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Mike Pence is Lucifer if instead of creating hell after being drop-kicked out of heaven, Lucifer decided to land in Indiana and become a politician.

Pence is nothing more than ugliness presented with pleasantries. Some appear to find that impressive—at least in comparison with President Minute Maid Mao. This is akin to arguing that Jeremih is Luther Vandross Jr. because he sings better than the man behind the “Why You Always Lyin’” video.

Everyone has the right to suffer from the bigotry of low expectations, but when it comes to speaking on Pence’s political work—specifically with respect to fighting HIV/AIDS—you best be informed before offering undeserved praise.

Last weekend, Bono met Pence at the Munich Security Conference and championed Pence for helping to get the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief passed in 2003 and then renewed in 2008. Bono told Pence, “Twice on the House floor you defended that. That’s how we know you, and we really appreciate that.” In response, Pence said, “It was an extraordinary historic accomplishment, and you played a leading role in carrying it forward.”

Bono then jokingly referred to Pence as “the second-busiest man in America.” Somewhere, Stephen Bannon, Sean Spicer, Kellyanne Conway, Jared Kushner, Reince Preibus and Ivanka Trump’s declining businesses are all saying, “Bitch, you tried it.”

No one can question Bono’s commitment to fighting AIDS in Africa. However, if one is dedicated to battling AIDS all over the world, why would anyone salute a man whose stubbornness helped create the worst HIV outbreak in his state’s history as governor? In 2013, then-Indiana Gov. Mike Pence slashed public health spending, which led to the closure of Planned Parenthood in Scott County—the only facility that provided HIV testing in that county.

Then, in 2015, HIV was spreading at alarming rates among intravenous drug users in a rural area of the state. Local, state and federal health officials all urged the governor to allow clean needles to be distributed to help thwart the outbreak. Pence initially refused to allow needle exchanges because he believed they helped spread drug use. It would be months before Pence changed his mind, and even then, it was insufficient.

Read the rest at The Root.

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If Sinbad and Ike Turner had a child of great talent and potential who would ultimately squander both because of his issues with anger and maybe some matters that recall the D.A.R.E. program, he’d look and aggressively dance a lot like Chris Brown.

Brown is the R&B equivalent of the kin you’ve rooted for but decided to let go of because you’ve finally accepted that they may be in the HOV lane to the crossroads. Because of his celebrity, though, Brown will never truly go away. Still, with his most recent disturbing headline, it’s time to internalize En Vogue’s “Give It Up, Turn It Loose.” We’ll always have “Yo (Excuse Me Miss),” “Take You Down,” “Damage” and “Fine China,” but for those who continue to hold out hope that Brown will rise above his problems, it’s time to pop, lock and drop into reality.

On Tuesday, TMZ reported that Brown’s former girlfriend Karrueche Tran filed legal documents accusing Brown of threatening to kill her. Additionally, Tran claims that Brown has physically assaulted her in the past. And suddenly I now want to get up and do Soulja Boy’s Superman dance.

Karrueche claims in a sworn statement to the judge, earlier this month Chris “told a few people that he was going to kill me.” She then says Chris told the friends if he can’t have her then no one else can, threatening he was going to “take me out” and “threatened to shoot me.”

Karrueche also says several years ago Chris “punched me in my stomach twice,” and “pushed me down the stairs.” This would have been during the time Chris was on probation for the Rihanna beating.

Tran also claims that Brown has threatened her friends and recently threw a drink at one of them. So, not only is this man Light, Bright Ike, but he’s part-time vintage Evelyn Lozada from Basketball Wives.

In any case, the judge granted said domestic violence restraining order, requiring Brown to stay 100 yards away from Tran, her mom and her brother.

In response, Brown took to Instagram to try to clear his name while simultaneously confirming your worst suspicions about his state of mind as he rambled rather incoherently. Forgoing a publicist and lawyer, Brown said, “Make sure y’all don’t be listening to all this bullshit man. I don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about. Don’t believe all that bullshit, bro.”

His comments might have come across as more convincing had he not delivered them in a manner that recalls a kite flying high in the clear blue sky.

Of the many problems Chris Brown has, one in particular is his unfortunate habit of documenting his bad decisions and erratic behavior for all to see. Less than a month ago, Brown took to Al Gore’s internet and recorded himself sounding like the very violent menace his ex-girlfriend is accusing him to be. Do people not realize that when it comes to sharing videos on the internet, 1) we can see you and 2) the internet is forever?

In that now infamous clip in which he looked like the lost cousin of Kris Kross, Brown said:

Ladies y’all be complaining about niggas being like stalkers, in love with y’all, kinda crazy shit, and get tired of ’em. Well guess what? I’m one of them niggas. If I love you, bitch, ain’t nobody gon’ have ya. I’mma make ya miserable. I’mma chase that nigga out, I’mma chase yo ass around.

Ladies, y’all ever dealt with a nigga who just be blowin’ your shit up? Hopping gates, stalking the fuck out of you, getting on your nerves? Well, shit. I’m one of them niggas.

And now he is being accused not only of additional physical abuse years after he beat another now-former girlfriend, Rihanna, but also of living up to the very abusive stalker he boldly professed himself to be on camera.

For years now, fans and other sympathizers have rallied behind Brown. Some have made excuses for his behavior. In many cases it was a matter of victim-blaming, though in others, Brown’s having witnessed domestic violence as a child was cited as a reason to hold out hope that he would one day get himself together. That he would own his mistakes and ultimately overcome whatever internal demons and the childhood trauma that helped create them.

But as someone who is not unfamiliar with some of what Brown has spoken of previously, there comes a point when you realize that some people are simply stuck. Maybe critics—self included—were too harsh on him. Perhaps more people needed to give him a chance to redeem himself. There were instances in which it seemed as if Brown was damned if he did, damned if he didn’t.

Nevertheless, Brown has largely been the maker of his own madness.

Read the rest at The Root.

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Y’all’s president is one vacationing-ass bitch. It hasn’t even been a smooth full month into Tropicana Jong-il’s four-year term (insert laugh track here), and the man has taken every weekend off. To his credit, much like his racism, his xenophobia, his sexism, his narcissism, his creepy obsession with his daughter and his insecurities, 45 has not been shy about sharing his laziness with the world.

Shortly after winning the 2016 presidential election on a gross technicality, the “failing New York Times” reported that he was “talking with his advisers about how many nights a week he will spend in the White House.” Apparently, he “told them he would like to do what he is used to, which is spending time in New York when he can.”

Days before being sworn into office, 45 did an interview with The Times of London in which he revealed that his real first day being president would not be on Jan. 20, a Friday, the day he officially became president, but, you know, after the weekend wrapped up.

“I mean, my day one is gonna be Monday because I don’t want to be signing and get it mixed up with lots of celebration,” he explained.

You are sworn in as the president of the United States of America, the most powerful nation on earth, on a Friday, but you don’t consider your first real day of work until the following Monday “cause you like to party-y-y-y-y-y-y.”

Since then, 45 has retreated to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, which he has purposely christened his “Winter White House” because he’s all about the “mu-mu-muny, yen and the pesos.” Speaking of, these little weekend excursions are costing taxpayers a whole lot of money. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department has reportedly already succumbed to $1.5 million in overtime costs in handling 45’s frequent trips back to Florida.

In an interview, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said:

I’m very confident that we’re going to get reimbursed. There’ll be a point in time where I’ll have a conversation, I hope, with the president personally or with someone high up in his administration.

Sis, you’re not getting that money back.

As we’ve recently learned, there’s a bit of a problem with this beyond the sheer trifling ways of a slothful old man who scammed his way into the White House.

While having dinner with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe on Feb. 11, news broke that North Korea had launched a nuclear missile. Instead of scurrying away to some secure location, 45 stayed in his very public area to handle the matter—and the nitwits around him pulled out their cellphones to light up classified documents. All of this happened with Mar-a-Lago guests directly in front of them, gleefully snapping pictures of what was happening.

Other pictures include Richard DeAgazio—a retired investor and Mar-a-Lago member—posting a picture with the man who carries the “atomic football.” You know, that briefcase that contains the nuclear codes. Yes, Richard was out here posting pictures of “Rick” on Facebook as if we couldn’t all die from his social media stunting.

Can you imagine if any of this happened under President Barack Obama? Like, imagine Obama, mere weeks into his presidency, saying that he was going to fly back to Chicago every weekend because he needed Harold’s Chicken and real winters. The same goes for a President Hillary Clinton. Let her have taken a nap for 36 minutes anywhere else besides the White House on a Sunday and all hell would have broken loose.

Yet 45 gets to take trips back to his private business because it makes him more comfortable (and also helps him inflate membership prices for Mar-a-Lago).

That said, this big orange waste of the gift of life is lazy in the White House, too.

CNN reports:

The barrage of meet-and-greets suits Trump’s operating style, aides said. He’s not a delve-into-a-briefing-book kind of commander in chief. Instead, he learns by peppering people with questions and prefers to pluck opinions from a rotating cast.

But the dinners also ensure the president is engaged well into the evening, allotting less time for some of Trump’s less productive pursuits—gobbling up cable news and engaging in Twitter wars.

Nonetheless, if he’s going to be lazy wherever he goes, can he at least do it at the White House?

In “President Trump Has Almost Done Nothing,” Politico’s Zachary Karabell explains how very little work, beyond the illusion of him signing various executive orders, the current commander in chief has done thus far. Karabell concludes:

Trump poses a challenge to decades of tradition and precedent. He is masterful [at] conflating words and actions in a way that enrages and alarms his opponents and exhilarates and excites his supporters. It’s more important than ever to distinguish what is from what isn’t. Understanding the difference between what this president says and what he does is one of the only things that will keep our public debate from plunging ever deeper into the hall of mirrors.

All of this is true, though I think in the immediate, narratives matter. We already have to contend with the fact that a stupid man with no political experience managed to become president for no other reason than that he appealed to fears of a black man and potentially of a white woman seizing power, and the overall shifting of a multicultural America—well, also because he had the help of Russian foreign intelligence and a media industry that cared more about the profit margin associated with a shit show than with its real consequences.

Read the rest at The Root.

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Milo Yiannopoulos is a snide, racist piece of shit who benefits from the lowered expectations typically afforded to even the most mediocre white man. He has been referred to as a “beast” who “obliterates” political correctness as if PC culture—even at its peak—ever stopped a hate-mongering white dude with daddy issues from spouting out their prejudice-peppered acidity to sizable applause. Those who find him impressive are as small-minded and useless as he is. Those that assist him in boosting his profile, and subsequently, his brand of white supremacy, are nothing more than accomplices, not to mention assholes.

Yet, whenever Milo Yiannopoulos is extended an invitation to present himself and his worldview on a platform he doesn’t belong on, the responsible party abstains from accepting culpability. Instead, they play the role of victim, or in some cases, feign moral and intellectual superiority. You see, in their mind, inviting a bigot along isn’t the problem. No, no, the problem is with anyone who doesn’t see the purpose in offering a place for someone so stubbornly dedicated to their linear view of the world.

Bill Maher is the latest example of this, though for someone who often fancies himself as the reasonable and most thoughtful one, he is singing the same boring, intellectually disingenuous song all others before him have sung.

After Yiannopoulos was booked to appear on the most recent edition of Real Time with Bill Maher, one of the other guests, Jeremy Scahill, dropped out of the show in protest. In a post detailing his reasoning, Scahill wrote that Yiannopoulos “has ample venues to spew his hateful diatribes” and noted that “there is no value in ‘debating’ him.” Maher came with the trite “whiny liberal” narrative in response.

In a statement, Maher wrote:

My comments on Islam have never veered into vitriol. Liberals will continue to lose elections as long as they follow the example of people like Mr. Scahill whose views veer into fantasy and away from bedrock liberal principles like equality of women, respect for minorities, separation of religion and state, and free speech. If Mr. Yiannopoulos is indeed the monster Scahill claims — and he might be — nothing could serve the liberal cause better than having him exposed on Friday night.

The only person veering into sweet-sweet fantasy in this instance was Maher.

Bill Maher is the same person who took issue with former President Obama for not using the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.” Bill Maher also took issue with President Obama for arguing that ISIS and Islam have very little in common, claiming that much of Islam “has too much in common with ISIS.” Bill Maher has dismissed the notion that Muslims and those of other faiths may share some common values as “bullshit.” Bill Maher also tried to tie sexual assaults in Cologne, Germany, to Islam and refugees.

Read the rest at The Root.

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Whenever anyone commits an act that can be categorized with descriptors such as “malicious,” “disrespectful,” or “dumb as hell,” there is a tried and true chosen line of defense: “I wanted to open a dialogue.”

This week, conservative cartoonist Glenn McCoy committed an act through his art that is best surmised as malicious, disrespectful, and absolutely, positively, dumb as all hell. On Monday, the Belleville News-Democrat published a political cartoon in which McCoy sought to draw parallels between Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and civil rights activist Ruby Bridges. Bridges has long been exalted for being brave enough at the age of six to become the first Black child to integrate a segregated, all-White elementary school. Last week, protesters blocked DeVos, a White woman of immense wealth who recently celebrated her 59th birthday, from entering a public school in Washington, D.C.

Bridges’ story was documented in the Norman Rockwell painting, “The Problem We All Live With.” In McCoy’s cartoon, which recreates that infamous painting only in his deluded mind, DeVos is equal to Ruby Bridges. To the surprise of no one with sincere respect of the plight of Black people in America, McCoy was instantly criticized for this analogous portrait.

In a statement to Talking Points Memo, McCoy refuted criticism by acting as if he was making some grandiose statement about our current political climate––one that as mentioned, will “start a dialogue.”

McCoy writes: “My cartoon was about how, in this day and age, decades beyond the civil rights protests, it’s sad that people are still being denied the right to speak freely or do their jobs or enter public buildings because others disagree with who they are or how they think. I’m surprised that some readers see ‘hate’ in this cartoon when I thought I was speaking out against hate.”

Perhaps one doesn’t see hate in McCoy’s metaphor, but the sight of stupid in it is far too glaring to miss.

When I think about Ruby Bridges, I think about so many Black students, including my mother, who at some point in their lives, had to help integrate schools and deal with the vileness and unsubstantiated hatred from dimwitted White folks. To compare that plight to a billionaire closer in age to Blanche Devereaux than a damn child because she had to take a separate entrance to avoid protesters is wildly frustrating. McCoy doesn’t even see that to compare a Black child’s burden to an adult, well-off White woman’s issue is to deny not only her full humanity, but the fact that she is a child. McCoy has spent too long living in his bubble to see how asinine it is to infantilize DeVos and trivialize the civil rights movement.

Still, McCoy continued to explain himself: “The drawing depicts a woman passively walking while being protected from angry protesters. Isn’t that what went down the other day when Devos visited a school to do her job? You may disagree with her on issues but I didn’t see any hate coming from her. I did, however see hate going in the other direction which is what made me think of the Rockwell image.”

McCoy’s misreading of hatred and prejudice speaks to his ignorance and White fragility.

Read the rest at Essence.

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Whenever a white person does something remotely decent related to black people or black culture—be it displaying basic decency or performing some act with competence—a chorus of Negroes will declare, “They can come to the cookout!”

For our new white readers, “the cookout” is essentially what most of us across these United States refer to as a barbecue, though there are other culinary equivalences that amount to the same thing (black folks gathering for food, liquor and celebration as only we can): say, a crawfish boil, a fish fry or something similar. So, when someone of African lineage extends an invite to someone melanin-deficient to the metaphorical cookout, they’re more or less saying you’re cool enough to hang with us now.

OK, I don’t like being the literary Urban Dictionary. Besides, if I tell y’all anymore, you might steal it because y’all are good for that. No shade.

The most recent example of this came during the 59th Grammy Awards at which Adele stood before the awards-show audience and rightfully declared that Beyoncé was robbed in the Album of the Year category for her impeccable sixth album, Lemonade.

Although some took issue with the British singer-songwriter noting how her black friends were impacted by the project in ways even she, a longtime stan, could not relate to, those who knew better didn’t bat an eye. Nonetheless, for the most part, many appreciated Adele’s remarks and, by extension, a few invited her to come over their way and have a plate of ribs and a red Solo cup of her preferred spirit.

However, the loudest person to make this declaration was a white man.

Gary Owen is funny, has a black wife and has a reality series on BET. That’s super-duper dope for him, but he’s a plus-one. Plus-ones don’t get to extend invitations. I don’t care how down LOL-Teena-Marie thinks he is or even if he was joking; this is the ha-ha equivalent of Solange’s “Don’t Touch My Hair.” No, white man. No.

Yet, beyond the debate and Owen’s joke, there are some sentiments I read in which some black folks get way too giddy when someone white doesn’t sound like he or she hopped out of the basket of deplorables.

On some level it’s funny, but for the most part it’s irritating as hell. Personally, while I would love to drink with Adele and rap Nicki Minaj lyrics with her, I also don’t believe in handing someone from the majority absolute acclaim for doing the bare minimum.

 What Adele said mattered, but she didn’t explicitly state the outright racial bias the Recording Academy has long been proved to have. We can give her a polite church clap. You know, the kind we give soloists who don’t really hit the notes but were OK enough, and we just convince ourselves that they were caught up in the spirit. That’s basically her George Michael tribute, too.

And if recent years are any indication, more of us need to be more cautious about who we rave about and invite over. It has long been proved that a love of black culture doesn’t necessarily equate to a genuine affinity for black people. Robin Thicke was great until he took his Marvin Gaye obsession a wee bit too far. Speaking of obsession, some of us recall the Paula album. Then there is the subject of that album, who has recently lodged accusations of domestic abuse against him.

Read the rest at The Root.

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White House Senior Policy Adviser Stephen Miller has the charm of Hannibal Lector and the ideology of a neo-Nazi who prefers to sit in business class.

While Miller’s name was dropped throughout the presidential campaign, it was only last weekend that the other big racist in the White House really made his presence felt after making the rounds on the various Sunday talk shows (an often lily-white platform that ought to have made him feel right at home, but I digress). And oh, did he make an impression as he switched back and forth from “It rubs the white supremacy on its skin” to teases of young Anakin Skywalker shortly after pledging allegiance to Darth Sidious.

In many ways, Miller was your typical 45 surrogate. He lied like hell about voter fraud. Likewise, Miller refused to be truthful about the travel ban being a ban specifically targeting Muslims seeking to enter the United States. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention that Miller also wears an ill-fitting suit, which increasingly appears to be a requirement for any man working for that White House.

Excuse me, any man that works for that monster.

Of all Miller’s appearances, though, the one that stood out most, and what separates him from his colleagues, was his segment on CBS’ Face the Nation. There, Miller bumped his pale chest high into the whitest cloud he could find in the sky to let us, the viewing public, know one thing: You do not question Colby-Jack Führer. Miller was asked about the disastrous executive order, which he is largely responsible for writing and subsequently fumbling.

Still, when asked about what he has learned from this experience, Miller decided to go the authoritarian route rather than any apologetic one, answering:

Well, I think that it’s been an important reminder to all Americans that we have a judiciary that has taken far too much power and become, in many cases, a supreme branch of government. One unelected judge in Seattle cannot remake laws for the entire country. I mean, this is just crazy, John, the idea that you have a judge in Seattle say that a foreign national living in Libya has an effective right to enter the United States is—is—is beyond anything we’ve ever seen before.

The end result of this, though, is that our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see as we begin to take further actions that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.

It’s been all too apparent that Colby-Jack Führer has strongman dreams, and he and his team of deplorables are longing to bite the heads off of anyone who stands in their way as they pursue absolute power. However, the more you read about Miller, the more frightening it is to consider that this is a person who writes policy and serves the president.

In his third year at the school, the 16-year-old Miller wrote a letter to The Lookout, a local publication, about his negative impression of Hispanic students and the use of Spanish in the United States.

“When I entered Santa Monica High School in ninth grade, I noticed a number of students lacked basic English skills. There are usually very few, if any, Hispanic students in my honors classes, despite the large number of Hispanic students that attend our school,” Miller wrote.

“Even so, pursuant to district policy, all announcements are written in both Spanish and English. By providing a crutch now, we are preventing Spanish speakers from standing on their own,” he added. “As politically correct as this may be, it demeans the immigrant population as incompetent, and makes a mockery of the American ideal of personal accomplishment.”

In that article, Miller also complained about his school’s celebration of Cinco de Mayo, the existence of a gay club and a visit by a Muslim leader.

Additionally, there is an exhausting list of Miller’s bold displays of homophobia, xenophobia and sexism.

Read the rest at The Root.

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As a wave of sighs, boos, hisses, and expletives flooded various homes and social media platforms in the wake of Beyoncé losing every major category at this year’s Grammy Awards, a familiar sentiment surfaced just as swiftly: “What did you expect?”

The rhetorical question is rooted in the history of the most celebrated music awards show we have. It is a history that has long highlighted the fact that the Recording Academy has little interest in amplifying black art outside a few designated genre categories.

When Beyoncé’s Lemonade lost out to Adele’s 25 on Sunday night, some suspected vote-splitting was behind the upset. I think it was just white people being white—like they always have been.

Here is a list of the 10 black artists that have won the night’s biggest honor, Album of the Year, since the show’s inception in 1957:

Stevie Wonder: Innervisions (1974), Fulfillingness’ First Finale (1975) Songs in the Key of Life (1977)
Michael Jackson: Thriller (1984)
Lionel Richie: Can’t Slow Down (1985)
Quincy Jones: Back on the Block (1991)
Natalie Cole: Unforgettable With Love (1992)
Whitney Houston: The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack (1994)
Lauryn Hill: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1999)
Outkast: Speakerboxx/The Love Below (2004)
Ray Charles: Genius Loves Company (2005)
Herbie Hancock: River: The Joni Letters (2008)

It is a shockingly paltry sum, especially since many were basically handed the award long past their prime and for works that arguably catered more to the taste of the Grammys’ suspected older white male voting body. In more recent years, innovative works from the likes of Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, and, of course, Beyoncé, have lost in this category to artists such as Daft Punk, Taylor Swift, Beck, and Mumford and Sons. It therefore was not surprising to me that in a world in which Taylor Swift has two Album of the Year Grammy Awards and Prince has none, Lemonade lost to 25, a far more palatable album (to white people, anyway).

What’s even more frustrating about the Grammy Awards is that it purports to be more evolved on race than the Oscars. Last year, Neil Portnow, CEO and president of the Recording Academy, was asked about inclusion in the wake of the #OscarsSoWhite social media campaign. In his comments to Variety, Portnow projected a certain moral superiority:

The music community really is much more inclusive because of the nature of the collaborations. Also because of the nature of the proliferation of influences of one genre into another over time. It’s the history of how music has evolved from the very beginning.

Portnow sounds like a member of the Democratic National Committee touting the inclusion of the party while promoting the DNC. Sure, they present splotches of color in primetime, but the reality is that even though black women keep the Grammys alive, they don’t have enough of them in real positions of power. Because the organization don’t value them as much as claim to. Because they celebrate diversity only in superficial terms. That’s just how it’s always been.

That said, something did feel slightly different last night—largely because someone white at least alluded to the blatant biases that consume Grammy voters. Adele, who basically runs the British wing of the BeyHive, used her acceptance speech time (twice!) to profess appreciation for Beyoncé and Lemonade. “I can’t possibly accept this award, and I’m very humble and very grateful, but my artist of my life is Beyoncé,” she explained. “This album for me, the Lemonade album, was so monumental.”

Some took issue with this comment of hers: “The way you make me and my friends feel, the way you make my black friends feel is empowering. And they stand up for themselves. And I love you. I always have.”

Those folks need to be quiet.

Read the rest at Fusion.

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Fresh from a 1999 sugar high sparked by the quick downing of a grape-flavored Fruitopia, I turned on TRL and saw my imaginary boyfriend Carson Daly (whom I dumped two years later for Quddus) introduce the video for a song called “Candy” by some artist named Mandy Moore. When I first saw Mandy, I thought, “Who cloned Britney Spears?”

I mean, I know not all white people look alike, but in the “Candy” video, Mandy gave me Britney Spears, if Britney Spears had longer legs that she didn’t know how to use—much less on a sickening pop beat. No shade. Sometimes a good spin and hair toss is all you’ve got in you. But even though Mandy couldn’t dance, “Candy” was a bop. By the end of the video, I was hooked. She wasn’t necessarily an instant favorite, but now I was paying attention.

 “Candy” may sound a little dated now, but the second you turn it on, I bet you instantly remember how good it is. Just try.

Another stellar single from the Mandy Moore catalog is “Walk Me Home.” It’s one of those cute tracks that recalls some romantic scene in a teen drama. Or, if you were a gay boy in a certain era, a very sentimental instant messenger exchange with a boy you hope really did delete those pictures like he said he would…Whatever, you get it. It’s romance.

As a bonus, I adore Mandy’s aggressive lip quiver in the “Walk Me Home” video. We know she’s lip syncing. All artists lip sync in their videos. So for Mandy to give us such forceful mouth movements just confirms her true artistic commitment. Yes, girl. Sell me the song!

 Then there was “Crush,” which I actually forgot about until I was digging up the YouTube links for the first two songs. However, as soon as I heard the opening bars, I remembered all of the important words (i.e. the chorus) and started swaying at my desk. Hashtag Mandy’s impact.

“I Wanna Be With You” is there for when I want to feel sad, but not like Mary J. Blige’s old hits sad, because I don’t feel like crying in public so early in the day.

As you can see, Mandy’s music career yielded some success: There was a platinum debut and two gold-certified followups. Still, she could easily have set sail for the Island of Lost Pop Acts (I assume Willa Ford and the remaining members of LFO reside there on a villa) after the release of 2004’s Coverage, an album of cover songs from the 1970s and 1980s. If white people had an answer to TV One’s Unsung, Mandy Moore might have had an episode for sure.

But Mandy shrewdly segued into acting, though she kept releasing music over the years. And she really can act, unlike many singers turned thespians. My favorite of her roles is in the 2004 film Saved!, which dealt with religion, homophobia, and teen pregnancy, and co-starred Macaulay Culkin. Hell, I still sometimes fight off the urge to shout “I am filled with Christ’s love!” while lobbing a bible at one of my haters.

Read the rest at ELLE.

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Editor’s note: During Black History Month, the focus is usually on historical figures who loomed larger than life, paving the way for the progress we experience today. But black history isn’t just about telling stories of our past. History is being made every day and has been made throughout our lives; it’s not just in books. It walks among us. So this month, The Root is asking a group of writers to tell us about the personal and pivotal events from their own lifetimes in a series we call My Black History. Writer Michael Arceneaux is 32 years old but moisturizes and listens to Beyoncé regularly.

My Mama, the Heavyweight Champion of the World

I didn’t grow up with a lot in terms of money, but my mother never raised me to think I couldn’t be anything that I wanted to be. She made sure I went to black doctors and black dentists—something that I didn’t realize was a feat for some black folks until college. Even if she couldn’t afford to put me in the black private school she hoped to, I still went to public schools that had smart black teachers who pushed me to reach my fullest potential.

I didn’t have the language at the time, but I was affirmed in my identity for my entire life. I may have been screwed up in other ways, but in terms of how I saw myself as a black person, I never thought of myself as less than. I never let white people define me. Frankly, I was never raised to give that good of a damn about what white folks made of me.

So, thank you, Mama. I’m sorry I don’t like vagina and have yet to produce additional grandchildren for you, but hey, I am not a self-loathing black man. Praise the Lord.

Black Night at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

I am from Houston, so even if that’s majorly just West Louisiana to much of my bloodline, there is no escaping the cowboy sprinkles spread across the city. For those unfamiliar, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is exactly as described—plus a carnival outside where you can get turkey legs, fried shrimp, lots of barbecue, and diabetes-inducing treats like fried Oreos, fried Twinkies and fried cheesecake. Don’t make that face: Fried cheesecake is worth the insulin.

Although Negroes attend the rodeo on various nights throughout its duration, we have a very special night on which we not only honor the tradition of the black cowboys but also feature entertainers who speak directly to us.

Talk yo’ shit if you want, but I have seen the following over my life: Luther Vandross, Monica, Brian McKnight (actually, we left early, but still), Destiny’s Child, Mary J. Blige, Kool and the Gang, and Beyoncé.

You have not lived until you’ve congregated with 70,000 black folks watching cowboys, bulls and other wildebeests while shimmying with aunties to black-ass performers.

The Ruff Ryders-Cash Money Tour

N-word with an a!

This was the most amazing tour ever. Well, besides the Lox, who were cool and all, but I didn’t want to hear all that East Coast rap back then. That aside, shoutout to my big sister for taking me and her other little brother to the greatest show on earth (at the time). Also, if you’re the woman who covered my eyes when the women were brought onstage for the “Back That Ass Up” contest, you wasted your time. I was looking at your little brother.

Howard University

I wish someone had told me when I started high school that there was a way to leave the state of Texas for higher education if I really planned for it. But I didn’t think it was possible. After all, I wasn’t nobody’s Huxtable. However, a very attractive man who was a recruiter from Hampton (think light-skinned, ’90s-R&B-singer bae) convinced me that I could, in fact, leave my senior.

So I won 17 outside scholarships and got private student loans and left for the real HU. Sadly, private loans are the worst pain you can self-inflict besides voting for Habanero Hitler, but even as I curse my lenders every day of my natural life, I will always be grateful for what I learned at Howard.

It was the most diverse place I’ve ever been as I got to see every inch of who we are as a people.

Read the rest at The Root.

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