exposed depositions as part of the lawsuit filed by Gaye’s children against the “Blurred Lines” architects – Thicke, Pharrell Williams, and T.I. – we now know that Thicke lied about the songs conception. Claiming the stories he told the press last year were sponsored by Vicodin and alcohol, Thicke clarified by explaining,

I was jealous and I wanted some of the credit … I tried to take credit for it later because [Williams] wrote the whole thing pretty much by himself and I was envious of that.

Robin did what many contemporary singers do these days: add their name to the songwriting credits for the sake of appearances and publishing checks. When asked about this, Pharrell noted,

This is what happens every day in our industry. You know, people are made to look like they have much more authorship in the situation than they actually do. So that’s where the embellishment comes in.

And if Pharrell is comfortable with that and allowing Thicke to collect 18 to 22 percent of publishing royalties, so be it. As for as the Gaye family’s lawsuit, that is for the courts and possibly Gaye’s ghost to decide. What frustrates me most about this new twist to the story though, is that Pharrell once again spewed that post-racial, Yoda-like nonsense about race – only now under oath.

When trying to break down what exactly makes Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up” different from “Blurred Lines,” Pharrell said:

Because it’s the white man singing soulfully and we, unfortunately, in this country don’t get enough — we don’t get to hear that as often, so we get excited by it when the mainstream gives that a shot. But there’s a lot of incredibly talented white folk with really soulful vocals, so when we’re able to give them a shot — and when I say ‘we,’ I mean like as in the public gives them a shot to be heard, then you hear the Justin Timberlakes and you hear the Christina Aguileras and you hear, you know, all of these masterful voices that have just been given, you know, an opportunity to be heard because they’re doing something different.

So, Robin Thicke used his clout as an artist to collect 18 to 22 percent of royalties for a song he played no role in actually creating, but when met with a legal challenge, now suddenly wants to deflect and be honest in the name of self-interest. And even when met with a backhand shot of disloyalty, Pharrell acts as if Robin Thicke is a victim because he’s just a white man in America trying to ride the wave of Black creativity to net wealth.

This is like Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake redux, but at least Damita Jo knew what the damn deal was.

I don’t know what planet Pharrell Williams lives on, but I wish he would jump on his big ass hat and ride himself back there and spare us all from another densely worded statement about race.

Read the rest at The Urban Daily.

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