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Marion Stokes privately recorded television twenty-four hours a day for over thirty years.

Stokes is the subject of Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project, a new documentary that highlights her work as an archivist, but paints a complex picture of a woman who was brushed off as an eccentric for most of her life. For thirty-plus years, multiple tapes (sometimes as many as eight) would record concurrently across multiple televisions as Stokes personally watched two monitors at once.

Former librarian Stokes, who became independently wealthy through technology and real estate investments, began casually recording television in 1977 and taped a variety of programs, but thought news was especially important.

In 1979 during the Iranian Hostage Crisis, which coincided with the dawn of the 24-hour news cycle, Stokes began recording MSNBC, Fox, CNN, CNBC, and CSPAN around the clock by running as many as eight television recorders at a time. Marion single-handedly built an archive of network, local, and cable news from her Philadelphia home, one tape at a time, recording every major (and trivial) news event until the day she died.

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“She was interested in access to information, documenting media, making sure people had the information they needed to make good decisions,” says the film’s director, Matt Wolf.

Stokes was no stranger to television and its role in molding public opinion. An activist archivist, she had been a librarian with the Free Library of Philadelphia for nearly 20 years before being fired in the early 1960s, likely for her work as a Communist party organizer.

From 1968 to 1971, she had co-produced Input, (which itself was recently recovered and digitized) a Sunday-morning talk show airing on the local Philadelphia CBS affiliate, with John S. Stokes Jr., who would later become her husband.

Input brought together academics, community and religious leaders, activists, scientists, and artists to openly discuss social justice issues and other topics of the day. Marion also was engaged in civil rights issues, helping organize buses to the 1963 civil rights march on Washington, among other efforts.

“Our vision is really aligned with Marion’s,” says Roger Macdonald, director of the television archives at the Internet Archive. “It’s really bold and ambitious: universal access to all knowledge.” Marion’s son had contacted the Internet Archive when he was trying to find a home for her tapes in 2013.

Macdonald immediately seized the opportunity. Those tapes were soon donated to the Internet Archive and are still in the process of being organized and digitized.

 

Source: https://goodblacknews.org/

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According to Variety.com, since signing a lucrative overall production deal with Netflix and after years at ABC“Black-ish” creator Kenya Barrishas lined up his first series for the streaming giant.

 

Netflix has ordered the single-camera comedy “Black Excellence”from Barris, in which he will also star opposite “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation” star and “Claws” executive producer Rashida Jones.

Inspired by Barris’ approach to parenting, relationships, race, and culture, the series is said to pull the curtain back and reboot the “family sitcom.” The series is reported to be similar to HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in tone.

Barris and Jones will executive produce with Hale Rothstein, who has previously collaborated with Barris on his ABC series “Black-ish” and the Freeform spinoff “Grown-ish.” Barris will produce via his Khalabo Ink Society.

 

Source: https://goodblacknews.org/

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According to Yahoo! Sports, the first of what organizations intend to be an annual event will feature the North Carolina A&T Aggiesand Southern Jaguars at the Chicago White Sox Guaranteed Rate Field. It will join The Andre Dawson Classic as ways to promote HBCU schools, which are slowly watching their baseball programs fold.

Erwin Prentiss Hill, CEO of Black College Sports Group 360 (BCSG), told HBCU Sports he wants the event to “promote education opportunities to urban youth” who may not know of the schools or how to navigate the college admissions process.

 From HBCU Sports:

“Greatness comes from historically black colleges and universities. The bottom line is to get more urban youth back to our HBCU’s, so that talented young men and women can add to the legacy of our outstanding predominantly black universities.”

 

The Shadow League @ShadowLeague
 
 

With the decline in HBCU baseball, it's great to see that we'll have the inaugural HBCU World Series.https://shadowlg.co/2VFRfAY 

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NC A&T, Southern University Will Face Off In Inaugural HBCU World Series

The first pitch will be thrown at 1 p.m., Saturday, May 24.

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Baseball’s decline in lower-income communities

The cost of playing sports can add up quickly for families. It’s especially difficult to have to pay for a glove, cleats, bats and even uniform costs, now that there are fewer programs supported through park or school programs.

Participating on a travel team is even costlier and can require more shuttling around from parents, who might already be working multiple jobs to get by. Little League is so high-stakes it’s must-see TV in August.

Billy Witz covered the lack of African-American players on HBCU rosters Monday for the New York Times and noted the decline of baseball through the eyes of Bethune-Cookman athletic director Lynn Thompson. Thompson said places where he played sandlot ball in the 1960s were paved over for basketball courts and parking lots.

Recently, however, the percentage of black players on Major League Baseball‘s opening-day rosters in 2018 was the highest in six years at 8.4 percent. Between 2012 and 2017, 20 percent of first-round draft picks were African-American. Those numbers are in part due to MLB’s focus on its Urban Youth Academies that started in Compton, California, in 2006 and its Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program, launched in 1989.

“It’s been a huge investment for us,” Renee Tirado, MLB’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, said last spring. “Obviously growing the game amongst our players is a priority, so that uptick has definitely been from a concerted effort.”

Perhaps a focus on HBCU baseball will bring those numbers even higher in the coming years.

 

Source: https://goodblacknews.org/

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According to the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln recently debuted an online database of more than 500 court cases in which enslaved persons had sued to gain their freedom. The Dred Scott case in 1857 is the most famous of such cases, but there were many more.

The project collected, digitized, and makes accessible the freedom suits brought by enslaved families in the Circuit Court for the District of Columbia, Maryland state courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court. African-American enslaved families accumulated legal knowledge, legal acumen, and experience with the law that they passed from one generation to the next.

The freedom suits they brought against slaveholders exposed slavery a priori as subject to legal question. The suits in Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital, raised questions about the constitutional and legal legitimacy of slavery, and by extension, affected slavery and law in Maryland, Virginia, and all of the federal territories.

One such case was that of Ann Williams, who leapt from the third floor window of a tavern on F Street in Washington, D.C., after she was sold to Georgia slave traders and separated from her family. She suffered a broken back and fractured her arms, but she survived.

In 2015, original documents about her came to light at the National Archives. Williams and her husband were reunited and had four more children. Then she sued for her freedom. And won. Below is a short film about her story:

The online database concentrates on cases filed in Washington, D.C. in the 1820s and 1830s. More than 100 of these cases involved enslaved persons who were represented by Francis Scott Key, the author of the “Star Spangled Banner.” As such the database is named “O Say Can You See: Early Washington, D.C., Law and Family.”

 

Source: https://goodblacknews.org/

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Most of my thoughts in the order that I thought them while watching the second season of She’s Gotta Have It S2 E7 #OhJudoKnow on a sunny Tuesday morning in Southern California while sitting —again--  on my pink, velvet couch.  (I’m procrastinating on going to the gym.) 

For the slow folk: SPOILER ALERT!!!!! 

Wait. We’re in Puerto Rico. I’m not mad at it. But like…. How did we get here? Was a trip ever mentioned? 

LOL. Puerto Ricans hate Christopher Columbus too. They’re just like us. 

Mars needs a show on the History Channel. His take on PR history is amazing! I would watch this all day. 

And yes, America, we do need to take down the Christopher Columbus statues. Along with the rest of the confederate monuments. 

Travel note: unless it’s a dude with a proven history of good taste, NEVER let a man pick the accommodations. Men don’t have the same standards as women. 

Winny tried to slip in that handcuffs and Nutella. LOL. 

Also, his jail flashback? I love Fat Joseph Cartenga. 

Mars in day-glo swim trunks is awesome. Also, I need to know more about the tradition of the seven dips in the ocean. And this seems to be a holiday. Cause there are fireworks. Which holiday is this?

Aww. Mars vulnerability in his prayer. “I’m down to learn if you’re down to teach me.” 

Ok. They’re walking around PR giving money away to organizations in Puerto Rico. And this is dope. I’m not mad at highlighting PR, or showing what’s happening on the ground in PR. It’s interesting and the cinematography is beautiful. I’m just trying to figure out how it fits in to the actual plot of the story. 

Ok. We’re picking up the eviction storyline from like five episodes ago. 

ROSIE PEREZ looks great! 

Awww! Poor Shemecca. These butt shots are a never-ending tragedy. 

Wait. WHAT? When did Shemecca become Winnie’s girl? 

“Where did you get a pair of those hazel eyes? Jamestown?” Wait. Is that a slavery joke? 

Ma Duke says Nola and Mars are like honey and molasses. They are. I think they would be horrendous in a relationship at this point. Ain’t a bit of responsibility between the two of them. 

Mother wisdom: The paintbrush must tell the truth of who we are. You are not serving your blessing. Your blessing is to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. As an artist, I receive this. 

Wait. When did Nola’s show get confirmed? I know she was working on it, but like when did it happen? This is frustrating. 

 Free Africans in PR? What?? I need to go read. 

I love learning about the Afro-Puerto Rican culture and seeing all these beautiful, fluffy-haired black people and seeing all the Africa in Puerto Rico. And hearing this soulful music. Spike Lee is learning me something good today. And I need to go back to Puerto Rico and not just walk through Old Town and shop/eat. That said… 

There is no story here. It’s a bunch of beautiful, culture-filled scenes cobbled together. Like, if Spike wants to make a documentary about Puerto Rico as seen through the eyes of various characters he’s created over the years. I’m down for it. But doing it in the middle of another story is…. I appreciate the information. Just not the time/place for it. 

Ok. Mecca is talking about liking Winny and having issues with him running a burlesque club. But like, this conflict NEVER goes anywhere. They keep introducing conflicts and storylines that don’t go anywhere.  Whyyyyyyy?

The woman dressed as Oshun? Beautiful. And I’m probably expected to know who Oshun is, but honest to God, before everyone started making all the references after Lemonade came out, I had no real idea. Like, I knew of the orishas in theory, but not in any detail.  

Everyone keeps telling Nola that she is Oshun’s daughter and I don’t get the significance of this. I do not know what this means. I need someone in the story to spell it out for me. 

What ritual is Nola performing where she is dancing in white. I know it’s a ritual because of the white and the circle and the drums and the chanting. The lack of context is killing me here. Also, Africa is everywhere. 

Nola looks so beautiful. She’s a pretty woman. But something about travelling makes her even prettier. I thought she was extra pretty in the Vineyard scenes too.  Also, the blond in the yellow shirt is gorgeous too. 

These shots of Nola and Mars sitting by the water are amazing. People with melanin look so beautiful in white. The drone shot is amazing. 

I’m so confused by Rosie’s confession that Mars’s father is Mookie. Like you been lying to this man about his father for all these years and he has like no reaction to this? It defies logic. Like, his reaction is to have a question, then all laughs? Huh?

 Also, I get that she’s in character from Do The Right Thing for the father to be Mookie, but this is bizarre. 

I love this scene where Mars pays his respects to Roberto Clemente and other famous Puerto Ricans. 

Yeah. I just need Spike to go ahead and do a Puerto Rico documentary. Cause this was beautiful and informative, but plotless. 

 

Source: http://www.demetrialucas.com/dlblog/

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Most of my thoughts in the order that I thought them while watching the second season of She’s Gotta Have It  S2 E9 #IAmYourMirror on a sunny Tuesday morning in Southern California while sitting —again— on my pink, velvet couch.  (I’m procrastinating on going to the gym.) 

For the slow folk: SPOILER ALERT!!!!! 

 

Ok. So Nola’s art show came to fruition. Look. You never know with this series. Just because something is being built up to happen, does not mean it will happen.

My God. DeWanda’s skin look amazing. Shout out to her Mama and whoever is on lighting. 

“Yennifer Clemente” looks like Beyonce circa Austin Powers.  

What is the significance of the face mask?. A guy was wearing one at the Prince Party – was that Spike?—and then someone else, the fisherman, had one on in Puerto Rico. And then now Nola has re-painted Opal’s portrait with a goddess wearing one. 

Miss Ella talking about “don’t worry about the rent” is the most illogical sh— ever. No one who is a landlord says that. 

Awesome that Rockeletta Moss has a nice looking man. But is he really “elusive”? We’ve heard no mention if her love life thus far. This isn’t a reveal to the audience, but it seems to be to Nola. I’m happy she got love in her life, but where did this come from?  I get the feeling that a lot of story was written, shot and cut this season. Time? Episodes? Slow? Something that was supposed to happen didn’t happen.

The reactions to the art behind the curtain are so varied. I guessed that it involved a lynching just because the  therapist mentioned “strange fruit”. And I guessed it was a woman because most of the men—not all—were smiling when they came out the room. 

 

Source: http://www.demetrialucas.com

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“I don’t know how you ended up so bougie when we came out of the same family,” said my baby sister one day over the phone.

 

I was taken aback. Me? Bougie?

And yet I was. Painfully so. And had been, at this point, for several years. But I was still offended. At the time she made this comment, I was living in Washington, D.C., chasing a short-lived stint as a decidedly non-combative TV pundit. It was a cool job n’ all, but it paid zero out of zero dollars. I was, according to my tax bracket, probably the working poor. Yet I had a large basement apartment in Capitol Hill to myself, could taste the difference between a Malbec and a Cabernet, and often frequented rooftop parties in the no-longer-Chocolate City.

 
 

She told me how on TV I spoke so “proper.” Wait, what? We’re both the children of an architectural engineer and a school teacher. How am I supposed to sound? This is my real voice!

Yet, bougie. Like, look down on Applebee’s and refuse to eat there bougie. I was bougie. And no one in my family was bougie. I was raised by a man who only purchased cars made by Ford. By a woman who thought “art” was a bunch of ceramic chickens and ducks. How did this even happen? I’m from St. Louis, Mo., spent my formative years in a mostly black working class suburb and enjoy Velveeta without irony. I can’t be bougie? Can I? I just like nice shit! Like, I’m “fancy,” but not, you know, extra fancy. I put on my palazzo pants one-leg at a time like everyone else!

But, you know? I lost this battle with my sister so long ago that I just had to accept it.

Hello, my name is Danielle Belton. I am bougie.


I’m trying to remember when this became a thing.

This bougie thing.

I was not raised to be “bougie black.” I was actually raised to be a “Terminator.” Like the Arnold Schwarzenegger kind, but not murderous. Someone who could easily move around in spaces and find success without the burden of their resume getting thrown in the trash just because your first name happened to be Keisha. I was raised to be polite. And even tempered. And rational. And even slightly boring. But not a bad kind of boring. More like a predictable kind of mundanity that comes from just focusing on career or school and avoiding “The Trap” at all costs.

“The Trap” is racism.

“The Trap” is the school-to-prison pipeline.

“The Trap” is actual prison or being a statistic—like on drugs or dead or worse. I know you don’t think there’s anything worse than death, but … trust me on this one, there are varieties of hells racism can condemn you to where you’ll wish they’d just killed you instead.

But being a Terminator meant the end game was to infiltrate the spaces most black people couldn’t get into, then open all the windows and doors and let all the other Negroes in. My father was essentially this in all his years in the aerospace industry, choosing a career in management, confident in his ability to get black people hired and paid in that lily white space.

All the piano lessons and art classes and reading The Autobiography of Malcolm Xat 13 and watching all of the documentary Eyes on the Prize on PBS when I was 16 was meant to prepare me for my life of door-and-window opening. Of looking like a “harmless” kind of black, an acceptable black, a “respectable” black when in actuality I was going to take over and run everything and free us all … somehow.

My parents had a plan for me. This plan was not to turn me into Whitley Gilbert.

The Whitley Gilbert thing was a side-effect of all their hard work of emphasizing school and career at the detriment of everything else. A boyfriend? Boys are problems. You don’t need a boyfriend. Friends? Sure, you can have them, but c’mon, are you really going to alter large portions of your life for people who aren’t your family? And family? Sure, we love you and all, but we also love you enough to let you go be a successful Terminator. Can’t stand in the way of that. Move thousands of miles away from us and conquer. We’ll still be here whenever you have time.

Time.

My mother died last December from her battle with Alzheimer’s, and all I can think is I gave up living near the people I love more than anything in the world for my career, and they encouraged it. And I’d give anything for just one more day with her, so I guess I better make this career thing count. It better be a great career. The best career. And I better Harriet Tubman this shit and get someone free in the process. Otherwise, what’s the point?

But back to this bougie thing.

The first time I was in a bougie situation I was, ironically, living in the decidedly not bougie place of Bakersfield, Calif. I was invited to a house party and there was sangria. Like really fancy, nice sangria with fruit in it. Like with “Blood Oranges” and other fruits I weren’t familiar with. At the time, I didn’t really drink and was not particularly cultured when I did drink. All I knew were wine coolers and Boones Farm. Sangria? What’s that? Who drinks Sangria, I thought. God, y’all so bougieY’all too good for some Bartles and Jaymes.

Then I took a sip. It wasn’t bad. And being a Terminator, I knew I needed to play it cool. To act like I’d had sangria before or knew what it was when I had not and did not. I remember calling my sister, don’t remember which one anymore (I have two), and telling her about this bougie shit these white folks were doing out in Bakersfield. I was not bougie. I did not understand it. And I did not try to.

Yet, I didn’t tell them that I liked it.


Our mother, bless her soul, did not like bougie blacks.

The dislike though wasn’t a real hate. It was a pre-hate. It was this thing where you dismiss something before it can cut you off first. My mom was born into a world of sharecropping and beans every night for dinner. She chopped and picked cotton. She helped raise her seven brothers and one sister as the eldest child in the family. She still remembered how folks of better means looked down on them or called her brothers “bad” or treated her poorly. And she carried this pre-hate with her to college, where the bougie blacks were cold. Then she carried the pre-hate to St. Louis, where she would make her home and meet my father. And she still had the pre-hate long after she became who she was the entire time I knew her, up until her diagnosis of dementia.

This was a woman who dressed up in heels and makeup to bring me my gloves at elementary school when I forgot them. This was a woman who was married to a man who worked so hard and well that she didn’t have to get a job. This was a woman who always wanted to learn how to play the piano so she made all her children play the piano, even though one-third of us was vehemently opposed to it.

This was a woman who lived in a lovely mid-’90s ranch house, who didn’t worry about money, whose favorite hobby was to go to the mall and shop. She was college educated and a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and used to be a school teacher and was beautiful and petite and exercised constantly. She didn’t curse, always used proper English and wanted her children to do the same. She was, in fact, the ladiest-Southern-lady-to-ever-lady. We had a living room no one ever sat in and a dining room we only ate in twice a year because, she, the neat-freak, didn’t want me, our father or my sisters dirtying it up. She couldn’t use an ATM or pump gas—these were my father’s jobs. And she was the star of her family and the light of all our lives, but she was scared to death of bougie black people.

Even though, by all appearances to those who were not bougie, she lived like one.

But she was not bougie.

She was just a country girl who happened to like nice things.

The one time during my childhood she was invited to do some bougie shit, I had to beg her to go. It was for a women’s networking group in the then fancy pants, everything-named-for-horse-racing neighborhood we’d just moved into in North St. Louis County.

Back then, there were not many black families in this new neighborhood, so the few black women living there made a little club and invited her. But my mom, being my mom, missed the old working-class neighborhood we’d lived in and her old friends who were all school teachers or letter carriers or custodians. She did not trust this new group of black ladies.

My mom fretted. She hemmed and hawed. I could look in her eyes and see the fear. That old pain of rejection. But I was ambitious, even as a child. I wanted more for both myself and my mother. Even though she’d denied me when I desired to do status humpy shit as a child. Like she wouldn’t buy us name brand clothes—my baby sister and I once had to share a Tommy Hilfiger sweatshirt she gave us for Christmas that both our parents made us feel guilty for even wanting. She also was opposed to me being in the National Honors Society, Inroads or Jack and Jill, or participate in a cotillion. Despite this, I still wanted this for her. If only so she’d make some friends (my mother was a charmer, but painfully shy at times). I also didn’t understand her fear, because as I child I didn’t get that whatever happens to you as a kid sticks with you forever. Those old shames. Those old hurts. Those old rejections. It didn’t matter that they all lived in the same suburb or that she was just as smart, if not smarter than those other women, or that unlike nearly every woman in that group, she was among the few who lived a life of relative leisure.

Bougie black people had this way of making all that melt away for my mother, filling her with a panic.

“What would I even talk about?” she asked me.

“Talk about your kids! Talk about politics!” I said, knowing my mother LOVED reading the newspaper, going to the library every weekend to check out more books to read and loved to argue about whatever was going on politically in this country.

My mother, after all my peer pressure, went to a grand total of one women’s networking group meeting and never went back.

Even though they had begged her to attend.

All she did was complain. And she ultimately did what she always did—she chose to reject them before they could reject her, even though most of the women had a background similar to hers. But she didn’t see that. She only saw fancy cars and designer labels, even though she, too, had nice clothes and drove a Lincoln.


When I named my old pop culture and politics blog The Black Snob, it truly was a joke. A girl I went to college with once told me that I “looked stuck up” based on how happy I looked on my 19th birthday when all my then-friends brought me presents in the school’s university center. She was pregnant at the time and only 18 and felt left out, and I was just some fancy-pants kid living that whole “not pregnant” life. Once she actually met me, she realized I was pretty chill. So chill in fact that for some reason, I constantly volunteered to watch her kid when she went out to party with our friends. Again, I was raised to be blandly predictable and safe, meaning even though there was only a year difference between us, I didn’t go to clubs, drink, smoke or do anything but go to class and run the student newspaper. Of course you could leave an entire baby with me! And at that age, I adored children and could play with them for hours.

But the whole snob thing was a joke. Originally.

Still, people made their assumptions based solely on the name and my uptight, prudish nature. Plus, I had all these random things that made me seem like I was more connected or posh than the raggedy Midwesterner I actually was. The first “sign” that I was not quite as I seemed was when I, coincidentally, met Donna Brazile during her book tour back in the early days of the Obama administration. At the time I was going through a period where I’d forgotten how to dress (it happens) and was fond of just wearing whatever was comfortable. I’d just come out of a deep depression and had lost a bunch of weight. I thought, literally, nothing of the photo I published of me meeting Brazile for the first time, but one of my readers commented that I did not look how they expected me to. Namely, I did not look like the stylish daughter of upper middle class parents, let alone someone who would call themselves “The Black Snob.” I looked like, to be honest, a giant nerd, which is what I actually am.

This was my first glimpse into what would eventually become my life—the highly competitive world of fancy-pants people who regularly went to the Obama White House and enjoyed “day parties.”

What I found was since my blog’s name alone invoked an air of superiority, people were more than happy to tell me that, they too, were “black snobs.” And I, being a Terminator, just sort of let them think that I was too, for better or worse. I eventually would move to Washington, D.C., blow a bunch of money on a slightly better wardrobe where at least I looked like I cared, and rediscovered the same girl who once argued with her parents over…well, to be honest, literally everything...as I desired more than they could ever give me, coupled with my own desire to be a highly competitive black nerd in a magical land of bougie black nerds in D.C.

What was “magical” was that since everyone was basically just a well-dressed nerd in the District, I finally, for the first time since never, felt seen and heard. People wanted to be my friend. People wanted to hear what I had to say. People wanted to get to know me, for me. My experience with the status humpers and the elites alike was not negative, as it was for my mother; it was affirming. In me they saw a sister, a friend, a colleague, a peer. Or, if nothing else, a fellow overly educated black in the land of overly educated black people. But for the first time since never, it seemed like it was a good thing to be Danielle Belton, in all her “snobbery,” whereas in St. Louis, it had been bad to be me.

St. Louis was a tough experience for me growing up. I didn’t fit in. I was ostracized and bullied in school. I was an outcast for almost my entire time living there, until college. And, again, in college, I was boring. The only “un-predictable” thing I did was join Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., which, considering both my mom and eldest sister are Zetas, shouldn’t have been surprising, but it was to people, as I’m not really a joiner, thanks to feeling like an outsider most of my youth.

But as an adult, making friends is easy, as I am chatty and sociable and people seemed drawn to me, no matter my many moods. My adult friends are a varied sort. Not all of them are bougie. Not all of them are intellectuals. Not all of them are nerds or geeks or from financially stable backgrounds. But the one thing everyone has in common is a love for learning and a fondness for nice shit.

The learning is obvious: they are all well-read and up-to-date on the latest debacle in the news. The nice shit, though, could be much more varied: a limited edition Marvel figurine or a pair of Gucci shoes; a springtime venture in France or a summer trip to Martha’s Vineyard; a delicious meal at some place you’ve never heard of or a handcrafted cocktail at some speakeasy; a first class plane ticket or a nice hotel they saved up all year for. Some are great with money. Others are in debt due to their fondness for whatever their fancy vice was. Some seem to solely survive based on the kindness of their better off friends and family. But, god, they are all easier to talk than my former childhood tormentors, who also liked various signifiers of wealth but thought that’s what made a person, not, you know, actually being thoughtful or kind.

I think if my mother had tried, she would have found that not all bougie people are terrible. Don’t get me wrong—there are plenty of shallow, ridiculous people in the world of the bougie black. I just don’t befriend those assholes. I chose to surround myself with fastidious, fabulous, fun, frank and fancynegroes, as you can find those folks in absolutely any city, any state, any place and any tax bracket.

But would my mom pre-reject me, her now bougie child? Absolutely not. I was, and will always be, the Terminator she raised and poured all her love into. I don’t think my mother ever once called me bougie, no matter how high I climbed on the black social ladder. I was just Danielle, her middle daughter, her baby. It pains me that by the time I was finally stable—financially and mentally—she didn’t really get to see it, as dementia had robbed her of her memories of me, my sisters and her husband, our father. For her, my story would forever be unfinished, me riding off to live in D.C., again, in 2013, after a brief stint at home, to a fate uncertain.

But she would never say I was bougie. Because bougie is bad and nothing that ever came from my mother could ever be bad in her eyes.

She simply created a child who liked nice shit.

She simply created herself.

 

Source: https://verysmartbrothas.theroot.com/

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John Singleton passed Monday, April 29, 2019. After suffering a stroke that left him in a coma, his family ultimately decided to take him off life support. To say it was a life gone too soon is an understatement, especially for a figure who has had such a tremendous impact on the black community at large. I grew up in a movie family, so I became an avid watcher from a young age. And as a hip-hop head, I learned a lot, visually, about the worlds I only knew from songs, thanks to John Singleton. To that end, artistically, he is easily one of the most influential artists of my life.

 
 

When Boyz n the Hood dropped in 1991, I was 12 years old. Thanks to (and probably unbeknownst to) my older sister, I was already up on NWA and Ice Cube, an early favorite rapper of mine. But listening to those tapes and occasionally seeing music videos (I lived in Frankfurt, Germany, at the time; any videos I saw were on VHS tapes sent from cousins and family members in the States) didn’t expose me to Los Angeles and the South Central Los Angeles I’d heard about in song. Just for the record, I was an extreme L.A. hip-hop head. If it was coming out of L.A., there’s a better than 75 percent chance that I was all over it, even if I didn’t quite realize those were my tastes.

But 12-year-old me didn’t know what L.A. looked like. I didn’t get it. I didn’t truly understand any of the gang culture I’d heard or knew what the streets referenced in songs looked like. I could tell you all about Compton and the police, even though I had absolutely no real-life reference point for what the city looked like. Singleton changed all of that for me. Boyz n the Hood was a look inside South Central. It was a look at the palm trees posing as the backdrop for poverty. It was confusing. How could such a beautiful place be where the rappers said so much bad shit happened?

My first time in Los Angeles was in 2004, and I was mesmerized. I wanted to see if it looked like Poetic Justice. And I wanted to see if the streets looked like they did in Boyz n the Hood, and Baby Boy, one of my absolute faves. Because we watched a lot of movies in my family and because Spike Lee was a looming presence and because so many movies were set in New York City, and Harlem in particular, my vantage point—even if unintentional (I was young)—on most things artistically, especially black, was of New York. The black world of the South I knew because of family, and where I lived largely centered there. Singleton changed all of that. He added a setting to what I thought I knew. I could visualize the world.

I saw black stories I wasn’t familiar with. I saw a world I had heard of but couldn’t place. I saw people living like me but differently. I saw people who, up to that point, were mythical. I knew Southern black life, both city and country. And I vaguely remembered Detroit. But I was in college the first time I ventured up the East Coast and was a graduate of college by the time I saw New York City and Los Angeles in person. But the art I consumed, especially once I was looking for it on purpose, was inspired by those visuals gained as a preteen and teenager.

My favorite thing about art is how it can transport you into places you might not otherwise be able to go. It’s why I’m such an avid reader. My imagination builds landscapes and buildings that house characters. Much of that is inspired by the films I’ve seen. I saw The Color Purple as a child, and Coming to Americathe same. New Jack City, too. But those weren’t worlds that I fit into or even seemed real. Boyz n the Hood and Poetic Justice were worlds not too far removed from me, just as director Doug McHenry’s Jason’s Lyric would be when it showed me the Houston I knew from The Geto Boys.

Boyz n the Hood has been a looming influence on my life ever since I first saw it. I learned about gentrification. Every time I hear The Five Stairsteps’ “O-o-h Child,” I think of Furious Styles and a young Tre in the car. Even though my grandmother lived 10 minutes driving slowly from the campus of Morehouse College and Spelman College, Boyz was the first time the schools were put on my radar. I didn’t even see the campus until I’d already decided to attend, then taken on a tour by my older sister who was living in Atlanta in my grandmother’s old house that same 10-minutes-but-world’s-away distance. Oddly, Boyz drew me to Los Angeles, convincing me that somehow, I was supposed to be from there. Art is funny that way.

When John Singleton passed away, my first thought was about how much his films, the game-changing ones, affected me. Because they did, and their influence has been present ever since. I’ve never lost the feeling of how Boyz made me feel. I’ve written about it several times for that reason. John Singleton influenced my life with his vision and storytelling and desire to spotlight the world he knew. From Boyz to Poetic Justice to Higher Learning and much later to Baby Boy, John Singleton helped me see black life from new and different perspectives, and I’ve been better for it ever since.

John Singleton, you are appreciated. Rest in Power.

 

Source: https://verysmartbrothas.theroot.com/

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Legendary filmmaker John Singleton was laid to rest this week after he passed away at the age of 51. Naturally, it has many reflecting on his filmography. For me, I’m specifically thinking about his most important film.

 

We know Singleton’s most famous works: Boyz n the HoodPoetic Justice and the under-appreciated Higher Learning, a film that still rings true—just visit any predominately white college or university. But to my mind, his magnum opus came next, a film that will probably not be deeply discussed in the wake of his going to be with the ancestors, but should.

 

Rosewood, released in 1997, dramatizes the 1923 massacre of an all-black town in Florida. John Singleton, at the height of his powers, shines a light on something that has been kept in the dark for too long, centering themes that are as timeless as racism in America.

We know the story. An economically struggling white town is next to an economically prosperous black town. A white woman in the white town is viciously attacked in her home by a man with whom she is having an affair, and instead of allowing her husband to discover the truth, she blames it on a black man, starting a chain of events that leads to white folks destroying the all-black town.

This is Singleton’s best, most mature work. Instead of judging this woman for her misdeeds, he is intentional about exploring the way patriarchy simultaneously deifies her as a victim of domestic violence while still viewing her through the lens of misogynistic suspicion. And despite the fact that few people believe what she says (characters say as much toward the end of the film), they still use her claims as an excuse to engage in brutal violence against the black people in the film. White people are viewed as a destructive, colonizing force—they only used her claim as a reason to unleash it.

That story resonated with me. The fact that a black man would be accused of sexual assault by a white woman is something I was warned about as a kid. From the age of 15 until I went off to college, my grandmother would tell me to “leave those white girls alone.” They “had a history of screaming rape” if things went wrong, she warned me. This was the first film I’d ever seen that dramatized this black urban legend to great effect—but that is not all Singleton wanted to say.

Esther Rolle gives the best performance in the film as Aunt Sara. If a white woman had played a role with as much conviction, this performance would have garnered, at least, an Academy Award nomination. She sees what happens, knows the truth and remains quiet. When she finally speaks the truth, she is shot, killed on her porch.

Singleton masterfully shows us how the psychological trauma of racism unwittingly causes black folks to participate in and internalize the violence that is visited upon us. In his portrayal of Aunt Sara, Singleton shows us how many of our matriarchs went to their graves holding the secrets of the white families they worked for and how those secrets can hurt and, at times, kill. A great deal of research has been done that explores how hypertension, cancer and other ailments are the result of this internalization.

Rosewood is not a perfect film. The performances from some of the young actors in the cast leave much to be desired, and the movie could have been about 10 minutes shorter. But those are small quibbles. I simply do not understand how a film like Django Unchained was so successful while this shorter, more thoughtful film lost money at the box office. Perhaps it was because the former was a fantasy that did not indict white viewers while the latter told a story that happened all too often (especially during the Red Summer of 1919), and did not let its white viewers off the hook. America has not truly dealt with the race massacres that happened far too often early in the 20th century, and this filmmaker, aware of that, did his part to raise awareness.

 

Source: https://verysmartbrothas.theroot.com/

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For most of my adult life, I’ve been the kind of slim that inspired a stranger to tell me “If you could just eat a pork chop sandwich, you’d be alright!” In the fall of 2017, when my husband and I learned I was pregnant, I figured this baby would be that sandwich—but not anything more than that.

 

Nevertheless, during the first two trimesters or so, I snapped on anyone who attempted to tell me that I would likely “snap back” right after birth. “Don’t put that pressure on me; snapback culture is made up by Instagram anyway.” I reminded my husband, playfully at first, and then with more gravitas, that he had to stick with me no matter what. He joked back that he’d never leave me, but that he would start hiding food if it became necessary. As the pregnancy progressed—40, 50, then 60 pounds later—I would waddle down to Shake Shack on my lunch break, sometimes holding onto the wall, as people jumped out of my way.

 
 

I didn’t feel like a glowing giver of life. I felt like a sweaty blimp taking up more space on the sidewalk than was appropriate. I also felt invisible. I’d heard stories of women being hit on while pregnant, but somehow, I dodged that bullet. Once I was visibly with child, even the guy outside of my grocery store who typically asked for money averted his eyes and found another victim. (Small victory, perhaps?)

And so when someone I’d dated years ago texted to say “Hey, long time no speak,” I felt a dangerous thrill at the thought of someone who may not know I was pregnant talking to me. I couldn’t articulate why, but I also felt guilty, even if it was just a harmless text from someone who had no idea that I could no longer wear shoes with laces. We caught up on the basics and he congratulated me and my husband on my pregnancy, and I figured that was that.

As the weeks continued, we’d chat sporadically. “What books are you reading?... How was the baby shower?” and I reveled in the attention of this person unable to see my cheeks plumping, my ankles swelling and yet still able to see me, as trite as that sounds.

Eventually, as people from your past tend to do, he crossed a line. I’d like to say that I blocked his number, but I didn’t. Instead, I changed the subject and then stopped responding to his messages. Meanwhile, my husband constantly reminded me that I was beautiful, but I didn’t see what he saw. I just saw a swollen, carb-inhaling machine. Plus, he’s obligated to say it as my spouse and the person who knocked me up in the first place; how do I know it’s real? 

I gave birth to a beautiful, baby boy and for a while, our family of three was so wrapped up in each other, I didn’t care what I looked like. As the weeks went by and I settled into motherhood, like many predicted, I began to shed the weight I’d picked up.

Yet, when I met new people, I felt obligated to work into the conversation early “I just had a baby by the way.” I wanted everyone to know “This isn’t my real body; this is my body after a baby. Did I mention I just had a baby?...That’s why I look like this.”

Almost a year later, due to the demands of working by day and chasing a deceptively fast crawler at night, I am back to pre-pregnancy weight, but I feel like a deflated balloon, limp and stretched out. My navel is now a sort of valley between my abs that separated (yeah, this is totally a thing). I am softer, lacking the lean muscle mass I had before, and while I feel proud of what my body was capable of doing on my son’s birth day, there’s a part of me that wonders if I will ever feel the blissful joy of rocking a crop top without layering a jacket on top of it again.

So when Ayesha Curry, wife to one of the most recognizable professional athletes alive, author of cookbooks and also of one of my least favorite tweetsappeared on Jada Pinkett Smith’s Red Table Talk and said,

“Something that really bothers me and has honestly given me a little bit of an insecurity is the fact that, yeah, there are all these women throwing themselves [at Steph], but me, like the past 10 years, like, I don’t have any of that. Like I have zero, this sounds weird, but like, male attention. And so then I begin to internalize it, like is something wrong with me?... I don’t want it, but like, it’d be nice to know that…someone’s looking.”

I got it.

For a moment, Ayesha Curry wasn’t the eye-roll-inducing lady in a tax bracket light years away from me. She was a wife and mom who knew that in many ways she’d changed since she was 20. While I was having a moment, Ayesha Curry was learning what many women figured out a long time ago—whether you’re Mother Theresa or Amber Rose, you can get dragged for an entire news cycle or two.

Ayesha sat with her family, moderated by an Oprah-inspired Jada Pinkett Smith, and she did what black women have been doing for years when we get around a kitchen table; she used the safe space to share self-admitted insecurity, one only heightened by the public nature of her life. Maybe, for a moment, she forgot that while those at the table could empathize with the toxicity of snapback culture, unrealistic body ideals, the glamorous trophy that she is expected to be, and a thirsty media wholeheartedly committed to reminding the world of who hasn’t quite lost the baby weight, puerile meme-makers on the world wide web could not.

The critics saw a wealthy woman who previously complained about catcalls now complaining that she no longer had catcallers. I saw a woman envisioning her stock going down and questioning her value. They saw a woman who has it all—a beautiful family, light eyes, and an enviable career, including her own line of pots and pans, whining about attention she doesn’t need anyway. I saw a mother examining herself in the mirror wondering what we all wonder—“Do I still have it?”

I saw me.

In a world that sees nuance as nuisance, women are not allowed to both despise the man on the street that compliments your ass AND also feel invisible in the shadow of a man who is showered with adoration, praise and the attention of countless women.

But I’m noticing something I haven’t quite seen articulated yet.

Maybe the shade rooms are subconsciously realizing what they always suspected: even a handsome, wealthy and successful man isn’t the silver bullet to happiness for women, not even the alleged gold-digging NBA wives. Maybe women are beings with passions and insecurities that a ring and Instagram followers can’t squelch. Maybe, just maybe…women are people too.

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he sixth and final season of the STARZ hit television show, Power, is set to premiere on Aug. 25. The season will be long as hell at 15 episodes, but considering the extremely high entertainment value, I’m willing to be all in and park my ass on the couch every Sunday night to pray on somebody else’s downfall. It really is the kind of must-see television that allows you to hate-watch, gleefully revel in somebody’s death and be amazed that a show where literally everybody should be dead has managed to make it to the sixth season.

 
 

Which brings me to one itsy bitsy, minor qualm I have with the news about the final season, dubbed “The Final Betrayal.” According to this here press release has, it would appear (according to my readings) that everybody will not die. As in some folks might live. This confuses me.

To wit:

“Season 6 brings us to the end of what we know is just the first chapter of the ’Power’ story. However, as one chapter comes to an end, another will begin,” said Carmi Zlotnik, President of Programming for Starz. “Courtney Kemp and 50 Cent have created a world rich with complex and dynamic characters and there are a number of stories we plan to tell as we continue to explore and expand the ‘Power’ universe.”

“We will follow some of your beloved ‘Power’ characters beyond the scope of the initial series,” said Courtney A. Kemp, “Power” Executive Producer. “But we will play with your expectations of which characters, where, and the master timeline of it all, creating a ‘Power’ universe as unpredictable as the original.”

For one, my nigga, what’s this “chapter” nonsense? Ain’t no chapters if everybody catches the fade they so aggressively deserve. But noooo, now Power is the hood version of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice, a not quite finished series.

For twosies, who the fuck is a “beloved” character on Power? Seriously, I’ll wait on that answer. According to my quite scientific polling of niggas who watch Power, we all hate everybody. Spoiler alert, even if Angela is alive, wasn’t an’ soul upset that she got shot by Tommy. In fact, I’m fairly certain niggas celebrated. I know I did. Shit, the only death on the WHOLE-ASS SHOW that I felt kind of like “that sucks” about was Raina. If Tariq caught a hot one at the end of season 5, it’s entirely possible there could have been real live parades through New York City. With floats and everything.

The whole time, youngin’, MOST of us are literally waiting for Ghost to die. The Ghost and Angela story needs some death for that ass. Especially Angela, who is clearly filming season 6 because I follow her on Instagram and she’s sharing info so her contract is clearly not up. Like, I will be mad when I see her for the first time, even if it’s in Ghost’s dreams, which wouldn’t even be a thing if he were dead. But ya know, seasons and shit. Tommy? Cancel Christmas on his ass. Tasha got to go too. Keisha should already be dead. Kill the DA’s office too, blow the whole shit up.

Seriously, who likes anybody on this show outside of wanting them to die? It is LITERALLY what I watch for, the death of main characters. So how exactly will this show continue into different chapters? Even if I have no idea who the beloved characters would be, even if I had one, who has a storyline worth continuing? The only one with a survivable skill would be Ghost since he’s an actual businessman when he’s not a murderous psychopath. Perhaps if Tommy opened up a contract-killing office or something, but let’s be real, Tommy SHOULDN’T BE ALIVE RIGHT NOW.

But this is the beauty of television, isn’t it. I will be excitedly waiting for season 6 to start, fighting the air when I see Angela and Tariq and doing my weekly wish ritual hoping for the death of Ghost in a most splendid fashion. Well played Power.

But if you don’t kill everybody, THAT will be the real final betrayal. You owe us!

 

Source: https://verysmartbrothas.theroot.com/

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Because of my FOMO and my desire to both understand the bazillion Game of Thrones-related memes and references people can’t help but make, I decided to dive into the show. Plus, my entire ass Mondays are shot on social media and in the news curation service I use; a solid 10 articles immediately surface about the previous night’s episode and several headlines have spoilers. I am amused by how upset folks have been at episodes as this eighth and final season comes to a close. GoT is a cultural phenomenon like a mug.

 

At this point, I’m nearly at the end of season 3; so I figured what better time to share some thoughts about where I am with the show than now? Plus, it’s hard as hell to binge this show because I have little children and the sheer amount of sex and violence means I have a much, much smaller window of time to watch. At this rate, it’s going to be a while before I get to the end of the road. So let’s just do it now. Allons-y. Oh yeah, much like winter, spoilers are coming. That’s a GoT joke. If you don’t watch and/or are getting into the series, spoilers are definitely coming, though.

 
 

1. Because of the ease with which I’ve taken up this show this time around (I tried many years ago and couldn’t get into it), I have no idea what held me up before. Perhaps because of the show’s elevated status and the excitement for this final season, I’ve approached it with a different heart and soul; but I will concede that I’m rather enjoying the show. The amount of drinking games you can play (number of breasts you’ll see, heads cut off, etc) is astonishing. Granted, I was never a person who was insistently not watching, but I wasn’t compelled to join the fray either.

2. At the same time, I’m not entirely sure why folks think this show is soooo great. I like fantasy and shit and understandably, I’m not even halfway through the show, but I keep waiting for the “holy shit, GOAT!” moment. The dragons make me excited, though.

3. I know I’m supposed to hate him, but holy fucking crab cakes, Batman, do I viscerally hate Joffrey. Like, whew chilay! I want buddy roasted. Permanently. By a dragon.

4. There are a significant number of insufferable characters on this show. Jaime Lannister is one of the most insufferable. Clearly, I’m not the only one who felt that way as homie’s fortunes suuuuck and now Uno isn’t just a card game. Luckily, he doesn’t have to attempt to make it clap too often.

5. There are a lot of damn characters on this show. Whiteness is everywhere. I cannot remember the name of tons of folks and then here comes some new person who I think is important but maybe not and I legit cannot tell and they might could be killed in the next episode after changing the whole show for like 10 minutes anyway. Just saying, there are a lot of damn characters on this show.

6. This show is very intriguing in its framing. For most of the time I’m watching, the television show seems very middle ages, ya know? Hard livin’, with nothing but fighting, fuckin’ and well, a game of thrones. But then, there’s this whole other actually fantastical show that exists within it where there are dragons, dragon mothers and the Dothraki and fuckin’ Qarth and multiple people who disappear and magical houses and shit. I’m sure the whole thing will come together eventually in later seasons I’ve yet to reach, but right now, it almost feels like Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes To Jail, which if you’ve seen it, was like two entirely non-related, different movies running parallel for 85 minutes of the 90-minute movie.

7. Again, I know it’s early, but I really hope the direwolves mean something substantial by the end of the show. It’s like they matter but they don’t. I just like the wolves and the dragons.

8. Right now, Tyrion is my favorite character but I also really like Daenarys because she’s a dragon mother and she’s out for blood and shit. I’m guessing considering this show’s trajectory, either both will die or I will hate them both by the time the show is over.

9. I must say, the way folks have been seemingly unhappy with the final season has me less than interested in continuing to trudge this out. While I’m enjoying it, it is becoming a bit of a labor of love because I can’t truly binge it. I will keep on pushing but I really hope the series finale makes up for it all because I’d hate to know how crappy it will become and fight my way through it all anyway only to feel how everybody else feels right now.

10. In case it isn’t clear, I’m here for the dragons. Because of social media I know she loses at least one (and maybe another) and that makes me sad. If I had three dragon children I’d be so upset if I lost any of them.

 

Source: https://verysmartbrothas.theroot.com/

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I recently took a trip down to Atlanta for my niece’s high school graduation. Despite the amount of Red Bull I consume (does anybody else think the only reason flavored Red Bull exists is to mix with vodka?), I do not have wings. So I had to fly. There are times when I fly that I’ll spring for an upgrade to either first class if it’s not too, too expensive or just to move up in boarding so I can ensure my bag makes it into overhead cabin space. This time, however, I took whatever the airline gave me, and boy did Delta show its ass.

For one, Delta has done away with boarding zone numbers in favor of a more word-dependent system but in proving that the airline doesn’t keep up with social media or black people, the last zone to board is now called “Basic.” And really, calling it a zone is unfair; this is the point in boarding when the folks at the counter just say “anybody else waiting around who thinks they’re getting on this flight, you can board now.” On my flight to Atlanta, Delta didn’t even say that as apparently the “Basic” zone only included myself and another person, so they actually called our names over the loudspeaker like we had gotten lost in the airport or something. Do better Delta.

 
 

Well, buying a “Basic” ticket pretty much put me into a seat towards the back of the plane. And you know what that means. It means I got to sit with the folks who could afford a plane ticket, but also think that they should be able to afford a more expensive plane ticket or an upgrade, so their behavior comports to that fantasy as opposed to the reality of sitting in seat 39B. This creates an unintentionally funny social experiment of annoying people. You know the type—the kind who sit in standstill traffic and honk their horn because if the cars around them would JUST MOVE they’d be able to go about their day just fine. People are dumb. And all of those people are on airplanes, naturally. Here are five of the most ridiculous of them.

1. The person in the last row who somehow decides that as soon as the plane stops they should grab their shit and try to run down the aisle to get as close to the front as possible.

If this is you, stop it. You’re not getting more than two rows ahead and you’re fucking up the feng shui and flow of deboarding traffic. Because if you’re going to do THAT, then you’re definitely going to try to squeeze past others while they grab their bags and not say excuse me, as you fuck up everybody else’s deboarding process.

2. The person who is in row 21 but had to put their bag in the overhead above row 27 but thinks that the whole-ass plane should wait for them to get their bag before row 22 up and gets off the plane.

I saw this yesterday. A woman literally stood in the aisle asking people six rows back to get her bag out of the overhead compartment and pass it down as opposed to waiting like she ended up HAVING to do. Just stop it.

3. The people in the window seats in any rows behind say 10 in coach, who are trying to stretch out and inch closer to the aisle that’s being blocked by, well the people closest to the aisle.

Stop touching me.

4. The folks who try to get out into the aisle for no good reason because they can’t go nowhere and obstruct the people trying to get their bags out because it’s their turn to actually get off the plane.

I realize this whole ridiculous list includes the built-in notion that there is order to getting off a plane. Some of you don’t believe this. Some of you believe you if you can beat the system, then you should beat the system. In very rare instances the system is beatable on a packed plane. But mostly, you are just like the rest of us who ain’t first-class mofos who will need to patiently and chillfully wait to get the fuck up off the plane. Eckspecially if your ass is in the “economy coach” class rows above 30. It’s gon’ be a minute, buddy. Let the folks get their bags, my G.

5. The people in middle or window seats who ask you to get their roller bags from the overhead compartment and pass it to them taking up valuable real estate as they open it up and check to make sure all the shit that was in there when they put it in the overhead space is still there EVEN though literally nobody could have stuck them for their paper without them knowing.

I hate you people. Just perish. Panama says just perish.

Bonus

On my flight to Atlanta, I was in row 35 and had the aisle seat. I was sitting next to two chaps with an affinity for flying planes who spent THE FIRST HOUR of an hour-and-a-half flight talking about famous plane crashes. Bruuuuuuuuh.

 

Source: https://verysmartbrothas.theroot.com/

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“You’re so different. You’re so articulate. Why do you talk like a white girl? You’re the whitest black girl I know.”

Comments like these beg the question: What makes you black? Is it merely the color of one’s skin? Is it a state of mind? Knowing the lyrics to Cardi B’s songs?

 
 

It took me a while to embrace that my blackness was not the stereotype others believed.

In some ways, I am different. I was lucky to be raised in a household where I received all that I needed, with some of what I wanted. My parents encouraged me to spread my wings and move from my native New York to Miami for a job as a prosecutor. Being a black prosecutor was isolating, but I found others like me midway through my career.

I lived in a weird juxtaposition—I was a black female attorney, holding down a teaching job on the side, which allowed me some luxuries in life like a nicer car and the ability to travel. I never took it for granted; but in certain circles, I got pushback.

The message? That I “don’t know the struggle.”

Every black person’s struggle takes a different path but has the same theme. In my legal career, the struggle is respect, being heard, and having the ability to make meaningful change to uplift communities of color. The bias looks the same—while some people of color may be hesitant to embrace you because you’re perceived as “bougie,” certain white folks marvel that you can afford a luxury purse or a high-end foreign car without being tied to illegal activity. I was once at an event when a judge joked to me whether or not my Michael Kors purse was a result of dropping cases as a prosecutor.

No lie.

In doing community work, I often had to work harder to gain the credibility of my fellow people of color because I just seemed “so different.” One day, I was picking up a friend who lived in a poorer area of the city. She sent a young niece to let me know she was running late. I told her no problem. The niece went back to my friend and said, “why does she talk like that?”

“Like what, Sweetie?”

“Like a white girl”

I never was great at the code switch—I just was always me. Besides, I had no code to switch from. The result was working doubly hard in every environment.

Finally, I just stopped.

I always bristle when someone says “well s/he’s black, but you know, not really” or “s/he is the whitest black person I know.” Often this is said by a white person, possibly thinking it’s some sort of compliment, along the same lines of “you’re just so articulate.”

Really? How is that? Because the person doesn’t fit some sort of stereotype? Speak in a certain way? Throw the black power fist in the air for your entertainment?

To me, it’s not just about knowing pop culture or the latest urban wear designer. It’s knowing your history and being authentic to your roots. I’m an African-American woman, born of two immigrant Caribbean parents. If you really want to get down to it—Afro-Caribbean-American. I wear my hair in dreadlocks as a nod to the natural beauty of my own hair texture, not what Hollywood or someone else says is beauty. I can recite every Public Enemy song, but not so much for hip-hop past the year 2000 (I feel the message has been lost—with a few exceptions). I serve my community and humanity at large to the best of my ability. I fight injustice where I can. I see my dark complexion in the mirror and feel proud, strong and beautiful. Being African American presents challenges because of the ignorance of some, but I was given the tools at birth to be a warrior for positive change.

I’m in a place where I believe that the work I do daily reflects my authenticity. The work of fighting for racial equality is too important to get caught up in how I look or sound to others.

This is me.

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My daughter is now 10 years old. This means in eight years she’ll be off to Spelman College in Atlanta to become the best she can be at the best HBCU in the country. I remember announcing on this here website that her mother was pregnant. Oh, how time flies. While my daughter can go wherever she wants—and I will be fine with whatever she decides to do with her life as long as it’s what she wants to do—if you ask her right now, she’ll tell you Spelman. Look at gawd.

This means I need to make her HBCU-ready. Or at least make sure she ain’t like waaaaaay too many folks I know who went to HBCUs who weren’t up on various parts of the game. It was quite illuminating. One thing that I learned at Morehouse College is that even though it’s a black school, so many of our experiences were vastly different. I know we are not a monolith but you’d think some things translated across the African-American diaspora. Well, since I’ve found that to be untrue, I will ensure that my children are prepared to not be outsiders to any of the more standard facets of black culture so that there will be no blackness shaming up in nobody’s dorm as niggas break out the decks of cards. Here are seven black-ass things I will make sure my chirrens are up on.

 
 

1. How to play Spades

My kids will not be the ones who don’t know how to count books or even understand how the game is played. They will know how to play Joker-Joker-Deuce-Deuce, know proper Card Slap Etiquette and how to score. Basically, one weekend a month, my home will be a Spades camp. Feel free to send your kids if you don’t know how to play. I will accept cash or money orders and I’m not going back and forth with you niggas about it. Also, Uno.

2. How to do the Electric Slide

At no point will they be outsiders at weddings, funerals, cookouts, family reunions or random warm, sunny days on the yard. Where there are two or more gathered in the name of blackness, a line dance is threatening to break out.

3. The significance of Frankie Beverly & Maze’s “Before I Let Go”

Black staple. Call it the Urban Swingline. See what I did there? My chirrens will know how to bust out the Electric Slide to this song AND KNOW this means its time to go at the club, or it’s time to really enjoy yourself at the cookout. But most importantly, they will know the best time to unleash the song. Dracarys! Do you see what I did there?

4. Cameo’s “Candy” for the same reason as “Before I Let Go”

And because Beyoncé really does care about the people, she put them both together in one song so everybody can win at the same damn time. By the time my kids are in college, presumably at HBCUs, I believe Bey’s version will be the pre-eminent version.

5. At least the whole first verse to “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing”

I know maybe one person who knows the entire second and third verses of this song. Most of us just hum. But anybody making you sing past the first verse is a masochist anyway, so as long as they have the first verse down we Gucci and I’ve done my job.

6. The black classic movies

Brown Sugar, Coming to America, The Color Purple, Love Jones, Love & Basketball, The Best Man, Boomerang, Boyz N The Hood ... I could keep going. There will be watch sessions of them all. Multiple times. Won’t be nobody talking about, “YOU HAVEN’T SEEN LOVE JONES!” to my kids. No siree, Bob.

7. The Autobiography of Malcolm X

This will happen. Because it must happen. Because it will always be one of the most important books ever. They will also read Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and pretty much as many of the books on my black shelves as possible.

I know there are as many different ways to be black as there are black people on the planet. But my kids won’t be deficient in any of the aforementioned ways dammit.

 

Source: https://verysmartbrothas.theroot.com/

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As wealthy New York families drove east to the Hamptons over the holiday weekend, the Shinnecock Indian Nation protested their presence via billboard, The New York Times reported.

Standing six-stories high, the billboards sit on the main highway that all drivers heading to the Hamptons must use. While the signs reportedly show ads for watches and reminders to drive safely, among other things, the Shinnecock tribal seal sits atop the billboards, 60 feet in the air. The message is simple: the Hamptons actually belong to the Shinnecock Indian Nation.

 

The jurisdiction doesn’t allow billboards, and state officials reportedly pushed back with legal action against the Shinnecocks. The Times reports that a state judge issued a temporary restraining order to halt construction on the two electronic signs. But the tribe, which is native to the land now called Long Island—including the ground on which the billboards sit—is standing its ground.

“We don’t recognize their authority on our sovereign lands,” Bryan Polite, the tribe’s chairperson, told The Times. The tribe expanded on that point in a statement posted to Facebook today (May 28). From that statement:

The state’s lawsuit against Shinnecock officials is a thinly veiled attack on the Shinnecock Nation and our right of self-determination. Throughout our history, our lands and economic future have been taken from us by the state and the surrounding community. Our goal is simply to generate revenue to provide for our people. The state has a long history of bulldozing Indian lands and Indian people to get what it wants. We will fight against the most recent effort to attack our tribal sovereignty.

The Shinnecock Nation sees the start of summer as the perfect time to protest, and the highway as the best venue to get the word out. It also sees the billboards as a way to create much-needed revenue for the tribe.

“We’re taking advantage of the opportunity because of the fact that billboards are not allowed in the Hamptons. On our land, we feel we had a captive audience with the highway traffic,” Lance Gumbs, vice chair for the Shinnecock Indian Nation, told Newsday.

As of now, Newsday reports that the tribe has no plans to remove the billboards.

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Iconic author Toni Morrison has earned a lifetime’s worth of awards and honors for her contributions to literature, and today (May 22) she is the recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Gold Medal for Fiction. The Gold Medal—the organization’s highest honor for excellence in the arts—is awarded to artists who have achieved eminence via their entire body of work.

Morrison’s eminence cannot be overstated. At age 88, the author has penned 11 novels that confront race and culture head-on, including 1987’s “Beloved,” which won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. In a thesis that argued for the best literature ever produced, The New York Times praised the book, writing that in “less than 20 years after its publication, [“Beloved” has] become a staple of the college literary curriculum, which is to say a classic.”

In addition, Morrison, who is also the Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities, Emerita, at Princeton University, has also been awarded with the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Nobel Prize in Literature, among many other distinguished honors.

In honor of the storyteller, who is also an Academy member, the Academy wrote that, “Toni Morrison has, over the years, shaken us out of the ruts of our ordinary perspective. She has allowed us to walk through various shades of the national experience, always incisively, provocatively, generously.”

 

Source: https://www.colorlines.com/

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GLAAD’s newest diversity report shows a drop for LGBTQ+ characters of color and improvement with regard to trans characters.

 

GLAAD’s newest diversity report shows that Hollywood still has a long way to go when it comes to representation for LGBTQ+ people of color.

“The racial diversity of LGBTQ characters saw a drop this year, with 42 percent of LGBTQ characters being people of color, compared to 57 percent in 2017,” says the 2019 GLAAD Studio Responsibility Index(SRI), released on Thursday (May 23). “There were no transgender or nonbinary characters counted in mainstream releases [in 2017].”

The annual index tracks the diversity, quality and quantity of LGBTQ+ characters in films released by seven major studios; for 2018, the organization researched films from 20th Century FoxLionsgateParamount PicturesSony Pictures EntertainmentUniversal PicturesThe Walt Disney Studios and Warner Bros.

“Of the 45 characters counted, 26 were White (58 percent), 10 were Black/African American (22 percent), six were Asian/Pacific Islander (13 percent) and three were Latinx (7 percent).”

While the 15 percent drop in LGBTQ+ characters of color is alarming, the report did find that LGBTQ+ representation increased 5 percent overall from the year before, and for the first time since GLAADstarted mapping these trends in 2013, an equal number of films featured gay and lesbian characters.

Other findings in the report show that if Hollywood wants to keep the LGBTQ+ community interested, “the studios must create stories that are reflective of the world LGBTQ people and our friends and family know and make those films accessible in wide release.” From the report:

GLAAD and The Harris Poll’s Accelerating Acceptance report shows that 20 percent of Americans aged 18 to 34 and 12 percent aged 35-51 identify as LGBTQ. Twelve percent of Americans 18-34 identify as transgender or gender nonconforming. A majority of these demographics would also call themselves allies—63 percent of Americans 18-34 and 53 percent of Americans 35-51.

Of the 110 films GLAAD counted from the major studios in 2018, 20 (18.2 percent) contained characters identified as LGBTQ.

There were zero transgender-inclusive films from the major studios in 2018, a finding consistent with the previous year.

Read the full report here.

 

Source:https://www.colorlines.com/

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