Nipsey Hussle: How Black Folks Respond to the Murder of a Ghetto Champion

The bold assassination of Nipsey Hussle has triggered heightened reactions from those in the Black community.

Response #1: Fear

The first part of these reactions begins with a question:

Once you “make it” or become successful, should you come back to help others from your community?

Let me begin by saying that the fact that Black people, the most structurally oppressed people in America and globally, are questioning whether or not they should come back and help other Black people is beyond RIDICULOUS! If we don’t help each other, then who will?

We have been one of the main groups of people who have struggled to unify. Granted, this was not a problem that we originated. Since the moment African people were stolen and shackled into this country, there have been consistent efforts from outside sources — aka White America — to keep us dismantled. We were conditioned to see each other as opponents instead of as family.

We are historically aware of the forceful attempts to divide us. With this knowledge, why would we allow the evil actions of one person to separate us further? The fact that Nispey’s killer has got Black celebrities and influencers fearful of continuing with their philanthropy in Black neighborhoods is beyond enraging. Cutting ties with the same community that made you, supported you, and celebrated your potential when no one else would makes you a selfish coward committed to no one but yourself. You will gladly step on the backs of our people to reach heights that you are unwilling to make available to others.

I’ve heard some Black celebrities talk about how they’re not trying to “keep it real” anymore, and that “keeping it real” places your life at risk. Seriously!? This has nothing to do with “keeping it real”. What does that phrase even really mean? I assume it means that you adhere to your old ways of behaving so as not to be seen as a sell-out by your people. But this is dumb. No one is suggesting that you engage in ways that are foolish and reckless. No one is advocating that you neglect the wiser person that you are now for the ignorant person you once were.

Nipsey wasn’t “keeping it real” by doing dumb sh*t, he was simply standing outside of his place of business — a business that he used to help employ other Black people. This situation has nothing to do with “keeping it real”, but it has everything to do with not taking advantage of your community by getting wealthy off of them and then leaving them in the same chaos that made you rich. It’s about values. It’s about not only looking out for yourself.

What’s even more devastating is that young, Black kids are witnessing the fearful retreat of Black celebrities — their role models — and they internalize it. Days after Nipsey’s death, I returned to a high school in Compton where I was facilitating weekly workshops. Needless to say, the students were not interested in working. They needed to vent, to release their pent up frustrations. While in passionate dialogue, one student said, “We all should just leave and not come back.” Another student in my class said, “Ms. Bethanee, I’m not trying to go to college right now, I’m trying to survive.” My heart shattered.

My students feared gang retaliation. They feared for their safety — for their lives. They couldn’t wrap their minds around such a tragedy. I was like a sergeant watching all of my soldiers shrink down from the warriors that they had become. How do I resurrect their spirits during a time such as this?

I understand their fear and confusion. The question essentially becomes:

1). Why do good, if no one appreciates it?

2). Why should I risk my life to do good?

I get it. Your safety is a priority. You must be mindful of your surroundings and who is in your space. There will be times when you must keep a safe distance. But you do not abandon your community. You always come back to help if you can. We are not crabs in a barrel. We are a people with so much power & beauty & influence who only need to learn how to work & harness power together. We must trust each other — When will we trust each other?

If a soldier dies on the battlefield, do you run away in fear, or do you pick up the sword and charge forward? This is not the first time that a pillar of the community has been slain. Their deaths shouldn’t stop our progression. You pick up the baton and you keep going. We are fighting a war — a mental, political war. We are fighting against the racist structural forces around us, while fighting against the negative stereotypes and lies the world has taught us to believe about each other.

In response to my students, I say this:

You do good because it is the right thing to do. You do good because you are manifesting a bigger picture, a greater vision that goes beyond you. You do good because it enchances the joy within yourself, not because you need validation. There will always be people who will acknowledge and appreciate your good work. The community appreciated Nipsey. One person shouldn’t hinder others from receiving blessings.

When you are doing good things, with the right intention, you are not risking your life. You are fulfilling your life’s purpose. Be smart. Be intentional. But do not be afraid.

Response #2: Conspiracies

The second part of these reactions stems from Black people criticizing other Black people for providing conspiracy theories surrounding Nipsey’s death.

Listen, I don’t know the full details or reasons behind Nipsey’s murder aside from what has already been reported. Would I put it past the government to do some shady sh*t? No. Would I put it past an evil soul to commit a heinous act independently? No. Would I put it past an evil soul and the government collaborating? No. Again, I don’t have the answer. However, don’t criticize Black people for thinking there is a conspiracy.

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a conspiracy is: “A plan secretly devised to accomplish an evil or treacherous end. A plot. Implies careful foresight in planning a complex scheme.”

Historically, we know about calculated efforts meant to destroy us. We know how the government has not only infiltrated our communities and organizations, but has infiltrated global communities to intentionally cause havoc — to intentionally keep people in a state of oppression all in efforts to maintain power.

Understanding all of this, you can’t blame Black people for responding in a way that history has taught us to respond. A history that veils the truth and swarms us with lies.

The very fact that we are questioning the narrative at all reveals the residue of a painful past that has yet to heal. Questioning the narrative is a reflection of our current national turmoil. We are living in a time where we don’t know what the truth is. We must question everyone’s story because so many people are LYING. Our own president is a blatant liar who showers our social media feeds with outlandish fiction. He is able to lie because his supporters allow it. We are living in a world of smoke and mirrors.

You can disagree with conspiracies but don’t act as though people are so crazy that they would create scenarios or plots that haven’t already played themselves out in our history. Whatever narrative you choose to believe, what cannot be disputed is the fact that Nipsey has passed away.

Response #3: Unity

However, his hopes and his dreams are still alive. He planted good seed and it is our job to nurture what has sprouted and aid in the growth of our people — to invest in our youth. Dreams only die if we let them. I’m so proud of the way my city came together to honor Nipsey, and to show the world that Black folks know how to rise as one — how not to retaliate against each other, how not to fear each other — that’s progress.

Let’s continue. Let’s uphold the vision. Let’s pick up the baton, and keep going. We can cross the finish line together.

New Year, Same War Cry

 

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It’s a new year, and as much as I wanted to begin my first 2019 blog with something motivational, something inspirational, I found myself needing to vent, needing to purge, needing to wail the same war cry I’ve always bellowed:

“Protect Black Women, Love Black Women.”

2019 started with multiple stories detailing the assault against black girls.

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First, there was a video going viral on social media showing a black girl — Yasmine James — getting assaulted by a white man while working the register at Mcdonalds. The white man — Daniel Taylor — reaches ACROSS the Mcdonald’s counter, GRABS Yasmine by the collar, and violently PULLS her back to the counter. Instinctively, James defended herself with a series of blows she gave Taylor. Her co-wokers watched James defend herself for quite some time before mildly stepping in and telling Taylor to stop. What started the quarrel? Taylor was upset that there were no straws readily available to him, which led to a heated conversation with Yasmine.

 

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Second, the R. Kelly docuseries aired on Lifetime and chronicled the horror stories of underage black girls who were manipulated, brainwashed, and muscled into an illegal, sexually abusive relationship with the R&B star. The docuseries led to a flood of commentary and criticism from the public. There were many within the black community that overlooked the alarming evidence produced by the documentary and defended R.Kelly while chastising the victims.

 

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Third, 7 yr. old Jazmine Barnes was killed during a drive-by while out with her mother and sisters. Jazmine’s mother was shot as well. The shooters claimed it was an act of “mistaken identity”. Jazmine Barnes’ murder caught national attention. Based on a criminal sketch of the shooter, it was believed that the killer was a white male. To the surprise of many, the shooters were black. 

 

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Fourth, today it was reported that in North Carolina, 51 yr. old David Bell — who is 6’5″, 250 pound white dude — stood in the center of an altercation with a group of black girls while standing outside of a mall. He gets into verbal combat with an 11yr. old black girl  and violently pushes her away. Upset that she was pushed, the 11yr. old girl aggressively walks up to Bell, and Bell heavily PUNCHES her in the FACE, and the little girl is instantly knocked to the floor. While the girl lies immobile on the concrete, the group of spectators scream and flee the scene.
Pause. Let me breathe.

First, I will address the two white brutes who viciously attacked two young, black girls. These animals — they are not men — have no respect for black people, especially black women. Their strong distaste for black women does not surprise me considering the brutal history of this country; however, to be so bold, in this day and age, to publicly & violently abuse a black girl — a child — is beyond comprehension. No matter what the verbal exchange was, neither one of these girls did anything that would warrant such an assault. At the end of the day, these were GROWN MEN who, instead of handling the situation like mature adults and walking away, decide to fight these girls as though they were men. They acted as if these girls posed a serious threat to them, which they didn’t. 

The black consensus has been that, had these two girls been white, their safety would have never been discarded in such a manner. To be white is to be human — it means that your life is worth more in the eyes of society. To be black is to be un-human — it means that our existence holds little value in the eyes of many, and is, therefore, not protected. To know this cognitively is one thing, but to see this truth visually re-played over and over again is another thing entirely — it’s traumatizing.

 

Lastly, I will address the black brutes who also violated the safety of black girls.

What the f*%k is wrong with you?!

As African Americans we know what our struggle has been and we are aware of the war against us. Why then would we commit war amongst ourselves? R. Kelly is a sick, tortured monster who has emotionally, psychologically, and physically infected young girls with his same illness. He leaves these young girls as zombies — the walking dead — totally disconnected from themselves and the life they once had. And the fact that there are black people still willing to listen to his music and refuse to let go of the idea of this R&B “genius” is absolutely enraging. To ignore the truth shows an unwillingness to prioritize the life of black girls.

And the goons who killed Jazmine Barnes are lowly fools caught up in a familiar killing cycle that continues to take so many black lives. I also find it really hard to believe this whole “mistaken identity” non-sense. How can you pull up to a vehicle and not see a woman in the drivers seat with her kids in the back? Something about that excuse makes no sense to me.

We have experienced so much trauma in the black community, that we are now passing that trauma on to each other. But we know too much now to continue the abuse, to continue this idea that black women and girls are not worth protecting. If the world will not come to our defense, then it’s expected that the black men in our community will, in fact, come to our aid. But, alas, not enough black men come to serve as a place of refuge and security for black womanhood. Those voices of support and love sound faint and need to grow louder and stronger and more consistent. We need to see more black men provide a shield for us — not against us.

Until this happens, black women must do what we have always done, and that is to pick up our daily armor of whatever scraps we have been given and protect ourselves once again.

 

 

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Beauty Is Skin Deep

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I’ve always known that black women were secretly coveted by other people, but these instagram “influencers” have taken it too far. Stories have surfaced that reveal the true identity of certain instagram profiles and — surprise, surprise — these young women have adorned themselves with specific make-up, hair and fashion to appear Black — And the public believed them. There are a few points to make here:

 

 

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1). Yes, it’s offensive … and creepy. However, I can’t act as if I am totally surprised. As much as people publicly criticize and hate on black women, deep down they admire our melaninated skin, curvy frames, incredible fashion, and bomb-ass hair styles. We’re amazing and wield our black girl magic with every step we take.

WHO WOULDN”T WANT TO BE US??!!

This goes back to being a kid on the playground and being bullied for looking a certain way, when the cause of all that animosity was ENVY. They want to be us so bad! As the saying goes, “They want to be black, but they don’t really wanna be black”. They wish to enjoy and profit off of everything that we create — off of everything that we are — without wanting to experience or empathize with the black struggle or actually learn anything about black culture. People like this get to profit off of and receive praise for impersonating what I ACTUALLY AM. That is unfair. That is ignorance. That is racial privilege. What’s worse, is that these folks never show remorse for their actions. These incidents never spark enough curiosity within them to ask or find out why something like this is offensive. All they do is give an empty apology — if they give one at all — and go about their lives having learned absolutely nothing. It’s nothing new. All I can say is that I’m so glad that these people were exposed.

 


2). It just goes to show that we all must remember that not everything that is presented to us is real. Therefore, never long to look like or live the lives of anyone you see on social media. You don’t know the truth of who they are or their reality. You can admire someone and respect someone, but never place yourself below anyone. And apparently these “influ-LIARS” have no concept of reality either. After being exposed, one of these women said,

“I’m white and I never claimed to be anything else… I’m NOT a ‘posing’ as a coloured person as you claim…
I do not see myself as anything else than white… I get a deep tan naturally from the sun.”

Sis, come on now! I’m giving her ALLLL the side-eyes. No white person has a tan that runs THAT DEEP all year round.

3). You can admire, respect, and love a culture without the impersonation or the theft. Black culture is so dope and runs so strong in so many countries that you cannot deny our influence, our genius, and our beauty because it is everywhere. These women were mirroring what is cool — and BLACK is cool — but they were doing it in a way that was inauthentic and disrespectful. What would be lovely is if our influence was actually acknowleged and Black people — especially Black women — were given the credit for our beauty and creativity.

But I’m sure this story will eventually die, and soon another similar story will resurrect itself and take its place. And when that happens, I will be right here to re-affirm Black women. I will be here to reaffirm myself.

 

 

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“Ain’t I A Woman?!” : The Murder of Black Women and a World that is too Slow to Respond

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Sojourner Truth (1797-1883): Ain’t I A Woman?
Delivered 1851
Women’s Rights Convention, Old Stone Church (since demolished), Akron, Ohio

“Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, “intellect”] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.”

 

Nia Wilson Rally March to KTVU Oakland

Nia Wilson was savagely murdered while waiting with her sister to catch a train at Bart Station in Oakland, California. The news of her death spread throughout social media. I learned of her murder through Shaun King’s (@shaunking) Instagram long before I heard about it on any major news platform. (Thank you to Shaun King for spotlighting Black news and for helping to keep us informed about things we wouldn’t otherwise know about).

The buzz of her death eventually made it to national headlines, but that was also due to the fact that Nia’s story wasn’t just being talked about in Black circles, but in white circles as well. White celebrities like Anne Hathaway and Sophia Bush, who have sizable platforms and influence, talked about the horror of this occurrence. Anne Hathaway singled out her white counterparts and called on them to acknowledge their white privilege and to serve as allies against the inhumane treatment against Black people. Her statement was surprising yet greatly appreciated by those in the Black community.

You see, Black death is rarely acknowledged by those outside of the Black community. Our murders, our tragedies, our targeted crimes go unacknowledged and un-announced. Our problems are seen as our own, and our fight against injustice is our fight to face alone. Rarely do people from other communities wish to get involved and offer their voice or their support. So when Anne Hathaway made her comment, it was a pleasant surprise because most white people in her position would remain silent and unbothered. Many in her position usually are unaware that such things are happening — hell, many people regardless of  their position are unaware of these happenings because Black stories are usually not newsworthy unless we are the criminals. 

Despite Nia’s story gaining traction and despite her murderer being caught, as a Black woman I felt sad, scared, and emotionally exhausted. Hers was another Black life taken at the hands of some evil, deranged white man and the world was slow to respond. Had the Black community not expressed our anger, who knows if this story would’ve received any spotlight. Our collective Black cries resounded once again belting out the name of our fallen sistah. And again, I was exhausted — tired of consistently mourning.
Like a lot of Black people, I needed a break. I needed to disconnect from the experience for a little while. But the same questions kept popping into my head:

What has really changed since Sojourner Truth gave her speech at the Women’s Rights Convention in 1851? When will Black women finally be identified by the full weight of their humanity? When will Black Women be a prize worth fighting for in the eyes of the global community?

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The truth is that, in spite of the Me Too movement, the protection of Black women is still not being advocated for with the same force. Both nationally and globally, White femininity and Black femininity are viewed and treated very differently. White femininity is more protected and is treated as something to be revered, and Black femininity is simply not. Black women were often seen by white women as something to define themselves against, and to set themselves apart with higher regard.

Black femininity has not always been associated with womanhood. In the eyes of some, we are not provided the luxury of being viewed as a full woman. This justifies others treating Black women poorly, because in order to treat another human being poorly, you have to see them as something separate from you — as different, as non-human. That’s why when Black women are raped or beaten or kidnapped or killed it is not responded to with the same level of urgency, or treated as serious an offense as it would be if we were white. It’s as if people believe that our bodies were somehow made to handle such brutality — as if we are at fault for our misfortunes — as if we are empty shells that can be tampered with because our shells house nothing valuable … nothing worth saving.  

 
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Well I am not an empty shell. I am a human being. I am a woman. My mere existence means that I am valuable. The lives of Nia Wilson and the lives of all of my sistahs, both in the U.S. and globally, have value. Life itself started in Africa, therefore, to denounce Black women is to denounce the power and the ancestry that begot the rest of humanity. It is time to acknowledge and respect the divine force that is the Black woman.

So, even though I am tired of shouting the fallen names of my sistahs, I will not stop. I know that there will be times where, for my own sanity, I will have to disconnect from the consistent outpouring of sad news. However, I will always return and take my rightful place as my sister’s keeper and call out their names hoping to shake the world awake and into action. However, if the world continues to slumber, at least I know their names will resound within Black communities. And our collective bellow will reach heaven where the names of our sistahs will finally rest amongst the brilliance of the stars. 

 

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Top, L-R: Dr. Sherilyn Gordon-Burroughs, Samyah Copeland, Rashanda Franklin, Kendra Moore, Quanta Nashall Chandler, Shaquenda Walker and mother Deborah Walker, Latonya Robinson Moore. Bottom L-R: Alicia Trotter, Latina Herring, Gale Verner, Shanice Williams.  (photos from Ebony Magazine)

 

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Photos from left, clockwise: Angelica Wysinger, Angelia Mangum, Ke-Erica D. Bolden, Antquonette Hale, Tjhisha Ball, and Korie Hodges. (photos from HandsUpUnited)

I Miss The Old Kanye …

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I miss the old Kanye…

… and apparently, I am not the only one. The level of disappointment that has been expressed from the black community in response to the inconsiderate statements that he has recently made has been considerable.

It feels like it was just yesterday when Kanye’s College Drop Out album came out. I was in high-school and it was the first rap album that I actually purchased with the limited teenage money that I had saved. Up until that point, it was my older brother who provided me with rap music from artists like The Fugees, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, Busta Rhymes, etc. I enjoyed his music and I enjoyed him as a artist. Kanye felt like a breath of fresh air — someone who was connected with and invested in the black community.

I don’t recognize this new person. The reality of the matter is that people change. The hope, however, is that we evolve into an improved and more self-aware person. This doesn’t seem to be the case with Kanye. He appears more self-conflicted than ever. But instead of taking the time to resolve this confliction, he is spitting out concepts and opinions that are ignorant and un-resolved. Instead of sitting down and figuring out what he wants to express, he uses interviews to rant out thoughts that have not been fleshed out. To have a platform such as his and make declarations that are not based in logic can be dangerous.

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These past two interviews have been the most hurtful and damaging. The TMZ interview where he made his “slavery is a choice” comment was the one that set social media and the news cycles on fire. Whether it’s what he “meant” or not, whether he “mis-spoke” or not, is irrelevant. The point is that he said what he said. No one cares about what he “meant” to say. In all honesty, it didn’t feel like he misspoke at all, but that it had been a thought that he had been chewing on for a while and finally had the opportunity to hawk. Little did he know how much his comment would spark a flame. I am just so glad that TMZ member Van Lathan was there to speak honestly and passionately. I am so glad that he was able to articulate what a lot of black people were feeling in that moment.

Kanye, contrary to his claims, did not demonstrate free thought, but rather idiotic rhetoric.  

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Listen here, Kanye, to be a “slave” literally means that you have NO CHOICE! What you are implying is that black people made a conscious choice to hop onto those slave ships chained and bound, to be stripped of our names, language, culture, and history, to be ripped from our family, to be raped by our massa’s, to have our children sold into slavery, to be beaten, lynched, killed, and then forced to live out the next 400yrs. in un-resloved trauma and fear, while trying to survive in a country that systemically structured society in a way that would blatantly benefit white people and keep black folks in generational poverty. 

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It was a slap in the face to our ancestors who were strong enough and DARED to live long enough to fight and die for the liberties that we don’t appreciate today. I wish Harriet Tubman would rise up and beat you silly. How dare you!

Maybe you should go to Ghana and visit the “Door of No Return” and acknowledge the horror that our ancestors endured.

Not to mention, young kids, who have no idea about the horrors of slavery and the struggle for freedom, will listen to him and believe him. As a teacher, and speaker I have to be the one to go in and further de-program these young minds and speak truth to power. Thank you, Kanye, for making my job that much more difficult.

Boy, Shut up! 

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In addition to that, during his interview with Charlemagne Tha God, he says, “Why we gotta keep bringing up slavery though??”

Nothing pisses me off more than hearing black people tell other black people that we need to “get over slavery” and that it “happened such a long time ago and has no barring on what is going on today.” Sit your Uncle Ruckus butt DOWN! It’s clear to me, that those black people are speaking from some place of privilege, ego, or ignorance. To make such statements lets me know how disconnected they are to the reality of the black experience and that they have no understanding of history and how history impacts the present moment.  
I refuse to “get over” something that I am still feeling the effects of. I refuse to “get over” something that our own government has yet to acknowledge or even apologize for! I refuse to “get over” slavery when I see how intentionally disenfranchised my community has been for centuries. I refuse to “get over” slavery, when we have to march and protest and create countless hashtags for my fellow brothers and sisters who were mercilessly shot and killed like animals. I don’t have to get over shit!
If the jews don’t have to get over the holocaust, then I’ll be damned if I have to get over something that effects me everyday.

Boy, Shut up!

It’s interesting how he is implying that we move on from slavery but admits during his interview that “we’re still dealing with racism”. Where do you think racism stems from, Kanye? That’s right — slavery. It’s interesting how he talks about being marginalized as a black rapper in the fashion industry and wants our sympathy, but can not seem to correlate what he’s experiencing as a result of slavery and being intentionally kept out of certain spaces of power or influence. But in all honesty, he’s probably being ostracized in the fashion industry because he’s a little cray-cray and because his fashion ideas are boo-boo. He is not a fashion designer. His clothes look like post apocalyptic-chic. It’s not cute — point, blank, period. 

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During the Charlemagne interview, a Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. comparison was made. Now, I don’t know who in the hell tried to compare Kanye to either one of these instrumental leaders but they were clearly out of their minds. Kanye is no Malcolm X or MLK. But Kanye’s response to this comparison was that some historical “figures are out-dated”. Really!!! Are you kidding me??!! Meanwhile, he compares himself to Walt Disney and Mark Zuckerberg and other white billionaires. However, these white billionaires aren’t “outdated” but Malcolm X and MLK are? The things that MLK and Malcolm X fought for like justice, equality, safety, and dignity for their people is somehow outdated?! Really, Kanye??!! 

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Guess what, Kanye, you’re the one who is out-dated. You ideas are old and tired, and your concepts are stupid. Sit Down, Sir. You wish your concepts and theories could come close to the brilliance and passion of Malcom X. Malcolm X was no sell- out.

Lastly, during his Charlemagne interview, he talks about “free thought” and being a creator that doesn’t care about and rebels against the status quo. But in the same breath he talks about how he seeks validation from society. Charlemagne asks him why must we seek validation from white people, to which Kanye had no clear answer because he knew he was contradicting himself. Listen, dude, do you want to be mainstream or do you want to rebel against it? Because, right now, you are going back and forth. I will need you make a stance and be consistent.

 
Kanye then talks about how when he sees people sporting brands he sees people who are not free thinkers. Kanye says, “When I see branding, I see insecurity”.
Ummmm correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this the same man who is creating a clothing BRAND and shoe BRAND that he wants people to buy and support?! During this same interview, didn’t he talk about how he looked up to Gucci and Tom Ford? WTF Kanye?! Which is it?
So I guess people who rock brands other than yours are the “insecure people?”

Boy, Shut up!

The only insecure person I see here is you, Kanye. Your desperate need for love and validation from the same people that you criticize — like former President Barack Obama — is incredibly clear.

I don’t know if Kanye is truly suffering from mental illness, or if he is actually being calculated in his efforts to create controversy. Either way he needs to sit down. And Kanye being a “musical genius” does not erase the damaging statements he has made. I think Kanye knows better and that is why he is conflicted.
He knows!
He knows that he is not being honest and speaking truth to power like he did with former President George Bush. He knows that he is being hypocritical. He knows that he is not walking his talk. He knows that he has evolved into the same disconnected, fame hungry, attention grabbing celebrity that he often criticized. He’s fake. The black community recognizes this and is serving as his conscious. We are throwing his hypocrisy and lies back in his face and loudly denounce his ideas. We are the therapy that he is trying to avoid. His craziness is a result of the lies he’s told himself , and unless he stops, he will never be at peace.

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No matter how much we miss the old Kanye, I think it’s safe to say that the old Kanye is gone. He will not advocate for us. He will not affirm our plight. He, along with every other artist, should not be placed on any pedestal. They are human just like us and are subject error. Kanye West is narcissistic, and is drowning in his own delusions of grandeur. He is dying for our attention, and after this stunt he deserves no more of it.

I will not buy what he sells.
My prayers are for his children. How will they ever know who they are if he has lost all understanding of who he is? We can’t count on their mom — Kim Kardashian — to teach them about black life or history. We can’t count on her to expose them to that part of who they are — that was Kanye’s job. Instead, you have two shallow people who lack any depth and can’t see anything past the next shocking headline that they concoct. God Bless their kids, they have my deepest sympathy.

Kanye is in the sunken place and we tried to build a ladder of support to help him free himself, but it looks like Kanye has lost the will to climb any higher and is there to stay. 

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I Am Not From Wakanda

 

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I absolutely loved black panther. The thoughtful and beautiful showcase of black people, black beauty, black strength, black ingenuity, unity, and power were real things that few writers and directors prioritized showcasing before. I applaud Marvel, director Ryan Coogler, and all those involved to bring such a project together. This movie made history, but more importantly, it allowed black people, black children to see their image exalted on a major platform. They saw their image reflected back at them in a way that highlighted black people and black culture — african culture — in a positive light.
With that said, I would absolutely love it if Wakanda were a real place, even more so, I would love it if I were ACTUALLY from this amazing country. But here’s the truth —
I am not from Wakanda.
I don’t know what’s been going on, but lately men — black men — have been making comments jokingly suggesting that I am from Wakanda. 

It’s story time.

Story#1: About a week ago, My girlfriend and I decided to go out to this club/lounge in downtown L.A. The lounge was real cool and the crowd there was very diverse. There were latino people, asian people, black people, white people — it was cool. We were all there to get our groove on to some 90’s R&B/Hip-Hop. So there we were — me and my friend — getting our lives on the dance floor, when suddenly I was approached by this white guy who wanted to dance with me — let’s call him Eric. Eric had a really positive vibe about him and he was interested in just having fun and dancing. I welcomed Eric as my dance partner and we had a good time, we danced to, like, five songs which is unusual for me.

Then Eric’s black friend comes up to us and starts dancing with us — let’s call him Michael. After introducing himself, Michael begins to brag about Eric, “Yea my boy here is about to graduate from UCLA Medical School!” I respond, “Wow, that’s awesome, Eric, Congratulations.” Then another R&B jam comes on and Eric and I start dancing again —with Michael standing by. Michael keeps urging me to dance with Eric. However, keep in mind that I’ve been dancing with Eric for the past FIVE SONGS. What Michael really wanted me to do was “back my ass up”. He wanted me to twerk, to break it down on Eric. But I was not about to do that.

Then, gesturing with his arms, Michael says to me, “Come on Wakanda! Come on Wakanda!”
I stopped in disbelief.
Did he … did he just say, “Come on Wakanda!” to me??!! As if that were the motivation I needed to back my ass up on his friend?! Oh, hell naw!
Meanwhile, Eric was so busy getting his life on the dance floor that he didn’t even hear what Michael said. I had two options at this point. 1st option: I could set Michael straight and give him ALL the words he had coming to him. 2nd Option: Ignore Michael and dance with Eric like I had been doing all along. I chose the latter. First of all, it was way too loud in there, and If I were going to read Michael and set him straight, then I needed for him to hear EVERY SINGLE word. Second of all, addressing Michael meant that I would have to disengage with Eric who I was having a good time with, and I didn’t want to kill my own vibe.
But I have time today. So I will address Michael and all the other “Michaels” out there:

1). I would expect that comment to come from an ignorant white person, but not by a black man — someone from my community who shares the same culture, history, and plight as I do in this country. Someone who I would assume would not make a statement like that because they know how dumb that would be.

2). The Black Panther is an awesome project , and the women in the movie are bad asses. So DO NOT associate me with Wakanda unless you are referring to the intelligence, beauty, and strength of black women, which the movie showcased. Do Not associate me with Wakanda in a mocking tone as to suggest that I am some type of caricature from the movie. I am not a caricature. I am not an exaggeration, nor were the women in the film.

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3). As a man — especially a black man — don’t you EVER push me up onto your white friend as if I am some type of black exotic that he should sample or partake of. I am not a sample. I am not some black fetish to promote. I am not here to fulfill some type of black stereotype that would have me twerk or gyrate for your buddy. I am not here to perform or dance for you. I am not on some auction block to be examined. I am no Hottentot Venus. You have me all the way twisted!

4). As my black brother, the hope and the expectation is that you would protect me and stand up for me the way black women have always done for black men. Instead, you subject me to being nothing more than a piece of ass, a body that has less value in the eyes of society and, therefore, gets no respect, no protection, and no love.

5). You are an embarrassment.

Now I don’t want to make it sound like there are no black men out there who wouldn’t protect and value me and other black women. However, there are also men like Michael who simply don’t value us and this read is for them.

This was not the first time a black man used a Wakanda reference with me. Prior to the first story I just mentioned, I had another encounter.

Story #2: It was All-Star weekend here in Los Angeles and I decided to attend a day party that had an Afro-beat theme. I was excited because I really enjoy dancing to Afro-beat music and I knew the DJ well enough to know that the music would be good. Given the theme of the party, there was a large African attendance — Nigerians, Ghanaians, Cameroon, Senegalese, etc. I was walking towards the bar and I was stopped by a Nigerian guy named Uche. Uche stops me and with a pretty thick Nigerian accent he says, “Excuse me, excuse me … but are you from … Wakanda? Me and my friends have been wondering.”

His question caught me off guard and I chuckled a little bit. I told him that I was not from Wakanda and then Uche says, “Me and my friends, we are intimidated, I don’t know why.” I kindly tell Uche that I didn’t know why he was intimidated either, and that it appeared to be a personal problem that he had to reconcile. Uche seemed pleasantly surprised by my answer. He then proceeded to ask for my number. I kindly told him no. He persisted. So I told him I would take his number. We chatted for a bit, he told me he was a doctor, I told him what I did and then after a few minutes of idle talk, I excused myself.

Now the interaction I had with Uche was different than my interaction with Michael. The interaction was different because the energy and the implication behind their comments were different. Michael’s comment associated me with a black female stereotype which prompted that I dance and back my ass up on his friend. Uche’s comment associated me with black womanhood which had to do with beauty and strength. They both connected me to Wakanda, but the consciousness by which they did it was different.

I need my black men to remain conscious of how they interact with black women and to understand that their actions and their words actually MEAN SOMETHING to us. We need their support and love. We need them to have our back. We need them to see us for who we really are: Black Queens.

Stay woke my brothas. 

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Colorism?…But at the Club, Though?

 

 

darker_lighter_skin  There’s nothing like going out with your girls: twerking, two stepping, hip swinging, waist winding, all while singing loud and off key to all your favorite songs makes for a truly magical evening.  So, on this particular night,  I was excited to hit the city of L.A. with my favorite dance partners. We decide to explore the busy streets of Santa Monica, and so far, our night was off to a great start–we didn’t have to pay to park and there was no cover charge, which is not always easy to find in Los Angeles.  We stepped into one of the many bars/clubs on the block that was recommended to us and were surprised to hear some hip-hop music playing. The bars in Santa Monica are mostly inhabited by young white people, so typically there’s a lot of house and pop music. So upon entering this particular bar, we knew that this place was probably our best bet and decided to stay.
There we were, dancing our lives away on a crowded dance floor, enjoying every minute of it. We had made friends with another group of black folks from out of town, and one of my girlfriends ended up dancing with one of the guys we met. My friend and this guy — we’ll just call him Dante — had taken a break from dancing and were talking, while I was standing by the wall next to them. Dante motions me over, so I walk to him.  He leans in to my ear and says, “Hey, go talk to my friend over there; he’s kinda awkward. He told me he was feeling you, so you should go talk to him.”  I felt like Dante was just trying to get rid of me so that he could be completely alone with my friend. I was getting ready to tell Dante that I was just chilling and probably wouldn’t go over to talk at that moment, but before I could say anything, Dante continued, “Yea, my sister told me that I should dance with you, but, no dis to you, but I like light-skin girls”. My stomach dropped. My friend and I gave Dante a serious side eye like, WFT??!!

 

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Now, comments like this are not new to me. I’ve heard some black men say how they “prefer light-skin” girls and, normally, I just shrug off their ignorance and keep it pushing. But for some reason his comment was the final straw and I broke. I walked away from them and sat at the far end of the bar trying my hardest to hold back tears. I was really hurt.  The build up of these types of comments had finally taken its toll, yet I was embarrassed that his words had affected me to the extent that they did.

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I was hurt by the fact that it is 2017, and the Black community is still dealing with colorism. The fact that we, as Black people, have yet to appreciate and truly see the beauty of all the hues we come in is extremely frustrating, and the fact that some Black people are completely clueless to the effects of slavery and social conditioning on their romantic “preferences” is enraging. I was hurt because for the first time I really felt unattractive and unwanted. I was unwanted by a black man whose skin was just as brown as mine. It is beyond bewildering. I felt like I had been transported to another world where everyone was asleep except for me. There I was operating amongst zombies who had no idea they weren’t “woke”.

My question is, why did he feel the need to say anything at all?! He didn’t have to continue his spiel. If that is the mindset you carry, then there is no need to say it aloud and reveal your foolishness to the public. He literally told me that the reason he didn’t dance with me was because my skin was too dark. Why the f*%k would you actually let those words come out of your mouth?! Did I mention that his beloved sister was just as dark as me?  I’m sure that he thinks his sister is beautiful, but you mean to tell me that he wouldn’t date someone who had the same skin tone as his sister?!!  I just don’t get it! How could he not see that there was something seriously wrong with his comment

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I was done. Exhausted. Defeated. And at that moment the only thing I wanted to do was go home, lay down, and cry.
Luckily Dante’s friend, Eric, came and sat next to me and started talking to me. Even though a part of me wanted to be left alone, I greatly appreciated him being there, if only to preoccupy my mind with idle chit-chat and to prevent the tears from dropping onto my cocktail napkin. Eric was not like Dante and expressed a great appreciation for all things black. Thank you, Eric. You saved me at that moment with your conversation and you had no idea.
We stayed until the bar closed and then made our trek back home. I didn’t speak a word of what I was feeling to my friends. I wanted to keep the evening fun and light and I thought that I could move past the experience. However, the next morning when I woke up, I still felt the emotional weight of the previous night and I surrendered to that feeling and cried. I told my girlfriends how I felt and they expressed their empathy and said that Dante was an asshole. They allowed me to break and they used their loving words to piece me back together. Thank you to my girlfriends, my squad, my sistas … you know who you are. 636006945613581481-1906458683_image
I spoke to my mother as well, she is always there to remind me of who and whose I am. She was sad that I had to experience the same ignorance she had to endure during her younger years, but she reminded me that there are men out there who see and appreciate my blackness. She said, “Now Beth, if you are woke and can see the beauty in our people, then you have to know that you are not the only one. You have to know that there are other black people — black men — who feel like you do, who see the beauty, your beauty. You have to know this!”
My mother was right, deep down I did know. I know that there are black people out there, black men in particular, who are awake — who see the beauty within the spectrum. I know that there are men out there who would not dismiss me because I have dark skin, but who would be ready and more than willing to embrace me. Thank you, mom, for building me up and for reminding me that there is nothing wrong with me — for reminding me that I am beautiful. Thank you for straightening my spine and helping me to stand tall and proud in my black skin. Thank you for reminding me, that as I stand, I’m helping others to stand too.

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Kendall & Kylie: Stolen Genius

Ok, so I knowozzy-kendall-kylie-music-tees-4 I said that I would never post anything else about the Kardashians due to the fact that I have yet to understand their relevance.

However, this whole T-Shirt fiasco really pissed me off and I had to say something…
…and I must say, these girls have balls of steel. They are blatant, unapologetic thieves who will take your god-inspired creations, cross your name off of it, and showcase it to the world as their own …and, of course, charge a hefty price for them.
Now these girls — all of them — have stolen from African American culture, more specifically, African American Women. From the cornrows, to the thick lips, round butts, and fashion style, they mimic everything we produce and make money off of it. They want to be black so bad and, unfortunately, they have no personal culture to pull from and, therefore, take what they can get from ours.
Who can blame them? Who doesn’t want to be black when it comes to our swag, our cool, our very nature? Black people create dope sh*t. I’m not just talking about music, fashion, and beauty of which our influence is undeniable, but we’re also scientists, business moguls, and intellectual giants that never seem to get the credit we have always deserved for being pioneers in various lanes. The reason our contributions are rarely acknowledged is because our ideas get stolen. Unless our creations or ideas are showcased on a white body or are supported by white people, we are rarely seen as the inventors or catalysts of great things.

For example, a couple of yrs ago in Marie Claire magazine they had a picture of Kendall sporting 6 small cornrows on the side of her head and Marie Claire reports: “Kendall Jenner takes bold braids to an epic new level”.

kendall cornrows  Seriously??!! First of all, those braids were neither bold nor epic, Second of all, how LONG have black women worn their hair in cornrows??!! Since Forever! Kendall didn’t start some new hair trend, she took this trend from the black community. Wearing her hair in cornrows was not an issue, it was the fact that she was being advertised as some hair innovator, which simply wasn’t true. What Marie Claire really needed to do was fly in to Atlanta and attend the Bronner Bothers hair show and see what “epic” and “bold” really mean.

But again, it’s just one of many examples of how what we do gets taken, called a new name, and made into something “epic”. But these aren’t the only examples, just research how these girls have stolen from young, black, female fashion designers and then sold the clothes on their sight for money. They are pirates.

These T-shirts follow this same pattern. To have the audacity to plaster your face and name across the image of Biggie and Tupac is absolutely disrespectful. They literally used their faces to cover the images of these musical icons. Exploitation? Yes. But more than that, it felt like they were actually trying to erase these icons and their cultural contributions by obscuring their images. It was like they were literally pushing them aside, or, better yet, like they were trying to suggest that they were just as relevant or that they have contributed to culture to the same degree that Tupac and Biggie did. They were using the legacy of these artists to sell f#*king t-shirts and to make themselves appear just as important.

 

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In the words of Remy Ma: “Are you dumb?!”
Have you lost your mind?!  Did Kanye approve of this sh*t??!

I’m sure that neither Kendall nor Kylie even know the music or lyrics behind these artists that they claim to love so much, which makes their actions even more unbelievable. And the fact that kendall and kylie steal from a culture that they know nothing about and don’t publicly defend only adds fuel to the fire. Where were y’all during the marches and protests of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Philando Castile, and the countless others? Where were your words of support for black lives? Where were your words of condemnation against police brutality and murder? Or did you simply remain silent as you continued to strategically ransack our brilliance?


You take with no intention of giving back.
You take with no empathy for the lives who serve as the genius for your cash flow.
You take with no understanding of history.
You take with the desire to make yourselves look creative.
You take because you have nothing to give.

The apologies don’t mean anything because they apologize without having any clue as to the deep significance of their transgressions. Being “huge fans” of someone’s music doesn’t mean you use your image to fade out theirs, that’s not how you show appreciation for someone else. I don’t buy it AT ALL. Their ignorance only goes so far with me; they are old enough to do better. So to kendall, kylie and other transgressors who pattern them: Keep your disingenuous apologies and stop stealing our sh*t.

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