What Black Panther Means to Me

Today in Black History, I would be remise without acknowledging the release of Black Panther.

When I saw the photos from the Black Panther premiere, I knew right then and there that the cast and crew of Black Panther was readying themselves to take aim at our necks.

Everyone looked stunning. Just regal. Black excellence.

I overheard a coworker gripping the other day over the fact that all these people were going to see Black Panther who weren’t true fans of the Marvel universe. I rolled my eyes. He’s a white, if you couldn’t tell already… He’s one of those “you can’t wear the shirt if you’re not a fan of the band” type bitches.

To my coworker and anyone else harboring a similar sentiment, this is bigger than your little childish fandom, bitch. Get over yourself or go choke.

I realize that some folks might not grasp the immensity of the occasion, so let me break it down.

First of all, for all the white supremacists talking about how this is some nigger shit and how the Black Panther is some black power propaganda: the character of the Black Panther was introduced in the Marvel comics before the Black Panther Party was formed. With this in mind, we can then conclude that Stan Lee simply thought the Black Panther would be a cool character to add to his comic universe.

While it is a revolutionary thought that an entire African country could exist completely outside of the reality of European colonization and that because of this, they are more technologically and socially advanced, but at the end of the day, Wakanda is fictional. (But oh, can’t we dream?)

Second, the fact that this movie is directed by a black man and features an all black cast is monumental when you consider the discussion about diversity in Hollywood.

Side note on the director, Ryan Coogler

Mr. Coogler’s been working for a long time. His first film, Fruitvale Station, made him an indie darling, taking home the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize at Sundance as well as international acclaim, winning the Avenir Prize at Cannes. He also directed Creed as well as a few other short films.

The #oscarssowhite thing brought the issue of diversity to public consciousness a few years ago, but just because it’s not trending anymore doesn’t mean the work has stop nor that the problem has been solved. Ryan Coogler, along with other filmmakers such as Ava DuVernay, have been out here championing the cause to make Hollywood a not-so-white place.

In theory, this movie should’ve been made. However, I doubt it would’ve been carried out on such a grand scale. There was no Ryan Coogler to direct it (or an Ava DuVernay, who was approached for the project first) and up until recently only a handful of black actors were even getting booked for roles. And the ones who were damn sure weren’t getting booked for Marvel movies. Don’t make me break out the receipts.

As the release date draws near, the girls are readying their hearts and minds to receive something that is way past due.

White people can honestly get over themselves and shut the fuck up.

This movie is not inherently political, but the conditions that even make this movie a possibility are. The fact that the thought of “Maybe somebody black should direct this” actually went through someone’s head is revolutionary. The fact that Marvel didn’t just cast some random white people and white wash this story is revolutionary because we know its been done in the past with no after thought.

If you really wanna know why black folks are going all the way up for this movie, it’s because this is a celebration of us. This beautiful cast is all shades, shapes, and sizes of black. This movie will affirm for so many young black kids that they too can be extraordinary and that they too have the potential to be a superhero.

Not to mention, the soundtrack is produced, at least in part by Top Dawg Entertainment, which…

Honestly, I’ve been burnt out on Marvel movies for a while now. After the Avengers 12 and Iron Man 23, I started to wonder how much more shit these hoes could blow up and smash and destroy with reckless abandon. And for what? (Yeah, yeah, to save the world or whatever)

But best believe,I will be present and accounted for for Black Panther.

 

 

 

 

Life Is But a Read

Today in Black History, I honor The Read.

I’ve never related to two people more than I do these two. I found The Read at a really bad time, or a really good one depending on how you see it. Freshman year was the worst year of my life. I was away from home. I didn’t know very many people and my social anxiety was such that I sat in the back of all my classes and never talked to anyone. I went to class and back to my dorm. Towards the end of the semester, I just stopped going to class. My grades slipped, naturally. I had heard the phrase “College isn’t for everyone,” before but that was never more real for me than at that time in my life.

I couldn’t drop out. Momma wasn’t having that. So sophomore year, I opted to change scenery and transfer. I figured it might be a good move. I knew a couple folks on the new campus who introduced me to more people. It was a small town so I’d run into them often. But even then, I still spent the majority of the time by myself.

I listened to my first episode of The Read on August 19, 2016. The episode: Mess Side Story

So I came in about two years after Fury and Crissle launched The Read, but I picked it up with ease, feeling like I was listening to two friends chop it up over whatever came to mind. It was love at first listen.

Since that fateful day, these two are still doing the damn thing. A good friend and I wanted to get tickets to their 5th anniversary show at The Apollo (yes, bitch, The Apollo), but that shit sold like hot cakes. All the tickets were gone in less than 24 hours and our hopes were dashed.

I got over it, eventually.

But I’ll still be celebrating with them in spirit. At this point, Fury and Crissle feel like siblings to me. Three years after my first listen and a bitch finished undergrad early and is making moves to move to the Big Apple to pursue my own dreams in comedy and writing.

I said all this to thank Fury and Crissle for their contribution to the culture and to my own peace of mind. I’ve been watching them grind together this entire time and I’m extremely happy for them that all the hard work is paying off. They dared to move to NYC to get shit popping and while, at first, it was a little bumpy, they’re out here prospering.

Their wave is crazy and it inspires me every day to get on my shit. (If by some off chance one of them reads this…) Thanks Fury and Crissle for all that y’all do. For being inspiring, influential, and unapologetically yourselves.

Happy Anniversary! I wish y’all the best.

 

 

 

 

Give Em LaHelle

On this day in Black History, I’m honoring Patti LaHelle.

It’s impossible to talk about comedy without talking about black women. I’ll forgo waxing on the idea of the plight of the black woman and comedy sometimes coming from situations that aren’t funny at all and  and all that and just say black women are funny as shit. They have been from jump.

If you haven’t seen the masterpiece that is the Got 2B Real series, stop what you’re doing.

 

Comedy gold. The style. The wit. The reads. Patti LaHelle truly created something for the culture when she created Got 2B Real.

G2bR, also known as the Diva Variety Show, is a spoof of a reality show that features some of the most legendary names in pop, soul, and r&b of our time. Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Mariah Carey, and Beyonce are some of the cast members featured on the show. The women are all invited to Patti LaBelle’s house for dinner and the personalities that find their way to the dinner table make for two seasons (and a short film!!!) of piping hot tea.

Together they deliver some the shadiest reads, quickest comebacks, and most potent quotables ever caught on tape.

The brain child of Patti LaHelle has been a mainstay in my life since I discovered it sophomore year of college. I consider Ms. LaHelle a visionary for what she created. Though her Got 2B Real journey is over (allegedly), Patti LaHelle has proven herself to be a force on the internet and a lot of folks, including myself, want to see her create even more content. The day is on its way, I’m sure of it.

This black woman is a comedic genius.

If ever there is a dull moment in your day, take a moment, pull out your phone, and watch a couple episodes. That always makes me feel better.

Thank you, Ms. LaHelle for your contribution to the culture.

 

 

 

 

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…

Breaking the Binary

I read this really dope piece on managing body dysphoria the other day.

In an earlier post, I touched on the topic of my own issues and struggles with dysphoria and expressing my sexuality and gender identity. When I was younger, these problems were definitely more pronounced, but as of late, I feel like I’m coming into myself.

The article gave nine strategies for dealing with those familiar feelings of dysphoria and after reading them, I thought about the ways that I had been practicing some of them without really realizing it.

  • Prioritizing Emotional Self-Care

Creating a good emotional environment for myself has been years in the making. Carefully curating the company I keep, figuring out the things I like to do to occupy my time, and generally making myself a priority.

If I don’t want to go out, I don’t.

If I don’t feel like going to the gym one day, I don’t.

If I’m ever in my feelings about something and I want to drown my sorrows in a dozen donuts, I do.

  • Asserting My Identity

I know my mother hates the way I dress, but frankly, I really don’t give a damn.

Even as a kid, I wanted to dress more masculine but not having complete control over my wardrobe made it difficult for me to do so.

As a teenager, my mother would sometimes prompt me to throw on some make up or do something with my hair or wear a dress.

I’ve neither worn make up, combed my hair, or worn a dress in years and I couldn’t be happier.

  • Expressing Sexuality

I’ve never been one to talk about my sex life. It’s just not my aesthetic. But being grown and independent has done a lot for my sex life. Finally being at a place where I can do what I want, when I want has worked wonders for my confidence.

  • Providing for Health and Wellness

Did I mention I’ve been in the gym? I’ve loved lifting weights for as long as I can remember. I power lifted in high school and my mother, who likes to run marathons in her spare time, taught me the importance of exercising regularly from a young age. But when I got to college, I didn’t exercise as regularly as I did back in high school. There was a student gym on campus but that many people in any size space all sweating and breathing heavy in tandem made my social anxiety flare like it never flared before, so I just avoided it. Not being in the gym or making time to exercise, in general, really took a tole on my mental health. Not only did I physically just feel like shit, I became well acquainted with depression and anxiety and battled suicidal thoughts. The body that I inhabited didn’t feel like mine.

But now I can afford a private gym membership and all is right with the world. Having a regular workout routine gives me a sense of purpose and also helps me feel more in tune and in control of my body.

  • Building Community

Since I’ve stepped into this blogging world and, as a result, increased my usage of social media, I’ve found a lot of folks having the same conversations and thoughts as myself. I’ve found people who I look to for inspiration, knowledge and guidance. Growing up in Mississippi, you can imagine there isn’t much to pull from in my immediate environment, so the internet has really become a second home for me.

  • Making Cultural Connections

Gender is a social construct.  As we develop our sense of gender, we shape ourselves in relation to our cultures. But oftentimes, people of color and others find themselves in a social context that does not represent the cultures that they identify with.

I think there is now an emergence in “LGBT culture,” specifically as it pertains to black folks. The yaaassss-es and the shade-s and the tea-s and the queens: all this new vernacular is a product of black folks in the LGBT community. And of course, mainstream media has done its best to co-opt these terms and erase their origins, but when you do your research, all roads point back to black LGBT community.

Challenging the Binary

My very existence is a challenge to the binary. Even as a kid, I hated doing “girly shit.” In many ways, I suffered from ideas of toxic masculinity passed on to me by the men in my life. (Did I mention I was the only girl of my grandmother’s six grandkids?)

Of course, time has taught me that femininity doesn’t imply weakness in the same way that acting masculinity doesn’t imply dominance. In fact, this is exactly the type of thinking that reinforces the binary.

But when you know better, you do better. For the most part, I’ve come to terms with the idea of gender neutrality and not conforming to traditional ideas of masculinity and femininity and it’s something that I actively practice every single day.

Gimme Five on the Black Hand Side

In honor of Living Single being released on Hulu, I have to take a moment to acknowledge the greatness that is Queen Latifah, in another installment of “Give ‘Em Their Roses.”

I relate to Khadijah James as a writer and and entrepreneur. She was hard working, honest, and had some of the flyest fits out of the cast.

The queen has been doing the damn thing for a loooong time. Bow down, bitches.

We all (should) know that Queen Latifah’s introduction into the entertainment industry was as an MC. She blasted on the scene in ’89 with All Hail the Queen and the rest was history. If you’re talking about the golden age of hip hop and you leave Queen Latifah out of the conversation, just stop talking.

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In the pantheon of great female MCs, Queen Latifah’s got one of the most distinct voices to ever be pressed into wax. It’s up there with with MC Lyte, Lauryn Hill, and Missy Elliot.

Like a lot of her male counterparts, Queen La took her success in hip hop and parlayed that into an acting career. Most recently, she starred in Girls Trip along with Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Tiffany Haddish, but her catalog goes way back.

Who can forget her performance as Cleo in Set It Off?

Queen Latifah stays booked. From crime thrillers to comedies to dramas to musicals, she’s done it all. One of my favorite performances of hers is from Hairspray as Motormouth Maybelle.

(Perhaps one day, I’ll delve into my love of musical theater)!

Another one of her most compelling performances was in the HBO special, Bessie.

Queen La will forever be one of the GOATs. She’s talented, funny, and that black hasn’t cracked yet. And for that I say…

Giver her her roses.

*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?

 

Coming Up On a Year

I wouldn’t be surprised if Donald Trump had a lil touch of dementia. He’s clearly stressed and I know he’s not doing his sudoku puzzles in his free time.

I don’t know how this guy got elected but it wasn’t off my ballot. Do you see how this isn’t my fault and yet I’m the one being inconvenienced? He’s hell bent on this pissing contest with North Korea, he’s aggressively patronizing, and now this nigga claims he’s a “stable genius,” when questions about his mental stability came up.

Fuck Donald Trump.

I really can’t see this administration lasting much longer. 2018 is the year that something has to give. Like…

giphy

I ask: America, what the fuck is your problem?

 

Seventh day of Kwanzaa: Imani

Habari gani? Imani

Faith.

To believe, with all our heart, in our Creator, our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

That’s the motto for this year.

Faith in self and faith in the process.

To reiterate, Kwanzaa is a non-religious holiday. This definition of faith exists outside of any religion. It’s something akin to the idea of trusting in the universe, of trusting in the way of things, of simply believing that anything is possible.

“It begins with a belief in the Creator and in the positiveness of the creation and logically leads to a belief in the essential goodness and possibility of the human personality. For in all African spiritual traditions from Egypt on, it is taught that we are in the image of the Creator and thus capable of ultimate righteousness and creativity through self-mastery and development in the context of positive support. therefore, a faith in ourselves is key here, faith in our capacity as humans to live righteously, self-correct, support, care for and be responsible for each other and eventually create the just and good society.”

We must invent, innovate, reach inside ourselves and dare set afoot a new man and woman. The world and our people are waiting for something new, more beautiful and beneficial from us than what a past of oppression has offered us. Let us not imitate or be taught by our oppressors. Let us dare struggle, free ourselves politically and culturally and raise images above the earth that reflect our capacity for human progress and greatness. This is the challenge and burden of our history which assumes and requires a solid faith.

— words from Maulanga Karenga

This commercial is why I will always have a profound respect for Steve Jobs. I know, I know, I’ve heard he was kind of a dick, he was selfish, blah, blah. These are character traits I don’t wish to imitate for obvious reasons.

But what I cannot take away from him was his vision.

I mean, it’s a reason I’m typing this up on a Macbook Pro right now.

What is it that makes people believe that they can move mountains? What is it that pushes people to create? What compels people to think differently?

Faith.

January 1st always feels like a reset button for me.

Habari gani? Imani.

#2018leggo

Happy Kwanzaa, Y’all 12.27.17

Habari gani? Kujichagulia.

Self determination.

To define and name ourselves, as well as to create and speak for ourselves.

I’ve really been thinking about the fact that I actually maintained a blog for a whole year a lot. Like that’s really my main accomplishment this year, besides finishing college and all. I hold it higher than graduating, actually. I’m genuinely proud of this.

All accomplishments are attributable to some amount of self-determination.

In 2018, I plan to take this blogging thing full throttle. I like what I’ve got going here. Barring some consistency, I think this year has been a success on the ethnic hair section. This year has had no shortage of inspiration.

I blog about a lot of my favorite people making shit happen: Issa Rae, Chance the Rapper, Ava DuVernay, Justin Simion, Michaela Coel, Lena Waithe, Donald Glover, The Migos, and Drake. They’ve shown me that where I want to go is a real place. It just takes a whole helluva lot of work to get there. But work don’t scare me.

Challenge mfn accepted.

Kujichagulia means self-determination.

And I’m determined to shake some shit up some way, some how.