I'll be honest...the season finale of Insecure was just a tad bit underwhelming. JUST A TAD BIT. We learned that Lawrence can't trust his new work bae, Issa is back to old habits as gentrification hits Inglewood and what are we gonna do with our girl Molly?! :( Check out my review of HBO's Insecure Season 2, Episode 8, "Hella Perspective".
So, Issa is still out here guilt-tripping Daniel for squirting in her eye, Molly is still settling for less by sleeping with and catching feelings for someone else's husband, and even though Lawrence may have crossed the line, he wasn't out-of-bounds with his sharp tongue. Check out my review of HBO's Insecure Season 2, Episode 7, "Hella Disrespectful".
Jordan Peele's Get Out is certainly America's movie of the moment...and deservingly so.
BEWARE...THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS! IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE MOVIE, COME BACK LATER!!!
I'll admit that when I heard that half of Key & Peele's comedic duo was doing a horror movie about racism in America, I was annoyed. I scoffed thinking it was yet another ploy by the man that shucked & jived for years on Comedy Central for white frat bro's to make bank at the expense of Black caricatures. IDK. Call me crazy, but that's all I got from watching his show. However, after hearing rave reviews and seeing reactions to the movie on social media, I decided to take in a late night showing of the #1 movie in the country. I still feel like Jordan is exploiting Black people with this movie and think a large majority of it's success is because of that. Regardless, the movie left me throughly entertained and still has me experiencing "a-ha!" moments while deciphering it's subtext.
As far as the social commentary in Get Out regarding race and, specifically, liberal racism, here are some of the messages that stood out to me most:
1. WHEN A BLACK WOMAN TRIES TO WARN YOU, PAY ATTENTION
Y'all! This one took me a minute to get because of the subtlety. Georgina was literally spilling the tea!!! Even from the depths of her sunken place, this woman was trying to regain control of herself and come through with the assist in the name of all things Black. Granted, there was no way that Chris would've been able to gather a legitimate warning from a "simple accident", but the attempt was astounding.
Black women truly are everything and will save your ass every time. You just have to be willing to listen.
2. SEEKING WHITE APPROVAL LEADS TO THE LOSS OF SELF
I get it. Smoking is bad...but...
SO WHAT! We all have our own vices and they are what makes us who we are. Unless Chris was extremely ambitious about quitting and already decreasing his daily intake, he shouldn't have allowed someone else to "get in his head" and make that decision for him. Relationships, from the most basic to the most intimate, are come-as-you-are. Attempting to change for someone else's approval is a recipe for a disaster and Chris's eagerness to undergo hypnosis as a bid for the approval of Rose's parents is a prime example of that.
3. "THEY" BELIEVE THEY CAN HAVE TO ANYTHING THEY ADMIRE
Black people are amazing, yes. This is true. I can't blame anybody for admiring the things that effortlessly make us great, as a people. I can, however, take issue with objectifying specific traits of Black folk and feeling a sense of entitlement to whatever those may be. We ain't for sale. Ain't no "buy one, get one free."
The idea of white people shopping for Black bodies and culture -- picking at the most "desirable" meat and tossing aside the unwanted bones that serve as a foundation of individual being -- is something that specifically struck a chord with me. This is consistent behavior that has managed to water itself down from the days of physical inspections on the auction block to the appropriation of Black cultural nuances by people that have never stepped foot into the communities in which they flourish. The way this notion is depicted in Get Out was incredibly clever.
4. THE APPLE NEVER FALLS FAR FROM THE (HANGING) TREE
Even I wanted to believe Rose, y'all. There was some part of me that actually thought that she was going to end up going toe-to-toe with her own family in order defend this Black man for the sake of their love. HA! The betrayal and disappointment was all too real.
While I'm not saying that it's completely impossible for someone with racist parents to be 100% "woke", I do believe that more often than not that just isn't the case. People are creatures of habit and shaking the awful indoctrination of racist rhetoric learned throughout your formative years might prove to be quite a task. Even in if there is some "woke" in you, there are microagressions that may subconsciously occur given your upbringing. It's simple logic and, though all the signs were there, Chris blindly believed Rose's loyalty belonged to him and that almost led to his downfall.
5. THOSE FLASHING LIGHTS WILL PROBABLY NEVER SAVE YOU
You know damn well, as a person of color, that if you ever find yourself battered and bloody in the middle of a suburban street with an equally battered and bloody white woman when the cops pull up, you're going to fucking jail...if not worse. Rose was gearing up to play the victim because she knew her privilege in the situation and was going to use it to her advantage.
Honestly, this is one of my biggest fears when it comes to interracial relationships and one of the main reasons I've never been willing to give it a try. I've been in situations where white people have used their privilege to get over and it really sucks. So, to see Rose's plan backfire when she was so sure things would work out in her favor was the biggest sigh of relief. When those blue and red lights pulled up to the scene, I just didn't think Chris was gonna make it. Thankfully, there was a plot twist that saved the day. If only all interactions with authority by African-Americans ended this way....
...then again, it's a only movie.
Lemme preface this post by saying I'm not a journalist. I'm just a guy with a domain and some thoughts.
Look. I love Migos. LOVE THEM. To be completely transparent, I only discovered them shortly after the success of their single "Fight Night" but, ever since, I've religiously supported their music and their movement. They have a sound that is uniquely their own and they shed light on a lifestyle that, quite frankly, I am not about. However, as a Black man, their lyrical storytelling about said lifestyle resonates with something in my spirit, on many levels -- something that I don't believe would be the case if I weren't Black. While it's possible, I know I can't be the only one that feels this way.
At last week's 74th Golden Globe Awards, FX's new hit series Atlanta took home two statuettes: one for Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy and the other for Best Actor (Donald Glover) - Television Series Musical or Comedy. Granted, this was an amazing accomplishment to behold. As a fan of the show, I felt like part of the win. However, I couldn't help but wince in the midst of joy when Donald (a.k.a. Childish Gambino), after thanking the city of Atlanta, decided to specifically give a shoutout to Migos for their most recent single, "Bad and Boujee."
That juxtaposition may confuse you a bit, so let me explain...
On the most basic of levels, Donald's shoutout to the Migos was awesome. He showed them some unsolicited love, they subsequently got an influx of downloads for their amazing single and so everybody seemingly walked away winning.
However, on a slightly deeper level, the majority of people who rushed to iTunes to get the damn song probably never even gave a f*ck about Migos, before then, and that bothered me. Why? Well, because I know the target demographic of the Golden Globes (from the winners to the viewing audience) probably won't even understand the song until pulling up lyrics in an attempt to crack a code of Blackness that, quite frankly, was not intended for them to crack. When asked why Donald loved the song enough to mention it during his speech, he claimed, "Honestly, that song is just fly. There's no better song to have sex to." Valid. That's not what led the masses to download it, though. #They just want to be "on the inside" of what WE (✊🏾) deem trendy and I'm sick of that sh*t. Everything is not for everybody, which is an ideology shown to Black folk on the daily and, while I applaud the success of "Bad and Boujee" making it to the Billboard number one spot, I absolutely HATE how it happened.
When you get into the lyrics and context of "Bad and Boujee," it's not necessarily something that WE (✊🏾) need to be inclusive with, especially when it comes to the gratuitous use of the word "n*gga." I don't mind the use of the word by my peers, but SOME (*cough*) people tend to get way too comfortable with hiding behind hip-hop as an excuse to use it and I'm not here for that or any similar behavior. Y'all inclusive folk keep giving out these "passes" and the rest of us gotta deal with it, in real life. We see it in fashion and a plethora of other creative avenues. Pop culture continues to use hip-hop culture more and more as this convenient badge of coolness, while simultaneously excluding everything that comes with it from their day-to-day living...and...nah. F*ck that.
Don't get me wrong. I understand that there are genuine hip-hop fans that are not Black and may have come across the song organically because they are indeed Migos fans. This is not referring to them. This is referring to those that almost broke their finger in a race to open the music app, download the song and learn the lyrics word for word JUST to say they know "the best song ever", according to the gospel of "that Black guy from Community that won the Golden Globe."
All that to say, I'm not upset with Donald. Not at all. I, honestly, just wish his shoutout came in the form of an Instagram post or a personal note or some other method that didn't just invite all of these strangers to the cookout. Sure, that's hard to do, but Migos are the epitome of "for the culture" and, as selfish as it may sound, I'd prefer for them to stay that way.
Words by LT Williams
Since the beginning of 2016, we’ve witnessed the loss of two rock legends that challenged and changed society’s narrow definition of masculinity. David Bowie and Prince didn’t just walk the fine line of sexuality, they strutted all over it in high-heeled shoes and championed gender-fluid alter egos, both on and off the stage. Their artistic influence has rippled through popular music for decades, touching rock, dance, R&B and hip-hop. Hip-Hop, the youngest of these genres, has always tussled with homosexuality and what it’s viewed as the standard of masculinity.
At its core, hip-hop is the voice of those most marginalized. A mouthpiece for the unseen, unheard and least powerful. It’s only natural that it has continued to serve as the megaphone for the overlooked communities of present day. Luckily, as the country’s social mores become more accepting of the LGBTQIA community and their rights, hip-hop itself has seen a rise in advocates for the LGBT+ community. We’ve also witnessed artists push the envelope as far as what hip-hop has to look and sound like in order to be deemed reputable.
Two weeks ago, Kid Cudi’s tweets immediately following the tragedy in Orlando showed solidarity for the victims and Americans who identify as LGBT+. Cudi also wasted no time calling out hip-hop for its staunch homophobia and lack of support.
Cudi was applauded for his bold statements, which may not have happened a decade ago.
Kanye West, who has evolved to become just as synonymous with fashion as he is with music, made similar statements earlier on in his career and was immediately tagged “gay” for his stance. Similarly, Cam’Ron was pushed to start consistently dodging gay speculations with an obnoxious “no homo!” after sporting pink throwback jerseys and fur coats, even though hip-hop had not always been threaded in urban wear. The flamboyance of disco and R&B groups of the 1970s heavily birthed the look and sound of hip-hop’s early period. Even a touch of the glam-rock R&B era rubbed on break dancers and rap posse looks. It wasn’t until the Golden Era – around 1987-89 – that a stricter code on hip-hop aesthetics emerged.
The hardcore aesthetic of hip-hop was intensified with the popularization of gangsta rap in the 1990s. Everything from one’s gait, to dress and vocabulary was carefully mined to present an archetype of black heterosexual manhood, virtually vacant of any emotion that wasn’t fueled by aggression. These standards were firmly paved in the culture throughout the East Coast/West Coast beef and further sealed with the emergence of artists like DMX and 50 Cent. These standards are mostly a reflection of the homophobia within the black community and are a product, even more-so, of the hyper-masculinity perpetrated amongst black men.
The fear of emasculation stunts black men emotionally and mentally, which in turn begets a sense of hatred and even violence toward anything prompting that fear. That brings us to the present climate of hip-hop, where we not only have artists speaking out against homophobia, but breaking rules and barriers of black manhood, as a whole.
A recent stream of fresh voices has gone against the grain defying these heteronormative traits. Artists such as Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan twist gender roles by sporting women’s attire and pronouncing their love for one another in ways many, in the black community, have never witnessed. New York’s own A$AP Rocky embraces his “Pretty Flacko” moniker, recently becoming a fashion icon for labels from Dior to Calvin Klein.
Hip-hop and film legend Will Smith’s son, Jaden, embodies a sense of security in his manhood that allows him to be the face of Prada’s female line. Blood brothers of southern duo Rae Sremmurd don a carefree blackness that they recently displayed on the cover of Fader magazine. Shirtless, they leaned intimately against each other never compromising their masculinity.
We’ve also seen an emergence of LGBT+ artists bubbling to the surface from the black gay subculture. On the wings of gay culture being normalized, acts like Big Freedia have entered mainstream. Beyoncé’s “Formation,” which is just as hip-hop as it is pop, shines a light on these creators. Detroit’s Angel Haze has received praise, as well as Dej Loaf…who may…or may not dabble in bisexuality. On the outer fringes of rap, artists like Le1f and Cakes prove they aren’t just gay rappers, but rappers who happen to be gay.
No one else has quite challenged the status quo more than Frank Ocean. Not a rapper per say, the Alt&B savant with the pen of gold admitted to being bisexual early in his career. His songs touched on love for both men and women and he even fearlessly dated another man. He was not only a black pop star, but an associate of an emerging hip-hop conglomerate headed by Tyler the Creator, a force of carefree blackness in its own right. Even VH1’s Love & Hip-Hop called itself addressing the issue with a torrid storyline of DL men, messy queens and the women who love them. However absurd it’s a break in the mold set years ago.
This increase of advocates and allies can directly aid the queer community, especially when LGBT+ youth of color suffer the most within society. Black and Latino youth who identify within the LGBT+ community are at higher risks of homelessness, domestic abuse and, sadly, HIV/AIDS infection. The hate that permeates against these individuals–usually from within their own homes–can only be combatted with the teaching and preaching of tolerance and eventually acceptance. It has a long way to go, but hip-hop, now in its mid-30s, is finally maturing in the right direction.