Awkward Black Girl: The Gospel of Issa Rae

This entry is part 3 of 2 in the series College: What the F@#k Even Was That?

I want to say I discovered Issa Rae during my freshman year of college. 2015, two years after Awkward Black Girl and two years before the news that her new show, Insecure, hit the blogs. In that year and a half, I basically stalked Issa Rae’s career. I watched every press junket, internet blog interview, screening appearance, everything. I was high key obsessed. When I came across ABG, (on Tumblr – an era for another post) I thought the shit was fucking hilarious. I had, hands down, never seen anything so relatable.

I too was an awkward black girl.

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And I had never felt so understood. I was already in my feelings about what the plan was for after college. I was meeting a lot of new people and having the same cringy, awkward ass moments and it really gave me peace of mind to know I wasn’t the only bitch out here wondering what the hell was really going on.

So meantime, in between time, my bitch Issa was cookin. I had subscribed to her YouTube channel Issa Rae Presents – where she is still producing and releasing phenomenal content, btw – and I followed her on Instagram.

For a while there was chatter about something about a show called “I Hate L.A. Dudes” that was supposedly in the works. She mentioned it a couple times in some interview clips that I’d seen. A few months passed on that and crickets. I rewatched ABG.

Then she released her book, titled The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. I didn’t get around to reading it until a few months ago, actually.

As a broke ass junior in undergrad, I couldn’t afford any leisure reading.

But I read all the rave reviews it got and watched as many interviews from her book tour as I could. She did some public readings of excerpts from the books and even the stories she was telling about her own upbringing were so relatable to some of my own experiences growing up.

This bitch – I liked her. She got me.

I forget where she announced that she’d made secured the bag on Insecure with HBO, but I shrieked!

All this time, I had been rooting for her and now, it was go time.

And then the trailer came out fall semester, junior year. And bitch, I was too hype.

The show went on to break records and set precedents. Not even half way through season one, it came out that they had been renewed for a second season. And it was a phenomenal first season. Black Twitter immediately schism-ed into Team Issa or Team Lawrence and just like that, Issa had the game on lock.

Golden Globe noms, Covergirl, another season of Insecure

Above all, Issa was proof that if you just start with what you have simply on the faith that your shit is dope, the results can be monumental.

Her success inspired me more and more to leap out on faith in my own life (i.e. figuring out a way to bounce tf outta MS) off the strength that the things that I create are also dope.

Moral of the story: My sis is poppin’ right now and she really just wants niggas to eat with her. For me, the most enlightening thing she ever said was “Network around, not up.” Because that’s the squad that’s going to hold you down when you pop.

 

 

Peabody’s, Pulitzer’s, and the Time100 – Oh, My!

All my favs are out here kicking ass and taking names and I live.

Peabody awards and Pulitzer Prizes were something I was taught to believe only old white men got. Earlier this week, the news came out that Kendrick won this year’s Pulitzer for music.

Now, the receipts will tell you that I have been a stan from time. I’ve been a fan of K.Dot’s since high school. I was really into the music blogs and things back then and I remember my first time hearing of his music was on Pitchfork.com. My good buddy at the time, Lev, one of a handful of white boys in the whole school district actually put me on.

I just remember him coming up to me, going “listen to this,” and handing me one of his ear buds. And I just remember the beginning of Backseat Freestyle and my mind just being blown.

I can go on and on with how much this dude’s music has meant to me over the years, but when I heard damn., I knew it was going to be one for the books.

And look at that: A mfn Pulitzer.

Then, just last week, a host of tweets actually brought me to tears.

Time’s annual “100 Most Influential People” edition that I’ve appreciated for  a long time. As far as journalism, they’ve been a favorite of mine for as long as can remember reading and appreciating news journalism and writing. And somehow, growing up, I’d somehow gotten my fingers on a copy every year since senior high school, no bullshit. The list has featured many people who influence me, personally, and who have changed the game in their respective lines of work. Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Malala Yousafzai, Kanye West, Lin-Manuel Miranda… Beyonce – nuff said.

This year, Issa Rae, Lena Waithe, and Ryan Coogler made the list.

I’ve written, before, on the feeling that there’s truly a renaissance happening within Hollywood and, really, in the creative zeitgeist of the 21st century. And there’s all these beautiful black folks are leading the charge.

Issa’s been giving me life since Awkward Black Girl. Lena’s been moving calm for a while now and finally dropped “The Chi” on all our heads earlier this year. Ryan. Coogler. Black Panther. We’ve already been through that one.

Seeing how these three have been moving for so long has truly been an inspiration to watch. And now, some validation that if you really want and work for it, the world is yours.

The biggest bomb was dropped shortly thereafter.

My bitch, Issa Rae, has a Peabody. Like I said, folks, SINCE THE ABG DAYS. We been rockin strong.

Let’s pause on this for a moment. No, in theory, these constructed institutions that evaluate social and cultural value like the Oscars, the Grammy’s, McArthur Awards, Peabody and Pulitzer awards – they don’t validate us as black creatives. We know that racism is systemic and has found it’s way into these particular systems and that it’s not set up for us to win. But it’s a fact that times must and always do change.

To have the Peabody’s and the Pulitzer’s of the world acknowledge creatives of color is frankly, a big fucking deal. Because these are the things that inform the culture, the names that will be written indelibly in the cultural canon.

So shoutout to Kendrick, Issa, Lena, Ryan, and everyone else honored in this year’s round of awards and recognitions. They deserve and it’s about damn time.

 

 

 

 

Robbin’ Season

Today in Black History, I want to honor Atlanta.

This show was good in so many unexpected ways. Not only was the acting good and the lighting right and the shots crispy, the stories of each of these characters unfolded in interesting ways with every episode. I really started to love each character for their quirks. At moments, it almost felt surreal, like what was happening on screen was happening in some other dimension.

In fact, there are several moments where I think to my, “Who the fuck came up with this?”

The Migos pop up in episode 3 for one of the most interesting cameos in television history, honestly. I was thoroughly entertained for their entire scene.

The B.A.N. was the most cerebral and most hilarious. Every episode puts you in a specific character’s shoes for 30 minutes and in this episode we got to get to know Paper Boy through an interview where he gets grilled on the issue of race. The ensuing debate had me on the floor by the end of the episode.

Not to mention, a dose of Darious, Paper Boy’s right hand man, in almost every episode is good for your fix for deep, philosophical offshoots.

It’s been a year now since the show earned several Golden Globes at the 2017 ceremony. Donald gave an acceptance speech for the culture for their winning Best Comedic TV series.

The show is set for return on March 1st, the perfect way to start my birthday month! I’m excited to see where this second season goes. Is Paper Boy gonna pop? Is Earn gonna get his shit together? Where’s Vanessa working now?

So many questions.

Then as if he could sense my growing anticipation, the good people at FX finally released a trailer

I want to do a separate post on Donald Glover himself. He’s a man of many talents who has influenced my artistic journey heavily. His “alter ego,” Childish Gambino is the name I first came to know him as and even though Because the Internet wasn’t his first album, it’s the album that made me a Childish Gambino fan. But more on that in a later post.

March 1st. Mark your calendars. It’s robbin’ season.

In a Real Way

How amazing is Snoop Dog?

Why I haven’t actually subscribed to the Gangsta Good News Network, I don’t know, but I occasionally watch some of Snoop’s interviews because sometimes they’re the best laugh I have all day. There’s really no one like him.

I feel like I’ve always known who Snoop Dog was. In hindsight, it’s like he was always just kind of in the ether. In middle school, I was really into “old school rap” and I knew Snoop by voice but the “Sensual Seduction” video in particular, comes to mind when I think about the first time Snoop Dog ever really stuck out to me.

I remember going to my aunt’s house when I was a kid. Their house was a duplex, set up to house to full families but only three people lived there – my aunt and uncle lived upstairs and my cousin lived in the bottom level. (Idk, they were from Cali)

But I digress…

Of course, I wasn’t allowed to watch BET at my mom’s house, but when I would go to my cousin’s house and of course niggas was watching 106 & Park in the basement when that video premiered.

Of course it was much later that I realized that that was the clean version and the real version was “Sexual Eruption,” but I think seeing this video was the first time I was realized that Snoop Dog was an iconic motherfucker.

And Snoop’s GGN News isn’t just some third string internet show. Snoop has sat and smoked with some esteemed individuals and they open up to Uncle Snoop in ways that they don’t get to on a conventional news set. I appreciate Snoop and this show. It really exists outside any other news media outlet and allows me to see my favorite movers and shakers in a completely different element than what I’m used to. Whether or not they decide to pass their turn on the blunt, the interviews are always fresh, interesting, and entertaining.

And he’s still good for a fresh freestyle

I was looking through the other day and Kathy motherfuckin Bates was on the GGN Network talking about her show, disjointed and the cannabis movement. The video’s about a month old, but it’s still golden.

Snoop also welcomed my good fave Lena Waithe to the Smoker’s Studio. They got high af and talked about blackness and film and Emmy’s.

Snoop has aged quite well and I mean that in every way.

Not only does he look good, he has managed to stay relevant in interesting ways. From his music, to his acting, to his social media antics and memes, to his independent ventures, Snoop is for the culture.

Today in Black History, I honor the Snoop D-O-double Gizzle, Calvin “Snoop Dog” Broadus.

On Lacking Discretion

A lot of the things that happened this past week is primarily a result of niggas lacking discretion.

I purposely did not watch the Amara LaNegra interview on the Breakfast Club. And y’know….

I tried. I tried to give them their roses and commend them on a job well done in pioneering this urban radio thing and putting in so much time in the game and what have you. But I looked at that thumbnail every single time I logged in to YouTube and could not bring myself to click it. Deep down, I knew some bullshit was afoot.

They broke it down real nice on The Read and confirmed my suspicions. Like I said, I try to give Charlemagne the benefit of the doubt, but anytime the Twitter-verse is buzzing with his name, I know from past experiences to stand clear.

I still have yet to go back and watch it for myself. I don’t make a habit of entertaining ignorance. I was disgusted by what I heard, to say the least. Somebody brought up Cardi B (Envy, I believe), Charlemagne brought up Issa fucking Rae (boy.), and Yee didn’t say a damn thing because she’s lacking in a spine too.

Offset with this damn he “don’t fuck with queers” bit.

We all know what queer means. I use the word to describe myself, but it can also be a slur. Regardless, the fact that Offset’s dusty ass don’t fuck with me and mine doesn’t bother me personally. Of course, this has implications, socially. This nigga is a prime example of other ignorant folks who aren’t aware of words and their definitions. As a writer, it hurts me to see words abused. And then to have such behavior justified on the most ridiculous of grounds is outright insulting.

The answer is no.

Moral of the story: All the migos have been on my list since the first time I heard of them saying some homophobic shit. I really have to take them all with a grain of salt because I do acknowledge that these are individuals of questionable constitution. But my god, bitch, simple media training will teach that it’s best to say nothing when you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.

And of course, who can forget our dear Agent Orange?

Then there was the whole “shit hole countries” comment and ensuing debacle. And I’m sure he’s said some more nonsensical things in the past 24 hours.

This is really sick. Like really.

So I pose a question: Has everyone just lost their damn minds? Like what’s really good? As far as progress is concerned, it appears that we tend to take a step forward and take any number of steps backward in half the amount of time.

It’s too many people who should know better who are just lacking in discretion. This is the skill that distinguishes humans from the other animals – the ability to use logic to deduce from any given circumstance what they can do to navigate that situation as seemlessly as possible. And yet…

*Rolls Eyes*

I’m sure y’all have seen the story by now.

H&M UK decided to model a hoodie that read “Coolest monkey in the jungle” on a little black boy. Politics aside, whoever came up with the print ought to be fired because that is the clumsiest sounding phrase to grace an article of clothing – ever. It does not roll off the tongue, it doesn’t even look good. On a very superficial level, the shit ain’t even worth buying. Terrible marketing.

Now, several people took issue with it. Some folks even took the liberty of changing the design on the hoodie in response to the ad being deemed racist.

Racist?

More like tone deaf. One can argue that tone deaf is the new racism but that’s another post.

Racial politics is a global phenomenon, but most of the backlash came from black people in America. Black Americans are generally a bit more conscious of the “dog whistle” terminology (and sometimes just outright racist shit) used by white folks to undermine different aspects of the black experience.

Monkey, tar baby, pickaninny, allat.

This isn’t to say that race doesn’t exist in the UK, but perhaps we can concede that the dynamics of racial politics are slightly different there. This obviously went through a lot of hands before it made it to the final ad and it’s just hard for me to believe that all those people had malice in their heart. Perhaps

Perhaps

Perhaps

The potential problems that could come of the logo were simply lost on them.

Or maybe this is me trying to make the world not seem like such a shitty place.

What y’all think?

 

Black Twitter Strikes Again

The new year brings new energy to the Twitter-verse.

The hashtag Black Hogwarts surfaced earlier this week and what’s come of it has been nothing short of gold.

K-12, I was one of maybe five black kids who had read the Harry Potter series in its entirety and seen all the movies. I really have strong attachments to the books I read as an adolescent. I can associate specific memories with books and the Harry Potter series came to me right as puberty was rearing its ugly head.

Personally, Hermione was my favorite. In hind sight, I definitely had a crush on her – the character that I’d envisioned in my head as well as Emma Watson. But there were also a lot of valuable lessons that I gleaned from that series that helped me see past the bullshit that was middle school.

Some rules need to be broken. Never trust niggas in cloaks. Beware of niggas that’s hating for no reason. It’s usually better to be the bigger person. Sometimes it really be your own people. Believe in your damn self.

All lessons from a children’s novel. Verbatim.

I tip my hat to you once again, internet. Zingers fly fast here.

Everybody Black #3

The Image Awards happened on MLK day and everybody deserved everything. Lady Ava, entertainer of the year.

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I stan down for her. I’d go as far to say that on my personal list of female icons, she tops Beyonce. I’ve followed her career from jump and I feel like I’m winning with her every step.

Get Out finally got its just due. The Golden Globes egregiously left Get Out out in the cold, taking only Best Actor. Daniel K. did a spectacular job, but the genius of the movie was in its writing, its perspective. Creating a compelling concept movie is an art and Jordan Peele pulled it off beautifully.

I dote over Black-ish quite a bit. This season has really been on ten. I love watching those babies grow. I don’t know who’s responsible for the character of Diane, but they deserve all the awards. Marsai Martin was sitting with the big girls and even got honored with Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy. The character of Rainbow grows on me with every episode. Queen Tracie took home Outstanding Actress.

Lastly, I don’t think I ever gave Girls Trip proper stock in the ethnic hair section.

This movie was damn funny, first and foremost. And out of it comes Tiffany Haddish. I like her. She’s got charisma. She’s certainly worked from time to get where she’s at. Respect.

The Image Awards has been picking up steam for a few years now. The explosion of social justice activity, creators of color, and black Twitter have all been instrumental in uncovering the up-and-coming voices of the culture. And the Image Awards allows those voices to be celebrated in a real way.

Honestly, anybody nominated could’ve won and I would be equally happy with the turn out.

It’s fitting that the ceremony is held on MLK day. The Image Awards exemplifies the dream. The Image Awards keeps the dream alive and pushes the dream forward.

Ain’t it crazy how magical black people are.

12.26.17

My family’s celebrated Kwanzaa since I was a kid. I always kind of felt like it was a special thing and in many respects, it means more to me than Christmas.

Today’s the first day of Kwanzaa.

Habari gani? Umoja

Umoja means unity.

I write a lot of social commentary. That’s really the reason d’etre for the ethnic hair section.

These are dark times, there is no denying.

The forces that seek to divide and destroy us seem plenty. From the election of Donald Trump, police, the Justice system, the American government and really just white people, in general, it’s starting to look like we could be witnessing an unprecedented era of division, distrust, and disappointment.

In layman’s terms, it’s getting hectic out this bitch.

Like, fuuuuuuuck.

But even while knowing all that, I kinda fuck with the idea of the downfall of the republic. College has made me quite the anarchist.

Cause it might honestly do us some good???? Maybe we’ll realize life is so much more rewarding when we stand together???? Like maybe social stratifications and economic gaps and racism and sexism and xenophobia are all byproducts of a single source????

If we get through life, we get through together. And we’ll all realize it sooner or later.

Idk, this is my second attempt at doing a Kwanzaa series. Last year’s was a fail lol but I’ve been reflecting on my content from this past year and I want to take this week to try to unpack all that shit. I have a lot more material to reflect on so this should be interesting.

Umoja means unity, y’all.

Happy Kwanzaa, y’all.

From Rags to Bitcoin: A Discussion on Net Neutrality

Today I woke up to this week’s episode of The Friend Zone, From Rags to Bitcoin. I rolled my morning blunt and made a cup of coffee, per my routine, and pressed play.

Now, let’s backtrack for a bit. I didn’t even realize Net Neutrality was even up for legislative discussion until a few weeks ago. My immediate thoughts: The world is turning more and more into a George Orwell novel every day. I don’t know whether to be intrigued by this or scared shitless. For now, I’ve settled on a healthy dose of both.

I first heard about bitcoin in high school. I was a library assistant and my school had an ongoing subscription to Time and my junior year of high school is when Time published an issue on something called the Silk Road. It was an encrypted, dark web market place where drugs, weapons, and a host of other shady shit was bought and sold with these things called bitcoins. I’ll say it’s the libertarian in me, but I saw nothing wrong with the whole enterprise. Yes, Silk Road was pushing some shady shit but you can throw a rock, irl, and hit somebody who sells drugs or knows somebody who does. In my unpopular opinion, Ross Ulbricht, the founder, was a fucking revolutionary.

The whole bitcoin debacle boils down to one thing: government involvement in private affairs.

The idea behind bitcoin is pretty genius. A deflationary, decentralized currency governed not by a bank or a treasury, but some not-so-simple math. But of course, the big banks that support the American financial system don’t want that because that would eliminate the need for them and when you’re not needed you can’t make money.

And banking makes big money.

But it also fucks a lot of people over. Remember the financial crisis back in 07? Yeah, I heard about it. I was 11 when it all went down but I’ve since read up on it and boy, was that a shit show.

The culprit: Big Bankers and the U.S. government

The scapegoat: the American tax payers

Put it like this: The U.S. government didn’t have its panties in a bunch over the Silk Road because people were peddling drugs and weapons. Like I said, drugs and weapons dealers are a dime-a-dozen. Furthermore, I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say they really never even gave a fuck about that, no matter how much they claim that’s where the problem lies.

What they’re mad about is that they can’t get in on the action. They can’t inflate a bitcoin. They can’t trace a bitcoin. They can’t tax a bitcoin.

Bitcoin gives power to the people and they’re mad about it.

And this is why Net Neutrality matters.

I’m not going to pretend to know what the exact implications on bitcoin would be should Net Neutrality be done away with, but the point here is not the bitcoin, but what it stands for. The bitcoin is independence. The bitcoin is anti centralized control. The bitcoin is antiestablishment. The bitcoin is anarchy. And for that, I live.

Doing away with Net Neutrality precludes the existence of any alternative to the world that we know. It precludes the reality of a world that is fair and a world that is free of fraudulent activity within its institutions.

Save the Internet, Save the World.

Recommended:

Banking with Bitcoin (Netflix)

Deep Web, documentary (Hulu, Amazon)

From Rags to Bitcoin, podcast (The Friend Zone)