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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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Once again had the pleasure of being a part of The Smart Ass Pop Culture Feminist Clique on SoPOPular with Janet Mock.

The Clique goes in on our hookup culture:

The Clique talks Kim K and Queen Bey:

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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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For much of last night’s GOP presidential debate, I found myself playing Rae Sremmurd’s “Up Like Trump” in my head. The chances of me voting for Donald Trump for president are about as likely as me extending an invite to Rick Santorum to film my gay honeymoon, but I take great joy in him exposing the current state of the GOP presidential primary system for the crock that is. Trump’s persona makes him a standout, but substantively, he is no less silly or vile than his peers and the party’s base.

As the Beyoncé of the crowded field, the first question went to him—and it was loaded as they come. Trump was asked if he would support the eventful Republican presidential nominee and forgo a third party bid, which he has teased of running in recent weeks. Ever defiant, Trump answered, “I will not make the pledge at this time.” Why would he? He’s not the only person putting himself ahead of party.

After all, if these 17 Republicans running for president were genuinely about their party, they would have taken cues from the nasty 2012 GOP presidential primary and only declared candidacies if they had the means and organization. Many of them do not, but they’re in the race anyway. A presidential run can lead to book deals, talk show radio contracts and FOX News contracts, among other things.

The likes of Ben Carson know this, which is the only conceivable reason he’s running for president. Carson danced around the questions the majority of the time and always leaked “grateful to God” when the buzzer rang, momentarily freeing him from the farce. With his plans to create a tax system based on tithing, defense of torture, and pleas for us to look beyond color, Carson was more so running for America’s next Black friend.

Despite having actual experience in government, the others were just as asinine. Mike Huckabee—a master of presenting evil ideas with a smile—made comments like, “The purpose of the military is to kill people and break things.” This was his answer to a question about transgender rights in the military, noting we don’t have time for “social experiments.” Yeah, like letting another religious zealot run the country.

When asked about his position on forbidding abortion even in the case of a mother’s life being threatened, Governor Scott Walker told FOX News’s Megyn Kelly, “I’ve got a position that’s in line with everyday America.” Walker said this seconds after Kelly introduced a statistic disproving that very notion. Then there is Senator Ted Cruz, who gleefully shouted about him never being for amnesty.

The only memorable thing about Chris Christie and Rand Paul’s respective performances involved their mini tit for tat over the Patriot Act. Paul was Drake, Christie, Meek Mill. Both should have run four years ago. Oh well.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio was quite prepared with his answers, though conveying sincerity still isn’t his strong suit. And when it comes to his fellow Floridian, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, he wasn’t bad, but not particularly memorable either. Though he was initially seen by his family as the Beyoncé to George W. Bush’s Ciara, the Jackie album, his political gaffes (five and growing) and so-so energetic levels during a debate will ultimately prove that “Dubya” is the superior politician. That is, if you haven’t been convinced of the obvious yet.

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If you could score my Twitter mentions over the past 48 hours, the shrieks of a whining newborn baby would perfectly encapsulate all of the He-man-woman-haters and Drake devotees who found themselves pissed at me for being honest.

The tweet in question is:

I don’t need anyone to explain to me the way rap beef works. Nor do I require anyone to remind me of how the hippity hop is battered and deep fried in misogyny. I’m aware, but that doesn’t debunk that Drake leveling Nicki Minaj’s success as a pejorative against the man she’s very clearly in love with was a lazy diss. It’s a pretty shitty thing for a friend of Nicki’s to do, too.

However, this beef and everything that comes with it—namely the use of Nicki Minaj as chess piece—is all Meek Mill’s fault.

Hopefully, Meek learns a few things from this embarrassing episode. The most important lesson being this (pay close attention, y’all): When deciding to try and publicly ruin someone’s career, it pays to consider whether or not your significant other might find him or herself in the crosshairs. Meek Mill seemingly had no concerns about the political entanglements that might result in him coming for the neck of his girlfriend’s friend and co-worker. It’s no wonder why some are calling on Nicki Minaj to dump him. Like, if you don’t know how to act on social media, you probably don’t know how to act around Beyoncé and Jay Z.

So: Meek Mill started a beef with a wittier and more widely popular rapper over some dumb shit that was probably a misunderstanding. Drake then uses Nicki Minaj as a weapon in this ridiculous ass beef despite Drake being friends with Nicki Minaj. Meek Mill can’t even win the dumb ass beef he started, embarrassing himself and making it supremely awkward for Nicki Minaj the next time she runs into Drake.

All of these men are garbage. If you think using a woman’s success to emasculate and belittle a man isn’t sexist and trite, you’re trash, too. I don’t care how much that truth nugget slathered in Sriracha stings.

What’s most interesting about all of this is that if she really wanted to, Nicki Minaj could destroy them both.

As far as albums go, Drake would more than likely win the popular vote given his sound is more cohesive (and for an album, that does indeed constitute “better”). Even so, that doesn’t necessarily make him a superior MC to Nicki. Nicki is often the star of any track she jumps on, and her collaborations with Drake are no different. Sure, there is a schizophrenic-like quality to Nicki’s catalog, but a lot of that has to do with circumstance (a female rapper trying to not only be recognized in a world that had all but forgotten about rappers like her, but to also thrive commercially in and out of that world) rather than talent.

Read the rest at Complex.

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Dear JoJo,

Do you remember me? We met during Grammy Awards weekend 2010 at some event and I interviewed you and told you how some boy I was so in love with put me onto your music? India Arie was there, having her handlers tell people that she didn’t want to talk to press as Justin Bieber ultimately took all of the press’ attention anyway. Does any of this ring a bell?

No? Okay, well my point is that you’re my favorite white girl next to Tina Fey so I really want to talk to you about a recent tweet I saw.

Well, girl, where is the baby? She should be filling out her FAFSA soon, taking in warnings from her older relatives about the burden of student loans. Now, I know you had to endure a lengthy legal battle with your former label, who effectively held your music hostage. When we did get pieces of new music, their useless selves didn’t do much with it.

I will never, ever let Blackground get away with allowing “Demonstrate” not to reach its full potential. And yes, I do know you have released two mixtapes and an EP to calm the nerves of impatient fans like me. But, but, but: It’s been too long now. Where is the music that I can purchase on iTunes?

Notice I said purchase and not stream. I’m already thinking about ways I can best support your new product. When is the single coming? When is the video for that single coming? Repeat these questions for the second single. Then answer me about the album release date.

Read the rest at VH1.

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I would like to begin my recap of last night’s Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta with a very important public service announcement: Husbands, do your wives a solid and never tell people they are tempted to slap on national television that they may suffer from postpartum depression.

You would think this would go without saying, but evidently, Kaleena’s husband Tony needed the memo. In his mind, he, along with Kirk, thought they were doing a good thing when they decided to surprisingly put their wives in front of each other, but it ended with Kaleena needing to be pulled away after tossing a drink in Rasheeda’s direction. Rasheeda sat there and laughed after Tony openly expressed fear that his wife may have mental health issues—essentially proving that she is an awful person inside with a beautiful person’s exterior.

Later on, Kaleena did confide in Karlie Redd that she may very well need to reach out to someone in order to figure out what exactly is going on with her. At that moment, Karlie Redd revealed that she suffered from postpartum depression after her daughter was born. Karlie Redd is the wood glue holding this show together. She is the stand-in friend for any cast member who either doesn’t know anyone yet or has alienated the majority of her co-workers. She may be messy as hell (which also makes her an essential figure of this show), but I do believe she is a nice person.

That said, Kaleena did coyly acknowledge that she did indeed talk shit about Rasheeda to Tammy during this Patti Labelle “You Are My Friend” moment. That does Rasheeda’s resentment, but the laughing at someone possibly suffering from a form of depression is still a pretty shitty thing to do.

For our second order of beef, I bring you Erica versus The Bam. Surprisingly, Erica and Momma Dee have made peace—so much so that Momma Dee wants Erica to sit upon her wedding throne as a “bridemaid.” Yes, taking a cue from NeNe Leakes, Momma Dee said “bridemaid” instead pronouncing it the way those of us who speak like we have all of our teeth. I worry that if I keep hearing it, it’s going to make me one day forget the “S,” too.

In any event, Momma Dee also invited Erica to help her shop for a wedding dress. That’s where The Bam comes in. Bambi offered the girls some weave for the special occasion, only Erica quickly rejected the offer. Erica probably has good reason to despise Bambi, but I do think she could’ve kept the comment to herself.

For those wondering why Bambi still even matters after last week, Bambi apologized to Scrappy. I’m not surprised at all by this. I mean, I wouldn’t want to give up that VH1 check, either. Scrappy said he would do better about supporting her goals—whatever those are—and went on to tell her, “I love you like Italians love…pasta.”

I’m suddenly in the mood for Tex-Mex.

The Bam and Scrappy may be back to being of one accord, but Joseline and Stevie J continue to have problems.

Because she’s clearly watched the show and taken notes, Tiffany Foxx reached out to Joseline to settle any potential fears that she wants Stevie J. She’ll never admit this, but Joseline’s fears seem rooted in the reality that you typically lose them how you get them. You know, your producer is booed up, but you show up to your sessions with your ass hanging out and can’t stop yourself from body rolling like you just had a large cup of cold brew mixed with half a bottle of cognac.

Read the rest at Complex.

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“I told you about sex when you were three,” my mother explained to me in her typical matter-of-fact fashion. I had asked her about when I had first learned about sex.

It made perfect sense because, even as a very young child, I can’t recall a time in which I did not I understand the mechanics of sex, at the very least, in the context of where babies came from. My mom is a devout Catholic, but she’s also a registered nurse who takes care of new mothers, meaning she sees plenty of pregnancies, including those from minors. Right after I asked, she went into a quick lesson about how to put on a condom and mentioned a banana. I remember saying, “I’m not having sex anytime soon.” I was barely a teenager, and while my hormones were raging, the same could be said of my body— the round belly and fat deposits on my chest screamed “the training bra soon cometh.”

My father has always been in my life—for better and for far worse—but we have never had a conversation about sex. Ever. The only sex-related question he’s ever asked me was well into my 20s—he wanted to know if I was gay. Even if I said something sooner, it’s wasn’t like he was going to go out of his way to find a pamphlet detailing the pleasure and pains of gay sex.

I did take a health class in 11th grade that vaguely referenced sex education, but as the wave of pregnant girls in my high school swelled, there was not much in the way of wisdom shared and it was too little, too late, anyway.

So yes, while I understood sex in terms of procreation, I knew embarrassingly little beyond that. But, like many things I was intrigued by as a child—religion, whatever I saw on the news, and the various warnings of doom and gloom that I saw on episodes of Captain Planet—I wanted to know more. I don’t know many people who can say they have talked with great frankness about sexuality with their folks. Many of us, however, can say we’ve been largely influenced by the images we’ve seen in film and television and the music we grew up listening to.

If there’s a pop cultural figure that played an integral role in my sexual education, it was Janet Jackson.

When the janet. album was released, I was only nine-years-old. I vaguely knew what she was singing about, but I didn’t have any meaningful understanding of what exactly I was singing along to. What I did know, though, was that I could not stop staring at one of her dancers, Omar Lopez, with excitement. If you don’t remember this man, he was the one Janet Jackson groped in the “If” video. He’s also the beautiful man who played the male lead in TLC’s “Creep” video. Omar Lopez is a legendary bae and one of the first real tests of my heterosexuality.

Spoiler alert: I was defeated.

Read the rest Complex’s NTRSCTN.

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When I told a friend that I would be writing about Keri Hilson’s return to music, she immediately responded with the question, “Who’s looking for her to come back?”

Therein lies the issue with the singer-songwriter as she plots a return to music. Like many music writers and bloggers, I received an email announcing Hilson’s return along with a link to two new tracks, “100” and “Scream.” Months prior, the likes of Timbaland teased fans with new works like “Listen.” Around the same time, Hilson herself teased us with audio of “Dinero,” although singer Monica sold the new track far better than she did.

The songs we’ve been teased sound more interesting than what’s come in full, but whatever we do get in terms of a new Hilson album, one wonders whether or not the public cares anymore. “100” and “Scream” were leaked to the Internet in full, but in terms of volume, both generated more of a “hi and bye” than conversation. Whenever Hilson does make an official return to music, she’s got her work cut out for her.

Two years ago, the Atlanta-bred artist took to Twitter to lament about the years of “verbal abuse,” noting, “You have no idea what your hateful words could do to someone’s spirit.” She was mostly referring to the Beyoncé fans that consistently berated her for her not so subtle shots at the Queen Bey. To this day, Hilson acts as if other people misinterpreted her past comments and actions about Beyoncé.

No one did, though, and regardless of whether or not she’ll ever own up to it, the reality is Keri Hilson is responsible for her reputation as the Maleficent of R&B. Like I noted at the time, she’s been equally shady to her other contemporaries, which is why many dislike her. At the very moment, a few people are reading these lines and thinking, “But it shouldn’t matter if you like the artist. What counts most is the music.” That’s cute, but that’s never been the case— likability has always factored into one’s success. In fact, one could say in an age where buying music is a choice an increasingly less amount of people opt to make, it matters more than ever.

And to be blunt, when it came to Keri Hilson openly shading Beyoncé in public spaces, it was just a dumb decision. Not only is Beyoncé one of the biggest pop stars on the planet (and to some, the biggest), she’s also known as one of the nicest. It was like Ciara taking an unnecessary shot at Rihanna on Fashion Police. In that instance, Rihanna simply read Ciara her rights via Twitter, but both Ciara and Hilson looked like the Jan Brady to their Marsha.

Read the rest at VH1.

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